West Coast Report — 20th Edition by John Gilbert

More Photo Tips — Corky Coker’s New TV Show

Carrying over from last week’s West Coast Report’s 19th Edition, here’s a few extra photography tips. It’s a great sensation to look at something and know one has developed a trained eye to recognize it was done right. In this case, done right as in with an artistic touch that’s pleasing to one’s eye. OK that’s kind of a vague statement and perhaps even a little weird, so I’ll dial it in a little tighter and tell ya’ll what got me to thinking about this. I just had a friend call and tell me the Chadly coupe is in the new Coker tire catalog. The news got me to Google’n Chadly coupe to see what would pop up. There it was, a series of images including a photo my friend Marla took of me with the coupe only a few miles away from where my Florida to California journey began. It’s an image of me checking the ’54 Chrysler Hemi’s oil. Look closely at how Marla composed the photo, its just absolutely as spot on as it can be. The gestalt is a textbook example of perfect. At left the visor on my hat, and at right the visor on the chopped coupe guide the eye directly towards the dipstick with the 6-duece carbed Hemi in the background. There’s no sequence of visual hierarchy, everything is picked up by the human eye in the first gulp.

 John Gilbert

As a rule of thumb I look for a light background to contrast with a dark car, and vice versa.

Get in the habit of checking out the subject vehicle from several different angles. It doesn’t hurt to bring a ladder along to get a bird’s eye view. This particular shot required laying flat on my stomach (which isn’t flat) and bracing the camera with my elbows to act as a tri-pod.

Anytime that I’m shooting a vertical in the back of my mind I’m thinking about it as a possible magazine cover. This is the most common angle for a cover, a front ¾ view taken standing straight up. Up on a ladder capturing the hood and roof works even better for covers.

Next is the rear ¾ view taken standing straight up from a distance with a Zoom lens.

Notice the red inside the carb stacks stand out. Some things pop in the photos, but they didn’t while I was taking this photo. One often discovers things like this later, and that’s a good thing when it happens.

Notice a lesser degree of red exposed in the stack takes a few seconds longer for the eye to pick up.

Here’s an interior shot with half direct sunlight combined with shade.    Forget about Photoshop; a simple trick, the lighter background outside automatically gets blown out into almost pure white by the camera’s light meter.

The mounting location for this AZ. license plate was a temporary measure.

The side of this 1941 Army Air Force hanger looked like it would be a great background, but appears way too busy once the photos were viewed. Or at least that’s my opinion. I guess differing opinions create different styles.

For 99-percent of the interior shots I’ve done for car features the goal has always been to have even light. That said, for some reason I love this shot.

I metered the light for the dashboard, and ignored the rest. I think this is kind of a cool effect too, it sure puts the focus on the dashboard.

Like I said, you guys that live in the middle of nowhere are lucky when comes to finding good backgrounds. Although this background wouldn’t work as well for a high-tech street rod.

Here’s without a flash.

Here’s without a flash.

And with a flash. Notice how it made the reflective sign pop? Not what I intended. Especially since it didn’t bring anymore detail. There’s different ways to throw light including a 4×8 sheet of foam core, or a flash pot nearby, but out of the frame.

Shop Tour: ARP Bolts

Nuts for California

As a part of reporting the West Coast gearhead scene it’s always a pleasure to spotlight a California company that’s hasn’t perished, or left the state because of its hostile environment towards manufacturing.

Automotive Racing Products is based out of Ventura, California with extensive manufacturing facilities in Santa Paula. ARP originated in 1968 as a cottage industry (as in home garage)  producing sublet orders rolling threads for the aerospace industry. Today ARP is housed in a complex of buildings consuming well over 200,000-square feet of prime industrial real estate. Every phase of manufacturing is handled in-house. In addition to custom design and build orders, ARP maintains a product line of supplying thousands of part numbers to high-performance OEM manufacturers as well as NASCAR, NHRA, and Formula 1 applications. Beyond providing a much cleaner look in comparison to stock garden variety nuts and bolts, thanks to manufacturing standards that exceed aerospace specs ARP fasteners make it a lot easier to produce immaculate show quality work. Instead of oddball hardware that might or might not be concentric with threads that are sloppy loose, or fit too tight, ARP bolts add precision, along with a touch of class to any car, truck, or motorcycle project. Automotive Racing Products can be reached at (800) 826-3045, or online at www.arp-bolts.com

I spent the day touring ARP’s Ventura, and Santa Paula, locations, taking my lunch hour at Hozy’s Grill, a company owned restaurant ARP built onto the end of one its Santa Paula buildings. If you’re ever in Santa Paula, eat at Hozy’s Grill the food is absolutely incredible!

