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Equipment Hobbies Sport

Fritz–Starting To Build

More progress on Fritz. I think people will be puzzled when they see the interior. Minimal. Actually, the far edge of minimal. The living area will be two chairs, a bar cabinet, facing cabinet, and some shelves. The chairs detach and can move outside. Nice little side tables. An aluminum plank that converts the side tables to a dining table–inside or out.

It’s going to be odd. And sparse. And very pretty. But odd.

Anyway, here’s some progress:

Here are the chairs that will slip into brackets on the floor. The side tables (four of them) collapse to a flat and very light stand and a tray. I’ve built a collapsible aluminum top that converts the four side table stands into a dining room table, or two of the stands into a long serving table. The top weighs two pounds. All the tables and tops will store in the puka between the end of the battery box and the cab step.

A box for the water heater and battery. This is 3/4″ birch plywood. I’ve budgeted two sheets of prefinished birch ply for the refrigerator box, the frame of the kitchen cabinets, and this box. The flush aluminum edging is a design element I will repeat on all cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The drawer boxes will be aluminum and the interior shelves and countertops will be honeycomb aluminum.

This is one of two batteries. For you battery geeks it’s a 4S45P made from 180 32650 LiFePO4 5000mah cells with a 4s 60 amp BMS. That’s 225 AH, and 2880 watt hours. The second battery will be connected in series for 25.6 V to drive the inverter, to be charged from the MPPT solar controller, line charging and to run the refrigerator. I’ll split out 12V for cabin lights and everything else that needs 12V.

I started spot welding the batteries but ran out of nickel strips. Major miscalculation. Off by a factor of four. The strips needed a few kinks in the middle. I had to make the spacer from a sheet of formica with a holesaw–there aren’t any good premade spacers for 32650 batteries–at least none that I found. The middle got a little wanky because the sheet was too wide to fit the throat of my drill press and I had to do it by hand. Once one hole gets off it pushes the others. No matter, it will work fine and no one is going to be seeing this thing, but it’s irritating. If it hadn’t taken so long to make and been so tedious I would have started over.

Here’s a shelf bracket, cut and shaped in the bead roller.

Gratuitous holes punched and trimmed.

Folded and ready for polishing and welding. I’m going to weld the middle brackets to the honeycomb shelves since I need to splice them anyway. I’m getting pretty good with TIG. The end brackets will be single sided and also welded to the shelves. They’ll screw into holes I’ve drilled and tapped in the body extrusions. It’s a pleasure attaching things to this Moho. The structure is bomber.

The top of the shelves will be covered with a vinyl fabric that looks like Stingray skin. Diane is outdoing herself on the design side. Of course, that’s a two-edge sword. After spending two hours making this bracket her comment was “does it have to be so wide”. Oof.

She’s doing great drapes and coverings. Here’s the drape fabric for the main room:

Just as a reminder, here’s the original interior.

Categories
Equipment Hobbies Sport

Fritz–The Vandal Strikes

Several people emailed me, saying that they thought the interior is great. They should come get it before I haul it to the dump. I don’t mean to sound cruel, but it just isn’t what we want. My goal is pretty simple: Have a nice bedroom, a usable and simple kitchen, and a space that’s pleasant to be in. I know massive built-ins are the standard for RV’s but that isn’t my style. Even more important, it isn’t Diane’s So we’re aiming for light, open, airy, and beautiful.

Instead of Corian counter tops I’m using honeycomb aluminum panels with laminate tops. Each shelf and counter will weigh about 45 pounds less than the ones they replace. The aim is not just weight reduction, it’s safety and appropriate materials. In an accident a Corian countertop becomes a 60-pound frisbee headed for the front window. I can adequatly and solidly fix a ten-pound honeycome aluminum top, I’m not sure I could do that to the Corian. I can say for certain that the way they were fastened in the original interior served only to keep them from falling to the floor. I’m surprised the table survived hard braking.

Here’s the parts of the interior that I considered potentially worth salvaging, or that I needed to make measurements before ditching. And the aluminum thing in the foreground is the slide-in pantry shelf I built to replace that massive wooden structure on it’s side behind it. The original weighed 45 pounds, it’s replacement is less than five.

Click any picture to see full size.

That tall, narrow cabinet standing in the background is one of the many overhead cabinets. That one weighed 45 pounds–3/4″ plywood and MDF.

