Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Category: Non-Aviation Page 1 of 2

An Airplane Guy and at Auto Show

As I mentioned in the auto museum article I accompanied some friends to the Goodguys 25th West Coast Nationals Hot Rod Show while my propeller was out getting new seals installed. I enjoy looking at nicely restored or modified cars, but I’m an airplane guy at heart.  So, whenever I found something that was even remotely aviation-related I took a picture of it.

The entrance to the show first took spectators through the flea-market area. Just like AirVenture the place was filled with parts vendors and people selling restoration projects. Model aircraft for sale in the back of a partially restored truck. There was a partially restored truck at one end of a row with an enclosed flat bed that held my first aviation discovery…  These RC models were for sale. The one on the right seems a bit expensive, but I’ve never had an RC model so I really don’t know. I’ve never been able to justify spending money on a model when I have a full-size version to try and keep in the air.

Almost any flea-market operation will have at least one vendor who is selling old (or new) metal signs of one sort or another. Metal sign for sale in the flea-market. There were several from airlines now long gone and quite a few with warbirds on them. I’m always tempted to get one or more, but manage to resist the temptation (see spending money above) – I already have several on the wall around the hangar.

Concurrent with the hot rod show was a gathering of people who build or collect miniature engines – gas, electric and steam – that are true to design and fully operational. The displays occupied one of the buildings on the fairgrounds where the auto show was being held.

Operating model of a 1917 Bentley Rotary engine.

This is a working model of a 1917 Bentley Rotary engine. Unfortunately I was never around when they demonstrated it running.


Working model of a 1917 Curtiss OX-5 aircraft engine.

This is a working model of a 1917 Curtiss OX-5 aircraft engine.






Working model of a 7-cylinder radial aircraft engine.

This is a working model of a 7-cylinder radial aircraft engine. Smaller single-cylinder engines are on a small display stand to the right and a set of really small spark plugs is on a stand to the left.


Cutaway radial engine model.


This is another radial aircraft engine, this time with cutaway cylinders and case to show the inner workings. So that’s how it works!


1941 Western Flyer coach.

OK, this is stretching the aviation bit a  little –  it is a 1941 Western Flyer. I really like the ‘rudder’ off the top rear of the body.  It’s probably dangerous to drive, though. Everybody you passed would feel that strong urge to take a photo and text it or post it to Facebook while they were driving. Western Flyer from the front.

This is the view from the front. From this angle it looks like they wanted it to look like the front of a train.

It was for sale. Unfortunately the interior was pretty much bare. Guess they blew their budget restoring the outside.

Flight school hot rod truck.


Much closer to airplanes again – this hot rod truck was restored to a vehicle used by a flight school. It even has a wooden propeller on a stand in the bed.

Moal Coachbuilders


Steve Moal and his sons, Michael and David, are carrying on the work of Steve’s grandfather and father in the area of coach building. He is known to have something new and off the wall each year at the Hot Rod Show. This year it was this aluminum-body speedster.Moal coachworks, Oakland, CA


The aluminum body is hand-formed. The fenders were made in multiple pieces, welded together and then hammered and formed to the point that the seams were no longer visible. You can see a row of perfectly formed rivets around the bottom of the body. Their website is at Moal Coachbuilders.


Moal coachworks.

This is a look at the ‘cockpit.’ It looks like he bought a wrecked airplane and took all the instruments out of the panel. Off to the right you can see the altimeter. The oil pressure and temperature gauges look pure airplane as do most of the switches and other gauges.

For those of you who are car as well as airplane fanatics I’ll include photos of some cars the caught my eye. The workmanship is outstanding. I’m sure that any one of the builders/restorers could complete and award-winning aircraft.

Monster engine.


I couldn’t pass this up – like putting a Merlin into a C-172 – only fewer problems with the c.g.




Hot Rod


Beautiful paint, beautiful interior. Great body work. I can’t imagine taking this out on the road.


Bug with a mohawk.



Makes you want to have a beer – and get your hair cut…



And here is the Goodguys’ music video of the 2011 event. Next year’s West Coast Nationals at Pleasanton, CA will be August 24-26, 2012

A Look at an Auto Museum

Last week, while my prop was out getting new seals installed,  I spent a couple of days with some friends at the West Coast National Hot Rod Show in Pleasanton, CA. It’s the hot rod version of AirVenture for the West Coast. Instead of rows and rows of airplanes of various shapes and sizes the rows were populated with cars and trucks in the same state of restoration or modification.

