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Car Show Lingo: Chopped, Channeled and Sectioned

February 3, 2011

When attending car shows that feature customized cars, modified, hot rods, rat rods, lead sleds, mini-truck or any variety of vehicles you will often hear lingo which seems out-of-place.  Why are they talking about pork (chop), television (channel), or sectioning?  The words chop, channel and sectioning refer to body modifications which require a lot of skill, forethought and patience to accomplish.  These concepts and techniques are not for the faint of heart!  There are a lot of considerations to be made, and unless you are a truly skilled cutter, welder and body person it may be better to just appreciate the work performed.

Chopping and Chop-Tops

Chopping a car refers to chopping (or cutting) a section of the window pillars from the front a car to reduce the front surface against the wind.  The builder would remove the windshield, cut anywhere from a few to several inches from the pillars between the doors and windshield, then weld the remaining pillar sections together.  The car would then need a custom windshield, and side windows.  The doors would then have to be adjusted to fit the new roofline, cutting sections of doors which had frames that surrounded the glass.  Quite often the chop would also require modifications to the rear pillars between the doors and the back window, cutting a wedge to allow the roof to bend down to its new line.  Often you will see a car where only the front pillars are cut and door adjusted, the roof would then slope from the original height in the rear to the new lower height  in the front, with a definite ridge where the roof was ‘bent’ to fit.

This process takes on two appeals in the customizing world; first it visually reduces the front of the vehicle above the hood line, and originally more importantly it reduces the wind resistance.  The father of chop-tops is considered by many to be Sam Barris, brother to the famed customizer George Barris.  Sam chopped the front pillars of his brand-new 1949 Mercury and started a craze.

The first group of builders to truly embrace the concept of chop-tops was the salt flats racers, because the shorter windshield and sloped roofline would reduce wind resistance, and increase the speed of the autos as they ran. Many times the top would be chopped to such a degree that only a few inches of windshield would remain, these were known as ‘mail slot windshields’.  Drag racers soon embraced the concept to increase their speeds.

Chopped and Channeled Rat Rod as seen at York NSRA East

Channeling

Channeling refers to altering the floor pan of the vehicle so the entire body rides lower, without changing the frame or suspension of the vehicle.  With the lower body lines the car often took on a beefier appearance. In order the lower the body of the car, it was removed from the frame and the floor pan is cut out, then re-fastened so that it rides higher in the body.  Many hot rods  and custom cars are channeled.  Channeling is also popular in the mini-truck culture.

Sectioning

Sectioning refers to cutting the body either horizontally or vertically to remove a section or increase a section.  The most common result of removing a section would be to make the car shorter from the bottom of the body to the top of the roof, or in less common situations removing some of the length of the body (this generally entails shortening the frame and adjusting the drive train).

SectioningSectioning also allows for the lengthening of the body by inserting new metal into the desired area (also requiring modifications in framework and drive train), or in far less common situations adding to the height of the auto.

A couple of great resources on the subject:

Do It Yourself Hot Rod Kustom Website

Jalopy Journal

Everything 2: Chopped and Channeled

Hotrodders.com: Sectioning Body Basics

Ron Yeager's limo was sectioned, by adding a section the length of a door, between the front and back doors.

Zero Emission Race visits UN COP16 at the Cancun Climate Change Conference

December 10, 2010

Today, December 9, 2010 is a Green day in Cancun, Mexico, not just because leaders from around the world are attending the Cancun Climate Change Conference, but also because the Zero Emissions Race has rolled into town.

Zero emission autos stop at the Cancun Climate Change Conference during their 80 day journey around the world.

It is no coincidence that these two events converged on Cancun at the same time.  The Zero Emissions Race is comprised of four teams; each operating fully electric cars and one motorcycle.  The race is not a ‘over the finish line first’ event, but rather the judging goals of this challenge include power, performance, perseverance and design.   To date, three of the four teams have arrived at all check points and event locations on time.

The race began and ends in Geneva, Switzerland, the home of the United Nations Office.  The purpose of this race is to raise awareness of sustainable forms of transportation.  The Zero Emissions Race was organized by the first person to travel the globe in a solar-powered behicle, Louis Palmer.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is an ardent supporter of  Electric Vehicles (EV’s).  In his speech at the annual United Nations climate conference in Cancun Chu stated that he believes battery powered cars will be competitive with their gasoline powered counterparts in about five years.

“It’s not like it’s ten years off.  It’s about five years and it could be sooner.  Meanwhile the batteries we do have today are soon going to be better by a factor of two.” Steven Chu, as reported by Reuters.

