Monday, November 3, 2014



I'm good. No sweat. (Scotty shot)

Under ideal conditions, these blog posts are sketched-out on Wednesday, then slowly built up over the following days, as content trickles in, and/or as I get inspired. Lately, the luxury of such "spare time" activity has been more elusive than ever. The final hours preceding Tuesday's posts have become more of a final-round thrash than a thoughtful story arc study. But I'll keep churning out posts, as long as someone cares to read them. So far, that's around 150 people a day. Thank you, whoever you are. I hope you never get your eyes examined.

Luckily, the award winning SGE staff is comprised of angelic cyborgs, pre-programmed to submit any usable content as they find it. I even named them, just like the Seven Dwarfs: There's Motormouth Ray, Uncle Marty Strode, and Jim Lindsay. Sure, there are admittedly less than seven, and Lindsay's nickname isn't very original, but they're still my guys, and I love them for who they are and the gifts they share. Besides those three full-time staffers, a bevy of spare-time heroes have become SGE favorites with readers over the years, including Gasoline Girls Kristin Cline and Lori Bentley Law, Crippled Dogs Tim Jones and Beth Main, CC, the mysterious Mr. X, and Jumpstart Kids Lance and Diane Sorchik. All are hands-on down-and-dirty spark-eating hot rodders. It takes every idiot in the village to produce a weekly blog post. As the duly elected Village Idiot, I speak with some credibility on the subject. The following is presented as Exhibit A...

Uncle Marty Strode has decided he needs side boards on his '40 Ford pickup: "Growing up in the Fifties, I noticed a lot of sideboards on a number of shop trucks around town. Many gas stations and garages sponsored cars that raced at the Fairgrounds dirt oval. I thought, 'When I get big, I'm gonna have a pickup with sideboards and do some advertising.'" Personally, I've always found sideboards to be distractions, but Marty's really go with the flow! Here's how he did it, starting with a rough-cut cardboard template.

"The frames are 3/4" .065" mild steel tube." Hand bending steel tubing is all part of Marty's fitness program. The results speak for themselves - he's the Jack LaLaine of rod building. 

Marty figures the tubes should lay out about like so. (Note steel-toed boots. Remember the SGE motto: Safety are top priority than anything!)

And so it came to be, after some careful welding and grinding.

The second frame owes its efficient production time to lessons learned on Frame #1. Result: Stereo frames in record time (not yet verified by the FIA).

A rare Uncle Marty selfie celebrates fabrication of the frame mounting brackets.

"The panels are .063" aluminum. I'm still playing with the gap between the panels and frames. I wanted the boards to resemble an old gas station sign. And they should look right at home with the push bumper on the front." Marty even whipped up a matching front panel, to connect the boards and protect the coming paint on the back of the cab from errant greasy engine blocks, rusty frame rails, and God only knows what other threats he'll be hauling back there. You've made me a believer, Marty!  (Photos courtesy of Uncle Marty Strode)


She's baaack! Gasoline Girl Kristin Cline continues her epic tenure as hot rodding's ordained conduit, without lifting.

Where we left off last time with Kristin: A fresh ornery SBC was installed into her trusty '55 Studebaker daily driver. Since then, Kristin's been accruing early Cadillac speed parts in anticipation of the next "Studie" drivetrain.

The pressures of being hot rodding's torch bearer are enormous - something has to give. 

We got some splainin' to do: Kristin's Halloween costume from last Friday. Looks like she's carrying more than one torch these days.

At press time, Kristin is back where we first met her, at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. This shot from the 2012 event reveals the depth of her involvement since our rookie season of 2009.

 If anyone can wheel a Studellac through L.A. traffic, it's Kristin. Be on the lookout for a swoopy pumpkin travelling at double the limit, trailing laughter. (Photos courtesy of Gasoline Girl Kristin Cline)


I have a dream. And my brother has one, too. My original mentor and older sibling, Rocky, scored an ex-dirt track '33 or 4 (it features elements of both) Ford 5-window for a song a few years ago. The body was "A bit rough", so grunt labor was traded for bodywork by the esteemed Jimmy Vaag (tinbender to the stars). 

Jimmy's back! And yes, those are mid-30s Chevy hoodside vents on the Ford. It makes sense, since the engine is a Pontiac.

Jimmy and his cigar, touching up the chopped quarter windows. The 4-point rollbar will hopefully never be needed, but makes a fitting tribute to the coupe's history.

While Jimmy grinds and sands, Rocky performs a complete brake job on some Nebraska farmer's old work truck. Rocky must have been on break when this image was shot.

If you've ever watched Jimmy Vaag work, you know how exhausting that can be. He's a force. Minutes after returning home from Jimmy's last Friday, Rocky's soul is drained, along with most of his saliva supply. (Photo courtesy of Mr. X)

It's been about four or five years of Friday night sessions (no one can remember), but the coupe body now lacks only final bodywork and paint. Rocky is wailing on the chassis as time and funds allow. Perhaps someday in our lifetimes, the Gosson Bros. will ride again. Brother Mark has some catching up to do...  (Photos courtesy of Rocky Gosson)


Okay, back to my dream. I was on the line at the U.S.Nationals against Garlits, when I realized I was naked. Buster Couch was pissed, but he let me go. No, wait. Wrong dream. This one is more of a nightmare. How to slice up this cherry '28 radiator shell to fit the radiator proportions I planned around a '31 shell? Dr. Lockjaw and I blew nearly a full minute of Custom Metal shop time on this conundrum before moving on to the next riddle.

