Saturday, May 3, 2014

Drive to the Bridge 2014 ( a forgotten bit)

So the other day in some play on Facebook my friend Logan asked whatever happened to the thing I was writing in the hotel room in Kentucky, I had read bits and pieces as I worked on it to my fellow imbibers and he happened to remember. I did some searching on the laptop and after realizing that after many cans of PBR, a few Yuenglings, a couple bottles of Latangos homebrew, and maybe a shot or 2, I managed to save it in a random place  on my laptop where it would have collected e-dust until times untold. So, a bit late but better than never......

I am a VW enthusiast. I have been enamored by them since my earliest memories. Growing up very close to Road America, I had a lot of exposure to all types of exotic automobiles. Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfas, Maseratis and the likes.   Much to chagrin of the people I was with at these events (I think I was there with the wrong folks?), I would beeline to the motorsport prepped VWs and want to hang out by them the entire time I was there. This has stayed with me throughout the years  and made itself a large part of my adult life. Through the years I have owned, disassembled, modified, and driven these cars religiously. What the hell is wrong with me?

Today was the official kickoff of the season for guys like me. We live for days like today. We wait all winter for that day that we can pile tools into our cars, clothes, spare parts,  toiletries if we remember them as well as anything else we think of in the middle of the night before the trip after we put the car back together after whatever last minute project we had to perform  and hit the road with people we generally only see for events like this.
We all meet up, and drive our piles, some very well built articulated piles, and some held together only by sheer willpower and zipties.
Milwaukee kick off. Thanks Lower Standards for hooking it up

Today we met up in Milwaukee and embarked on a journey to Louisville KY for a show called Water By The Bridge. That whole event will be a different post as it deserves it. The time and energy it takes to pull off an event like that is staggering. More on that in another post though. I have lots to say about that.
So after leaving the first stop of course in traffic the group always gets split. You find your cruising buddies and point your cars in the right direction and just roll. I’m not sure how to describe it beyond chaos with spots to stop and take a breather.

We had skipped the first stop in hopes of making some time up and getting to Louisville ahead of schedule to hopefully make it to a friends shop to roll some fenders to avoid eating up new tires.
Not wanting to tangle with law enforcement we opted to take the safe method and not push our luck and stay within realm of the posted speed limits. Unbeknownst to us, we arrived at the northern Indiana stop shortly after the rest of the cruisers. So much for that.
After fueling and a little banter and ribbing from the rest of the cruise about being old and driving slow we hit the road again.
Hebron IN. The entire front of the gas station is our crowd. Good times. Travel in packs and be awesome.

Every roadtrip is/has a story, sometimes somebody breaks down and the community pulls together and either gets it fixed or secures transport home for said vehicle. Either way it’s inevitable with the cars we drive.
Shortly (moments) after getting on the highway Flinny my co pilot said “wow, that diesel up there is really smoking” as of course in our world, the only cars that break on the highway are our VWs. I was of the school of thought that there was a definitive problem with said car. At least a half mile ahead of us this car was smoking not only more than a diesel but was emitting smoke similar to a house fire. A bit farther down the road it pulled off the highway onto the shoulder so I hit the hazards and made the necessary moves to pull off. Several other cars followed suit and as we got closer I realized it wasn’t even one of ours. It was a Chevy Cobalt and was clearly having a major technical issue. As I rounded the front of the car, the driver had already popped the hood and as seconds passed the smoke was getting heavier.  The driver was sticking her head out of the window saying “somethings wrong with my car!” I opened the hood and was greeted with flames from the back of the engine theat were bordering on 2 feet high and rapidly growing. I immediately yelled “ get out of the car NOW!” and poked my head around the hood and started hollering to the others to get a fire extinguisher. With traffic blowing by us at 80 mph it’s hard to hear. It’s disorienting and hard to make out what someone is saying. After screaming at the top of my lungs several times  to get an extinguisher the closest person finally read my lips and got “fire”
It was this persons lucky day. Not sure how that would have went for her if people who don't drive old VWs had stopped. We know what to do if there's a fire lol.....

