Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cheap Ideas For Your Rod

Well, sorry to all those Suede and Chrome readers who are "traditionalist". Those you think a car should be restored back to how it "came off the assembly line". I've got a couple of cheap things I've done recently that I think have improved the look and "uniqueness" of my car.

The first involves dash knobs. One thing I haven't liked about my car since I bought it is the condition of the dash knobs. Over the last 50+ years, a combination of use and oils from human hands mixed with the heat of the sun have degraded the material that the knobs are made of.

You can see in this picture that the dash knobs are "gnarly" looking.

I've wanted to replace the knobs, and I've watched eBay as well as looked at custom knobs online and at swap meets. I'm not real keen on the "teardrop" knobs, and I haven't really seen anything else I've liked.

Yesterday, while surfing the Internet, I ran across a "customizing tip" that I thought would be an easy answer to the problem, and would certainly be a unique conversation starter. I hope I'm not breaking any copywrite laws by posting a copy of the "tip" in this blog, but here it is.

I thought about trying to find some "period" bottle caps. You know, caps from drinks that were bottled in the 1950's. I even got on eBay and looked for a few. Caps ranged from a few dollars a piece (plus a few more dollars for shipping), to 20 or more dollars a piece on eBay.

I decided I really didn't want to spend that kind of money, AND I remembered I had a ziplock bag of some 1,000 Coca Cola Classic caps that I had "squirreled" several years ago. (o.k....a little info about me. If I see someone throwing something away that I think I might be able to use, I'll take it and 'put it away' until later. Several years ago, the science teachers at my school received a large quantity of unused bottle caps from COSI (Center of Science and Industry). Every year, they would send a "free mini-lab" using simple materials. This particular lab was not a favorite of the teachers, and they decided to throw the caps away.) At the time, I had envisioned making a cool table top using the caps and then pouring clear resin over them. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to do that yet. (editor note: I also thought about spray painting a few caps and trying my hand at some pinstriping instead of using the coke caps.)

I gave the vent knob the same treatment.

Well, to make a long story short, last night I crawled up into the rafters of my garage and found the box containing the bag of bottle caps. I used some epoxy and was amazed that the caps fit perfectly over the old dash knobs. I didn't cover the windshield wiper knob because it is smaller and isn't in that bad of shape.
Another cheap tip is also included in these photographs. I'm noticing more and more decals on cars and trucks these days. You can get about any kind of decal you want from vendors at car shows and swap meets. Some of them are of very poor quality though....sort of blurry or fuzzy looking.

Well decals are a lot like tattoos to me. I've never been interested in getting a tattoo because I can't imagine getting something that permanent. What I think is "cool" today, I may think is pretty stupid 5 or 10 years from now. I've got a friend that recently got a "Taz" tattoo removed from his upper arm. He thought it was cool right out of high school, but pretty stupid in his '30s.
Anyway, the other day I got what I think is a great solution. I searched the Internet for designs that I Mooneyes logo, skull and crossbones, Iron cross, rat fink, etc. Then I printed them out on photo paper. I had some old magnets that I'd bought for a summer job a few years ago. They were designed to put your business card on. They are thin and have an adhesive on one side. I used these, placing the pictures on the magnet, then using a pair of scissors to trim to the size I wanted. The cool thing is, they look like decals, but if I get tried of them, or want to move them around for a different dash is just like my refrigerator!
Well anyway, I guess my point is that it doesn't take a lot of money or even know how to make changes in your cars appearance. Just a little creative thinking and you can do some pretty cool stuff.
Scruffy update on my daughter. She has had her mouth wired shut for the past week. We go back to the doctor tomorrow to have him look at it again.