Thursday, June 30, 2011

A quick Camaro Project

I used to work for a Custom Motorcycle Company called Paul Yaffe Originals. My Boss was about 8 years younger then me and could fabricate almost anything. But when it came to building a car and tuning a carb, he knew nothing. Well one day I went over to my Boss's house to help him with his 1972 Dodge Charger that he picked up in a Junk Yard, complete and kinda running. When we walked into his backyard, I saw his charger and also a 1978 Camaro Z28. I asked him what his plans were with the Camaro and he said that he would fix it up one day, (translation: Nothing!). So I said, do you wanna sell it? He said, "for $300 I will". Wow, I couldn't believe it. The problem with the car was that it didn't have a drivetrain or the original wheels, but other then that, it was all there. So I picked up the car and placed it in my backyard, where I would "fix it up one day"...

So she sat in the backyard for a few years. Well, I met a girl, and she moved in. She asked me, "why the hell do you have that old pile of crap in the backyard?" I told her not to worry about it, I'll put up a fence so she doesn't have to see it. Well that worked for about a month. She then told me that I need to either fix it or throw it out. Well then! Nobody is going to tell me what to do with my cars! I'm gonna do whatever I want and she will have to deal with it. So, I began to fix it.

I located an LT1 on craigslist, with 4L60 Trans, for $800 with wiring harness, computer, and Intake MAF sensor and air box. I started to drop it in and thought, "this wiring harness is kinda shot and I really dont want to send too much time on this project. My plan was to fix the car and sell it. The money I made from it would go into my cutlass so I can get that back on the road. So instead, I put the LT1 to the side and looked for something else. I then found a 350 4 bolt in mint condition for $150 including a TH400 trans. What a find. I opened the motor up to check it out... Wow, it was like new. So I swaped out the intake and valvecovers and placed a Holley 650 on it. Dropped the motor and trans in and my old driveshaft fit perfect, who would have thought. I figured that it would have had to been cut because the TH400 had a long tailshaft, but it fit perfect. Long story short, finnished the project and drove her around for a bit, she drove like new. Suspension was still tight and quiet. Everything worked perfect. But my woman still didn't like the car, because it didn't have A/C.

So, I sold the old girl to a guy for $4300. I had $2600 into her.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Author: Cutlass455

The previous video was uploaded by another friend from my CMU days, Josh, aka Cutlass455. Josh and I go back to freshman year, and he has oddly gone down much the same automotive path as I. We both had Firebirds for our first car, and they both got totaled in an accident. We both chose muscle cars as our replacements. Me, an old Camaro, Josh, an old Cutlass. Throughout our CMU days we both spent many hours in the automotive lab, both helping others, as well as working on our own projects. After college, we went into automotive design, and both eventually grew tired of the field and moved on to greener/happier pastures. Josh managed to total out his Cutlass due to a suspension failure on the freeway, though replaced it with yet another Cutlass, which he still has to this day.

In reference to the video, it pertains to yet another fellow CMU student/friend of ours, Wes. In addition to being into cars, Wes oddly enough drove an old VW diesel pickup. Wes was relatively large in stature, and watching him cramp himself inside that pickup was the root of many jokes throughout college. I believe Wes still has that VW, and any time one of us sees one on the road, Wes comes to mind. I have to say, a customized version is something I never would have imagined.

On a final note, Josh now resides out in Arizona, which is obviously home to many rust free project/parts cars. Look for Josh to continue to contribute in the future, with hopefully a tour or two of one of the many muscle car graveyards out there.

Custom VW Rabbit Pickup

Wes eat your heart out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 Downriver Cruise Pictures

Enroute to this year's 2011 Downriver Cruise, I got stuck at a light while the parade passed by. I kept a mindful eye on my temperature gauge, and the engine remained plenty cool at about 190 degrees. Heading south on Fort Street, the temp started rising, and I knew the 4 electric fans should have been on well before hitting 205. As the heat rose to nearly 230 degrees, I quickly ducked onto a side street for an itpection as to what went wrong. I popped the hood to discover coolant shooting out my overflow can...nice.

