I was born in a little town on the coast of central California. Santa Cruz sits on the northern tip of Monterey Bay, a large bay about 70 miles south of San Francisco. When I first lived there, the only claim-to-fame that the entire area had, was that Monterey, on the southern tip of the bay, was the setting for Steinbeck's Cannery Row and that Santa Cruz actually HAD the climate that the rest of California claimed to have.
Nowadays, Santa Cruz is the home of the well known University of California-Santa Cruz, nestled in amongst the redwoods. The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium sits on the opposite side of the bay, and the Hollywood hideaway of Carmel, with it's beautiful white-beach shoreline is just a short drive further.
I attended Soquel Elementary School, Capitola Elementary School, Aptos Junior High, Watsonville High School, Chester High School, Cordova High School, and Cabrillo College
During a momentary lapse of sanity my best friend (Hi Chris) and I joined the US Navy. I spent the next 5 years 9 months 27 days 7 hours and 18 minutes going places, doing stuff, and attending Navy schools. The places were . . . interesting, the "stuff" was mostly pretty dumb, but the schools were incredibly efficient.
Now, there were a lot of things wrong with the US Navy in those days, (probably there still are..) but the training certainly wasn't one of them. Navy schools taught me more in a short period of time than any other educational method I have ever experienced. I spent over 2 years attending Navy schools, on subjects ranging from firefighting to nuclear physics. I studied Math, Chemistry, Physics, Thermodynamics, Electricity, Electronics, Metallurgy, Radiation and lots of other subjects. I even still remember some of it.
Since those days I've worked at a number of jobs, most of which had something to do with fixing automobiles. I have worked at GM, Ford and Chrysler dealerships, at a machine shop, even pumped gas for a while. I have worked on almost every make of car that you have ever heard of, from Audis to Yugos. I've worked on Jags, Porsches, MG's, Ferraris, and of course virtually every North American car.
Somewhere along here I met my Perfect Partner, the light of my life, the love of my life. (Hi Pene, do you ever look at this page?)
Before you could say, "Hey, this is fun!", there were four of us (not counting cats, dogs or aardvarks) and the beard had turned just a little bit gray and the hair had become even thinner.. sigh..
Most of these shots were taken a couple of Halloweens ago, when we were all home at
once, a rare situation these days. None of us are quite as strange as we appear in the photo,
or look at all like that in real life, except maybe Tess, she didn't take
to the makeup artist very well, so we let her appear "Au naturel"
Otto wouldn't come out of his bed (I think the flash freaked him out).
have owned: (sort of in order) 1955 Ford, 1957 Pontiac,
1953 Hudson Super Wasp,
1956 Chevrolet, 1957 Ford,
1940 Ford Sedan,
1953 Chevrolet, 1963 MG 1100 Sedan,
1965 Ford Mustang convertible,
1964 Ford F-250,
1978 Chevrolet C-20,
1969 Chevrolet Impala,
1989 Pontiac Firefly,
2000 Chevy Tracker
2007 F*rd Freestar .
Of them all, the Mustang was the most fun to drive,(It had a Hi-Performance 289 and a close-ratio 4 speed) although the 40 Ford was a hoot also (It had a recycled cop-car engine and no front shocks to speak of. If I revved it and dropped the old PowerGlide tranny into gear it would pull the front wheels off the ground). (On further consideration, I must mention the MG was a blast to drive in parking lots.)
The best mileage was delivered by the Firefly, (51 mpg) the MG was the worst to work on, (my introduction to the joys of front wheel drive, dual carburetors, and transverse mounted engines, not to mention "HydroLastic Suspension", all in one swell foop.)
I performed all of the repairs to these cars myself, and let me tell you, it was a learning experience every time I attempted something for the first time. But I never gave up, well actually I did give up once, I foolishly thought that since the carb rebuild kit that I bought for the 57 Ford carb contained an exploded view of the carb that I would have no trouble reassembling it, I was mistaken... Several days later, I bought a rebuilt carb.
Qualifications I have held: GM Mr. Goodwrench certified Master Technician,
ASE Certified Master Technician, California Certified Class A Motor Vehicle
Pollution Control Technician, California Certified Class A Motor Vehicle Brake
Technician, ITA Red Seal Interprovincial Canadian Certificate of Qualification.
Strangest vehicle I ever worked on: I installed steerable hydraulic brakes on a 1933 Potez biplane for the IMAX movie "Wings of Courage". The news photo to the right shows me during the road test at the local airport and appeared in the local newspaper. The prop (just a blur in this picture) was driven by a Buick V6 and the drive shaft was bolted directly to the flywheel. The plane wasn't supposed to fly, just roll down the hill while a guy hidden in the cockpit steered it by applying either the right or left brake while the hero ran along chasing after it.
While I was installing the brake parts they asked me to take a look at the engine, it had a missfire at high RPM's. To watch the engine I had to remove that louvered panel and peer into the top of the perfectly normal Buick engine, complete with radiator, mounted backwards in the engine compartment. To do this i had to stand on the top step of a very wobbly old 6 foot step ladder,
right where those louvered panels are visible in the photo, about one foot
behind the prop, with the engine screaming at about 5500 RPM... I couldn't
help remembering that memorable scene from "Catch 22"...
Second prize in this category would have to go to the service call to the ice arena to cure a no-start condition on their Zamboni, but that's another story...
It occurs to me, as I go back to work on pages that I haven't changed for a while, that sometimes when I'm writing about something, I can get a little snarky. I'm sorry, but you have to realize that most of the time when I'm writing this stuff, I just came home from 8 hours or so of working on vehicles designed by "suits".
Just like everyone else, sometimes I have good days and sometimes slightly less than perfect days. I probably shouldn't work on the site when I've had a bad day, but that's usually when I need to the most . . . You'll just have to put up with it. No, actually you don't have to put up with it at all. If it offends you to read what I write here, go away. There's a huge, wide internet out there, just waiting for your eyes...
I'll apologize now for anything I write that may offend anyone. I often refer to the ongoing war between the good guys (technicians and owners), and the bad guys (the suits that design really stupid things into cars, and the white-collar pencil pushers and bean counters that approve those insane designs). There isn't really a war, with guns and stuff, it's just that it seems like it sometimes. At least from this side of the battlefield...