White Flag Racing
 

Rumor Control


Jan 15th, 2014

   Been too long. I realize I have a responsibility to keep up with reporting on current events surrounding the shop, BUT…I’m not paid to hang around the keyboard and put forth my view. I’m barely paid to be productive, so pardon my tardiness.

   I don’t even know how many months it’s been. I should work my way chronologically backwards for a couple /few weeks from today, rather than the other way around. Today. 2003 4Runner thrust upon me after a local dealership failed to resolve the issue. Reminds me of a C5 that had a computer failure that I couldn’t overcome. Actually, I could and can. But the thing that truly messes with my conscience is costing. For some reason, I would rather shove the late model diagnostics over to a dealer than screw around with it. One reason? Contention. Fucking contention. Our preferred customers bring us project cars with issues, or cars unfinished, wanting them finished, fixed or improved upon. They WANT to spend money on them They WANT IFS, disc brakes, posi units, air bags, rack and pinion. They WANT a supercharger. I rarely get a hobby car or boat in where the customer is so thoroughly fed up and pissed off with another service shop that they come to ME. So, I voiced my concern and reluctance to bring this thing into the shop. The customer is already hot. And we all know, I’m not exactly one to put up with much chest pokin’. But, I’ll try. The dealer has already replaced the ECU, 4Wheel ECU, Actuator, 4wheel selector switch and threw their hands in the air. Great. Thanks. I’m diagnosing tomorrow.

  Monday, the 6th the 64 Ford that came in for major suspension upgrades finally left. Well, I’ll temper finally with, just left. It only took a couple weeks, but we pulled the nose, pulled the bed, added 4 link, IFS, air bags, disc brakes, power R&P, R&I the engine/trans and reassembled all. Very happy with outcome.
 

   The time before that was spent rigging a fishing boat that needed everything. Had twin small block Fords and we threw in a single vortec with an older duo prop. The boat left ready to run with a little more work, but that thing took 5 weeks to rig. These are fun projects that I like getting involved in. The Malibu is still hanging around and I am just about ready to pull the HO motor and install a different gen 6 Big Block and possibly inject it. Still have to negotiate the as delivered condition and price. Sale is pending.

    Before that was Finnegan’s Stainless Trailer. That was quite a ride. Came out nice and the boat will like the ride.

Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm, but we are full on flu here and have a house full of sickos.  






April 30th, 2013

What a great last week! I wonder when I am going to slip out of my optimistic outlook that so glaringly lacks validity. Soon, I hope.  Then I can get on with a personality of curmudgery more befitting my age.  Why you ask? Well, pull up a chair.  This will be one of the more enlightening Rumor Controls.

 

See, we fix things here at the shop. Well..let me clarify that statement. We attempt to fix things.  I have ranted of incorrect parts and the ass f@cking that invariably ensues.  But, this week was a doozy in that arena.  I get so worked up on quality and the general opinion that roughly equates to  “Good Nuff”.   People simply don’t do things correctly anymore.  The general shop just doesn’t give a flyin’ shit about your problem. 

 

I have a customer.  Brought us a present.  On a flatbed. A  C-5 auto convertible for a locked up steering wheel. It’s a dreaded problem.  One that is routinely talked about on C-5 forums as one of the most debilitating, aggravating problems one could ever hope to delve into.  I know it can turn into a RatShit and, well…this one did.  I told the customer it would be in the general vicinity of $500 to unlock his column and install a CLB (Column Lock Bypass).  Usually this wouldn’t be a big deal BUT I AM MFR and God likes telling Jesus, “Hey kid, watch this!  As he magically burns up the column lock motor, Body Control Module AND seizes the steering wheel to the column.  He chuckles and for good measure creates a Downpour on my miserable ass, while I am outside with the top down trying to remove the steering wheel. He either is laughing or farting as a thunder clap seals his latest edition of let me “F” with that guy for a while.

 

          I can either make $500 in an afternoon, or I can make the same amount of money over a two week period.  Maybe not even then.  This one went out to the dealer on a Flatbed.  Boy did that make me feel good.  I spent $400 on parts and tools, can’t charge the guy a f@cking cent and the dealer wants to charge the guy a couple grand to fix a factory recall.   F@ck My Life.

 

         God must have been in a particularly evil mood this week as he brought to me a ’70 Big Block Cuda convertible with a pinion leak.  I don’t know any better, I tell the guy, oh, around $150 for a seal, labor for the swap and you’ll be good to go.  I COULD HAVE DONE THAT.  But, as I pulled the pinion nut, it’s a Dana 60, yes, a CAR Dana 60.  Super rare, and expensive numbers matching unit.  The oil comes out and it’s full of metal.  I call the customer, tell him.  He says he just had the rear end installed and it was whining, plus the rear brakes were grabbing.  I pull the wheels and take a look at the shoes.  Wearing really weird.  Like a quarter of the shoe on top and bottom at a triangle.  Never have I seen this.  I put a stabila level on the axle to verify and a 90 degree on the axle flange.  The Flanges are out by a strong 12 degrees.  Great.  My $150 initial jumped to 2K and THEN with the bent ends and horrible looking perch welding (requiring removal, cutting the perches off, replacing the hubs) is looking more like 3K.  I contacted a guy that knows the shit out of Mopar rear ends and he slices the ends, replaces the hubs, TIG welds it all back together, with fabulous looking welds and Yes, I DO know what a Fabulous weld is.  I am a 13 year AWS CWI.  The gears are a stout 4.88:1 the car is an auto.  Needs more like a 3.55.  Requires a replacement carrier.  The closest Detroit locker is in California.  The car has been blocking one of my bay doors now for 6 days.  I work ALL day setting up the rear end after getting the housing back.

 

Now straight, and ready for install.  These Dana 60 rears can drag you down and pound you into the ground on set up.  I EARNED my $400 set up fee.  Got up this morning, ready for install, went to slip it in and the brake plates are interfering with the shock mounts. Oh, the rear end has been narrowed by one inch.  I struggle to fit the plates, bearings, and axles finally go in.  Install the brake drums and it all locks up.  This day sucks. 

