COVID-19 Has a Victim

In most battles, there is collateral damage. I am collateral damage of the virus pandemic. I do not have the virus (well not yet). In following the social distancing guidelines, I stay at home unless I need a part for my car or milk for my cereal so my ancient bones and lungs try to keep out of range of the flying particles of pestilence. But I do get nicked by it nevertheless in some peculiar ways. In this series of blogs, I am taking you for a ride in my yet-to-be-finished 1962 Pontiac Catalina.
I knew going into this restomod project that I would have to order parts using a lot of lead time. I was prepared for this to be a 1-800 car meaning most of the parts for the car would come from Internet suppliers. I will be doing very little actual fabrication. If you talk with die hard old time hot-rodders, they look on this with derision as fabricating all the unique parts, particularly body parts that go into a hot rod, is a demonstration of skill on the part of the owner. Anyone can bolt on factory made parts.
I am not trying to show off my skill as a fabricator as I have very limited talent for that. What I am trying to do is create a unique, very fast, reliable car. As an insurance policy for reliability, I am using all new engine and driveline parts of the latest and best design. With Ford and Chevy supplying their latest engines and transmissions to this market, I am assured of both significant power and factory guaranteed reliability.

That said there are still a large number of parts that need to be supplied by various vendors. The “big boy” vendors have a beautiful catalog full of rare, tempting parts that are perfect for restoration projects. The process starts by going online, filling out an order form, waiting dutifully for about 20 minutes to talk with a sales person, getting clarification about the part, then placing the order only to learn that the most critical part is on back order. ARGH! In my case, it is the replacement panels for the trunk floor, which currently have a relationship to Swiss cheese. The panels are to ship Tuesday; I just don’t know which Tuesday …

The old dash panel is definitely not compatible with modern engine electronics. I had a really nice chat with the Custom Shop Technician at Dakota Digital that resulted in a fantastic layout of a modern gauge panel that complements the existing dash and fits directly in the existing bezel. A terrific advantage is that all the sensor signals can be derived from the OBD2 connector by just plugging into it. It is quite pricy, but it is just what I wanted. I placed the order and ask for the delivery time. I was told it should be here by December. ARGH!

I drove to Brush, Colorado to meet halfway with the chrome plater from Oshkosh, Nebraska to deliver the front and rear bumpers of my restomod along with the taillight bezels. Fortunately I arrived in Brush mid-day and missed the rush hour. I had enough time to sample a sawdust burger at the Love’s Truck Stop. “When can I come back and pick them up?” I naively ask. “About three months,” is the reply. ARGH!
The COVID-19 virus has created a bull market for toilet paper, paper towels and alcohol products for external sterilization as well as internal consumption. The government has mandated that some car production lines be shifted to churn out lord knows how many ventilators to stuff down our throats. Soon there will be warehouses full of them. At least we can most likely use the shelves that were once full of civilian defense radiation meters to store them.
We must thank the heroes who brave the pungent odor of the plating tanks, and the terror of the massive buffing wheels, for their contribution. Also to be commemorated are the patient technicians with noses full of rosin fumes as they assemble the exotic electronic instruments. I think it only sensible that the government come to the aid of “stay at home” hot rodders and mandate that the auto industry open their plating facilities to solve the pandemic of delayed production. In addition, the electronic assembly lines of companies like Dell should be mandated to set aside some capability to do electronic assembly for hard pressed companies fighting valiantly to fill a landslide of orders. It is through innovative leadership like this that we can encourage the stay at home compliance of otherwise restless idle automotive enthusiasts who maintain social distancing from their families by working alone in the garage comforted only by an occasional can of beer.
Just my thoughts.
I hope I don’t shock you, but here is a picture of a naked body. A little naughty, but I know you will appreciate its innocent beauty.

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