For more information visit:
Zero Emissions Race:  Details the race participants and the different stages of the race;
UN COP 16 – Cancun Climate Change Conference: Information on participants and goals of the conference;
EV Newswire: A story about entrepreneurs Victor Juarez and Sir Richard Branson at the UN COP16.
This article was originally written for GreenCelebrity.net – by me – Jeanette K Scott

Hot Rods and Rat Rods = Green Rods?

November 19, 2010

While it may seem to be a stretch to consider something that looks like a jalopy, a heap of rolling rust (or at least primer) and made in someone’s back yard or garage as being within the ‘green movement’; YES a true hot rod or rat rod is indeed GREEN!

A true hot rod or rat rod is made of previously manufactured auto parts and non-automotive parts. They are generally ‘junk yard’ finds salvaged and re-purposed. As such, because of their longevity on the road (and despite any pollution factor driving them), they are ultimately a more sustainable vehicle [having stood the test of time already].

The hot rod and rat rod crazes started in the 1940′s and 1950′s, long before the ‘green movement’ long before women drivers like Danica Patrick were pop culture cool. Those car guys involved were mostly veterans and young adults building cars from parts and engines they could find for little or no cost. The true essence and idea was to build a road-worthy form of transportation for as little money as possible — to drive cool cars but save green money at all cost.

Unlike today’s green cars which may be made of recycled materials, in eco-friendly manufacturing facilities with as many green practices as they can feasibly muster, hot rods and rat rods are the true definition of green cars with low-impact or nearly-no-impact production.  Because the parts used in the production of the vehicles are previously manufactured – reused, not recycled materials they do not further impact the environment through the reprocessing of materials and the related shipping with miscellaneous impact.

Most hot rods and rat rods are not even painted with the traditional multi-layer process for painting cars. If they have any paint at all, it is usually just a primer or a single stage paint as hot rods and rat rods usually don’t feature high-gloss or specialty finishes. This alone reduces the impact of the finish of the vehicle on the environment, less manufacturing of the paint and fewer emissions from the application of the paint on the finished vehicle.

While the green movement celebrates the 3 R’s – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce; hot rods and rat rods have their own 3 R’s – Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose.

Reuse is an easy concept: reuse a frame, rims, body or whatever parts of the auto they can. Reduce the amount of items in a junk-yard or salvation yard which would otherwise be sent for recycling. Reduce the environmental impact of steps such as painting. Repurpose, which is akin to reuse, except the concept of reuse is to use again for basically the same purpose. In hot rods and rat rods it is common to repurpose something that may have never been automotive to serve a purpose on the vehicle, i.e. the lid from an old washing machine is now the roof of a car, or an old coffee can is now the washer fluid reservoir or radiator overflow.

Long before the inception of Earth Day and the Green Movement young adults were building ‘green cars’ using materials readily available to them.  Thus reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing a new vehicle or parts, the recycling or disposal of old automotive and non-automotive junk, and shipping the autos and parts great distances. Hail to the original green cars – hot rods and rat rods!

Chopped, Channeled and Sectioned – Auto Terms

November 11, 2010

When attending car shows that feature customized cars, modifieds, hot rods, rat rods, lead sleds, mini-truck or any variety of vehicles you will often here lingo which seems out of place.  Why are they talking about pork (chops), television (channels), or sectioning?  The words chop, channel and sectioning refer to body modifications which require a lot of skill, forethought and patience to accomplish.  These concepts and techniques are not for the faint of heart!  There are a lot of considerations to be made, and unless you are a truly skilled cutter, welder and body person it may be better to just appreciate the work performed.

Chopping and Chop-Tops

Chopping a car refers to chopping (or cutting) a section of the window pillars from the front a car to reduce the front surface against the wind.  The builder would remove the windshield, cut anywhere from a few to several inches from the pillars between the doors and windshield, then weld the remaining pillar sections together.  The car would then need a custom windshield, and side windows.  The doors would then have to be adjusted to fit the new roofline, cutting sections of doors which had frames that surrounded the glass.  Quite often the chop would also require modifications to the rear pillars between the doors and the back window, cutting a wedge to allow the roof to bend down to its new line.  Often you will see a car where only the front pillars are cut and door adjusted, the roof would then slope from the original height in the rear to the new lower height  in the front, with a definite ridge where the roof was ‘bent’ to fit.

This process took on two appeals in the customizing world; first it visually reduced the front of the vehicle above the hood line, and originally more importantly it reduced the wind resistance.  The father of chop-tops is considered by many to be Sam Barris, brother to the famed customizer George Barris.  Sam chopped the front pillars of his brand-new 1949 Mercury and started a craze.

The first group of builders to truly embrace the concept of chop-tops was the salt flats racers, because the shorter windshield and sloped roofline would reduce wind resistance, and increase the speed of the autos as they ran. Many times the top would be chopped to such a degree that only a few inches of windshield would remain, these were known as ‘mail slot windshields’.  Drag racers soon embraced the concept to increase their speeds.

