The Rods-n-Relics 29th Annual Car Show was an unqualified success. Key event elements such as blue sky, green grass, cold beer, cool music (Milwaukee Mike and the Mob), and hot brats all came together to create a perfect storm of awesomeness. The cars were lined up on the lawn like pretty girls in tiaras waiting to be judged by old guys in ball caps. Proud owners of these timeless reminders of a simpler time had put in hours waxing and grooming their pride and joy in anticipation of the show (Some of them even waxed their car). You really can't beat a car show on a beautiful day. Thank you to all who attended, our club members who put in so much of their personal time to make this one of the best shows to date. For Photos of the show click on the photo or follow this link.
The Car Club Christmas Tree - By Jim Motes
A solitary tree grew in a field on a hill
Tall, strong and evergreen
An ancient Fir tree, hidden from all
Destined to never be seen
Then across the field, a noise arose
and an old red, lead sled appeared
It rolled up to the tree, glided to a stop
Out stepped an old gent with a beard
He looked over, looked under, then looked around
Tugged and sniffed the leaves and boughs
His smile said he must have liked what he found
As he examined the cones on the ground
He breathed in deeply smelling the next Christmas
and yesteryear's Christmas delight
The tree wasn't great, it was indeed perfect
But too large to adorn and light
Back in the car, he revved up the engine
drove out of the field and away
The tree watched him go and thought about Christmas
as it was in its nature to dream of the day
To a few special Firs the very grandest of honors
is to be chosen as a Christmas Tree
But for a lonely tree in a field, secluded and bare
Tinsel and lights are best saved for dreams
Time passes slowly when there's no place to go
and the old tree had no plans at all
Trees bend with the wind and bow to the snow
Until they grow weak and they fall
The tree knew it was Christmas by faraway bells
and thought of the old guy and his ride
Remembering the way he smiled at the tree
Had filled it with hope and some pride
But now it was Christmas, another year gone
hope lighter on its branches than fear
How long can you hope for Christmas to find you
When it's missed you for so many years?
Just as the sun dropped below the horizon
a deep rumble arose in the night
The ground shook, the great tree trembled
branches shaking with fright
Then the night lit up from a host of headlights
rods and relics coasted up to the tree
They formed a half circle of dazzling radiance
illuminating it for all to see
An old man walked up, looked at the tree
His smile familiar and kind
"I did not forget you," he said in a whisper
"I just waited for the right time"
"We're not very different from old trees," he said
"we've all grown rings and shed some tears
while cars go to rust and old friends go to dust
we cherish memories of those past years"
We value what tested and weathered by time
and proved to be strong and true"
"So like dear old friends or a fine classic car
we saw the value in you"
Then without a word or a nod, club members began
to decorate that ancient old tree
They had lights, red garnish, and small cars made of tin
like children, tossing tinsel with glee
The lights glowed like white diamonds
glass ornaments shined bright
Tin toys and twinkling tinsel in the old tree
lit up that Christmas night
Then the club members fell silent
looking up they felt small
For if trees acknowledged such things as kings
Here was the king of them all
Suddenly a trail of lights appeared
from the villages far below
They followed the light in the Christmas sky
to a wonderous car show
When they arrived at the clearing, they first saw the tree
majestic and beaming with pride
and fifty or more beautiful old cars
owners standing by their side
It was the best car show in their history
The club and villagers agreed
and they repeat it every year on Christmas
surrounding that wonderful tree
Outlaw Club Member and Web Master Hightailing it for Texas!
Texas native and club webmaster, also known as Jim Motes (me) is heading back to the land of long neck beers, cute little armadillo's, great music, better barbecue and a much longer car season. There has been some speculation that I am being forced out by neighborhood vigilantes, who accused me of defacing no less than 31 lawns last summer, but I'm not the type to cave in to bullies. First of all, those charges were based on circumstantial evidence only and there's not one witness that can identify me as the person who wrote "1948 Lincoln Continentals Rule" on those lawns with weed and grass killer. Secondly, just because my lawn was skipped doesn't make me guilty. Also, just because I was found lying in my front yard surrounded by a couple dozen empty beer cans, a drained Roundup container and a "Sure Shot" wand in my hand doesn't mean I wasn't set up. People hate good looking guys, who are lucky enough to marry a genuine Philadelphia Mafia Princess and drive aweome old cars. Those jealous SOBs set me up and even though there's no "REAL" proof of wrongdoing on my part, have threatened me with harm should I remain in Cedarburg. Luckily for them, I was already planning on leaving town seeking greener pastures.
