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Author Topic: 1990-1993 (FORMERLY 4 YEARS- NOW CONDENSED TO 3)  (Read 22638 times)
Jim Ratto
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« Reply #210 on: April 12, 2017, 00:23:18 AM »

Hey Jim, please sign me up for the "Cal Look Adventures" book you should be writing.

I am sure you will also have plenty, willing storyline and photographic contributors.

That would be cool but I don't know the first thing about getting stuff in print. Outside of some of the people here, I'm not sure if anybody else would even care about how I got sucked into this hobby 27 years ago. Though I'm sure how this all went down, is common throughout the automotive world.

Back to I-10 west, on a darkening Sunday afternoon, turning to night. We ended up stopping at a big truck stop outfit, just off the highway. I have no idea where this was, other than it was at least an hour's west of Phoenix. We pulled in and went into this sprawling place, and found a table. We were real misfits in this place, everybody else was wearing netted baseball caps and flannel vests and had giant thermoses. We were sunburnt, in shorts and had VW hot-rod T-shirts on. Over dinner we finally admitted to one another how exhausted we were. The last few days and nights were lots of driving, the run in with the cops in Norwalk and little in the way of decent food- or water. The plan was still to drive back to Pleasanton that night. We were nuts.
After a dinner of chicken fried steak and a few Cokes, I got back behind the wheel, trying to not zone out. Frank's conversation was now punctured with long stretches of silence. We discussed the "what if's", meaning what if we built better motors? Back then I remember you could mail order a forged Berg 82 crank for $695 plus shipping. That was decided, one of us would get home and call that in. That 130 Engle cam in Rhoads' car, that was decided too. In a half hour, we were now discussing what to do with my Dad's 1959 Sedan, a second owner, all mechanically original car, with less than 88,000 miles on it. While the stock 1200 had its charm, we decided we'd talk my old man into making the car a hot rod. He could afford to. We decided on a Berg 82 crank, 912 rods, 90.5mm, V6 heads from Performance Tech, Engle 130, and 48 IDA's. For my own car, all would be left as is, except for replacing the 44IDF's with 48IDA's. And Frank? He had figured out he wanted a "1700", 88 x 69, with Fumio heads, Engle 125, and 48 IDA's. (I thought he was out of his mind). Big plans all thought up in about 50 miles of trying to stay awake on the highway. Still, it was better than where my brain was just a few months ago.
After sometime, we settled on our plans, we found ourselves across the California border. Soon we were at the confluence of US 95 and Interstate 10. For the life of me, I cannot remember why, but with no reason, and no plan, I turned north onto 95, into the void of the jet black desert night. Don't ask me why....

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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
Richierich56
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« Reply #211 on: April 13, 2017, 17:02:45 PM »

Jim - you really have a knack for writing and painting a picture! Love it. Keep it coming.
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Fiatdude
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« Reply #212 on: April 15, 2017, 04:25:35 AM »

You were needing a Needles fix -- that's all LOL
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Fiat -- GONE
Ovalholio -- GONE
Ghia -- -- It's going

Get lost for an evening or two -- http://selvedgeyard.com/

Remember, as you travel the highway of life,
For every mile of road, there is 2 miles of ditch
Jim Ratto
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« Reply #213 on: April 21, 2017, 22:10:44 PM »

Sorry I meant to share this stunning, high quality photography a few posts back. This was right after we dropped off the guy that ran out of gas, on our way to Phoenix. That's Frank in a Ramones T shirt, and my car, at the state line
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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
RFbuilt
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« Reply #214 on: May 01, 2017, 20:29:24 PM »

one of the great reads i have... hmm well ... read Tongue

i can almost feel like im in the background lurking as i read the timeline of how you tell the story/history Jim!

and i believe in any platform *my shop builds hondas/toytas  lol   the "first" engine build will always have a space in our hearts....

reading this though. has inspired me.. to do a semi-long term (maybe 5-6 months) engine project, 

ofcourse inspired/patterned to your story and first engine (ok maybe not patterned exactly but  you will get the idea)

so prepare for length PM's  again


p.s.  high five lucas for me!