Huge coils of premium grade 8740 chrome steel direct from a Reading, Pennsylvania steel mill. There are four grades of steel, commercial is the first followed by aircraft quality. ARP uses only SDF, and CHQ the top two grades which are twice as expensive as commercial, or aircraft grade.

Cold forging: This is one of ARP’s numerous cold heading machines. Horizontally it forms (presses) the steel coil perfectly flat, and then cuts it to a desired length.  ARP bolts, and studs begin the manufacturing process as either 12-foot lengths of high grade bar stock, or a 200-foot coil of USA made steel.

Hot forging: Here a two-story tall hot heading machine induction heats, and forms ARP fasteners under many tons of pressure.

Museum quality: ARP prefers to restore older heavy based US made machinery to exacting specs including a custom coat of ARP Green paint rather than buy new lighter constructed machinery imported from overseas.

Heat-treating, shot-peening, thread rolling, and much more: In some cases it would take over 50 individual photos to capture every step ARP takes to produce its fasteners.

Thread rolling to MIL-S-8879A military specs: Done after heat-treating its more costly because of wear and tear on expensive dies, but ARP bolt threads are 10 times tougher than bolts that are threaded prior to heat-treating.

Centerless grinding guarantees the outside diameter of ARP studs are perfectly concentric. In this area of manufacturing alone up to ten different steps are taken to ensure ARP studs, and bolts are produced with zero-defects.

Some as tall as a fully grown banana tree: Lots of Starrett measuring tools kept on hand at every machine, and placed at individual stations: One can’t walk 15 feet inside an ARP manufacturing facility without encountering some type of measuring device used to ensure quality control.

ARP maintains extreme cleanliness from start to finish: Believe it, or not there’s a specially constructed automatic pan washer that keeps clean pans ready for every phase of an ARP fastener’s evolution. Note the pans are custom made to satisfy ARP specifications.

Manual labor intensive: There’s hardly one step of production where a single ARP fastener isn’t held by a human hand. Each and every one of these ARP stainless steel bolts were checked individually for quality before being placed in a thread protecting sleeve by hand.

One-hundred percent in-house means ARP does it all including specialized metal finishing: An entire building houses a massive ecologically friendly series of tanks ARP uses to apply a trick black oxide finish to chrome moly fasteners. For polishing stainless steel products to a high luster three separate giant tumblers spin horizontally with an increasingly finer grit of media towards the final stage.

ARP works hand in hand developing specialized hardware with many of the world’s best engine manufacturers including Ford, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and of course a brand us Harley-Davidson riders all know, S&S.

Here’s a hot tech tip from the pros: ARP Ultra-Torque fastener assembly lubricant virtually eliminates preload scatter. This means applying it a fastener need only be torqued once to get within 5 percent of ideal preload… Not to mention you’ll only have to access hard to reach bolts once.

This Vibe Tech tumbler is loaded with special abrasive pellets and through a vibratory process polishes bolts and fasteners to a show-quality sheen, like you’ve never sheen before.

I didn’t write notes, but I know this guy isn’t centerless grinding bolts. Anyways that’s one heck of a row of machines isn’t it?

Stacks of full pans waiting. The young lady sitting down at left one-by-one inspects each and every bolt in a continuous chain of quality control inspections ARP performs.

Did I mention ARP prefers to restore vintage US made machinery back to perfect operational condition as opposed to buying lighter-duty new machines?

I don’t know what this machine is doing, but it sure makes one heck of a thud every time it revolves. Maybe its called a big giant thudding revolver. Eh, maybe not.

Rustin’ Gold

Backroad Gold, Corky Coker’s New TV Show

Along with a pack of the Performance Automotive Group’s editors, and publishers, I met with Corky Coker yesterday at a roundtable held at Source Interlink Media’s tech center in Irvine, California. I learned about a new TV show Corky will be hosting on the Travel Channel… and yes, the chopped coupe is related to this story.

