Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Old License Plates Are Poised To Draw Top Dollar At Upcoming Auction

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

Part of the pride in owning a Classic or Antique Car is being able to display license plates on your vehicle that are not the "standard current issue" type that you find on every other car on the road. If you own a classic '55, a '29 pickup truck, or even a '69 muscle car, it'd be great to proudly display an original license plate from the same year it rolled off the showroom floor!

Photo courtesy Bonhams.com
as reprinted from Hemmings Daily
  Anyone who collects old license plates will certainly be interested in an upcoming auction where two 1948 Illinois license plates with the numbers "1" go up for sale. These plates reportedly were issued to Tucker Corporation because the low number plates back then were usually always issued to the "big names" in the state. The August auction will take place in Carmel, California by Bonhams, who has estimated that the pair of plates will go for somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000! Previous sales for low-number (although not as low) plates have sold for as much as $5750 according to an article in Hemmings Daily this week. The auction will also include a pair of rare art renderings by a designer hired by Preston Tucker himself.

This news led me to get back in touch with an old friend, Rod Hemmick. Rod has been providing professional restorations of YOM license plates for over 18 years, and has even been used as a reference by the State of Texas in one of their publications on the History of Texas License Plates. Guy Algar and I have been using Rod as an expert resource for the restoration work we do at Motorheads Performance, and he's always been able to come through with the best of information and help for our customers. Rod's knowledge is extensive, and the quality of his restoration work is truly outstanding.

Rod first provided me with permission to publish a series of articles he wrote specifically for people looking for old plates, and following our conversation this week, he has once again graciously agreed to allow us to reprint the articles in our newly revised Classic Car News.

- Information Series on Old License Plates -

We will be running articles on period license plates, and how you can get them for your ride. Different states have different requirements and laws governing the use of plates, and we're grateful to have an expert who has shared his knowledge with us. We begin this series with the laws governing the issuance of Antique and Classic license plates for the State of Texas. In upcoming articles, we will cover the history of license plates, proper colors, how to find YOM plates, etc. If you'd like information about another state, or any non-price questions, please contact me so we can publish the information for you or get you in touch with Rod directly.

One thing we noticed following our first discussion of plates back in 2009 was that many contacted Rod concerning his prices for obtaining plates. He cannot generally help in that area. The cost of getting old plates which are in good condition are continually going up. And, if restoration has been done, the cost is even higher. If you've done your research on-line through eBay, specialty sites or car shows, note that they are usually listed at the going rates. Your chances of finding them elsewhere for a lot less money, especially from an experienced collector/restorer, are very slim. Here, the old adage, "You get what you pay for" is especially true. If you really want the plates, don't exhaust yourself trying to save a few dollars. These sellers generally know the accurate value of the pieces they have. It's not at all unusual for vintage plates to sell for $250 or more. If you find what you're looking for and can afford them, buy them, as there are a lot of other people in line looking for the same plates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Working Safely In Extreme Heat - Summer Temperatures Can Be Dangerous!

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

Prevention of Heat Stroke by Motorheads PerformanceTexas had a heat wave in early July where we were well above 100 degrees, and we've still got a long, hot summer season ahead of us where temperatures will no doubt be in the triple digits....zapping our energy, our endurance, and posing real health risks. As a matter of fact, I just heard our weather outlook for the upcoming work week, and as we head into August it looks like we can expect an entire week of temperatures in the 100 degree range!

Working on your classic car or truck project in summertime heat conditions can be dangerous, especially if you are not used to working outdoors. With temperatures in the triple digits all week, it is no wonder that many are wisely planning to stay indoors. But, there are always those who underestimate the affects that this type of heat can have on your body, and how quickly innocent seeming symptoms can turn deadly!

Guy Algar says, "We're accustomed to working outdoors and without A/C in the shop, even in 100 degree weather. But we're also acutely aware of the dangers and take precautions each and every day, including protection from heat and sun and drinking a lot of water and consuming drinks that contain a lot of electrolytes." I send this caution to those who don't spend so much time outside, or go back and forth between air conditioning and short stays outside. Heat exhaustion can set in unexpectedly, and heat stroke (sometimes called sunstroke) can follow extremely quick if the symptoms of heat exhaustion are ignored. Guy and I offer the following information on the dangers of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke so you can quickly recognize the symptoms. The information here is not a substitute for medical advise. We urge you to contact your physican and or emergency services or 911 if you suspect you are having symptoms and take action quickly.

Dehydration - Where it all starts!

Photo by: petheatstroke-urban-pet.ca
  If you can prevent dehydration, you'll avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It's as simple as that. The problem is that most people, especially when faced with finishing a task, ignore the symptoms of dehydration, telling themselves that they'll take care of it in a minute when they go indoors.

There has been quite a bit of controversy over what liquids are best for you to drink when you're in the heat, and are experiencing the effects of dehydration. Some people insist drink water, water, water...some to the point where they say no other liquids. Others insist that beverages that contain electrolytes are important. Some caution that drinking too many drinks containing electrolytes can increase the risk of developing painful kidney stones. And, most everyone agrees that avoiding beverages that contain caffeine (such as iced tea, iced coffee, soda, etc), as well as any type of alcoholic drink (beer, wine or hard liquor) should be avoided at all cost!  When you've been engaged in activities where you've been sweating, you need a balance of water and other beverages so that you don't wash out all of the sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and chloride which are the electrolytes that fight to keep your body in balance. Like most things in life, moderation (as in mixing it up a bit) is probably the best approach. Electrolytes affect your blood pressure, muscles, bone support, fluid balance, cell function and converting food to energy. If you've ever experienced leg cramps, you've probably had an electrolyte imbalance!

