West Coast Report – Second Edition

Win a Free Invisible Frog!

Welcome to the second edition of West Coast Eastwood and wow, does time ever fly! It’s almost like the span of a year has been reduced to one month’s time with Christmas, and July 4th placed within days of each other… one day it’s Christmas, the next it’s the Forth of July. I imagine just like everything else in today’s have to change everything world there’s going to be a new-fangled word invented to moniker the single month that equals a year.

I know, we’ll hold a contest for West Coast Eastwood followers to name the new catch-all month and the winner will receive a special limited edition West Coast Eastwood invisible frog.

Congratulations, you have just won a genuine West Coast Eastwood invisible frog. According to DOT, USPS, and CARB regulations it must be mentioned your West Coast Eastwood invisible frog has traveled many miles without a pee-pee break, and might produce an involuntary high pressure release of liquefied uric acids if improperly removed from its special carbon fiber lined envelope.

Please note WCE invisible Frog urine is known to the State of California to produce unsightly warts, and maybe even cause cancer. Doctor tested and mom approved your new WCE invisible frog is certified to be MTBE free and will not reek like aspartic acid if left in direct sunlight.

What got me wound-up on the subject of time really flying was the grim reality of it reoccurred all last week while I was readying my ‘68 GMC to deliver to its new owner. Breaking one of the cardinal rules of selling a used car I sold the GMC to a longtime good friend that works for Easyriders. I got the Jimmy from its original owner an elderly gentleman that used it as a delivery truck for his carpet store in Riverside, California.

This old GMC is such a great example of an unmolested stock mid-series C10 that Hedman Headers used it recently to prototype its latest offering for C10 Chevy, and GMC trucks. A dumb mistake I passed when Hedman offered to put the truck’s exhaust system back to its stock configuration before they returned it, consequently it came back with uncorked large-bore headers intended for a mega-inch small-block.

Out of consideration for my neighbors aural sensitivities I only run the Jimmy while there’s an army of gardeners hustling at their homes using leaf blowers… Hey, I bet I could use an uncorked blown 392 Hemi with down-turned “zoomies” as a leaf blower. (note to brain: conduct feasibility study using wheelbarrow mounted Hemi engine to devise leaf blower)

A job that should have taken a few minutes escalated into a week — Restoring the exhaust system back to original wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I hadn’t lost most of the stock hardware Hedman’s R&D guys left somewhere in the bed of the truck. From here the job just kept getting uglier and uglier — Updates to follow.


—   John Gilbert


Color Change is good

The time really flies theme has spilled over a wee bit into this week’s House of Choppers. I had hoped to have my living room fully converted into a proper set to start shooting tech features for House of Choppers, but it just didn’t work out that way. When it comes to home repairs a friend once told me I make Alf look like Bob Villa.

I enjoy having a small collection of Snap-on, Craftsman, Waterloo, and Kobalt Rollaways, but through the years I’ve really come to appreciate the practicality of a tool board, or even better yet a tool cabinet. Being able to spot if a tool’s missing before it’s long lost is a big plus. The tool cabinet pictured here was made by my grandfather in 1947. My dad had it in the garage at my childhood home from 1952 until around 1974 when he gave it to me for my home garage. In January of ‘79 I opened Auto Exotics in Westminster, California, and moved the cabinet into the clean room. To cherry it out I sprayed the cabinet in Dupont Centari Ford production blue and lined its innards with a roll of plasticized medium blue shelving paper.

Almost 35 years past brings us up to date where I just hand-brushed the cabinet with semi-gloss white acrylic house paint, and relined the interior with sheet cork to use for the new House of Choppers set.

Take a look at the before and after shots and they prove it doesn’t matter if it’s an old car, a motorcycle, or making some home improvements taking the time to add fresh paint makes all the difference in the world when it comes to improving aesthetics. That said, it doesn’t matter what you are working on, the key to perfect results is thorough preparation.

After restoring and painting the tool cabinet the crusty old fireplace alongside looked pretty crummy. When I moved into the house in 1981 the fireplace was buried in a thick coating of white enamel. I’ve always preferred the look of natural brick, used brick in particular, so I spent the better part of a week in ’84 stripping the bricks bare with a body grinder.

A 36-grit disc can make a porous mess out of a brick, and I wasn’t too impressed with how fast the Home Depot fare was filling in the pocks. This is where my hot-rodder instincts kicked in and I looked to the automotive industry for a better solution.