I turned the key to the on position and found my fans weren't working. I first bypassed the relay, still no luck, so I checked the fuse (which made the most sense, considering a bypass didn't work), and found the 20 amp fuse blown. I figured it was only a matter of time before my fans caused me issues, as they draw about 44 amps, and are wired into a 20 amp circuit. For now, I popped in a new fuse, a 30 amp for now, and hit the road trouble free. I've been meaning to rewire my fans, and ultimately, even wire them up so 2 come on at a lower temp, and all 4 perhaps 15-20 degrees warmer.

Once parked, I called a few friends, trying to track down a couple gallons of water, to replenish whatever was boiled over. I knew it was minimal, and it only amounted to about 1-2 quarts. After a quick shine and whipe down, I headed out on foot, trying to get as much ground covered as possible before wife and baby showed up.

Wife and little Emma showed up a few hours later, Emma sporting her "Kid Racer" tee picked up at Milan Dragway last season, courtesy of a neighbor. She was a real trooper, not fussing a bit all day, and seemingly enjoying the show. We stuck around until about 6:30, when upon I nervously merged into traffic, hoping for a trouble free commute home. Aside from the normal finickyness of the engine being cold, she ran fine. Next up, I'm going to regap my plugs, as I feel they may be responsible for my engine miss on the freeway, as they are way tighter than my MSD ignition recommends.

On a final note, I really like the Downriver Cruise. Where as the Gratiot Cruise is spread out over 2 miles, with very few big parking lots packed with cars, the Downriver Cruise stretches over 6 miles, though the majority of it is packed into a fairly tight area, which is easily walkable, and plenty of spots to set up chairs to watch. Where as Gratiot has a very strong Mopar presence, the Downriver Cruise seems to have a much greater variety as well. So, on that note, onto the show!


I spent a few hours on cleaning up my car this time, including a rubbing of the wheels and polishing the chrome. She looks damn good now.


A very nice Firebird parked nearby. I hope my sees such a quality restoration in coming years.


Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Mopar...Blue on Black (can't see the blue center stripe in this picture) Very nice car.


Another artistic take on the throttle blades.


I think this is a 34 or 35 Ford.


A Morris Minor. You don't see too many of these on the road.


Very nice truck. It's hard to see, but that chrome stack by the bed is actually the exhaust, which rises up and follows the top of the bed rail. Very cool idea.


My favorite streetrod at the show.


Sharp blown Mopar.


A Mercury Capri, their version of the Mustang. My Sgt who was on his way to the show owns one, and you don't see many, yet I saw three at this year's cruise.


A radical streetrod, most likely a glass car. You don't see many of these around, not like you did 10-15 years ago. Leaves me wondering, where did they go?


A row of buckets.


My favorite truck at the show, a 1947 Dodge with a Buiuk Nailhead for power. This was JJ and Lyne's Stone Soup Nailhead. I'm not sure if it's this year's giveaway, or a past giveaway. Whatever the case, this truck is bad as can be. You don't see many trucks from that era this large, as most are about 2/3's this size, at best.


A Willy's Coupe, one of my all time favorite streetrods.


This is THE one, my wife said "It's perfect, you don't need to change a thing...did you bring the check book?" Ironically, it was also for sale, for a cool $24,000, which in my opinion is a great price! I would have absolutely zero issue buying such a car, and hope to sometime in the future.


Cool Charger. Not too many people put the bumble bee stripe on the back.


1983 Aston Martin. VERY, VERY strange. I'm confused by the apparent flip up headlights, as there are already exposed headlights. The only word that came to mind when I saw this car was UGLY!


One of the many Buick Grand Nationals at the show. These cars were one of the few shining stars during the 1980's, and their styling looks good even today.


One seriously badass Mercury wagon.


Sweet little Anglia, though can't say I'd have picked the avacodo green.