I had a personal experience many years ago where I suffered from heat exhaustion which was quickly escalating into heat stroke. I'd been at the shore to watch the Tall Ships sail into the Boston Harbor back in the late 1970's. The parade of magnificent ships was lasting for many hours as we watched from a seawall at the tip of Nantasket Beach, overlooking the Boston skyline. I did my best to "pound the water" as I felt myself heating up. As I began to feel ill, I removed myself from the direct heat (although I did have to walk back to the beach house several blocks away), and immediately felt the nausea set in, along with muscle cramps, bouts of extremes in profuse sweating or the chills, dizziness, and being on the verge of blacking out. At this point I couldn't even think of drinking anything! The nausea turned into vomiting and diarrhea and I knew I was in trouble. An ER doctor later told me that a couple of days of basically drinking only water actually helped to wash away vital electrolytes that my system needed. I now use a method of alternating a glass of water with a beverage that contains electrolytes. There are alternatives to Gatorade in case, like me, you don't particularly care for that drink. You can try Cytomax, GU20, Propel Fitness Water, Accelerade, or PowerBar Endurance, and a host of other brands you can easily find in your supermarket or neighborhood store.

When the temperature is above 93 or 94 degrees, your skin is actually absorbing heat so you want to take preventive steps. Symptoms can escalate even if you think you've acclimated yourself after spending several days outside in the heat. Take steps if you experience any of the early warning signs of: thirst, dry skin, dry mouth and/or headache. Take a break from whatever you're doing and take a drink and cool down before returning to work, especially if the work is strenuous.

Heat Exhaustion - Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is usually brought on when people who are not well adjusted to heat go outside and work in a hot or extremely humid conditions. When temperatures are high outdoors, the human body cools itself mostly through evaporation of sweat. When conditions are hot and humid, the sweat-evaporation process does not work properly. Your body experiences loss of fluids and important salts or electrolytes. When these are not replaced, or not replaced in sufficient quantities, your body experiences symptoms that can resemble mild forms of shock.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion can include:
  • Moist skin which is often paler than normal and cool to the touch
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Muscle cramps or pains
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Unquenchable Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Core temperature 100 F or more (most accurate taken rectally)
Heat stroke can develop rapidly if you do not take care of heat exhaustion symptoms. One of the easiest forms to recognize occurs in people whose cooling mechanisms may already be impaired, such as those that suffer from medical conditions which predispose them to the symptoms.You may already be sensitive to light shifts in temperature, or have problems with sweating. The most dangerous form occurs in people who are considered healthy, but may be engaged in strenuous activities in the heat, because it is unexpected and symptoms can escalate very quickly.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke can include one or more of these:
  • Previously moist skin becomes hot and DRY, even under armpits
  • Skin appears flushed (red or dark pink)
  • Blood pressure elevates, then may suddenly fall later
  • Hyperventilation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unconscious
  • Dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, even coma
  • Rectal temperature of 105 F or more
What should you do?
Photo credit: myfatpocket.com

At the first signs of heat exhaustion, you need to immediately lower your body temperature, rehydrate and rest.
  • Get out of the heat - reduce your body temperature.
  • Use a fan, get into A/C
  • Hose down with a garden hose, cool shower or bath.
  • Drink cool water.
  • Avoid further activity and rest until you're feeling better.
Call your doctor if these immediate remedies do not work, or if symptoms get worse.

If you suspect Heat Stroke 

Call 911 IMMEDIATELY - People die of heat stroke. It should be taken very seriously.

Prevention

Every motorhead at one time or another has put themselves in a dangerous situation or circumstance when we've developed tunnel-vision about finishing a much needed repair or project on our cherished rides. What can you do to help prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke from stopping you if you must work outdoors in extreme heat? 
Photo credit:
portacoolcyclone.blogspot.com

First, make sure you have plenty of fluids handy, and take the time to drink them! Alternate water with other fluids as long as non-caffeine and non-alcoholic. If you can, set out a fan near where you will be working. Avoid alcohol and caffeine(including soft drinks and tea) which can all lead to dehydration. Take frequent breaks, and each time you do, hydrate yourself! Wear a ventilated hat to deflect some of the sun and heat, and wear light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing.

If you work outdoors a lot and live in a hot climate, you might want to invest in one of the new portable evaporative coolers such as those by Port-A-Cool, including the popular Port-A-Cool Cyclone (pictured to right) and units from KuulAire,  CoolToolPro-Kool and others. These cooling devices are like outdoor air conditioners which cools air through the evaporation of water to effectively reduce temperatures around you and replace much needed moisture that helps your body process its heat. They can be an efficient and inexpensive cooling system for places that typically cannot run A/C like warehouses, shops, loading docks, and even outdoors! We see them a lot at car shows and at raceway events. Port-A-Cool has rental units available as well! They've become so popular, we've even seen units at Home Depot.

Don't let the heat stop you from enjoying the outdoors, and plans for the work you want to complete on your classic car, but please use common sense, plan well, and be careful! It will be awhile before we see cooler temperatures here in Texas!

