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

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Boil boil toil and trouble…….
So pull the curtain aside on the drama and everyday battles of just completing a day in the kitchen, be it a skirmish with a co-worker, burned sauce because you forgot your timer, falling behind on prep because the dining room never quieted down in the afternoon, that hangover you just can’t shake or tickets rang in wrong so you are lambasting the server that 86’d milk, any number of things can distract you from the focus of your true purpose there much to the dismay of diners and managers.

Like I said, push all that aside and take a good look at the root of what is happening there and the people doing it. you can spot the temps, they show up, do their job, and go home. Just ships passing in the proverbial night and there just to get by. But look at the people who truly revel in the task of food preparation from start to finish, you can see it in the middle of service time. The guys cleaning plate edges and making sure they garnish each one the same, lovingly, like a new parent making sure babies tie is straight for first portraits.  Checking the sear on a piece of pork belly to make sure it has a perfect crust, constantly tasting the soups or sauces while cooking, because the most important thing is flawless execution. These guys, they are beyond the frustration and distraction. They are in a zone reserved for the truly passionate and when jamming through the busy times it is like watching a well-choreographed dance being performed.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with both schools, and being in each class. Never disappointed with anything, the triumph of getting through a massive push successfully short 2 people and working 2 stations, to the tragedy of being outside propped up against the wall just about asleep in the summer sun, so hungover I could hardly think. Then realizing that the not so horrible, but not good at all smell is the 2 gallons of balsamic I put on to reduce before going outside  manifesting through the vent on the roof to remind me I just destroyed precious commodity because my life interrupted my work. To be precise, as I write this I’m not even sure why I left that world anymore because obviously I miss it eh?

It’s almost time to start talking about food now. I’m just about over the buzz of having contact with this culture again and settling in to a comfy place in my mind with it. I have all kinds of stuff in mind, from fermented foods, to just cool preparation techniques that look impossible when it comes out on your plate but really aren’t that bad when done correctly at home. The world of food has an interesting culture, both in the creation of it, and the people who create it. I know I’ve had a couple of ramblings about this here already, but let’s call this the first official installment of “Foodlife” This post can be the "appetizer course"

Most of my stuff will be from the restaurant I’m working at right now. Having background with several of the people I’m working with now, it is a comfortable, easy transition to playing with food as we have spent the time daydreaming, experimenting and executing. Let’s have some fun.

 If so inclined,you have something you want me to see, get in touch at and we can chat about what you have. Always on the hunt for cool stuff, I’d love to hear about it.

Till next time, Joe D……
Sorry for the lack of photos in these posts, When things get rolling back there, when it is most opportune to get snaps that really represent what I'm talking about, this is normally my view and I would bet $.32 that the people I work with are pretty damn happy I'm focused on this and not on taking pictures of other people doing their job. The photos will come as I have several installments in mind that require some planning and execution therefore not during service times. Bear with me and thanks. This is all I could muster when I had a minute to think about it haha.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


  1. 1.
    a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.

To many not used to this environment, this would be the most fitting word they could use to describe a busy kitchen. But amidst the chaos as I stated in my first post some truly remarkable things come from the noise. Using practiced techniques and honed preparation skills the artist creates shining examples of their art if only to be admired for a moment before a hungry diner ruthlessly cuts into it and makes it disappear bit by delicious bit. I hope to highlight that creativity here, I only hope I can accurately represent the time and energy that really goes into it. But first I want you to have a little better understanding of where it all goes.
The prep kitchen. Recipes on the wall.
I'll get into the food a little bit more later, For now I want to say that the place in the photo is a busy busy place. Any idea how many veggies need to be cut, fish and steaks need to be trimmed and how much/many sauces need to be prepped to serve several hundred people dinner on any given night? Astronomical amounts.

Last night was one of those nights where you wonder if you are going to get a big hit (you know you are, with 2 thirty tops on the books and a slew of smaller reservations it's inevitable) So you fall into a lull waiting for it and then BOOM! The printer starts it's robotic droning, the wheel guy starts hollering out what needs to go on at each station, the servers have all but disappeared because it is clear the entire dining room got sat at once so all the orders are en route to slap us around in the kitchen for awhile. As the line yells back and forth with all days and what's working and pans are clanking, I'm running through what tickets are up with the wheel guy, the servers are all looking for their food, couple of flames from the saute area as a little booze hits a hot pan, vaporizes and takes to thermal event status, this is cacophony to many and to those involved an orchestra of events that all add up to remarkably busy, but smooth dinner service where high fives, fist bumps, and "whews" with raised eyebrows are exchanged when it simmers down.

Timing is everything. This was the case several times last night. If it works out that the dining room fills up all at once and flips in a similar timeframe, that is how it goes.Over and over. You get through the push of what you are pretty sure is every GD table ordering at the same time, it tuckers out, you relax for a minute and then whoops! False alarm, time to rock and roll.And then it starts all over. Throw in a 30 top that is all entrees, and another 30 top in the same timeframe that is all apps, well, remember that buzz I talk about in my last foodlife post?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Holy 2-forty!

Upon first Glance Cody Timmers 1995 240 looks like a nice clean OEM+ example of a very popular Nissan. Clean, no unnecessary fat, polished, useable, and ready to drive. These are the first thoughts that came to mind on my first walk around of the car. Spotted at a local car event I was smitten and needed to learn more.

 My inspection became more thorough as several things jumped out at me. First thing that caught my eye was the turbo. Now, I don’t and probably won’t claim to be an expert in the JDM world, but a clean build is a clean build and deserves great respect which I was giving it, until I saw the emblem on the valve cover. 

Whoa! “that moment when” sort of things for me right there. Turns out our friend here had installed a 2jz out of a Toyota, added a big fat turbo to it and installed it in a fashion that it looks almost like the factory put it there. Not an easy task for any but when well executed is a sight to behold.
Installed with custom fabricated engine mounts, the 2jz GTE fits in there like it belongs, managed by  AEM V2 hooked up to a custom wiring harness and the Borg Warner S366 being propelled by exhaust gasses pushing through it’s hot side, and the extra pressure being vented via a Tial 44 mm waste gate the car has no problem propelling  itself down the road.

Speaking of going down the road, Cody also installed the R154 from the Supra in his 240. Seems natural right? With the addition of an Infinity Q45 LSD, and Q45 hubs it was a match! Cody kept the car at a usable ride height and bolted a nice set of Enkeis to it keep the car looking classy and subtle. We are starting to know better now that this car isn't so subtle though, aren't we?

As I walked around the car a bit more the next thing to jump was the exhaust. Hot damn! (this car had me full of quaint little exclamations) Where many would settle for finding a nice aftermarket easy-fit system Cody decided he wanted more out of it and set about  measuring, cutting and tacking together custom 4” turbo back system. When he was satisfied with the fit (which is as good if not better than a decent aftermarket, and with the OEM exit location intact fits perfectly) He sent it off for final welding.

Raiding the Nissan parts bin Cody Went about upgrading the front of his 240 from a zenki front end 1995-1996 style to a Kouki front end which is the 1997-1998 front. After welding in the headlight brackets the rest bolted on without incident and the car was sent off to paint.
Ok, so maybe the intercooler gives a little something away....

Leaving the interior very stock looking with the addition of some gauges to monitor what the car is doing and an outward appearance of not being heavily modified, I would bet money that this car surprises anybody who gives a pull a try with him.

All in all a clean execution on a classic car. Here's some more pictures.
 Till next time, Joe D……