And this is a cabinet I built to replace it. About six pounds with the end caps. I made it from a single piece of .040″ aluminum, just bent the panel to form the mounting flanges, front, bottom and back. It screws into tapped holes in the extruded aluminum frame of the coach. A very strong mount. The opening will be guarded by three carbon fiber rods that can be slid aside. Across the cabin will be two similar cabinets, deeper, and with sliding doors.

I’m also ditching the propane system. This will be all electric, with a big LiFePO4 battery and solar panels. I’ve insulated the floor and walls carefully with Polyiso panels and Reflectix. We’ll see how that goes, but carrying a huge weight of propane for the light heating and refrigeration load of an RV doesn’t seem like the best idea. I’m installing a compressor refrigerator to replace the absorption one. The electrical draw is surprisingly low. I’ll cover all that later. I’ve calculated likely air conditioning, heating, cooking and lighting loads. It looks a bit marginal for hot or cold weather if we’re not plugged in to shore power, but it should be enough for two days without sun. And we do have a 5.5 KW Onan genset, though I’d like to minimize using that.

Here’s the trailer headed for the dump.

We also aim to have open space, and NO Shag Carpet. We’re using a high-end locking edge vinyl tile for the floors. If a tile gets damaged, the floor tiles can be lifted to replace the damaged tile.

 

Here’s the cab with the skanky shag carpet ripped out.

Sound deadening material installed (that big 455 engine is loud).

Thermal insulation installed–Polyiso and Reflectix.

And the finished floor.

Enough typing, time to get back to work.

Categories
Equipment Hobbies Sport

Fritz–The New Surfmobile Project

I’ve been looking at a lot of videos about Sprinter van conversions, mostly because I’ve got a major league surf jones that I can’t do much about, because I just had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands, and the doc says NO for about 6 more weeks. But the more I looked, the more I realized that what I REALLY wanted was a GMC motor coach. “A what?” you might say. Yes, GMC made motor coaches, from 1973 to 1978. If you’re not familiar with them, read the Wikipedia entry: wiki:GMC_motorhome. I’ve always throught they were the closest thing to a perfect RV. Sure, the technology is out of date, but the construction methods and design have never been bettered. They were expensive in the 70’s, and most of them (more than 70 percent) are still on the road today.

Diane hated the idea at first, but I showed her a few pictures and talked about having some adventures. She started to warm to the idea. I’ve found that I can’t push this lady into anything, but some seeds take root and grow by themselves. This one grew startlingly fast. Soon she was showing me pictures of coaches she liked, talking about mechanical issues, looking at interiors, and making plans. I was looking at the cheap end, assuming everything was rip and replace. She was looking at the higher end, saying we’d be better off with a solid place to start with. I did the math and decided she was right.

So we found one, owned and cared for by an engineer and his enthusiastic wife. He recently turned 90 and had a stroke, which effectively ended his ability to use and maintain a coach they enjoyed for nearly twenty years. They bought the coach they called “roadrunner” in 2004 and turned it over to a well-known restorer for a complete makeover. Two things that I liked were the high-quality disk brake conversion on the four bogey wheels that solves some known problems, and fresh engine rebuild by a reputable mechanic less than 5000 miles ago. The interior was nice, if crowded and dated, and the auxiliaries were good quality and fairly new. We paid a little more than we probably needed to, but I could see the value though I figured a lot of the interior would need to be redone. We sent the money and I flew to Fresno to pick it up and drive back–through the smoke and detours of the worst western fire season in recent history. The coach performed very well. The steering is a little vague, but the two primary concerns I had: Overheating going up the mountains, and brake fade coming down, were never a problem. The vague steering needs attention, the wiring is a rat’s nest, the gas mileage isn’t great, but there’s nothing here a little TLC can’t fix. And so the adventure starts.

The subsequent posts will detail what we do and why we did it. I’ll try to do some videos on some of the metalworking techniques I use, as well as the features of the equipment and materials we choose.

Here’s the original coach:

 

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Equipment Hobbies Other Blogs Consolidated Sport

Geezer Foil

Last year foils on SUP showed up in the Gorge. I was getting my downwind board off the shuttle at Viento Park for another run a few days before the Gorge Paddle Challenge when I faintly heard someone yell “Uncle Bill”. I don’t have any nieces or nephews in a reasonable range, so I didn’t think much of it until Zane Schweitzer came running up. “Hey, Uncle Bill, you doing a run?”

