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Race Ramps Product Review

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67″ RaceRamps two-piece model

I finally bit the bullet and ordered a set of Race Ramps made by BruteTechnologies and I thought it might be helpful to write this product review…

I’ve owned RedRock for 6 months – traveling some 4200 miles – and this weekend I decided to do an oil change even though the “Oil Life” indicator showed 45% remaining.

When I purchased RedRock last December, the dealer had done an oil change.  However I had no idea what quality oil they used.  Ditto for the oil filter.  So I headed to the parts store and purchased 8 quarts of 5-30 Mobil1 oil with a matching K&N oil filter for the 2014 Camaro.

I quickly found out my trusty, home-made, wooden ramps were just not long enough and the slope was all wrong.  I did some research and found Race Ramps.  Race Ramps come in various sizes and slopes to fit just about any application; they also have all kinds of accessories.  After further reading, I selected the two-piece, 67″ long version (RR-XT-2).  The slope is very gentle and this allows proper clearance for the front overhang on my 2014 Camaro.  They will also work perfectly on my S2000 and with bowtie6.  A win-win on all counts!

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RaceRamps – the ramp is detachable…

The ramps arrived in a very large box, as shown (bought via Amazon Prime).  You can also see they are made like a jigsaw puzzle: the “ramp” part is detachable from the part the car rests on.  These ramps are also available in one-piece, but I selected the two-piece to make it easier to store.  I am glad I did!

The ramps are made from very dense plastic material.  The plastic material is lightweight and very easy to handle.  The ramps are rated to handle 1500lbs and are also “grippy” – they did not slide at all when I drove RedRock on them.  Working under the car while on the ramps was a good experience with enough room to place an oil pan.  I was able to reach the oil drain plug easily as well as the filter.  Finally, the ramps are wide enough to handle all but the widest of racing tires – in fact, I had no issues with the tires on RedRock.

The downside to all this awesomeness is the price:  the Race Ramps are quite expensive.  Unfortunately, these seem to be the only ones available that fit my needs and thus I suppose one must “pay the price”.  The alternative would be to build a set of home-made ramps, but quite frankly I just decided to deal with it and get them.  I’m glad I did and I must say, Race Ramps are made in the USA so I feel I am also helping the local economy.

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Gotta love the supplied sticker – LOL!

Finally, I during my research I found the folks at Brute Technologies have a special offer (expires soon) that requires printing a form and filling it out.  Then, attach the sales receipt and for this they will send a pair of wheel chocks made of the same material as the ramps.  The condition is that this applies only to certain ramp models – mine being one of them.  Hopefully soon, I’ll have a review of the chocks when the good folks at Brute Technologies receive my form…

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2014 Camaro CoverCraft Sunshade Review

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Honda S2000 CoverCraft sunshade

UV and heat will destroy an automobile’s interior very quickly especially if it is leather in direct Southern sunshine.  In the case of my Honda S2000, not only is there plenty of leather but the interior dash, trim, door panels and carpet are all red.  So to prevent it all from eventually becoming “pink”, I purchased a rather pricey custom-fit sunshade from Covercraft called the UVS-100.

I’ve been very pleased with the material, workmanship and overall the sunshade has a been a very worthy investment.  The way I see it, I rather sacrifice a sunshade for the sake of preserving the interior.

As you can see in today’s featured image the sunshade fits the windshield opening of the Honda S2000 perfectly and the only cut-out is on the top edge and that is to allow room for the rear-view mirror.  All edges are perfectly hemmed with a very soft material and the stitching is flawless.  So far so good.

Well, when I purchased RedRock (my 2014 Camaro SS), the first thing I ordered was a custom-fit CoverCraft UVS-100 sunshade.  The sunshade arrived and as expected, it fit perfectly.  However, I soon discovered a problem.  You see, the Camaro’s dash has one of these little doo-hickies:

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Camaro light sensor dome

That is the dome over the light sensor the BCM uses to turn on the automatic headlights when the sun sets.  Unfortunately the good folks at CoverCraft did not account for this little device being in the way when deploying the UVS100 sunshade.  I had to be very diligent not to accidentally hit the little dome over the sensor with the sunshade.  Needless to say, it would be my luck that the entire dash would need to be pulled out to replace the dome if it became damaged by the sunshade.  And I am very convinced, to boot, the good folks at GM would immediately dismiss any warranty work on this kind of claim.  Since this is not something I would be looking forward to experience…

I decided to do a little surgery on my $60 CoverCraft UVS-100 sunshade.  I made a few measurements and with the aid of a fresh (and surgically sharp) X-Acto blade, did a little “alteration” as so:

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Sunshade cutout to allow for the light sensor dome on the 14 Camaro

I removed the excess material after cutting it, however this left the edges exposed and they needed a little dressing.  Since I did not want to leave them exposed to wear-and-tear (I don’t have a sewing machine like the one CoverCraft uses), I looked around and found some leftover scraps of headliner material used when I restored the hard top on bowtie6.  After fiddling with this for a while (damn, took longer to cut this than to alter the sunshade!), this is what it looks like now (I know, it is not perfect but it is better than the alternative)…

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Headliner material secured with a little contact glue so the edges won’t fray…

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View from the inside, after the alteration…

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And finally a view from the outside.

In Summary

I really like the way this looks now.  I wish there were an option from CoverCraft to allow for this, especially since they do such a nice job at dressing all the edges on the sunshade.  I suppose this would not take much effort, especially since they accounted for the opening for the rear view mirror.

And so, a couple of advantages from the alteration I made:

  • The little dome will not become damaged in case I forgot to hold the edge up.
  • The automatic headlights won’t turn “on” during daylight hours due to the sunshade covering the sensor preventing wear and tear on the electrical system.

