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Are We There Yet...?

Posted on 9/27/16 with No comments

In my younger years I spent more than my fair share of time hanging out at the local gas stations. I learned a lot from the older retired "experts" who used to hang out in the office and tell stories. They got me involved every now and then when they needed a good laugh and it usually came at my expense. I knew I had to pay my dues.

One thing I always remember is that nearly all of those early stations had a display rack of road maps next to the cash register. They used to be free to the customers, and there was always a bundle of them under the counter to restock the rack. All of the local stations gave away road maps in those days, While still free when I came along in the late 1960's, they were not nearly as colorful or as detailed as the early maps.

Derby Map rack from The 1960's

In the early days the oil companies tried to establish brand loyalty by offering a number of free services. Beginning in the 1920's oil companies started posting road maps on the wall of their stations. They would provide weekly updates of road conditions and detours. Because road signs were neither common or standardized in those early years, traveling even over to the next county was an adventure, especially if you were not familiar with the local roads and routes. Weather also played a big factor because few roads were paved in those early days.  Gravel was considered a luxury.

Often times the local sheriff would help identify impassable roads and roads under construction. When customers saw the sheriff getting gas at a certain station and providing the road condition updates it made the information credible. It was also good for that brand of gasoline. After all... who needed dependable quality gasoline more than the Sheriff?

1929 Atlantic Road Map

In the mid 1930's CONOCO began offering "trip planning" for their loyal customers even going so far, as to provide personalized booklets of maps, and travel information, including suggested stops and suggested routes, with all of the CONOCO stations identified along the planned route. Many other oil companies soon followed suit. You could write a letter to the company tell them where you wanted to go and when and they would plan you trip figure out your route and the miles you would travel, put it in book form and send it to you at no charge.

One example I have in my collection provided for a CONOCO customer in 1939 that details a complete trip around the USA with stops at the New York World's Fair, and the Golden Gate Exhibition. The personalized booklet contained over 200 pages and highlighted all of the best roads and motor courts. In all, the customer's route covered 10,799 miles with a suggested driving time of 39 days.

1930 Standard Oil

By the mid 1930's...full service was the rule of the day with "service station attendants" wearing white uniforms complete with five star pointed hats displaying the company logo. They greeted you on the driveway and offered to check the oil, and wash your windshield, at every fill up at no extra charge. Service with a smile. In addition, most service stations had a "mechanic on duty" who did oil changes, install new tires, and engine tune-up work.

1940 ESSO Map

By the end of the 1970's, the free maps were disappearing as were the free trip route service. That was soon followed by the introduction of the "self-serve" gas station with just one attendant on duty to collect money, and with cars more reliable and requiring less maintenance, the "mechanic on duty" also disappeared. The full service "service station" was becoming a "thing of the past". I am glad I got to at least experience some of what a "full service, service station was like in my younger days.

1941 Tydol Map

One thing I do as a result of those early years, is collect, road maps and travel guides from the 1920's through the 1960's. When I travel if my time allows, I use those old road maps from the 1940's and 1950's as a guide. They identify the old routes, through old small towns. Many of those old maps also identify the exact location of the early gas stations. I prefer to think of those maps as treasure maps. If you also collect the oil company signs and related advertising from gas stations, these old maps become treasure hunt maps. They will lead you right to the location of the old service stations. Many are long gone but I have got lucky on occasion and found a building still there and still untouched after all of these years.  It's like walking into a time warp!

Parco Oil Road Map From 1931

So... if you see me out and about in some strange locale and you say to yourself "what in the word is he doing out here in the middle of nowhere" you know.

More Oil Company Trivia...The Teapot Dome Scandal
The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery incident that took place in the United States from 1921 to 1922, during the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming and two other locations in California to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. In 1922 and 1923, the leases became the subject of a sensational investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Fall was later convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies and became the first Cabinet member to go to prison. No person was ever convicted of paying a bribe, however.

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Navy largely converted from coal to fuel oil. To ensure that the Navy would always have enough fuel available, several oil-producing areas were designated as Naval Oil Reserves by President Taft. In 1921, President Harding issued an executive order that transferred control of Teapot Dome Oil Field in Natrona County, Wyoming and the Elk Hills and Buena Vista Oil Fields in Kern County California from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. This was not implemented until 1922, when Interior Secretary Fall persuaded Navy Secretary Edwin C. Denby to transfer control.

 The Teapot Dome (so named for the shape of the rock) oil fields were located  in Natrona County, Wyoming.