Ralf
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Brian Rogers
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« Reply #215 on: May 21, 2017, 17:09:45 PM »

Just refreshing this so Mr Ratto doesn't forget about it.
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RFbuilt
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« Reply #216 on: May 23, 2017, 20:55:02 PM »

yeah man we need  darn updates on the first kill of his mighty 2054....  and maybe first track event back then Tongue
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Jim Ratto
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« Reply #217 on: May 26, 2017, 05:31:25 AM »

You were needing a Needles fix -- that's all LOL

We did end up in Needles that night.

Going north on 95 that night proved to be a challenge. I was sinking fast, after a stimulating, hot day watching the cars race and then the long monotonous drive on I-10. We never thought about stuff like enough sleep, enough water, or knowing where we were going, pretty much ever back then. By Vidal I was so tired I was seeing stuff cross the road, and was nodding off. It was obvious we were not making it back to Northern CA that night.

Now, 27 years later, I grab that old paper CA road map and unfold it, and look at some of the places my '67's been. I have to say, I was a bit reckless in my youth. Not too smart.
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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
Jim Ratto
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Posts: 6960


« Reply #218 on: June 15, 2017, 23:40:22 PM »

After a much needed night of "dead to the world" sleep at the Needles Motel 6, I woke up to the high intensity beam of desert sunlight coming through the window. I got up, with the intention of looking over a few things on the car and making sure all was well. Today would get us back to the SF Bay Area. I grabbed a few of the motel's nice, bleached-white bath and hand towels and made my way to the parking lot. The early morning, autumn air had a real bite to it. It seemed, that on this trip, nothing, climate-wise was going to stay consistent. I unlocked the Bug, opened front hood and pulled out my red steel tool box. I unfolded the nice white motel towels under the motor and got to work, adjusting valves. Yes in the parking lot. Laying on the asphalt, before hot coffee was shocking, and it instantly sucked any heat from my body. After finishing the 1-2 side up and mopping up a little green Kendall, I noticed a pair of boots walking my way. Please don't be the Motel 6 guy...
Nope it turned out to be a big biker guy, just curious what I was up to. "Things OK under there?", he said in his coarse voice. "Yeah just adjusting valves, that's about it."
"Man you are dedicated... up this early and out here adjusting valves. Nice car, brother." And he climbed up on his bike, fired it up and was gone.
In a half hour, I was putting tools away and topping up the oil level. The engine compartment was clean, and I only found an air-cleaner wing-nut starting to work loose. I cranked on it a little and felt a "pop"- sure enough, the cheapie air cleaners that come in the Redline Weber kits, the A shaped bridge inside had a spot weld pop free. I pushed down on the air-cleaner top and hoped the filter element would kind of hold the cover on. Besides, all those cool cars yesterday didn't even run air filters. And they know way more than me, a kid rolling around on his back and a pile of stained and stolen room towels next to me. The alternator pulley had that dusty look to it too, the way they look when you know something isn't as it should be. Belt was tight, nut was tight. Good enough for the 7-plus hour drive home, right?