The real reason I'm leaving is to start my own one stop shop as a Wedding Photographer, Marriage Counselor, Boudoir Photographer, and Private Dectective. My personal research tells me this business is going to be big. I'll make money when they get married. When things get rough, I'll pick up some change there, listening to them complain about each other (Slipping in the right comment here and there could get them even more riled up and extend counseling for months). Once counseling dries up, I'll convince the wife that she should rekindle the spark of romance by taking some provocative photos, and after all that fails, I'll track down the cheating spouse for a final fat fee. Cha Ching!
I'm willing to let a few visionaries from the club invest right now on this groundbreaking opportunity. The first five investors will also recieve a discount on family wedding photos, counseling, boudoir photos, and private detectiving.
This has been fun and I'll miss not going to club meetings and pretending that Wittenberg's Corvette isn't simply an expensive reminder of a middle age crisis. I'll even miss seeing Russ drive up in his latest acquisition, while we all pretend he doesn't buy another car every year just to avoid fixing last years car. Still all good things must come to an end and I've heard myself say that I burn too bright for this town and I'm pretty sure I'm right. So I'll close by saying thank you for letting me join your club. Thank you to my dedicated readers (all three of you) for all the fan mail (still waiting for my fan mail) and as they say in Texas, Ciao, Bella!
P.S. I have a perfect record. Every show my car has participated in, it's won "Best in Show". I'm going out on top!
New Years Resolutions for Club Members
I've decided to make some new years resolutions on behalf of all club members. I realize this may appear to be the epitome of hubris, but if you think about it for a second I'm sure everyone will agree I'm the best suited for the task.
1) I have attended so few meetings that I know very little about any of you, therefore these resolutions won't be personal.
2) I think we can all agree that the club is in need of an intellectual leader and I chaired the single man committee I formed, took a closed member vote and elected myself to that post.
3) No one else edits this web site so there's nothing to stop me short of a "Cease and Desist Order" from the court.
New Years Resolutions for 2018
1. Get your car(s) running: There's nothing sadder than a beautiful old car sitting in a garage, the backseat used to store Christmas decorations and the trunk full of shattered hopes, dreams and parts.
2. Get in shape: There's a book out there called "Younger Next Year" and there's a great message in the very last chapter. We have a choice each day, grow or decay. No one is getting younger, so whether it's yoga or weights, do something... anything. If not for yourself, think of poor Tom. We all know how often he's needed help pushing his car to the side of the road. That requires muscles and working joints. Besides, some of you drive cars with steering wheels that are not adjustable and a big belly can get in the way. Safety first!
3. Eat healthy: Pick your food to meet your needs. Lay off the bad stuff. If you need energy, eat for energy, if you need to lose a few pounds, eat vegitables and fruit and drop the carbs. Remember what you eat in private will be there in all it's horrible glory when you wear your speedo to the summer car shows. Note: If you find yourself in a closet eating cake and crying, you can assume that's not a healthy diet... You should at least have some milk.
4. Watch less TV: Live more and spend less time watching other people live on the screen. Read a book (about how to fix the hydraulics in an 1948 Lincoln if you want to be my best friend). Visit friends and if they aren't home, break into their garage and feel free to use their tools to work on their car.
5. Be kind: There are shining examples of bad behavior in the world today. In fact if you read some of my articles on this page, I'm certain you'll find a few. Having said that, I'm turning over a new leaf and I ask that all of you join me by greeting the new year as kindler, gentler folks. I'm going to be nice to Tom even if he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer and I'll even stop picking on Russ (not a member, but stalks the club) for his dumb weather updates from Florida.
6. Be less condescending: Condescending is a big word that means talking down to others.
7. Follow Expert Medical Advice and Drink More Beer: BTW, You can call me Dr. Motes
8. Embrace the club's Gangsta lifestyle: Tonight when you climb in bed with a warm glass of milk to watch the 9 O'clock news, give props to God for allowing you to survive another day in the hood.
9. Plan Ahead: When the Zombie Apocolypse comes, do you have a plan for taking out your neighbors when they turn? Do you have ammo, food, water and Zombie repellent? Don't be that guy crying at the door begging for help. Get ready!
10. Challenge yourself: Do an extra set of situps, spend another 20 minutes on the treadmill, eat an entire bag of Oreos instead of just two, Drink the entire case of beer yourself, Set fire to your worst enemy's house. Remember, I believe in you.
Happy New Year!
Time for my Winter Breakdown
Car's still not running, I've missed every club event this year, and basically have been the worst member of Rods and Relics history. Still, no one has kicked me out and I find myself making some long overdue and badly needed edits. Some might say I'm trying to buy my way back into the good graces of the club, but I'm not certain I was ever in their good graces so that's just hooey.
I simply had a thought. My thought was "hey, I've got some nice Christmas Music playing here in the house and basically we are blessed with acceptable health so perhaps I should give something back to the community" (Tom, this isn't like the community service you did this summer). I could have sent money, but that would just cheapen the sentiment. So here I sit, scotch hand, "I'll have a blue Christmas" playing on the speakers, and it's this or clean the garage.