Later in 1922, Albert Fall leased the oil production rights at Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, a subsidiary of Sinclair Oil Corporation. He also leased the Elk Hills reserve to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company. Both leases were issued without competitive bidding. This manner of leasing was legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

The lease terms were very favorable to the oil companies, which secretly made Fall a rich man. Fall had received a no-interest loan from Doheny of $100,000 (about $1.33 million today) in November 1921. He received other gifts from Doheny and Sinclair totaling about $404,000 (about $5.36 million today. It was this money changing hands that was illegal, not the leases. Fall attempted to keep his actions secret, but the sudden improvement in his standard of living was suspect.

Oil businessman Edward L. Doheny (second from right, at table) testifying before the Senate Committee investigating the Teapot Dome oil leases in 1924

In April 1922, a Wyoming oil operator wrote to Senator John B. Kendrick, angered that Sinclair had been given a contract to the lands in a secret deal. Kendrick did not respond, but two days later on April 15, he introduced a resolution calling for an investigation of the deal. Republican Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin led an investigation by the Senate Committee on Public Lands. At first, La Follette believed Fall was innocent. However, his suspicions deepened after his own office in the Senate Office Building was ransacked.

Democrat Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, the most junior minority member, led a lengthy inquiry. For two years, Walsh pushed forward while Fall stepped backward, covering his tracks as he went. No evidence of wrongdoing was initially uncovered as the leases were legal enough, but records kept disappearing mysteriously. Fall had made the leases appear legitimate, but his acceptance of the money was his undoing. By 1924, the remaining unanswered question was how Fall had become so rich so quickly and easily.

Money from the bribes had gone to Fall's cattle ranch and investments in his business. Finally, as the investigation was winding down with Fall apparently innocent, Walsh uncovered a piece of evidence Fall had forgotten to cover up: Doheny's $100,000 loan to Fall.

This discovery broke the scandal open. Civil and criminal suits related to the scandal continued throughout the 1920s. In 1927 the Supreme Court ruled that the oil leases had been corruptly (fraudulently) obtained. The Court invalidated the Elk Hills lease in February 1927 and the Teapot Dome lease in October. Both reserves were returned to the Navy.

Senator Albert B. Fall, the first U.S. cabinet official sentenced to prison.

In 1929, Albert Fall was found guilty of accepting bribes from Doheny. Conversely, in 1930, Edward L. Doheny was acquitted of paying bribes to Fall. Further, Doheny's corporation foreclosed on Fall's home in Tularosa Basin, New Mexico, because of "unpaid loans" which turned out to be that same $100,000 bribe. Sinclair served six months in jail on a charge of jury tampering.

Although Fall was to blame for this scandal, Harding's reputation was sullied because of his involvement with the wrong people. Evidence proving Fall's guilt only arose after Harding's death in 1923.

Another significant outcome was the Supreme Court's ruling in McGrain v. Daugherty (1927) which, for the first time, explicitly established that Congress had the power to compel testimony. In February 2015, the Department of Energy sold the oil field for $45 million to Stranded Oil Resources Corp. after extracting 22 million barrels of oil over the years.


The 1949 Chevrolet Car Building Project...

Posted on 9/20/16 with No comments

I started my business in a large two car garage in 1987. By 1991 I was out of space and began looking for a building in downtown Clay Center.  I wanted a building at least a half a block long so that I could have a storefront, and also warehouse storage in the back, to work on projects. In my demented mind I also wanted to cut up an old car and put it on the front of my store.  I looked for a store front building with that in mind.

I found this building in the spring of 1992. It had been used mostly for storage the previous ten years and with the owner passing, it became available. After I purchased the building and doing some remolding, I went to the local City Hall to see what the local sign ordinance rules were. (I kept my car on the front of the building idea to myself.) The city clerk stated the rules and then I asked for them in writing. Basically there were three requirements...had to be so many feet above the sidewalk, couldn't be flammable, and had to be securely attached to the building. With copy in hand I was off.

Next up I hunted down a donor vehicle. I wanted something from the 1940's or 1950's. My original plan was to cut the car length wise and install it onto the building, make the wheels spin and then use the exhaust pipe as the vent from the furnace so when the furnace came on in the winter, smoke would come out the exhaust. After some measurement I determined the building front was not tall enough for that idea.

Plan "B" was to cut a car off width wise, and attach it to the front of the building. Of course the headlights would still have to work, along with the park lights and the horn. I found my storefront car on the outskirts of Vining Kansas (population  45). Two old bachelor brothers lived together on the farm and used the car to go to town on Saturday night. Being of German heritage they enjoyed having a beer...or three.