“Uncle” is what Hawaiian kids call older family friends. Turns out Zane had just finished doing a Viento run on his foil board. He told me it took about ten minutes to really get going, but his run was 55 minutes. I mostly paddle an unlimited board, and all summer long when the wind is howling I do as many as five to ten of the eight-mile counter current Viento runs a week. I’m not the fastest guy on the river, but I’m not the slowest. A good run for me is 1:20. A spectacular run for one of the pros or semi-pros that show up for the Gorge Paddle Challenge is anything just under one hour. Fifty-five minutes is insane–especially for the first try. Insane Zane.


Fuzzy screen grab from fuzzy video of Zane on a Gorge foil run.

The day after the Paddle Challenge I joined videographer Rod Parmenter on the bluff at windsurfing spot known as The Hatchery to watch Connor Baxter, Chuck Patterson, and the two up-and-coming SUP groms Jeffrey and Finn Spencer ride waves on foils. The swells were not the biggest the hatchery can serve up–on a big day some Hatchery swells can be mast high. But Conner was catching swell after swell, riding them a hundred yards or so, and then dropping down on his board to ride the current and paddle back to the starting point. After a few false starts the Spencer boys were doing the same, riding two feet above the water, looking like Marty McFly on his hover board. Chuck–not so much.

Anyone that knows Chuck Patterson knows his skill level for anything in the water is off the charts. And his struggle was certainly not for lack of power–the guy looks like an action figure in human scale. I concluded that it was simply his weight. Chuck is probably over 210. If there’s any fat on him, it’s hiding well, but he’s a big guy. I came to two conclusions: A. For big guys, foiling on SUP using a bigger kite-type foil is going to be a very marginal thing.  And B. I want to do this.

I weigh 235, and it’s not all muscle (my friends are laughing uproariously), I’ve been doing standup for more than ten years, but I’m 70. I have geezer balance, a bad knee, and trashed shoulders. The only way this was gonna work is to cheat and build something that doesn’t require any more balance and ability than my current capability in doing downwinders.

Hence, the Geezer Foil.

I read a couple of books on the subject, learned to do foil calculations, and looked at the pros and cons of a lot of different designs. Near the end of last summer, I decided to simply start making stuff and see how things worked out.

Is anyone surprised that attempt #1 sucked out loud?

Looks like an accident waiting to happen

The foils flexed too much. The shortcut I took in using a mountain skateboard body as the cross piece let the foils flex vertically–I intended that–but it also let them flex forward and back, and that made the board unstable. It flipped over viciously at about five MPH. So that’s not working.

In the next installment: GF2.

Categories
Equipment Hobbies Sport

A Project Too Far: My Maserati Mistral

About thirty years ago I was sitting in a barber chair, reading an article in a car magazine (I think it was Motor Trend) that said used exotic cars were selling for amazingly low prices. My imagination was fired by the notion of a Ferrari, Maserati or Aston Martin sitting in my garage. I certainly couldn’t afford a new one, but the software company I had co-founded with a friend as a side business to my real job was doing  well. I could afford to spend 10 to 20 thousand on an inexpensive, old exotic car. I suspected I could maintain it though I expected a certain amount of drama and challenge. I’ve been wrenching on motorcycles and cars most of my life. I’m not great at it, but I’m good at it.  I scoured Hemmings, looking for a car that looked right for me. I found a Ferrari 330 GTC in nice condition for about $20,000. An Aston Martin DB4 with a chevy motor for $10,000, and a 1968 Maserati Mistral just a few miles away from my home for $10,000.

The engine was out of the Maserati and completely disassembled, but the exterior was good, the interior was fair with some sections excellent.  The guy who had pulled the motor said it would take about $2,000 to finish the rebuild and reinstall the engine. I bought the Mistral.

The main reason was the general specifications of the Mistral–it looked like a much better car than my other top choices. Disk brakes on all four wheels. A 4.0 liter, dual plug DOHC engine producing 245 HP.  Coach-built aluminum body, a host of sophisticated touches to the engine design that seemed like better engineering–like the water/oil heat exchanger that warms the oil to operating temperature quickly and then cools it to keep it in an optimum range. A electro-magnetic clutch for the fan that regulates water temperature without consuming engine power. And I simply thought it was a better looking car. Lithe, sleek, and fabulous. Many people consider it to be the most beautiful car ever designed by the famous Pietro Frua of Turin, and the most beautiful Maserati.

