Saturday, January 30, 2016



Secret spy shot of the SGE garage, where car repair/maintenance is forbidden. The rest of the place is equally cool. (Photo courtesy of Mr. X)

Last week, I alluded to changes on the horizon of my personal life. Today, the tale can be told. Long story short, a spun thyroid bearing raised hell with my memory and energy capacities over time, ultimately rendering me unemployable for the last few months. With zero income, the notice of eviction from the SGE compound came as no surprise. I have to be out in a couple of hours, so future blog posts will be iffy as I resume couch surfing and praying for my medications to kick in.

Being raised by squirrels, "self care" was not in my vocabulary until it was almost too late. As it turns out, gathering nuts can only take one so far before trouble sets in. Lesson learned. My health issues are of my own making. So begins a new chapter in my pretzeled saga. It's certain to be interesting.

So I leave you with a private tour of Scottyville, circa 2016. I can only hope my next hideout is as accommodating to my needs.

Typical of the brutes that patrol Central Avenue, just outside my window. They taunt me at night with ridiculous cam overlap, punctuated with open headers and chirping tires. Bullies! This is the view through the window blinds of the third floor bunker. Alas, I have no matching Mopar shots to complete the trifecta, but they're definitely out there, every night. At my landlord's request, I'm not posting a photo of the building's fascia. He's had enough of these guys.

From the top of the garage, one can view the shiny new space that Lithia Motors built over the bones of the grimy streets I once scalded with rubber. To the right of those light poles is a public park that hosts a farmer's market, a Starbucks, and an amphitheater featuring free live music.

The only vestige of originality in the 'hood today is the arch under which countless Greyhound buses rolled, beginning in 1949. I think I rode on most of them. Beyond the arch, the amphitheater stage awaits decent music weather.

The ominous Lithia Motors monolith (apparently designed by Tim Burton) casts its shadow over downtown Medford, Oregon (and the rest of the United States). Click image to view Monty Burns counting money in top floor corner office.

The Sam Jennings Brake and Bearing Company is the last business on the block to resist a Lithia buyout, bless their hearts. Jennings mostly stocks industrial parts today, but is still the only bar in town for obsolete automotive oddities. They've been a Godsend to me and countless other wrench twirlers like fuel altered shoe Ronnie Mankins, who's '56 sedan apparently broke down at the best possible spot in town. (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Mankins)

The corner of Main and Riverside was Medford's ground zero up through the Eighties. This building is now being restored. It could become a Toyota dealership or an art gallery. Its chances of retaining its former dignity are precarious. I'm cheering it on.

The alley next to my building seems too nice to be called an alley. But late night bar surfers instill a dysfunctional wild west ethos that equals the nastiest alleyways on earth. You name it, I've seen it done here, more than once.

The secret rear entrance to my building can now be revealed. Through that glass top-floor landing door lies the twisted wonderland that is Scottyville. Or was.

Random alley shots.

The steel roll-up fascia of a marijuana dispensary. It changes color every five seconds, providing excellent traffic light entertainment.

Garage ground floor at 2:00 AM. I was hoping to catch some of the feral skate boarders and bicycle tricksters who haunt this space at night, but settled for a rare serenity shot instead.

The neighborhood isn't all imported brick and government concrete. Most of the older alleys remain in service. You never know what you'll find here, at any hour. These guys were warming up for a gig somewhere, and were amazing!

Reality slap: Same alley, a few feet downstream. These are my people. Again.

Out take from a shoot of John Ott's coupe (he built it in '61), in the alley just across from my building. (Scotty shots)

The alley prowler, pretending to have a purpose/destination. Maybe I'll see you out there somewhere. (Photo courtesy of Mary Wilkins-Kelly)


What does a gearhead do with a car in mid project when he or she becomes homeless? I got a little help from my friends. Local hot rod czar Allen Stewart offered this corner of his office to store my goodies for the winter. What a hero stud guy! Thanks Allen! Stuffed into those boxes is your basic Model A hot rod kit. Some assembly required.

