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Chevy High Performance Letters - CHP Garage


Sean Haggai Dec 1, 2009

In our October '09 issue, I shared my mishaps towing our LeMons Camaro to Reno, Nevada. As usual, I asked for your stories and the responses have been rather impressive. Seriously, a few of them were downright hysterical and I wish I had the room to share all of them with you-maybe I'll add a couple more next month. Now, for those of you who have never pulled a vehicle; read up because there's a lot to be learned here. -H

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Backyard Follies
The stories of painful gearhead moments are by far my favorite part of your publication; I'm still able to laugh several hours later. My story involves my loving girlfriend, who insisted on building the Chevy small-block motor for her Vega herself.

We had these black mud wasps who rudely insisted on filling any unprotected hole on anything full of mud. You name it, emblems, outlets, screw holes, nothing was safe. Knowing this, I wisely balled up wads of shop towels and tightly plugged the spark plug holes on the new engine.

About a week later, the motor's almost finished and it's time to set the valves. She's leaning down over the engine while I crank it over with a breaker bar when it makes the stupidest sound, kind of like a Thooooommb! My girlfriend starts flailing about clutching her neck calling me names and asking "what I did that for!" It took me a second, but I then realized the high compression of the motor fired the wadded paper towel out under substantial pressure, much like a potato cannon striking her in the neck with this cool Whap sound. I couldn't stop laughing and she couldn't quit hitting me.
Curtis Wallace
Slippery Rock, PA

We shouldn't laugh either, but that was great and thanks for sharing! - Ed.

Back To Tennessee
Your LeMons adventure was eerily familiar to my last cross-country trip. As a 22 year Coast Guard veteran, moving every few years was nothing new. I had already driven cross-country five times. I purchased a '97 Chevy C3500 and a car transport trailer so I could tow my '96 Impala SS with a recently installed 383 this last time. The trip from Lenoir City, TN to San Diego in 2004 went off without incident. However, my return trip had Murphy's Law written all over it. I would be traveling back to LC before reporting to my new duty station in Tampa. I had the trip all planned out and expected the 2,200-mile trip would take four days. So on a very rare rainy Friday I left San Diego

I had my first problem just a few hours into the trip on I-8. Ascending the long, steep mountain grades, I quickly realized the dual electric fans I installed the year before (when the stock fan failed), couldn't pull enough air through the radiator. When the truck kicked down to Second gear going up the hills, the engine would immediately begin overheating. I had to pull over every few miles to let it cool. The first 325-mile leg of my trip took over 8 hours!

On the second day, I had a blowout on the trailer. Being the good Coastie, I was 'Semper Paratus' (Always Ready) because I did have a spare. But as I was jacking up the trailer, I noticed my 2-ton aluminum floor jack was having some difficulty lifting the combined weight of the Impala (crammed full with my stuff) and trailer; so I unloaded the car to change the flat. Nearly two hours later, I finally get back on the road, but I'm still dealing with the overheating issue.

On day three I thought my luck was changing. I actually found an auto repair shop that also sold tires and it was open early on the Sunday before Memorial Day. It took the owner a while to find another tire the correct size, but he eventually did ($170) and I was back on the road. Unbeknownst to me however was that in my haste to get back on the road, I didn't secure my drag tires onto the trailer properly. You guessed it; later that day as I'm driving down I-40, a pretty girl pulls next to me to let me know one of the tires had fallen off my trailer. I pulled over and found one of the drag tires missing and the other about ready let go. As I'm securing the remaining tire, another driver stops to let me know he saw my drag tire on the road and tried to describe to me where it was. So I turned around and drove back a few miles and after searching for about 30 minutes, I found it, strapped it down and resumed my journey.

Day four would be a little less eventful, and I was able to make up for some lost time. I was traveling East on I-40 when I come up on a major back up because of an accident. I used my GPS to find me a route around it because traffic was stopped and I made into Memphis pretty late. I couldn't find a place to park the trailer, so I dropped it off at the Coast Guard base for the night. It was then that I noticed somewhere along the way one of the trailer lights had been damaged. It was late so I would have to get a new one in the morning.

Day five, the homestretch, and I get an early start to make sure I get to my destination today. I leave before any of the parts stores are open, so I stop after a few hours and find one so I can fix my trailer light. Little did I know that someone like myself, who was obviously just passing through, would be such an attraction for the locals. And I'm not talking about the welcome wagon here. As I exit the parts store the first time to make sure I had the part, I found a few of the locals 'admiring' my 1996 Impala SS with the 18-inch Budnik wheels sitting on the trailer. I tried to act normal as I checked the part and went back into the store to pay for it. When I exit the store the second time, I did so with my cell phone in hand and 911 already dialed; all I had to do is press send and hope someone responded. But wouldn't ya know it; a Deputy Sheriff had pulled into the parking lot. He asks, "Are you passing through?" I said, "Definitely." We spoke briefly and he said, "I'll stay here while you get that light fixed." After I finished he said, "Follow me and I'll show you quickest way out of town." I thanked him and got my first Police escort; he even turned on his emergency lights. I finally made it to my brother's house late that evening. Sorry to say I didn't get a ticket, but I think I matched your trip on the PITA meter.
Kevin Munsey
Tampa, FL

Trailer Tires
Just wanted to tell you I not only enjoy all of the technical articles in the mag but also enjoy the Shop Talk column each month! I could feel your pain when I read about the problems you encountered towing the trailer to the 24 Hours LeMons.