Back to the title... Time for my Winter Breakdown. Well, I've got two cars that aren't ready for the road yet and by now I expected hordes of volunteers to show up with tools and parts to help. Hell, I even flew my American flag upside down as a sign of distress and my neighbor kept putting it right side up and calling me a dumbass (to be fair, he couldn't find the oil filter on a car if he tried). I've got my garage heated so there's no excuse and after indulging myself with one long hissy fit, I'm going to get out there and get the Lincoln running. I've decided to pull the Plymouth Engine and ship it off for a complete rebuild. That will give me a chance to focus on my Lincoln.... right after my hissy fit.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all have many reasons to be thankful. Not all of our members are still with us so please take a moment to raise a glass to our Gear Head Angels and lost loved ones.
Do You Smell That?
Summertime!!! The smell of grass and gas. The sound of powerful engines rumbling as big lead sleds roll across a grass covered field and line up to be judged like beauty pageant queens. Yes boys and girls, it's time for the Club's Annual Car, Truck, Motorcycle Show. Join us on Saturday, June 23rd for a day of beautiful (and some not so beautiful) cars, great music, delicious food and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Please follow this link for more information.
It's time to drop 'em down....pull 'em out....and show 'em off again!!!!
So here we are another winter coming to an end and it's obvious our club is going to have a banner year. "How do I know?" you might ask, well, I'll tell you, I'm using a complex formula to forecast club participation for the year. This formula is a mixture of social sentiment tracking, Fibonacci sequencing of herd movement (snowbird club members returning to the north) and of course I count the number of threats I've received over the winter for failing to turn in an "adequate" number of "interesting" columns for the site.
So basically all the data says it's gonna be a year of fun, scandal, and probably one or more arguments about Corvettes, fender skirts, and our annual argument with Tom about his wearing skirts to meetings.
Some of you may be offended by the title of this column and the associated photo so let me disabuse you of any notion this warped idea came from my innocent mind. Tom sent me an old photo similar to the one you see and the words used are his. I'm simply following orders. Something akin to ghost writing, only after I published his warped photo and title, I'm moving on with my own material. That's the naked truth.... sorry, I couldn't resist exposing you to just one more...oops, Like Brittney Spears sings, there I go again. Now seriously, lets move on to more important things.
The first thing I'd like to report is I've gone through my records and have discovered I've never been paid for any of these wonderful missives I've submitted to this site. I was under the assumption that I was going to be paid for my efforts. Imagine my surprise when Tom told me this isn't a paying gig. I felt stripped of my dignity. I was understandably upset until I thought about the quality of work I've been providing... it's not as if I laid my soul bare and they got my best material. Hell, it's not even mediocre stuff. So basically, I'll just continue to write in this area until someone better comes along (really anyone with a pulse and a computer) and takes over.
Back to the upcoming season. If you are like me and you have your motor in the car, but it's not running, you might want to get it into gear. I know why my cars are not running and I'm working a plan to get them both on the road by May. So pull the tarp off the car, put on some old clothes and fire up those lead sleds, hot rods, customs, cruisers, and corvettes. I've noticed prices are pretty good out there online so some of you might want to invest in a new ride for the summer of 17. Remember chicks dig a nice car and a guy who doesn't wear her clothes (Tom).
I hope to see you all this year... last summer I sat it out due to work and having nothing in my garage running. It was a time of cursing, crying, drinking scotch to cure my depression, drinking Alka-seltzer to cure my hangover, and of course throwing my defective tools across the garage when they failed to fix my car. This year has got to be better right? So kick off those winter clothes and put on your mankini (for the men) or bikini (for the ladies) and lets head out into the sun showing what you've got.
Oh yeah, don't forget to check the calendar page for upcoming events.
Club Donates Tools to Local School
More to Follow... Watch this space.
"Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals"
Well it's that time of year where we put aside our petty differences and let the spirit of the season guide our thoughts and actions.... in theory. I for one am known for my joyful exuberence all year long so Christmas is really a chance for the rest of you to be more... well, more like me. I can see how some of you might protest my use of me as a shining example for the world to follow, but due to what my psychologist calls a seriously low empathy level, I don't care. Now back to the Christmas Season and how that relates to cars.
First of all, I want to point out that you can't spell Christmas without cars. Therefore, you can assume that cars were always meant to be a part of the holiday, but we just needed to invent them. You're wondering, if that's true, why don't we have little car tree ornaments? Why indeed? It's because of the old school, die hard, horse and buggy fans. Oh you can find horse drawn sleighs, sleigh bells, etc... in songs, photos, artwork, and movies designed to make you feel nostalgic for those days before the Stanley Steamer. You can't deny the appeal of those simpler days, but I'd like to point out that no one has to follow behind the cars in a parade with a shovel (Except of course Tom's). Cars are clean... shiny... never need to be brushed and they come in all the acceptable Christmas colors.