With some well placed VW roadside fire training we passed the crucial “Either it’s good, or get the hell away” point. With the fire out a couple of us waited with the owner for the authorities and when they arrived we hit the road. Good deed done. Hopefully that means karma will get our cars home without the assistance of a flatbed.
The rest of the trip was uneventful actually. Smooth, nice weather, by Indianapolis the sunroofs and windows were open and we were cruising with sun. Ideal. The only thing that really stands out in my head is when we got to the hotel, I stepped out of my car and smelled hot coolant. Uh oh. As I crawled around under my hood with a flashlight looking for the source I remembered I was in a parking lot with a slew of old VWs that had just driven for hours in warm weather. Totally normal to smell that then haha. Which leads me back to the first paragraph. But I think you get it now…..

Till next time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

3 days, a bunch of friends, 18 hours of driving, alot of cars and one big ass show. Water By The Bridge 2014! (Louisville KY)

Credit- Sabryna Rohr

We wait, we wait and wait all winter long. We drink, hang out, ski, snowboard, play video games, and wrench on our cars. Maybe other stuff in there too, We all have hobbies to pass time. 

One thing we all hold common is that we are all anticipating our first escapade to a show. 

Water by the Bridge in Louisville KY is the first and earliest event since the weather there although hit or miss, turns a little sooner than ours here so the trek down has not disappointed us for the last couple years. Some near misses, like snow the day after, but so far so good.

With barges lazily rolling by on the Ohio River and a massive park area built of red bricks and huge bridges in the background that are the northern entry points to Louisville, Water by the bridge is an excellent example of the things we wait for all winter.

With an easy 600 cars there this year all inclusive and a brilliant selection of handmade craftsmanship of things that were not meant to be in the original designers eyes, but when put together are a great example of imagination and fabrication abilities, like the Team Eurotrash porsche and the old Mini with a porsche drivetrain stuffed up underneath it, Water By the Bridge did not fail to entertain again this year.

photo:billy volm

photo: Billy Volm.   This btw is a old Mini with a Porsche stuffed up in it pretty much.

Or Brad from Team Eurotrash's porsche that has the porsche drivertrain removed and a VW VR6t installed....

This car is a prime example of "garage built"

With tons of eye candy on site for folks to walk around and ogle, this show is a great example of how a small gtg at a shop can grow into a large classy event with good planning, good people and good times all around.

And of course, how about some pics from this year?

This was literally just sitting right there when I pulled up in the morning to set up the Eurotrash booth. Not a bad first shot of the day......

Then of course Richard pulled this up so I had to play a bit....

This show is well worth the drive to KY. Big props to Dinah Jean Volante for her time and energy spent making sure this was a blast, well executed, and one not to miss again if you haven't been yet!
Till next time......

Sunday, March 16, 2014

And to roll out 2014 in a grand way......

Excitement, anxiety, agitation, up all night working on a a project, making phone calls that either end in a "yes!" or result in another immediately after looking for a specific part, daydreams of lawn chairs and coolers full of beer in hotel parking lots, and friends you only see a few times a year. I could go on but these are all examples of the inner workings of a VW enthusiasts mind this week as next weekend officially starts our season. 

March 22 2014 will be the first hashmark on our calendars as Water By the Bridge will happen in a grand fashion In louisville ky (pronounced "loovul" by the locals. If you ever get a minute ask me about that one haha) 
Held in a brilliant spot surrounded by bridges that signal the entry to Loovul from the north in a picture inducing red brick park, more and more of us here in the upper midwest have been embarking on this trip each year. If you feel like an impromptu roadtrip, or will be in that area, you should make a trip over. This really is a big show and gives a great example of the spirit and attitude of our enthusiast group. 

Info on the show here:Water By the Bridge Facebook
Info on our cruise there from this part of the country here:Drive to the bridge event page.

The cruise is one of the best parts, Meet us, roll with us, enjoy life. See you there!

I'll get a full feature up after the show, but for now, how about some photos from last year?

If you do make it down, pop in and see me, I will be housed at the Team Eurotrash booth during the show and I would love to see you! Til next time....Joe D

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's a wrap! (at least a partial one)

Once upon a time when you wanted to make a cosmetic alteration to your car, the options you had were limited. Paint was the the main option and as time went on, some undesirable to many but still creative options were devised due to the cost and desire to spend the money elsewhere in the build
Although not the first choice for many, if done tastefully alternative finishes can be cool...
The ability to create multi color schemes is possible with plasti dip, but it is time consuming and takes multiple coats to achieve the desired effect. Photo borrowed from the plasti dip forums

As technology progressed and different options became available, the realm of creative you had at your fingertips to change the appearance of your vehicle became wide and all encompassing.