By 9:00am were we westward bound, on I-40, towards Barstow. Like a few nights prior, the drive was bleak, at best. I had never seen such stark landscapes, and so few exits and places to stop. In the distance was nothing but this alien, lifeless, treeless, unforgiving scene, that we never seemed to catch up to. Some of the cinder cones were interesting. And the names of some of the places kept conversation flowing. I distinctly remember "Sheep Hole Mountains" getting a few laughs, as Frank found them on the map. After another 15-20 minutes of droning speed and constant RPM, I decided to live it up a little. I downshifted to 3rd, and asked for all the 2.0 liter would give. We were going down a long grade, somewhere east of Ludlow, and then into fourth, again, foot down hard. I noticed Frank watching the 914 tach's needle wagging up and down and the climbing VDO speedometer's needle. Still downhill, we were traveling at an indicated 115mph, the engine screaming away and now the steering wheel shuddering. I knew this was stupid, as if we had needed any sort of car control, it wasn't there. The big cc engine had gone in, with the built trans, but I never did anything to tune up the brakes, suspension or steering. But there we were, two 19 year old dummies, at full clip in a car never designed to really exceed 70mph. And after a minute or two, sensibility won and I backed off.
We stopped in Ludlow for fuel and to check the air filter and pulley. The air filter top had shifted, but was still there. The pulley was dingy. Belt ok. Back on the highway. The excitement of the trip was pretty much over. At this point, it would be nice to just go back to normal... driving my Fiat. As much fun as the big motor was, there were still so many dumb issues with my car at that time. One of the micarta bushings in the top beam tube was wiped out, allowing the trailing arm to wiggle around. Not good. Many electrical things either didn't work (dome light, 4-way flashers, horn) or didn't come close to working like they should (wipers didn't self cancel, sometimes brake light circuit would pop a fuse, and the RH headlight was far from being adjusted correctly). When the big engine first burst to life, these issues were quickly forgotten. But after 4 days of basically living with the car, on the road, they were quickly becoming more than irritating. I questioned myself, why I allowed them to persist, and why I never took the time to fix these dumb things.
Next stop was Barstow. Not sure where we were in Barstow, but I remember a proliferation of freight trains, parked. And a lot of weirdoes walking around. Checked filter, shoved it back into position. Pulley was now that powdery, matte color, a cross between dark rust and eggplant skin. This was before I knew it was a must to run 10+ shims. The cheap chrome pulley was eating itself alive and at idle you could hear the two halves clacking away. We had started the trip, apprehensive of the new motor, then grew confident and comfortable as we had entered Southern California. Then smug as we rolled into Arizona. Now deep in the Mojave dessert, that nagging feeling had come back. Things weren't right, and that pulley could strand us.

More later.
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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
Brian Rogers
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« Reply #219 on: June 16, 2017, 02:10:48 AM »

Thanks Jim, I needed that.
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Jim Ratto
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« Reply #220 on: June 16, 2017, 21:17:30 PM »


Back to the empty parking lot somewhere in Barstow....

That generator pulley was looking worse and worse. The belt was still tight and I gave a good tug on the M12 nut. It had to make it home. We hit 58/I-40 west with Tehachapi off in the distance. Still, nothing but starkness, but with the mid-day sun, and shorter shadows, the emptiness was even more apparent, as the imagery of land contours took on a duller tone. Past Tehachapi, and down into the outer fringes of Bakersfield. It was only another four hours or so and the car could take its well deserved break. As we reached I-5, at the Stockdale Road onramp, the weather had changed yet again. The blue skies in the desert had given way to low, charcoal-colored thunderheads. Of course it started to rain. All those dreary freeway exits to nothing rolled by. I had stopped caring about cam timing and exhaust reversion and mail ordering a Berg 82 crank. The driver's wiper arm found a different place to stop on the up and down stroke, with every swipe. There was a misty, cold blast hitting my legs through the fuse box carrier. I could tell Frank was sick of being in the car. I certainly was. Little was said. We stopped for fuel somewhere in west Fresno county, maybe it was the exit for Firebaugh? I opened the trunk to fill the tank and looked at the rag tag mess jammed in there. A duffle bag with worn clothes, oily Motel 6 towels, a near empty spray bottle of Wax Shop detail spray, my tool box and a few bottles of Kendal GT1. The hood weatherstrip was kind of chewed up below the spare tire well and around the cowl and the cardboard wiring cover was now damp and beginning to prune up. I didn't even bother looking at the pulley.
I dropped Frank off about 2 hours later and headed to my parents' place. The car was still strong and sounded good and as I pulled into their garage, it hit me, we had spent 4 long days in this car, traveling out of state, and across some bleak country- and sometimes at a pretty high rate of speed. And this was my second engine build, and my first serious one. We had poured some oil into it along the way, we had chased a Corvette up Grapevine, we had been held at gunpoint, picked up a stranger in the desert. We got to see two sincere, blue-blooded California Look street cars do what they were made to do- right before our young, na´ve eyes. We had had our minds blown to bits, and made it there and back in this car I had owned for around 4 years then. Just a few months prior, I was walking around OC Fairgrounds, convincing myself that I was embarking on a new path, and a new way of making money, meeting new people and becoming immersed. This trip kind of proved to me that all this was really happening, and it was going to continue. I looked at the car, completely filthy and rain streaked. I opened engine lid and disassembled the pulley and sure enough the square cutout of the outer half was now figure 8 shaped. The shims were dust.
I made a mental list of what needed to be dealt with, a pulley, cone, shims, new M12 nut too. Figure out what to do about air filters.
And seek out more go fast stuff- like 48IDA's