So where am I going with this article? Hell if I know, I'm as lost as you are. Oh yes. It's a season for giving and whether you are giving someone a nice 1947 Buick Roadster Convertible, or polished aluminum bling for their engine, give cars and car stuff. Show your support for your local car club member by filling a box with nice parts for his or her ride. Maybe give them a gift certificate for free waxing (car, not legs... except of course Tom's) or go all out, cash in the CDs or empty the kid's college fund and buy that 1957 Chevy your special someone has been eyeing (I recent study I made up shows that most kids do better if they work their way through college).
So Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you all. I'll leave you with these final words. My size is 1948 Lincoln Continental Convertible.
The Thrill of Working on Your Own Car
When I bought my 1948 Lincoln, I was assured by the seller and his henchmen that the car only had 1000 miles since it was rebuilt 14 years ago, was kept in a temperature controlled facility with weekly tire rotation, had been lovingly polished every morning by special car polishing experts smuggled into the states from Europe and was almost a Concours ready vehicle. Fast forward three months and here I am pulling the engine to have it rebuilt due to some very serious and unhealthy sounds coming from under the hood. Most people would whine (Tom and Russ), but I'm not one to carry on like a little girl. I manned up and started my own journey down the road looking for someone more manly to remove my engine and send it to some very manly guys in California (strange to say manly and California I know, but Arnold changed all that) to do the actual rebuild. After several failed attempts to get someone to actually take my money and pull the engine I said to myself... "Jimbob, you are bright, you are handsome, you sort of have a highschool education and gosh darn it people like you... Pull that engine yourself". I mean really how hard could it be right?
Sooooo here I am week two of working on pulling the engine. I am happy to report it's just a couple bolts from being ready to winch out and I've done a pretty good job (Yes I do think it's a good job) of prepping this thing to come out. There's a little oil on the floor of the garage, and of course some anti-freeze got on everything and I seem to have started a leak of hydraulic fluid in one of the doors, but other than that, things are going well.
I enjoy the smell of the car, gas, oil, andifreeze, kitty litter and fear. Yes I said fear and if you have ever taken anything apart that cost more than your kid's college education you know what I'm talking about. We all fear breaking something, but more than anything there's the fear of when the motor comes back. What if I can't get it back in and working? Talk about humiliation. Right now I'm riding a righteous high from being one of a few members who work on their own cars. I go to shows and people who don't know how little I really know ask me questions about their own car. Of course I give them an answer regardless of my own knowledge of their vehicle. I recall one guy saying to me "Say Jim, my car sometimes dies in the middle of the highway for no reason. What do you think that might be?" I have my standard response "Is it a foreign car or does it have a foreign engine?" "No? well then it's probably bad gas" Then I walk off... like Shane in that old Western... mysterious, manly and without any concern for their car. It's not as if I have any investment there right?
So back to me and my story. I have found something very interesting while working on my car. I truly believe had I not started this work and just tried to drive the car as it is, we might have been killed or hurt and killed. At the very least we would have had a major breakdown. I've pulled bolts out of the engine that didn't need a wrench, just a finger grip. The front seat was not tightly bolted to the frame, some of my exhaust manifold ports have gaskets, some do not. It goes on and on. What I'm saying is taking it apart has taught me what I already knew, some mechanics should have their tools taken from them and barred from touching anything that people might ride in or on. It's worth it to do a little work on your own just to understand the quality of work done prior to ownership or validate the work you've paid someone else to do on your behalf.
Well back to work, that motor won't pull itself.
Are you Looking for a Car?
You may be looking at this site and thinking "Man I want one of those old cars, but can't afford one". I want to tell you that's just not true. You can find old cars, trucks, etc for very low prices right now. Of course they may need some work, or may not be as shiny and new looking as others, but you have to start somewhere. How cheap the car is will have much to do with how comfortable you feel about fixing up a real "project" car. I scoured eBay this morning and found a 1947 Jeep for 1200.00. I would bet most of you can afford that. Also there were a lot of those made so parts won't be terribly hard to find and finally, these were not too compex as vehicles go so your maintence should be pretty simple.
So I touched on a couple of points here you may want to give further thought. When you buy a car, you want to know the following:
1. How many were made?
2. How many remain?
3. Are parts for this car interchangable with other cars?
4. Were there any mechanical issues with this car that you will have to overcome?
5. Are parts more expensive than other cars?
6. Does this automobile require special skills to maintain?
7. Do I have a good place to store or secure the car (this matters less if the car is unique, slow, and hard to start)
Basically, you can buy a car for probably less than you think. Prices are down for entry level cars right now and the number of sellers seems to be rising. It's a great way to pick up a new hobby, engage your kids in something wholesome and teach them skills that will carry them throughout their lives.