Again, this article is not intended to replace sound medical advice. Please contact your physican or emergency services and/or 911 if you suspect you are having symptoms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Buying A Classic Car or Muscle Car

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

If you're reading Classic Car News, chances are good that you're a classic car, muscle car, or vintage truck enthusiast. If you don't currently own a classic, but have always dreamed of it, you also know that the road can become a bumpy one if you're not careful. You've probably been putting it off because you've heard horror stories of ruined marriages, never-finished projects, and astronomical restoration costs. As in buying any used car, older cars can be risky purchases. This includes street rods, antique cars, classic trucks, old American sport cars, and even old race cars. How can you get that car or truck you've been thirsting for and stay out of trouble?

First, ask yourself if you are really ready for it. Be honest with yourself as you take a look. An older car can be a drain on personal time and your wallet. If you have a lot of social, work or family obligations, or if you have a lot of other financial obligations, it's probably best to wait. If you do have spare time and money you may be able to purchase a ready-for-the-road vehicle that has already had restorative and upgrade work done. If you're not quite ready for the big investment, but do have time and space, you may want to start with something that needs a bit of work.

There are several common life circumstances that should cause you to be extra diligent when deciding whether the purchase of a classic car is right for you.
  • Getting married soon, or just recently married
  • Trying to have children, wife is pregnant, just had a child
  • Buying first home
Whenever Guy Algar and I hear that a new potential customer is planning any one of these big life changing events, we take extra time to be sure they understand the process and the pitfalls. If they've got two or more of them happening within a short period of time, it's all the more reason to be certain you've got the resources to see it through to the end. These events in themselves can cause conflict within a relationship or marriage. Sometimes people get started on a car project with the best of intentions, but because jobs can change, finances get stretched too thin, or relationships become strained, you can find yourself suddenly without the funding to complete your project.

Having to sell-off a half-finished project can mean big financial losses. We had a recent customer who had finished the drive train work on his muscle car, then took it to a body shop for a custom paint job. Just at the point when the shiny new paint job was finished and it was time to put everything back together, money dried up. A change at work and addition of a new baby had put new priorities in place for the young man, and the once-understanding and supportive wife no longer wanted to sacrifice for his "toy".  The $15k he had invested into the project was pretty much lost when he was forced to quick-sell the car for only $7k. This had to have been traumatic.

This may sound silly, but how do you know what classic car or truck is right for you?  For some the choice is obvious. You've been lusting after a particular vehicle for as long as you can remember because it has really captured your attention.  For others, it may be a car that they had during high school or college, or one that they dreamed of owning back then.  Surprisingly though, some KNOW that they want a classic car or truck, but they're confused over how to decide. It may be that they've got so many likes that nothing seems to jump out as an obvious favorite. Or, it may be that the logical side of their brain steers them away from favorites that seem out of reach financially or from a practical point of view.

Guy Algar states, "We don't believe that there is any one 'right' ride. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and it is important to listen to them when making your decision." You don't have to feel like you need to go along with the crowd, get the most popular, think only of resale value, have to get only a 2-door etc.  Take the time to look at many of the classics by visiting local car shows, going on-line to sites that specialize in classic or antique vehicles, look through magazines such as Hot Rodder, Classic Chevy, Car Craft, Mopar, Street Rodder, Classic Trucks, etc., as well as the many books laced with hundreds of classic car photos and descriptions. One is bound to strike your fancy over all the others. Choosing the "right" ride will make your project that much more enjoyable, and the money you invest will seem well spent.

Know the value of the vehicle you're interested in. There are several guides for determining prices on classic cars. Checking with car clubs and other enthusiasts can also be a good source of information. This is an excellent way of meeting up with others who share your enthusiasm and can give recommendations on where to look in your area. Try to find clubs that have special interest in the car you are interested in. Texas has a lot of car clubs. You'll find clubs that take in all types of vehicles, and others that invite only one particular make of car, or era of car, etc. Visit our website's resource section for a list of car clubs in South Central Texas.

Have a secure place to store your car. You'll need to protect your investment. If you don't have a garage or storage area yourself, check with local car clubs to see if they have group storage or recommendations of safe, secure storage. Remember that this, too, may cost additional money, both in storage fees, insurance, and travel.

Be prepared for maintenance costs, costly repair bills and/or restoration fees. Our July 9th article cited an article which found that you need to spend about 10% of your car's value over 10 years just for maintenance and upkeep (not including upgrades, repairs, restoration, etc.). Proper maintenance is critical for a classic car, and even routine repairs can be more costly because parts are more difficult to find and are often more expensive than newer car counterparts. Take the time to research your car so you know what the weak design points are, what parts tend to need more frequently repair or replacement, which parts are hard to find, etc. Again, car clubs which specialize in your particular type of vehicle can be a good source of information. Performance or speed shops can also be a good source of information because they're in the business of repairs and upgrades.

Consider the additional costs such as insurance. Not only is this required for driving the vehicle, but it can also be a good idea when having restoration work done. Costs are generally low, but it is something you want to budget for. Titling, Registration (license plates) and Sales Tax are other additional fees you'll want to be prepared to pay.

Once you've determined you're ready, be a smart shopper. Here are some tips to help you make a good selection:

1) Fall is the time when a lot of vehicles change hands for a variety of reasons and can be a great time of year to look for good deals. There are people who started a project and either didn't have time to finish it, got discouraged and gave up, or ran out of money. You also have people who don't have the place to store the vehicle once the driving or show season is over. Classic car dealerships also generally try to reduce their inventories in the Fall, which can make it an excellent time of year to buy.