Channeling

Channeling refers to altering the floor pan of the vehicle so the entire body rides lower, without changing the frame or suspension of the vehicle.  With the lower body lines the car often took on a beefier appearance. In order the lower the body of the car, it was removed from the frame and the floor pan is cut out, then refastened so that it rides higher in the body.  Many hot rods  and custom cars are channeled.  Channeling is also popular in the mini-truck culture.

Sectioning

Sectioning refers to cutting the body either horizontally or vertically to remove a section or increase a section.  The most common result of removing a section would be to make the car shorter from the bottom of the body to the top of the roof, or in less common situations removing some of the length of the body (this generally entails shortening the frame and adjusting the drive train). Sectioning also allows for the lengthening of the body by inserting new metal into the desired area (also requiring modifications in framework and drive train), or in far less common situations adding to the height of the auto.   A couple of great resources on the subject:

Do It Yourself Hot Rod Kustom Website

H.A.M.B.

Everything: Chopped and Channeled

Hot Rodders

Riding as a Motorcycle Passenger

September 7, 2010

When I was younger, and growing up on the farm, I would ride our mini-bikes through the fields and pastures.  My brothers and I would take turns riding the bike, each getting 30 or 45 minutes.  That time could get me to and from a friends house using all field roads, or to the little grocery store to get some penny candy then home again.  I truly enjoyed riding the mini-bike.

I enjoyed the freedom of riding on the bike, going much faster than I could on my bicycle.  That is until I took a couple of serious spills in a row.  I wiped out on a new gravel patch when rounding a turn on one of the field roads.  As a result of the wipe out I took out the fuel line on the bike and had to walk the bike home what seemed like miles – turned out to be only 3/4 mile.  I was bleeding and had embedded gravel in my leg and shoulder.  It took a couple of weeks to recover and more than a month to get back in the saddle.  The next spill was the result of a near collision when one of the local boys thought it would be funny to ride out of the woods aiming his bike directly for mine.  This incident resulted in stitches and a longer recovery time.  I think my father even told me I would not be allowed back on the bike for a long time.  Before I was allowed to ride again he sold the bike.

These memories came flooding back to me ten years ago when my husband purchased his Harley Davidson.  Apparently I made the promise[although I don’t remember] that once our daughter was out of school, in her own home and making a life for herself – I would ride with him.  On the day she went to settlement on her own home, having celebrated her graduation from college and her permanent employment, he reminded me of this forgotten promise.

So, I did what any good wife would do – I went shopping.  His birthday present this year was a good riding jacket, leather riding gloves and a motorcycle helmet – all for me.  He knows I was very leery about getting on the bike, so he gave me some time to prepare mentally.

We are preparing to participate in a car/bike show in Lenox, MA later this month.  A part of the show is a guided motorcycle ride through the Berkshires, and he wants me to ride with him.  In preparation this past weekend was my first ride.

My first step in preparing for this ride was to do some research on the internet.  I wanted tips on riding as a passenger on a motorcycle.  The best article I found was by Chuck Hawkes, titled “TIPS FOR THE MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER  (Or How To Get Invited To Go Riding Again)”.  I read and reread the article several times.  These tips made the experience much more enjoyable for myself and my husband.

Saturday morning we pulled the bike out, cleaned it up a bit and took off for what I thought would be a few minutes to get me comfortable.  I started with a death grip, both hands firmly gripping his leather coat. About fifteen minutes into the ride I began to relax the death grip and enjoy the experience.  At about the same time I realized we were heading for a local Harley shop – more than an hour from home.   OK – so I settled in for the ride.

Once we were at Chesapeake Harley Davidson I felt more comfortable with the turns necessary to cross traffic into their lot.  I dismounted the bike (still have to work on making that look smooth) and tried to look like I was an experienced rider when taking off my helmet and stowing it on the ground next to the bike.  There were several people there on the the rocking chairs in front of the store watching the riders come and go – not one called me out for being a new rider.

My husband ‘rewarded’ me by taking me to the clearance racks and letting me do some shopping.  I think he was looking to see if I would look for yet another jacket for him, or for something for myself.  He had a grin when he saw me checking out the ladies racks for another jacket.  I found something I really liked, but reserved purchase until he assured me he had room in the saddle bags of his Road King for the jacket.  We walked around looking at the bikes, but this time he spent time looking at bikes I could handle with my shorter legs.  There are some interesting bikes on the floor, but I am not ready to take that leap yet.  I want more time in the saddle as a passenger.

Wheels of Time Street Rod and Custom Jamboree

August 31, 2010

Every time he would fire up the engine, crowds would amass to see what he has under the hood - it's just an itty bitty NASCAR 572.