Now it’s thirty years later, the Ferrari is close to a million in value and so is the DB4. And the Mistral? Not so much. My perception of it being the better car doesn’t translate to price. There aren’t many currently being sold, in part because there weren’t many produced (828 coupés worldwide between 1963 and 1970), but a solid driver seems to go for about $250,000. Jay Leno wrote an article in Octane recently where he wondered WTF was going on with Maserati prices. My memory sucks, but I think he was writing about a Mistral he has.

I drove it as it was for a year, and enjoyed the car greatly. The original paint was a light silver-blue, and the paint was sunburned a bit on the roof. I thought about getting it painted, but one night when I was pushing the car hard in some turns, I came around a corner and found a wide swath of muddy water covering the street. An irrigation pipe had broken. The car spun, slid across a long expanse of grass, and then hit a solid embankment at low speed. Low enough so I wasn’t injured, even though I was just wearing a lap belt, and low enough that there was no frame damage. But the soft aluminum nose was crumpled irreparably.

The tow truck dumped the car into my driveway, and I pushed it into a corner of the garage, trying to decide how to repair a coachbuilt body (one piece welded body–no panels and parts). I contacted a Maserati specialty shop in Washington state, and they told me they had a Mistral that had burned (more on this later). The back of the car was destroyed, but the nose was fine. I showed up with a Sawzall and a check, and cut the nose off the burned Mistral.

Back in Oregon, I cut away all the damaged metal, made jigs to hold the nose in place, and started trying to fit the puzzle pieces. I decided the job was beyond my capabilities and pushed the car to the back of the garage.

Time passed. My software company went out of business, I got divorced, and then started an advertising agency that became quite successful. Through all the moves and transitions I kept the Maserati, flat-towing it from one garage to another, always thinking that some day when I had the time, I’d restore it. Every few months I’d start the car and run it until the oil came up to stable temperature.  A chance encounter put me in touch with a company in Eugene, Oregon called Panelbeaters. They were a very talented bunch, building complete new aluminum bodies from sheet metal. They agreed to do the job and we agreed on a price–about three time what I paid for the car in the first place. A painful decision, but I felt I owed it to the car. It was just too good to junk.

About a year later I got a call that my Maserati was finished and I had to come get it immediately.  The owner of Panelbeaters was heading off to a job with the Ralph Lauren car collection and was closing the shop. I was worried that the work might have been hurried at the end, but when I got to Eugene I was floored. The body was flawless. Better than new. I had seen slight imperfections in the body originally, even with the light paint. With the dark blue paint, any irregularity would be obvious. But it’s gorgeous and the paint is spectacular. The dark blue paint may not be factory original, but it suits the car much better than the light silver blue.

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This is 20-year-old paint. There’s a simple reason why it still looks so great–it’s hardly ever been outside. 

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The Borrani wheels are gorgeous. The chrome inner hubs have some corrosion, but most of it can be polished out. A specialist would make them look better than new, but anyone with time and some polish could make them look fantastic. 

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There are a few scrapes in the paint from when the bumper was refitted. Needs touch-up 

 

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One of the standards for fine bodywork is gap consistency. The clip that replaced the damaged nose started just about in line with the chrome lip. Not only is the repair undetectable in any way, but the gaps are perfect on the hood all the way around. I would never have been able to get that so perfect. Sorry about the cover fuzz. 

 

 

But now the marginal interior was much too tatty to be tolerated, and some of the leather had shrunk. The conundrum was that a lot of the interior was in excellent shape, with a fine patina that new upholstery would take decades to acquire. I needed someone to replace just the unusable interior elements and save the good parts. I’m still looking.

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I pulled the covers off the inner fenders to access the fuel tanks. The upper strip is shrunken and perished, but the cover itself might be salvageable

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The headliner and leather bolsters are in remarkably good shape. there was a time that restoration would have meant ripping all this out and replacing it with new, but I think that would be a shame. 

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Wheel well covers are lovely. A little stained and scuffed, but so am I. It’s lovely patina. 