On the way to the show we stopped at a museum that the group I was with Blackhawk Auto Museum, Danville, CA wanted to show to the ‘new guy’ (these guys have been making this trip for over ten years – there’s that AirVenture similarity again). The place that we stopped is the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA. It is located at one end of a very upscale shopping area.  I was going to just show you a photo or two and move on the the Hot Rod show, but I couldn’t pare down the shots I took, so we’ll get to the hot rods in the next post. Hang in there – you’ll see more than one aviation reference in the car descriptions.

1949 Healey Silverstone


Donald Healey was initially a race driver – he won the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally. In the 1930’s he was Experimental Manager for Triumph, then started Donald Healey Motors right after WWII. This Healey Silverstone was introduced in 1949 – an open-top two-seater with an aluminum body. Only 105 of them were built during 1949-1950. Survivors of the model are very rare.

1937 Cadillac Hartmann Cabriolet

1937 was the last year for Cadillac’s 452 cu-in V-16 engine. They made only 50 cars that year and only allowed 2 chassis of the model to be taken to independent coach builders. This chassis was purchased by Phillipe Barraud who took it to a fellow Swiss, Willy Hartmann. Hartmann designed and produced this 22-foot long cabriolet body.

1924 Hispano-Suiza "Tulipwood" Tornado

Andre Dubonnet was already an accomplished race car driver and pilot by age 26. His family amassed their fortune selling the aperitifs and cognacs which still bear the family name. Dubonnet contracted with the Nieuport Aircraft company to make a body for his new car that would be good for racing and touring. They used 3/4″ stringers covered with a 1/8″ wood veneer. Then strips of tulipwood of uneven thickness and length were attached to the veneer with thousands of brass rivets. The sealed, sanded and varnished body weighed about 160 pounds.

1953 Ferrari 250MM Vignale-bodied Spyder

Phil Hill was the 1961 World Driving Champion and was the first American to win the Formula One World Driver’s Championship. His record stood for 17 years and now is shared with Mario Andretti. This 1953 Ferrari 250MM Vignale-bodied Spyder was Hill’s personal car. He drove it to first place in the 1953 Pebble Beach Road Race.

1936 Duesenberg Model SJ

This is the business end of a 1936 Duesenberg Model SJ. The “SJ” designation indicates that this is a supercharged version of the model J. The supercharged Lycoming engine became available in 1932 and upped the horsepower from 260 to 320.

1933 Packard 1004 Sport Phaeton

This is a 1933 Packard 1004 Sport Phaeton in all it’s glory. Only two of these cars were built. It has a 142″ wheelbase and sports a 145 HP straight-8 engine. True elegance.


1953 Alpha-Romeo B.A.T. 5

This is a 1953 Alpha-Romeo B.A.T 5. It was designed and created by Franco Scaglione and Nuccio Bertone. It is the fifth design exercise and the first of their full-scale cars debuted at the 1953 Turin Motor Show. The B.A.T (Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica) was designed to have the lowest possible drag coefficient – it was built on the Alpha-Romeo 1900 Sprint chassis.

1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen

This is the first commercially available automobile ever offered. Karl Benz used his love of bicycles as his inspiration and applied for a patent in 1886 as an automobile powered by a gas engine. This is a working replica of that vehicle. It is powered by a 3/4 horsepower 0ne-cylinder engine turning at 400 RPM. It’s top speed was 8 mph on 25 mile per gallon.

These were only a few of the beautifully restored cars on display. I would highly recommend a side trip to the museum if you are ever in the Danville, CA area – even for an airplane guy like me it was an excellent experience.


I want to thank those of you who posted comments and sent emails concerning my last article. It’s really nice to get some feedback on how my writing is accepted. I realize that I haven’t been asking for feedback or engaging with you readers as much as I should and I will try to do better in the future.

Yes, I’m going to continue writing and see if I can become a better writer and friend to all of you.

This week is the National Championship Air Races at Stead Airport, in Reno, NV. That is both my home town and my home airport. I will try to write something each day about what I have seen and will include photos that I have taken.

And on to day one.

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