I had a research breakthrough on my '40 Chevy truck shocks last week. Some poor schmuck on an obscure online forum had the same challenge as myself: How to disassemble the shock (to replace the seals and swap the arms side-to-side) without destroying the housing? A fellow lever arm shock freak posted a page from a 1940 GM truck tech manual, explaining that the shock's components were assembled using a 28,000 ton press(!) and were not intended to ever be taken apart. Back to the drawing board for Doc and I.

The closest thing to a drawing board at Custom Metal. But we finally realized a new way to mount the front shocks (identically to the rears, which are now done) and jumped into action. We crafted this bracket from cardboard, using scissors as a torch and masking tape as a welder. Still not strong enough, we copied the design to 1/4" steel.
Much better. Now mounted laterally to the tapered front rails, the shock arms will be linked to the wishbones with Heim joints. Brilliant!

 The view that imminent roadkill will get of our deviously cool shocks. For reference, that beam across the top of the photo is the '40 Ford front axle. We hope to button-up the shocks next Sunday and move on to the steering - maybe even the radiator and shell. Impossible? Jimmy Vaag could do it, but he is younger than us. (Scotty Shots)


We're overdue for an update on filthy biker and crusty pickup driver Lori Bentley Law. Lori is still shooting newsreels for the Los Angeles NBC News affiliate, but for how long?

Nothing makes the heart sing like seeing someone in their element. Lori mostly shoots humans at their worst, but also gets to view them at their best. Either way, she is firmly in the zone while hoisting a hundred pounds of video equipment to seize the moment. She's good because she cares.

If she ever retires, Lori could probably bag a gig at NASA after running this gear all of these years. Hey, is that another rocket exploding on the horizon? Doh! Even Lori Bentley Law can't win 'em all.

Lori's company car/office. The ultimate destination for Lori's ever-expanding antennae topper collection, and purportedly the fastest news van in the valley. As always, if the blue shade is in the window, don't come a knockin'!

Despite her great job in California, Lori and hubby Brian spend most of their time commuting to and from Lori's native Arizona, where they are restoring vintage properties such as the 66 Motor Palace, in Winslow.

Lori's report this week reveals the next hot trend in custom street trucks. Incorporating organic materials offers a plethora of new possibilities to aspiring customizers, while softening a skeptical public's view of automotive enthusiasts. This dated 409/4-speed '66 Chevy fleetside - formerly an austere street racer - is now an exciting cutting-edge statement of affordable luxury, performance, and style. Don't expect this phenomenon to stay in the Southwest for long. We're already hearing rumors of at least two leading magazines about to wholly dedicate content to this utilitarian splinter group.

 So, should she stay, or should she go? Lori wants to know what you, the readers, think.

Speaking of readers, Lori's incessant stalking of Jay Leno has finally produced a celebrity endorsement of her Motor Dolls novel, prompting others from Jerry Seinfeld to Justin Beiber to jump on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, Jim Lindsay says my Racing to America book is, "Pretty good." So there. (Photos courtesy of Lori Bentley Law)



I only posted this one in my quest to make you say, "Awww". Did it work?

 Esteemed rod and custom designer/builder Bob Thrash's Blackhawk Bantam Porta Power box. We've seen several photos of these aero boxes, but have yet to see one in person. Conspiracy? That depends on who you believe. We believe these things should come with Jr. Dragster engines installed.              (Photo courtesy of Bob Thrash)


Running errands this afternoon in my size-three-footprint Honda (it runs on gluten-free fuel), my regular NPR programming was interrupted with the announcement of Tom Magliozzi's death from the effects of Alzhiemers disease. Though we never met, the news hit hard, as if Tom were a cousin or something. No wonder. He spoke to me for decades, in between jabs from his brother Ray. Together, they were Click and Clack on Car Talk. I never knew which one was Click and which was Clack. For that, and some credible insight, I deferred to an expert. The expert was busy, as they often are, but I did get this quote from our own Motormouth Ray:

"Being a fellow talk show co-host who kids around with his partner more than anything, and having been asked more than once if we were "those guys from Boston", it's with great sadness and respect that I mourn the loss of Tom Magliozzi. Tom's playful (and at times, boyish) on-air persona, coupled with a sardonic wit, were the traits I admired most about him. Constantly trading barbs with his brother Ray while dispensing automotive, marital, or mildew prevention ideas to the other Triumph  owners in his audience, Tom always entertained, yet educated, his listeners.

Tom and I not only share title holding to a Fiat Spider, we also shared a love for the medium of radio - mostly the theater-of-the-mind variety that either affords the listener a front row seat to the inside joke, or a head scratching ticket to Palookaville. I'll only compare myself to Tom in saying that I aspire to be as smooth and congenial as he was... and I don't think that's gonna happen. Rest in peace, Tommy. I'm going to miss your infectious laugh."

Thanks, Ray. That speaks for everyone here at SGE. We send love and light to the Magliozzi family.