Thursday, December 23, 2004

Everybody's asking, what's happening with the Mercedes? A fair question.

I collect garage sale snapshots. Sometimes whole photo albums, sometimes a single photo. I found this photo a few years ago and it has been on my refrigerator ever since. Everyday it reminds me of the potential of what today could be.

The Mercedes had not run since 1984. I got it marginally running soon after I took possession. But there is a huge delta between loping along, barely idling in the driveway and driving to the malt shop. Not to diminish the excitement of idling in the driveway. It is so exciting, I feel for individuals that do not have a hobby that results in a slowly exploding internal combustion engine. Planting a tree or knitting a scarf is certainly a worthwhile activity, but to nudge a 20 year dormant engine back to life is a singular experience that could only be topped by barnstorming.

About 2 weeks ago, I had collected all the required components to fix the laundry list of outstanding issues. A carburator rebuild kit that I steadfastly had been avoiding, a metric bubble flaring tool to repair the broken (by me) brake hard lines and enough brake fluid to fill the entire system. I woke early and decided today was the day to drive the Mercedes around the block.

7 o'clock that evening, I did it. I drove it around the block. The tires were underinflated but the tie rod ends were so shot I figured that 10 psi tires would not affect handling dramatically. It was dark and there are no headlights. The trans linkage bushing is gone so the shifting is rather deliberate. The brakes were not bled as I was a solo mechanic without a fancy brake bleeder but they did stop the car after about ten vigorous pumps of the pedal. The engine ran but the accellator pump rod was broken and the float was full of holes. I would not say the Mercedes is ready for the Hoopty Invitiational. There is no exhaust system, so the little four cylinder that could sounds extremely racey.

Like a barnstormer, the car stopped running at least twelve times. I was so busy madly stomping the brakes that I had no time to worry about the lack of headlights. I would estimate top speed at 15mph, which I assure you, was ten times more exhilarating than driving the Puch to the polling place. The 1961 Mercedes 190b "Aviary Roof" Ponton Body Sedan was so loud that neighbors came outside to see what had gone wrong. If it was not such a fine looking automobile, I would have been embarassed as I needed to restart the engine four times before I cleared their property lines. Sawing back and forth on the wheel, it took extreme vigilance to keep the Mercedes in the correct lane.

Truly, one of the finest days in hot rodding history. I am considering driving it across the country in this state. Circling small towns several times to create some excitement, then retreating to a nearby cornfield to give kids 10 cent rides.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Mystery Flashlight Solved!

Thanks to intrepid readers smarter than myself, it appears the mystery flashlight is solved. We got the tip to search for "Taschenlampe" on ebay Germany. It is a police torch and the filters served some sort of practical, policing purpose. Check out those elegant filter sliders on either side of the lens. Fucking fancy. The police provenance answers why it is of such high quality, but the Buster Brown mystery remains.

The flashlight above is for sale on right now for 5 euros. Get a garage sale boardgame and make your own! But make sure to send me a photo and my royalty payment. I'm not picky, I collect most everything.

The Utility Aspect

Lots of activity at the Hooptyrides garage. For maximum protection, the prized 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 283 Stationwagon has been wrapped in a protective bubble boy of top quality plastic sheeting. The Chevelle is a solid number 3 car. A 15 footer. People who don't know anything about cars praise it, as it is chrome, red and white flashy like a firetruck and to be fair, it looks best when it is speeding by, like a firetruck.

Serious car people look down the long slab side and try to think of something nice to say as they consider the wavy bodywork and side window rust.

'Original hub caps, huh?' or 'Nice two spoke wood sport steering wheel', when people are complimenting your steering wheel, something has gone wrong.

But, when it is under plastic, at twilight, it could be a Concours quality restoration - though few cars at Pebble Beach have a 'Bowlers Have A Ball' license plate frame.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Another reasonably satisfied customer! The OC is no longer safe, as Kim is swarming and destroying at speeds approaching 30 MPH. Besides the Puch merits previously mentioned, we can report that the Puch fits handily in a Mazda MPV minivan (after the squeegee, wisk broom and second seat were stored.) As you can see, Kim has already found an alternate use for the replacement rear view mirror.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Ice Cream Truck For Sale!

Partial to the utility vehicle, I am particularly fond of the adapted to new use vehicle. Who knows what the original purpose of this stepvan was, but it is a good looking ride. I always thought this would be a practical way to go garage saling. Though there would be some delays, it would be a self-funded activity. Add to that the ease of access through the open door and you really have something.

