Organization Is Not My Strong Suit
by Eddie Buck
There... I said it.
No matter how hard I try, I will never be one of those types with a peg board, a line neatly traced around every spotlesssly clean tool . Just won't happen. Anytime, you can walk in my shop and find things in disarray. I know where 90% of everything is, or if given a few minutes, I can find at least 8% of the remainder. The other two is lost in the flotsam and jetsam of whatever dimension it is, that my world is part of. About once a month, it sort of gets cleaned. Tools put in their respective boxes, mostly (I have 2 roll aways, 3 regular boxes and the equivalent of a Nascar crash cart, and that still isn't enough). There's a table saw, a band saw, a radial arm saw, welding cart, drill press, English wheel , sandblaster and... you get the idea. When you have as many projects going as I do, any semblance of order seems to eat time. Time that is better spent making money ,or parts and tripping over this stuff has the benefits of improving my agility and balance. So, I live with about 4000 square feet of funny cars, trucks, engines, equipment and the like. The balance is used to conduct my sign business. It works, I'm a functional slob.
Though, I am every unashamed bit of the former, I take great pride in making every effort to be concise, accurate and historically correct. In the last few years, as I have either volunteered as an admin, started my own groups, or participated in a forums. If I don't know an answer, I pick the brains of anyone who may know it. When the elders talk, I keep my trap shut. If I'm wrong I admit it. My motivation is easy. I have seen people report a race and get the drivers names wrong, mis-identify the cars make and name. Writers of blogs, who lift paragraphs and claim it is theirs and then turn the tables when they are exposed. Lastly, the experts and authorities given an inch and the mile they took still wasn't enough to make their point or convey a simple message. The proverbial 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag. They... are what drives me to put out a product, you the reader can digest and not regurgitate from sappiness, vitriolic pining, etc. Okay, I know, get on with it.
Back to the organizational thing. I'm trying to be more methodical in my aging. For a couple reasons. First, I hate losing crap. It sucks. The expensive stuff seems to always fall into the 2% that disappears without a trace. Secondly, the more disciplined and methodical I try to be, the better the parts turn out to be. I rotate the importance/priority of the car I work on from time to time.
At this point, I'm kind of Jungled out, so I am working on the “Mickey” (Maverick). Mostly because I want to get it to the point of being a roller. See, the body is at Rosetty's place in Philly and I want to get the body fitted and undo some of the things the previous owner of the mold did, to modernize for running as an NFC. Little bit of this and that, cut here and there. Having the rolling chassis would facilitate a somewhat less stressful event, as opposed to doing it and hoping it's right when it gets home.
But, I digress.
Amazing what a raid on the local hardware store can produce.
Back to the methodical thing. The chassis, though damaged from Arnie Behling's foray into the grandstands some 44 yeas prior, is a work of art. At least it is to me, I'm a fan of anything Lil' John Buttera did, dragster...funny car... street rod...bike. With this chassis, I forensically try to get in his heady thought processes. No easy task. I'm trying my best to preserve every inch of the original chassis as humanly possible. When I put it on the table, I had to find the one part that I could square the rest of it from. It was like the high school shop preject that stared out as a table and ends up as a butcher block. Nearly 60 hours later, I was kind of close. I had to undo what previous attempts at fixing it had wrought. Apparently, they had tried to make this fit under the yellow Grand Am body of the Revelleader. It sat for years in some half-assed configuration. Needless to say, if Buttera was around, he'd probably call me a fool... idiot... or worse. I hear he wasn't much on wasting time resurrecting old stuff. Sometimes, I wouldn't argue. I have stared at, walked past and avoided this thing like the plague.
Last weekend, I forced myself to confront it head on. I cleaned the shop before I left Friday evening, so I could walk in Saturday morning and start. I was armed with half a dozen dowel rods the size of the tubing for the A-arms. I traced, cut and drilled some “heim ends” out of half inch plywood, pvc sheet to make brackets and a hot glue gun. I had every photograph I could or had found of the pieces in question. I started to eyeball, measure and start making these pieces out of wood, plastic and that nasty hot glue. 6 hours later, success! I stopped for lunch and a Facebook message session with Roger Lee, to get the exact measurements and angle of the coilovers. Everything worked and scaled out to what it needed to be. Now, I have to make them... or I'll shuffle off to Brian Fox at King Chassis and have him make them. Another trait I posess, is knowing my limits. When it comes to this one, I have pros do the welding. If this thing ever gets to cackle and move under it's own power down a track, I want it safe.
Now, yet another example of how being thorough is beneficial, has been proven. Next, I get to finish getting the chassis squared. I had another chassis guy, Mike Larabell of Larabell Race Cars, come by yesterday and give it the nasal appraisal. He's going to be the victim, I mean the welder who takes care of the chassis. So, this week, I get to cut, straighten and tack the bent stuff into a reasonable facsimile of what it should be. Then, the victim, I mean Mike, gets to figure out what can be salvaged and what can't. He's a good sport. I hope he continues to talk to me when he is finished. I want this one to be right. It needs to be, for many reasons. Above and beyond any others I have, this is the one Snake and a slew of others were based on. Many firsts and maybe a little forward in thought and ahead of the curve. This needs to be preserved. Which brings me back around to an earlier point. Exacting standards when these things are restored.
There are countless cars that have been poorly restored, or the restorers have taken creative liberties with them. Not so much taking something that was done in a quick and less detailed manner and making it jewel-like. I'm referring to incorrect color, lettering that is all wrong, in either size, font, or color ( this is the worst, as I have been handlettering since 1976) . I could go on and on about the wrong wheels, tires, tin, etc. Why do this stuff if you aren't going to be faithful to the original? One of the most blatant offenses I saw recently. I had heard about this car being “restored” and was anticipating the opportunity to see it. When I did, I was so disappointed, I couldn't bring myself to waste the battery required to take the photo. Geez... the only thing close were the front wheels. The colors were not even in the same universe as the original. At least the name was spelled correctly, but that's all it was. Font was wrong, it was too small and... I'll stop there. The guys buddies raved how beautiful it was and how exquisitely prepared … If your friends don't have the guts to say what an epic fail the restoration was... there's really no hope. It then turns into the royal ass kissing, ala the lemmings on the internet . “It's wonderful. I love it. It's the best thing since gold teeth!” I just don't get it and never will. I eschew compliments, because I don't take them very well. I like documenting things I do. One, so I can remember what I did..... hahaha . Two, because if there is a critique of something that fell short of correct, I want to know. Now, there is a bonus to it. When your peers compliment you, sure, it's a stroke. But, when one of the most loved and endeared funny car pilots of all time, Dale Pulde, says I'm doing it justice. THAT, is when I know this is the attitude I must have and maintain to do it right. There is the challenge, the end result is the satisfaction of knowing you didn't cut a corner. Your efforts to be precise, is preserving history for the next generation of fans. That makes all those damned burns from the hot glue gun worth it.
So when some jerk corrects or disputes something you post... or tells you the truth about something that needs to be known. Calm down and realize, it's all an effort to keep things on the level. Revisionist history serves only those who revise it. It's the rest who are uniformed, or chased away by fluff that will lose out. If any of this made sense, give yourself an A for comprehension. Me, I;m hoisting that middle finger high, in salute to the end of a long week. Oh, by the way, keep an eye open for the latest issue of Hot Rod. My friend and personal icon Tom Jobe was interviewed for this issue. Anything he has to say is worth paying attention to.
Okay. That's all folks!
Nostalgia Drag World - by Eddie Buck; photos courtesy of Eddie Buck
<<<PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE>>>