Sunday, April 29, 2012

I REGARD JUNK AS JUNK - by Leroi "Tex" Smith....

I am compelled to publish this great article with a total unbiased expert view by a man among men when it comes to real Hot Rods and his opinion of the "RAT ROD"culture and craze..


"Tex" Smith

At this point you might want to read more by "THE MAN".  Here is a link to a few articles by Tex
The following is a small concise bio on Tex. and if these are too small to read, be sure to click on each section of the article to enlarge it.

The following is a tiny taste of some of the books published by Tex.
Tex Smith's Basic Hot Rods
Tex Smith's How to Chop Tops

Tex Smith's Complete Ford Flathead V8

Tex Smith's New Book

Monday, April 23, 2012

Learning to be a Gearhead or Motorhead in 1958....

"The Dream" - "The Build" - "The Evolution"............When I was about 14 years old, the term "Gear-head" or "Motor-head" was already part of my existence......but when the little pages(small size magazines) of Rod and Custom magazine started to advertise "Go-Karts" for sale, my adrenaline peaked, but at $129.50 in American dollars, it was totally out of may as well have been a million.  That would have been about 3 months salary for my dad and about 3 years of allowance for me, or at least a year on a part time salary.  The first photos are of course "THE DREAM"!
Click on all photos to enlarge them!!

Dig the desert boots!!...trying to be cool at 14.
So now, "THE BUILD"..........with the help of many and of course my dad being at Kam Motors at the time, we scrounged a couple of wheel barrow tires, some angle iron, purchased a couple of semi-pneumatic tires for the front and did the gusto and bought a nearly new Clinton 3 horse motor for what I recall at about $6.00.  The whole project out of pocket was about $20.00.....and fun we certainly had. 
Finally came "THE EVOLUTION"........As time went on, and a part time job came into my life, it evolved into what you see below, with 2 used 8-hp Homelite chainsaw engines a live axle(both wheels turning at the same time on the same axle), you could smoke those tires almost a whole city block.  The tread was done on the old wheelbarrow tires so had to buy slicks. 

 It became a pretty wild machine at only about 75 lbs, a 16-hp engine, and  a 98 pound driver....right Scotty?  These pictures were taken behind Scott McCallum's home near the tracks on Wellington Street in Fort William.  Those days really did jump start my desire for speed as later years were spent at Riverview Raceways doing roundy-rounds there...and many, many more years restoring old cars and building hot rods.
The following picture is my older son Darren racing at the old K-Mart parking lot in about 1981.

My son Darren in 1981 at K-Mart on West Arthur Street.

The red line shows a typical track layout there.
The following Youtube video is an advertising film for McCulloch Engines and Go-Karts featuring none other than Don Knotts from early television and film fame.  Thanks for visiting!!
Be sure to click on all the photos above for enlargements..

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Diamond Block in Fort William 110 North Street....History Lost!!

This is the Diamond Block on 110 North Street in Fort William Ontario(now Thunder Bay).  It was an historic site and of Architectural heritage until the wrecking ball destroyed it in January of this year.  The letter shown below from Robin Rickards to the editor of the Chronicle Journal on January 7, 2012 says it all......but there is more to the bricks that were pulled more below!
Footnote:  The little sign above the door on the bottom right of the first photo reads "Chapples Annex".  That building was used as a small warehouse for the original Chapples Department Store(The Chapple's building also known as the Grain Exchange building still exists mostly withing the confines of the now "Victoriaville").  Be sure to click on all the pictures once or twice for enlargements.

If you look close at the south side of the building before it came down, you can read the words "Lyric Theatre" and further to the right of the picture you can read the word "Vaudeville"....the wording below that cannot be deciphered.  If anyone knows what it says, please email me, or write a comment.

 History has it that the Diamond block was once a thriving Vaudeville Theatre back near the beginning of the 20th century.  This picture states that "something" was only 10cents.  When I heard that the block was ready for demolition I searched back into my photos to find these pictures with the signage painted on the side of the building, and felt happy that at least this was preserved in photos.

This is how the block looked intact on the corner of North Street and Victoria Ave before the demolition.  The cars in the foreground are parked in the empty lot that was once the St. Louis Hotel.  I can't believe all the heritage buildings that have gone to the wrecking ball in the last few years.

The two pictures above are taken from a late 1940's Fort William Phone Book.  The businesses there were Goodfellow Outboard-Marine and the well known Diamond Taxi(hence Diamond Block).  Diamond Taxi still exists today as Lacey-Diamond Taxi and is situated in the old Kam Motors building on Leith Street here in Fort William.