One Saturday night on their way home they sideswiped a bridge. The bridge had metal guard rails and the bolts were installed backwards. The protruding bolts caught the right front fender and acted just like a "can opener", and tore a two inch wide gash the whole length of the passenger side of the car.

Not hurt, the two brothers walked home. The next day the drove their farm tractor back to the scene of the crime hooked onto the car with a chain and towed the car home and parked it in the hedgerow. That is where it sat until I found it some 25 years later.

I had never cut off the front of a car to install on a building, but how hard could it be...? I soon found out it is much more difficult than it looks. I took the car up to Ed Gunter's welding shop in Morganville Ks and told him what I wanted to do. After he got done laughing and figured out I was serious, we got to work.

Cut number one... we measured eight inches back from the headlight rings (on both sides) where the headlight rings attach to the fender, and snapped a chalk line across. Ed fired up his plasma cutter and cut it off. "This is gonna be too easy"... I say to myself. When we flipped the car front upright onto the shop floor, it quickly became obvious that the "easy" plan did not work. We ended up with a two inch gap at the hood curves.

Cut number two... we measured  from the opposite end (where we had just cut) and tried to straighten things out and get rid of the gaps.  As often happens, that only made things worse!

Cut Number three... We were running out of car and had enough for one more cut. If this didn't work it was going to the junkyard. We turned the car up on end measured from the floor about every two inches all the way across. We connected the dots then stood back and admired our handiwork. We both had the same terrified look on our faces. The line was as crooked as a snake! Nothing to do but try it. We double checked our measurements and fired up the plasma cutter.

When we got done and flipped it back upside down and no gap!! It was perfect!! Amazing!! Time for celebration! Next it was off to the body shop. I painted it 77 Corvette Sunflower Yellow to help hide some of the damage to the RH fender. The yellow color also draws a lot of attention. Once painted, I did the wiring and installed the original 6-volt headlights and horn.  The car runs on a 6-volt  car battery, that was originally connected to a battery charger that I plugged in once a week. Now it is connected to a 6-volt battery tender. Simple is good!

On the Monday of Labor Day 1993 while the residents of Clay Center Kansas were out enjoying the holiday Ed, myself and about half dozen close friends attached the car front to the front of my store. You always attract plenty of adult supervision when doing a project like this. I wired things up and the headlights worked, and the horn honked. Better than I could have wished for!!

Tuesday morning the citizens of Clay Center discovered the yellow car on the front of a building downtown. Word spread quickly. All were impressed except the city fathers who determined that the car front was not in keeping with the "aesthetics" of the downtown area. A check of the sign ordinance confirmed I was in compliance.

Now some thirty years later the yellow car has become a local landmark. When out of town customers stop and ask for directions, everyone in town knows where that yellow car on the front of the building is located. It has been the best advertisement I could have ever hoped for.

And for those of you in a panic thinking I cut up a perfectly good car you can relax. The RH front fender still has a few wrinkles even though we did the best we could after welding the hole shut made by the guardrail bolts. The metal was stretched pretty bad from the wreck. With a few coats of body filler, hanging it fifteen feet in the air, and painting it a bright color helps hide a lot of the damage.

As for the rest of the car it went to a good home. I had a local customer who was restoring a 49 Chevy car and need a few interior parts and the LH rear side trim. He bought all of the side trim (which was in perfect condition) for $100.00 and he got the car that was attached to it for free.


Nitromethane Was Discovered As A Racing Fuel Way Back In 1954...

Posted on 9/13/16 with No comments

I have a large library in my office consisting of Hot Rod "How-To Books" and Annuals from the 1940's 50's and 60's. During one of my recent review sessions I found a chapter introducing nitromethane and its use for Drag Racing. Keep in mind this is 1954 technology…

The article began by explaining that today's hot rodders (in 1954) have exploited every possible means of inducting more oxygen into the cylinders of an engine through improvements in volumetric efficiency. Not matter how much fuel is delivered to the cylinders; the point has been reached that not enough oxygen can be introduced to make the fuel burn efficiently.

 This has lead to experiments being conducted using oxygen bearing chemicals. Among the oxygen bearing chemicals that is showing good promise is nitromethane that is currently being manufactured as an industrial cleaning solvent. Nitromethane burns rapidly when heated, without the aid of outside oxygen.

Nitromethane is however, quite dangerous and has a lasting harmful affect on everything it touches. If spilled on the painted surface of a race car, nitromethane will run off onto the ground, taking the paint of the car with it. If nitromethane is left in a metal storage can, it will eat the bottom out within a week’s time. It is also very toxic to humans. Care should be exercised to avoid exposure to the skin and lungs.