Ad says price is negotiable, but where do you even start?

Absolutely exhilarating and terrifying at 28 MPH! The Puch!

Everybody has been asking... What's new with the Puch? Is it running? Are you riding? Crashing? Weeping?

In a word, WOW! What an exemplary machine. Though modest, it is delightfully Teutonic and over engineered. The Puch does not know and will not consider itself, 'just a moped'. 150 MPG, Austrian pedal motorcycle with headlight, tail light, brake light, reflectors for safety, emblazoned proudly 'Puch' in at least 20 places, the Puch makes no excuses.

I replaced the fuel petcock, the fuel line, added an inline fuel filter, replaced the carburator jet (there is only one) and vigorously flushed the fuel tank. It still stinks a little like bad gas and I would expect the inline fuel filter will need to be replaced semi-regularly. Also, the rear view mirror was broken, so I replaced that. And, the On/Off kill switch was broken beyond repair, so I replaced that was well. The Puch quality is never more apparant than when replacing components. The new On/Off switch works and will work for years, but what a miserable piece of junk. Just what you would expect from a Chinese import On/Off switch, which makes me wonder about the new Chinese mopeds.

The Puch runs like a damn dream. I have long espoused the merits of relative speed. Sure, a Geo Metro only gets up to 50mph but try driving it with cruise control set for 50 through a small downtown shopping district. And a golf cart may only reach 15 mph, but try the giant slalom in an underground garage. When you hit a parking stop at 15 mph, it feels plenty fast.

At 28 mph, the Puch handles capably and as it is supposed to, but it still scares the shit out of me. As I ride around my neighborhood, I feel like a really Easy Rider until I realize my feet are still on the pedals.

Swarm and Destroy!

What a great looking moped! The 1978 Puch Maxi-Luxe Hi Torque. 2-Stoke power means Hi Torque and honestly, who would want lo torque? Sissified sissies.

I am absolutely enamoured with the Moped Army. Their motto is Swarm and Destroy and following the absolutely undeserved Western Herald editorial slamming the Moped Army, I would suspect Mr. Peter Schinkai will soon be a) swarmed and b) destroyed. Lo Torque Mr. Schinkai.

I am selling the 1978 Puch Maxi-Luxe Hi Torque for $400. I am somewhat negotiable and trade for the all sorts of things.


- Runs very fantastic
- Very nicely cleaned up, comparatively
- Very very complete and original. On/Off switch, fuel petcock and rear view mirror replaced but originals (broken) included
- The tires are a little dry and probably need to be replaced soon. Plenty of tread but, for safety, they should be replaced
- Not perfectly clean, but pretty damn clean. I did not chrome polish the wheels between each spoke. This is a very intimate labor of love and is best left to the new owner. It would be presumptuous for me to be so familiar. Also, there are various odds and ends that could be cleaner. Should we strike a deal, come for an afternoon and I will provide all technical assistance and provide cleaning supplies (chrome polish, 0000 steel wool, LA's Awesome, etc.)
- Includes original manual and warranty and service book (purchased 5/17/79 from Moped Mania [they also sold Vespa, Motobecane and Batavus])
- Book carrier, reflectors, original seat with no rips or tears, beautiful cast aluminum Puch gas cap with built-in 2-cycle oil measuring cup, speedometer, full fenders, full suspension - front and rear, working lights, working horn, motor or pedal, about 1200 original miles, original California Bicycle Registration Permit stickers, classic Puch green and has never been crashed by sensitive poets.
- Some minor paint loss, here and there
- Some chrome pitting. I polished the chrome and it turned out great, but there is some residual pitting. Very presentable. As you are enjoying 150 mpg, you will learn to love the character. This is no Johnny Come Lately, this is a champion for the ages!
- Yes, that is a good looking dog in the background, but she is not available for purchase or trade. Notably absent, the little dog is scared to death of the moped.

All instructions necessary for successful operation helpfully printed on the moped at appropriate locations! Smart!

I get carried away when talking about the Puch. And my favorite feature is the built-in contingency plan. If you break down, you can pedal (albeit, laboriously) to your destination. To be fair, this is true of all mopeds. But, do they all look like the Puch at only $400? Puch green?

Do yourself a favor and be sure to check out the Moped Army race kick-off.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The very coolest people on earth look even cooler on a 1978 moped.