I won't lie to you. Once you buy a car, you will spend money on it until you sell it and buy another. Like children, they never stop needing care and feeding, but once you get in, you will be hooked.
Awesome Web Site Launched
Several club members spent months creating a new web site. While asking not to be named, a major contributor to the new site (Also holding the record for winning best in show in one out of every three shows attended), has asked that all complaints be submitted to Tom W. Any requests for site changes or edits are to be submitted in triplicate on 1970s era carbon paper in keeping with the nostalgic motif of this club. Suggestions for artistic improvement should be submitted in triplicate as well with etch-a-sketch drawings to support your ideas.
As always we welcome all input from our members and the public in general.
In the bleak, desolate tundra of Wisconsin, many of us are pondering how to spend the months remaining before it's warm enough to polish up the ol heaps and cruise on down the road. I'd like to offer some friendly advice. WORK ON YOUR CAR!!! Remember that funny sound you heard before you parked it? Find it and fix it. How about that chattery clutch? Fix it. What about the non-functional gas, oil, temperature guage? Fix it. No one wants to be a recepient of the "Toilet Seat" award. Sure some of you have won it often enough that you're immune to the humility and mockularity that comes with the award, but for those of you who still own your dignity, prepare.
Sun Tzu said in his best selling book - The art of War; "Prepare and lube your chassis or forego your pride and bring dishonor to your club"
Members working on an interesting project are HIGHLY encouraged to document it with photographs and notes for submission as a tutorial for other members.
Club Member Profile - Jim Motes: A hero or just a swell guy?
Jim Motes drove to the Delafield car show despite a slight engine tick. When his oil pressure gauge dropped to zero, he gritted his teeth and drove on to the show. Jim was laser focused on finishing his first club run... never stopping for a moment to worry about his engine. While a lesser man would have pulled over and stared at his engine like a hog looking at a wrist watch, Jim decided to throw caution to the wind and keep moving. For those who were there that day, they will talk of this for years to come. Jim drove onto the show grounds... his car glistening in the sun, his brow furrowed in concern, over the now much louder engine noise, but he also felt something else. He felt pride. He had made it! He finished his first club cruise and didn't even run out of gas. Is Jim a hero? It's hard to say really, but it's been said that Jim came, Jim saw, and Jim took home "best in show".
When showing your car there are some things you will want to know. Unwritten rules that if not followed, can lead to un-clublike behaviors. First and foremost, remember to bring your own chair. Stealing chairs from other club members will only pass muster for so long before their mid-western sensibilities are offended enough for them to let the air out of your tires and put fingerprints all over your hood. Another social faux paux to avoid is falling asleep in the back of another member's car. For some reason club members get their panties in an uproar when they find you sleeping in their back seats. They cuss and scream at you to put your pants back on and get the hell out of their car. You would think if they didn't want people back there, they wouldn't leave the windows cracked enough to get to the lock. We will visit this topic again in depth next month.
Club rules on consuming alcoholic beverages at events
There have been several questions around proper social etiquette regarding alcoholic beverages at car shows and other events. We would like to take a moment to answer several of those questions for those of you who took the time to submit them in triplicate (using 70s era carbon paper of course).
Question 1. Is it true that I owe two beers for every one beer given to me at a club event?
Answer: No this is a falsehood perpetuated by unscrupulous members who bring extra beer to events hoping to double their beer inventory before winter
Question 2. Should we be drinking beer on Sundays?
Answer: Please turn in your membership card immediately
Question 3. Why is there so much beer and very little wine at car shows
Answer: Because this is a car show and not some nancy girl fru fru art gallery. If you want wine feel free to bring it along, but it it's not for your wife, turn in your membership card immediately
Question 4. Domestic or imported?
Answer: Trick question. So long as it's beer, it doesn't matter.
Question 5. How much is too much?
Answer: How many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Don't ask stupid questions. Basically, if you have a designated driver, you keep your pants on and only use the "official" toilets, there's no beer limit
Question 6. Do I have to share my beer?
Answer: This is a tricky one. We all like to share and occaisionally someone will bring more beer than they can consume so they open up the trunk and point to the free beer. You on the other hand are in fact making an unwritten contract with the beer sharing member obligating you to sharing your beer or waxing their car at the next club event. I personally was lucky Tom Wittenburg let me go to his house and wax his car in his driveway the last time he gave me a beer.
Question 7. If I only drink imported beers should I bring my own or can i count on the event to sell those brands?
Answer: Well little Lord Fauntleroy, you can try to find your imported beer at our events and from time to time it could occur, but if there's just gool ole American beer on hand, you better grab one a swig down some patriotism.
Question 8. I don't want beer drinking know-it-alls touching my car and pointing out all the reasons their car is superior.
