Sunday, February 27, 2011


Drew came across a Vertex Magneto with tach drive listed on Denver Craigs List last night for $500. Although it was well beyond my budget, I called on it and according to its owner, Troy, it was out of a big block Chevy that had been raced by a buddy of his. He also mentioned that he'd had it gone through, including purchasing a brand new cap for $65.oo. I explained that I was planning on having whatever magneto I ulltimately buy "gone through" by French Grimes, who has been coaching me on finding a suitable used candidate for rebuilding. Frankly, I was hoping I could get him down on his price. This morning, we went to take a look and while I'm no expert, we pulled the cap and everything did indeed look spotless. Small blemishes on the outside body of the unit but clearly it has not seen hard use. The cap appeared brand new. I made him what I felt was a fair offer explaining that I'd be sending it off to be gone through and have it set-up for six degrees advance for my street-driven 327. My initial offer was less than half of asking and when he came back at $300, I knew the haggling was over. I bought it for three bills. Next stop for this magneto will be French Grimes. The manufacturer of this unit was Ronco, Blue Bell, PA. and its stamped with a factory serial number. Hopefully, the coil won't need replacing and it'll check out as to be as good as it looks. I'll keep you posted as to how the bill ends up looking after my Vertex expert test it out. 
I hope this sucker ain't a turd. Until then, enjoy the photos. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Forty years old and unused.
All the original paperwork and packaging was intact.
Last night at a quarter to midnight, an ad for a Hurst Competition Plus shifter popped up on Denver Craigslist. It didn't have an e-mail contact so I called this morning just after nine and left a message. Robert called me back. The price seemed fair so I asked him if it included linkages. He said he'd check. When he returned he said that all the linkages were still "in the box" with the shifter. I aksed him if it was in the original box. He said yes and that it had sat on a shelf in his garage unused for about forty years.
I beat a path to his house in Aurora, CO. When I arrived, I was amazed by what I saw. It looked like the the shifter had sat in its box on a shelf for forty years. There was a brochure, instructions, some small parts still sealed in a plastic bag and other than the knob itself looking a tad aged, it was absolutely perfect. The rods and all transmission connectors were intact, as was an unused warranty card. As Robert explained, he had bought the shifter for his 55 Chevy's Muncie 4-speed, which had a 327 in it at the time. Instead of installing the shifter, he subsequently swapped a 454 into the car and never used the 4-speed shifter. I had planned to offer him less than he was asking but when I saw it, I didn't have the heart. Good thing too, because when I handed him the cash, he mentioned that a ton of callers were lined up behind me, but since I called first, he wanted to give me first shot at it. The remainder of February's parts budget is now officially spent, and quite well I might add. Sometimes you just get lucky. 

Even the layout of the brochure feels old school.
Even the packaging is in decent shape.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

HOMEWARD BOUND --A new thematic thought for the roadster

As those who know me can attest, restraint is not my strong suit. Case in point, the tiki truck. Practical?
Not really. But boy was it fun to build. Sure, it would have been cool without the whole tiki motif, but would it have had the ability to polarize crowds? To strike the hot or cold nerve in people? I think not. Nobody is middle ground on Ratiki. They either love it or they hate it. And frankly, that's what makes it so much fun to drive. Which leads to an thematic idea I've had in the back of my mind for quite some time now. What if, instead of painting the roadster a lime green color, which I've touched upon throughout this blog, I instead established a theme for the car that has less to do with color? And what if that theme afforded me an opportunity to make choices based on the theme? The idea is to call the car "Homeward Bound", and the car could be adorned with tattoo style art. Think Sailor Jerry style. Design touches could be vaguely nautical. A duvall-style boat windshield. A vintage boat steering wheel. The interior could have a Polynesian influence, even use barkcloth and Seagrass, feeling kinda Polynesian in influence. What if the car's design had the same influences that returning soldiers brought home with them from the war? Suddenly, the point would be less about what color I'm painting it, but rather what feels right for that theme. Maybe a simple color like a light bamboo color would feel appropriate. The name "Homeward Bound" also captures a feeling of homesickness, which may be why it's resonating with me. I miss my West Coast. I miss Austin. Perhaps "Homeward Bound" speaks to my sense of being in a strange place and wanting to get back to the things I love. So there you have it. That's the thought that has been rolling around in my head.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Vertex Magneto advice

I've been doing some research on Vertex Magnetos for my 327 and was referred to a gentleman named French Grimes by a fellow HAMBER. French owns one of three systems in the US made for rebuilding magnetos and has an impressive list of folks who count on him come race day, not to mention a faithful following of HAMBers. French was very generous with his advice. For $850, French could send me a freshly rebuilt unit (his core) set for 6 degrees advance (his recommendation for street use) and including tach drive. But as a money saving alternative he mentioned that finding a unit for $175.00 or less could work in my favor. He charges $298.00 to rebuild a unit plus $200.00 if the coil needs replacing. If the coil is good, I could get out the door for as little as $298.00 plus cost of the my core ($298.00 + $175.00= $473.00). Adding a coil would make it $673.00. So there's some food for thought. Being a cheap bastard, I'll probably try finding one to send him. If you're looking for a Vertex Magneto, I suggest you contact French. Special thanks to RC on the HAMB for sending me in the right direction.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Sanderson "Zoomies"
Researching headers for my 29 Model A roadster. I've seen lots of negative stuff on Sanderson's but like the look of their "Zoomies" and lakes, available elsewhere.

Speedway "Lakes-style"
I've also seen that Patriot (and Hedman) make do-it-yourself kits, which may also be a good possibility
for the roadster.

Patriot Do-it-yourself kit
Ultimately, we may be fabbing a pair of headers that are tapered and conical with screw in restrictors. I'm also interested in finding a resource who can custom make a pair for my Model A's 327. Any thoughts, suggestions, advice or pics are welcome.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Drew and I checked out the Tri-State Indoor Swap Meet today in Denver. A huge venue. Not Pomona fairgrounds huge, but plenty big. And while I didn't find the Vertex Magneto I was looking for, we saw a shit-ton of cool things and meet several new contacts. One was Riley Automotive, whose name I recognized from the HAMB, but whom I had never met before in person. Riley's is a great source for traditional Model A parts. Lights, brakes, frames, Stromberg carbs, you name it, they've got it. Good people, too. I picked up sixteen issues of Rolls and Pleats from Riley, so I'll have plenty of back-reading for the trainride to work. Just what I needed, another traditional hot rod resource. We were also able to pick up a couple dozen more silver trinkets for use in our new line of custom embedment shift knobs (examples above).Oh, and Drew found a truly creepy Charlie McCarthy statuette, which I managed to bust in two on the ride home. We stopped for dinner at Smash Burger, our new favorite burger joint in Wheat Ridge and popped into Antonio's, a cool indie record store, where I pick-uped the new Social Distortion CD. It was a great hang with my 17-year-old. Super bowl is tomorrow. I'll be reviewing the commercials for Shoot magazine for the fourth year in a row. Later.