Larger fuel lines, bigger carburetor jets and dump tubes, are some of the changes necessary when converting to nitromethane. An excess of nitromethane is needed within the cylinder so that enough water is created during the combustion process to cool the valves and pistons. Not enough nitromethane will cause an engine to meltdown… literally. Popular proven mixtures include 95% nitro methane, 5% alcohol / water and castor oil. 

It is also common to see the tachometer read 2000 -2500 for up to ten seconds after the fuel is shut off. This is common until the cylinders cool down enough to stop igniting the leftover nitromethane.

Lower compression ratios are also necessary with the use of nitromethane. The top Flathead Fords on the West Coast now run a compression ratio of 6:5 to 1. However… when the engine is running at top speed, the cylinders build compression higher than conventional 12:1 full race engines.

Nitromethane is not for everyone; it can cost as much as nine dollars a gallon in some locations compared to methanol alcohol that typically costs sixty cents a gallon. Other less expensive combinations have been tried including…nitro / hydrogen peroxide, nitro / benzene, nitro / benzoyl, nitro / acetone, nitro / di-ethel ether, nitro / picric acid, and nitro / propane. Dyno testing results have proved however, that nothing is as efficient or as consistent as nitromethane.  

Currently the only other alternative to nitromethane is a secret formula developed and recently introduced by Wilcap Automotive in Los Angles California.  This formula costs ten dollars a gallon and burns at the rate of 3/4 gallon per mile. It is used at no more than 30 percent strength and is said to provide the same results as a 90% mixture of nitromethane. Many records have been broken at southern California tracks using this new mixture. The only drawback is the solution is extremely destructive to engines not specially built for its use.
                                                                                                          - (Hot Rod Handbook 1954)

What Exactly is Nitromethane…?
Technically...Nitromethane is known as a monopropellant fuel, which means it has the potential to combust without any air at all. That's why nitromethane was once used as a rocket fuel. Fortunately for hot rodding, nitromethane also has industrial-world uses-primarily as a dry cleaning solvent, which makes it readily available. 

Enter Vic Edlebrook...
According to most hot rod historians, nitro's first competition use in America was by Vic Edelbrock Sr. and his associates. In the late 1940’s, Midget racer Ed Haddad came into Vic’s shop with a gallon can of nitromethane he’d been given by one of the Dooling brothers, who manufactured slot cars (the tethered miniature cars that ran on a circle track popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s) Ed didn’t want any part of the new fuel because he had heard "it will blow up in your face." 

Edelbrock, Bobby Meeks, and Fran Hernandez added 10 percent nitro to the methanol in their 136ci V8-60 Midget car engine. With no tuning or familiarity with nitro, Vic Jr. recalls that the strange brew "just about broke the beam on Dad's old 200hp-capacity Clayton dyno."  The spark plugs were so hot they turned into glow plugs. When they tried to shut it off, the engine kept running. They finally had to throw a towel on it to get it to quit." The engine was toast, but eventually they learned to add lots more fuel, colder spark plugs, and stronger internals to stand up to both the higher output as well as nitromethane's corrosive effects. The Stromberg 81 carbs had to be nickel-plated, as did the fuel containers (hidden from prying eyes inside cardboard boxes). 

Eventually, Edelbrock settled on a 20 percent nitro / 80 percent methanol mix that added 40 hp. Edelbrock was able to keep the fuel a secret for a while, but with flames coming out of the exhaust, fellow racers knew something was up. Vic disguised the distinctive odor by blending in a little orange oil. 

By 1952, an Edelbrock Ford flathead running 40 percent nitro had run 201 mph one way at Bonneville (before the exhaust valves got sucked into the ports). With the word out on the new fuel the article appeared in the Hot Rod Handbook 1954 edition.

How Come So Many Flames Out Of The Exhaust Headers...?
The simplest explanation is that much more nitro is being delivered to the cylinders than can be burned. That is done on purpose, not for the horsepower advantage but to help cool the cylinders, to keep the engine from melting down…literally!

The excess nitro fuel goes out the exhaust, where it immediately ignites on contact with atmospheric oxygen, burning with a characteristic yellow flame. If the rich mixture has entered into the monopropellant phase, hydrogen and carbon monoxide are produced as a byproduct. Bright white flames are then generated, by the burning hydrogen. The burning of this excess fuel is what provides that distinctive crackle sound. It will also burn your eyes and your skin. Not all of the nitromethane coming out of the exhaust headers will burn because of the volume of fuel present.

