The Long Anticipated Return of Eddie Buck
I have sat this out long enough. I’ve had a break that has lasted longer than I had hoped. I knew, when I would start thinking ‘” This would make a great column…” I had to give it serious thought. I’ve gotten to go on a couple of adventures, buy some cool stuff, get back to work on the Hippo and rekindle my love for anything loud fast, and on four wheels. Possibly the most fun I have had in a while is taking part in some cruises, started by people who wanted to rekindle the fun we had at our local cruisin’ spot. From the youngest of drivers, to guys in their 70’s, they would all show up and it was a blast. A number of cars from 40 years ago have come out of the woodwork and it was great to see them again.
My friend Doug, kept me on my toes during this period also. He was bringing his new Vette around, having me do things to personalize it in his vision. One sweet piece of machine it is. I miss the random pals showing up, messing with the cars, bench racing, bullshitting. Having some laughs, some good and sometimes deep conversations keeps it interesting and fresh. Very much the stress reliever, for sure. Thanks
Doug! Missing the California Hot Rod Reunion, Bowling Green, and Nitro Revival this year, was a bit hard to take. There was just too much adulting going on. Tending to the shop, as it is growing like no other time I can remember. Losing my key employee didn’t help either. But, I was able to rehire a former employee and gain some perspective and peace of mind. It also made me realize I had become far to immersed in the place. There’s a lot of projects that have fallen by the wayside recently and it is time to get back to them. It needs to return to being a living…. not a life.
The Hippo suffered the most. After the debacle with some work done in 2020, I pretty much parked it in the Mr. Ed and didn’t look at it for months. One day, I put the blower on the bench, bolted the Hilborn on it, and started pouring over any photos I could find of the injection system. Through the help of Shawn Dill, Mike Whitney, and Brendan Murry, I was able to procure the proper vintage parts. The biggest challenge was the mount for the barrel valve. There weren’t any clear photos and the piece that was made for it was lacking and all wrong. I had a new design program that had allowed me to enlarge a couple of images, to the point I could make out some minute details. Bouncing them off Pete Eastwood didn’t hurt either. One day, I was messing with it and my youngest, Spencer, came out and was watching me. He started asking questions about the cardboard and foam core mock-ups I had made, that seemed to litter the bench and floor. Eventually, he took the ball and ran with it, by quietly going into the office, sitting down at the 3 D printer and making a few rough prototypes. I’ll be damned, it was enough to start making sense of what was there. Referring back to the photos, for the umpteenth time, finally solved a couple of mysteries. Now, it is done. Everything is solid and what isn’t supposed to move…doesn’t. All the parts fit and fall into the proper place. The linkage is the proper lengths and fits. I don’t have to worry about sending the blower into orbit and hurting people. I know many people drooled and fawned over photos that were over-posted and over-hyped and morphed into an interpretation of what never was. I can understand the desire to be considered a master fabricator by the droves of facebook devotees… but it was dangerous and photos hid a multitude of shortcomings. Now, I am proud of the way it has turned out. But I can’t and won’t take credit for its creation. I re-created what photos showed already there and what men, 50 years ago, had put together. It has to be exact… it’s the only way to do it. I spent far too much time not being satisfied or able to say it was complete…right. Every part there belongs.
The engine is next. all the pieces are gathered up and in the process of being massaged and assembled. Once it finds it’s way back into the confines of the SPE and fires up, then it will be blown apart and paint will take the place of the bare metal. Next year, it will make noise and breathe fire, in tribute to Hippo and every driver that sat in its seat.
I selfishly hope for some prolonged periods of snow in the coming months. It will give me the excuse/opportunity to do a cosmetic restoration of the Mr. Ed. I have too many projects. I’ve gotten rid of a couple more during the pandemic and have narrowed my focus… we’ll see how that works. It seems time keeps claiming our own, from the bonds of this rock. One of the most prolific painters of the modern era was lost recently. Danny D, and irreplaceable talent in the lowrider world, as well as a master craftsman and teacher. It seems as if weekly, we have lost more heroes from our golden age. Let’s keep healthy out there. Take care of yourselves and don’t do risky things. It seems that going a couple hundred miles an hour, on the ragged edge used to be considered risky, but is almost passe , compared to simply socializing with friends and contracting a virus. Nearly lost a good friend, Bob Higginson, to it this past summer. Luckily, he survived and will continue to bring his wife many headaches for years to come!.
That’s it. Time to head off to bed. In the immortal words of our hero, Tom Jobe…” keep it lit”.
Yeah…. I’m back.
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD – By Eddie Buck