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.


Half way there…

Posted April 30, 2013 By dad

Left the Redding Holiday Inn in the morning,
lunched at Benbow Inn
finished the day in room 123 at the Little River Inn (our favorite stop along the entire route)


last gas for 60 miles


waiting for gas




waiting for our turn at the pump


relaxin’ before gassin’


in the queue; the black hot rod was Newport Beach’s Steve Schmidt’s last minute substitution for his 1957 Porsche 356GT, which was disabled just before the event


Our intrepid team arrives hot and weary at Benbow Inn

enjoying a relaxing lunch at Benbow Inn

enjoying a relaxing lunch at Benbow Inn

view from the back patio at Benbow Inn

view from the back patio at Benbow Inn

somewhere along the Mendocino coast line

somewhere along the Mendocino coast line


much needed break to cool off


Home of the best rubber duck collection we’ve ever seen.


Jack needed some “convincing” before he agreed drive the Rally across coast highway between two blind turns to get gas when we arrived at Little River Inn


happy to make it alive to dinner at Little River Inn


late night McGyver fix for our differential oil leak; this photo is just before we wrapped it with Silicone Tape (in French Racing Blue of course!)


If it’s Monday, this must be Redding

Posted April 29, 2013 By dad

Day one is complete and it was BRUTAL! We covered 300 miles in 8 hours of driving.

The start was very exciting. As the oldest car in the event, we were assigned car # 1 and were the first to depart the San Francisco Fairmont, waved off by the Italian Vice Consul in San Francisco.

moments before the start

moments before the start

We turned north on Van Ness, left on Lombard and within minutes were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on an beautifully clear and Sunny day.  In the morning, we covered 160 miles (averaging almost 20 mpg!) to get to our lunch in Williams. The road noise is really loud, but the wind noise is deafening.  Even worse is the constant flow of 200 degree air mixed with some burnt oil billowing into the cockpit from the engine compartment because there is no firewall. It is INTENSELY HOT. Driving this car feels like stoking coal for a huge steam locomotive. I would estimate the temperature at our seats to be approximately 150 degrees for the duration of our drive. Our legs and arms felt almost burned. We were so dehydrated, we drank at least 8 bottles of water (and a delicious bottle of Mexican Coca Cola–the one with real sugar!).  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t drink enough to satiate my intense thirst.

The Rally performed like a champ and delivered us to our lunch and dinner destinations without any drama. It handled winding country roads and 80 mph amidst the big rigs on Highway 5 without complaint. The afternoon drive, however, took us on some much rougher roads which together with wind advisory-level cross winds were knocking us around like a ping pong ball in a washing machine. The scenery was beautiful, but I was eager to get to our final destination in Redding. When we arrived, we cleaned the bugs off the headlights and wind screens, checked and cleaned the fuel filters, replaced about 16 oz. of differential oil we have lost over the last two days, and checked to make sure all the bits that were supposed to be on the car were still there. It appears we only lost a threaded cap to one of the hood latches (which we can get by without for the remainder of the event).

Several of our fellow participants retired today, including the #2 car, the 1928 Bugatti driven by the two Martins from England. They get to finish the event in an air-conditioned rental car. I’m SOOOOOO jealous. The cold shower in our hotel at the end of the day may have been my best shower EVER!

We are back in our room after a banquet dinner with all the participants. It’s 9:30pm and I can barely keep my eyes open. We are going to sleep SO WELL tonight.











our intrepid companions Mike, Peggy, Linda and Will




“Must be in the front row!”

Posted April 28, 2013 By dad

It’s Sunday, the day before the start of the California Mille. Jack and I arrived to learn we have roundel #1, because we will be driving the oldest car in this year’s event. We beat the 1928 Bugatti by one year! Of the 70 cars which participated in the 2013 California Mille, only the first 6 were pre-war cars.  Stay posted for some other interesting stats on the distribution of cars after the event. For more information, you may wish to check out:

image image image image


best dressed entrants at the opening banquet Sunday night

Our route for the next four days: Day 1: Lunch in Williams & finish in Redding (300 mi) Day 2: Lunch in Benbow, Mendocino coast & finish in Mendocino (236 mi) Day 3: Lunch in Boonville, finish in Calistoga (189 mi) Day 4: Sonoma Coast, lunch in Petaluma, back to Calistoga for end of California Mille (224 mi) We’ll keep you posted…



Top 10 Signs You Should Pull Over Immediately 

By Tom and Ray Magliozzi, Car Talk

Cars are so reliable these days; it’s easy to forget that you can still have an emergency.