 

I sand on Don’s dashboard for the next 7 hours.  Tomorrow, I reassemble Don’s trailer.  The Datsun is a nother whole ass F@cking.  Wrong parts, wrong parts and oh, did I mention…more wrong parts?

My problem is not financial.  My problem is the pile of stumbling blocks that come with almost every project that rolls through the door.  So, when I tell you, you get your project back when I’m done, that’s what I mean.  Otherwise, take that shit to Midas.




Mar 31st, 2013


It’s almost April. The sun has returned to the great wet north on a sporadic schedule. I’m somewhere between suicide and homicide. We have been working 7 days a week now for a couple months. Took a weekend off for my birthday celebration, or rather acknowledgment, because, there are absolutely no logical reasons to celebrate turning 50. I have fewer years left, than I have lived. Well, that’s a selfish cruel statement, since it implies I know when I’m leaving this life. Which, I do not. Neither do you.

We are busy. I don’t fully comprehend the reasoning yet, but I think it has something with the fact that I am a horrible keeper of time and rarely accurately account for all of the expenditures of a project and it is, it seems…always to the benefit of the customer. Recently, I was given a notepad, to keep track of WTF I am up to. Like I need that! Somewhere along the line, I went through, oh I don’t know, $6700 in parts for the month, and had less than 20 hours billable. You should have brought your project to me BEFORE the notebook! WOW!! Things are expensive! Have you seen the price of steel lately! Holy shit! Aluminum $4.00 a pound! That’s like a gallon of pump gas premium!
 
Speaking of premium, it seems that is what we are marketing; premium. Earlier, I lamented that we care and will only discharge superior service. That statement has landed me in hot water. It seems there may be a shortage of this commodity. I look at the shop. The projects that have landed. Rizzo’s 68 427 Camaro. In for fuel system, line lock, cooling system, engine install and dyno tune. Nitrous is in the shadows. Good project. Bitchin’ car, Full cage, Hoosiers, 4 link, Art Morrison R&P steering. Black, straight with a few chips. This car is a true street warrior and it flat kicked my dual quad 70 SS El Camino’s ass a few years back. Nice to have it here.

Then there’s the Top secret 240 Z in the shop. It’s a straight up beater. We are donating a huge portion of the build, to keep the budget where it needs to be. Think Draguar for a clue as to ownership. Donald Stevens. Reasonable Doubt. A 21 foot Daytona brought to us originally for one of the Air Ride trailers I tout as the next best thing since Sliced Bread. Well…they are, you know…actually better than sliced bread. Because, just between you and I, I would rather eat unsliced bread than reset a pump that had the shit kicked out of it from a buggy spring trailer. I shamed Donald into a full MFR dash layout! Who doesn’t like more gauges than you can comprehend in one quick glance at over a hundred miles an hour! Good thing he went for the redundant safety features along with the space shuttle instrumentation!

We will program his engine to go into limp mode in the event of oil pressure loss, hi water temp, low fuel pressure or hi water pressure, to give him a chance to react before catastrophic engine failure. In the past, I have wired for full shut down and folks have argued that in the event of shut down, you lose steering. I shout back, “With a seized engine, you lose steering AND your motor!!” I think the Digital 7 id going to be our new best friend. Maybe even knock sensors.

Corky Peterson’s 59 Vette is almost done. A few more hours and it will leave a great dependable driver. Lots of stuff done to that car. Lonnie Henderson’s T-bird left with disc brakes, full OEM exhaust, new fuel tank, 12 volt conversion. Super nice 312 stick car with O/D. Jan Timmerman and the A/C Cobra, that car came out quite nice. We redesigned the rear suspension, fabricated an additional crossmember, did an HP series mechanical secondary, added MSD dizzy and HVC coil. Woke that car up! Drives nice! He has a 2011 Grand Sport that desperately needs an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger!

Rambling down THAT road, Tom Brown, a referral from Jumbo Jeff’s place came to us with a Tattered undercarriage, a twisted up intercooler pump, out of cal MAF and MAP sensor situation. Brian Merritt came to the rescue, once again with his EFI live knowledge and his Dyno, tuned that 07 Vette to within a knat’s ass! Paddle shifted Auto. WHAT a handful to drive. You know what they say, six speeds impress the chicks, but Auto’s win races. I am a believer. To our up and coming friends of the next WFR cruise, I don’t want to stack up against this bruiser. You pull up next to a Blue 07 Vette in the Everett area, give it up. You already lost.
 
We took on a 78 GMC front wheel drive motorhome. I don’t know why, but Yvonne Taylor brought us this oversized Pacer. It needed a replacement propane tank. That turned not major, but into more than expected retrofit. These things have air ride! No Shit! Replaced the old worn out Neway ride valves. All the control system had been abandoned in place, the compressor was inactive, so in went in a Viair system with Haldex valves. Just like new? Hardly. The original system had a complex arrangement of valves to campsite level. I made it road level only. Tuned the 403 olds, replaced the engine water pump and a few other things. It’s gone. Kind if a cute motorhome. She swore to run with us to Dexter at least once. So be nice.

Ryan Mustoe’s Air ride street legal dolly trailer is an absolute work of art. Behind schedule and over budget, but WOW! Thank you for letting us to go overboard, Ryan! It will complement the new paint job and enclosed trailer for you!
All in all, it has been a successful few months. Taxes are sobering, to say the least. We have a couple potential projects in the wings. I will refrain from those unless they come to fruition. The house is well - healthy, humorous and balls out, 24/7. Kimberly bought Bud Everett’s Mustang, that is powered by a Nitrous sniffing small block that strolls in the 600 HP range with ease. Caged, Stalled, Fire extinguishers strapped to the roll bar, it is easily the fastest car at Kamiak High. There is a twinge of pride there.
 
I haven’t had a chance of working on the Habit. Darin is on the Green boat, like white on rice. My wife’s Vette still needs rear tires, from my last go’round at Will’s, the Bus needs a little work, The Wagon is actually getting Tunes installed courtesy Driving Sounds, Everett Mall way. Great guys, see Tony.
This rumor Control is brought to you from a somewhat tired, but content MFR.