This is the perfect example of what to buy. If you are thinking, "Maybe I will start going to garage sales, but what would I buy?" this is an awfully good starting point. Despite low purchase price, many items skyrocket as you fix them up as even the most minor components quickly eclipse your best bargain. But this Puch is a real garage find. Very complete.

Astute readers will note the cleanliness of the carburator. Before I clean up the Puch, I want to be sure I am up and running without issue or concern. Therefore, I have removed the 1/4" of lacquered gasoline from the carburator bowl. I ordered a few parts from, I shit you not, Moped Warehouse. God bless the internet. A new fuel jet, some fuel line, a fuel filter and a new fuel petcock are on their way.

11 reasons why the Puch is so cool:

1. It looks crummy, but it is all surface rust and filth
2. It is all there
3. The color
4. Made in Austria
5. Puch. Sounds like Puke. And it is Puch green.
6. Internal combustion engine
7. The name, Maxi Luxe
8. 2 Stroke!
9. Pedals! If you break down, you can pedal home! Built in contingency plan. Bad ass.
10. Book carrier
11. 150 mpg! Put that in your hybrid pipe and smoke it!

Pages stained with crumpet butter

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about changing my life to a completely different era. Certainly there is precedent for it, as there are any number of people living the lifestyle of a 50's greaser, but I was thinking of a less obvious era. Before I bought the Puch, I thought I would adopt a 1975 Gregg Allman, 1972 Chevy custom van, San Fernando Valley, Hi-Fi, swimming pool contractor lifestyle. Besides aesthetic benefits, the costs would be so low. All avocado blenders and 8-tracks.

Now that I have the Puch, I think I will adopt the 1979 sensitive college student. Occasionally crashing my Puch and throwing myself on the ground crying. Listening to My Aim is True and drinking cheap chianti as fast as I can so I can stick a candle in it to put on my board and concrete block bookshelves. Riding around on my moped and dressing like I was in a Wes Anderson movie.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ultimate Heavy Metal Parking Lot Barf Bag Party Vehicle

This is the ultimate party vehicle for the Girls Gone Wild set. Blender, BBQ, 2 kegs, ice chests, a sink, PS2 and the 37 inch plasma tv. The only thing it is missing is the porcelian god hanging off the side for throwing up.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Merits of Contingency

The back of my BUSS FUSES display. Certainly an effective, elegant way to store fuses. When I purchased the display it was half full and for years I was buying fuse boxes to fill it up. Now, I am so rich with fuses, there is a little stack of overflow fuses sitting on the top.

There are some excellent points made on the back of the box, as you are only as good as your emergency plan. I always have a full toolbox, extra spark plug wire or two, duct tape, electrical tape, some lengths of wire and skateboard for worst case scenario. It is also a good idea to keep a macrame beer can hat in the tool box as well, but that is not always possible. I used keep a collapsible bicycle in the trunk of the 54 Chevy. You know, those small wheeled, tall seat posted collapsible bicycles? That was discontinued as the humiliation of a breakdown was usually severe enough that you would not want to add the further insult of looking like an ass on a clown bike.

The Culprit

Admittedly, the Mercedes 190b brakes project has taken longer than anticipated. I finished the left side, front and back, and was nearly complete with the right side when I came across this mysterious component in the front hub.

When you are disassembling a machine, it is easy to fool yourself that you are the first person to tinker with the innermost workings. The deeper you get, the darker the grease, you really start to believe your own bullshit, that you are the ultimate, fearless mechanic exploring some new frontier. And then, you come across something like this. A bearing race, not from the Mercedes 190b, in fact, not from ANY Mercedes, right there where it is not supposed to be. When you catch your breath, you realize they have lost or broken what should have been there and replaced it with this gouged bearing race from a printing press or a hay baler.

Naturally, I admire the ingenuity and appreciate that they were brave enough to drive with this intruder in place, but come on, this is a good solution for when you are broken down in Nebraska and you steal parts off a farmer's tractor to get to the next town with a Mercedes dealer. This is not a permanent solution!

Like cracking open a coconut and finding a pair of nail clippers inside. Or smashing a seashell to find a tiny plastic Santa Claus. It is very distressing.

