West Coast Report 28th Edition by John Gilbert

Devil Outside Your Door – Eastwood Tech: Get The Smoothed Block Look — 91 Car Show, it’s Killer!

It’s a powerful story, if you want to see more of it… sorry, that was for something else I was writing. Altec-Lansing, JBLs, Utah subs, tube amps, wires running everywhere like spaghetti strung on a tweed case, I’ve got my home office so packed with obsolete sound equipment boosting the signal coming out of my i7 27-inch Mac that its not funny. Weird maybe, but not funny. Anyways I’ve got a quick tech on here how to make your engine block and heads look smoothed without grinding using the SBC engine in the Hot Rod to Hell as an example, the recipe for a Caesar Salad tostada sandwich that I invented, and we’ll round it off with a review of the custom car shows I attended earlier this summer. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it my Altec just took a big dump. Oh well, back to the cheesy little speakers on my Mac for now.

 — John Gilbert

Outlaw Rodder

Fully-Smooth a Block Without Grinding

Ever since the first time I saw a fully smoothed and painted engine at the Oakland Roadster Show many moons ago I’ve been absolutely crazy about the look. In the years since I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how Art Chrisman, the absolute master of the smoothed engine goes about getting his engines to look like jewelry. It’s a time-intensive process of grinding and polishing the rough cast iron until it just about looks like inside the ports of a pair of ported and polished heads. Bear in mind, the surface needs to still have sanding scratches deep enough for the paint to have a foot. Foot means grip.

Needless to say going the complete route to fully smooth an engine takes a ton of time and materials. In the case of preparing the Hot Rod to Hell to go to Hell, time isn’t something I have a lot of. That said, I did want to raise the bar on how good the engine looks, so I figured out a way to get the look of a fully smoothed block merely by applying thick coats of primer, and sanding it down. Enter one of my favorite Eastwood products; High-Build Self-Etching gray primer in a spraycan. To follow it up for the color coat I used VHT Chevy Orange.

After the engine was degreased with Chassis Kleen and contaminant stripped thoroughly with PRE my next step was to mask off the areas I want primered. An extra pair of un-needed Corvette 7-fin stagger-bolt valve covers worked great as a mask over the valves.

Next I wet-sanded the engine with 320-grit smoothing the original GM black engine enamel, making sure to sand out factory runs, and trust me there was runs. I used compressed-air with a clean towel to dry the block. A quick follow up with PRE, and then I started spraying High-Build Self-Etching primer.

Here’s a view of how I masked and draped a drop-cloth over the areas I didn’t want overspray on. I laid it on thick using one entire spraycan of HBSE primer.

This was the first time that I painted an engine and didn’t mask off the exhaust ports. Once that Chevy motor fires up it will only be a matter of seconds before the overspray burns off and didn’t cause a bit of harm.

HBSE primer dries fast and can sanded in short order, but I wanted to be sure it shrunk completely before wet-sanding smooth.

I folded a small piece of 320 wet ‘n dry three times over itself to make a mini-sanding block of sorts. The idea is the same as blocking out a door, or anything else that needs to be straight (no dips).

Side-to-side and circular motions making sure to shape all the way up around the port face.

I spent one long day sanding the block and heads before there were ready for paint.

Notice I broke the heads off the old spark plugs to mask the plug holes and keep crap out of the cylinders while I was working. Leaving the heads on the plugs would act a mask preventing thorough paint coverage.

Before spraying the Chevy Orange VHT engine enamel on I blew the engine free of dust with compressed-air.

As one can see there’s not a trace of rough cast-iron visible. Between using HBSE primer and spraying two cans of VHT engine enamel on the block and heads it came out pretty slick.

It was almost 100-degrees out, 99 to be exact when I painted the engine. The paint would have flowed a little better had it been cooler. To compensate I hosed it on heavy.

I was absolutely stunned how fast VHT engine enamel dried completely to the touch.

It would look super slick like its under glass. I haven’t decided for sure, but I’m going to test 2K Aero-Spray Clear for compatibility as a top coat to go over VHT engine enamel.

Outlaw Rodder

Special Paint for Aluminum

There really aren’t that many parts that need replaced on the Hot Rod to Hell because they’re worn out, but there is a lot of cosmetic deterioration that occurred while the car sat outside in the elements for five years. On a full blown restoration it’s not unusual to tear everything down to the bare bones and media blast, or chemically dip. For this job it makes absolutely no sense to dismantle a freshly rebuilt automatic transmission just to bring its aluminum case back up to snuff.

In between working on the T, I covered the engine with plastic, and then with a towel. I gave our cat a can of tuna as payment for guarding the T.

As soon as I pulled the carb I covered the intake with tape to keep any unwanted surprises from falling in.

The first step was to strip the grease and grime from the tranny with Chassis Kleen. I’ll do a tech in an upcoming edition to reveal some cool tricks for using Chassis Kleen.

The transmission cooler really took a beating from battery acid leaking onto it. That was my fault, I was trying to get something to break on the car, before I left, and got airborne. When the car came down it busted the battery open. That was about 50 miles from home, I just kept driving, the battery kept leaking.

I should have taken photos before I started. I didn’t quite like how the linkage was set up and modified the linkage. I used Silver Argent to paint the transmission case.

Here’s a closer look. Notice the Silver Argent blends nicely into natural aluminum.

Look at the light glare coming off that Silver Argent finish.

Look at the intake manifold, that’s how it looked before I painted it with Detail Gray. A closer look reveals the bare aluminum has stains that wouldn’t come out without blasting, or hitting with Detail Gray.

Detail Gray produces a really nice look. Here it’s still wet, you can tell by the glossy areas on the runners. In winter you can speed up drying with a heat gun.

