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Readers Letters & Answers - CHP Garage


Aug 1, 2009

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Hello From Italy!
I'm your subscriber from Italy with a '03 Tahoe with the LM7 (5.3L) engine. I read your magazine every month. I'd like to see any articles on SUVs. Is there a reason you don't talk about the Tahoe, Trailblazer, and so on? How about just touching base on them a little every month?
Stefano Lazzarino
via email

Thanks for writing in. We dig getting letters from other countries. We're known for muscle cars. However, we have been dipping into late-model territory lately, as is obvious from this month's cover car. Just keep in mind that when it comes to engines, everything we do will apply to your 5.3L. As for Trailblazer tech, that's not a bad idea. Associate Editor Sean Haggai's brother has one, and it would be easy enough to twist his arm to let us play with it.

Lemony Fresh
I'm sure that I'm not the only one to have put more thought than necessary into answering your rhetorical question (Shop Talk, June '09), but due to the complete lack of anything better to do at the moment, I hope that I am the first to email you with an answer!

You had mentioned that the winner of the 24 Hours of LeMons is awarded a ridiculously large sum of money: $1,500 in nickels. Just after that breathtaking fact you then ask the question that is bound to be answered by someone with entirely too much time on his or her hands: What does that weigh? Well, sir, I, unfortunately, am that someone and am proud to present to you my findings.

First of all, the U.S. nickel weighs a full 5 grams, not 0.5 gram as you mentioned in your article. The only reason I know this is because I actually looked it up on the U.S. Mint website just for giggles! Then, with the aid of the calculator on my PC (because I, as well as the vast majority of the society we live in, am too lazy to use pen and paper), I determined that $1,500 corresponds to 30,000 nickels. Also due to the ease of online information, I have learned that there is approximately 453.59237 grams in 1 pound. So...30,000 nickels weighing 5.0 grams each adds up to 150,000 grams, which is a staggering 330.69 pounds!

I hope that you can find more use for this than I.
via email

This had to be one of the more memorable emails I've received. Thank you for taking the time to put the numbers in perspective. Also, thanks for the snarky response, as it gave all of us a good laugh. How does that go...? Something to the notion of "The more you know..."? You just left out one thing, your address. Be sure to hit us back up so I can send out your CHP goodies!

PQA Follow-Up
Many years ago I took a job driving a Ford tilt-cab delivery truck that had been in storage for six months. After working the job for a while (45 minutes), I backed up to the dock and the brake pedal went to the floor as I slammed into the dock. In fact every car that I have taken out of storage has had a break failure within two days. Your May issue answered a question about taking a car out of storage ("Rip Van Winkle," Performance Q&A). In fact, this is the second such article I remember (perhaps the other was in your sister publication). Neither one mentioned rebuilding the wheel cylinders. The problem seems to be with drum brakes. I have never had such a problem with disc brakes.

By the way, I sometimes read other magazines-mostly your sister magazines, of course-and none of them come close to you, even when they duplicate the same article. I love the emphasis on real cars that we drive, not the megabuck show cars. Keep up the good work.
Dan Johnson
via email

Got School?
I bought the Apr. '09 issue for the cover story on out-of-the-box performance ("Make Gains"). Pages 5-8 are shifted toward the cover and trimmed off and completely unreadable. Also, I would like to see an article regarding the courses required to becoming a machinist, as I'm focused on becoming an engine builder.
Preston Griffiths
via email

Sorry for the printing trouble. I went ahead and mailed you another copy. As for courses to take to become a machinist, I would highly recommend checking out the School of Automotive Machinists in Houston. SAM has an incredible program there. Many graduates move on to opening their own shops, working at premier engine building facilities, and working on professional teams such as NASCAR, NHRA, NMRA, NMCA, IRL, and CART. For more information, SAM can be reached at or directly at 713.683.3817.

0908chp_01_z Readers_letters_answers Gearhead_cufflinks 2/4

Cool Gifts For Your Dad
Surfing the web, we came across a site that featured a variety of cufflinks specifically for gearheads. With Father's Day just around the corner, it's well worth taking a peek at Our personal favorites are the sterling silver Spark Plug Cufflinks (PN RR-125), though we really like the Gear Shifter Cufflinks too. The Spark Plug ones are priced at $94.99, weigh 21.8 grams, and are placed in a nice package that looks more suited for high-end jewelers. Just be careful-your mom may get jealous!

0908chp_02_z Readers_letters_answers Chevy_el_camino 3/4

Who Says Elcos Can't Drag?
I run this Camino every weekend for the last 12 years at ESTA drag strip in central New York. It runs high 11s with a 427 on pump gas, all motor and no trailer.
Syracuse elkyman,

0908chp_03_z Readers_letters_answers Launch_control_system 4/4

GM's Corvette Launch Control
We are always up for learning new tricks. GM is introducing launch control on its '10 'Vettes. It's simple to use and will produce consistent quarter-mile times regardless of the driver experience. To engage the launch control system, the driver only has to put the traction control into competitive mode and then push the gas pedal to the floor. The system will hold a predetermined rpm based on which engine you have (LS3/LS7/LS9). As soon as the driver releases the clutch, the launch control modulates engine torque 100 times per second to get the best traction. And unlike other factory-installed launch control units, GM's won't void your warranty. Check out how it works in the video:

CHP Sightings
Most of you probably know by now, our website ( is chock full of great content from previous issues, videos, and blogs that get updated regularly. What you may not know is where else you can find us on the web, such as Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Our Myspace page has been blowing up, with 1,000-plus members following our exploits at

Facebook is quickly gaining ground on MySpace, growing in popularity every day. When logged into, go to the search box and type "chevy high performance." At the top of the results, you can't miss our bright red logo.

For those not familiar with Twitter, it's a new way to get your message out to the world. Instead of all the bells and whistles of the other social networks, Twitter is short, easily digestible bursts of info. Check us out at

Rooster Call
Sean Haggai
I am in hot anticipation for Project Brutus ("Uncovered," June '09) to roll out of the paint booth-freshly dipped. If you've ever been involved in a ground-up build, you can identify with what I'm feeling. Part of me has wanted to give up at times, scrapping the whole plan and finding a project car already running. But that's not how I do things. The strings are pulling at my heart to continue the build and see it completed. Honestly, the build has been through its rings of fire and has always emerged victoriously. It should be cakewalk from here, with basic suspension and some good rubber, and out to the track in no time.

Now, while the vehicle is in paint, I have a lot of time to sit and ponder what to throw at it next. For me it's difficult. It would be easy and selfish of us to build the most horsepower-hungry, coachlike, Pro Touring drag machine that costs more than a heart transplant. Other magazines do that, but we don't. Why? The simple fact is money. I don't claim to be any sort of market analyst from CNN, but we are all feeling the crunch. And the squeeze on our wallets is going to last for quite some time. At CHP we feel the need to build cars that our readers can actually duplicate-or at least try to justify building on their own, free of buyer's remorse. That is what is most important to us. It twists my gut to see $10K rearends going into project cars just because it's possible, not because it's essential for solid running gear or the story.

Trust us. While it would be easy to grab the most extreme products available, we won't unless the story supports that decision. That's not who we are as a magazine. Like you, we work long hours and have just enough time to make dinner and call it a day...only to get up and do it again. Every penny and bead of sweat are worth more when they're yours.

We need to create builds that are easy and fairly affordable and that will provide you with performance comparable to other products. It's not just important to get every dollar's worth, it's a requirement. We aren't in this business of fluff stories. We want what works best for the current vehicle climate. Stick with us. We can't wait to show you what's around the corner.



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