Dec 4th, 2012

        It’s been a while. Like, prior to Bakersfield. There are lots of rumors to squash. I could sit here and write a control blog on a daily basis, but that would get old in a hurry and I’d have a hard time trying to remain relevant. Speaking of relevance, what is the definition of Relevance anyhow. It’s somewhere along the lines of having something to do with the subject at hand. A statement or some kind of input that has meaning connected to said subject. This goes hand in hand with importance. If you feel something is important, you may have something of relevance to say about it. At which point, it is presumed you are a person of adequate intelligence, possessing  the knowledge base to objectively state your view on this important subject. This leads us to this Rumor Control. Go pour yourself an Adult Beverage, I’m in one of THOSE moods…

 

       Let it be known, I am in the middle of my second such Beverage and the Importance of that does not justify any relevant statement. It is what it is.

       Importance. Wow. We all play important roles in life. What is important to one, may be completely irrelevant to another. Usually is. I look around all the time and wonder what the Hell all these idiots that I am surrounded by are thinking or doing. What the Fuck do they do, that is of relevance, or more accurately, Importance. We are all self important. What WE do is of more value and importance than that next guy at the stoplight, sitting in the rain. You can damn sure bet He is thinking the exact same thing about you. Or, in this case, Me. Sitting there in the rain, at a stoplight…Rumbling, in my Big Block Wagon. What a Nerd. Sitting in your electric car. Non Definable, Gray. No tint, hubcaps.  Wearing glasses…and a nametag. You Fag. Hurry up, you’re gonna be late, getting back to Target, from your lunch break that included a rushed trip to McQuackland for a Shitty microwaved fish sandwich, prepped and presented to you by your typical pissed off 18 Y.O. worker that thinks they have more important things to do. So your sandwich sucks. I can’t stand fast food. Fucking slop. Sometimes we are forced to consume. Well, not really…after all, this IS America. We could pretty easily bypass the Random fast food joint that is now stacked into and Married to every Chevron Station along I-5 North out of California. Fuck, whatever happened to a Godamned SERVICE STATION!! I would happily eat a Microwaved Freeze dried burger, without much of a gripe, if maybe during such dining experience, there was a MECHANIC on duty that would, I don’t know, maybe install a Blown out Airbag on our Tow Rig??!!

     We blew a helper spring on the Dually shortly after leaving Bakersfield. The ride wasn’t TORTURE, like riding a Camel across the Sahara, more like riding  a mildly irritated pack mule out of the Grand fucking Canyon. Combine that with the fact that the Godamned truck was blowing Freezing cold air on my Tootsies, I was a sleepless From Seattle, Pissed Off MoFo when it came time for me to take over the drive duties. We are somewhere in Oregon, it is Piss raining. We stop at a Chevron, the truck now smells strongly of Gear Lube and the right rear wheel is smoking. I’m Tired. Not in a humorous state. I see nothing funny about this. Why the Fuck are we still 10 hours from home, standing in the rain, on top of a mountain pass, with a smoking wheel and have a convenience store operator offering us a squishy? This is INSANE!! I don’t want a godamned Slurpy, I want a Mechanic!! Fix the Frickin’ heater! Knock out that seal and grab an airbag from your shelf, so I can do MY job, in at the very least a SAFE manner. Not to be. I snag a RedBull and slip behind the wheel. Darin is beat, Tracie along with Jessica Haavisto are in the back seat, all bundled up and  comfy. They have No Clue. I pull out and at the first attempt to slow the truck, the brake pedal goes ALL the way to the floor, tripping the proportioning valve and illuminating my Favorite light that resides in your dash at Three A.M. The Brake light. Godamnit! I have a Four thousand foot elevation drop to deal with. I know what the valve does and what that the light means. I’m pretty confident we can make it, so long as we don’t exceed 55 MPH on the downside. I can’t rely on the brakes though. So I gingerly accelerate the onramp and for good measure the Anti-Lock light comes on, just to show solidarity in the Middle Finger the truck is giving me about now.

     We run down the road and I give it my best to navigate the Hell Storm with 10 percent grades, zero visibility. Grabbing gears both up and down grades. It’s fairly important I don’t fail this task. Relevant? Oh, I don’t know. Important? Sure, on a small scale. Not like National security or anything. We deliver the Jessica to her home and head north to Washington. Bakersfield was a blast. The California crew has made it apparent that they intend to tolerate us Northerners. The Truck needs a few hundred in parts, big deal. At the time, though, WOW! It was a Big deal. Cold, stinky, downright scary at times. We don’t give up tho. It’s too Important!

 

     It’s not even two weeks and we are on a plane to Phoenix. Cuz, it’s important! World Finals! For the first time, I’m more along for the ride,  than in a supportive role. This means, I’m actually UNIMPORTANT! I feel like that guy in the Prius, sitting next to me, in the rain. Man, this is a long light! I’m THAT GUY!! We arrive and I casually stroll the pits, making small talk to the early crews showing up. In this unimportant role, I am smitten with the taste of Jack and Coke, which I consume with reckless abandon. I am tired, and the Alcohol is having an effect on me. We need food, so we hook up with some of the Cali guys and head to the nearest Outback. It’s great to have good food. The waiter completely fails us and screws up every inch of the bill, we are patient. I don’t think he knows…we are IMPORTANT…

     The sun is coming up and we are at the track. Jeff and Stephanie Conrad are our pitmates. Mike Finnegan is their chief. We are with Chris Starkweather. I am fueling, which is probably the most unimportant, yet dangerous job. Me and that guy, Blaze are trying not to spill a drop of fuel onto the still too hot to touch headers. I watch the fuel evaporate readily in the morning heat as it spills towards the big mouth funnel. Upper Explosive limits….Lower explosive limits, Energy absorbtion numbers in the change of state, ambient temp, flash point, vapor accumulation, all of these things are bombarding my hungover foggy brain. All of these things are wrong and we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing. I look around, Mike is talking to Jeff. Darin is going over data with Chris. Jordan is talking strategy with his crew. I’m starting to sweat. Things could go so wrong right now. But, after 35 seconds of fueling, Blaze is telling me to stop and we spin the cap on the tank and the boat is headed to the lanes.