Answer: This really isn't a question, but okay I'll answer you. This behavior is unacceptable for club members... unless the member owns a 1948 Lincoln Continental Convertible... then he's right.
Question 9. I make my own beer. Would other members be open to my sharing the home brew rather than that gross commercial grog?
Answer: Listen up hippie. We drink real beer in this club. If you want to fill your trunk with that prissy crap you make in your kitchen when not making dream catchers and sittiing around a drum circle, feel free. Don't be offended if you see members using it to clean their tires and wash bugs from the chrome
Exciting Last Post for 2017
Well, here we are on the precipice of 2017, readying ourselves to take the leap into a brand new year. I for one have high hopes for the next 365 days. Having said that, I'll close out this year with some interesting public service announcements.
1. We have a new Dash Plaque for the Summer Show. (Pictured above). The 2018 plaque comes in a beautiful bronze and copper color palette that reminds me of those pennies you find stuck together in your car's cup holder.
2. This year our annual car show will take place on Saturday, June 23rd. That's right folks... A Saturday! Of course there will be more to follow as we get closer to the date, but for now, mark your calendars and think about shiny cars, beer, hot dogs, and sunshine.
Back in the Saddle Again
So first of all, let me apologize for taking a short sabbatical during the summer.... (Russ, sabbatical means break from work). Aside from starting a new job last spring, I also was a bit depressed that I would be sitting out the summer car shows due to an engine rebuild for the Lincoln and three stripped stud holes in the head of my Plymouth. That sort of stuff just breaks a guy’s spirit and let’s not even talk about the onset of depression induced writer’s block.
Talk about a "Oh Crap!" moment. I had it running perfectly and then had the thought... "Jim, you didn't torque down that head did you? Well I answered myself right away because I was brought up to answer someone when they ask you a question. I said to myself "Why no, Jim, I did not torque down that head". After a lively debate with myself on the benefits of torqueing and of course the eventual scientific approach (Google) to applying the correct amount of torque, I settled on 75lbs. I got there by taking the torque from my 1947 Buick and splitting the difference with the low end number given to me by a club member whose only qualifications were that he smelled more of axle grease than beer.
Now before you judge me, let me say there was never a manual published for the 31 Plymouth. Obviously, we all know (now) the number isn't 75lbs now and I suspect it's closer to 50lbs than 70lbs, but I've made my bed and will do what monkey wrench heroes do in situations like this... I'll drill some holes and hit the damn thing with a hammer.
So yesterday the motor arrived and after the driver and I struggled with it for 30 minutes to get it in the garage, I opened the crate with the type of excitement usually reserved for innocent little tykes opening their Christmas presents... or a politician receiving their first envelope full of cash. Inside was a beautiful version of the engine I had shipped off to California with fresh paint, polished aluminum heads, polished intake manifold, beautiful new Stromberg carbs and I remember something about rebuilding the internal engine but.... shiny... purty... bling
Not being from Wisconsin originally, I sometimes forget the strange behavior demonstrated by locals when you leave the garage door open. Within one thirty minutes of the engine arriving, I had a neighbor drop by to look at the engine (and my messy garage) and talk about all things cars. He left and I went inside to take a much needed shower and upon my return downstairs I heard noises in the garage. I peeked out the door and found a club member and his diminutive wife (or partner in crime) in my garage… Just looking at the cars and while I can't prove it, I thought I saw him smelling the leather seats in the Lincoln and she appeared to be measuring the car as if trying to see if it would fit in their garage. Just as these two were leaving another neighbor pulled up to take a look and once he was on his way I closed the garage and it was like a cone of silence settling over the house. Strange lot these Wisconsinites.
Well, summer is coming to a close and I have a small window to get the car running and drive it at least once before winter storage. Soon garage doors will be closed for the season and neighbors will disappear until next spring, but let’s not waste the coming weeks thinking about winter. Let’s all meet at my garage and work on my cars.
If you are reading this, you either don't have a life or you were drawn in by the Headline "Terrorists Hate our Club". Well, it's true, they do hate us and for good reason. Some clubs are made up of corporate suits who show up in their shiny little foreign imports, drink mint juleps and lament the effect U.S. sanctions are having on the price of Russian Caviar. The only thing American about those clubs is the gasoline they put in their prissy little cars and the husband hunting cougars that attend their shows looking to trade up.. One the other side of the coin, take our club. You pull up to a club event and the only thing you see is American metal and rubber with some good ol fashioned "merikan" beer and of course the usual bevy of hot chicks (wives) watching their cars and husbands should anyone try to fondle either.
