We just added another page to the blog here. As most anybody that works for a period of time on automobiles, trucks and other things knows, you eventually collect a lot of items. Normally most of this is things left over from a project or a project that didn’t get finished or took a different direction. We also have collected some AFX-HO racing sets and gear over the years,
So, while it’s a touch painful on some items to let them go it’s probably time to do so. We will be photographing what we consider to be the better items and posting them up on our “Store” page for sale and even sometimes just for free. I would prefer that these items get a second chance than to just sit in a drawer or box. So check back often, you might find something of interest to you.
When I was 11 or 12 years old my family made a trip one summer from Virginia to Texas to visit and stay with my Dad’s brother – Douglas Rutherford. This was about a 1500 mile trip in the family car and dad was doing about 500 miles a day – back then with a lot of the traveling on 2 and 3 lane roads, you didn’t make time like you do today on a clean interstate system. During one stop we made I found a car magazine and asked my dad to buy it for me. I can’t remember the name of the magazine anymore but I looked through that book so many times that I guess I was wearing the ink off of the pages.
While staying at my uncle’s house, I slept on a cot in the front room. Television was limited to a couple of fuzzy channels so I continued to look through that car magazine. My uncle noticed and asked if I liked cars – saying yes he went off for a few minutes and then returned with a large stack of car magazines, mostly high performance ones and told me I could keep them. I went to work going through those books and even though I hardly understood anything in them, I didn’t let that slow me down too much.
The first Sunday we were there, my uncle had arranged a family reunion of sorts. Various tables and chairs were put out in the backyard, meat was cooked and it appeared that a lot of Lone Star Beer was consumed. Playing cards was also one of the big activities and I finally got to meet my Great Uncle Charlie – the man that took care of my father when his mom passed away and the man that I am named after. Uncle Charlie spent most of his life as a “mustanger”, rounding up wild Mustang horses and doing the work of a cowboy. When he sat down to play cards, the first things he did was to put his money sack on the table along with his .44 Colt. I leaned over and asked my Uncle Doug if it was loaded – and he said you bet it is. He also told me that unlike the movies, when cowboys played cards you put your money and your gun on the table.
We stayed for about a week with my Uncle Doug and on the way home I continued to dig through that pile of magazines he gave me. Again, I don’t remember the name of the book but there was one that had an article about how anybody could go drag racing – all you needed was a car. I had no idea of this and re-read this article a number of times gleaming every piece of information I could out of it. When I got back home, I started asking my friends about this and some had older brothers that actually raced at the local dragstrip. This was the very beginning of my drag racing life and I owe a big part of it to one man – Thanks Uncle Doug!
I was thinking which sometimes isn’t a good thing.
Back when I was a kid pumping fuel at gas stations (16,17,18) I remember Amoco was selling the only unleaded fuel at the time. But also around this time most of our engines were in the neighborhood of 9.8 – 11.1 compression ratios and there wasn’t a lot of pinging and banging going on running the stuff. So now I am wondering what were they putting in that fuel to prevent pre-ignition and why we can’t have that today? Also, it’s been a rumor I guess for a long time but I worked a Sunoco station for a bit and if you remember there was a dial on the side of the pump that would allow you pick the octane level you wanted. Sorta foggy now but I think the pumps ran from 140-260? Anyway, the whole deal was two tanks of fuel (one hi-test and one regular) that were being mixed right there at the pump. I worked this station mostly on Thursday – Sunday nights and on Friday and Saturday night I would lock out the outer pump to pure hi-test or 280 as it was referred to; no lower octane fuel was mixed with it. I would charge an extra $1.00 per 5 gallons that was pumped and had guys lined up in and out of the gas station. I made a little extra spending money and the guy that owned the station was impressed with how many gallons of gas I pumped every weekend once the word got around. And again, why doesn’t somebody do this now? Lastly, I was wondering what happened to all of the gasoline, motor oil, battery and anti-freeze commercials that used to be on television? I think the last thing I can remember now is Shell running some commercials about the amount of detergents their fuels contained and their cleaning ability. Other than that one, it seems like its been a very long time since these type of commercials were out there. So the question I have is have the vendors of these products simply decided that either the motoring public isn’t really all that interested in any difference between manufacturers of these products or do they simply sell so much of their product that there is no gain in advertising it anymore?
