Archive for May, 2013

Goodbye Paint Booth (and good riddance!)

Posted May 19, 2013 By dad

It was finally time for the temporary paint booth to come down. The booth took up too much space in the garage and I was relieved to reclaim a lot of the space. We now have a good amount of work ahead of us to get the suspension and tires mounted so we can take the Mustang to the professional painters to paint the body.

After spending a very enjoyable 6 hours at the Maker’s Faire today with Mom & Oliver, Jack and I departed for the garage for 5 hours of work to get the bottom of the Mustang painted.


Have Shutz Gun, will travel


Spraying Monstaliner. Since we weren’t rolling it on, we thinned the Monstaliner with 4 oz. acetone per gallon to make it easier to apply with a spray gun.


Not exactly Michelangelo, but a masterpiece nonetheless


First coat has been applied. Now we wait the recommended one hour flash time between coats.


The Master at work


2nd coat applied


ready to remove masking


masking should be removed before the second coat dries


Posted May 14, 2013 By jack

No more clever titles. No more fun. It’s work from here on out.

With the booth completed, the only thing left to do was to cut holes in the plastic to run air hoses inside for the HVLP spray gun and our fresh air breathing system. Once this was done, we tested out the breathing system and removed any remaining dust that had settled on the car by giving the underside a final once-over with Eastwood PRE surface prep.

After checking to ensure that our masking job was finished and procuring some paint filters, terry towels, and paint sticks from our local OSH, I set to work mixing our epoxy primer with the pigmented activator while Dad set up the spray gun. Once everything was set up and ready to go, Dad realized that he had poured the paint into the gun with the wrong size spray nozzle, so after a quick transfer of paint cups to the correct gun we were ready to prime.

While I had been masking earlier, Dad had taped a few sheets of masking paper to a wall of the paint booth for a few practice runs. Dad dialed in the spray calibrations on the gun, adjusting spray height and paint flow, and we set to work. The first batch got us about three-quarters of the way through the first coat, so we refilled, spun the car, and sprayed the areas we didn’t have access to before. Once this was finished, we refilled once more and applied the second and final coat.

Dad and I should be heading back tomorrow to apply the Monstaliner and finish our painting work once and for all.

No more fun sign-offs. Deal with it.

All dressed up and nowhere to go 130511 14.31.54-m 130511 14.12.14-m The Master at work 130511 13.48.41-m 130511 10.48.21-m 130511 14.12.23-m

Water break

Water break


Sports Car Digest posted an excellent report with stunning photos of this year’s California Mille today in which I found a great photo of us in the ’27 Rally taken by Sports Car Digest Contributor/Photographer Dennis Gray

© 2013 Dennis Gray & Sports Car Digest

and another beautiful photo taken by Bob Ross (also of Sports Car Digest)

© 2013 Bob Ross

© 2013 Bob Ross & Sports Car Digest

you can read Dennis’s excellent Califonia Mille Report at Sports Car Digest

This video gives you a feel for the wind noise in the Rally. We had absolutely spectacular sunny weather on the coast. This was shot on the second day as we were driving South on the coast towards Mendocino.

20130430_pch into Mendocino 163801



We did it! The oldest car to run the 2013 California Mille finished the 1,000 miles without any major problems. Since this event was a “shakeout” run for us in preparation for Vintage racing, we intentionally drove the car hard and very fast.

Thursday night I was thrilled that we decided to have our pickup truck delivered to us at the Solage Hotel in Calistoga, where the California Mille ended yesterday.  After the closing banquet dinner, Jack and I drove the 30 minutes to Middletown to “steal” a U-Haul trailer (more on that below) and then drove 30 minutes back to the Solage.  We finished loading the Rally onto the stolen U-Haul trailer at the Solage, packed our gear into the truck and climbed into our beds at approximately 2:00 a.m.

The 5:30 alarm and back-up wake up call were most unwelcome but necessary.  We had to leave the hotel by 6:00 am to get Jack to school by 8:45 because he committed to give a speech about the inherent unfairness of voting systems on Friday morning.