This past weekend we participated in the Wheels of Time Street Rod Show and Jamboree in Macungie, PA.  This show, which is held at the Macungie Memorial Park, benefits the local food banks and vocational-technical training scholarships.

The weather was perfect for a weekend show, temps in the mid-upper 80’s on Saturday and the low 90’s on Sunday; beautiful blue skies above and a slight breeze to keep us comfortable.  Last year the event was given the moniker of Mudcungie because of the torrential downpours which more than saturated the weekend.

This show is hosted by The Wheels of Time Street Rod Association, which is a non-profit and charitable organization with its heart dedicated to street rodding.  The last weekend of August finds more than 2,000 customized autos making their way to the little town of Macungie, just south of Allentown, PA.  In addition to the autos on display there are acitivities for the children, women and the gentlemen in attendance. 

One of my favorite acitivities to watch was the teeter-totter.  This is basically a trailer bed which has been modified into an adult version of a childhood favorite.  You drive your car onto the teeter-totter, then you have two minutes to perfectly balance your car.  It is much harder than it sounds, and a lot of fun to watch.  Not very many people can accomplish this feat.

The true favorite part of the weekend event is meeting the people and hearing their stories.  We met people from Florida, Maine, Kentucky and all parts in between.  Each has a story to tell about their vehicle – why they chose that particular vehicle, the work that went into the creation, and some great hard-luck stories as well.  You can loose track of time if you visit with the owners for very long.  You will certainly come out of an event like this with new friends – I know we did.

Next year if you are near Macungie, PA in the last full weekend of August you should stop by the Wheels of Time Street Rod and Custom Jamboree.  You will find a great variety of autos and an even greater variety of owners.  Remember the money raised at this show goes to very worthy causes – food banks and scholarships.

 Over 2000 street rods and custom cars are on display every year at this popular event.  This event also allows us to give back to the Lehigh Valley in the  form of donations to local food banks and Vo-tech scholarships.

Getting Your Auto Fix in the Winter

February 25, 2010

Getting Your Car Guy/Gal Fix in the Winter

Cars and the related culture can be a great distraction from the pressures of everyday life.  Taking the time on a beautiful spring, summer or fall day to participate in a show, see a show or browse through a swap/parts meet can be relaxing and place you with a group of fellow enthusiasts.  What do you do for a ‘fix’ in the winter.  Here in Maryland we have a big indoor show the first weekend of December, the auto show in mid-February and a couple of winter parts meets.  That only covers four weekends of almost four months of automotive activity drought.

Many aspects of the car culture can be experienced in the comforts of your home during inclement weather or the dead of winter, or even away from home through the wonders of the internet.  Forums can be found for nearly any broad or special interest within the auto culture.  Automotive interest items can be found for auction or sale through eBay or vendor websites.  In addition to forums there are social networking sites much akin to Facebook and MySpace for auto enthusiasts.

Forums can relate to specific makes [Ferrari, Dodge, Fiat], models [Mustang, Corvette, Pantera], genres [Microcar, 6-Speed, Racing] or general.  A quick search on the internet will garner many results, just type in the make, model or genre in which your interest lies and ‘forum’ to see the options.  A quick search on Bing for “Ferrari forum” yielded: ferrarilife.com, ferrarichat.com, ferrarispot.com,and  ferrariforums.net.  A quick Google search for “auto racing forum” resulted in: racecarslounge.com, forums.stockcarracing.com, streetcarforums.com and racing-forums.com as the first four items.   There are multiple general forums such as automobileforum.com, mycarforum.com and carforums.net.

Most forums do not require membership to view or explore the site.  Within each site you will usually find calendars of events, regional discussion boards and parts/items for sale.  Most forums require membership/registration to post or respond.  Registration is generally free, especially if the site is open to the public, and available to the general public.  You don’t need to own a car which relates to the forum, just be an enthusiast.  Please read the forum rules carefully, they have ‘moderators’ who watch every posting and have the ability to edit or delete your posting, and to ban you from posting if you do not heed their warnings.  The forums are a great way to stay in touch.

Social networking is also available through sites such as Hub Garage.com.  Hub is a site much like Facebook or MySpace.  You can create a profile, post pictures, blog and make friends from around the nation or even world.  Hub allows you to see photos and videos of cars and events.  Hub Garage is a great way to find others with cars similar to yours or one in which you are interested [using the search feature] then allows you to communicate directly with the member.  There are also sections related to news, classifieds and an automotive art gallery. The Hub is a great way to lose yourself on a quiet morning or afternoon.

Keeping in touch with the car culture can be easy even for the barely computer literate.  You can find an escape from the doldrums with  a computer and access to the internet, not to mention make new friends and find parts you need or automobilia you ‘need’.

Let your fingers ‘do the walking’ when there is no place to physically go to get your automotive fix.

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