     I go see Chip (AKA Skip) at his coach and get a beverage. Afterall, my roll is unimportant.








Oct 17, 2012
            It’s 8:25 A.M. the 17th of Oct. My eyes burn and my throat is scratchy. We are prepped in anticipation for the drive to Bakersfield today.  The previous weeks have been a cram of work, trying to get the shop set up amidst the customer load that is surprisingly heavy for this time of year. That’s good though. Better get the projects done now than wait till spring or early summer. We have the Roadster and I think I have a plan that is functional, affordable and is of sufficient strength that I will be able to sleep at night. The 59 Corvette with its long but minor list of fix-its is nearing the end of its stay with us. The T-Bird is gone, but not for long as we have ruined another perfectly good stock car and twisted the owner around to our way of thinking. It gets 4 wheel power disc brakes, sway bars and all new energy suspension components. That will be a fun car when done. Got a race trailer dropped off with a semi short list of mods and that will go quick. We received our order of T-5 lighting, so I will no longer be working in a dungeon. PSE allegedly is dropping a meter this week and the Wagon has a new stall converter being delivered in my absence.

      Time. It is already almost Halloween. That means it is almost Thanksgiving and that means, it is almost Christmas and of course that means it is almost 2013. The pressure of time is something we all struggle with. Just the other day, I went over to Will’s and picked up a 1” thick steel table I had fabbed up for Darin, but had no room for at the house shop. I’m always in a hurry, when it comes to our stuff (time issues).   We load the table onto our car trailer. I assure everyone that it is all under control and I need no help unloading the table. We have a forklift, well WE don’t actually HAVE a forklift, but we have ready access to a forklift. I’m kind of a stinker when it comes to scratches and dents and actually become kind of a prick when our shit comes back damaged. Usually, it’s either not mentioned or it is accompanied with a “Sorry Dude” and a shrug of the shoulders. I always wonder why it is acceptable to destroy your own stuff, but if someone else does it…Look out!!

      I have shit to do. It’s Sunday. I want to do some fabrication for a customer, offload the table, move it to the machine area and go home. It’s raining. I think it was the only wet day we have had in the last three months. I decide to remove the table first and fire the beast up. I get to the table, raise the forks and am a little short of center load. I can probably lift a little and lightly drag the far legs my way, repick and be fine. Well, it didn’t go that way.

      I have to raise the table to an uncomfortable level and slowly back up. It comes my way but twists on one leg. Shit. Well, I can’t set it down, cuz one leg is directly over a fender. Now I’m stuck. Things aren’t looking so well. It’s raining harder. I can’t move the table back. It’s a wood decked trailer. It’s also new. Used like four times. I’m alone. I pick the table a little higher and tilt back, things look better now, until BANG!! The table shifts, flips over, crushes the fender down to the tire and slides too close for comfort to the dually. I back up and try to get our unruly table picked off the fender. It’s not too happy with the situation and skitters across the fender and landing in the lot, like some wet alien on its back with cold thick dark stiff legs. Did I mention it is a FIVE legged table? Now I am wondering what kind of MORON builds a FIVE legged table, for Christ’s sake!! (Hint, initials are MFR) I go to slide the forks under the table, which defies me and skitters further towards the road. This thing is a bitch. Now it’s becoming  a war of the wits. I sometimes forget the objects I try to rule are in fact  inanimate, and they are not capable of conspiring against my me and my will. It is actually just a lack of ability, on my part to admit to myself that there are mechanical theorems in place, that I need to abide by and as soon as I comply, my life will go much smoother. For the moment, I am still being stubborn and make an attempt at overturning my Alien. Halfway through the try, the Alien slips again, swings around violently, on one of its cold stiff legs narrowly missing me by inches, and much to my astonishment, slams down so hard on the forks, it actually rips the fork carriage OFF THE FORKLIFT!!! SHIT!! Now, I’ve got a crippled forklift, an Alien table on its back, a destroyed trailer, a customer waiting and it’s STILL RAINING!! Plus, it’s One in the afternoon. I’ve accomplished nothing other than Mayhem. I feel like an Allstate Commercial. MFR happens, buy your insurance now. Where’s my shock collar.

        I momentarily contemplate disconnecting the trailer and driving, oh…off.  Just  somewhere. Maybe I could just go get the Coach and drive. It’ll make San Diego on one tank of fuel and I know it’s full. That fantasy last about 8 seconds flat, when I remember my first Rumor Control and who was the Dipshit salesman that sold everyone on this hairbrained idea. Me. That’s who. I generally refuse help on the premise that I actually cause 92% of the Damage that comes our way, but am somehow held responsible for 100% of the repairs, so I don’t need any help in my Mayhem moments. Really. I screwed it up, I can fix it. I cautiously dismount my Iron Steed and slowly approach the Alien, who at the moment appears quite lifeless. I survey the damage. Four 5/8” Grade 8 bolts sheared. Wait, not just sheared. SHEARED THE FUCK OFF!! I have a great sense of obligation and duty and know this is going to be a son of a bitch to fix, but I better get after it. It’s getting late. I start old trusty and try to back it out from under the table. Why do I build tables that weigh 2800#? I finally get the Forklift/Alien separated and run the lift to our machine area, dragging the carriage by the extend chains and hydraulic hoses, tearing up all that freshly applied $65.00 a gallon Epoxy paint I just applied last week. For some reason, I am still calm as I grab the torch and a can of P Blaster and go to town heating the frame, with the biggest Rosebud I can find. I have the bolts in stock, there is this nasty assed tenacious grease all over everything. I mean wall, lift chains, our crane, my coveralls and my favorite gloves. My phone is ringing, it’s Four PM. I should be on the glide as we call Sunday afternoons around the shack, with a Jack and Coke, being a Chucklehead on the couch with the pretty women. My mind wanders, the steel is hot, the torch is loud, the sheared bolts give way, the carriage is rehung, the Alien is cooperative and flips over on its stiff legs with a loud CLAAANNNGG!!! The table top ringing in delight as if a victory ring for ruining my day. A metallic F.U. MFR!!!  The table is transported without issue to the designated resting spot and I back the damaged trailer under our crane and hook the fender with a piece of round bar under the lip. I pull, it lifts the trailer off the ground and I beat on the fender with a large deadblow. The fender complies and  begrudgingly  stays somewhat in place, like a wrinkled up forehead on an old man. I’m Hot, Tired, Stinky and Greasy. Almost died today, temporarily killed, but revived a borrowed forklift, Destroyed a perfectly good trailer (Aesthetically) Fought and won, in my mind an Epic battle with an unwilling Alien, am late for dinner. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

