Tuesday, March 24, 2015



These are my people. This is my playground. That should be me behind the wheel. (Photographer unknown)

SGE World Headquarters, Medford, Oregon. March 19th, 2015. 12:37 AM.

It's been a productive day of work on the latest Cartech book project, but I knocked off early to scribble out this blog post. In the last hour, three rowdy street brawlers have rattled my third story window. Each of them blipped the throttle and shed some rubber as they passed. It's hard to resist using downtown buildings for echo chambers, but my ego interpreted the barking M/Ts and Flowmasters as taunting personal shout outs. Tis the season. Again.

Twice a year I do battle with the big bad deadline monster, and twice a year it hands my ass to me. The work always gets in on time, but each deadline takes a bigger bite. That monster insists on eating well, and I don't know how many more servings I have left in me. True confession: While experiencing sleep deprivation and the other associated symptoms of Deadline Fever, I sometimes indulge in a moment of frustration. Spring has sprung, and all of my playmates seem to be out there living the life, while I'm chained to this keyboard. I want to go out and play too, damn it! My Model A project is growing cobwebs and rust, while everyone else is giddily blasting through paradise. That's how it feels when I'm rundown, anyway. In reality, I'm doing what I love every day, and getting paid for it. I am such a prima donna. I even have a car project that I don't deserve. In these moments, I look within and feel frustration at my lack of gratitude. For that, I look to my old friend, Ron Austin.

You gotta start somewhere. Twisty Ron Austin hasn't been able to wipe the grin off his face since striking his first professional arc only a few years back. When approached by Dave Sattem two years ago to rehab Dave's tired '33 Willys bracketeer, this is where Ron started. That two year ET could have been halved, if not for Ron's 50-hour workweeks at a local powder coating company, but those days are behind him now. Sattem's finished Willys looks even better than this initial sketch. So says more than one panel of judges, anyway. Regarding his artistic prowess, Twisty quips, "I don't think Foose has anything to worry about."

Sattem's coupe was squeezed into Twisty's home garage, and ride height was determined during this preliminary mock-up session.

The first chrome moly tubes were gathered around a gutted Chevy big block, and suspension points were tossed around. That's actually gross understatement, as major hours were burned pinpointing each component's exact location before a single spark was launched across Twisty's shop. It's time consuming work, and Austin is more demanding of precision than the average bear.

The harder Austin worked, the more tubing piled up in the Willys' miniscule interior. Twisty: "At this point, I am seriously trying to understand why anyone would build a door car, but it's too late to turn back now. You say you want to be a TIG welder?"

Then Austin covered his work with aluminum. The body was off and on myriad times to check for perfect fitment of the rollcage. No small feat in a one-man shop.

Hey Twisty, hold this microphone - I gotta go take a leak. "Um, okay. The sound system was the last step before disassembly. Next, it was time to frost the cake!" Well put, my friend.

Tasty frosting! Twisty's powder coating experience has its perks. Twisty: "Yeah, it's amazing what a little color does to a project." (Photos courtesy of Twisty Ron Austin)

Dave Sattem was so pleased with the finished car that he entered it in the 2015 Boise Roadster Show, where it received a Best in Class trophy. Who'da thunk it? (Photo courtesy of Kenny Welch)

BREAKING NEWS: This just in from Twisty Ron, reporting live from the Portland Roadster Show: "Dave Sattem's Willys took Best in Class and Best Competition entry in Portland!" Thanks Twisty, and congrats to all parties involved. The new chassis hasn't even crossed the starting line yet, but has already established itself as a winner. Today's Oregonian newspaper headline: "Greasy Sportsman racers steal trophy from touring pros!" Now that Sattem has had time to brush the angel hair off of his firesuit, we're hoping for initial test results from Woodburn Drag Strip. Let's get with the program and chip that paint, Dave! Twisty Ron Austin's thoughts on the build: "I'm really happy with how this project turned out. If Dave would have let me name the car, I don't think I could have picked a better one. Pretty much sums it up." (Photo courtesy of Twisty)

Bonus shot: Twisty (left) made a guest appearance at author Jim Lindsay's booth while at the Rose City show. That's Lindsay's "The Little Bastards" book in the background. The biggest damn book I ever saw! I knew Jim was interested in publishing it in a large print format, but this seems a little over-the-top. Just my opinion. (Photo courtesy of Tami "Krankypants" Austin, who bagged two racing legends with one shot.)