2) Find out as much as you can about the vehicle. Get as complete a history as possible from the current owner, with as many records as possible to back up information given. [We've encountered quite a few customers who were told one thing about their vehicle, only to find out a very different story once we started a repair or restoration on it. One customer came to us wanting to have the supercharger which came with his car readied for use. He was told the car he just bought had an aluminum block engine for the supercharger. It turned out that the aluminum block engine had been swapped out for a run-of-the-mill engine which could not possibly have supported a supercharger! Needless to say, you don't want to find yourself here. Another recent customer drove his newly purchased Firebird to our shop for a post-purchase inspection and some upgrades he knew he wanted. Imagine his, and our, surprise when we found that the ball joints were so badly worn that they literally fell apart in Guy's hand when he grabbed the shaft. He was lucky to have made the trip.]

3) Check for obvious flaws. Has the current owner taken them into account when fixing their asking price? Don't be afraid to bring them to their attention and ask about them. Make sure you check to see if there are any alterations (body panels don't align correctly, paint is poor or uneven, you can detect body work underneath etc). A poor paint job, or panels which don't align correctly, an engine which is not usually in this make (i.e. a 6 cylinder when an 8 cylinder is customary) may indicate that the last owner has cut corners on restoration. Repairs may be complicated and will therefore cost you much more. Its often better to go with a vehicle in much rougher condition than to try and "undo" what another has attempted to fix.

4) Consider having the car thoroughly checked by an expert. Often for $300 or so, an experienced shop which performs classic car appraisals will do a complete pre-purchase inspection of a vehicle. They will check for previous restoration work as well as the condition and performance of the vehicle. They will be able to point out areas in need of repair, as well as those which will more than likely need repair in the near future. This can save you thousands of dollars, a lot of aggravation, and a good deal of uncertainty. Once you have your list, you have negotiating tools with the current owner. A good shop will give you approximate costs to make the necessary repairs as part of the appraisal process, making the cost of appraisal very worthwhile.

5) Be wary of vehicles which are not currently running. The engine could be seized, water damaged, or hide a host of hidden, expensive and needed repairs. If the owner claims, "It was running when I parked it here," remember, he isn't saying HOW WELL it ran when it was parked, and chances are it probably wasn't running very well or he wouldn't have parked it and left it to just sit!

We wish you luck in finding your ultimate dream car! 

RESOURCES:
Buying Classic Cars As Investments - What Are Your Chances of Making Money?
Purchasing Classic Car Insurance - Why You Don't Want to Procrastinate!
Warning: You Get What You Paid For
Associations & Resources for Classic Car Enthusiasts

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diesel...The "Other" Power

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

Guy and I don't work on or service diesels, other than our own equipment, but we do have an appreciation for how diesel engines have advanced. My memories have always been of small European import cars spewing choking diesel when the light turned green, leaving a large film of ugly black all over the rear of the car, or of following a diesel truck and needing to turn off the A/C so I wouldn't choke or feel nausea come over me.

Interestingly, when I joined Guy Algar in founding our classic car repair shop, I learned a lot about diesel engines, and grudgingly developed a respect for them. Since then, in an effort to quench my endless thirst for knowledge, I've done a bit of research on diesel engines, and thought I'd share the interesting story.

Inventor Rudolph Diesel
Photo by: howstuffworks.com
Turns out that the diesel engine was named after Rudolf Diesel, a German who was a refrigeration engineer by trade. Back in 1893, he developed a fuel injected compression ignition engine, now known as the 4-stroke, which was created to power factories and large ships. But, many men had been on a quest for improving our methods of creating power, and there had already been many major achievements prior to this that probably prevented Diesel's invention from developing and integrating faster for use in cars and trucks.

As early as the Civil War, men had a vision of engines that worked more efficiently than the steam engines that had been in use in America. While revolutionary and extremely productive, there was so much more to come.

What else had already happened? In 1860 Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir, of Belgium, patents a two-stroke gasoline engine which was sold to power machinery. In 1862, he put one of his engines on a vehicle which reportedly ran at 1-1/2 MPH, however he did not manufacture or sell his engine for use in cars.

In 1872 the Brayton Ready Motor was developed utilizing gas, but it too was made for stationary applications only. In 1876 Nikolaus Otto patented the four-stroke engine in Germany, and the engine was later made to run by his engineer Gottlieb Daimler, who later went on to develop his own system. In 1885 Daimler built a hot tube ignition system to get the engine speed up to 1000 rpm on his wooden motorcycle. Earlier that year, Karl Benz had created a  motorized tubular framed tricycle. And, in 1888, William Steinway, (as in Steinway & Sons piano fame), talked to Daimler about manufacturing in the US. They partnered in a collaboration, creating the Daimler Motor Company which by 1891 produced petrol engines for tramway cars, carriages, quadricycles, fire engines and boats in a Hartford, Connecticut plant. In 1901 the Olds automobile factory opened in Detroit, producing 425 cars utilizing a 3 hp engine.

But best known for his pioneering work for mass producing and revolutionizing the automobile industry, Henry Ford had an engine running by 1893 but it was 1896 before he built his first internal combusion engine, and many more years and several failed ventures before it was successfully put into mass production for cars. It was not until 1908 that Ford began producing cars under that name calling them the Model T and producing 10,660 cars. Also in 1908 William Durant formed General Motors.