Here is another car that was HUGE in the 80's and 90's, the lead sleds. Where did they all go? Are they sitting in garages across the country collecting dust? You sure don't see them on the roads and at the shows. This was possibly the only one I spotted all day.


The 63 Split Window Vette, one of the most recognized cars in automotive history.


AMC's on the other hand seem to be breeding, as I've never seen so many AMC's as I have in recent years.


Nice custom. While I dig the color, stance, white walls, and white interior, I'm not sure I could live with looking at that color every day.


This is exacly like the Charger my dad had. An SE model, black on black, 400 engine, leaves me wondering, could this be his old car?


Beetles come in many forms, this one is pretty over the top.


An old neighbor from college sent me an email out of the blue, asking for input on buying a GTO. He's never owned an old car, yet has this burning desire to own a 68-69. He wants a driver, though nother perfect, as he wants to spend around $10,000, with a little flexibility. I was shocked at how many GTO's were at the cruise, since I was really paying attention, though not a single one for sale.


My friend Jody's (The Mechanic) latest purchase to flip. Bought for $700, and with some elbow grease, is now cruise worthy. As always, it's for sale. PS...check out the gold tooth on the front. LOL


My friend Marty's 69 VW. This thing just screams Summer Fun!




Judging by the colors, this car may have been done awhile ago, but it's still very cool. It has a classic look that perhaps will never go out of style, and alway remain unique at the same time.


My favorite Hoopty of the day, this land yacht of a Cadillac done up nicely.


My Sgt's 1976 Trans Am. While a lot of these cars were ran into the ground, you are starting to see a resurgence of them these last few years. Thanks to companies like Year One and Detroit Speed who have stepped up to the plate to make parts to both restore, and modify them.

2011 Downriver Cruise Pictures

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fort Street Downriver Cruise - June 25, 2011

My work is never complete, but I am much more prepared than last cruise. Many of my biggest issues are now resolved. A remanufactured power steering pump fixed my leak, a 160 amp alternator seems to have resolved my charging and gauge problems, and with a higher quality brake line flare kit, my brakes are now leak free.

My last...or I should say next, nagging issue is an engine miss crusing down the freeway as well as the occasional backfire at idle. I've tuned the idle mixture screws more times than I care to recall, and am almost convinced the issue is most likely a gasket. It could possibly be an intake manifold vacuum leak from either the gasket, or the gasket matching I did over a decade ago. More likely, I'd guess it's either the header gaskets or collector gasket. None of these possible fixes will be attempted prior to this weekend's cruise.

While the miss is somewhat of an annoyance, the car still drives fine, idles fine, and poses no serious concerns. My biggest complaint by far is the fact that I still smell like gas, oil, and other fumes every time I drive the car. This issue is not a new one, and goes back to last season, and in addition to the possible problems listed above causing the engine miss, I have a few other thoughts and solutions.

Tomorrow I will give the brakes one last bleed out, as they are still a little soft, give the body a nice shine, and I'll be good to go for Saturday. Plan is to get down there early, perhaps 10am or so, find a good spot to park, and hit the show on foot. I'm sure my car could survive a bit of cruising, or even all day cruising for that matter, but I'm not looking to smell like the Marathon Oil refinery all day, nor the headache and irritated eyes that would likely come with it.

Downriver Cruise

Monday, June 20, 2011

Leak Free Brakes

With the help of my friend, Jody, I now have leak free brakes. They didn't stop leaking without a fight. Our first attempt left us with two leaks. A few turns of a wrench knocked it down to one leak. The stubborn leak required a replacement coupler to solve the leak, a result of my flare kit and me tightening things up trying to stop the leaks. After a few bleeds, everything seemed functional, though the pedal seems a little soft.

