Monday, November 19, 2012

1969 Honda CL350 Cafe Racer

Sometimes restoration is more like resurrection. This little Honda had been left for dead before this project began. With a little love - and of course a few modifications - it's back on the road again and performing better than ever.
This is the progress so far.
...and this is where it started. Quite the difference. Actually having an engine is a big upgrade, for example. The engine was gone through with new seals and reinstalled. A modern electronic ignition makes a gigantic difference in reliability. The carbs were completely rebuilt and rejetted to account for the open-element pod filters.
Practically every part was removed for painting or polishing (or was just removed, period). The tank got some bodywork and a new coat of metal flake paint. The "Honda" badges were shaved at the same time. Most of the wiring was redone. The 60's handlebars were ditched for a lower straight version. The damaged headlight and brackets were straightened and repainted. The dryrotted original tires were replaced with modern rubber. The control cables were also replaced for modern upgrades.
Out back, the decayed stock seat was restyled and reupholstered becoming a custom solo seat. The stock tail lights were remounted on custom brackets after ditching the rear fender. The license plate found a new home on an axle-mounted bracket. The useless rear footpegs were removed. The damaged foot controls were straightened and painted.
 This in-process pic shows the padding for the solo seat being built on the stock seat pan before the custom upholstery was added.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blacked Out 2013 BMW M5

For 2013, BMW has introduced a new M5. This one received the full blackout treatment...with a twist. Instead of simply being painted, the chrome details on this new M5 were converted to carbon-fiber instead.

This is what Darth Vader's M5 would look like. All of the lenses were tinted, along with the windows. The stock M alloy wheels were powdercoated matte black. The chrome door handle inserts and fender vents were done in black carbon fiber. Very sinister looking.
The stock grilles were swapped for black units.
The headlights were lightly tinted and a darker "eyebrow" was added to the top. The side marker light is still visible when the lights are on. Very mean looking.
This picture does not do justice to how great this looks in person. The stock handles had a chrome insert that was redone in black carbon fiber.
This picture does a better job of showing how fantastic the black carbon fiber looks in person. The ring around the fender vents is chrome from the factory. Also notice that the LED indicator was tinted to make it blend in. The tint does not effect the visibility of the light when it is working.
The rear view shows the tinted tail lights and bumper reflectors. Again, the tinting does not prevent the lights from showing through when they're working.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2010 Ford Raptor F-150 audio

It may sound obvious, but the first job of a great audio system is to be HEARD not SEEN. In this case, the entire system is designed to use empty spaces and the factory radio to make enough great sound to keep up with the 6.2L 411hp truck it lives in.
The stock radio was retained in order to keep it's functions and the stock cosmetics. If you like it, or if you can't change it for some reason, there's no reason not to use the factory radio anymore.
This is the magic piece that allows it to happen. It takes the signal from the stock radio and turns it into a high powered output for the new amps. It also allows for tuning of EQ and crossover.
The processor, amps, and 10" subwoofer all live in the empty area under the rear seat.
Modern subwoofers are thin enough that you can fit them in lots of places you couldn't before. This enclosure holds a downward facing 10" woofer. The stock "premium" woofer is a paltry 6.5".
With the seats down, the bass escapes through this slot near the floor.
The new speakers hide behind the factory grilles in the doors. You'd never know they were there until you heard them.
Here's a handy trick: If the factory speaker is a 5x7" oval speaker, it can be replaced with a 5.25" mid and 1" tweeter instead for much-improved sound. These are Alpine's Type-X speakers in the front.
The rears got the same treatment.
Now all that's left is to try out this maneuver.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Tiffany's Edition" Customized Technics 1200's