As usual, Le Pep Hommes seem to be having a great time

When I bought this oil can, it was so caked in oil that I was not sure at first if it was even the Pep Boys. After all, what does the bucking bronco have to do with cars or motor oil?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Much Maligned Honda Element

New cars are different, new houses are different, new vaccum cleaners are different. They work well, they are hyper-efficient, they gain strength through clever engineering of the cheapest materials, they are extremely technolgically impressive and, when they are working perfectly, you forget they are there. Old cars, especially unrestored project cars, never let you forget you are driving. You are very involved, trying to coax the car into the correct lane as you have drifted across 2 lanes and are threatening the center divider, while sniffing 'is that smoke?', listening to that tic-tic-tic that seems to be getting louder 'is that a loose rocker?', as the heater blasts you on the hottest summer day and you are, at every moment, on every Sunday drive, with your arm across that beautiful red vinyl bench seat, in grave peril.

Extremely rigid exoskeletons, no wasted parts, nothing over-engineered, ergonomically evolved in ways that Darwin would never believe, cars are becoming like natural objects. Everything in common with nature except they don't age well. Soon, we will be driving honeycombs powered by cockroaches.

For all the bad things I say about the Honda Element, inability to carry tremendous quantities of Korean king mink blankets is not among them.

Candy Apple, My Ass

Looks like it is straight from a Tufte book but if you were custom ordering a Mercedes in 1950's, this is how you would select your car color. My 1961 Mercedes 190b was medium blue, though you would never know it now. All the colors go together so well, imagine what a Mercedes Ponton car lot looked like. Like a mountainside, like a waterfall, like a Japanese scroll painting, like a Kurosawa movie. A perfectly camoflaged herd of gazelle could walk through a Mercedes lot and you would be none the wiser. Makes me want to go to Germany immediately even if these Mercedes are not there, even if I have to eat coldcuts for breakfast, even if the black forest carvings do scare me to actual death.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nobody is having a better time with junk

The guys from Funky Junk Farms collect stuff that is of Smithsonian quality. I don't have anything of Smithsonian quality, an object or collection that defines an event or period in history. Check out the 1936 Travel Coach that they are selling. I can only imagine the heartbreak associated with that sale. Life interrupts.

I love this 1924 Dodge Truck, it reminds me of the brilliant beat rap in Grapes of Wrath when the car dealer is describing the autos the Okies would buy. Talk about changing your life in a dramatic way. My Pick-Up and Van Spotters Guide only goes back to 1945, so I don't know if those giant solid steel wheels were original. Look at the size of them! Blingbling, indeed.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Disastrous Month of April 1895

In case you ever mistakenly think for a moment that you are clever, turn to Oscar Wilde and you will remember what timeless means.

Among the ephemera for sale at the Sotheby's Oscar Wilde auction, is this remarkable auction catalog from Wilde's bankruptcy auction. Not surprisingly, there are only four known catalog copies, as they make no mention of Wilde, were printed in limited quantity and were certainly discarded years ago.

At an estimated 30,000-40,000 pounds, it is an expensive item but it would sure be nice to have aboard the bookmobile. Perhaps a pot-belly stove in the periodical corner and this death bed photo of Oscar Wilde hung in a place of respect. At 3 by 4 inches, it could be hung in a small alcove. A tiny place of great respect. Though it is not in Barlett's or the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Oscar Wilde is often credited with the final words, 'Either the wallpaper goes or I do.' The death bed photo does nothing to confirm or the deny the wallpaper's merits.

The Sotheby's catalog is informative and heartbreaking, a story very well told - "Nothing could more vividly illustrate the pathos of Wilde's situation during the disastrous month of April 1895..."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mystery Microcassette

I realize how suspicious it looks. I wouldn't believe it either, I mean, if I could figure out what I was looking at, I wouldn't believe it. One should always pay particular attention to junkyard custom vans and motorhomes. Beside the fact that you might find some pristine custom van pagoda roofed sofa in the back or a custom built-in with the 2 through 13 B&W, there is a much higher likelihood of finding an old diary or love letters. I'm a snoop and always have been.

This is obviously a plant, but not by me. In the cratered out, destroyed headlamp cavity of a mid-70s custom van I found (and stole) this Sony microcassette. I have tried to be on the up and up and purchase the odd journal or book that I have found in a junk yard car and invariably, they think I am up to something sinister. Now I just steal these little discards.

At last weekends garage sales, I tried to remember that I was looking for a microcassette recorder so I could listen to the tape. Once or twice, after I was back in my car, I would remember that I had been looking for a microcassette, but it is anybody's guess as to whether I actually saw one. Successful garage saling depends on speed and that requires looking at 200o items at a glance to determine if it fits in with anything you are searching for. Sometimes, it takes 3-4 weeks of looking to even remember I am looking for something.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The $2 Tube Amplifier

Purchased at a church rummage sale, this amplifier was assembled by hand. Not a professional, mind you, but big clumpy cold solder joint amateur assembly. A pair of XLR microphone inputs and one for a phonograph, I picture some sort of dueling MCs over a square dance record. Imagine the sounds that have come through this amplifier.