When I arrived at Allen's with my load (during an unusually rowdy rain storm), I found his lovely assistant Ron Pope working on his '59 Apache project in the space formerly occupied by the SGE Model A. Ron's a solid guy, and I'm happy that he's making progress. But where's my A-bone chassis?

An abandoned Can Am racer, rotting in the woods? Contrare, mon frere. Ron double-wrapped my chassis for winter hibernation! Bonus: Camouflage tarp renders it invisible to aspiring thieves. Did I mention he's a good guy? Thanks Ron! Whenever I get back on this project, it won't be soon enough. (Scotty shots)

Monday, January 25, 2016



Scotty, on the clock. I suspected the ominous ticking was leading up to something...

... and sure enough, everything is different now. Again.

Despite two weeks of frantic searching, I've failed to locate my blogging cap, so have conjured this lame attempt to catch up. Now, I'm well aware that you didn't wander into this post to read about my personal tribulations, so will keep this brief: I'm far beyond the half-track marker, and seem to have also blasted right past the midlife crisis turnoff. I now find myself at an unexpected crossroads. At the risk of coming off as pretentiously cryptic, the near future could find me in a state of long overdue stability, or impending crisis. It's just too early in the process to even discuss yet. So I won't.

I can say that I'm not where I planned to be at this stage in life. Luckily, I receive daily reminders that my little schemes are laughable in the big picture. Accepting life on life's terms has been key to my serenity so far, and I'll continue to keep my head down, my mouth shut, and jump through the assigned hoops with my spirit open to the possibilities. All of which is illustrated by the following visual metaphors from the Department of Good Intentions. Sometimes our plans get changed for us. And most times, no matter how painful change can be to look at, it still reveals beautiful lessons to us...

During my recent downtime, I became obsessed with online surfing of abandoned car imagery and binge-collected a ton of it. As usual, no photo credits were given, other than the occasional watermark. The above image represents how I imagined my life might look at 59 years of age. The photos below convey the reality I must now embrace, ready or not.

I've become so obsessed with gathering these photos that they may become a regular feature on here. Stay tuned.

Hey, the SGE Model A! Good to see you again, buddy. It's been way too long. I still have big plans for you. With some luck, we'll get together again soon, I hope... (Scotty shot)



While time slips through my desperate fingers, I savor watching my friends flourish - a beautiful sight to behold.

When we last peeked into local pal Twisty Ron Austin's one-car garage, work was progressing briskly on customer Steve Marcus' Austin Bantam altered. This was the view after Twisty reshaped the quarter panels and stretched the cowl nine inches. Radical surgery, but Twisty says, "These crucial steps will be rewarded." He isn't bluffing.

Now Mr. Twisty is finishing-up the tinwork, in typical OCD fashion. The obvious guideline is to match or exceed the quality level of Twisty's chassis and body work. On target!

The Bantam's new firewall reflects the precision required to accommodate packaging challenges so minute that every millimeter equals a mile. There are dozens of such puzzles to juggle, at every turn.

What appears to be the ultimate mother-in-law seat will actually be hugging Mr. Marcus, to shield him from the unspeakable.

Like most Ron Austin Fabrication projects, Marcus' altered will sport one of Twisty's signature bulletproof sheetmetal rearends. "Friend" Ron Austin on Facebook and contact him for your bucket list build. (Photos courtesy of Ron Austin Fabrication)

Breaking News from Slightly Twisted Racing: Twisty Ron's championship trophy collection is taking up too much shop space, so he's passing the butterfly on to longtime pal and crewman Brandon "Moe" Pereira for the 2016 season, while he cleans out the garage. Before any competitors sigh in relief, they should consider Moe has been joyriding the Fiat for a number of years, is fully licensed, and can match R/Ts and ET slips with Twisty any day of the week. While Twisty Ron's new title is "Crewchief", he still prefers "Sir Champion".  (Photo courtesy of John Tarr)


Speaking of Fiat frivolity, Portland-area Fabmaster Marty Strode still hasn't started on this little guy, due to an endless parade of pesky customers. Damn the luck! On the upside, I have another addition to my orphaned car photo collection.