It was on our way home at approximately 7am that we learned that we had stolen the U-Haul trailer.  That was when the Owner of the Middletown U-Haul branch called, returning the messages I left for him the previous night as we were hitching the trailer we reserved to our truck, and informed us that we have stolen his trailer because we didn’t sign a contract.  The fact that 1) we couldn’t sign a contract because his office was closed by the time we arrived and 2) that we didn’t hide our faces from the security cameras either when we relieved ourselves in the planters outside his front door nor when we hitched the trailer to our truck and 3) that we took the trailer which seemed to have been pulled out and left out for us didn’t persuade him at all and we were developing the impression during the call that he was quite serious.  I took the opportunity to remind him that if we were going to steal his trailer we wouldn’t have left several messages for him with our phone number, nor would we have made a reservation held with our credit card.  He seemed quite reluctant to see the situation from our perspective.  In any case, we had the trailer we needed and would be able to return home driving 90 miles through rush hour traffic in the comfort of our air conditioned truck cabin towing the Rally.

After dropping Jack at school, I delivered the Rally back to Rene and Al at Burlingame Motors for its post-Mille service & repairs.  If it wasn’t for these two mechanical wizards (as well as our nightly maintenance rituals), there’s no way our nickel-era racing machine would have made it for the duration of the California Mille.

I don’t know how Jack survived the school day on Friday.  When I arrived at home, I climbed into bed for a 2 hour nap.  Not only was a totally knackered, but I thought it might be prudent to “lay low” and stay off the road for a couple of hours while U-Haul sorted out the trailer trouble and to give them sufficient time to call off the authorities.

Now that the Mille is over, it’s clear to me we’ll have to address the heat situation in the cockpit.  It’s simply unbearable–and dangerous.  During our drive on Thursday, Jack touched the aluminum dash briefly and burned his finger!

We now have a number of (mostly minor) issues to address over the next few weeks:

1. New body fasteners (period-correct and anchored with safety wire) because most of the bolts holding the lower front side panels were rattled right off the car on the rough roads somewhere along the route
2. Check front wheel alignment; we went through three front tires over the 1,000 miles.  I was really glad that I brought the spare wheel and purchased spare tires and tubes on a whim last  week becuase without them we couldn’t have finished the event.
3. Fix tachometer; it simply stopped working at some point on day 2 or 3
4. Check noise in right rear brake drum; I noticed a pinging rattle which seemed to come from the drivers side rear brake drum when we were on bumpy roads on the last day.  I’m really curious to know what’s causing it.
5. Mount the proper Marchal headlamps I purchased at Retromobile; I didn’t want to replace my generic “Marchal-look” headlamps until after the 1,000 mile rally, but now that the Mille is behind us, it’s time.

Not quite Carol Merrill: Chris modeling treasure found at RetroMobile Paris 2013
Not quite Carol Merrill: Chris modeling treasure found at RetroMobile Paris 2013




6. Replace broken rear lower brake adjustment bar; we only noticed the bent and broken bar hanging below the differential when we were loading the Rally on the trailer in Calistoga late last night.  Enquiring minds want to know what happened.

7. Fix leak in the (Bugatti) differential; we added 16 ounces of heavy gear oil into the differential each night as part of our nightly maintenance routine.  It’s time to fix the problem.

8. Replace the incorrect grease nipples; there’s an odd assortment of correct and incorrect grease fittings on the car and we’re going to remove the ones that don’t belong.

9. Fix rear brake light; it stopped working somewhere along the route.
10. Replace threaded hood latch cap that shook out somewhere between San Francisco and Redding; bummer!
11. Replace missing threaded plug in right rear wheel hub; the plug was missing from the start of the event and the hole allowed differential oil to seep out all over the outside of the rear drum which then splattered the oil all over the back of the car. We plugged the hole temporarily with black Permatex silicone gasket sealer and silicone tape, but now that we’re back we need to fix it.
12. Replace mirror mounts with ones made from more substantial aluminum to reduce vibration.
13. FABRICATE FIREWALL and/or fabricate air vents which direct cool air into the cockpit.


Suffering through the 150 degrees in the cockpit on the final stretch back to the Solage Inn. The white clown lips are from the 50 SPF face stick I needed to keep my lips from chapping any worse than they already had (which would have made eating and speaking unbearable).


Jack enjoys the cool wine cave at Keller Estates Winery (our final day lunch stop)


early morning view of Balloon event from the Pickup truck while towing the Rally on the stolen trailer



Balloons over the vineyards on our way home

Day 3: depart Little River Inn (sadly)

lunch at Boonville

finish at Solage Hotel in Calistoga

total distance: 189 miles

We were up quite late last night implementing a McGyver style fix for the gear oil leaking out of our differential and all over my right rear brake drum. Mike and I filled the hole that was missing a threaded plug with Permatex Gasket silicone while Jack preformed his nightly ritual of adding 16 ounces of gear oil to the leaking differential. The entire time Will illuminated our work area with his ’57 Porsche Speedster headlights (which sounded like it ran with a diesel engine) and continuously asked us if we needed any duct tape.