It is extremely endearing to think about the basement scientist, burning himself as he soldered, putting this contraption together from a kit. Hoping it would be done in time for the big show. Then, sitting in the audience, praying it would continue to work. And I bet it belted it out with those two 6L6 tubes on the right. When it gets all warmed up, it looks magnificent and smells even better - like clapboard houses, worn oriental rugs, oiled furniture and the windows open on a perfect southern California day with the orange blossom smell drifting through. Unfortunately, the sound of this amplifier is nothing but a tease, as you can hear the clear rich perfect tube sound under the most godawful 60hz hum. Volume up, down, it doesn't matter. That hum packs a wallop. It probably needs a total capacitor replacment and, frankly, I don't know if I have the stomach for it. I really want this son of a dip to work and I don't have much of an excuse as it would be about half the burned fingers, half the cold solder joints of the basement scientist before me.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Slide Rule Pickett Fence

It has been suggested that I didn't have 10 slide rulers. As evidenced by my slide rule fence, I clearly have enough to part with 10 slide rules for a mutant taxidermy cow head. Slide rules talk, bullshit walks.

Even my dogs have their own slide rules.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Better than Selfridges!

Despite a dozen years of amazingly fantastic garage sale finds, I have never found a taxidermy mutant cow head. And I sure would like one. If you have a mutant cow head, I would trade a Curta mechanical calculator, 10 slide rules, a 1991 Sony Handicam 8MM, a book on piranha and a nice pocketknife for the pleasure of hanging it on my wall.

Its a hell of an ikebana basket, but lets focus on that oddball flashlight. The BrownBilt Shoes 'Tread Straight' Buster Brown Shoes mystery light is marked Germany and Triola, but I can find no online mention of such a device. It was purchased for .50 cents this last weekend. The knob to the left of the porthole engages a blue lens filter; the right, a red filter. The Buster Brown took a pair of D size batteries and, as you can see, it had metal belt straps on the back, but to what end? Was this some sort of belt bike light? Hang it off your ass and flip on the red filter for slow as it goes, blue filter for reverse?

The Buster Brown light was not salvagable as the battery acid soaked cardboard interior was missing parts. And I knew damn well when I bought Buster Brown that it was a disaster, but the quality of manufacture was so high and the switching lens system so ingenuous, I bought it with no idea what I was going to do with it. While removing all the guts and trying to decide if it was worth rebuilding from scratch, I realized it was really close to ipod size.

The view with the red filter enabled.

Boardgames are a plentiful supply of dense, high quality cardboard and can be purchased for pennies, nickels and, sometimes, dimes. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea makes for a piss poor boardgame, but Fight Off Cannibals and Kill Giant Squid set the right attitude for ass kicking.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

When I realized how close the fit was going to be, I literally ran to the car to retrieve my ipod. The Camel tire patch cardboard is held by foamback tape to give just enough tension to keep it in place. The original power button was on the top so I elongated the hole with the Dremel to accomodate the ipod remote cable connector.

Everytime I see the Buster Brown Shoes ipod case, I giggle like a damned idiot. It just looks so fucking Philco Predicta, round window ocilloscope, Westinghouse front load washer, Western Holly porthole stove, T-Bird cool!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Inaugural Mister Jalopy Invitational Hooptyrides Trophy Dash and Outlaw Racing Derby

In preparation for the upcoming race, I worked for quite a while today on the 1961 Mercedes 190b brakes. Keep in mind, this car has not been registered since 1984 and the outstanding mechanical issues are daunting. The aesthetics are beyond reproach, so nary a cosmetic issue to address before race day.

The challenge was thrown down and accepted. I will be racing against the considerably more powerful, more modern and properly maintained 1971 Mercedes 280 SE 4.5. From the stats, it appears that the 190b's fate is sealed but there are special considerations. For example, as the sponsoring race body, I have complete control over the rules and may make changes right up to, and even during, the race.