And what were those ported heads on the back engine shelf at the shop?

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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
Brian Rogers
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« Reply #221 on: June 17, 2017, 00:39:41 AM »

Wow!
More?
Thanks Jim, I needed that.
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Jim Ratto
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« Reply #222 on: June 17, 2017, 01:09:36 AM »

This thread could go all the way to include teaching my kid how to use a dial indicator and help me with cam timing. But you'd all die from boredom.

There's LOTS more.
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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
Brian Rogers
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Posts: 133


« Reply #223 on: June 17, 2017, 18:52:49 PM »

I won't say it is enough. But this story reflects my own youth and ignorance of the things I did in SoCal, before any serious schooling, dating, marriage, kids. I moved to Utah to get away from my Mom who was nagging me about schooling (lack of), drugging and being a pain to my parents. This story tells of big engines and people in the biz. Road trips in cars are always an adventure, hot rods even more so. It's part of the American Dream.
Now please go cruise PCH for some more inspiration for the next build and lessons learned.
I for one will wait patiently.
Thanks
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Neil Davies
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« Reply #224 on: June 17, 2017, 22:17:47 PM »

As soon as you started describing the dust on the pulley I knew exactly what it looked like. Been there done that! Jim, it's an absolute pleasure reading your story, please keep it up!
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One of these days, I'll actually finish someth...
alex d
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« Reply #225 on: June 19, 2017, 12:57:56 PM »

awesome writing as always Jim!

Motel towels are always handy  Grin
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Jim Ratto
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Posts: 6960


« Reply #226 on: June 19, 2017, 15:22:04 PM »

I won't say it is enough. But this story reflects my own youth and ignorance of the things I did in SoCal, before any serious schooling, dating, marriage, kids. I moved to Utah to get away from my Mom who was nagging me about schooling (lack of), drugging and being a pain to my parents. This story tells of big engines and people in the biz. Road trips in cars are always an adventure, hot rods even more so. It's part of the American Dream.
Now please go cruise PCH for some more inspiration for the next build and lessons learned.
I for one will wait patiently.
Thanks

Good to hear. This hobby, in my opinion, bridges between people and creates a hopefully universal, kind of "been there done that" storyline for anybody that's been doing this for a while. For me it's about somebody bringing up a completely non-VW-related incident from a time period, like maybe referencing the first Gulf War or something, and I can pinpoint that timeline and remember "oh yeah, that's when I was building the FK87 motor", or "That was the summer we ran out of gas on 101 near Gaviota State Beach on 101."
All the fuss about dyno numbers and ET's become just bragging rights that soon die on the vine, because someone will always be more concerned with being the alpha dog and usurp mere numbers. I don't think anybody's going to come along and say "I can top that... we were actually shot by the Norwalk cops!" Or at least I hope nobody will.
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DER KLEINER PANZERS

Thanks to those that established the go-fast VW hobby and industry so many years ago. You know who you are.
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