Overall, the CoverCraft sunshades are a good value.  I have not financial gain from this review, but I just wanted to post this in the hope it might be of interest to anyone using these shades.

The alteration I made, does solve the problem of a possible costly damage to the light sensor dome.

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1940 Ford – Rear Quarter Windows

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Rear quarter window openings…

On an earlier post I talked about how chopping the top on my cousin Jim’s 1940 Ford caused the rear quarter windows to lose proportion.  I also posted a couple of pictures showing how Jim changed the window opening and restored the size of the quarter windows to something more appealing.

As you can see in today’s featured image, both windows are damn near perfect in both size and shape.  So how did Jim do this?

Well today, I found this on one of the work tables at the shop:

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Wooden buck made shaping the opening consistent

And yes, this is a wooden buck.  Jim figured out what sort of arc needed to be reproduced to give the window opening the right “look”.  This arc was then transferred to a wooden buck.  The two openings on either side are there to secure the piece of sheet metal with a screw, washers and nuts.  Then, with a mallet, Jim slowly hammered the sheet metal to take the shape of the arc for the window.  The following two pictures show what the buck looks like compared to the end result.  Pretty cool, huh?

And here are two pictures side by side, of both window openings.  They are the mirror images of each other.

A few years ago I visited the Studebaker museum.  Among all the wonderful things to see there was a full size buck made from wood for a Studebaker pickup cab.  Yes indeed, this is the way custom bodies were made!  Having said that, can you imagine what it would be like to see all the bucks that must be stored in some special, secret vault in Maranello?

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VW Buses

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VW Buses – imagine the possibilities!

On day way to lunch today, I saw a car transporter parked in the turn lane and it was hauling three vintage VW buses.  Why?  The driver was heading into the Mickey Dee’s – matter of fact, I pulled into their parking lot to take these pictures.

The white VW bus on the top left appeared to be a cobbled up affair – it had what appears to be homemade hinges on the side windows to make them swing out.  The next one to the left still had windows in their fixed positions.

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The green/white one was the best of the bunch…

The best one of the bunch was the one on the bottom slot.  It even had what appears to be some nice vintage mag wheels.  However I was not able to really tell if they were the real coveted VW buses with all the opening windows.  Suffice to say, somebody had 3 diamonds in the rough here.

Oh and to boot, check out what was at the very rear…

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The bonus 1963/64 Impala coupe

This appears to be either a 1963 or 1964 Chevrolet Impala coupe.  Again, plenty of potential there, don’t you think?

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1940 Ford – Chopping the Top – Part 2

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1940 Ford top taking shape…

In the earlier post, I described the cutting and sectioning of the  top on the 1940 Ford my cousin Jim is working on.  Today’s post is a follow-up on the progress, which incidentally has been a lot!

As you can see from today’s featured image, the top has taken shape once again and looks more finished.  During this process, Jim found out there were alignment issues with the top itself.  Not from the alterations, but from the original stamping of the sheet metal.  As it turned out, the passenger’s side was not exactly symmetrical and required the use of a friction jack devise mounted inside the car while Jim welded the sheet metal inserts to make the top line up.

In the earlier post I described how a “filler” of sheet-metal had to be welded on the top to account for the material lost from chopping the top.  This section has been completely TIG welded, shaped and rough-sanded as shown in the following picture gallery…

If you look closely, you will notice the drip rails past the door opening have been cut off (more about that later in this post).  Also, you will notice the seam has some partial amounts of brass rod welded in.  This will eventually be filled all along the seam and sanded down to a smooth finish.  Think of this as a way of “leading” the seam.

And so we move to the back window opening…

As you can see, stretching the top required yet another filler, this time above the rear window.  Without the filler, the slope of the back top would not line up with the windshield and trunk area.  Amazing what cutting the top down by a couple of inches does to the geometry of the car!

Looking at the left picture above presented yet another problem:  the opening is out of proportion with the front.  But, that is the way it came from the factory, right?  Yes but that dimension made sense when the top was originally made.  With the “chop” the geometry went to hell and Jim decided – right or wrong – to make the window opening smaller.  Take a look…

A new section of sheet metal now takes up some of the space and makes the rear window opening proportional to the front.  And yes, this will need all new safety glass specifically cut to the new opening.  You can also see more details of the seam I mentioned earlier, with the brass rod filler.

Next, the following gallery shows a collection of pictures from the second section of filler…

What are all those black spots?  As it turns out, even with careful heat management during the welding of the filler strip, the top material warped.  What you see in those black spots is the result of careful heating followed by hammer and dolly work.  This method provides relief to the metal to shrink and expand, and thus remove the “oil can” effect introduced during the welding process.  I’ve seen Jim do this before and it takes careful application of heat otherwise it only makes the warping worse.

Here is a closeup of the area where the drip rail was removed:

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No more ugly drip rail over the rear window opening…

Only a small part of the drip rail was left over the opening of the door.  The rest has been cut off and the seam will be eventually filled with brass welding rod.  Why not just use Bondo?  Well, this is a stress area and as flex takes effect the Bondo filler will crack.  So in a case like this it is best to fill the opening with metal.

And finally, the rear glass opening…

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Note the side pillar weld has been filled in…

The opening has been left very large as to allow room for a “frame” that will eventually fit around a donor piece of glass.  One of Jim’s buddies has a junker Chrysler convertible with a nice glass rear window.  The plan is to cut the soft top on the Chrysler and remove the glass, cut all excess off and then make a frame to fit in this opening.  I’ll have more details on that in a future article.