Thursday, June 30, 2005

O'keefe and Merritt Gas Range $2500

This single photo should tell you everything you need to know. The griddle is in the middle and it was pinstriped by Skratch.


Everybody has been asking, what happened to the O'Keefe and Merritt stove with the Grill-a-Vator, Salt and Pepper Shakers and Hideaway Shelf?

It's done. I know the mumblings. And I admit, it is knee-slapping funny to look at the posts from last year as I was predicting weekly completion. Needless to say, it didn't happen. Refurbishing these stoves is a pain in the ass. It is dirty work and frustrating work. Getting parts is very, very difficult and chrome plating bills skyrocket. I would do it again, sure, for $10,000.

This stove is for sale. $2500. It is not restored. Frankly, I am not sure restored stoves exist. Restored means that it is new, as it was in the showroom. That means not a chip in or out. Every component original, flawless and working. The clock and timer circuits function without a hitch. The bakelite handles are pristine white. The chrome is glassy perfect without the slightest imperfection. This stove is not restored.

But it is a damn nice refurbishment. The bakelite has been buffed, some chrome was redone, errant parts found, electrical rewired and the porcelain is in surprisingly good original condition. There are chips here and there and some of the chrome plating is so worn you can see the original copper underneath. It definitely has a patina, but it is safe, clean as hell and works like a champ. The O'Keefe and Merritt was stripped to the bare frame, every component cleaned and recleaned and re-assembled with new fiberglass stove insulation.

What about the pinstriping? Well, it was done by Skratch and it looks cool as hell. I traded some headlights, a Model A visor and a grip of dirty bills. Will it wear off? Absolutely. Over time the pinstriping will wear like an old hot rod and will grow fainter and fainter. Your grandkids will marvel at the remaining pinstriping that has not been washed away in 30 years. What if you don't want pinstriping? Even if I don't understand why you wouldn't want it, I respect your cockeyed ideas and point you to any number of vintage stove dealers that have not sullied their wares. Because, you see, this stove is pinstriped and will stay pinstriped.

Interested in the history of the stove? Link 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and back breaking story in a single photo 6

Life's Rich Abundance

Garage sales are my gambling. The currency is time, inconvenience, early rising, preparation and knowledge. Money is part of equation, in that you are not always precisely sure what you are getting until you have batteries, an electrical outlet or are able to ascertain if the other 3 hubcaps at home are exactly the same. Sometimes, the item is a fake, a repro or broken. That is a financial risk, though many items I purchase brand new are unsatisfying and let me down.

I have wanted a Braun travel alarm clock since I was in junior high and pictured myself living a euro lifestyle surrounded by sleek black plastic electronics. The 1980s nadir of American style meant everything should say Made in West Germany. Over the years, I have passed over any number of these Braun alarm clocks. Maybe it cost more than a dollar or the battery compartment was corroded. Maybe I forgot that I wanted one and was not really seeing them.

The score is more intoxicating than money. I can't remember my age or phone number, but I have at least 1000 items that have a story of acquisition down to the every detail. I can picture where a 1000 items lay when I found them. I didn't know I wanted a Jaegar Watch Company 8-Day WWII Civil Date Long Range Bomber Chronograph. And it is worth more and less than the ebay value. Worth less, because I would never pay ebay prices for an 8 Day Clock. Now that I have it, I would not consider selling it. It is a paper weight without parallel and the tick-tick is very relaxing, but I have never really had a problem with papers flying around, so I will install it in my Model A to be sure I am not getting cheated by the SCTA timing tower.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Drag Racing for Drag Race Geeks

The 2005 Antique Nationals is a delightfully geeky car event. All sorts of old timers running peculiar engine combinations that make sense only to true snobs. Lots of inliner engines, early Ford 4-bangers, Whizzers and the requisite Flathead V-8s. Of all the photos I took, this single shot of a full fender, full height Model A vs. a mild custom 50-something Ford is the only one that was not corrupted. Match-ups like this are the stuff of notebook paper sketches and you don't expect them to happen in real life.