      MFR



Aug 31, 2012


            As a child, time is slow. School takes forever. Summer vacations creep by. Late summer days yawn by. Halloween can’t come soon enough. Early adulthood, time picks up a bit, but it’s not bad. Can’t wait for the weekend. Then hits a little 28 year old reality. Where did the weekend go? Monday already? Next comes your 40’s. It’s FRIDAY already??!! Shit, it’s only two days till Monday!  It seems for unknown reasons, time rushes past you, as if you are on a never ending train ride. The images flash past the windows and you desperately attempt to slow the ride down and make it slow down. It’s Labor Day weekend already, my boat has yet to hit the water this year. Other priorities. Customer equipment comes first. My customers are out running hard. Breaking parts. Got work lined up. I should be happy about that. Truth is, I AM happy about that.  There is, however a little tinge of jealousy in me that wants to go run our Corvettes. That wants to go enjoy OUR toys. We give a lot. The success of our business comes purely from reputation. I cannot say no. I got a call from the guy that bought my old boat, Blown Away. Has a couple rough wheel bearings. We, as a group, leave for our summer bash Thursday. I cleared the calendar for the week, to concentrate on my junk. But, now I have a wheel bearing issue. Plus, I have to build a winch mount for a comp. trailer this week. Still have to clean up the wiring on the wagon and fabricate an air cleaner housing. The HO 454 is a bit tall for the stock hood.

 

 

          My problems are insurmountable…Well, not really.  I got a call from one of my customers today. He is wanting his junk taken care of today.  I calmly explained that he will wait for a week, maybe more, before he becomes indignant. This is a place you never want to grab me by the hand and lead my to. Indignancy.

         We are a fortunate country. We are free to bitch, cry and moan about everything that we are, individually are , unhappy with. I hate some things I am faced with. But, you know what? I’m not handicapped. I am fortunate.

         What brings this to the surface is an incident that occurred today. I’m dragging the Habit around in my Big Block wagon, backing into a parking spot and these two guys come over. They just parked a big Block ’75 Full Top 2wd. Blazer, that was exceptional, in my opinion. Shaved door handles, Flamed, gallons of clear. Narrowed rear end. Dude starts talking. Relevantly. But, he walks into my boat. He kinda feels around.  He’s still talking, asking questions. Not looking at me though. I  am trying to figure out just what the fuck is with this guy, when I notice, He’s got a white cane. The fucker’s blind.

         He got out of the passenger side of the Blazer, but it belonged to him. We talked for half an hour, in the parking lot.  This guy was smart, started naming people I knew and I thought to myself, what a fucked up place this would be, without your vision…or fingers…or leg.

        My good friend Ray LaBrie recently underwent brain surgery. Said he has never been in so much pain in his life. He won’t be racing this year.

        If you are healthy, count your blessings. Run as hard as you can, as long as you can, cuz when you can’t, you’ll want to. These guys are full of life, but can’t participate.

      Imagine life without vision. Without your dexterity. I am grateful. I don’t always voice it, but I am. 
      Sorry for the emotion, but I am not without…
      You guys, roll hard and long.

     MFR.





 Aug 8, 2012

            

                So as I wander aimlessly through my days, I stumble upon topics, in my mind, that actually warrant more than casual interest. One topic is the inevitable human characteristic, of righteousness. I’m right.

          So F@ck You.

          What if you aren’t right? What then? Your refusal to take the extra investigative step may be inconsequential. On the other hand it may be reprehensible. If you are a doctor and make a cut on the wrong limb, during a routine procedure, that may cost you your license.

          Let’s hit the middle of the spectrum. A parts guy behind the counter, gets a call. Looks up the part needed by his trusting customer. Say this parts guy is at a Chevy dealership and asks for the VIN. Customer gives VIN and the much needed part is ordered. The part is in stock. Perfect. The part is transported back to the shop for install. This is allegedly the  anticipated part required to complete task in a time/cost effective manner. Mechanic opens box and discovers that repair part does not match defective part.

          Houston: We have a problem.

          This vehicle, in it’s non functioning condition cannot be moved off of hoist. There is a pressing job that needs the same hoist. Shop is charging $125.00 hourly. Phone call to time sensitive customer is made immediately, he is told that part is wrong. Second customer is losing patience. Shop is stuck in neutral. Losing money. Time sensitive customer returns, only to find much needed part is not in stock and correct part will arrive tomorrow afternoon. Shop has tied up lift, loses other job, due to inability to perform in a timely manner. The inability to perform a simple fuel pump replacement is inexcusable, in my mind. If I were the customer, I would think “What kind of dipsh$t do I have working on my car? He said it would be two hours and it’s two days.”

          Who’s fault is this? Who bears the brunt of this purely dry ass f@cking, that has already begun? Let me tell you, in case you don’t already know. THE SHOP OWNER!!!  

          The customer doesn’t know. The parts guy, at his minimum wage income couldn’t care less if you get the parts you ordered on time, let alone if they are correct. The dealership owner, f@cking his secretary on his desk doesn’t give a sh$t. The installing mechanic is paid hourly, so, not his fault right?  

          I was so right this morning that I could replace the fuel pump in a 2001 C-10 that I told him we could do it in around 2 hours. This was a true statement, if I had been provided the correct part, the FIRST time. What is the point of asking for a VIN at THE DEALERSHIP, if the shop STILL gets the wrong part?

