About mastertechron

I started Ron's Car Care LLC located in Yuma, Colorado in 1977 . I've held an ASE Master Technician certification since 1974. My shop is designated as an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence recognized business. I do not specialize on any particular make or type of vehicle, however, my passion is working on vintage vehicles, including motorcycles. I do mechanical repairs and upholstery.

Art and Automotive Restoration

Daniel Strohl for Hemmings Classic Car

San Francisco art school becomes the latest to offer degree in automotive restoration.

While an art school in downtown San Francisco might not seem the likeliest of places to conduct an automotive restoration program, officials at the Academy of Art University believe it’s a natural extension of the university’s existing offerings and have put together what they describe as a more up-to-date curriculum than other such programs.

“We want to do the same thing that we did with clay modeling,” said Tom Matano, the executive director of the university’s industrial design school, which houses the automotive restoration program. “Many people said that was an outdated process, and so there were no young clay modelers being instructed in clay modeling. We started teaching it, and now three or four of our students are hired on at GM every year. Much like clay modeling, auto restoration is an old-world skill that’s seen as dying, but we want to keep it going.”

To do so, Matano and other university officials, including former university president Richard Stephens, worked over the last three years to devise a two-year associate’s degree program that encompasses everything from machining and woodworking to body, paint, and upholstery. Beyond the hard skills, the program also includes classes on automotive design history, vintage car documentation, and even photography and automotive journalism. Nearly two dozen classes in all make up the program.

“Our program will not only focus on technology, but it will also provide instruction for building unique skillsets, historical knowledge, and research skills required for replicating historically authentic classic cars,” AAU President Elisa Stephens wrote. “Most programs lack the historical restoration and preservation elements necessary to restore vintage vehicles.”

Matano, whose resume includes design work for General Motors, BMW and Mazda as well as the design of the original Miata, said he has leaned on the expertise of a select few in the field of automotive restoration to select instructors and flesh out the program, noting that it hasn’t been too hard to find qualified professionals in the San Francisco Bay area. “Ed Gilbertson from the Pebble Beach Concours has come in as guest lecturer, and we’ve found that a lot of concours judges want to teach—they want a place to dump their knowledge,” Matano said.


Nor has the university had to build most of the program from scratch. It already has facilities for woodworking and metalworking, and Matano said that some classes just needed some tweaking to fit into the automotive restoration program. In addition, the university’s car collection—which includes a Tucker 48, a Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow and a number of coachbuilt European and American cars—will play a role in instruction, Matano said.

Fourteen students have already enrolled in the program, which started in September, and Matano said he hopes to eventually expand that number and set up optional apprenticeships for students in the second year of the program.

For more information on the program, visit AcademyArt.edu.