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The bad and the good–the seat backs are terrible, the seat cushion is a Naugahyde replacement (dumb) but the little vestigal seats in back (who fits in those??) are perfect.

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Menehune seats and cargo cover for them. 

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Dashboard is great.

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There’s some split stitching (about an inch) over the glove compartment that’s an easy repair. 

img_0751There’s a spot on the leather to the right of the mirror where something hot looks to have been laid, but other than that it’s in fine shape. 

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I don’t think the door panels were this bad when I pulled them off twenty years ago. 

 

There were also three other projects that I wanted to complete before I started using the car again. The electric window winders have teeth missing at the end of travel when the window is fully down. I wanted to rebuild those, so I took the doors apart and started looking for someone to repair them. The gas tanks (there is one in each of the rear fenders) have a crossover pipe that can pull loose much too easily. I know why some Maseratis burned up–the pipe is just rubber hose with hose clamps and no retaining bubble on the hard pipe of the tank. That needed to be replaced with a much more secure crossover. I planned to fabricate that with Aeroquip hose and AN fittings.

And finally the enormous oil sump seems to have no effective baffling. The car starves for oil in long hard turns. Better baffling and/or an accusump accumulator was needed.

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Door panels and window mechanism removed for repair.

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Twenty years ago repairing these segment gears was going to be a bitch. Now I’d have them scanned and cut with a water jet. 

I had a plan, I had a list, and then a really nice custom M6 BMW came my way. So the Maserati got pushed to the back of the garage with a nice car cover on it. More years went by, the Maserati got moved around as projects came and went. I was getting ready to dive into the restoration when I got interested in vintage car racing. Built a TR3 to race but I went much too far with the modifications (Rules? There are rules?), bought a TR3-based special called Peyote.  The Mistral got rolled back and covered. I got serious again, but I bought a Ferrari 355 Spider and the Mistral got rolled back.

More time passed, I retired, and moved to Hood River, Oregon. I bought a shop building and started working my way through the many projects I have. I’ll be 70 next year, time to get some of this stuff done. But last week when I was backing my race car up to load it in the trailer, I backed into the Maserati. It’s minor damage, nothing that any decent painter can’t fix, but it’s the straw that broke the camels back.

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My race car is named Peyote. When it turned 50 we had a birthday party for it at Portland International Raceway, and I made buttons that read, “A little Peyote never hurt anyone”. I guess that doesn’t apply to Maseratis. This really pissed me off. 

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I look at all the projects I have to do, most of which are well within my limited capabilities, and I figure I need to live to be 120 to finish them all. The Maserati is just not going to happen.

 

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I have plenty of projects to keep me busy, there’s about 20 years worth right here. 

 

My wife says “It’s a beautiful car, nice to have just to look at. Why would you sell it? You don’t have to do anything with it, just put it in an out of the way spot and enjoy it.”

I can’t do that. Anyone who has bothered to read this far knows why.

So I’m going to sell it. I’ve submitted it to Bring A Trailer, a publication that I’ve always enjoyed. I expect that they will accept it. It’s a pretty cool car and will be an amazing project for someone who has the skills and time to finish it.

What’s it worth? Not a clue. I know what I have into it–about $45K in 1980 dollars. According to an inflation calculator, that’s $138,769.56.  Storing it and pushing it around for all those years? Who knows. Thinking about that kind of puts all those notions about saving cars as an investment into perspective–it’s not a free ride. There’s a reason vintage cars cost a lot these days–beyond the lack of equally enjoyable “investments” that is.

For the right person this will be a fairly easy restoration and will result in a spectacular car. I hope the right person gets it. But it’s not me.

 

***Update*** My Maserati sold on Bring A Trailer for 117,000 after some very spirited and exciting bidding. It’s been shipped to Asia to restore it to service. All the best to the new owner, and no, I never found the keys. Sorry.

People have asked if the engine turns freely. Here’s a video of me cranking it:

The engine turns smoothly. The effort evident in the video is turning the engine against compression. 

 

More pictures in no particular order:

 

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Yes, the spare is a Borrani wheel. It looks to be unused, both because of how clean the inner rim is and how unmarked the splines are. img_0562 img_0563 img_0564 img_0565 img_0566

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Water pump with concentric shaft electromagnetic clutch

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Number 600 of 828

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Gas cap cover chips

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Hood gaps are perfect. No, that isn’t a chip on the edge of the hood, just the reflection of my bald head

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Door gaps are perfect. They weren’t this good originally Panelbeaters made them right. 

