T 'n' A
Intake, compression, power, exhaust. The four strokes (and not the River City Roadsters, either!) of the internal combustion engine. Do you know how really far they came with it in the first twenty years of the century? Mainly in Europe, the Twin Cam Engine, for example, was much-developed. Different bore to stroke ratios, valve-included angles, alloys, casting methods, cam drive gearing styles, were being tried, mostly in racing, for application in production cars.
The birthright of the coolest overhead cam engines of our era was way the hell back in the teens and twenties. And furriners were leading. Harry Miller came along and (like the Japanese did later) picked apart their designs and improved on them. One for us.
Hot rodders and racers were trying to figger it out in the barn. What they did, the All-American ingenuity and resourcefulness they employed, the results, and the hobby/industry that was born of it brings a tear to the eye. (Did you moisten-up when Buffalo Bob, Gene and Roy all died this year. If not, you're a heartless bastard.) Anywho, these heroes developed a craft, a pastime, that some of us - some more than others - enjoy today. It has not changed all that much when you look into the private shops of gearheads among us.
The model for this is the guy who has continually got a project going on in his home shop, doesn't do it for profit, and finds solace there in the garage, with or without company. We paid a visit to one of these a day or two ago, to get some advice. There, he was finishing floorboards on his '34 5W coupe; his Kurtis Midget (Hal) was on the trailer; flattie Model A Tudor on the other side; Cragar B Sprinter in the next stall, and some parts were accumulated for something we'll share with you here if he'll let us. He's vested in some really fine equipment and tools that avail a world of peaceful expression for him.
He has a job (seems semi-retired, though) in a professional field, but his life - outside of family - is these cars.
Therapy? 'Could be. When you are lost in the simplest of jobs, putting it all together for the third and final time, the mating of the metals, the equal cinching of the fasteners, knowing that you have saved it and have done it the way John Gerber might have done it in 1933............what in the dickens is it that makes that so comforting? You have just completed a series of tasks the are requisite, in order, to make something mechanical come to life again....or perform some quiet, levering function that it had recently refused to do because it was old, or worn out, or because the cat the preceded you wasn't as clever as you are.
So we have here a sequence of accomplishments, the trophy for which is......the drive. Light 'em up. Fire in the hold. Squall them tars. Lock n' load. Then let's start on another one.
It is the process. There isn't a literal end to it; so you go from one to the next. That is why the quiet sub-celebrity guys are so interesting to us. They will tell you about how they ground a camshaft (cramshaft?) for some obtuse application a thousand years ago, then pull the damn thing out from under the bench to show you what the ramp on the lobes should look like. (You try to memorize the stuff but it comes too fast; you started too late.)
The process. Maybe it doesn't have to be cam-grinding. There is lots of satisfaction in figuring out a Franklin steering gear; or a magneto. Cams can come later. Or something else. It doesn't freakin' matter, because something will come later. Or sooner. If you are the Magellan of your shop, there is a discovery and a ton of satisfaction comin' down the 'pike.
Real Hop Up Guys are probably not on this steep learning curve; but we are. Some day, though, you may have a simple little problem, and the rookie might make a suggestion that fixes it. We're going out to the garage now to see if that lesson is under those parts on the bench!
Try to look cool 'til December, OK, Boys?