West Coast Report — 16th Edition: By John Gilbert

Jay Leno’s New Gearhead Show — Who’s The Weasels

The automobile industry finally did it, today’s new cars are as reliable as a brand-new toaster, and almost as stylish. Unfortunately for gearheads passionate for restoring and preservation, the new cars are also unserviceable and disposable as a new toaster. For most people that’s OK because as technologically advanced as our society has become, we’re living in an era where the general public has no concept of what tire pressure is, let alone oil pressure. Think I’m kidding, try pretending you’re Jay Leno, and get out on the street and interview a few folks. Come to think about it, wouldn’t it be cool if instead of asking college students how many states there are in the Union, or who’s the Vice President, Jay asked them car questions?

 — John Gilbert

Outlaw Rodder

Hot Rod to Hell — Lumen-escent

The little red roadster seen here sitting on Magazine Row barely visible between the palm trees is what I’ll be driving. Right at sunrise, come August 10, 2013 it’ll be Headlights, camera, action, for the Hot Rod to Hell. I’ll be leaving from the Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach. It will be just one of many days where the track T is going to be running day and night with its headlights on. Kind of like motorcycle safety one might say. I’m not all that anxious to change the headlights that are on the car. The lights came off of Candy’s Uncle’s car (Google Hot Rod Girl Street Rodder) and that lends sentimentality plus Riz (Jim Rizzo Classic Trucks) did a real nice job of upgrading the bulbs to Halogen and installed trick internal T-sigs. But, this configuration is problematic.

Historical fact confirms headlights that aren’t supported properly will tear things up, and ultimately fall off.  A case in point, take a look at the pedestal mount style headlights on a 1926 Ford Model T, and then look at a 1927 Ford Model T. Notice the addition of a support bar that runs across from one headlight to the other. The reason the support bar was added is because the ’26 headlights shook until they ripped the pedestal free from the fenders leaving big tears in the steel fenders. It’s not uncommon to find even the most stock ’26 Model T running a ’27 model headlight bar. I’m not a Model T expert by any means, so maybe later ‘26s came factory equipped. The only reason I’m familiar with any of this was I owned a mint condition ’26 T roadster with the pedestal style headlights. Evil me, all that stuff got tossed when I turned it into a hot-rod.

Years before I was ever a motor journalist, and freelanced for Street Rodder, I used to pick up a copy off the newsstand to see what the latest trends and products were. Fast-forward to now, interestingly I’ve learned Street Rodder is still the best place to discover what the latest and greatest products and trends are.

In my search for a pair of headlights that can be mounted directly to the upper shock mounts I checked out Headwinds website, looking for a pair of lights I’d spotted in the Headwinds ad in Street Rodder. After searching all over Headwinds website I discovered the grille-faced lights I wanted were a new release not yet posted. One might say the score is, Print 1, Internet 0.

Joel Felty, the owner of Headwinds is a friend, and fellow Weasel. For those unfamiliar with the Weasels, we’re like the Hamsters, except very few of us have any money like the Hamsters do. To learn more about either group please Google Hamsters MC, or Weasels MC. Which is curious since neither group is actually an MC. Sorry, as usual I wandered off on a tangent.

It’s true, California is perhaps the absolute worst environment to conduct any kind of business that manufactures a product, but it is not totally void of manufacturers. In recent years I’ve toured numerous aftermarket manufacturers that amazingly are still located in California. Since Eastwood customers are of the hands-on variety, and Headwinds relies heavily on metal-shaping to manufacture its products in-house I thought you guys might enjoy a pictorial tour of Headwinds, Southern California manufacturing plant. Here’s Joel next to the massive billet stock used to carve out genuine billet headlight buckets and rings.

From raw lengths of billet aluminum the next step is to lop-off individual blanks. This is not how cheese logs are made.

Next the billet ring or headlight bucket is chucked into a CNC lathe.

Spun aluminum headlight buckets start out as a 4×8-foot sheet of aluminum alloy that is cut into squares.

The squares are clamped in and rotated in this cutter. Note that a DIY guy can use a fly-cutter to cut out a circle. The only drawback is there will be a small hole in the center from indexing the fly-cutter. Nothing a TIG weld can’t fix.

The circular aluminum blank is chucked into a CNC metal spinning lathe.

The first pass leaves the coarsest marks

Gobs of lubricant squirt out in the final stages, and the end results are amazingly smooth.

Fresh out of the metal spinner, and ready for QC (quality control) before moving on to the next steps.

Here’s Joel milling a boss into the headlight bucket to accept a billet headlight base mount.

Headwinds polishing shop. Every single phase of manufacturing is done in-house in California, with the exception of chrome-plating. And believe it, or not the chrome shop Headwinds entrusts it work to is in California.

Note on the unpolished portion no tooling marks are present. Several different grade polishing wheels, and different degrees of compound coarseness are used in steps to bring aluminum and stainless steel parts to a show-quality brightness.

Hard to tell if these parts have been chromed, or polished huh?

A US quarter illustrates the miniscule size of LED turn-signal housings.

You’ll never believe how long it takes for me to write these captions. Sometimes I have take a break, and eat a cabbage burrito.

A multi-access CNC mill ball mills intricate details.

These Model A headlights are mounted directly into the fiberglass Track T nose. Tell me if you don’t think that grille will go good with Headwinds headlight grilles.

Here’s Joel with the Headwinds crew out in their Monrovia, California shop. Here’s a link to check Headwinds out for yourself www.Headwinds.com   My eyes are bleeding I must take a nap now.

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