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The chrome polishes right up. 

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Polished vs. unpolished. A few moments of effort. I should do the whole car, but then I’d want to do the wheels. Nah. 

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This is the only bad bit of outside chrome. The roller tube for the luggage cover has rust at the ends. 

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Needs attention

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Bumper ding

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Peyote ding. Damn!

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Taillight lens on the left side needs some work. These are hard to get and expensive, but this is repairable. 

 

Undercarriage: One of the Bring A Trailer members asked to see some undercarriage shots. So I put the car on my lift this morning and took these. Been a while since I’ve been under this thing.

 

 

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Wheel wells, and all the exposed metal under the car is coated with an undercoating material. The wheel wells are aluminum.
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There’s some flaking of the undercoat material but the metal underneath is in fine shape
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The body under the lower edge door trim is a rubbery undercoat sort of material that is painted the body color.
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Wheel well and lower edge of body.

 

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There’s a little corrosion on the bumper under the edge. I should have tried polishing it out. Also some scapes in the aluminum apron–curb rash. You can see that the superleggra framework supporting the nose was undamaged in the accident. It was a low speed incident that crumpled aluminum and nothing much else. Didn’t even disturb the radiator but it sure wadded up the aluminum.

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The rubber bushings that the roll bar is fixed to are perished, but still flexible

 

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The undercoating on the frame tubes is intact and well adhered. The huge sump under the engine is remarkably unscraped.

 

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A little undercoat flacking on this frame tube.

 

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Suspension detail

 

 

 

 

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Underneath the rear bumper. Most of the frame is covered by the aluminum belly pan, which is undercoated. The spare recess in the trunk is solid, the battery box needs refurb. I should have pulled that old battery out twenty years ago.

 

 

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Rear springs are in good shape, the leather “anti-squeak” panels are still in place.

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Corroded battery box
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The wimpy stop strap on the left side is intact.
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The one on the right side is broken. I’d replace these with some heftier webbing.

 

 

 

 

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Exhaust system is done for. I tried to get a shot of the header but couln’t manage it–it’s in good condition. You can see in the engine bay shots that the header is a heavy casting in good condition.

 

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Undertray and exhaust. The exhaust system should be replaced up to the header. The header is fine.

 

 

 

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Flaked undercoating in rear wheel well. Aliminum underneath the undercoat. It appears the undercoating doesn’t stick to the aluminum as well as it does to steek.
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Front suspension is undamaged and shows no corrosion
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Suspension stop is checked on the surface, but is solid and flexible, roll bar grommets are toast but intact.

 

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Parking lot scrape. Gotta watch those curbs.

 

 

 

 

 

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Engine sump–not a mark on it. Surprising. Floor pans have some scarpes and dents but are intact and good.

 

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Radiator and roll bar bushing
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Belly pan and tramsmission
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Belly pan
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Cracked section in the drivers side belly pan.

 

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Dented section, driver’s side belly pan.
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Fuel lines

 

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Battery tray corrosion
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img_0844Rear bumper corrosion

Categories
Equipment Hobbies

Garage Porn

I’ve got a nice shop. I used to have a great one under my house in Portland, but when we moved  our new home only had a one car garage with what looks like a bomb shelter under it–concrete ceiling seven feet high. I rented warehouse space for my tools and toys but there was no room to work–especially since I was also running a business from part of the space. So when a light industrial building came available as a bank foreclosure I snapped it up.

It took a little demolition to clear the shop space, there were massive concrete structures for mounting big machinery in the way. I stupidly jackhammered them out myself. I may be 68 but I still think I’m 19. I also painted the place, which meant a lot of time spent on a scissor lift–the ceilings are 30′ high. I replaced all the sodium lamps with LED parking lot lamps. Nice light, instant on instead of ten-minute warmup, and 55 watts for similar lumens instead of 500 for each lamp. Then I installed the lift and the cabinet, by myself. I swear I’m an idiot when it comes to hiring help. Then I did a little decorating. Here’s the result.
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Yeah, I put the car body up there myself. I’m consistently idiotic.

