Birdwell + Toots June, 2018 June 20, 2018 00:30
At the heart of every project I take on, I always start with good intent. The plan is to hand craft something that'll make both the board builder and the surfer happy. Give them something they'll treasure, and you'll rarely see your board for resale or in a land fill. Toots (shaper), told me Geoff Clawson, from Birdwell Beach Britches had put in an order for a noserider, and he wanted to make him something he'd not only love to make, but also something Toots would personally ride him self.
Everything Toots shapes is crafted by hand. I've watched him build countless boards, and amazingly enough, even though he's booked with so many orders, he never rushes and only starts a shape when he knows exactly what he wants.
Birdwell's brand is not only known for quality. but longevity. In a fast consumerism world, this is something that's hard to come by. I've had a pair of their boardshorts that I've put through the ringer, and has lasted me many years. So, I wanted to glass a board that Geoff would be able to have for years to come.
Shaping is a tactile craft. Toots shapes barefoot. I've asked him once why he doesn't wear shoes, or at least slippers, his explanation was "with shoes you can't feel the uneven height of the floors surface. You wont be able to adjust your body's flow while you shape, without feeling what you are standing on."
Pictured, Toots is using his special planer on the stringer (piece of wood that runs down the middle of the length of the board that gives the foam rigidity) while also using his left hand to hold the nose of the board from below. This gives the board a solid foundation, and doesn't allow the nose to flex away from him while he delicately shaves away millimeter amounts of wood from the stringer at a time, which will eventually lead to a clean finish.
Here's a view of the bottom of the board, while Toots removes some thickness from the stringer.
After the board was shaped, I probably spent about a week going back and forth on color and finish. Toots had put so much thought, care, and work in to it, I wanted to do this board justice.
I decided, since Toots only uses high density custom made classic foam, I would give Geoff a strongly glassed board using two layers of 6 ounce fiberglass cloth on the deck and a single layer of 6 ounce fiberglass on the bottom, with an additional 6 ounce piece of fiberglass on the tail, called a tail patch.
Here's the finished product. I feel the dark indigo tint and matte finish matches Toots' and Birdwell's aesthetic. Clean, simple, stylish, and functional. The small details of the board were all thought through. We settled on a black fin box as a subtle touch. A drill-though leash loop rather than your standard leash cup, plus a white resin ring are the finishing touches for a minimal look.
I'm very happy with how this collaboration of minds came out, and I hope to do more of these soon.
1970 MUSTANG February 17, 2015 04:14
My uncle called and asked me to come check out his vehicle in Kailua, he had a later 1990s or early 2000s toyota supra if i remember correctly. The car had been sitting for a few years and would not start. While I was checking his car's battery trying to figure out if it would still be able to charge , in my peripheral vision i could see a black rectangular back end of a car something that looked "muscly"
I immediately ran over and removed plant growth that had enveloped it, and found that it was a 1970 Mustang with a Mach 1 emblem on the side.
I begged my uncle to go find the keys so i could unlock it and check what what the power house was. He took some time to search for the keys, this car had also been sitting for years just like the Toyota, I tried hard to keep my excited composure and didn't want to stress him out about finding the key because i really wanted him to stay calm and focus. He came back about 30 minutes later with the original ford car keys!
Underneath the hood was a 351 Cleveland V8 , duel double pump Holly Carburetor. Un-surprised the car didn't start, the battery had died. I asked him what his plans were for the car , he told me my cousin bought it off a man who lived on Maui and used it as a Race car for the track. So immediately i called my cousin and asked him if I could buy it from him, he said what he wanted $$$ , that's what he paid for it, with out hesitation I went to the bank, got his cash and just like that i now had another project i didn't need in my life hahaha. Paid a tow truck $400 and took the Mustang home.
With the car on jacks it was time to take a closer look at what I had to work with. I'm sharing this experience with you because looking back on this purchase, it wasn't a good move and I hope you can learn from my mistakes. I was in the process of building and moving in to Dust & Fumes, i wasn't honest with myself on how much free time i actually didn't have to take on more things in my life.
The photo with the mustang with its wheels off, i could now see that the car was missing a bunch of things. The previous owner had removed all the chrome trim from all windows which my wallet found out would be $250.00 for front and rear window plus $70.00 in shipping to Hawaii, the driver and passenger windows were $175 together with shipping.
He had converted the gas tank and fuel line to 3 different fuel injectors all pumping at the same time. When we did get the car running the fuel pumps sounded like an orchestra of bees.
The fuel lines were also connected to house hold pipes and ran to an off switch in the back of the rear end, under the trunk lid. The reason for the kill switch back there is just in case there's a fire on the race track , someone can turn off the fuel from outside. To fix this was going to be such a nightmare.
The shop build was almost complete and ready to begin production work , so i didn't have much time to get this car in decent condition , painted to slow down the rust until i'm ready to fully restore.
We did some light welding and body work , prime the car.
In this photo of the rear end you can see we disconnected and removed the kill switch and welded the panel flat just like it was stock.