As the Mercedes 190b is running after 20 dormant years, it was time to turn my attention to the brakes. Disappointingly, the brake pedal went straight to the floor without delay, remained at the floor and would likely still be resting at the floor if I didn't help it back to its proper position. Upon repeated vigorous pumping, the brakes came up to pressure and the pedal returned to correct position with no cajoling whatsoever BUT it managed to lock all the wheels absolutely stationary! For good! What spirit! What heart! This little car may be short on horsepower but what pluck! Like a cartoon teapot, building pressure, building pressure, cheeks red and puffed, building pressure, brow furrowed, eyes squinted until it finally gets to boiling point and blows the whistle! What a little champion, the Mercedes 190b. No brakes one minute, but a pat on the dashboard and a little pedal pumping action and boy, does the 190b deliver.

So, that brings us to the question, what is the competitive advantage of pluck? Probably not enough.

The plan for race day victory
1. Flexible rules
2. Remove the spare tire for reduced weight
3. Wear a suit
4. Pluck
5. Superior driving skills
6. "Black Widow Brakes"
7. "The Trident Exhaust"
8. No radio antenna (or radio) means less aerodynamic drag

As there is currently no exhaust system, I am free to fabricate the most efficient and competitively advantageous exhaust. I have decided on a design of my making composed of a single exhaust downpipe, routed to just under the front of the passenger door where it will be split into three seperate pipes angled directly at my competitior's head. The exhaust will look very much like a trident with a single center pipe slightly longer than the pipes on each side. It will be painted gold and will be identified as The Trident Exhaust by a discreet stencil just above. As stipulated by the rules, the older car has lane choice and I will position the trident directly at my competitor's driver side window. The dismay caused by a raw blast of carbon monoxide should give significant advantage to the 190b. I told him, 'I am going to Neptune you!'

The first individual to pass the finish line, come to a complete stop, exit their car and prepare two cocktails from the trunk Executair traveling bar will claim the Hooptyrides Invitiational Double Triple Inaugural Outlaw Derby Dash Cup.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

David Koresh's Camaro at Auction

How much of David's appeal was charisma and how much was the fact that he owned the only 427 big block Camaro SS in Waco? Who could you say no when he pointed out the custom "David's 427 Go God" engraving on the engine block? Under the parking lot lights at Arby's?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Absolute top dollar was paid for this lot - the princely sum of $50! But, keep in mind, everything to the east of the yellow Proto screwdriver is made by Snap-On. And look at that adorable stubby 1/2" MAC combination wrench. Looks good enough to eat.

With a toothbrush, a metal pick, some degreaser, grease, chrome polish, 0000 steel wool and WD-40, you can erase prior neglect. It is extremely satisfying. The top ratchet still requires attention, while the bottom ratchet is not perfect, well used and sorta perfect. Like a solid reader's copy - the text knows nothing of the cover.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Greatest Do-It-Yourself Article Ever - 500 cubic inch Cadillac Engine into a '80 Chevette!

Recently purchased at a garage sale, probably the best issue of Hot Rod magazine ever published. Fast and Cheap, indeed. Hot Rod magazine is currently editorially adrift, I mean there is an editor, but to what end. They have started to cover the import tuner scene in a perplexing move to broaden their scope beyond the limits of a single magazine. The Hooptyrides racing team is not anti-tuner, not Hot Rod purists but there are already excellent magazines that cover that end of hot rodding.

Though not hand holding step-by-step, the greatest article of all time gave adequate detail for a reasonable car person to assemble an 11 second quarter mile, tire burning smoke machine for under $2000. This is Hot Rod magazine - creative, detailed, technical, inexpensive, fast and pure to the core of hot rodding.

Swap the smaller volume heads from a junkyard 68-70 Cadillac onto a 71-76 engine and you raise the compression to a staggering 12.0:1. A key to engine swapping is finding the space under the hood for massive engines - especially clearance for the steering as in most cars, the steering tends to hug the motor. They selected the Chevette as all the steering stuff is contained under the front fenders. Smart. I have studied junkyard Chevettes and am searching for oddball sedans (like a Hillman Minx or a Studebaker) to see if I can find similar clearances to build my own tire smoker.

This is my second copy of the April 2000 issue of Hot Rod, therefore I am willing to trade it for something interesting. Or, the Chinatown Incubator listens to cash.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Has there ever been a cooler stamp?

Just when you thought there could never be a cooler set of stamps than the Noguchi's, this terrifically weird Buckminster Fuller stamp is released complete with the notorious Dymaxion in the lower right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Automobile Racing for Aesthetes

Today I replaced the distributor cap and rotor. The points were incorrect, so I used the old points. And the condensor did not arrive. In short, a long way from a tune up. The timing was bouncing all over the place, despite the distributor being snug.