In the morning, a section of the hotel parking lot had been coverted into a makeshift garage. The Yoshida Pre-War Jaguar SS-100 (all the way from Tokyo) was getting a new Fuel pump while the ’57 light weight Giuletta was getting some attention as well.   We needed to swap the right front wheel with our spare because we had worn the tire bald, but since the floor jacks were being used I decided to join my Jack for a quick breakfast.  When learned upon our return 30 minutes later that Mark (co-driver of the spectacular ’42 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 SS) had gratiously changed our wheel for us while we were eating.  He reminded us to check that the knock-off was really well seated after driving 5-10 miles.  We did and it was.

I don’t want to forget to mention Jeff Walker & Bill Crowley, who represented Chubb Collector Car (a major sponsor of the California Mille) providing mechanical support.  It was really helpful that they are true gear heads (Bill has several hot rods that keep him busy while Jeff is a muscle car and motorcycle fanatic whose dad was a drag racer and auto restorer). Together with the incomparable Conrad Stevenson & Jere Brown (Cal Mille mobile mechanics extraordinaire), their tireless and heroic wrenching assistance helped keep the 70 entrant cars on the road. Jack and I are especially grateful for Jeff & Bill’s assistance because they transported our spare wheel & tires for the entire route–without which we would have been side-lined after the second day–while Jere hauled our tool bags.

I encourage you to check out Jeff Walker’s Cal Mille blog on the Chubb Collector Car Insurance site.

After a brief drivers meeting, the 65-or-so cars still running departed the Little River Inn on a beautiful but warm drive through Ukiah, Comptche & Navarro then throught the Hendy Woods State Park on our way back to the coast.  Jack and I really enjoyed the cooler coastal temperature through Greenwood, Elk and all the way down to Manchester (just before Point Arena) and then headed inland with ambient temperature steadily rising to the 90s on our way to lunch in Boonville.  We arrived at the Boonville  Hotel totally dehydrated from riding in the Rally cockpit enduring a constant temperature in the 150 degree range and were thrilled to be offered two cups of cold cider as soon as we walked in.

The afternoon run was a relatively short but challening 91 miles from Boonville to Calistoga via routes 128, 175 and 29.  Once we arrived in Calistoga, it was time to change our left front tire which was now worn bald.  Since we used the spare wheel in the morning, we would have to change the tire and tube tonight.  We decided to put off maintenance until after dinner.

When we returned to our car after dinner, I also noticed that 2/3 of the body fasteners holding the lower front side panels had fallen off on the rough drive of the past two days!  Alex (on the Engineering crew at the Solage) generously gave us all the fasteners we needed to get the Rally back together and road-worthy for the last day of driving.


Make-shift garage in the Little River Inn parking lot. Site of our early morning bonding session with the mechanics (Jere Brown & Conrad Stevenson) and other entrants


1937 Jaguar SS-100 from Tokyo gets a new fuel pump


our Rally (at left) waits for a jack to free up so we can change the first of our three tires worn bald by the hard driving on rough roads


Time Warp: we stopped in Elk at the Greenwood Pier Inn to show Jack where his mom & dad honeymooned long before he joined the family


Jack in front of the Greenwood Pier Inn. If his mom and I hadn’t honeymooned there, it’s possible that YOU WOULDN’T KNOW JACK


Jack and I enjoy the view from the Cliff House at the Greenwood Pier Inn


Jack’s expression in anticipation of the heat we’re about to endure when we leave the coast to head towards Boonville


Late night tire surgery in the Engineer’s shed at the Solage Hotel. I was not only grateful to have Bill, Mike & Jeff’s company, but Mike & Jeff’s motorcycle racing experience was invaluable. Their helpful tips dramatically reduced the time it would have taken me to change the 5 x 19 Rally tire on my own.


I think the engineer’s shed was my favorite facility at the Solage Hotel. Midnight tool time with Bill & Jeff (the Chubb Insurance guys) and Mike.


new front left wheel mounted and missing body bolts replaced. Just need to top up the Engine and Differential Oil and we’ll be ready for another day.