mechanics as hackers- reblogged

Mechanics as Hackers

from Hemmings Motor News
December, 2012 – Daniel Strohl

There’s a joy in taking things apart.
Too much of our mechanical and electrical world operates out of sight and out of mind from our everyday lives. It churns along behind blank panels and under aesthetically neutral covers, ticking away, shuttling electrons, revealing little of what it does until the day things go awry, typically leaving us befuddled as to why.
Getting under those covers, whether before or after that kerblooie moment, may sometimes feel illicit–especially when the thing you’re trying to take apart is held together with security screws–but it helps empower us, the consumers, by allowing us to better understand how these things work and by allowing us to repair and modify them as necessary, rather than replace them whenever they fail.
To anybody who’s ever owned an old car, I’m just stating the obvious here. Cars have hoods for a reason. We’d never send a car to the junkyard just because the starter failed. And that makes us hackers.
Now, understand that the term “hacker” has been used incorrectly by popular culture and the media over the last couple of decades. It does not refer to criminals who break into computer systems with nefarious motives; rather, it refers to the inquisitive among us, the tinkerers and the mad scientists and the mechanics, those of us not content with simply accepting planned obsolescence or the off-the-shelf products forced on us by a consumption-oriented society.
More recently, the hacker subculture has found both a philosophical center and widespread acceptance as the Maker movement, embracing a diverse array of hobbies–electronics, crafts, woodworking, robotics, you name it–in an effort to get regular people working with their hands and minds to invent and create things. And there’s plenty that we automotive hobbyists can learn from the Maker movement.
First off, the Maker movement is a very egalitarian and (little-d) democratic one, so it not only celebrates the amateur (which is a good thing–see “Sound of Speed,” HMN November 2011), but it also embraces open-source thinking: sharing solutions to problems that would normally hinder beginners from getting involved.
One development that has grown out of this philosophy is the hackerspace, a physical place where Makers can gather to share ideas, to pool resources, to work on their personal projects using tools that belong to the hackerspace (who wouldn’t love access to a waterjet cutter or a CNC machine?), and, most importantly, to join a community of like-minded enthusiasts. A company called TechShop has actually built a number of these spaces already, any of which would be well suited to car guys working on custom projects, and military members and veterans are no doubt familiar with the on-base hobby shops they could use for repairing their cars. An enterprising gearhead would do well to establish a hackerspace for car guys, either for profit or simply for the communal aspect.
The Maker movement has also introduced a market for 3D printers, which once cost six figures and were used primarily by manufacturers for rapid prototyping. Now, with hobbyist models hitting the marketplace for as little as $1,000 to $1,500, some old-car enthusiasts are pointing out how well suited 3D printers (particularly when paired with 3D scanners) are for replicating obsolete parts necessary to get old cars back on the road again. For the past three years, Jay Leno has been experimenting with 3D printers and scanners for just that purpose, and we’re hearing of high-end restoration shops looking into the technology. It won’t replace, say, a forged piston, but the technology is surprisingly capable.
Of course, it takes some familiarity with CAD and mechanical processes to get the most out of 3D printing, and the Maker movement has done a good job promoting technological literacy, inspiring budding Makers to take up CAD, welding, computer programming, acid etching and a thousand other skills. It wouldn’t hurt us old-car guys to add to our repertoires as the Makers so nimbly do.
Most importantly, though, the Maker movement–perfectly encapsulated by the slogan “If you can’t open it, you don’t really own it”–shows us that it’s not at all illicit to reconnect with the devices and the automobiles that we live with, that it’s okay to open them up, take them apart, and get to understand them a little better.

This article originally appeared in the December, 2012 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

1923 Model TT Ford

ford TT (6)This truck has been a guest at the shop this past winter, and got tended to as my regular work schedule permitted..   It’s a 1923 Model TT Ford closed cab truck.  Passenger vehicles were designated as a T, but trucks were identified as the TT’s.  Powertrains were the same in all of them-  L-head 4 cylinders that produced about 20 horsepower coupled to an innovative planetary 2 speed transmission.  A heavy duty worm drive differential in the TT models along with heavy duty rear springs, axles, larger rear wheels and tires made it capable of heavy loads.  I was told that it hadn’t run in 40 years or so.  The tires had dry rotted, and mice had been living in it.  The good news was that it had been inside all of those years.   Most of the fabric insulation on the wiring was gone due to mice and the ravages of time, so all of the wiring was replaced, and rebuilt ignition coils were installed.  With a new battery and fresh gas in the tank, the old TT came to life. It even ran on the magneto after starting!

The earliest Model T’s had no generator or electric starter.  They used a “hotshot” battery that had to be recharged periodically, and cranked by hand.  Later production added a generator to recharge the battery.  Eventually an electric starter was optional and became standard equipment by the end of production.   This truck has a generator, but no electric starter, so it has to be cranked by hand.  The ignition switch is turned to the left, which allows the battery to energize the coils so it will start at the low rpm cranking speeds.  After it starts the switch is turned to the right- past the off position- to connect the magneto (which is built into the flywheel) to power the coils.  Spark advance and throttle are controlled by levers on the steering column, and fuel mixture is controlled by a turning a rod on the passenger side of the dash that’s connected to the carburetor.  Driving an old Ford required lots of driver input and active participation!  Then there was the matter of getting it to move.  A lever coming up through the floor between your left leg and the door was the parking brake/neutral/high gear control.  Three foot pedals were L-R:   low gear, reverse, and brake.  It seems a little daunting at first, but with a little instruction and practice, it becomes second nature.