          We CARE. We give a shit. We feel bad that your sh$t is broken and want to get you on with your life. It’s IMPORTANT. I sweat the little things and have difficulty dealing with failure. Even if it’s not MY fault. We get screwed around on a daily basis for parts, mostly. But sometimes it’s the unseen Gremlin that gets us. The Broken Stud in the head, or the wiring revision that was unknown when we gave the quote for the repair. The Broken spark plug in the Three valve 5.4 liter Ford motor that requires the head be removed. Some things we get asked to  be involved in are so extremely unpleasant that we flat refuse.  Put your own fuel pump in. Try this sh$t yourself. We have over $100,000 invested in tools. Years of experience that helps us to be as accurate as we can when it comes to estimating how long it will take to perform a particular job, on most cars. Sometimes we miss, when we do, it cost us. Time and money. The customer cannot be expected to pay for an inaccurate diagnosis and the accompanying parts replacement. So, we eat that. Yum. That was good. You don’t know the true meaning of stress and anxiety until you tell a customer you need to take his ’70 Split Bumper Camaro to your shop, get it on the chassis dyno, run it for literally hours with the engine running at 3000 RPM until the Periodic failure occurs. There we sit, working on other cars with a pissed off 406 screaming at us and a GoPro watching the fuel pressure gauge. Ya, it finally died, but why? I surmised the issue was his strainer in his fuel tank. I pulled the tank and sure enough, it had a collapsed strainer. What is that worth? He had been dealing with this issue for Three Years! Just dying on the road. Couldn’t trust the car. We fixed it. But, what if we missed. What then? I wiped the sweat off my brow and drove his car for 60 miles without having a recur. It cost him $400 for the diagnostic and repair. A good deal? I think it was a fantastic deal. We had 7 hours into it. And still had the risk of a misdiagnose. In the end, he was okay with it, we DID fix the car and that car had been to plenty of shops for the same problem.

          So, when you get your bill, understand what it takes to fix those things. We don’t just haul our asses to the office and sit around complaining that the room is at the wrong temperature. We have a ton invested in making your world right. There are a lot of sharp mechanics out there. There are also a lot of not so sharp mechanics out there. Get to know yours, pick wisely and understand what we do.

           08.08 12.

           Progress at the shop is rapid. Got the hoist in and operable yesterday, 08.07. Pretty excited about that, no more crawling around on the floor! We have a stunning 57 Chevy handyman’s special in with a failed water pump and it is in need of another gear. Has a T-350. The Electrician is nearly done, completing the wiring in the Finish shop, all Three Phase for Mills, Saws a polishing station and a Lathe. Our friends over at Modern Spaces are doing a fabulous bathroom, Shower and Tile floors! Too nice for us, but we’ll take it. Moving lots of tools in up there, just ordering the front end parts for the Malibu Wagon from Global West suspension, that Big Block is squashing the V-6 springy thingies. Almost done with Zach’s fine ride, the “Raw Deal” Beautiful boat. Getting ready to kick out a Sea Ray and a modification to a Display bed for Costco vendors.

         The Hot Rod Draguar was a blast, although we were up for 36 hours straight! More on that later, right now I gotta get to the shop, lots of sh$t to fix!

         Sure is glad to be back from New Mexico! Hotter than the hubs of Hell down there. A whole slew of things went wrong that was completely and entirely unrelated to us, I swear! The shop is full of interesting ways to lose money on a daily basis, but we’re having fun heading to the food bank! Actually, things are going okay, don’t worry. That’s what we tell the girls, now if Darin and I could only convince ourselves…..

         Oh, ya. Sorry Darin. I didn’t mean to run over your foot last night. Quit Bitchin’ about it already, be grateful it was with a Corvette and not the Dually! Just kidding, but I can’t seem to stop smiling about that.

        Till next week,

        MFR out!


    July 12, 2012
    • After many years of intentionally ignoring the internet and Facebook, I have decided, right or wrong, to go ahead and immerse myself in all of this so called “Social Networking”. The reason I have avoided it, is because of my past. I was pretty much a raging lunatic that spent nearly all of my waking hours in the hot pursuit of fast cars, faster boats, gainful employment and pretty women. I have given up on the gainful employment part, after admitting to myself that I am in fact a horrible employee that is full of nothing less than loathing and outright hatred of any type of authority figure in the workplace.  This is mostly due to my discouraging  personal experience working with the imbeciles  that overfill today’s management positions. The fast cars and faster boat  issue has been with me so long now, that I have just outright accepted it as one of life’s displeasures and deal with my problem accordingly. The pretty women aspect of the above reasoning haunt me to this very day. Living with a couple of them that care not what I want, as it actually IS unimportant, has been more than a humbling experience. Some would call it, uhhmmm…indescribable..How’s THAT for a description.

       

           I have been absent from some of my favorite forums lately, due to the implementation of a drastic measure, by my uhh… family. They have decided, probably when I was either passed out/asleep, that it would be in their best entertainment interest to force me into employment. I really enjoyed last year. Cruising around in the Coach, drinking fine sprits, eating only the best filets, racing, raising hell and for the most part being the best non-contributing human being on the face of the planet. I had all the right reasons for not getting a job. A) Not a good employee. Outlined above. B) Who’s gonna stay home with the dogs? C) If I have a job, I have no time to work on the fast cars, fast boats. Owning these g@ddamned things require a gut-wrenching amount of determination, fortitude, mechanical genius, and the ability to pretty much predict the future. They are ALWAYS breaking the f$ck down! I know, I know, I could sell them. I’ve tried that approach. Doesn’t work. I have been caught at too many auctions, buying junk, (this pisses off the pretty women part from above). So, I tried just giving up on the beaters and stepped up into fast great cars!! Like late model Corvettes, already done show cars, etc.  Ya, that didn’t work either. They just cost far more to fix after too many cocktails and backwards slides through chain link fences. Cuz, who has to fix THAT!!?? ME…THAT’S who!