Last August while blasting around Chattanooga searching for Corky’s place I found out extended blasts of full-throttle causes Holly 94 carbs to gurgle up gasoline. Note the Vicegrips pinching the main fuel line.

This is Coker’s main offices; kind of hard to find when you’ve got a 7 ½ -inch chop and can’t see Bo Diddley. I drove around for 20-minutes before Mike Goodman flagged me in.

Coker really knows how to make a person feel welcome. At Corky’s invitation I was there to see his museum, and do a tire test story for Street Rodder. That was in 2012 last August. Sometimes I’m a little slow, I figured out the Coker roundtable is an annual event.

The Source Interlink Media offices are right around the corner from my Irvine office. No Michelin didn’t prototype air-bags for motorcyclists.

And that’s a good thing how’d you the Feds to mandate bikers wore something like this?

This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one of the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

Here’s Corky, Butch, and Tommy Lee Byrd out in the shop with the Excelsior radials we replaced my bias-ply Coker Firestones with. When choosing tires you have to decide what you want to use them for.

Here’s the coupe when it first went up into the air. Bet you didn’t think this car would have disc brakes, huh?

See the green color showing on the Power Gen? In photographer terms that’s called apex, you get it when you shoot into the sun.

Here’s Corky right before he recommended installing trim rings on the coupe.

Coker just opened up a 100,000-square foot manufacturing plant for wheels in the City of Industry, California. Here Corky is showing me how they custom manufacture wheels on a special one-off basis in Chattanooga, TN.

Here’s a look-see at the wheel making machinery in Chattanooga.

Look way back to the left and you’ll notice a white cab sticking up. That’s the ’53 Ford F-100 Corky will driving on his new show Backroad Gold.

I think the Ford shoebox Corky is lifting the hood on will be featured on the show. The truck snout at right is the ’53 Ford F-100.

Yahoo, Corky said it was time to eat lunch, and I was ready to chow down.

I got to drive Corky’s Buick back from the Mexican restaurant we ate at. It was me Corky, and the entire Honest Charley’s Speedshop crew that went there. Big fun, what a great bunch of guys. The beans didn’t hit until I was in Nashville. Atlanta, Georgia, I hear there’s a wanted poster for me at a truck stop… You’d think they would have had DOT rated restrooms.

Here’s the Travel Channel’s boilerplate for announcing the show is new for next season. “Backroad Gold” follows antique car expert Corky Coker as he scours the highways, back roads and small towns of America, wheeling and dealing for hidden riches such as antique cars, motorcycles, trucks, gas pumps and road signs. This is Coker’s life-long passion and his business – he is constantly on the road hunting for the next big find. Together with his expert team of restorers – which includes his father, son-in-law and daughter – Coker buys, restores, and sells all finds from his shop, Honest Charley’s Speedshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This old Harley-Davidson Panhead is one of the bikes that’ll be featured.

It’s nice to have friends that care. Corky insisted his guys gave the coupe a once over before I got back on the road for California.

I didn’t have any car trouble outside of the gurgling Holley 94s, but notice the bad focus? I think the camera bouncing around in the coupe was starting to take a toll on my lens, it was starting to sound like a maracas.

Here’s Hal giving the front end a once over.

I was real impressed with how well the Champion oil maintained oil-pressure for the entire rest of the trip. What was dumped out must have been made from fish oil.

I’d gone over the car before leaving Florida, but that was on jackstands. It was good to actually see it up in the air.

Tommy Lee Byrd took this group shot. Corky told me to sit on the front tire. Some guy on Coker’s Facebook page said tell that old coot to stand up. If I knew where he lived I would have driven to his house and left a magic corn log on his front lawn.

After leaving Chattanooga, I made it to Cadiz, Kentucky, that night. Here’s a perfect example of the camera’s Auto White Balance not quite working as it should. No messing with white balance, I was dog tired I blew these shots off and went to bed.

Hot-rodders are Hell raisers? It was an obvious case of profiling, the motel owner gave me a room far away from everyone else… Maybe it was for my own good.

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