Other than vacuuming and cleaning the glass, I tried to leave as much “patina” on it as possible.  (funny how we used to call it dirt not too long ago).   The old truck wears it well, and with all of its’ warts and battle scars, it looks just right with it.

ford TT (7)ford TT (12) 23tt (2) ford TT (10) ford TT (9) ford TT (3)

1930 Model A Ford

model a (3)It’s been a busy late winter and spring here at the shop.  During that time I’ve added a couple of vehicles to the ever-growing fleet.   This one is a 1930 Ford Model A Deluxe Coupe.   I’d been looking for a Model A for some time, and heard about this one through a friend of a friend.  It had been restored sometime during the 1970s by the father of the seller.  She inherited it, but was unable to drive it, so it sat in her garage for the last 10 years.  After hauling it home I performed a complete service and tune on it.  Nothing sounds as wonderful as an old 4 banger Ford idling.  Thunka, Thunka, Thunka!

After the Model T’s were discontinued in 1927, the American public anxiously awaited the unveiling of the “New Ford” during the period that the factories were tooling up for Model A production.  Model A Fords were manufactured from 1928 through 1931.  Although all Model A’s were virtually identical mechanically, the styling was updated beginning with the 1930 model year.  It differed from the 1928-29 cars with the most recognizable features being the radiator, which became more upright and rectangular and the wheel size being changed from 21″ to 19″.  It was thought that the 1930-31 cars looked more modern.

I especially like this particular car because it has the stock trunk instead of a rumble seat.  Hopefully this summer we’ll manage to take a few weekend trips in this great old car!

model a (2)model a (1)



This gallery contains 9 photos.

“Pinky” found its’ way to us through an acquaintance that I made during my employment at  Denver Motor Vehicle.  Knowing that I was interested in vintage cars, Michelle came to me one day to ask if I knew of anyone … Continue reading

Colonial Cars – http://www.historicvehicle.org An American Rolls

RollsRoyce2007 008

Here’s the back story on the Springfield Rolls —

When famed British luxury car maker Rolls-Royce was looking for the best American city in which to set up an assembly plant, one East Coast town seemed to offer everything. In 1921, Springfield, Massachusetts, was one of the oldest and most cutting-edge manufacturing cities on the North American continent. Springfield was also strategically located near New York and Boston, both popular shipping ports and two of America’s most cosmopolitan cities.

Initially, parts for every Rolls-Royce made in Springfield were assembled with parts imported from England. Cars were the same as those built at its British plant, down to the right-hand drive, until eventually the company began using American parts and designs, including a three-speed transmission.

Some 1,703 Silver Ghosts and 1,241 Phantoms were assembled by the 1,200 workers employed at the Springfield Rolls-Royce plant. The cars sold for roughly $12,000 in an era when a top-of-the-line Packard cost less than $4,000. The high cost spelled the end of the factory in 1931 when the Great Depression essentially eliminated the luxury limo market in America.

1929 Ford Sport Coupe

29 ford spt cpe (2)29 ford spt cpe (3)This car is a local Yuma County car since new.  Ford designed the sport coupe to look as if it had a folding top, but it actually has a canvas covering over a fixed wooden framework.  If you wanted a drop top version, you would buy the cabriolet- it’s top folded down, but it still had roll up glass windows.  If you were more adventurous, you got a roadster with it’s convertible top, and no side windows at all.  In case of inclement weather, it was supplied with side curtains that you would position onto the doors with a metal frame and a series of snaps to help keep most of the rain or snow out of the interior.   This vehicle had a ground up restoration by a local Model A Ford specialist in the early 1960’s.  I have done the repairs on it for the past several years, which included an engine replacement.  One of it’s many period accessories is the rare Twin-X two speed rear axle that provides for lower engine rpms during highway cruising.

1926 Rolls Royce Phantom I


This gallery contains 8 photos.

A couple of years ago I had the fantastic experience of getting this car up and running to prepare it for auction.  It’s a 1926 Murphy bodied, Springfield Rolls Royce Phantom I dual cowl phaeton.  The chassis was built near Springfield, Massachusetts … Continue reading