Starting a Nitro Burning Engine
Initial start-up with high nitro concentrations is very tricky. According to those in the know… "You must get the engine cycling. It won't start up spinning at 200 rpm like a gas engine would. You need to get some heat in the engine and spin it at 1,800 to 2,000 rpm." 

There's so much fuel pouring into the cylinders that failure to get the engine spinning fast enough before controlled ignition can hydro-lock the engine, or even blow a head off. The common practice is to start and warm up the engine on gas or alcohol then switch over to the nitromethane.

The high percentages of nitro have led to massive breakthroughs in ignition technology. Today's top-of-the-line MSD units put out 50,000 volts and 44 amps on the top end. That's about the same output of an arc welder at each cylinder-and today the top fuelers run two of them.

Once you get a nitro engine going, it may not want to stop. At 7,500 rpm on the top end, there's so much heat in the engine it may keep running under auto ignition even if you shut off the magnetos. Essentially, it becomes a diesel. Fuelers today shut down by turning off the fuel pumps as well as the ignition.

Who would have thought that the fuel used to power 1/24 scale tethered slot cars would end up being used as fuel in Drag Racing? Imagine how excited Vic must have been to gain 40 horsepower simply by switching the fuel he burned in his race car?

Now that you know the history of nitromethane as a racing fuel, you will never look at the local dry cleaning store the same again. 

Remote Battery Studs...What Are They And Why Do I Need Them....?

Posted on 8/2/16 with No comments

Automotive electricity is one of the most misunderstood things there is and most of the problem comes from the fact that you cannot see it do anything or how it works, all you see is the end result good or bad. So when it comes time to work on the electrical side of things most car owners would rather do most anything else.

But a few basic principles and a little technical advice from yours truly will make your life much better. If you have called and talked to me on the telephone asking for advice one of the things you will hear me repeat often is..."Simple is Good!..."

So... when it comes to adding electrical accessories to your antique vehicle...things like electric radiator cooling fans, electric fuel pumps modern car stereos air conditioning, even the simple things like fog lamps and spotlights, all of those things need a reliable supply of electricity to work.

     This is how NOT to add electrical accessories to you antique vehicle.

So that is where the remote battery stud comes in. You can mount a remote battery stud anywhere you want... to establish a reliable source of electricity for all of your electrical accessories. All of those electrical accessories can get their power direct from the battery, from a single source in an easy to reach location.

Because the remote battery studs get their power directly from the battery the electrical current delivered by the remote battery stud is free of voltage spikes and power surges (the battery will act as a capacitor and will absorb all of the voltage spikes from things like the starter solenoid) thus protecting you electrical accessories from damage.

You also know if you have read any of my tech books that the ground side of the electrical system is just as important and the battery side. So if you use a remote battery stud to ground all of you electrical accessories back to the battery you can be assured they will all work as they are supposed to. Electricity needs to travel in a complete circle and anything that interrupts that current in either the battery side or the ground side of that circuit means something will stop working properly on that circuit. Think of this as like having a kink in a garden hose.

This is how all of your electrical accessories should be powered !

Besides providing a clean reliable power source, the remote battery studs are rated at 200 amps which is more than enough to power all of your electrical accessories from a single source. Remote battery studs are color for positive and black for ground so you can easily identify which wire circuits are which. It makes things pretty goof proof.

If you want some of your circuits to be fused such as those for your modern stereo, you GPS or your cell phone charging circuit you can also install a HD power Block. It has six individual circuits that accept the modern ATO type fuses and the power block comes with a 10 gauge power wire already attached that has the ring terminal end to fit onto the remote battery stud.

The HD Power Block uses Modern ATO Type Fuses.

The power block is rated at 60 amps total with 30 amps maximum per circuit. A power will work to replace the early style circuit breakers and are much more reliable. One power block can replace six circuit breakers and when connected to the remote battery stud can provide reliable electrical power that is free of voltage spikes and power surges.

I have working on the electrical systems of antique vehicles for more than 30 years. I am self taught and have suffered my share of social embarrassment when I wired something incorrectly and soon after the smoke leaked out. One thing I learned early on is once the smoke has leaked out, you cannot put it back, so it is better to not have it leak out in the first place!

If you go to most any car show and look at an antique vehicle that has a modern stereo installed, one of the first things you notice is that a lot of them will have the LED lights are burnt out in the radio dial. What caused that? Most likely a voltage spike from the starter solenoid. When the contact points close in the starter solenoid the 200 volt voltage spike that is created is free to travel thru the electrical circuits. Without proper protection from voltage spikes and power surges the LED lights are the first thing...the $400 stereo radio is next, so loosing the LED lights should be a warning to the car owner that something is wrong. While it did not matter to the older mechanical electrical accessories like heater blower motors it does matter to any solid state accessory like a modern radio, a GPS or a a cell phone that is charging in the cigarette lighter. When smoke leaks out of those accessories it gets expensive!