To help support our racing habit, I sell Amsoil products on my other site – Superior Motor Oil. Sales on the site are spotty at best as it has gotten difficult for small websites like mine to get to the first 1 or 2 pages of a major search engine unless you are willing and able to spend a considerable amount of money advertising with them. So I was wondering about a different angle and the idea of “how much does the average synthetic oil change cost” came to mind. I searched on that idea and what I found was eye opening. Depending on your location in the county the average runs $55 – $100 for a normal 4-5 quart change with filter. Coupons and special promotions can knock that price down a little bit. There is no mention of brand names pertaining to the oil or filter but one has to assume that the oil would at least be one of the national brands as would the filter, so if you can find a local shop at $55 and you loath the idea of changing oil yourself then this appears to be a reasonable deal.
Amsoil oil products are what I like to refer to as a “Boutique Oils”. In comparison to the national brands, it’s rather expensive but right in line with other similar oil products such as Royal Purple, Redline or Mag-1. While a 5 quart jug of 5w30 Mobil-1 will run you about $30 at most auto part retailers, $30 is only going to buy you about 3 quarts of Amsoil 5w30 Signature Series oil. Five quarts of Amsoil 5w30 Signature Series is going to cost $46.00. The best upside to this is the change interval length. While most of the car manufacturers are now recommending oil changes at 10,000 miles, Amsoil Signature Series is designed to go 25,000 miles. Going the same length of mileage on the national brand oils is going to cost at least $75 so the cost of $46 for Amsoil is a savings of $29 plus you’re also be saving the cost of the additional filters, installation labor and the lost time you incur while waiting for your vehicle to be serviced. Now I realize that a lot of people are going to frown on the thought of going 25,000 miles on an oil change and I have to admit that it is an unusual idea. You should consider the fact that not so very long ago, oil change interval recommendations were at 500 miles. Then as oil, filters and the technology in engines improved, those change intervals began to lengthen to where they are now in the 10,000 mile range. Amsoil has simply taken it to the next step before anyone else and their Signature Series oils are now ready to go 25,000 miles. One other thought is even if you decide to stay with your manufacturer’s recommendation, should you run into a situation where you go beyond that recommendation, with Amsoil in your crankcase you have nothing to worry about.
So going back to our original question, “How Much Should an Oil Change Cost?”, I believe it simply depends on the vehicle, the normal use of that vehicle and the confidence of the owner in the products that they are purchasing to maintain their vehicle. If we can say that the average motorist puts 12,000 miles a year on their vehicle then $46 and the cost of an oil filter over a 2-year period looks like a good savings to me.
Simply said, I have copies of plans for T-Buckets & Hot Rods. The first set is known as the Youngster Free T-Bucket plans that are limited to the building of a frame for a T-Bucket. Actually a very good set of plans with all the detail you would need for building a chassis. A link for the plans is below. The other sets that I have are far more detailed, going into every aspect of how to not only build a good chassis but also the body work, interior, engine and drive train. Electrical information is a bit sketchy but it’s a decent outline. These plans are available strictly for those that contact me to receive a copy. The link below will take you to a special contact form to order a copy of the plans.
Make sure you provide a good email address and put “HotRod Plans” in the subject line on the contact form.
October 29, 2018 – I have just added another eBook to the collection of plans I have available. You’re going to love this one! Nineteen chapters of information about how to scratch build a hot rod. And while the information is about the build of a “hot rod” there is a ton of information that will relate to any car build that you happen to be working on or just dreaming about building.
