Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gas Filler Neck Hose

Know what happens when the hose between the gas cap and the tank disintegrates? The gas pours on your feet at the gas station. Besides being awful for the environment, it is terribly embarrassing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Corvette Summer Living

The question is not do you want to buy the car, but who is that sitting on the fender? Showing up to purchase this vehicle would necessitate a trip with the seller to their local bar. There would be some excuse to accompany like "the only blue ball point pen in 30 miles." Once there, if you were cordial, you would be able to satisfy this social contract, have a beer and still emerge a 'good guy', squinting in the late, low slung sun of Reseda. However, if you managed to hang in there for a couple of beers and - god forbid - a shot, well then you are sort of stuck. Like a cross between novel plaything and a prisoner. Though, in those dark moments, you may learn the sexual orientation of the individual sitting on the car.

Corvette on eBay

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hard Earned Experience - 20 Things I Learned About Antennas

As I own a coin laundry with three television sets, the digital television conversion has been a particularly thorny transition. Admittedly, the coin laundry industry deals with a more complex matrix of considerations than would present themselves to consumers and most businesses. For example, the theft deterrent aspect of a tube television is of great benefit.

For years, analog antenna reception has been a wonderfully worry-free proposition. It was cheap, reliable and yielded a high quality picture. Digital TV has been less successful.

1. Winegard offers an impressive array of products.
2. Antennaweb is great.
3. VHF/UHF/FM antennas are not great at VHF, UHF or FM. They are a compromise for everything.
4. Antennas are fairly cheap, very light and mounting bracket choices are plentiful.
5. Antennas are sharp and will cut you.
6. Distribution amplifiers from Radio Shack are worthless.
7. Mast mount amplifiers from Winegard help quite a bit.
8. KMEX channel 34 is a particularly popular TV channel. Interruption of that channel causes great aggravation.
9. KMEX Channel 34 is a particularly difficult channel to receive.
10. The digital TV signal is in the same frequency ranges as UHF/VHF. Therefore, a digital TV antenna is no different than a regular TV antenna.
11. The different length antenna tines are tuned to different frequencies. The short ones are for UHF.
12. UHF is directional, so if you are trying to tweak and peak UHF channels, like KMEX Channel 34, point the short tines towards the signal per antennaweb.
13. 300 ohm to 75 ohm converters are still required.
14. The true geeked out solution is to have a tall mast with separate VHF, UHF and FM antennas daisy chained together with twin lead wire.
15. Cable and satellite service for a business is about 8 times more expensive than the same service for home.
16. Electronic City in Burbank is always impressive and their knowledge of TV antenna technology is very robust. They are generous with good advice which is a great value.
17. Digital TV is a much more difficult signal to capture. Analog is much, much more forgiving.
18. It is very difficult to find digital tube TVs.
19. Mistake - trying individual powered 35db gain antennas on each TV because you think that you are over-splitting the signal is a bad approach.
20. Overkill it. Buy bigger antennas and taller masts.

In the end, I have two masts, two VHF/UHF/FM antennas, 1 UHF antenna, a mast mount amplifier, 2 new Coby TVs, 1 new Coby TV that arrived DOA and 1 broken TV power switch caused by individual so angry that they couldn't watch the telenovelas that they hit the television with a stick.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wiring Harness

After on-again/off-again working on this wiring harness, today I finally decided to just start from scratch. To rebuild the harness was a fraction of the time I had dedicated to troubleshooting. A couple of things to remember for next time: solid core wire is definitely the way to go with that style of light socket and solderless crimp connectors are for suckers.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Type of Screw That Holds Plastic Bullshit Together

I have always loved the term 'nail straightener' as it refers to an individual so pragmatic and so frugal that they will straighten an old nail for reuse. When the term is used, which is infrequent, it is often a term of derision to poke at the sensibilities of an individual who has such a low opinion of the value of their own time that they would engage in such penny folly.

Though I don't straighten nails, I do cut the power cords off discarded VCRs that have been left in alleys. And before I throw away a plastic coffee maker or inkjet printer, I salvage all the screws that hold it shut. Beyond being frugal, it is an issue of not being able to buy that type of screw. Screws for holding plastic cases shut are vaguely self tapping, usually chrome plated, with threads finer than a wood screw but not as aggressive as a drywall screw. Ubiquitous in the world, holding our junk together, this type of screw never makes an appearance in even the most well stocked hardware stores.

I suppose if you are specing hardware for manufacture, you know the real name, but I simply know it as The Type of Screw that Holds Plastic Bullshit Together.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lettering, Part 2

I wanted to open a sticker department at Coco's Variety and considered taking this old wood flat file to Jose to have the top painted. Having painted the facade of Coco's, our parking signs, our chisel and our bicycles, I knew that he could do the job with style and panache. Although he is extremely reasonably priced, times are tight and we are counting every penny so I decided to give hand lettering another try.

Rather than engage in the extraordinarily amateurish efforts of freehand again, I used the magic of Photo-Lettering to create a template to work from. Excepting the disastrous connecting of the C and the K into a giant blob, I think it turned out pretty well.