I think custom painting motorcycles all these years with poor ventilation has numbed my brain because I’m just not all that sharp when it comes figuring out the directions on a can. I like how fast Eastwood’s Contour polyester primer-surfacer builds, but I had a little trouble deciding how much catalyst to add for the small amount I wanted to use. The directions on a can of Eastwood’s Contour simply state mix 5% by weight. That wasn’t a lot of help, I determined for an exploratory batch to see how much it’d cover I’d brush on 4 ounces of Contour. This is where the miracle of the information highway came in handy. I did a Google search and learned 5-percent of 4 fluid ounces equals 1.2 tablespoons. Back to the subject of proper ventilation afterwards I opened every door and window in the house, but it wasn’t quite enough to kill the nostalgic smell of curing resin. The girlfriend went for a walk, and the dog just kept sleeping.

There’s several ways to speed up how soon you can work with Contour polyester primer-surfacer. The first is to “hot-cat” it by adding a little extra catalyst. Don’t get too carried away, using too-much catalyst causes brittleness in polyester primers and extreme amounts of hardener in fiberglass resin can burst into flames… Not the kind of flames you see on a Harley tank either.

As a custom painter I was famous for sticking my fingers in wet paint. Instead of waiting for Contour polyester primer to set completely before dry-sanding sometimes in cold weather I like to speed things up with a pan of warm water mixed with a little dish detergent. The warm soapy water not to mention feels great on arthritic knuckles works good to heat the polyester resin and lubricate wet/dry sandpaper. For initial sanding I use 220-grit wet/dry, it cuts fast, and leaves a good foot for the next coats or finish the job with 320, or 400 grit. Of course there is the option to follow the directions and let Contour dry thoroughly.


The Enderle is Free and its Fun

Spelled the same as Enderle fuel-injection, the Enderle Center in Tustin, California, hosts an informal style car show held on the last Sunday and first Sunday of each month. Most of us regular attendees just call it the Enderle, but its’ officially known as the Million Dollar Breakfast Cruise. If you only have a couple of bucks in your pocket don’t worry the Java at the Coffee Grinder gives its money’s worth in potent caffeine guaranteed to make you babble and drool.

The photos shown here were taken in late December a month after hard-charging Jerry Dixie from Street Rodder magazine caravanned in with a bunch folks participating in Street Rodder’s Road Tour. Sorry, it didn’t occur to me to be shooting pictures that day, I was just hanging out digging the So Cal sun, and talking with the folks that rolled in from as far as Vancouver BC. Which is interesting in itself because BC is sometimes known as Canada’s California, and has an incredibly active old car culture. I don’t know if BC has its own Barbara Boxer, or Diane Feinstein like California does, but that’s another story. I have heard Canada has a primer minister, he’s some guy that taxes people that drive around with their hot rods still in primer. Someone should get in touch with NAFTA, and point out the unfairness of it all. Please stay tuned for more truths and misconceptions about Canada in future show coverage.


Bruce Willis’ ’55 Nomad

My friend Henry at Newport Classic Cars in Newport Beach, California bought this ’55 Chevy Nomad from Bruce Willis at an auction a few years back. Bruce said he has a lot of fond memories regarding this car. One was the time he went to Sears to buy a Die-Hard battery… Couldn’t resist I just made that part up, but it does have a Die-Hard battery. I don’t know what’s happening nationwide, but I can say Nomad prices are rising fast here in So Cal. As I write Bruce’s old ’55 is sitting in Scottsdale at the Russo & Steel auction waiting to see what she’ll bring. It’s going to be interesting; updates to follow.


Super Big Extra Cab

Tell me if you don’t think this big old gray truck with the extended cab wouldn’t make one of the coolest over-the-road car haulers ever? Last April I was driving cross-country helping “Clean” Dean move back home to Iowa when we spotted this yard full of rusted gold in a little Colorado town just a little shy of the Nebraska line. I’m sorry I can’t remember the town’s name, I do remember its one and only diner had a young tattooed waitress with purple hair, and she was originally from… you guessed it, California. Anything over a 3/4-ton and I’m pretty much lost, if you know what make this rig is please let me know.

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  • John Gilbert

    March 3rd, 2013

    My shop cat’s name is Peggy. She likes to leave half-eaten birds underneath my truck.

    I was at the Enderle today, and saw lot of cars I haven’t seen before. Watch for updates.

    Do they sell breath mints for cats?

  • Denisse Kohut

    March 20th, 2013

    Wow, an invisible frog for free, that’s must be very surprising. I love a classic car and know how difficult it is to maintain this one. I do agree it is true restoring the exhaust system back to its original performance is not a big deal only if you have the required hardware.

  • Leaf Blowers

    June 13th, 2013

    Nice pictures. I really like some of those cars.

    I already have an invisible frog though. I just can’t find him.

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