Categories
Hobbies Sport

Foote Production Boards

I’m biased against production boards. Ever since I got my first custom board–which was a Bill Foote 10’10 X 29″–I’ve been a custom board snob. But I’ve been looking at the board Bill himself rides most of the time, and it has really nice exposed carbon on the rails of the last foot of tail. I was surprised to learn that it is a production board made by a company owned by a Japanese friend of Meister Foote.  When I heard he had a 9’6″ X 29″ I wanted to try it. Unfortunately Loch Eggers was using the demo, so Bill suggested I try the 10′ X 30″. I wasn’t that excited about such a big board, but I gave it a go. I was surprised that it was quite a bit less stable than my 9’10” X 33″ custom but I liked the board. I have another secret purpose for wanting to look at the board, and though I loved the speed, the smooth turns and the recovery from losing balance, I wasn’t impressed by the stability and started talking about a new custom. Instead Bill said “Try this 10’4″ X 34″. I haven’t tried it myself yet, let me know what you think”.

I thought it might serve my secondary purpose, but surely this would not be a board for me. Even though I’m 245 pounds and 6’2″ I typically surf SUP boards in the mid-eight foot to mid-nine-foot range. I assumed I’d hate the big barge, but I resolved to give it a try. Here’s what I posted about this on the Standup Zone:

All the forecasting tools pointed for a rare good sized evening session. Maui doesn’t have those often, the wind usually builds in the afternoon, but today it was supposed to die about 2:30, which was also low tide, and the swell that peaked at noon would still be 9 feet and about 14 seconds. So yeah, it all came together. When I paddled out the wind was just shifting from light offshore to slightly stronger onshore, but then it swung east and died flat. There were a few closeouts in the mix, but a lot of ridable shoulders as long as you went hard out of the gate and then did your turning and playing once you got out of the danger zone.

The takeoffs on the big waves were steep, with the kind of hanging drops that can sometimes spell “Lawn Dart”. But the board I was on handled them amazingly well.

I made a huge pain in the ass of myself in the lineup raving about this board. It’s a Foote Production 10’4″ X 34″ that I was prepared to hate. I tried the 10′ this morning and found it less stable than my 9’10″X 32″ custom Foote, but it was very fast and oddly I found I could recover from tipping better than on my other boards. It also turned well, but about the same as the 9’10”

So Bill said “Try this 10’4″, I haven’t tried it myself yet, let me know what you think.” I took it with me, but I also had my 9.0 X 33″on the truck so when I decided this 10’4 sucked that I could swap boards and salvage the night.

But what I think is that it’s the most remarkable board I’ve been on in years. Stable as a dock, which is usually bad, because that means it won’t turn. Then I found out on the paddle to the lineup that unlike most larger boards it goes through and over head high breaking waves and whitewater like a hot knife through butter. I punched into waves that I expected to have to kick the board over, and found myself standing on the other side, shocked.

Ok, that’s all just ducky, but it’s going to suck at surfing.

Wrong.

It turns from the nose. It turns hard, hard, hard from the tail, and in the middle it plants the thinned out rails and does high-G banked turns like a formula car. Honestly, I’ve never surfed this well before. The board was always under my feet. I couldn’t out-turn it. I started really hanging my body out, in top turns and cutbacks, and it’s always right there. I raved about it to anyone that would listen. I’m sure they looked at the aircraft carrier under my feet and said “Pono’s lost it”. But I’m in lurve. Great board. Great night.

We surfed from 2:30 until 6:00. I felt like a limp noodle. With the morning session I surfed about five or six hours today.  Just before I went in I looked back at the west Maui mountains and the setting sun was shining up through the surf haze and vog, silhouetting the mountains and the valley with gold beams of light shooting up into the clouds. Looked like some over-the-top painter’s idea of heaven. Way too beautiful to be real. I yelled to Boyum so he’d look at it, and we both stood there on our boards like a couple of stoners. I said “You know what this means. This is the kind of thing you see just before you get creamed.” I started looking out at the horizon for the mother of all mackers, but instead I caught a nice big left and rode it halfway to the beach.

I drove home in the twilight, listening to Boz Scaggs and soaking up the twilight and the ocean smell from the crashing waves at Ho’okipa, and the flowers, and I felt like I was stoned, or zoned, or zenned, or something. Perfect night. Amazing board. Bill’s not getting this one back. I’ll keep the demo. This board might have some kind of accidental mojo. I’m sure they’re all really just like this, but I’m not taking any chances.