You may be asking yourself; "is he drinking again or could this be true?" Well, I'm here to tell you, it's the truth and I affirm by my Internet ordination as a legally ordained member of the Universal Life Church, that we are probably in the gunsights of those anti-american terrorsts. If you give it a little more thought than many will allocate for our next presidential election, you will see that we represent all those things that are wonderful about this country. We remind people of a time when "made in America" meant something. I'm not talking about foreign steel and parts that were assembled here, but men building cars (many by hand) that were designed, and built here using American suppliers and American Steel. We bring back memories of a time when we led the world in military might, industry, and a quality of life that set the standard for civilized nations.... So yeah Al Queada hates us. You won't find anyone in our club apologizing for who we are, or what we stand for and we really don't care much for people who don't appreciate the wonderful machines this country produced for decades. In fact, I personally believe our club and the cars we show are a way to spit in the face of terrorism, anti-american sentiment, and of course the ever present political correctness police. I'm not saying we are on the front line fighting terrorists, but I would bet my internet bought law degree that if asked, every member of the club would jump at the chance to pilot drones against the enemies of fun and frivolity. Does this mean, we are going to install metal detectors, have armed guards at future shows and limit the amount of beer members are allowed to consume at shows? Hell No! Once we go down that road, the terrorists win.
Our Club is the Cool one.
By Jim Motes
Rod-N-Relics isn't the only car club in Wisconsin. It isn't even the only car club within a 20 mile radius from my home, but it is the club I chose when I relocated here from Texas. I was thinking that some of you non-members who visit this site may wonder about the machinations behind picking the club that's right for you, or in this case, right for me. I'm sure some of you are also wondering if we have any strange rituals or ceremonies for new members. Finally, you may be asking yourself, what do they expect from me? Will they hound me to come to meetings? Will they require that I volunteer my time on weekends? Will they force me to play spades with them during the winter? All good questions and I'll try to get to all of them in this column, unless of course I break lunch and a nap. If that happens, it's very likely I'll forget I was even writing this and it will sit unfinished until I stumble across it at some future date.
By Jim Motes
I was grabbing a low calorie beer from the garage the other night, not because I prefer the taste of watered down beer, but because I'm well aware of how tight a fit some of these old cars are. I don't want to meet my maker because my belly was pressing so hard on the steering wheel I couldn't steer clear of an accident. Anyhow, I grabbed my diet beer, some Hagen Daas ice cream, popcorn and a couple cheese sticks and headed into the house, but as I opened the door I stopped for a moment. Something was different. I turned and noticed the garage heater wasn't running. There was a weird little bird staring in at me from the window sill. The fridge was covered with a little sweat. By god spring was just about here! Winter is on its way out and we are fast approaching cruising and car show season. Then I thought oh crap. I have so much to do. I need new tires for two cars. I have to put coolant back in the cars. I need to put seatbelts in the Lincoln. OMG I need to get my engine back for the Lincoln. I need windshield wiper motors for both cars. My windows dont roll up in the Lincoln, I stripped out three head bolts in the plymouth so there's some tapping that needs doing. Did I mention 10 new tires?
After facing my sudden summer reality I bolted into the house and ate everything I brought in from the garage, drank my near beer (and a couple more) and then had lunch. Comfort food and beer calmed me down enough that I had a nap. Two hours later I woke up in a panic. I was dreaming about breaking down at the first event of the year and having that cursed toilet seat award in front of my car all year. I immediately took out a sharpened NO. 2 pencil, lit up a Lucky Strike I've been saving since 1965 and got to cyphering on parts, time, money, and friends I could convince to come over and help. An hour later, I'm thousands of dollars in the hole, I've got a list longer than my arm, need to do 6 months of work in 8 weeks and discovered I really don't have any friends.
So here I am working hard on the upcoming season to avoid the seat of shame. I've loaded my cruisin music playlist on my iPhone and I'm moving through the garage at near light speed. Unfortunately I tend to get distracted when working in the garage and have started three non-car related projects, prank called Tom Wittenberg claiming to be interested in Medicare Part B Insurance and did some bidding on eBay for autographed Justin Beiber driving gloves. I hope the rest of our club members are making a little more progress than I have and I'll see you all at the Club Brat Fry on May 14th at the Cedarburg Piggly Wiggly.
A Successful Life
By Jim Motes
Last week we received word that Randall "Turtle" Potter had passed away. Not knowing Mr. Potter myself, I inquired and discovered he was not a member of our club, but considered a friend by many of our members. I'm terrible with names, but Mr. Potter's moniker "Turtle" stuck with me over the following days due to my own daughters referring to me as "Turtle" on many occaisions. I'm not certain how Mr. Potter came about earning his nick name, but I suspect it was more interesting than mine deriving from my lovely children calling attention to my resemblence of the hard shelled amphibian when wearing my Army Kevlar helmet back in my service days. This weekend I took some time to look up Mr. Potter and I was impressed by the man and saddened by his passing even though I never met him.