Apologies to House Industries, Photo-Lettering and Ed Benguiat.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Motiv, known as a low end department store purveyor of comfort and "mountain" bikes, appears to have been on the golden path at some point in the 1980's. If you line up a group of Miyatas, Nishikis, Univegas and Bridgestones, you will discover that the frames are all very similar to one another as they were assembled by the same Japanese frame manufacturer. Looks like Motiv had a couple made by them, too.

Motiv made a lot of the same aesthetic mistakes that others made in the 1980's. This frame became a donor of components to get another, less "aesthetically challenged" bike on the road. Hanging on a hook and ignored at Coco's Variety for months, I decided I would refashion it into an unstealable bike.

Sure, it is dusty, but that is some pretty decent looking lug work!

Each time House Industries sends a parcel, the box is full of stickers. Naturally, they are great and I will occasionally slap one on my PeeChee folder, but it proved just too many to deal with. They make stickers for everything. I mean, just how full of themselves are they?

With at least 40 stickers at hand, I thought I could fix two problems at once: Cover the dubious pink/gray/white paint job on the Motiv and use up the pile of stickers on my desk. Thus, I figured, I would create an unstealable bike. Not that it is too ugly to steal, because I think it turned out pretty sick, but nobody would steal it as no human could have the patience to peel all those stickers off.

With an X-acto knife, I trimmed around every braze-on, the water cage bosses and around each lug. Rather than looking like a bunch of randomly tacked on junk, I think it gave the lowly Motiv a pretty finished look.

A Soul SR stem and no name Japanese drop bars. A Frankenstein, for sure. All mismatched components. The rear wheel is Schrader while the front is Presta.

Everything is Japanese and definitely at the low end of mid-grade quality. It is like a who's who of non-collectible parts - Sugino, Suntour, SR, Araya, Shimano 105 - yet it rides great. Feels light, rides light.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Concours d'LeMons

This could have just been a goof, but the d'LeMons crew shows their true automotive passion through the myriad of event categories. My favorite:
Vacuum-Carb Era, 1973-1983 For: Cordoba, Mirada, Monza, etc.
An inside joke for those that have suffered the business end of a vacuum, semi-electronic carburetor.

Concours d'LeMons Categories (Thanks, Aaron!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hand Lettering

When I saw the Von Dutch-lettered gold Snap-On toolbox at the Brucker auction, I immediately bought myself a can of fire engine red One Shot enamel paint with the plan to hand letter everything I own. Well, that was a few years ago and I never did get around to trying it out. Until now.

As I know some fellas with stone cold lettering skills, the fact that I am willing to display my extraordinarily amateurish first attempt borders on disgraceful. An insult, if you will, to their epic talent and my stunning lack of the same. But, as amateurs, the only thing we have going for us is our brazen willingness to try.

So, there they are. First, I did HAMMER. In case the hammer forgot it was a hammer. Or, I suppose, if I forgot it was a hammer. I immediately regretted that goofy H.

Then I did SMALL HAMMER, which is, arguably, my most successful attempt. The skill is no better than the others, but it was a better design.

Then ANOTHER HAMMER which probably could have survived without that trailing R but I do like the stacked M's.

Finally, I did 1 LAST HAMMER. As you can see I attempted a rudimentary pinstripe. Though I am fond of hot rod flourish-y pinstriping, my goal was more of a locomotive style stripe of outlining the lines of the object. Though not accomplished, it is successful enough to try again. I always thought it would be cool to outline every contour of a black engine block with a bright green stripe.

When I have watched sign painters and pinstripers, I always thought the way they brace their hands like tripods to steady themselves looked very awkward. I would pretend I was painting, trying to replicate how they had their hands, but it just didn't feel workable. Well, after 3 minutes of painting I found myself doing the same exact thing - unconsciously.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Chevrolet COE for Suckers

Chevrolet COE, Highway 126, between Fillmore and the 5

If your name is Oliver Stanley Tommygun, you won't even need to paint the door! Or Oksana S. Tuxedo - she wouldn't have to paint the door either.

Having driven by this truck 20 times, I finally had to stop, take picture and see what sort of a scam they were perpetuating on the For Sale sign. As I have a new steely resolve to resist any time/money sucking projects, I merely stopped as a curiosity. Just for kicks. Just to see what people are up to in this crazy bing-bong world. Just to see what sort of bullshit values people are able to convince themselves of in that moment when Sharpie meets For Sale sign, when they have given up but picture some city slicker coming by with a Halliburton case full of cash.

$4000! Ah, yes. I read on and it did give me moment of pause. I thought it said, "Really Strong Runner" and I thought, "huh. Ain't that the pickles?" Somebody actually spent the time to rebuild that dried out old Rochester carburetor, replaced all the brake lines and wheel cylinders, bought new brake shoes, replaced the master cylinder, rebuilt the front end, put on new shocks, adjusted the valves and swapped out the water pump when the bearing sounded like a jet engine. All this assuming the engine wasn't seized. Then, I read closer...

"Really Strong Fixer"

Ha! Not me. Not this time! I learned my lesson!