There’s nothing like rebuilding your hot rod save for that wiring job you now have to take on. In my case this is Elvira right now and with the circuits that I am changing, adding and deleting all at once, the wiring looks like a colorful pile of spaghetti – and I don’t like spaghetti, just ask the missus. I cannot remember really which car was the first that I even worked on as far as the wiring but an early one that I remember was my mom’s car. I was slowly taking the car over and had added a couple of gauges to the car, one of those oil and ammeter combination deals. Everything worked just fine until she was shopping one day and the car refused to start. After getting a mechanic to look at the car, it seems that one of the wire connections I had made to the ammeter had failed which cut all of the battery power to the car. Not long after this, I learned how to properly crimp a wire connector – squeezing it with a pair of pliers just doesn’t get the job done.
Over the years I have added different electrical items to cars including gauges, ignition systems, stereo units, speakers and fuel pumps. I have wired hot rods from the ground up; they didn’t have the first piece of cable in them and when I finished there was an operational vehicle with all of it’s electrical functions functioning. One car that I am still a little proud of was a NHRA/IHRA stocker. It was basically a complete wiring job from front to back but just to throw me a curve ball, the owner wanted his power windows to work. They still do. I am lucky in that I grew up in the phone system so Basic Electricity was actually a course I took at one time and that as the job situation required, I became very familiar with different kinds of electrical components. I learned that assembling things in certain ways, connecting the circuits and using special bits and pieces as you needed let you customize a solution to obtain the results that you want. I was also trained to read electrical schematics and can normally follow the flow of a circuit from A-Z. One of the most recent wiring jobs I performed was on the Monza. If you have looked at any of the photos of the car when it was first purchased, you can tell that the wiring job in it was more of a miss than a hit. The car had everything from 110v light switches in it to solid house wiring. Grounds were simply holes drilled in any roll cage pipe that was close by. Simply put, electrical wiring in a vehicle, whether a race car or not escapes a lot of people. These same people can assemble a race engine, weld a complete chassis together and tune the daylights out of a race car but tell them they have to wire it and they will give you every excuse in the book not to do it.
So back to Elvira. Right now I have about 99% of her wiring completed right now. I have moved some components around a bit which has resulted in shortening the wiring to them and in other cases I am making improvements in the way I connected something before. I have also run a total copper ground system in the car to reduce the amount of electrical resistance that might have been in the frame. While the chrome moly frame was a convenient point to make ground connections, I have learned that it is certainly not the best route to take. I have also added additional grounding to some components in an attempt to reduce any resistance in those particular circuits. I am not sure any of this is going to make the car perform better but at least I will know that each circuit will be at it’s best. There is also some additional items that I am adding that I did not run before and of course these needed wiring connections too. I hope to have all of the wiring completed over the coming week and once everything is tested I will be ready give Elvira her final test firing.
I just finished watching a documentary on Steve McQueen and the making of his movie – Le Mans. The name of this is Steve McQueen & Le Mans. As anyone who is familiar with the movie would know, I paraphrase one of the most moving lines in the movie as the tag line for my site –
“racing is life, everything else is just waiting….”
During the documentary, Steve’s wife of the time Neile Adams makes a comment that during the making of the movie, Steve lost everything, his soul, his family and friends, maybe so. Steve never raced again after the movie was completed; the desire to do so was gone and without that you endanger not only yourself but others around you, so I respect him greatly for his decision. What he might have never known and I wish there was a way to tell him, was that he created a legion of men who understand, who really understand that “When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.….”
I attended the movie “Le Mans” the very first weekend it was shown in 1971, the movie and Steve changed the way I thought and felt about motor racing. My career, what there was of it, my family and friends, all the things that make me – me ~ all move to a little place somewhere else in my psyche when I step into my racing car. At that moment and until I step out, it is only man and machine. It always has been and it always will be like that for me. Thank you Steve