So after that experience, and another session this morning, I decided to find out what the heck is making this board work so well. I know asking Bill Foote will not be particularly useful. He just mutters something about doing this for most of his life. But something is making this board work so well in so many ways that it doesn’t seem that it should.

After measuring, fiddling, checking the rocker, tracing the rail line, and running a straightedge over the bottom I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one very complicated board. Here’s what I found.

IMG_1507The volume is a very hefty 174 Liters, that’s easily enough for a 280 pound person. It’s 4  3/8″ at it’s thickest point, but the rails are dropped deeply to not much more than an inch

The bottom contour starts fairly flat, even a little convex at the nose,

IMG_1512It blends quickly into single concave. The nose is also thinned out dramatically both top and bottom.

IMG_1511Under the feet it’s a double concave

IMG_1510Which transitions to a little V close to the fin. The tail after the fin is flat

You can see on my custom 9′ 10″ that the rails are dropped, but they are thicker and they are dropped uniformly so the rails follow the rocker of the bottom

On the production board the rail is much thinner, and the dropped edge shift subtly upwards as it curves toward the nose, following a slightly tighter curve than the bottom rocker.

I’ll get a shot of the rocker later, my wife’s car is in the way of getting to my rocker stick up in the garage loft. But it looks like typical Foote rocker–flattish towards the tail, a little tighter curve in the nose. The reverse scoop of the upper nose is different, haven’t seen that on his boards before. It might be part of the reason the thing knifes through whitewater so well.

So what does this all mean? Well, I’m just guessing, I’m sure more experienced folks will correct my misconceptions, but I think the thinned out rail and the tighter curve of the rail is what makes the thing track so well when you bury the rail in a turn. It’s progressive, the harder you bury the rail, the tighter it turns. I think the V in the tail is why it’s so quick to turn when you step back, but the flat section past the fin keeps it from having that click–click rail-to-rail set that I find so irritating on most boards with V in the tail. The single concave in the nose is why it’s so easy to get out past the logo. I haven’t truly nose-ridden it yet, but I think I will be able to.

Bottom line, it’s fast, handles like a much smaller board, and gets every last bit of stability it’s size has to offer. Remarkable board.

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Bending Metal

I’m playing with several projects at once right now, mostly to increase my abilities to make metal behave. So far the score is Metal 4, Pono 1. And that 1 was probably a tie at best.

What I’m up to is updating and upgrading Nero, my Airstream toyhauler. When I built Nero I cut a lot of corners as far as the fit and trim of the garage interior goes. I also cut a few in the living space, but not as egregiously. I’m trying improve the fit and appearance of things like the cabinet doors and drawers. I want to use as much of the original parts as I can, just make them better.

To that end I recently bought some metal shaping tools in addition to the basic stuff I already have. I got a shrinker and stretcher from Harbor tools that seems to work quite well. They’re foot operated on a pedestal mount with makes them much easier to use.

I also bought a great 36″ powered bead roller from Mittler Brothers, as well as some oval cut/flare dies and a hydraulic hole punch for sheet metal. The plan is to do something decorative with the doors and drawers at the same time that I make them work better.

As always, there’s a learning curve, and so far I’m screwing up with both hands. Besides some obvious mistakes I’m also having trouble with the panels distorting. Lots to learn. I’ll keep at it, but in the meantime here’s the initial screwups, and one not-so-bad door and cover.

Two cabinet doors

Besides some obvious scewups and inaccuracies, the big doors are too distorted to use. I may try to put them on a welded frame, or just try again. Probably just try again.

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This door works, and doesn’t look too bad. The finger hole was already there, so I shifted the design to the left.

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That makes it off-center to the lower panel design which is shifted right to avoid the switch plate. Together they look like crap. I’m going to redo the lower panel in hopes that I can make the pair tolerable. I’m probably chasing mistakes and compounding problems, but it’s worth a go. I need to go to Portland and get a bunch of fresh aluminum to screw up.

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Not bad looking, but it oilcans like crazy. I need practice, and better designs. these look a little adolescent.

 

 

Update:

I made a new cover panel to rivet  onto the bottom cover. I’m happier with it, though it still looks like works of primitive man. It’s going to take practice to get the lines straight and the curves consistent.

 

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