Here's another set of customized Technics 1200 turntables. This set carries a "Tiffany's" theme with custom paint of both the base and platters and custom white LED lighting.
The custom paint on the bases has a dramatic silver metalflake in it for maximum sparkle under the lights in dark nightclubs. The platters were painted white, then the pitch-calibration indicators had to be polished out before clearcoating. It's the details that make the difference.
Again, it's the details that matter. The red LED's in the pitch controls, pop-up lights, timing lights, and speed controls were switched out for bright white ones. Very trick looking, especially in dim lighting.
The cheap RCA and ground cables were switched out for new Streetwires ones. Better sound quality and durability.
If you'd like to see these in person in the Milwaukee area, go check out DJ Max P. for info.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1951 Willys Pickup Audio System

This very cool vehicle was in the process of a complete restoration to the factory style. The only exception was that the owner wanted a great audio system in it. The restriction was that none of it could be seen, so that the illusion of leaving the factory yesterday wouldn't be ruined. Definitely a challenge, but it came out sounding good enough to put a modern "factory premium" system to shame.
The engine room. That Optima battery was eventually covered with a replica old-style battery case, and all the amp wiring was covered in a matching braided loom to keep the theme.
This is what the factory dashboard looked like. As you can see, there's no place for a radio to go. A pair of speakers was eventually tucked up out of sight under each end of the dash.
This is the only part of the audio system you can see. A master volume knob was added in a factory hole. You'd never know it wasn't stock.
Since there's no place for a radio, the source for the sound system is an iPod dock connector cable. The cable can be tucked out of sight at shows. With an iPhone connected, you can even stream Pandora internet radio while you're going down the road. How's that for modern?
This is a photo of the stock "well" under the bench seat.
A new 4 channel amp was located in the stock well under the bench seat bottom.
Since you don't want to drill any holes in a vehicle like this, a mounting platform for the amp was attached to the floor with silicone adhesive. The amp then got screwed into the platform.
This is probably the smallest speaker box I've ever seen. It mounts the rear speakers in an unused and hidden area behind the bench seat back for rear fill and bass response.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gold Technics 1200's

Custom is always cool. Sometimes, it's even the less expensive option.
Now that Technics has discontinued the 1200, new ones are selling for over $1000 each(!). For a fraction of that, you can turn a used set into something that looks and performs better than new...and makes a statement too.
This set got a custom candy gold with gold metalflake paint job. Under the lights, these sparkle like mad.
This picture really shows how shiny the paint finish is.
Along with the new paint, these decks were completely disassembled, cleaned, and adjusted to like-new spec. Then the RCA cables were replaced with a new set of upgraded and super-durable Streetwires units. The grounds were upgraded for better performance and reliability too.
The blue Serato vinyl is a good look with the blue wiring and gold finish.
This will give you an idea about what "completely disassembled" means. The paint used is automotive spec, so it should be durable and keep it's shine for years.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

69 Roadrunner.

One thing that drives me crazy: People will build hot cars with the "best of everything", then throw in whatever 70's hand-me-down radio they have laying around. No matter how good your exhaust sounds, eventually you're going to want to listen to something else...something good.

This is a great example of what can be done in a classic car without destroying it's flavor. It's a sound system that blends in aesthetically, but stands out sonically.

The irregularly shaped and profiled dash area was handled by machining a polished black polycarbonate panel for the modern Alpine radio. A connector for an iPod is tucked into the glovebox and is controlled through the radio's faceplate buttons.

Panels were made to house Alpine's Pro components in the plastic kickpanels. None of the metal behind the plastic had to be modified in any way. With a casual glance you wouldn't even notice that they weren't factory equipment.
The biggest challenge on the driver's side was retaining 100% functionality of the emergency brake. Tight clearance, but it all clears.
The mismatched-shaped rear speaker locations required machining more polished black polycarbonate adapter plates. You'll never see them under the reworked carpet cover, but still cool pieces. (the white is just the protective plastic that comes off when you're done)

To handle the bass duties, an enclosure was made to house a 10 inch subwoofer behind the backseat. The box also serves as a mounting point for the amplifiers and trim panels.

A black carpeted trim panel finishes off the trunk area. Unless you really know what a stock trunk looks like, you wouldn't know anything was in there.

The stock style plaid trunk mat still fits perfectly back where it came from.
Nothing stereo related here. It's just a great looking motor.