When last we saw Lance Sorchik's '33 roadster, it was completely fitted together for the first time -basically an assembled sheetmetal jigsaw puzzle. How to celebrate such a milestone? Tear it all apart again! That's what Lance did, so he could clean and paint all components in preparation for that most sacred of hot rod rituals, the final assembly. 

The trick chassis that Lance built with his pal Jesse Coots at Old Soul Hot Rod Shop in LeRoy, New York is now showing it's true colors and both of them are black - flat and shiny. While this dynamic overhead shot shows the sexy symmetry of the layout, the details reveal the spirit of the build. Look and learn.

Lance reports the roadster now starts and stops just like a real car, and he's stoked for a test drive. As kinky as the components are (torsion bar suspension Divco wheels, etc), our favorite part is the joy of the build that is present in the overall vibe and in every detail. It's this close to being driveable (thumb and forefinger nearly touching), but that will have to wait until Lance and wife Diane return from their latest exotic overseas adventure. Consider this scenario to be "luxury frustration". And expect burnout shots in a few weeks, right here. (Photos courtesy of Lance Sorchik)


The Custom Metal fabrication shop in Applegate, Oregon. Proprietor Dr. Lockjaw (AKA Jamie Ford, but everyone knows him as Nancy) has been toiling for months on this frame for a customer's '41 Willys street/strip coupe. Until recently, it was a complete rolling chassis, with drivetrain (6-71 blown BBC, etc.) and fiberglass body mounted. Now it's finally blown apart for final welding (with an assist from Twisty Ron Austin himself, who fabbed-up the beautiful 9" Ford housing, though I'm not sure that he mounted it properly), and will soon go down the road for paint and upholstery. I learned a lot from watching the doctor's approach to this patient. The energy expended on this build went way beyond the customer's comprehension. That's how it usually goes.

When we turned off the lights last week at Custom Metal, the SGE Model A had a Corvair steering box precariously perched on a tube tacked to the frame rail. This week, we added some stability.

I had picked up a remnant of 1/4" steel at the scrapyard to make a brace for the steering box mount, but it was a couple inches shy of the desired width. Doh! I knew I shouldn't have used that metric tape measure. Luckily, a shard of scrap from Doc's trash can saved the day.

We whipped up a cardboard template of the desired mount and Doc transferred the shape to the steel.

We had scribbled a loose reference to a required access hole for worm-and-sector lash adjustment, and suddenly, without warning, this happened...

A pleasing image, yet I can't help but find it to be derivative of Spike Kilmer's early work. This was surprising, as Doc is a longtime Chris Cooper aspirant. But inspiration knows no brand loyalty.

 A test fitting of our massive brace showed we were on target. Note curved tube holding platform in place. I've been saving my pennies and blew them on that trick Sweet Manufacturing u-joint. 

The shop grunt was dispatched to remove any material that didn't look like a steering box mount...

... and the mount, she's all done! For the moment, anyway. Final welding will happen later. Never before has such an expanse of heavy steel invaded any of my cars. But we shook the hell out of it and found it to be very rigid. Doc tried to cheer me up by suggesting the piece double as a mounting point for electrical gear. I suppose 15 pounds of steel is sufficient to handle 12 ounces of wiring. Next Week: The steering shaft, wheel, and drag link! Sounds racy... 

Here's the thing. Doc has been accruing his knowledge and skills since birth. So why should he share that experience with a know-nothing like me? He says it's more important to him to pass it on than to keep it secret from any perceived competitors. And all he asks in return is that I pass it on to the next person. To any aspiring hot rodders viewing this blog: Once you get your head around this stuff, you know what you have to do. Doc says it's a small price to pay for the fun. I agree. Thanks Doc! (Scotty shots)



The rumor mill in Glendora, California has been cranked up yet again. Our sources report that NHRA head coyote Tom Compton has decreed all back-up girls be replaced with squirrels, effective immediately. SGE reporter Mr. X notes Compton's comment overheard during a phone call from a Chevron restroom stall in West Covina: "I know they're on the fence right now, but these guys will move fast. They ain't no Easter egg chicks." You heard it here first. (Photo courtesy of Mr. X)

The same box that film maker Faith Granger keeps under the seat of her Deuce of Spades roadster also handles her home repair needs. Humble, but effective.

For reference, here's Faith and the roadster at El Mirage. She's currently working on the sequel to the Deuce of Spades movie. Keep an ear tuned for snippets of some Scotty Gosson Combo tunes in the soundtrack. (Photos courtesy of Faith Granger)


Joe Borer's Marlin and Goat may have been among the herd of street animals calling me out tonight. Bullies!