J. Frank Duryea (right) with Charles Duryea
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
But it was brothers Charles and Frank Duryea who actually created the first gasoline powered car to be used on public roads in the U.S. In Springfield, Massachusetts in 1893, they made their first run, reportedly using a horse drawn buggy that they had installed with a 4 HP, single cylinder gasoline engine, friction transmission, spray carburetor and low tension ignition. Sitting mostly unsed, the car was put into storage in 1894 and stayed there until 1920 when it was found and presented to the United States National Museum.

So, understanding how the gasoline engine developed from the earlier use of steam engines that powered almost everything, helps see why the use of diesel took so long to develop. It took almost 100 years for diesel engines to scale down to the size where they could power cars, lawnmowers and almost every type of gardening equipment imaginable. Initially, they were large, bulky and in vehicles, very slow-moving. In the last few decades however, diesel engines have evolved into powerhouses that are fast. Modern diesels in late-model pickups can produce power that you find in fuel-injected, turbocharged gasoline engines!

Diagram courtesy of: automobilehitech.com
Diesel engines differ from gasoline engines only in the way that they make spark. Diesel engines use the hot air created by compression inside the cylinders to create combustion. Gasoline engine combusion is created by the spark plugs. Diesel, in 1893, saw that high compression could lead to high engine efficiency partly because compressed air concentrates the oxygen (essential for burning fuels), therefore it would create a more powerful explosion. This basic concept of what has become known as the four-stroke diesel engine has seen little change in the 119 years it has been in production. What has changed, especially in recent years, is the add-on, power-boosting performance products such as turbos that have turned these workhorses into musclebound cars and trucks that are more fuel efficient and have much cleaner emissions.

Photo by: blog-city.info
Recent competitions like the Diesel Power Challenge (which is what prompted me to write this article), show that diesels can certainly appeal to those who like horsepower!

Top trucks in the competition included a Chevy Silverado with a 6.6L triple-turbo Duramax which produced a 11.1 second 1/2 mile run at 128 mph, cranking 1329 hp and 2,455 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels! Also a strong finisher was a Ford Super Duty with a 6.4L, compound-turbo producing 900 hp at the wheels.  If you'd like to see some of the competition action from all of the teams, visit DieselPowerChallenge.com.

I'm sure, sometime in the near future, Guy and I will be getting a call or two from someone who wants to hot rod their ride with a powerhouse diesel. If they can swallow the high price of diesel fuel these days! Happy hot rodding!


REFERENCES & More Information on Diesel Engines: 
http://www.howstuffworks.com/diesel.htm
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldiesel.htm
http://hhopower.wordpress.com/diesel-engine-overview/
http://www.blog-city.info/en/rudolfdiesel.php?Page=4
http://www.dieselpowermag.com/tech/general/0810dp_cummins_isx_diesel_engine/photo_04.html
http://www.hk-phy.org/energy/transport/vehicle_phy01_e.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_engine
http://www.holset.co.uk/mainsite/files/index.php
http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/history_diesel.htm
http://www.goadvice.com/GreenDCoop/DieselHistory.htm
http://cars.about.com/od/dieselvehicles/a/What_is_diesel.htm

VIDEO HISTORY of Diesel Engines:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiiqiiTDj0A

VIDEO How Diesel Engines Work:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9yS2xdPJSU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro4LUNTfXS0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSrIceBDrRM (vintage cartoon!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3gMTqaNwlE (vintage cartoon part 2!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Purchasing Classic Car Insurance - Why You Don't Want To Procrastinate!

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

After the recent article I wrote on the theft of a Pro-street Camaro from the parking lot of a hotel during the Goodguys National Show in Ohio, a lot of comments clucked about how awful it was, how far too frequently it happens, and what little chance the poor owner had of recovering the beautiful little car. I'm sure if we all put ourselves in his shoes, or imagining a car fire like the one in the video below, we would truly be devastated. It reminded me that I had written an article on the benefits to classic car insurance, and I thought that this would be a great time to reprint it! So, here's the original article, adding a few thoughts in hopes you see the value in the comparatively small cost of these unique policies, do your homework in finding what is best for you, and actually take the third and final step to purchase it....now!


Thankfully this is not a Motorheads Performance Customer Project!

Classic Car Insurance Buys Affordable Protection & Peace of Mind

Taking the steps to purchase a policy for an old classic car, muscle car or street rod which may be far from "show room perfect" is usually avoided. Many fear high prices, poor coverage, or too many restrictions being placed on use. Some enthusiasts think that these types of insurance are available only for vintage autos that only drive once a year in parades, and while this is an option, there are in fact many other options out there and they're not as expensive as you might imagine. Standard auto premiums can cost up to 500% more than specialty insurance policies. And, you can usually find a policy which is just right for your particular needs.

Many people select a policy from their traditional auto insurance carrier, not realizing that this can be robbing them of valuable coverage not offered by standard auto insurance. Specialty insurance policies are also less expensive than those through your standard insurance carrier (even policies with multi-car discounts). Standard auto insurance typically pays "Actual Cash Value" (ACV), also called "depreciated book" or "replacement cost minus depreciation." The older a car is under this type of policy, the less value it has - regardless of the premium you pay. Some offer a "Stated Value" policy. These are better than an ACV policy because they allow you to "state" a value greater than its depreciated "book" value. But, the Stated Value policy still depreciates vehicles. The best collector policy is called "Agreed Value" - meaning the full insured value of the vehicle is guaranteed - no depreciation and no hassling with an adjuster trying to prove your vehicle's value.