I did not replace the plug wires, so they are two tone - extremely faded blue jeans blue and process blue blue. The distributor cap is a color only an auto parts manufacturer could love. And, of course, the fading black of the wire boots. Altogether, the colors are so complimentary that I changed the contrasting blue coil wire connector to a non-insulated crimp connector (as seen in the lower left). I like the colors so much, I am thinking everything should be these colors, especially the exciting racing livery for the upcoming Mister Jalopy Inaugural Hoopty Invitational Outlaw Cup.

Replacing the insulated connector with a non-insulated connector could be disasterous on race day. I can not see anywhere that the wire could short out, but physics change at high race speeds. Along with everything else that is on the line, now we realize we are racing for aesthetics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Hoopty Inaugural Outlaw Cup is certain to include lots of straight up wheelie action.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The O'Keefe and Merritt gas range with the Grillavator adjustable broiler, griddle in the middle and original salt and pepper shakers is almost done. Actually, in a holding pattern as additional components are needed for completion including a door hinge, replacement left side panel, chrome top vent and a simmer cap. Progress at the Hooptyrides garage all but stopped as intense Southern California heat made working on anything metal extremely perilous. Early morning work sessions chipped away at the projects as the intense afternoon heat left no option but to hide inside and weep. Stove should be done pretty soon and available for purchase.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Defender of the Mundane

Mister Jalopy's Hooptyrides celebrates the modest, the worn, the patina'd, the proletariat, the uncommon in the common and admit, freely, that I am a bad collector. No complete sets, rare examples only if that is what is stumbled upon and experts in nothing. Collecting widely, selling occasionally, trading encouraged.

99 Items Aggresively Pursued
  1. Automobiles
  2. Auto accessories
  3. Auto parts
  4. Bookends
  5. Barrister bookcases
  6. Mechanical calculators, computers, comparators, integrators
  7. Old science equipment
  8. Water slide decals
  9. Girlie stuff
  10. Snapshots
  11. Labratory furniture
  12. Netsuke
  13. Tansu
  14. Pulp
  15. Kid's plates
  16. Snap-On tools
  17. Automotive tools
  18. MIG/TIG welder
  19. 78 rpm records
  20. Telefunken/Grundig consoles
  21. Pocket knives
  22. Old skateboards
  23. Examples of natural splendor
  24. Anything related to the New Yorker
  25. Table lamps
  26. Hand made furniture
  27. Wormy American Chestnut
  28. Fancy western wear
  29. Lacoste alligator
  30. Fireking
  31. Rugs
  32. Interesting cans and jars
  33. Hardware - knobs, pulls, handles
  34. Representations of goldfish
  35. Small buildings
  36. Engravings
  37. Paintings
  38. Flashlights
  39. Aluminum
  40. Coin operated machines
  41. Machines that do not require electricity
  42. Machines that operate with tubes
  43. Polaroid cameras
  44. Watches
  45. Old telephones with a crank
  46. Desert things
  47. Toy automobiles
  48. Books about automobiles
  49. Incubators
  50. Items found in a service station
  51. Gauges
  52. License plate frames
  53. Salesman samples
  54. Cookie jars
  55. Illustration
  56. Spooky dolls
  57. Christmas ornaments
  58. Utility vehicles
  59. Japanese gardens
  60. Flower pots
  61. Old fabric
  62. O'Keefe and Merrit gas ranges
  63. Noir
  64. Monterey furniture
  65. Old radios
  66. Old old books
  67. Mexican furniture
  68. Masks
  69. Mirrors
  70. Clocks
  71. Colored drinking glasses
  72. Jelly jar glasses
  73. Ceramic kitchen chickens and roosters
  74. BB guns
  75. Rockets
  76. Science and medical models
  77. Specimens
  78. Farm engineering
  79. Things made of cigar boxes
  80. Needlepoint pillows
  81. Scooters
  82. Toolboxes
  83. Chinese checkers boards
  84. Shadow boxes
  85. Pottery
  86. Cooking equipment
  87. Ephemera
  88. Quartersawn oak
  89. Books
  90. Los Angeles information
  91. Marshall Fields
  92. Japanese hibachis
  93. Tourist woodburning pictures
  94. Games
  95. Silver coins
  96. Diaries, personal letters, scrapbooks, found photos
  97. Old denim
  98. Ghost town information
  99. Bookmobiles

The Amazing Curta Type II Mechanical Calculator

Offered for your consideration, a Curta mechanical calculator Type II (SN#547205) in Fair-Good condition for $400. No case, considerable anodized aluminum wear, some corrision on bottom screws, works perfectly, if a little hesitantly due to needing a tune-up.