You asked the readers to send you any similar stories, so here goes. My son and I along with Ed Knowles were headed from Dothan, AL to U.S. 19 dragstrip located in Albany, GA. I was pulling my car on an open trailer and Ed was pulling his car in his enclosed trailer. I had been following him for about 30 miles when I heard what sounded like a small explosion. I looked over at my son first and then to the right side mirror where I saw large chunks of rubber flying out of the trailer fender. I called Ed on the cell and asked him to turn around while I limped down the side of the highway to a Chevron station that was about 500 yards away. Within 15 minutes the fellow at the Chevron had mounted a new tire and we were on our way again. During that 15 minute time period I had to endure a lecture from Ed about how I should have bought "trailer" tires for my trailer and not passenger car tires. He went into a long dissertation about how passenger car tires are not made for trailers etc, etc. After we got back on the road we were about 15 minutes from the track and really moving along because we were going to be cutting it close and would be lucky to get any time trials prior to the races. I was following him and talking with my son when I heard something hitting my windshield. We both looked at the right rear of my buddy's trailer and my son said, ""Dad, I think Mr. Ed is getting ready to have a blowout!" I knew Ed wouldn't think it was funny but I had to keep from laughing as I dialed his cell number and told him I thought he had a flat tire. I held the phone away from my ear as the cussing began and when he pulled off the road and into a pecan orchard, we looked like a NASCAR pit crew snatching that wheel off his trailer!

He took off with my truck/trailer hoping to find something open on a Saturday afternoon and returned within minutes with a new tire and ready to go. Naturally, while we were mounting the wheel back on the trailer, I had to emphasize that I thought he had "trailer" tires on his trailer!?! Ha Ha! Needless to say, we made it to the track that day but we rolled up in there like we had drank a case of Monster drinks and got one time trial before the racing began. I had made the suggestion earlier in the day that maybe it wasn't our day to race but Ed said, "Hell no, we are going to race today, I don't give a damn what it takes!" Incredible what we will endure to pursue our hobby!

Thank you for the chance to tell a story that still cracks me up and brings tears to my eyes!
Koby Smith
Via email

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Limited Production
The new Superior 54 Sport Wagon made rounds at numerous shows last summer and it's absolutely stunning! Built to accurately replicate the sleek lines and low profile of the 1954 Chevrolet Motorama Corvette Nomad, the extensive use of chrome and custom-made sea-foam green glass really bring you back to '50s. Superior Glass Works' latest fiberglass body sits on a custom Art Morrison chassis with C5 Corvette independent front and rear suspension, giving it the performance to match its aggressive sports car look.

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If you're interested in building one for yourself, there are just 25 of these limited-edition body and chassis packages being sold and you need to act fast to add one to your garage. Perhaps you can get yours ready for a run at Bonneville, where the first Superior 54 recently made an appearance. For more information, contact Superior Glass Works at 888.244.9259 or online at

Rooster Call
Sean Haggai
I finally made it here to the swap meet. I've got my computer open and I'm sitting in my car waiting to get inside and I've already had a late start. This morning was rough; I missed my 3 a.m. wake-up call, couldn't find the ATM card I needed for fueling up, and don't have the one item I was responsible for bringing. Either way, I am here now and can't wait to get in. It's a great way to start my first experience with the famed Long Beach swap meet. Over the years I've heard all about it and it's just exciting to be here.

Sellers with reserved spaces show up first to set up before the crowd gets let in at 6 a.m. sharp. No tables or blankets to sell items here. Throw your junk to the ground in a pile and let the buyers pick through what they want. What's around though? Tons of items and things to sell or buy. If you've got a project car, then this is the place to be to find miscellaneous items for a deal. Really, you name it and there's something for everyone. Sellers liquidate everything from vehicles to nostalgic items to car care products. If you are toying around with the idea of attending, be sure to bring something to carry your loot. Show-goers tend to tote custom-made hand wagons, which are usually overflowing with intake manifolds, headers, and even race seats. One guy even had to leave the show just to empty his wagon so he could continue his shopping spree.

My buddy Mike and I hit the show hard and sold nearly everything we came with; even the truck he drove in with. Everything's got a price, right? We made sure no one low-balled the price-although we did have to let some items go for nearly free. How does a brand new Milodon 7-qt oil pan with an HV pump and pickup going for $40 sound? Needless to say, we were wheelin' and dealin'. It was chaotic and the sun was up and the clock was just hitting 11 a.m. We had already been there for almost five hours. Our former pile of parts dwindled to a meager set of incomplete 904 big-block lifters and a set of valve cover breathers that he was unloading for a buck each. At this point, the kick from my Monster energy drink had long since passed. This was a good outing, in just five hours Mike made over $800 selling used parts.



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