Try explaining this one
to your insurance company!
One example is a policy offered by Grundy Worldwide Insurance called Collector Car Insurance. This insurance is very affordable, and YOU have control over much of the cost because you actually work with Grundy to arrive at an "Agreed Value" when your policy is written. If an accident or theft occurs, you receive the agreed upon value - no questions asked! A car with $20,000 in restoration costs could be insured for about $120 per year. There are no restrictions on the number of miles you can drive, or how often you drive, as long as it is not your daily driver. (See other insurance options below for daily drivers.)

Another policy for collector cars offers coverage while your vehicle is in the process of being restored. What's unique about Restoration Coverage is that the policy value can increase as the restoration continues. So, as the value of your car (and the money you have invested into it) grows, so does the amount of coverage on your policy. We think this is a terrific "peace of mind" policy, and embraces the gift of classic car restoration - to get out on the road and enjoy your ride!

For more information on insurance for your classic car or street rod, try contacting the following insurance companies who specialize in these policies.

Grundy Worldwide Insurance
www.grundy.com 800-338-4005

Hagerty Classic Insurance
www.hagerty.com 231-941-7477

J.C. Taylor Insurance
www.jctaylor.com 800-345-8290

Heacock Insurance Group
www.heacock.com 800-677-5171

Leland-West Insurance
www.lelandwest.com 800-237-4722

American Collectors Insurance
www.americancollectorsins.com 800-360-2277

Classic Auto Insurance
www.classicins.com 800-360-2277

Rally Insurance
www.rallyinsurance.com 800-801-1823

Condon & Skelly
www.condonskelly.com/ 800-257-9496

Northeast Classic Auto Insurance
www.classiccarinsurance.com 800-866-6440

"Chrome" by American National
http://www.anpac.com/ 800-333-2860

American Hobbist
http://www.americanhobbist.com/ 800-395-4835

Collector Car Insurance Agency
http://www.collectorcarins.com/ 800-787-7637

Sneed Insurance
http://www.sneedinsurance.com/ 800-619-7827

Motorsports Insurance Services
http://www.motorsports-insurance.com/ 310-301-0333

Other options exist as well, including policies for Daily Drivers which are usually far less than going through a traditional auto insurance company. Some companies do require that you own another vehicle for "daily use", but you do not need to have it insured through them. Some put restrictions on mileage while others do not (especially if you have another vehicle as your daily driver). And, just as some place mileage restrictions, some restrict what type of driving you do (i.e. parades or shows only), and age restrictions (most will not insurance drivers under 25 years of age...others 30!). Many companies offer all-in-one policies which insure all of your vehicles at significant savings.

Day at the Drag Strip...
gone BAD
A note to anyone who owns a street-strip car is to take the time to find an insurer who will issue a policy for that use. If you don't "come clean" up-front, and your car catches fire at the drag strip, many insurers will not pay out on a claim unless you had a rider for racing. It doesn't hurt to be honest about how you use your vehicle, and it's a lot better than having a zero payout when catastrophie strikes. You put yourself in a position of higher risk, so take the time to protect yourself. There are insurance plans for just about every type of enthusiast out there.

Appraisals are usually never necessary, although most require photos of your vehicle to help determine value. Some insurers may dig a little deeper into the mechanical and aesthetic modifications made to your car, its horsepower, suspension system, paint, etc, but this usually helps to give you a higher Agreed Value if desired. Guy Algar states, "Don't forget to contact your insurer once the restoration is complete so that new values can be determined and you can increase your coverages if needed, or if you started off with Restoration Coverage and want to change to a different type of policy. We advise you to keep all of your restoration records including the detailed lists of the work performed, photos, and receipts for all your parts and labor, as this will help greatly when establishing the new value of your vehicle."

I suggest comparison shopping, checking the agency's rating, their level of customer service, and details of the policies offered in addition to pricing. Research all programs before making a final decision. For such a low cost, collectors insurance is a worthwhile investment. I recommend Restoration Coverage for anyone who is having partial or full restoration services performed on their classic car, muscle car, antique car, vintage truck, street rod or hot rod. You don't want to be the victim of theft, fire, or other event that could jeopardize everything you've put into finding your prized ride.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fully Adjustable Steering Rack For Classic Car Upgrades

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

Guy Algar and I like to keep abreast of what's happening in our industry. There are a lot of product releases, with many claiming huge advances in technology, or claiming superiority over other products. Many fall short, and it often isn't until many people have sunk a lot of hard-earned money into trying the newest-and-greatest. While we usually don't endorse specific products over another, we do like to report on ones that are unique, or that fill a true need within the industry. Here's one that may fill a need for the do-it-yourselfers that I first learned about in one of our performance industry publications.


RetroRack Steering System
by American Online Imports

RetroRack offers a product that can be useful for anyone upgrading an old car or truck's steering themselves. As we discussed in our last article on Safe Speed Limits for Classic Cars, many owners are opting to have critical components such as power train, brakes, suspension and steering upgraded to more modern technologies that not only make their driving experience more comfortable, but perhaps safer as well. Motorheads Performance and other repair and restoration shops across the country have long been dealing with clearance issues that frequently occur when customers want an engine swap with something other than what was originally in their vehicle. You usually have no problem getting the new engine in, and attaching accessories, but when it comes time to tie in the steering, you find you're bumping into headers (probably the #1 problem encountered), brake master cylinder or some other component. Sounds familiar, right? Professional shops have the necessary tools and the experience to solve these problems, but the average do-it-yourselfer may not.