Here’s our Top 10 list of the things that should cause you to pull your car over immediately.

(We know, this was supposed to be only 10 reasons to pull over immediately, but we thought of a few more. So sue us!)

12. Losing Something ‘Essential 

We’re sure this has happened to you. You’re driving along and you reach into your glove box to grab your Sleepy LaBeef CD. As you’re fumbling to open the CD case with one hand, the CD pops out and falls on the floor, under your legs.What do you do? Too many people bend down while they’re driving and try to find Sleepy’s greatest hits. Don’t do it. Remember that at 65 mph every second your head spends down between your knees your car moves almost 100 feet without a driver! Besides, if your head is down there when you crash it could end up firmly implanted somewhere embarrassing. One might even argue that it already is in that dark place if you engage in this risky behavior.

So if you drop something — a CD, your keys, your phone, a french fry — either let it sit there until you get to your destination or pull over before you fish it out.

11. Cabin Chaos 

Sometimes things get exciting inside a car. The kids, who normally slap and pinch each other suddenly pull out kitchen knives. Or your Labrador sees a cute little poodle crossing the street and jumps into your lap to get a closer look. Or your mother-in-law announces that she’s just filled her Depends. Don’t try to solve problems like these and drive at the same time. You can’t. It’s tempting to try to reach the kids in the backseat and separate them or toss the dog into the backseat or help your mother-in-law ... nevermind. It’s much wiser to pull over and get things back under control. Then get back on the road.

10. Medical Emergency 

If you think that you may be experiencing a medical problem, pull over right away. We’ve heard too many stories about people who have all the signs of a stroke or heart attack, yet they decide to try to “make it home” before calling for help. This is a recipe for killing yourself and other people on the road. If you have any reason to believe you’re getting seriously ill, pull over and call for help.That’s what 911 is for.

Even less deadly medical problems can make us lousy drivers. So consider pulling over and resting if you have something in your eye, a migraine headache or intense heartburn. Pull over if you can’t sit still because you need to use the bathroom (or the bushes next to the road) or if you drop cigar ash between your legs. Anything that causes you to worry more about some part of your body than what’s happening on the road in front of you is a good reason to pull over and stop driving until the problem is solved.

9. Lack of Visibility 

We tend to forget that when we’re driving we’re piloting a 3,000-pound projectile. And when you’re going 65 mph, you’re covering 96 feet in one second. It’ll take you 316 feet to come to a complete stop under ideal conditions.For that reason, it’s good to be able to see!

Your visibility can suddenly become impaired for all kinds of reasons: a sudden downpour, thick fog, broken windshield wipers, a big splash of mud and an empty windshield washer reservoir, a flying projectile that cracks your windshield or a hood latch that breaks and sends the hood flying up while you’re driving. And this doesn’t even count the most common source of poor visibility — failure to clean off the windshield when it’s snowy or icy. Bottom line: If you can’t see well for any reason, pull over right away and either fix the problem or wait until the weather changes before getting back on the road.

8. Any Loud or Sudden Noise 

Unless you’re driving Tommy’s MG , your car is not supposed to make any loud, sudden or unidentifiable noises. A loud or sudden noise can be benign. It could be a plastic milk jug that you ran over. On the other hand, it could also mean that your engine just launched a spark plug into low-Earth orbit.

Unless it’s a milk jug, it indicates that something has just changed. It’s changed from one piece to several pieces or changed from attached to unattached. Either way, it’s best to pull over and try to figure it out.

7. Temperature Light or Oil Light 

There are very few things that can wreck a car in less than two minutes. There’s a direct hit by a meteor or a Caterpillar D9. Fortunately, both are very uncommon. But there are two common things that can ruin cars — severe overheating and loss of oil pressure. Your dashboard has idiot lights for both of these conditions. They’re talking to you, pal.