So here we are... back at "Simple Is Good!" If you install a pair of remote battery studs along with a HD power block all of the electrical power you supply to your electrical accessories will be free of voltage spikes and power surges. You will have no loose wiring connections and no intermittent ground issues. In short (sorry couldn't resist that) everything works as it is supposed to and life is good! And that is the way it should be!

Has Mr. Haney Got A Deal For You !! Get Your Auto Related Antiques And Collectables Here...

Posted on 7/28/16 with No comments

Randy has been collecting auto related antiques and collectables for more than forty years, long before he had a store. He knew that someday he would have a store and knew he wanted to decorate it on the inside with auto related antiques and collectables to recreate the appearance of how auto parts stores looked in the 1940's and 1950's. Mission accomplished! With the store done... it is time to sell off the rest of his auto related antiques and collectables. Now is your chance to add to your collection or start a collection of your own.

All of the items for sale in the "Mr. Haney Specials" will be shown with as many pictures as necessary to let you know what you are buying and the condition things are in. Some descriptions will be written as though Mr. Haney himself wrote them. And Randy will "haggle" with you just like Mr. Haney did with Mr. Douglas... so if you see something you are interested in and the price seems to high...send me an email with a fair offer and we can likely come to terms.

Be sure and put "Mr Haney" in the subject line and the Item number you are talking about. There will be no reproduction items for sale in the "Mr. Haney Specials" so you can expect things to have a few scratches and maybe some missing paint. Anything  else missing will be part of the description. Most items will be at least 40 years old (some twice that) and heaven knows none of us are the same as we were 40 years ago either!. No Returns will be accepted. You are welcome to email me with any questions you have before you make your purchase. I accept Visa, Master Card, and Discover. 

Just so you know... here is how it worked between Mr. Haney and Mr. Douglass on Green Acres...

Mr. Haney would often turn up in his 1925 Dodge truck at the Douglas farm, minutes after Mr. Douglas realized they needed something, selling exactly that (even if it were very odd), complete with a pull-down sign on his truck advertising it. If turned down by Douglas, Haney would offer a variety of equally useless alternatives. Oliver once said "How come you always show up with exactly what I need?" And Haney turned it on him by saying "Well let me put it to you another come you always need what I show up with?"

How Do I find The Mr. Haney Specials...?

You can go to the home page and under Randy's picture below the "Garage Tech" link will be a link to "Mr. Haney Specials."

When something sells Randy will delete it from the listings. So... if something you were watching suddenly disappears that means somebody else bought it and you missed out. Do do not hesitate. There will be very few duplicate items, most everything is unique one of a kind. If you snooze you loose.

Shipping for all items will be either Priority Mail for the small stuff or Fed Ex Ground for the bigger items or you can come and pick up your item in person and tour the store while you are here. All shipped items are FOB Clay Center Kansas. Randy will charge you actual shipping costs.

Check back often as more items will be added as they are uncovered. You never know when you will find something you did not know you needed, but now can not afford to be without.

That Postcard...

Posted on 7/13/16 with No comments

Advertising 101 says that you need to make you business stand out from the others in you field. When I started out some 30 years ago I took that literally. I found this picture on a postcard when I was about 17 years old (I am 58 years young now) in an old garage that looked like it had been there for a hundred years. The building was falling in literally, and so I got permission to walk thru to see if there was anything worth saving.

This picture postcard was on the wall above the telephone (which was probably last updated in the 1960's) and the postcard itself had no writing on it whatsoever,  just this picture. I have no idea where it came from but it had clearly been there for a couple of generations. It reminded me of the old pinup calendars that hung in garages and dealerships in my younger days. I knew I had to save it...or it was going to be hauled off in the back of a dump truck along with the rest of the building and contents. Not racy by today's standards, but back when that car was new it would have been a scandal. There is something to be said for leaving some things to the imagination.

When it came time to start my business I knew I needed something unique that customers would remember and something that would make my business card stand out.  After about a week of looking for ideas I remembered that postcard and knew I had what I needed for my business card.