       

           I foolishly made a few suggestions to Darin last year that if we had…oh.., I don’t know…maybe a mill, we could save some money on machine work, since his stay at home crew chief really wasn’t a financial contributor. It made total sense to me. On the occasion that I would have to fabricate some specialized thingamabob, I would probably need a better TIG machine too, So, well, we bought that too. The problem that reared its ugly head next, was, well…Power. We would need three phase. So we wired in a converter. Good move Ringer. Cuz, we live next door to Hupy, the world’s premier scrap runner. He drags, in a continuous flow, every conceivable heavy duty article of modern machinery that one could imagine! AWESOME neighbor! So, we pick up a 3-phase, industrial band saw. I mean you can cut 18” Billet aluminum with it! The flow never stops, from Jib Cranes, hoists, steam cleaners, cars, you get the idea and since everything is such a great deal, we seldom say no. Now our shop is packed so full of stuff (good stuff, not junk) that we are rapidly running out of room. Throw in a light customer job and the Corvettes and show trucks are now living outside in the rain. This requires more upkeep and less time to find a job. There’s no way I can get a job. I just don’t have time. Flat ain’t gonna happen.

       

            I kiddingly suggest we get a shop, maybe for just some more room? But it should have an office and 3-phase power, for all of our equipment, right? Darin looks suspicious, but goes along with the idea. I somehow talk our way into a 4000 square foot space that needs a wall, for security from the existing business next door. The landlord agrees, that if we build the wall, we can have the space for XX amount of dollars and we can occupy immediately for storage, free of charge, until we make it habitable. That was 6 months ago. People know we can fix things. We are pretty fast and Darin’s detail work is second to none. He calls me “Pigpen” most of the time, but I’m f$cking efficient and “Power is dirty” I usually reply. Now, we’ve got all this room, lots of tools, No customer base, a few friends I do work for, low on funds.

       

           I am an AWSCWI. Brian Wright, a dear friend of mine and an ASNT Level III inspector in various disciplines, calls me for a pretty mundane inspection job at a refinery in Ferndale. I need to money up a bit, he needs a CWI. We strike a deal. The job is for a couple months, 7 days, 12 hrs a day. I can handle it, but it pisses me off to be away from my displeasurable vehicle collection, the fast boats, and the pretty women that lurk around this neighborhood. After the job, in a state of delirium, I go over to my good pal Will’s place. He lives in what we call “the friendly circle”, less than a mile away. I spy an older guy walking to his mailbox. I know he has a Corvair, I have seen it behind his fence. I have a motor for said Corvair. I stop, introduce myself and inform him of the motor in my possession. Though he seems duly impressed, he counteroffers and asks if I will BUY HIS car. We strike a deal. It’s a one owner ’65 Corsa, 4Spd, Turbo car!! The MOTHERLOAD of Corvairs!! I am f$cking Elated! I go to Will’s, grab our car trailer (we keep it there, much to his chagrin) and take the Corvair home with me. I have had two cocktails at this point, after 60 dry days, I am feeling the effects. I dream of a fully restored Corsa. Things are going splendidly…until the War Department arrives.

       

           The aforementioned pretty women see less than the creampuff I had obviously erroneously purchased. Cash in my pocket, drinks in my belly is generally a recipe for disaster. I know this and it was being unreasonably reinforced this very moment. I was instructed that the car would be immediately Craigslisted.  I usually protest, but knew I was powerless in any argument I could come up with on a moment’s notice, in the sun, standing there with two pissed off pretty women. I complied.

       

           After nearly a week on the list, I took in trade, plus an unreasonable amount of cash, a pristine ’74 Jag XJ12L with a Small Block Roller crate motor, T-350 a 2.90 posi. For an NON RUNNING Corvair!!?? Why not! Well, we swing the deal. The War department is, once again questioning their decision and justification in continuing their relationship with me.

           A few days later, still Elated with my Jag purchase, a DOE contractor calls. I could use the cash, it’s not a “Job” and I have a still couple weeks on me. Hell, the Family could use the couple weeks as a cooling off period in the acceptance of the Jag into our home. I accept the position and get on a plane.

       

            I am driving in a Rental, in 112 degree heat, somewhere in New Mexico and my phone rings. It’s Mike Finnegan. Yes, of HotRod magazine. He tells me he and David Freiburger are having a conversation and speaking poorly of me. This doesn’t bother me, as I am used to people speaking poorly of me. Mostly people of lesser talent. See, the people of lesser talent have no base to gain talent from, they get angry and we all know Anger is an ugly emotion. One that fits none of us well. The problem here is, that Finnegan and Freiburger both have talent. This, naturally angers me. And we all know what Anger is, and I can objectively state, I do not wear it well. At all.

       

               Shortly after the acquisition of the jag, I sent a picture of it to Finnegan, who is probably the last person I should share valuable asset information  to, for if anybody in the universe is goofier than I about inane objects, it is he. We both find latent beauty in almost every industrial or car related scene we are exposed to, but it is he that has the ability to run with an out of control imagination, due to his equally insane, albeit more reserved boss, David Freiburger. I truly sent the photo, not from an intentional bragger’s perspective, but more as a “Ha Ha..lookie what I got!!” type of a deal. Just jokin’ around I really LIKED the Jag. It was a little beat, had good rubber, good brakes, didn’t rattle or sway around corners and best of all, it already had the most pervasively modified motor of all time! A standard issue Small Block Chevy, along with a T-350 trans and the original inboard braked, 2.90 Posi IFS Rear!

       

             Now, Mike and I are not good friends. We met through Darin, who met him Drag Racing Boats with the NJBA guys in SoCal. I never knew who he was until later and as I helped set things up in the pits at Lakeside, we both innocently exchanged contact information. Little did I know, it was like giving your Phone number to Satan himself, in disguise, of course. After our conversation, I kind of forgot about it, until a week or so later, he called AGAIN! What this time? He wanted pictures of the Jag and He and Freiburger had come up with the name “Draguar” They were going to bolt on a Huffer in a parking lot and go drag race it the next day. He said, “Ya, we’re gonna send up a blower and you need to see if it will fit, physically…without too much modification. Just see if it’s doable.”

       

            I come home later there’s a Big Box and several smaller from Summit in my driveway. I don’t know who it’s for, until I start cutting boxes. Ahh, shit. I guess it’s for real, I say to myself under my breath. We yank the manifold from the SBC and set the Blower manifold on and look around. It won’t be easy, but I figure, this is my time for revenge! I call Finnie back.