Well, an Australian company designed and manufactured the first universal rack and pinion steering system they call RetroRack, which is a patented design that is engineered so that every component can rotate with precision 360 degrees to the desired location and locked into place. This solves tight fit issues and gives ultimate steering geometries, making it incredibly useful for anyone upgrading their muscle car, classic car, hot rod, street rod, vintage truck, sports car or race car! Because it features a CNC-machined billet aluminum housing and hardened chromoly rack and gear, it is built for speed, and built to last.

First released by designer and manufacturer, American Online Imports at the 2011 SEMA show, it is gaining in popularity with American restorers because of the high quality and ease of installation. It has even captured the attention of Jay Leno, as was seen on his television show.  See the resource list below for other video links on RetroRack.

The RetroRack system has been designed to be totally flexible in installation, and is available in front and rear steer, left hand drive and right hand drive configurations. 

RetroRack offers these unique features:    
  • Every component is designed to rotate 360 degrees
  • Complete versatility 
  • 100% CNC custom billet product provides ultimate strength
  • No cast or welded components
  • Only the highest quality components are used
  • There is a Lifetime Warranty on RetroRack
  •  Looks Great!
So, if you're considering an upgrade to the steering in your classic car, muscle car, or other old vehicle, and want to do the work yourself, consider the potential savings the RetroRack could give you. While the units are costly (currently about $2500), what they could save you in having to pay a professional to solve fit or clearance issues for you later down the road, might make it worth your consideration. New products always have a high cost. As the company grows, and production increases, it's our hope that the unit price of these will come down. It's a great looking, high quality unit which performs great.

RESOURCES:
SEMA Show Video Interview
American Online Imports Product Videos
Bishop Endurance Testing on RetroRack

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Speed Limits & Safety For Classic Cars & Vintage Trucks

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

I've recently had discussions with people concerning rates of speed allowed on roadways - how they vary, how frequently the speeds are posted along the roadways, why some limits seem so low, and others seem way too high. These ultimately lead to debates about what the ideal speeds are, the excessive use of speed traps by some cities or counties, laws about street racing, too many trucks on the road, and a host of other pet peeves and/or opinions that people develop over time and love to talk about.

I'm blessed to live and work in the great state of Texas! There's just so much to love about it here. I've lived in quite a few places around the country and have seen a lot of different standards when it comes to roads and specifically posted speeds. It really hit home when I recently traveled to the East Coast, where in some areas, highway speeds are still 55 to 60 mph. Coming from a state where on some highways you're able to travel up to 85 mph, secondary roads average 70, and even on farm-to-market roads you can go 60, driving 55 on a highway seems like an absolute crawl! I've also been in situations where I feel that people are driving too fast and too recklessly and think they need some help for their lead foot unless they're on a race track. I personally like the radar feedback signs that display how fast you're actually going, and think they can help keep drivers in-check to some degree. However, according to the caption in the photo below, some drivers may feel the signs are "egging" them on!

Photo by: funnyjunk.com created on diydispair.com
Running a performance shop for pre-1980 cars and trucks, we have a unique perspective because, while we love performance and speed, we need to make sure our customer's "oldie-but-goodie" vintage car is safe. Certainly when the cars were designed, the powertrain, steering, braking, suspension and other systems matched the system of roadways that existed at the time. With improvements in technologies, both in our roadway design and construction and in the technology advances with automobiles, classic car owners face a dilemma when considering a restoration of their vehicle, and it's one that always draws a lot of debate among enthusiasts. Do you keep your car completely stock with equipment that is often adequate but not state-of-the-art, or do you incorporate performance upgrades that will enhance your driving experience and provide additional safety?

To some degree, the area of the country you live in may influence your decision. Road conditions and posted speed limits vary tremendously from place to place around the country. Weather conditions also may influence your decision, as your needs may be quite different in the Northeast compared to the Southern States. The type of vehicle you have may also be a big consideration. How rare is it? Would modifying a rare "cherry" vintage car diminish it's value by changing its stock factory condition? Are you a collector, an enthusiast, or something in-between? How do you use your vehicle? As a daily drive, a weekend cruise, a show vehicle, or just an occasional ride?

Trends are certainly something you should take into account, as trends tend to come and go, and you may find yourself temporarily adding something cool, only to have it diminish the value or appeal of your ride several years later. We've all seen this happen recently with the "big tire" craze that had people destroying wheel wells in an attempt to cram a 22" tire into a factory 15" opening! Now that the craze is over, body shops are raking in the money restoring them. We may not see this as much in Texas yet, but the trend has been reversing itself in California and the West Coast. Consulting with your performance or restoration shop can benefit you as they are aware of trends. Sometimes they're part of the trend movement and sometimes they're traditionalists who know the value in keeping things original.

Do your research, know your options, and always keep your budget in mind! Upgrading to modern technologies are usually never as simple as bolting on a new something. For instance, when upgrading a suspension, you frequently need to modify, reinforce or repair the frame, a cross member, etc. There are fine products that will certainly add to your driving pleasure, and keep your car safely on the road, but it will come at a price. Remember, we're upgrading a vehicle which may be 30 to 50 years old.

