Friday, September 19, 2014


 Once in a while I get to work on my toy, MR T, my 1937 FIAT Topolino. This side view shows the small size of the wee coupe when compared to....
 MR Z, our 2012 Honda CRZ Hybrid Coupe. I had installed the heater box [from a 1980 FIAT 124 Spider] but had not installed the control cables or the defroster ducts. So...
 I finally convinced myself to press on with that work. Above, you can see the [more or less] rectangular frame for the main switch/relay/fuse panel. Behind that frame are the new defroster ducts. Below the frame is the heater control box.
 This photo shows [top left] the end of the heater control box. You can see two of the three control cables coming out of it and two relays [for the left and right semaphores] at the end of the box. The black box to the right is the FIAT heater box.
Here is a straight on view of the heater control box. The defrost ducts [above] are easy to see. Just visible is one of the flasher relays [lower left] and the two semaphore relays [lower right--black].   
This car is very small inside and I built it so it all can be UN-bolted. I completely re-wired the car and used plug-in connectors throughout. You can see three of them in this photo. Building a car essentially from scratch is a LOT of work, but it's also a lot of fun.  I've enjoyed working on MR T for years. Hell, I might even live long enough to get it finished---HA!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


 Another of my evils is automotive art in a variety of media. The photo above is a '42 Chevy near the Bandon, Oregon light house. The Oregon lighthouse fancier said the Chevy was her dad's and was one of the last sold before auto production in the USA was stopped because of World War Two. The media? Permanent markers and India ink. Size was 12" x 18".
 A Saab enthusiast in Canada owned these four Saabs and the John Deere tractor and fancied Canadian grain elevators. This was done in gouache [opaque water color], markers and India ink. The size of this one was 28" x 40".
 A man who likes Willys had me do this one. I used OneShot sign enamel and painted it on galvanized steel. The size was 12" x 16".
 I painted this one for me. It was my first car, a '37 Ford slantback. This is a South Dakota setting, showing the windmill on my dad's farm. A reflection of the old farmhouse is in the highly polished side of Henry.  Again I used OneShot sign enamel on galvanized steel. Size is 10" x 16".
 Another painting using OneShot sign enamel, but this time for fun on one of my aluminum shop cabinet doors. The subject is my '69 Sonett V4 rally car and my first wife, one of the greatest rally navigators known to man. She never got carsick and she never screamed when I got the car sideways at about 80 mph. At night. On a narrow mountain road. Size is 24" x 30". 
A 1936 Chevy [and a '40 Ford truck] are the subjects here. The setting is Webster, South Dakota, the building was the family business, lo, those many years ago. Media is gouache, permanent markers, India ink, and at the bottom, pencil.  Size is 24" x 30". 
I have an extensive automotive library, and of course, these days, there IS Google.... You ever dream about YOUR first car???


I've just reconditioned another Saab V4 engine, this one for a  '73 Sonett III. The photo above shows new piston rings about to go onto a cleaned up piston. Note the piston ring expanding tool at the right. The yellow sleeves are to protect the crankshaft when the piston is installed in the engine block. I always have the connecting rod big ends "sized" and always use NEW connecting rod bolts and nuts. These are torqued to a "stretch" or "yield" condition and can NOT be re-used, as they may well break if they are again torqued to yield.  
 I always take a picture of the installed, new timing gears and tuck the photo into the records for that engine [this one was rebuild number 474...].  Note the new design of the big camshaft gear. Nice quality...BUT...the manufacturer didn't do enough homework. The two standard bolts that retain the intermediate plate [visible at the very bottom of the photo] contacts the outer ring of the aluminum center of the gear. I make special THIN head bolts to retain that plate and use Loctite to keep the bolts in place--no room for lock washers, not even the thin spring plate type.  I call that "close, but no banana".
 Note the big valves in the right cylinder head. I use these big valves in ALL my reconditioned V4 engines.  ALL the valve parts are NEW except the top retaining plates that hold the split keys. The exhaust valves are hardened and I install hardened valve seats for the exhaust valves. This was a warmed up street engine so the owner wished to stay with a single barrel carburetor. I use NEW Weber carburetors on ALL reconditioned V4 engines, this one a 34 ICH.
You can see the Weber carb and special air cleaner assembly, the reconditioned Bosch distributor, the new oil fill cap and the light flywheel and new clutch and pressure plate.  What you can't see is the camshaft, reground to Iskenderian F4 specs, and the new tappets [cam followers]. The yellow tabs are shims this clutch set required to get the release bearing plate [the six-sided plate in the center of the pressure plate ass'y] in its correct fore-aft location. The six shims go between the pressure plate and the flywheel. These MUST be offset by installing a slightly thicker shim WASHER under each of the six coil springs inside the pressure plate. About HALF the NEW clutch kits [clutch disc and pressure plate] I get these days require this shimming. I am really picky about the machining of the flywheels to maintain the STOCK depth of the pressure surface to the pressure plate mounting surface, so I know the problem is NOT the flywheels.   Necessity, someone said, is the mother of invention......