The latest at Marty's shop is a street/strip'68 hemi Dart that Show & Go legend Lonnie Gilbertson is building for his buddy Jim Patrice. When faced with the power-to-weight ratio of the build, Lonnie hauled it straight to Marty's for a certifiable rollcage.

Marty's fitness program consists largely of TIG welding rollcages in door cars. Think about it. Building a ship in a bottle like this while running the TIG pedal with your knee and/or elbow is the mark of the dedicated hardcore. The result is a physique reminiscent of Jack LaLane and/or James Brown. Or the Brennaman brothers. 

While in Strode mode, Gilbertson had Marty whip up mounts for the A-100 style seats, "Like the original factory race cars". These units nail the vibe while improving on the original design.

Moments after kicking out the Dart, world renowned bee keeper and romance novelist Jim Lindsay appeared with his dad's old Model A roadster pickup (looking every bit a lakes modified here) in need of Marty's expertise: "He called on me to build an exhaust system for the Model B engine that his dad (the late Grant Lindsay) installed during its restoration. His plans also involved the fabrication and installation of a (dropped) belly pan." That's what you get for answering the phone.

Marty kicked off the belly pan project with these 3/4" OD (.065" wall) mounts...

 ... then wrapped the tubing in .050" 5052 aluminum, fresh from the sheetmetal brake.

After experiencing a beautiful case of the bends, the pan is mocked-up in the shop...

... and under the truck. Bonus: Besides cheating the wind, the deep drop allows for a much more comfortable driving experience.

Completed belly pan assembly, as viewed from rear of cab. Mission accomplished. Next...

... the scratch-built exhaust system for Lindsay's 'banger, emanating from what appears to be a cast iron header. You know the drill here: Measure, mark, cut, adjust, repeat.

Ta da!

The finished product should scavenge exhaust pulses effectively, while guaranteeing period correctness.

It's the little things. Marty's exhaust hangers are spot on in every way.

For a collector, Strode dipped into his past: "I used an inner driveshaft tube from a '35-'36 Ford. That was the exhaust pipe of choice back then."

With the air gap between the belly pan and pipe serving as an insulator, exhaust heat should be of minimal concern. But decibels will fall out perpendicular to passenger's right ear. Will the truck get Midasized? Stay tuned.

The end? Yes. For now.

While Marty and I both dig the lakes modified look, Lindsay will likely be re-bedding the truck. He'll need the storage space, as plans include runs to The Race Of Gentlemen at Pismo Beach, California and the Hot Rod Hillclimb at Georgetown, Colorado. My 2016 itinerary also includes those events, among others. Will we see Lindsay's truck on the road to these gigs? Naw, he'll probably trailer it. That's right Jim, I'm calling you out! (Photos courtesy of Marty Strode)



I'm not the only squirrel in town who finds abandoned cars irresistible. Perhaps someone some day will resurrect this rodent-infested Pontiac and return it to its former glory. Perhaps not. It would be a crying shame to see this classic just rot away...

Yet another victim of my corroded tin binge, this truckload of Snap On tools and boxes must have delivered countless joy and regret to its recipients. Few things in life are as inspirational as a new toolbox. And fewer things take longer to pay for. The cover charge is steep, but once you're in, you're in for good.


At this writing (1-25-2016), Ye Olde Blog has amassed 101,057 hits. Those would be pathetic daily numbers for a mainstream blog, but are a major milestone for this little part-time kitchen table endeavor that began in 2010(ish). I've long planned on killing this life-draining page at the 100K mark, so the timing feels providential. But can I actually pull the trigger? I really don't know. While I twist on that conundrum, just know that the entire SGE family thanks you for dropping in to see us. If not for your interest and support, there would be no reason to surf the net for squirrel photos. And therefore, no reason to get out of bed in the morning. So, a hundred thousand slaps on the back to the wondrous SGE Nation, and to Motormouth Ray, CC, Marty Strode, Twisty Ron Austin, Doctor Lockjaw, Lori Bentley Law, Maria Panova, and all of the other freelance contributors who have helped build this limp rag into the binary code powerhouse that it has become. You are all rulers, and I am your ever-grateful cheerleader. Thank you all. (Image courtesy of Bob Higginson)