Some of you reading this may be old enough to remember when most office desks in garages and dealerships were wooden, and had a large sheet of thick glass on top  that they slid business cards under. I have since found out that my business postcard with this picture got slid under hundreds of glass tops over the years. When I visited a shop or garage and saw my postcard under glass it made me smile inside. I knew my idea worked, and they would always have my telephone number handy. Most could not remember my name but they all remembered me as the guy that gave them "that postcard."

That postcard became my trademark and I captured a lot of business because no one threw away that postcard. My business information and telephone number just happened to be printed on the back. I also discovered quite a few of my postcards stapled onto walls above the ironic.

Then in the 2000's the politically correct era came along and the once harmless lady postcard suddenly became taboo. People not associated with antique vehicles or the hobby in general, began complaining about "those lady postcards." This was also about the time all of the pin-up calendars disappeared from garages and auto parts stores. It was the end of an era.

So I began printing two different business postcards, one with the picture of the front of my store and the original lady postcard from 1987.  My longtime regular customers and my new customers who had seen the "Lady Postcard" demanded the original.

I also discovered the "Lady Postcards" had a cult like following. I even had a customer make one into a poster. He owned a business that enlarged mechanical blue prints from 8 x11 size to 36" x 48" for use on the assembly lines at GM, Ford, Chrysler, and others. He thought the lady postcard was the neatest thing he had ever seen, so he ran it thru his blue print machine and it came out 36" x 48" in size which he then put up on his garage wall. He also sent me one. It is hanging in my office still today.

So that is the story of the "Lady Postcards" and how they came to be. If you want a pair of the "Lady Postcards" just send me a self addressed stamped envelope and I will put a couple in the mail to you. Now you can own a bit of nostalgia for the price of a postage stamp. How cool is that? Nothing dresses up the wall in your garage or makes your tool box look better than that  "Lady Postcard."


License Plate Tag Toppers...And A Lesson In Marketing 101

Posted on 6/28/16 with No comments

When you are the little guy starting out in business one of your biggest challenges is marketing. How do you get the word out about your business and your products when you advertising budget is limited?  It's Simple... you have to get creative. The second lesson you learn is that sometimes the answer to your problem is in plain sight, you just have to learn to look for it.

I got involved with what is now the Hemmings Great Race in 1989 as a way to market my new invention, a 6-volt alternator. In the race, during those early days, pre 1942 antique vehicles were driven 3500 miles across the United States in just two weeks time. It was common for a 125 cars to enter and have only 80-85 cars finish. Most of the breakdowns involved dead batteries, overheating, and fuel pump problems. Those things I could fix and I did, much to the happiness of the car owners.

The one thing I was having trouble with was marketing my company on the Great Race. I studied the Great Race teams and their cars and discovered most all of the corporate sponsors had big decals on  both sides of the cars. There was not much prime real estate left for me.

So I studied the videos of the Great Race for hours thinking their had to be a solution. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks...Tag Toppers! I had been collecting license plate Tag Toppers for more than twenty years. I have examples from auto parts stores, speed shops, car dealerships, tourist stops etc. I have a couple hundred in all. Why not find a company to make Tag Toppers with Fifth Avenue on them? How hard could that be? They would be a period correct accessory and not cost a lot. And...most important of all they would mount on the front and back of the car which nobody else was using.

So I started looking for a company that would make Tag Toppers again. That took another nine months as most of the companies that made the Tag Toppers in my collection were long out of business. I wanted authentic metal ones like the old days, no plastic! I finally found a company in Oregon that had started making Tag Toppers in 1945 and while the tag toppers had not been in their catalog for more than 20 years, but they still had the equipment around to make them. After many phone calls I  finally talked them into making Tag Toppers again.

The First Fifth Avenue Tag Topper from 1989

Did the Tag Topper idea work...? YOU BETCHA !  I started sponsoring Howard Sharp of Fairport New York in the Great Race beginning in 1990 and in 1993 he won! ESPN sports, yes that ESPN sports did a ten minute interview with Howard sitting in front of his 1929 Dodge Sport Roadster (one of 1200 made) at the finish line. Guess who got a free ten minute commercial on ESPN. Yes yours truly! You could read my name address and phone number on the front of his car as plain as day! All of those high dollar sponsors did not get a nickels worth of TV time because the camera never panned the side of the car. Those Tag Toppers turned out to be the best money I ever spent. I am quite proud to have out smarted the big dogs with their high dollar advertising budget.