If either of those lights comes on, don’t try to make it home before investigating. Driving with no oil pressure can wreck a car’s internal parts in minutes. Or less. Severe overheating can blow your head gasket or warp or crack your cylinder head or block just as quickly.

A customer of ours had the oil light come on and drove home before calling us.We asked her, “Why did you try to get home?” She said she felt safer at home.That’s understandable, we said, but that feeling of safety just cost you $7,000! If you see the oil light or hot light, unless it’s unsafe to do so, pull over and call for help.

6. Sudden Change in Handling 

If something changes in your car’s handling and you can feel it in your steering wheel, chances are it is serious. It could be a sudden, extreme change like a tire blowing out or a wheel about to fall off. Or you might notice that the steering wheel is suddenly wobbling or tugging in one direction. These are all potentially serious problems that require pulling over.

Not every change in handling is dire. A small wobble could be something relatively minor like a lost wheel weight or a bad tire. It could be as simple as a change in road surface. Here’s the catch: If you try to make an on-the-fly diagnosis, you risk driving over a guard rail and onto a nearby putting green. Or much worse. There are a lot of crucial pieces in the front end of the car. Because they’re attached to the front wheels you can often feel a change in the steering wheel. Pay attention to it.

5. Steam/Water Vapor 

Steam is usually an indication that coolant, which is under pressure, is escaping from your car’s cooling system. If it’s leaking slowly and hitting an exhaust pipe or something else that’s hot, it may not be an emergency. But if it’s leaking quickly, you can overheat the engine and do serious damage to your engine and your wallet. If your engine is overheating, you can sometimes save yourself thousands of dollars by pulling over before permanent damage is done.

Don’t twist off the radiator cap right away to have a look-see. If your car is overheating, or even if it’s not, the coolant is under very high pressure and can burn your face until it looks as bad as my brother’s. So if you’re not mechanically inclined, pull over, turn off your engine and find a good, local garage that can lend a hand.


4. Smell 



We each know what our car smells like: Mostly, it smells like us, which is why it offends other people. Or it may smell like some combination of new-car smell, wet dog, old juice boxes and maybe grandma. If you notice a new smell — especially if you know it didn’t come from you — it’s best to pull over and investigate it. It could be relatively benign such as when you drive over a plastic grocery bag and it sticks to your hot catalytic converter or a meatball sub that slid under the passenger seat. But it could be something more serious like wire insulation burning or a gas leak. So if you notice a smell that’s unusual and you can’t identify it, it’s best to pull over and make sure it’s nothing getting ready to cause a disaster.

Your two primary concerns are gasoline, which you should never smell in the passenger compartment once you’re moving, and something that’s smoldering and could catch fire. Smoldering electrical wires are the most common source of fire. Once you pull over, you should investigate the smell carefully. And if you’re at all concerned, call for help.


3. Smoke 


There are lots of reasons why smoke might be issuing forth from your vehicle.But almost all of them are bad. Some are not emergencies such as when engine oil is dripping onto a hot exhaust pipe since a small amount of oil can produce a lot of smoke. But other times where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or there soon will be. If you see smoke, it’s best to pull over and check it out.


2. Flames 



If you see flames spouting from anywhere in your car, pull over immediately.Not only is your car beginning to turn into automotive flambé before your eyes, but there’s a risk to your life, as well. Even if the flames aren’t burning you, per se, the fumes may be doing you in. So unless you’re a trained firefighter, the best thing to do is look out for your own safety. Pull over, lace up your Pro Keds, get a safe distance away from your car and call 911. Then, and only then, do we advise pulling out your long, pronged fork and roasting marshmallows.


1. Blue Lights 



Remember what happens if you don’t pull over when you see blue lights .


One final note: What does it mean to “pull over immediately”? It means pull over as quickly as it’s safe to do so. Don’t swerve across five lanes of traffic. Check around you. Check the side of the road to see if there’s a place to pull off. And then pull over.

Visit CarTalk.com for the orginal article and other informative (and entertaining) automotive articles