, the host of the Antique Nationals, is about 50 miles north of Los Angeles and anchors a strip of desert that was once a true, undeniable paradise. The Four Corners Swap Meet is still there and an excellent place to buy speed freak's sofas when they have sold everything else, but before the Pines Cafe was sold and compromised, this two mile stretch of Pearblossom highway contained everything a desert rat would need to live a robust, meaningful, malt liqour inspired modern renaissance. Besides the wonderfully derelict dragstip and the tamale switchblade comb dumpster-expired Lucky Charms swapmeet, the Pines Cafe was the true one in a million. The owners would be cracking Keystones by about 11AM and would delightfully tell you the FDA allowed rat hair content of ketchup if you stupidly asked for it rather than 'the homemade salsa right there on the table.' I have eaten breakfast all over the world and never had a meal finer than that served at the Pines Cafe.

Ten years ago, the Pines Cafe was having some tax trouble and they sold a xerox'd, Broderbund Print Shop, Astrobright, stapled cookbook to raise funds so I bought 5 and keep them in archival sleeves. I often use the pancake tricks with astounding results and if I could find the strength of character to use the quantities of lard that are called for, I am sure the Mad Dog Huevos Rancheros and Oklahoma Tostada would not disappoint.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Extremely Ugly Big Block Ford Fairmount Wagon on Ebay! Delightful!

Direct from the department of more time than good sense, click to see a wonderful piece of garbage! A big block Ford Fairmont station wagon finished in the delightful color that is known the world over as 'shit brown.' Good to see it still has a roof rack as all true racers should have a little extra storage. The deeper you get in the ad, the more work is created. Little things like the steering rubbing against the headers would have been resolved long ago if it was as easy as it sounds. Perhaps you could coax the extra space with a hammer and a torch, but maybe all that would accomplish is a small power steering hose fire. All that said, you can stop being a loser and be a drag racing superstar this weekend.

A real sleeper, though I would move the tachometer inside and remove the hoodscoop. The height of the big block engine might require additional hood clearance but that fiberglass hood scoop has got to go! I would replace it with a turkey roasting pan. You know, a nice one. Not some piece of junk but maybe a nice granite ware enamel pan. Maybe paint a nice 70s style graphic on the side like 'Poop' or 'The Turd'. And, naturally, it would really benefit from a set of novelty hood pins.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Hooptyrides Fantasy COE

I don't know where Coop got this photo, but he thoughtfully added the Hooptyrides brand to the side along with a shout out to Burbank! Where it's at!

I am always crazy about the Chevrolet COE trucks as they look so nutty. As if another half a truck has been added to the midsection. Pulling Airstreams and Spartans, clearly the way to travel in style and from a position of high command.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hooptyrides Store

Everybody is asking, what will we find at the Hooptyrides store?

A fair question. Whatever impossibly cool thing I find, I will buy a couple extra. Or a lot extra. Because I am not averse to spending gobs of money and when you find something like a case of new old stock, sealed in the box military surplus spotlights, it is impossible to not buy the whole case. In fact, it seems like it would be insulting to pull out two and leave the rest to languish in their broken up case.

They are currently equipped with 24v 95,000 candlepower bulbs, but as it is a standard size, I will replace them with 12v aircraft landing lights. You know, something modest and respectible. Though not approved by the Department of Transportation, they are will not be strong enough to blind an old lady. A lamp that will peel paint off a cinder block wall, but not so strong as to kill a rabbit. And hardly a cooler hot rod headlight have I seen.

A reasonable $80 buys a set. Send your money now or when the Hooptyrides store is open. Just send it.

Has there ever been a cooler way to signal an oil pressure leak and the resulting drop in oil pressure than this charming 'LEAK' light? I nearly fell over when I found it. And that light on the right... adjustable brightness DIM to BRIGHT. Too cool. So, yes, indicator lights will also be featured on the Hooptyrides online store internet presence.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

O'Keefe and Merrit Vintage Gas Range - Done?