I took the car for a spin up to the local gas station, topped it off with gas, and found the brakes functional, but likely in need of another bleed in order to firm up that pedal. Things seem to be charging fine, power steering leak is gone, and aside from the carb still seemingly in need of a bit more tuning, the car seems ready for summer. I'm looking forward to this Saturday's Downriver Cruise!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011 Gratiot Cruise - East Detroit

I attended the 2011 Gratiot Cruise today, sadly, while my Camaro was immobilized at home in the garage. Ok, perhaps "sadly" is a bit of a stretch. My car didn't make it, which in the past, would have been because it was in a billion pieces 1 1/2 hrs away down in my parents' garage. Today, my Camaro was unable to make the show because I decided to tackle that brake job, against my better judgement. I knew damn well I had a cheap-o brake flare kit, and I knew from past experience, it was a worthless piece of shit, and required me to use my friend's Snap-On kit in order to obtain a leak free brake system. Yet still, I tore into the brake job expecting a successful outcome. It should come as no surprise that my results were a bit deja vu, and pretty much every connection leaked like a sonofabitch!

I wasn't that upset though. While my car didn't make it, it wasn't that big of a deal. I knew that with the assistance of a friend's tools, it would be back on the road and ready for not only next weekend's Downriver Cruise, but also the numerous cruise nights, and the grande daddy of them all, Woodward's Dream Cruise a few months away. So while not able to make today's show, the post car show depression from visiting shows over the past 9 years with a basket case car sitting in a garge were not even on my radar.

As for the show, it was as good as past years. While I personally enjoy the Downriver Cruise a bit more, and it's not even close to the level of Woodward, it is a great cruise that is easily walkable, with plenty of cars, and a plethora of Mopars, both cruising and lining the 2 mile stretch. So, with that, I'll let the pictures do the talking...with a touch of commentary of course.


Call it Rat Rod, call it Classic Hotrodding, or whatever. This is just plain cool.


I've seen this car around many times, and the flame job is one of my favorites!


Blower Row.


Another fine example of a hot rod. This is the definition of "classic" in my book.


Good looking Plymouth.


Burn a different hue.


Even with it's glitter filled paint, I liked this car.


Ok, ok, not exactly an American classic, but seriously, when was the last time you saw a vintage Volvo? It gets the cool label in my book.


My dad had one of these, in black, with a black vinyl top and big block 400. He sold it in the early 1980's for $1,600 in mint condition and bought a Chevy Monza. Yeah, he's still kicking himself.


One of my favorite year 'Stangs.


Seriously, if you're driving a Mad Max vehicle and people don't get the message "GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY WAY!" then I feel the driver of this vehicle has the right to do what he has to do.


My buddy Rod that painted my car has one of these, but in black.


On my wife's wish list.


One damn good lookin' Scamp.


My little Emma may end up behind the wheel of one of these babies. Only 6 1/2 years before she's able to drag one.


T-buckets never get old.


This could very well be the Prowler Purple on my Camaro. Very nice car.


Funny, today I think those stick on fake brake vents people slap on their fenders are dumb. Yet on a classic Buick, they made the car. Put them on the hood of a Camaro, and it was a sure tell sign, that's an SS, and there was nothing cheezy about that.


This seems to be a Ferrari, and a good looking vintage Ferrari at that. If it's a kit car, excuse me, but I really don't care, it's still a sharp ride.


Also on the wife's wish list.


The googley eyes got me. I've seen the air brushed eyes done many times, but this set seem oh so more fitting for such a car in my opinion.


File this vehicle under "WTF?" Obviously a lot of work went into this ride, and it was done up very nicely, but I just can't understand it. The Mad Max ride, ok, I get it, and if somebody pisses you off, it can even serve a purpose...but this?


Lil GTO, you're really lookin' fine!


Not long ago, I thought these cars were absolutely hideous. More recently, they graduated to unusually ugly. Today, they are slowly creeping into the kinda cool category.


I wanna say this flamed out purple people eater is a Henry J, though I could be wrong.


All of the sudden the guy with the motorcycle/car contraption above doesn't seem so odd. His ride is way cooler than this Chevette lookin' ride for which I believe was by Raliant?

2011 Gratiot Cruise - East Detroit