West Coast Report 24th Edition: by John Gilbert

Fun with Poison – Garage Surrealisim – The New Peterson

Nothing gets the dirt off like a good meteor shower… Because I drank just the right amount of coffee this morning I’m thinking this might not be a good time to mess with electricity. Nevertheless I’m going to hook my Altec Lansing ACS48 amp with speakers, and sub back up to my Mac. My girlfriend unplugged the Altec amp just because there was a loud buzzing sound coming out of it. I don’t worry about loud buzzing sounds until they’re accompanied by a bad smell, with flickering white lights penetrating through gray elastic smoke… anything short of an actual fire is OK. So catch me if you can, I’m going back. Anyone reading this ever play a Rickenbacker 12-string electric? Pinto beans are the backbone for my everyday diet. A Santa Ana, California, company Rickenbacker introduced the electric 12-string in 1963.

For good eating it’s pretty hard to beat a good old fashioned cheeseburger, but I have to say my favorite gourmet fare is Mexican food. I’d like to begin the 24th edition of the West Coast Report with a DIY cooking tech. Let’s call it the DIY guy’s guide to cooking Mexican food at home. My parents, and I went on a lot of cross-country road trips during the 50s and 60s. When I was a kid growing up in California I always thought it was strange Mid-West and Eastern states didn’t have Mexican food. We ate Lobster in Nova Scotia. Lobster is an incredible ingredient to use in Mexican food, especially burritos, and enchiladas.

In the 21st Century its hard to find a can opener that works well on 1-gallon bean cans.

OK, I can see where this is going I better move on before I write myself into the unemployment line. After opening the can as far as possible with a can opener peel the lid back with a pair pliers. Normally I use this Craftsman pair of pliers, but when special guests arrive I bring out the good stuff, and use Eastwood pliers.

Not related to either former President, I prefer Bush beans, over the generic brands that add too much salt. Believe it or not, not all pinto beans taste the same. There’s a specific authentic flavor to refried beans that I’d really like to know the secret recipe for. The Little Caboose in Anaheim, serve the best refried beans. That’s where the Eastwood crew goes to eat legit Mexican food while they’re here in California. Ask Matt about the original location, he’ll tell ya.

After rinsing the beans in a strainer, pour them into a pan and repeat the process. Don’t do this at home, but I like to leave vintage cans of pre-banned DDT formulated Raid bug poison in the kitchen for that legit Mexican restaurant flavor of old. Pork lard tastes better than olive oil, plus its good for congesting arteries, and heart valves. Although there are theories the Capsaicin prevalent in hot sauce burns the grease and grime out of one’s veins like Roto-Rooter does to tree roots in a sewer pipe.

I’m sorry I couldn’t wait, I should have taken a picture of what I cooked before I ate it. I’ve heard Tapatio isn’t available in Mexico, it really tastes great on fish. Adding Endorphin Rush works swell for people that don’t like to use caffeinated products to get alert.

Hotter hot sauces such as Endorphin Rush can be added to hop-up tamer hot sauces.

After ingesting hot sauce, I like to create abstract paintings, or go for a motorcycle ride.

Before the Petersen Museum opened in Los Angeles a person had to drive to Sparks, Nevada to visit a good car museum, that was Bill Harrah’s collection. Uh, that’s not true depending on what years we’re talking about a person could drive 35 miles south of LA to Costa Mesa, and visit the Briggs Cunningham museum. Today, both Harrah’s and the Briggs Cunningham museums are long gone, but fortunately the Petersen is still around, and looks like things in LA are really starting to move to the next level. Some folks got their shorts in a knot over the Petersen selling off some cars to help finance the renovation, but I’m not worried. Bruce Myer is involved, and he’s done a ton of things in years past to help preserve the history of hot-rodding, there’s no way in hell any of this is a bad thing. Of course they did auction off a mini-Winnie, that’s a baby Winnebago motorhome. So the Good Sam club might have a few irate members over that move, but what are you going to do. And yes, there was the “Bojangles” Dusenberg.