          “MFR!! What’s goin down!” He says emphatically. “Not much, Finnie! Hey, just looked at this job. Piece of cake. No problems.”   “Really?!! That’s so Rad.”  

            My revenge pill is swallowed, like a hungry Brook Trout, taking the hook.

       

            We all set times and locations and at 5:30 A.M. Monday, the 9th of July, Darin walks out the door for his work. He is driving the Tahoe. I still have work to do on the Jag, in prep for a trip to San Francisco. I meet up with Darin around 4:00 P.M. and we head out. Both rigs are FULL of fuel and it’s a beautiful afternoon in Seattle as we hit I-5 south. Traffic is heavy through Tacoma and a little rough in Olympia but after that, we are at 75. The Jag is effortless at speed, no vibrations, quiet, smooth. The Tahoe, we have made that run a bunch in and I know it is nice. He has air…I do not. Up and over as the sun has already sunk into the horizon, we are motoring on into Grants Pass. The hills take their toll on the Draguar’s cooling system and we are starting to press the limits. The temp gauge creeps ever closer to the point of rupturing a hose and maybe setting us late for our scheduled meet. We pull into the Shell and fill ‘em up. The Tahoe takes 17.43 gallons, Jag 17.2  Almost identical mileage! In the low 20’s! We pull back out and roll hard over the Siskiyou. I’m getting a little tense at the temp gauge, Darin is walking away. We have been on the road, non-stop for close to 7 hours. It’s only 11:00, we’re on our second tank of pump gas, I’m drinking a Starbuck’s cold DoubleShot, eating Beef Jerky and Taco Flavored Doritos (Darin eating similarly behind me in the Tahoe). Life is good, so far, even with the temp gauge riding the high mark. It’s 100 out, the delta isn’t where it should be and around that time I realize, we don’t have a F$cking tool one. Nothing. Not even a tire iron. I start to sweat. Uncomfortably. We are running up Ashland and I send Darin a text. Yes, I KNOW, we shouldn’t text, doing 75, pulling a pass, in the dark, on an unfamiliar road, eating Beef Jerky, but goddamnit, this is an Emergency! I tell him, if we keep this pace, we are going to burn the Jag to the ground. I keep the tool situation a top secret. He slows down. The temp comes back down from scalding and under extreme pressure to merely 220 and under the same pressure.   We come off the hill, sliding, exhausted and wide the f$ck open and roll into Redding at 3:30 A.M. We fill up, ahead of schedule and Darin feels that a two hour nap would benefit both of us. I readily agree, as I want to give my trusty Steed a break from the action. Not to mention, I’m a wreck and tired.

       

           5:30. “Hey…You hear me?” It’s Darin and it is once again time to roll. We are full of fuel, the Jag is not quite cool, but close enough. It shifts firmly as we rip up the onramp. Then the car lurches- it’s no fuel pressure. Not my first pony ride.  I am on compression, which is a short-lived mechanical ability of the T-350.  I’m scared. We have a camera crew setting up at our meeting point in a couple hours, it’s 5 f$cking A.M. in Redding and we’re miles from any support.  I am watching the Tahoe taillights fade off into the dark. I downshift, modulate the throttle, pray to my non-existent superior being of choice, wonder what the f$ck I’m going to do next as the car suddenly lurches forward momentarily, then stalls, then lurches, then stalls, this goes on for the length of the onramp, so severely, I fear I am going to drop a driveline, or at least a half shaft, either one would leave us undeliverable. It finally straightens back out and resumes regular playback. I plant my foot and play catch up to my equally worn out counterpart, who at this point I cannot even see.

       

            We cruise on into San Fran without any issues, the sun, as it is trying to show, is obscured by the fog as it relentlessly blankets every object in its path. We run the Bay Bridge, pay $6.00 for the toll and rip over to the Airport. We are early, still. By an hour. We find a IHOP and order some Biscuits and Gravy, eggs over med, with links. Coffee, too. We’ve been up for 24-2. The camera crew and the Double F team shows up and the confusion begins. We’re pissy, puffy, irritated, retaining water, lucky to be alive and I feel now is a good time to confess we ran the whole way with ZERO tools and no spare tires, but we made it. Everyone laughs but me, as my ulcer from the worry has me feeling rather queasy about now.

       

            For the sake of TV, this is where our story ends. We shake hands with the cameras rolling, bid the car farewell and are done. Officially. This means that we have no further obligation to HotRod.  The car was delivered as promised, where promised and we could have simply walked across the parking lot back to the terminal of San Fran Intl’. Their problem, their deal. Would we DO THAT??!! F$ck NO. Finnegan is a friend, we had only a brief meeting with Freiburger earlier in the year, but if he’s good enough for Finnie, he’s good enough for us. They offer us a stay for the filming, but make it perfectly clear we are not obligated, or even desired to be in on the fix it part of the shoe. We graciously accept the offer and climb in the jag. There’s a bunch of small talk, that I missed, but I figure if I’m under no obligation, I’m gonna have a drink! We stop at a speed shop in So Fran, called Gotelli’s.  The Double F team goes after it as Darin and I take the opportunity to walk over to the nearest store and snag us a half gallon and two 12 oz. cans of 7-up. It’s 10:00 A.M. We’ve been up 27 hours. Liquor sounds right.

       

             The people that ran through Gotelli’s were some of the nicest, sincere, historically significant guys we have ever met. It was humbling, to say the least. Gotelli’s opened their doors to us and we raided that place all day in support of the swap. My mischievous sabotage of saying it would be a piece of cake fell together. It took a long day hanging around with those guys, they stayed open late. The most impressive bunch of people I can easily say I have ever met. Took us in with open arms, never asked why or doubted our direction. Truly impressive.

       

           Late that night we wound up in a two bit hotel, that was  horrible, yet expensive after dinner was bought for us and the rest of the gang. Hit the pillow around midnight. Up for 34 hours, had the f$cking time of our lives. It’s just a job for others, but an experience we will treasure with goofy grins for the rest of our days.

       

           And, that my friends is the first Rumor Control, which I stole the name, with permission from the World Famous HydroPlane Pilot, Ray LeBrie, but that’s another story all together. I’m tired.

         MFR

             

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