Which brings me back to the question "what is a good, safe speed limit?"  We'd love to hear from you to get your opinion. We've created a survey in the sidebar to the right where you can cast your vote. We'll report on the final results after it closes on August 3rd.

Let's agree that we're referring to "cruising down the highway" speeds, not street racing! Remember, just because you know how to handle your vehicle at high rates of speed, there are  lot of other people out there on the roads with you that you need to worry about getting in your way, cutting you off, being reckless or even being intoxicated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time-Lapse Engine Rebuild Using Over 3000 Pics!

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

I caught a great YouTube video that I just had to share with all our fellow motorheads! I first published this article in on our Hot Roddin' Texas Style site, but since we've revamped and upgraded things with our new site, I wanted to give all of our new readers the chance to see this.

Don't know everything that's behind an engine tear-down and rebuild?  Just watch what one guy did over a period of 11 months, taking over 3000 photos, then putting them all together in a clever and entertaining time-lapse sequence!  Nothinghereok apparently bought an engine off of ebay after his engine had died. He began taking the photos so that he could remember how everything came apart. This is something Guy Algar, Shop Manager at Motorheads Performance, always recommends if you're not experienced - whether it's taking an engine, transmission, body, interior, etc. apart!  Too many people take a car apart without realizing that they have to remember (often years later) how to get it back together again!  Another hint is to always "bag and tag" everything - especially nuts and bolts!

I'm not an expert on foreign cars, (Guy and I work only on classic American cars and trucks from the 1920's through 1970's), but Guy says this engine looks like it might belong to an MG perhaps? Love the choice of music...take a minute and watch this cool video!



So, for all of you wondering why an engine rebuild is so expensive, as you can see, there are an awful lot of pieces that need to be removed, cleaned, sometimes replaced, and all put back together in the correct sequence and in the correct place!  In other words...quite labor intensive! This doesn't even include the time it takes to remove the engine and put it back into the engine compartment when finished.

Thank you nothinghereok for sharing such a great piece!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dyno Wars Competition for Ford & Mustang Motorheads!

by Andrea L. Algar
Motorheads Performance

This week I must be stuck in a frame of mind to talk about speed, because my eye and ears have been drawn to things related to that. Chalk it up the great weather here in South Central Texas, or the fact that we've got a number of hot muscle cars in the shop at the moment...whatever the reason, I've been uncovering some great stuff!

An article which just came out in Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords  reminded me of the event I had heard they were planning. For those not familiar, this is a cool site and on-line community for the Mustang or Ford fan. They've got great articles, a good forum, and they love power like we do! They teamed up with AmericanMuscle.com (a Mustang parts site with parts that go back, but only as far as 1979) to create a challenge for street cars to see who could produce the best dyno numbers, in a competition they dubbed "Dyno Wars".

Three "wars" have already been fought, and there is only one competition left so you have to act quick! The first challenge was held at Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords headquarters in Tampa, Florida. The second was held at American Muscle's headquarters in Pennsylvania. The latest was held at Walsh Motorsports near Detroit, Michigan. The fourth and final competition in the Dyno Wars will be held at Shelby American in Las Vegas on October 26th, just days before the industries most popular SEMA show.

These are open to anyone who actually has some track numbers (drag strip time results), or has legit street reputation. They're looking for the best, so they're not wanting numbers in the 12's or worse. In order to compete you've got to be able to turn numbers to beat 9's or the trip to compete wouldn't be worth your while. The vehicle must be street-legal, registered and insured. You can have any combination powertrain and power enhancers, but must have full exhaust with tailpipes. Competitors selected will have 30 minutes to make as many pulls possible in order to produce the maximum power possible. According to Chris Rose of AmericanMuscle.com, the dyno used in the final event will be the same dyno used to test Shelbys! To enter the competition, read vehicle requirements and full details about the event on either of these websites:  http://www.musclemustangfastfords.com/ or http://www.americanmuscle.com/.

Dyno Wars is open to anyone! 
  • To participate, send submissions to marc.christ@sorc.com
  • Include name, address, list of mods and combination
  • Send a few low-res pictures (overall shot of the car, engine bay, and interior)
  • Deadline for applications is 09/14/12
  • Contestants will be chosen by the MM&FF staff
  • Competitors will be contacted with more detailed info
According to the event representatives, "What we've revealed so far is the big power cars have a wide range of tuneability that enables them to be cranked up for that big dyno number, then tamed down for street cruising."


Carroll Hall Shelby was an American automotive
designer, racing driver and entrepreneur.
He was best known for developing the
AC Motors-based Shelby American Cobra
and later the Mustang-based performance.
Photo and caption by Wikipedia
 
 What I noted, was that the cars entering seem to be younger guys with newer Shelbys, Cobras and Mustangs. I'd love to see a classic or pre-1980's car with some insane power combo enter the competition and show what some good ole' fashioned hot roddin' is all about! 

So, a challenge to all the Ford motorheads out there to look into this and put in some good numbers for all of us who love the oldies, and as a tribute to one of the true greats in the industry Carroll Shelby.

(There's got to be an original Cobra or Shelby out there that can kick a_ _!)

At a minimum, it would definitely be a worthwhile road trip to visit Shelby American, facility of the legendary Carroll Shelby (who died in Dallas, Texas this May at age 89), take a look at a piece of history, and see all the action that'll come out of this competition.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.