Here’s a link to a tour I did of the Petersen while I was editing Custom Classic Truckshttp://www.customclassictrucks.com/eventcoverage/0908cct_the_petersen_automotive_museum/

Images courtesy of Petersen Museum. And now for the canned press release…


Iconic Southern California museum unveils plans for a stunning, sculptured metal exterior and cutting-edge interior with interactive displays, transforming it into the world’s finest automotive museum. The L.A. cultural landmark will showcase Southern California’s rich automotive heritage and will serve as a gateway to the city’s “Museum Row.”

Los Angeles, Calif. (Aug. 18, 2013) – The Petersen Automotive Museum announced today that it will mark its 20th anniversary in 2014 by commencing a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior, resulting in a world class museum that will showcase the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile.  Displays will feature the prominence of the automobile in Southern California, as well as cars, trucks and motorcycles from around the world. In addition to the facility upgrade, the new Petersen will feature a refined and upgraded permanent collection and an expansion of rotating displays, galleries, technology and story-telling, providing visitors with fresh, new experiences throughout the year.

The exterior design by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates will transform the Petersen building into one of the most significant and unforgettable structures in Los Angeles.  Long ribbons of stainless steel will wrap around three sides and over the top of the deep red building, making a visceral statement that evokes the imagery of speed and the organic curves of a coach-built automobile.  At night, the color and forms will be lit from within to accentuate the steel sculpture and act as a beacon in the neighborhood known as The Miracle Mile.

“As we approach the Petersen Automotive Museum’s 20th anniversary, our goal is to design and build an exterior as stunning as the vehicles and displays housed inside,” said Peter Mullin, the Petersen’s Chairman of the Board. “For two decades this museum has charmed visitors with its fantastic collection and its focus on education and entertainment. Our plan is to work with the best and brightest minds in architecture, automotive history and interactive design to give the people of Los Angeles and the world a place where they can be immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of the greatest vehicles ever built.”

The transformation will extend to the museum’s interior as well, with a proposed additional 15,000 square feet of display space. Redesigned galleries will feature state-of-the-art lighting, digital displays and immersive learning stations that will tell the stories of the people and machines that changed the world over the past century. Education programs will showcase a restored and upgraded permanent collection that includes historically significant American and European classics, hot rods, groundbreaking race cars, the latest in alternative fuel technology, cars with Hollywood heritage and even vehicles designed and built in Los Angeles itself.

The Petersen will continue the mission set forth by its founder, Robert E. Petersen (editor’s note: Yea, Bob!) to showcase the automobile’s role in art and culture, both locally and globally, while celebrating Southern California’s place as the epicenter of the automotive landscape.

The museum will immediately begin a capital campaign to raise funds needed for the exterior renovations. For more information on the new Petersen, visit www.Petersen.org

Anyone ever go to the Hoppin’ Grape in Calgary, circa ‘73?

Tech Tricks

Hot Rod to Hell; Fabricating Shock Mounts

Cutting a short chunk of steel, tubing or pipe in a cutoff wheel (saw) can be a major hassle. The problem is trying to keep the little bugger straight in the cutoff wheel’s vice without it moving sideways. Using your fingers to hold the piece still is a bad idea… Duh.

Here’s what a shorty anything does, it cocks sideways.

The head on a ½-inch 20 bolt is the same diameter as ¾-inch OD x ½-inch ID. Clamp it down…

Make sure it’s lined up and tightened down snug.

Then make a perfectly square cut. Beautiful, huh?

This method also works great to cut bolt ends off as clean, and squarely as possible.

Here’s a slightly different view.

I slosh cutting oil liberally when I drill holes. Leaving the parts oily when the next step is to weld is a good way to produce ugly contaminated welds if not start a fire. PRE works great, an additional use for Eastwood PRE is as a degreaser before welding.

After flushing with Eastwood PRE, I used compressed-air to rid the area of any un-dispersed PRE. Note I used the drill press table as a welding table. Hey, it works swell in a pinch.

Here’s the friction shocks beefed-up with a pair of Speedway chrome telescopic shocks linked in.