We also found the existing wire harness stripped , cut and left like a old bag of used rubber bands; un organized , brittle and discolored. The Maui Owner didnt want any turn signals or lights to work. I'm thinking he wanted to maximize fuel and power to the motor that's why he did this. We tried going through each individual wire and hand checked to make sure the wire work and at some point we threw in the towel and gave in to buying a whole new wire harness from Painless Performance parts for $1,500 with free shipping.
Once the Harness arrived, we ran cables to the important parts of the vehicle just to get the car at least running so we could see how healthy the motor was.
Photo above: Tai Chi charging the battery.
The motor ran loud and pretty strong, the timing and idle was off and rough but it was a good start.
We purchased a rebuild kit for the carburetor , was roughly $70.00.
Here Junior is cleaning and prepping the surface for the new carb kit.
While the boys were doing their mechanic work i started fabricating a fiber glass piece to give the mustang its aggressive look.
... and with a little black paint i think it looks killer.
Now it was time to rent a U-Haul tow dolly and take it to Juniors for a quick paint job. The Tow dolly was about $100-$200 to rent for 1-2 days. Black paint with matte finish was a few hundred bucks, i cant really recall and i don't want to give the wrong number but i think it was about $400-$600. Paint is definitely not cheap.
Mustang being taken to Junior's for some color.
Masking off windows and trim.
I don't recommend painting a car this way. If i had more time id completely restore from the ground up. Remove all windows, rubers, body parts and paint them inside out, but with the deadline of the factory opening this was our only option.
Here's first layer of black.
Heres what the matte coat looks like when its applied. Its glossy at first til it dries and then mattes out.
.... and this is what it looks like the next day..
Thanks Junior , Taichi for your help!
She will rest here until the time comes for a full restoration...
My first VW Van *1983 Vanagon* April 16, 2014 14:17
When does a car been come classic or vintage?
Some may consider a car made in the 1950s as a Classic, whilst others consider classic cars to be ones from the 1980s. Although there is no precise definition, the Classic Car Club of America considers a car to be classic if aged between 30 and 49 years, and modern classics are defined as cars aged between 15 and 25 years old.
At the time I had never owned any VW classic or new car, and wanted to dip my foot in to the #VanLife trend and see what all the fuss was about. I searched Craigslist Oahu and found this 1983 Vanagon with a "Pancake motor" , it was called that because of how flat the motor would sit in the engine bay.
I called up the owner via Craigslist and met him at a bar below Aiea Bowls, there was a little sports bar in the corner.
We grabbed some dinner and shared a pitcher of beer and began talking. I wanted to know why he was selling this beautiful van. He said he had this car for many years , and it was just time to let her go to someone else to enjoy. If you're a car guy/gal you'd agree, after being the care taker of a vehicle for so long, unless you are going to pass it down to your child (hopefully they appreciate and will take care of it) or a friend , family member you'd want the car to be loved and on the road again. I made him a promise that if he would allow me to buy the vehicle , that i would wash, clean and love this car daily. So with a hand shake and a hug we made the exchange.
I love that license plate and wish the previous owner let me have it, but he kept it for sentimental reasons.
The Van was a bright orange bottom with a metallic grey top, House of Kolors paint. The owner lowered the bus and she sat on some import car tyle , low profile custom wheels.
I installed some Thule roof racks up top but whats super cool about this Van is inside the cabin of the van the previous owner fabricated and welded inside ceiling racks.
I was about to store 4 longboards inside!! These benches open up to large storage , 2'x3' and 2'x4'.
Heres a better angle of inside looking towards the front. The Van had surround sound, with a bug sup hidden underneath the bench. The Van had 2 large Optima batteries , one for the vans operation and the other dedicated for the speakers 4 monitors for movies, and secutiry feature.
The Van had a touch sensory that would lock , unlock and alarm the whole car with out a key. This was the best feature, that meant I could go to the beach, hiking, camping without ever having to carry a key in my pocket and lose it.
The sensory was a very thin low profile device that would lay behind the windshield.
With the security code put it, all the doors would unlock and the car's smart system would allow the push button to be activated and work. That was also another amazing feature of the car was the push button.
I just love the retro 1980s style spaceship, KnightRider dash gauges , buttons and wood steering wheel.
These side vents are where the Air comes in to cool off the motor. All the windows, doors and sliding doors worked smooth and properly.
...But just as I was loving this Van things came up and I had to sell her. The shop was being built and we needed more funds for materials and equipment. I had made a promise that who ever owned the van would love and cherish it, I plan to honor it. I put the Van up on craigslist and interviewed ever person who inquired. I wanted to make sure they were going to take care of the van.
A young military man called and said he would love a chance to care for the Van. He had just moved to Hawaii for work, and hope the van would help get him out of his shell to meet new people, share new camping and beach experiences and make some friends. He was shy and the van would help.
I felt his honesty was what helped me decide that he was the one i wanted to pass the van on to. Immediately i called the previous owner to ask for his blessings , and he agreed. So I met up with the young military gentleman , asked him to keep the same promise I did with the previous owner and with a handshake we made the transaction.
As far as i know , the young military man spent his 4 years here in Hawaii and got transferred to another state or country and took the VAN with him. I hope during those 4 years, he got a chance to enjoy the Hawaii surf culture made some friends and shared some great memories.