I love how Detail Gray looks when its dry, the perfect sheen that I was looking for.

Looking head on into the Speedway Shotgun headers those polished stainless sure look wild. I figured out where I needed to mount the exhaust mounts for the Speedway headers before I painted the engine Chevy Orange.

The starter looked pretty good, but it wasn’t vintage looking enough for me, so I painted the solenoid semi-gloss black.

I masked it all up except the solenoid and went to town.

Now I’ve got the look I’m after. Time is really starting to get tight for going to Hell with this car, so there should be a bunch of tech on it next week. Who knows, maybe a tech story on how I taught my cat, dog, and girlfriend how to help me spray the T body with 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black.

Caesar Tostada Deluxe El Supremo

Make Mexicali’s Latest Culinary Delight at Home

Its not often one gets to invent a new taste treat, but I think that’s exactly what I did the other day while I was running low on meal ingredients, and high on Starbucks finest beans. In honor of Caesar Cardini the Tijuana based Italian chef that invented the Caesar salad back in the 1920s during prohibition I dedicate this marvel of gastronomic goodness to Caesar’s memory and Jayne Mansfield’s mammaries. Warning! may cause slight discomfort after ingestion, gaseous cramps followed by uncontrollable reverberating tremors, and profuse perspiration, unpleasant odors followed by sepia toned hallucinations. 

At the heart of every, or at least the bottom of every tostada is a crunchy tortilla. All I had were the cheap ones that don’t brown very well. I think they’re mostly flour. In lieu of pork fat olive oil can be substituted. Don’t turn up the flame too high like this the edges will burn and the center will be raw.

A good quality space-age plastic spatula can double as a fly-swatter, and there will be flies.

Use only genuine California romaine lettuce hearts. Slice it up with a Buck knife and separate with your fingers. Keep fingers away from Buck knife blade at least most of the time.

Here’s what happens with too much heat. Tortilla fires are not a laughing matter.

Turn down the flame and try it again. Not that easy to do: In this photo I’m levitating a tortilla. Keep out of the desert and stay off Route 46.

For a cheap tortilla this came out pretty good. It takes a young man’s life and it probably will.

Be very cautious loading the tortilla into the frying pan after its been on for a while. Any presence of water and the hot oil will spit.

To accelerate preparing the tortilla crank up the flame, and use the fly swatter / spatula to hyper-heat the tortilla center.

There’s two methods to melting cheese onto the prepared tortilla shell. Here I have planted a lump, and allowed it to melt. This method produces excessive amounts of oily grease.

In the family since the early 60’s this Ecko cheese grader works superior to anything available today. Try to find something that looks close, and hope it lasts.

Using a microwave provided its not in as poor condition as mine works best for melting cheese. Experiment with time settings. Pick out paint scabs before eating if microwave ceiling looks like this one.

You can still eat it, but too much heat (on too long) and the cheese will boil into an oily mess.

The original recipe Cardini’s Caesar salad dressing is available. I bought this one at Walmart. Its been a few years, but Sam’s Club was a good source for the extra large family economy size.

Slice the Romaine lettuce on 60’s vintage Corelle dinnerware. If not available the current stuff Walmart sells will work OK. Don’t forget to wash first.

Make room on the plate, by temporarily removing the lettuce from the plate.

Place the tortillas on the plate, and then replace lettuce.

Add Caesar dressing and mix in. Fingers will work if you don’t have a clean fork.

No Caesar anything is complete without pre-shredded Parmesan cheese.

Apply Parmesan cheese liberally.

Some might prefer Dave’s Insanity sauce for that extra bite of grim reality.

Here for both ornamental color and seasoning I’ve applied Crystal Louisiana hot sauce. It’s pretty watered down, but it’s the cheapest stuff I could find.

As with more conventional type sandwiches place the tortilla halves together like you would peanut butter and jam in between bread.

Although Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Underhood Black is the most durable finish available for underhood applications it must never be used on food, not even Mexican food.

91 Car Show

The 2nd Annual Featured Chevy

Friday afternoon August 2, 2013. I get a call from one of the guys in Pickups Ltd. asking if I can jam out the next day to cover the 91 Car Show in Anaheim.

I was told free food was involved, but I have mixed emotions about covering shows that are held at the Canyon RV Park. On the good side it’s one of the nicest venues around because the park is tree-lined and has plenty of shade to stay cool in. On the negative side the place is tree-lined with lots of shade that creates shadows and that makes it hard to photograph cars without getting a bunch shadows mixed with sunlight.

I slapped my trusty Canon SP580 flash on my 50D, and jumped on the 91 Freeway. In case you were wondering the show is not limited to only 91 cars, rather its named for the 91 Freeway. That’s how we roll in So Cal, we like to name things after a popular freeway. In fact some of our most famous serial killers were named for a freeway adjacent the killer’s hunting grounds.

She hides in an attic behind a shelf of books based on herself. Sorry, I like to listen to Country Joe and the Fish at full volume when I write. And of course watch Wagon Train with the volume turned down. Look, its Saturday morning and I really need to get out in the garage. This is a pretty good show, and a great bunch of folks that put it on. Here’s a link www.91CarShow.com and if you get a chance to make it next year, look for me around the food truck.


  1. Yeah, that show brings a pretty good mix of cars. You can tell the Nova guys were there in force.

    What city, and state are you in?

    If you ever find yourself in So Cal you gotta make it to the Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach. There’s always 100-400 great cars and trucks every Saturday starting at 5AM till 9AM. Its at Magnolia and Adams. and its all for free.

  2. Hi John thanks the coverage on the 91 show. see you at the f100 western nationals. June 21st.

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