Here’s a face on view of the front upgraded suspension along with Speedway’s polished stainless steel Shotgun headers. In addition to looking great the Shotgun headers route extreme heat further away from the oil filter, and most important of all the brake master-cylinder.

I started prepping the body for paint last night. I’m loving the convenience of Eastwood’s high-build primer in a spray can. I hate cleaning a spray gun after I’ve worked all day.

Oil Do’s, Don’ts and Dids

Its almost like its a government, or new car manufacturer’s plot to accelerate getting older vehicles off the road. In California, there’s no doubt legislators want cars off the road, but this is a national issue. There was no warning when the oil manufacturers took the ZDDP completely out of the oil was what a Comp Cams rep told me at MPMC, SEMA’s media trade conference in 2012. The discussion came up when I’d mentioned around 2006 we started having new engines blow up on the dyno with bad cams before we figured out what was happening. In short ZDDP is an anti-wear additive essential for use in post WWII engines with higher compression and higher valve spring rates up to around 1989. Naturally I’m going to mention Eastwood sells a ZDDP additive that can be added to any motor oil. Its especially a good idea to have ZDDP in the crankcase of any flat-tappet OHV, SOHC, DOHC engine that’s new and needs to be broken in right. From there on out the correct level of ZDDP needs to be maintained. Its been said ZDDP attacks catalytic converters, but what good is perfectly good cat if you’re engine blows up? One needs to know if their engine has flat or roller tappets (valve lifters). From memory, catalytic converters appeared on US made cars in 1975. Some pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 and Chevy C10 Big 10’s (Heavy Chevy) were cat free until 1978. Enough of the vintage stuff.

The type, or brand of oil one pours in their modern engine with roller lifters, and all of that other complicated features like cylinders that shut down from 8-6-4, and variable valve timing is equally important. There’s some modern engines that love to blow up when the wrong oil, or dirty oil is left in the engine too long. That old adage “oil is cheap insurance” is as true today as it ever was. In the old days a little sludge helped to cushion some engine parts. Ford Y-block engines with too much sludge (coking) plugged oil galleys to the top end, and stopped oil flow. Early small-block Chevy engines oiled too-much to the top end and partially choked passages in hollow pushrod tubes actually helped the problem. In today’s engines any trace of sludge and passages plug-up and premature death is inevitable.

Two GMC trucks and two different types of motor oil required. I bought the black ’05 GMC brand-new, and oil-consumption wise its been a real disappointment ever since. I drove the ’05 to the Colorado border and back to break it in right, and it was all for nothing.

After I dumped the manufacturer’s break-in oil, I’ve only used premium brand synthetic oils in the 5.3 L59 Flex-Fuel engine. Always use jackstands and shake the vehicle to make sure it doesn’t rock before climbing underneath.

This is the oil change station in my home garage. Notice the air nozzle hanging from my Eastwood retractable hose reel. Everything related to changing engine oil should be clean. I use the air nozzle and a clean rag to make sure the funnel is clean before pouring the oil in.

Removing a poorly accessible oil filter can be a real bear. I’ve got almost every type of oil filter removal tool made. Installing a spin-on filter should only be tightened by hand. Get it as tight as you can by hand.

Since day one I’ve used a 6 point 15mm box end wrench to remove the drain plug on the ‘05. Be careful not to over-tighten the drain plug. Real snug will do.

You don’t have to, but I like to prime the oil filter before installing. I change the oil filter every time the oil is changed.

You should lubricate the oil filter gasket (square edged O-ring) with fresh engine oil.

Since new I’ve used Mobil 1, Royal Purple, Pennzoil Platinum all complying with the manufacturers recommended viscosity on the oil filler cap. My ‘05 GMC has a little over 80,000 original miles on it. It doesn’t matter which brand, this pig guzzles two quarts of oil in between recommended mileage intervals.

Choosing which engine oil to use is all about having faith in the brand. This is a subject that will really get the Internet wizards to spring into keyboard action. I just started using Quaker State in the ’05, I’ll report back on oil consumption. I can say the L59 sounds really good running quiet with this oil in it.


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