Sunday, June 30, 2013

Industrial arts AKA "Shop Class"

This is my 1952 Sheldon metal lathe. It has an 11 inch swing, and a 42 inch bed. The saddle is a little worn, but she still makes parts for the crazy things I build in my garage! Things like spacers and the Moon aluminum valve cover hold down caps that I made for my clone of Ed Roth's "Outlaw", and an assortment of shafts, bearings and seats etc for my old Ford tractor's mower attachment. I even made a steel wheel for the mower out of large diameter pipe, plate steel, and solid stock. Now, if you don't know what some of the terms I used were, you can blame the school system. Its not the teachers fault its the schools. Now I am no machinist by any means, but I get by, and I get it done, with the knowledge that I have. I have an old high school "SHOP CLASS" text book sitting on my work bench, that I refer to now and then. Its from the 60's, a time when "SHOP CLASS" was still important to this country. From what I have gathered, and from my time in high school, it seems like the industrial arts are all but dead. It costs the schools too much money for the insurance of the shop class, (but they seem to have tons of cash for sports, like all those kids will be in the NFL, yeah right). So, now our country has no machinists, metal fab guys, printers, auto body workers, mechanics, or aviation airframe builders. I can keep going but you get the point. These are the "ARTS" that made this country great! These are the arts that helped win world war 2, Korea, etc etc. This country had a "CAN DO" attitude! Now we ship it off to china to have it made by some unskilled craftsmen, and we are told to choke on it, and deal with it. Well, I say "SCREW THAT SHIT" I am going off on a rant even though know most, if not all of you reading this feel the same way. When I bought my really used and well worn lathe I was like " How did I ever live without one?" There are lots of kids and young adults that want to get involved, but don't have a cool shop to hang out at after school. I used to visit a guy named Billy Bosco, who ran the "Super Rod Shop" on Long Island. He built 32 Fords and T-buckets all from scratch. All the welding, machine work and mechanical drawings, were done by him and him alone. A real talent. What I am looking for, and the reason for the rant is, I'd like to offer my DVD's to any shop class teacher or school library that will have them. I will make them available at cost so that a whole class of kids can afford them. I would hope my DVD's would inspire some one to pick up a fiberglass roller, or stand at a milling machine and "BUILD SOMETHING, BUILD SOMETHING FREAKING COOL", and learn a good solid trade they can be proud of. So, if you are reading this, and are a teacher, or know one, volunteer at a school or work in the library, get in touch with me, so we can make something happen. Even if one kid gets turned on, and further their career, they might become one of the greats! The next "Lill John Buttera" or "Dick Allen". Let's get America back in the garage and building something!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


It's not all fun and games rolling from car show to car show. I did a photo shoot with the "Roswell Rod" on the east coast and on my way to Detroit for the Orion music festival Metallica concert I had a side wall let lose on my trailer tire. I didn't even feel it! My wife and I pulled into the Pennsylvania welcome center on the PA/NJ state line on I-80 to hit the bathroom and get munchies, and I do my usual walk around, and I see the tire looking like my cat Dirty Doug's scratching post. The pics tell the story. So guys check your tire pressure before a road trip, and tires do have expiration dates on them ya know. Mine had a bit of dry rot from the hot Missouri summer sun. I think that's what did it. Travel safe and get out in the garage and build something

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Get a Lap Dance for a Quarter!

I've been bogged down with motorcycle paint jobs for customers that have kept me from doing any work on my own stuff like the "Baja Bandeeto", my Knuckle Head Chopper and more. I am also on the road now with the "Roswell Rod" for a photo shoot for a big corporate advertising print ad campaign, and modeling gig (blushing). Can you believe that? Working with a production company in NYC providing props for a set as well. Alas this work comes with the fine print of "keep yer trap shut" at the bottom of the contract, so I can't say anything about it until it has already happened. So here I sit In my hotel room, wondering what I can blog to you cats about? Nothing pops in my head cause I am doing so much other stuff, but as I start to clean up the desktop on my laptop, and go through old pics that I forgot my wife and I took years ago, I find some little gems that I should share. On one of the many trips I made while moving to Kansas City, I made a point to stop by my friend Kurt McCormick's place along the way. For those of you that don't know, Kurt has the finest collection of vintage kustom cars you'll ever see. The "Sam Barris Buick", a Valley Custom model "A" Roadster, The "Rod & Custom Dream Truck", even Elvis Presley's Barris built Caddy. I can keep going but you get the point. On this trip I had an old kustom 57' Chevy I found In Buffalo, NY that I wanted to show Kurt. He flipped out over it, and loved the car as I knew he would. He is the truest kustom fan I have ever met, and am proud to call him a friend. As I am showing him the Chevy we open the trunk and inside is a 1960 Caddy quarter panel I had turned Into "wall art". Its metal flake blue with flames, and lettered "Fins & Fannies". Kurt's eyes pop out of his head, and wants me to explain what this is all about! But I am upset cause I notice that in transit, the panel got a gauge in it down to the primer, and I am pissed! Kurt is like, "But, Its still gorgeous, that gauge doesn't take away from it at all. But what is "Fins & Fannies"and how did the Caddy quarter come to be wall art?" Well, kiddos a long time ago, a young fellow named John worked part time for me in my Long Island shop. He comes in one day and says "Hey,on my route today, I saw some rusty piece of a fender with a fin on it out for trash." I am already putting my coat on and getting my keys out, before he is done talking. I told him, "Come on, lock up the garage, get in the truck and show me". As we roll up on a row of trash cans, there sits a '60 Caddy four door quarter panel chunk, cut right up and down the middle of the wheel opening, leaving the taIl section. In the back of the truck it goes, and back to the garage we roll. After some sand blasting and sheet metal work, I rig it so It can hang on the wall, cap off the open end, then do some body work, and get it all into primer. It sat for a while till I had the Idea that it should hang in my office, which just happened to be a room that was 12 by 12 feet, that we had turned into a little, ahem, topless bar. Complete with a small stage with a brass pole, velvet sofa, the works. My wife came up with the name "Fins & Fannies" due to the Caddy fin and the nudie bar pole . . . you get the Idea. Well, that's the story of how it all came to be. I offered the panel to Kurt cause he loved it so much! I am glad I made his day! "Fins & Fannies" now hangs high on the wall of his Barris Brothers tribute room in his home. Look for art where other people only see trash guys. Keep the world beautiful, do something Kustom!