As these things tend to do, the O'Keefe and Merritt gas range project took a little longer to complete than originally anticipated. Naturally, the range had sat almost done for about 4 months and I finished it today. The impetus for the final push was the dramatic arrival of Model A components.

Automobiles take up a lot of space. I know this better than perhaps anybody. But, disassembled cars, now that takes up even more space. One would think that like a box of cereal, the individual components could be shaken up to ever more compact space requirements, but it just isn't true. Even with the loosey goosey tolerances of a Model A flathead four, packing the pistons, rods, crank and cam inside the block is damn efficient storage. My Model A is like a bomb went off and the parts are spread over a country mile. I should be so lucky to have a country quarter mile.

So is the O'Keefe and Merritt done? Nope. It needs pinstriping.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

1930 State of the Art for Proletariats

The garage was completely cleaned up and then the next (and last) load of parts arrived. Each individual item warrants extreme focused attention.

When I concurrently owned a 1954 and a 1964 Chevy, it was fascinating to look at the differences between the two as Chevrolet solved problems and cheapened components. The 54 Chevy had but a lick of plastic, while the 64 Chevelle was laden with the miracle of plastic. Despite a downturn in materials and workmanship, the engineering leaps were astonishing. To compare a stovebolt 6 to a small block Chevy was a dazzling paradigm shift in technology. That 10 years represented dramatic changes. Not since then has there been a decade that has seen such movement.

Automobile designers have always been confronted with the same issues and how they solve those issues is fascinating. Saab with the backward engines, Citreon with the freaky self-leveling suspension, VW and their air cooled miracles, Porsche with viscuous coupling 4 wheel drive, Mazda with the Wankel rotary, Mercedes decades diesel dedication and even the steam power of Stanley. Everybody had a different idea of how to reliably power an automobile, to get around a corner with most of the wheels on the ground and how to do it so that it will still do it tomorrow.


The guys that stay true blue to a single marquee don't have the opportunity to see how things evolved over time, by region and by cost. Though I had closely examined Model A's for years, I really had no idea how they were put together. The leaf spring encased inside the frame cross member is ingenuous, simple, cheap to manufacture, strong, cheap to manufacture, sound and most importantly, cheap to manufacture.

The assembly line engineering economics is at least as interesting as engineering for pure performance. The richness that it affords the owner is an attribute that has all but disappeared from modern automobiles. In effect, you get an assembly line in your driveway, as that value minded design extends real benefit to the owner. It pays dividends. It is durable and easy to hop up. It is upgradeable over time. The doodad aftermarket was massive and is still big by any measure. And improvements continue to be made. The Model T's and Model A's were not for disengaged owners and they had huge manuals to prove it. And if you couldn't fix it, no matter. All your neighbors had Fords too.

Ready for Muroc

With a hand dolly and pick-up truck with a liftgate, Avi and I loaded about 1.5 Model A's into a truck without a smidge of help from the stout, present and churlish family that simply watched us load their driveway albatross. No matter. All you need is two guys and a hand dolly. Try getting a Kia into the back of a pick-up truck.

Today, Coop came over and we got a mishmash of parts into something that sort of looks like a vehicle. At this point, if I watch the weight, strap a lawn chair to the frame and install one of my puny four cylinder engines, the whole truck should weigh about the same as a Formula One race car. And the comparison to Formula One ends there. To compete on a performance basis, I would probably have to install BOTH four cylinder engines.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Death from Above

There is a limited number of times the shelves can be repacked for maximum efficency. Eventually, like the cup hooks of America, the underside of the shelves need to be called into service and were perforated with a variety of the hardware store's finest hooks. Remarkably, the shelf bottoms were a completely overlooked organizational option until the recent influx of parts for the Model A pick-up created an unusually high space demand.

There is so much top quality junk hanging from the undersides of everything, that the likelihood of my demise by car parts has increased dramatically. My only hope is that when the paramedics arrive to find me under a radiator, that they will say, "It looks like it was well organized until this pile of crap killed the poor bastard. "