After Howard won in 1993 he advanced to the expert class and bought this 1911 Velie out of a museum in South Dakota.  It also got the Fifth Avenue treatment with alternator, electric fuel pump, electric radiator cooling fan etc. He would finish in the top ten every year but having the oldest car in the race was a challenge. Climbing the steep grades in the mountains of Colorado and going thru all of those curvy roads in Arkansas was tough on Howard and the car. But he kept trying. In 2011 he won the Great Race driving the oldest car entered in the race, which turned 100 years old in 2011. More free Tag Topper advertising  : - )

  Fifth Avenue Sponsored 1911 Velie. We Won The Great Race in 2011.

I still make Fifth Avenue Tag Toppers today and you will find them on the Great Race cars I sponsor or have worked on. I also give them away to customers when they spend $400 or more on a order. I can make custom Tag Toppers for car clubs, to advertise car shows and special events. I have done about 40 different custom Tag Toppers over the years. They are a period correct advertising accessory.

I make Tag Toppers as "uppers" and "downers" so they can be mounted above or below the license plate which mean s they will fit most new cars and trucks as well as the antique vehicles. I have had a number of car clubs use them for fund raisers. I just did 400 Tag Toppers for the Willys Jeep Club of America in November 2015. I sell Tag Toppers to car clubs and groups at my cost to keep the volume up to make it worth while for the Tag Topper Company to keep making them for me. Not everything you do should be about money. Sometimes you should do things for the good of the hobby.

Thanks to modern technology you can now have up to five colors on your Tag Topper, you can bleed to the edge which means the color can go all the way to the edge without a border, and you can get "uppers" or "downers". Most any logo will work as long as the artwork is good and sharp, and as you can see in the Willys Tag Toppers the detail can be pretty fine. The ink on these Tag Toppers is UV protected and is the same ink they use on interstate road signs and ambulances. I say it is Kansas June Bug in July tough!! You can power wash these at the car wash to get the bugs off and they will survive with flying colors. They are very durable.

The Willys Overland Jeepster Club Designed This Tag Topper

So that's the story on Tag Toppers and how they came about at Fifth Avenue. Who Knew that the advertising Tag Toppers I had collected for the past 20 years would prove to be the answer to my advertising in the Great Race. The picture below is Howard's new ride a 1916 Hudson. The Velie was retired after the 2011 race and the 1916 Hudson took it's place.

This Tag Topper is displayed on the Fifth Avenue Sponsored 1916 Hudson that won the Great Race in 2015. Winning the Great Race is Always Good For Business

Another Tag Topper displayed on a 1936 Ford Police Car Entered In The Great Race. Satisfied Customers Are Happy To Advertise ForYou When The Advertising Looks Period Correct.

 If you are interested in having Tag Toppers made for your car club or event drop me an email and let me know what you want and how many and I will get you a quote
. Minimum number is 50 and that can be uppers or downers or a combination of both. You can choose any background color and up to five ink colors. The biggest expense is in the setup, which is a fixed cost. The setup costs depends on your design and how many colors you choose. It works better to buy as many Tag Toppers as you can afford. Then you can divide the setup costs over a greater number of Tag Toppers and the cost per Tag Topper will be less. You only pay for the setup charge once if you do not change your design or colors. There is no setup charge on reorders.

We Have These For Sale $20.00 Each Post Paid - Shipped Priority Mail.

Meanwhile If you want a genuine Fifth Avenue Tag Topper for your collection they are $20.00 each post paid. They are the exact same Tag Toppers that you see on the Great Race cars. Just specify "upper" or "downer."


A Few Samples Of The Originals...
And now a few of the Tag Toppers in my collection. No they are not for sale, they are part of my collection. There were literally dozens of Tag Topper manufacturing companies in the 1930's thru the 1950's. There were all shapes and sizes and they advertised most everything from schools, to speed shops, to car dealerships, to tourist attractions. (I collect mostly the auto related Tag Toppers.) They used to be a giveaway item. For example... when you went to the Royal Gorge in Colorado back in the day, they would put a tag topper on your car while it was parked in the parking lot and you were riding the tram to the bottom of the Royal Gorge. When you came back the Tag Topper was installed so everyone knew where you went on vacation.

I am told this company was only in business five years, a casualty of the Depression

The Railroad had more money to spend on Tag Toppers than most businesses. This Tag Topper is porcelain like most of the early gasoline station signs were.

This one fit under the rear truck handle bezel

I will add more pictures of the originals in my collection as time allows...
Meanwhile...If you have an original auto related Tag Topper that you want to sell you can email me a picture of what you have and the price you are asking and I will take a look. My email is Be sure and put "Tag Topper" in the subject line...thanks! Randy


About Me

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Since 1987, Fifth Avenue owner, Randy Rundle, has been making antique, classic and special interest vehicles more reliable and fun to drive.