I inherited a Curta mechanical calculator from my land surveying maternal grandfather and have been calculating cube roots for years. Recently, I came across this Curta that was coincidently manufactured a mere 6 months from the time of my grandfather's Curta.

There is really so little that I can add to the already voluminous information available. Suffice to say, the Curta is one of the most amazing mechanical machines ever made. My grandfather's Curta is under a glass dome in my cabinet of wonders.

Click the title above for the terrifically informative Curta Calculator website of Rick Furr. Be sure to check out the Flash Curta Calculator emulator. The only thing more amazing is the detailed photo disassembly page - which gave me an upset stomach as disassembling a Curta is a task not for the faint of heart.

Standard 10% Chinatown Incubator donation is already included.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Another item sold (and a little more money for the Chinatown Incubator), Sammy is the proud new owner of the Seeburg DS-160. An arc welder, a diorama builder and Ranchero owner, Sammy is the right guy to own the Seeburg.

Trash the Dewey Decimal System for $999!

Forget the noble beginnings of the bookmobile and public service, you can become the arbiter of taste! Your own media bias! Start trends, declare the hottest and latest by way of careful editing of your stacks.

From cat staples to improvised munitions, plagues to two headed calves, venomous animals to internal combustion engines, pyromania to backwoods stills, aircraft sheetmetal repair to bathtub surgery, pulp nurse romances to jumping chollo cactus, beehive technology to carnivorous plants, death rays to model airplanes. baroque to biscuits.

Imagine! Freeze knowledge to a certain year.

Rewrite history! Select only that which agrees with your crackpot views.

Though a handsome trailer, is it a bookmobile without a engine?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

1967 Bookmobile on ebay! Be still my heart!

Goodness gracious I want this bookmobile. Think, I could have a whole shelf dedicated to books about cannibals! Another shelf dedicated to Polaroid cameras! Dewey decimal, my ass. I'll have an entire section dedicated to old Sears catalogs. If you buy this bookmobile for the Chinatown Incubator, we will rename the Dewey Decimal system whatever you want.

When I was trying to get to more gauges for comparison's sake, I had to wrestle with this Hamilton Beach 3 Malt Mixer. I am tired of this right here and I am up to my armpits in stoves. Therefore, this very cool, very heavy, decent condition, great porcelian, missing a part or two, been opened and monkeyed Maltmixer is available for GONE. But! You need to come get it! Trades accepted! Standard Chinatown Incubator donations apply.

Vintage Stewart Warner Gauge!

The find of finds. I knew it was good when I found it, but I didn't want to look too closely as the excitement would have made it impossible to eat breakfast. It was better than I thought. Click the title above for the excellent page of vital Stewart Warner gauge info.

At first blush, it appears to be a slightly better than average day of garage saling. Big deal, another Robert Benchley book and a third copy of The Bends. Some gauges, a recent Sun Tachometer, a set of marked playing cards... but the Stewart Warner box looks promising even though they are usually filled with nuts and bolts.

Nice! A great Beugler, new in box, pinstriper. With complete instructions and history of the Beugler company. As you can see, it is easy to use as they point out the 9 year old boy putting finishing touches on his own bicycle. A GIRL'S BICYCLE! Poor bastard. I have another Beugler with only one wheel (you can order the others) that I will sell for $15, 10% to the Chinatown Incubator.

A perfectly fine pressure tester but I already have three. Therefore, this one is available for purchase. $10, 10% to the Chinatown Incubator.

At the garage sale, I checked that there was indeed a gauge inside the box, but I didn't verify if it was a D360A or even if it was a Stewart Warner. My pokerface negotiating skills would have been hopelessly compromised as I deliriously outbid myself.

Tucked in an army blanket scrap, the correct new old stock gauge for the box. This is a true transition gauge. The newer 'big block' logo, first year of the new logo, still curved glass face and in an older logo 'wings' box. A dazzling find but not even the best of the weekend.

Not that I don't have plenty of gauges, I have plenty of gauges. And can not see a day when I stop buying gauges. The green faced, round glass ammeter in the front is exquisite.