I've played around with just about all the options through the years. This year, since my real project car is just that, a project and might see the outside of the garage if only just to move something in there I decided to try and clean up my daily driver. Or at least have a little fun with it so I called up Josh at Art City Signs to mull around his thoughts on my car.

Plain, white, looks good from 30 ft but has some very undesirable characteristics up close, like the hatch....
Banged up, rusty, duct tape holding the license plate tub in. Tsk tsk......

Otherwise a relatively clean example of a mk3 GTI, there were definitely some areas I had to address before taking it to shows, get togethers, etc.

After commiserating with Josh for a bit, I decided to go with a winter camo theme as I didn't want to do the whole car (I am really digging having a white car) and it would be a relatively clean blend into the white of the car. I decided to cover the hatch and just follow a theme through the rest of the car. 

What color do you want? From solid color, metal flakes, carbon fibre prints, and tints. I've learned vinyl has an almost infinite list of possibilities for color.

First step in the miserable Wisco winter is to let the car warm up and thaw out

So after pulling the car in to thaw out, we went about making the product for this application.
The wrap material is vinyl, and it is as specialized as anything else out there. There is a material for just about any application out there. They have the formulation down to the point that there are materials for flat smooth areas, compound curves all with a combination of different thicknesses and laminates to provide the greatest success in the venture. Shortly into my investigation of wrapping, I realized that the people who do these applications have tips, secrets, and proprietary techniques just like any other professional tradesmen. It is not just putting a big sticker on a car.
Capable of printing a 52" wide piece with infinite length, this is cool stuff
Starting with white vinyl we selected the pattern and pretty much just printed off what we needed. As I watched this come out of the printer I couldn't help but be bedazzled by how awesome this process is. With minimal teardown, affordable, and non permanent, I was about to dress my car up. Unreal. Not that I thought it was going to happen, but if I didn't like it, I could just pull it right off. Try that with paint. Even peeling plasti dip off a panel is a pain in the ass.
The next step is the laminate and is one of those "proprietary" things I mentioned earlier.

So with the vinyl ready, and the car warm, the next step is a little basic breakdown of the car to help with a smoother trouble free application.

I took that license plate tub out, but of course forgot to take a picture. oops....
So with that done, the real work starts. first step is to lay the material over the car and position it where you want it to lay out.
Done! How's it look?
With this fastened in place with magnets, it is trimmed down to the basic size and shape of the panel.
Start at one side and work your way across, it's taking shape.
With a process of pulling, heat, stretching and pressure the wrap is put in place. Trim the edges and move on across the panel. This stuff is pretty pliable and more so with the addition of heat. Once the panel is covered you think "whew" but with this revalation from me Josh mentioned that we had just barely just begun. Here's why.

There are alot of nooks and crannys and detail features on a car. Things most wouldn't think of unless embarking on a project like this.

Heat, roll, tuck, heat roll, tuck over all the features. Clean is a must as this is sticky, and dirt will not be a desirable application surface.
I'm not going to lie. At this point after standing back and looking I was getting giddy like a kid at christmas.....
So after it is all laid out, trim the edges, make sure it is down all the way around, cut out the window and tuck it, and viola! One panel done. with the grill, mirror covers and license plate tub left to do it is definately a time consuming process but very rewarding in the end.

How about some more photos?

My humble contribution. I worked on this while Josh did the rest haha. Well, I had to start somewhere...
So my take on vinyl wrap. Affordable, non permanent but durable enough to last a long time. The technology behind these materials is amazing. Limitless possibilities for color and pattern, there really aren't any drawbacks. Of course there are limitation, the hatch on my car was equatable to "polishing a turd" with areas of rust and clearcoat delamination that the wrap wouldn't stick to well at all. Just to clarify though, paint, plasti dip, or any other surface treatment wouldn't have worked either without major surface prep. The only thing that would have stuck to it is more rust.

About Art City Signs:
Josh Marquardt is a 3M certified installer. He opened Art City Signs in 2007. With a shop large enough to accommodate just about any job, and a creative eye for design and style, no job is to big  for him. You can contact him for quotes for all of your sign or vinyl needs either via his website:Art City Signs Or by the phone number or email listed there. 

I'd like to thank Josh for his time and patience putting up with me and all my questions while he did this. Awesome stuff. We are working on a program for Dubs In the Valley customers, stay tuned for details on that. 
Till next time! Joe D