What I discovered during my brief look at his life left me with the impression that Mr. Potter was one of those men who appear on the surface to be another regular guy. But, scratch beneath the surface and you find there's more to these men. They have a gift for making friends and being a friend. They are often the positive force behind events that benefit the entire community. They bring people together and they energize those around them. This man gave to his community, provided for a family by driving a truck, retired and went on to become the Mayor of Kirchhayn. He was the president and founder of Kirchhayn Cruisers. He was a motorcycle rider and enjoyed rebuilding hotrods. After reading all this, I went away for a bit to have a think.
While reading the obituary for Mr. Potter, I kept returning to the words "rebuilding Hotrods". Those words brought back a lot of memories. I recall my grandfather bent over the engine of some car or another and telling me what a great mechanic he was, meanwhile he's yanking this or that part from the car after deciding it wasn't really necessary and tossing it to the ground. Mr. Potter's obituary took me back to a time when my father was trying to teach me the basics of auto mechanics. Sitting in his old 51 Chevy truck pressing the brakes while he bled the lines... Fetching tools and handing them down to him as he worked under his latest acquisition... I would often become bored and "dying" for a chance to get out of that garage and do whatever foolish thing boys are apt to do when free of adult supervision. Now that my dad has passed, I'd give years of my life to spend another Saturday in the garage with him working on some old relic. I'd love for him to see that I eventually came around to loving old metal and chrome as much as he did, and I could really use his advice on how to get more horsepower out of my old Plymouth.
I also thought about the appalling lack of basic mechanical ability in our country today. This is especially true when you want an expert on a classic or antique car. The engines in older cars are as simple as they come, but finding someone who can perform "quality" maintenance on them is often a near impossible task. There's simply a shortage of people who understand and enjoy working on these old cars and those qualified few are near retirement, are in high demand and usually booked for months in advance. Now there is one less of those men among us to share their experience and pass on this knowldge.
In a country that applauds the imbecilic behavior of pseudo celebrities born of senseless reality television shows, it is inspiring to read about someone who lived their life with purpose. We often forget to celebrate those who's lives have touched many through their good deeds, their teachings and friendship, but never achieved such lofty status as to grab headlines and generate sound bites on the evening news. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these men. Men like Mr. Potter, men like my father and my grandfather. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded”. I can't help but feel he was speaking of men like Mr. Randall
As I said, I never met Randall "Turtle" Potter, but I wish I had and like to think we might have been friends.
We had a club meeting
By Jim Motes
Well, we had a club meeting this past week and it was a humdinger. I've never attended an official club meeting before and to say it was not what I expected would be a grand understatement. First the meeting was held a a local cafe so I just assumed when I got there and announced I was a member of Rods-N-Relics car club the place would get quiet and the hostess would attempt to escort me to my seat as quickly as possible. People would be averting their eyes... I'd walk in with my Dingo boots making that distinct clomp on the clean tile and I'd kick at least one chair on my way to our reserved tables just to keep it real.
Well first of all, when I said I was with the club she simply said "Oh them" then walked off without so much as a "please follow me". Kathy and I chased her through the carpeted restaurant and since I forgot to wear the Dingos my tennis shoes didn't make a sound. Also I've never been gifted a club jacket, so people didn't know who I am and there was some uncomfortable eye contact between myself and a couple of blue haired ladies in one corner. We arrived in a back room and were shown a group of tables pushed together without any club logos, name plates or even a welcome sign. So I sat there waiting for the members to show up and set things right, but once they rolled in they quickly ordered beers, started drinking and mumbling about car classes, gates and something called club dues. Tom Wittenberg came up with a club hat to welcome me to my first meeting and thank me for my work on the club web site. All in all, it was a pretty uneventful um... event.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I watched all six seasons of Sons of Anarchy and I have a pretty good idea how a car/motorcycle club should be run. It didn't take a genius to see we aren't a tough-guy club. In fact, someone mentioned I should run for president and our sitting president didn't challenge me to a knife fight or even a race for pinks. I think he looked a little relieved and perked up some at the comment, but I quickly disassociated him from those notions. Why would I want to be President? He doesn't get paid, evidently the job causes hair loss (based on our current and past presidents), and they give the job to anyone (based on current and past presidents and the fact they thought of me). Truth be told, I'm one of those guys who usually quits any club that would have me. To even joke about making me president is asking for real trouble.
I don't remember much about the rest of the evening. Maybe it was the excitement of being there among those club giants or it was the bud light I had with dinner. There was some sort of vote I think but no gavel and no rules of order seemed to prevail. Parliamentary procedures be damned! At one point someone mentioned ending the meeting, but it after the prez had adjourned about 20 minutes earlier so everyone just gave that poor soul the stink eye.
These guys just rolled in, drank and rolled back out into the dark cold night... Like wraiths of a bygone era... leaving me staring after them asking myself "Why did Tom give me a used club hat?"