Coping: With Alternative Materials & the Wood Car Dream

Monday was spent in a mad rush to finish the guest quarters – before the guests arrive next Wednesday. So far, the plans are great, but we won’t finish the mud work until today and that leaves this afternoon and tomorrow morning for priming and then finish paint Thursday. Decorating, do-dads, and some trim on Saturday. Furnishings Sunday, rearranging it all will eat Monday.

Somewhere in there I will be getting to the Turkey preps, but more on that in a moment.

So you saw that everyone in the world is now starting to write about the Super Moon, and how it can cause insomnia, as well as other mental apparitions? Well, look at the comment section and you’ll see a darn interesting report out of Oklahoma about an earthquake event. Not the size, but how people feel/react and sometimes anticipate. Thanks to brother Jim for sending it along.

There are also reports out of New Zealand about mysterious blue and green flashes of light around the time of the quake. But as I’ve explained in the past, these are likely just big Piezo-Electric effects that science hasn’t managed to catch up with, let alone bless as real. Probably been around forever, but science does have an ego, you know.

Back to point: One of my remodeling tasks is to take a large beam (which was quite ugly) and “skin it” with fresh wood, then prime so it would take a good coat of paint. She who decorates, right?

This got me into a deep ponder (which sawing and air-gun nailing) about the “essences of decorating” and it surprised me how much of “decorating” was in the selection of materials.

For example, if you want to convey a “nautical look” to a room, all you need to do is toss in some “reminder elements.” In the case of “nautical” this is pretty easy, since there are all kinds of materials that are associated with “The Sea.”

Some of these include highly polished brass and nicely varnished Mahogany. (Can I still mention Mahogany, or has that been banned by the P.C. people who sat around with their thumbs up their butts while the Amazon was burned? )

Another “nautical material” is “Navy Blue” – expecially with some white stars on it, nice and orderly because that evokes the sense of nautical. A few framed charts (maps are for lubbers), maybe a used sextant, and some nautical books laying about (H.O.249 and the Sight Reduction Tables is a good start), and the room can be made…er….nauty.

Airplanes are a little more difficult. This is much more do-dad-oriented. A couple of old propellers on the wall, a large U.S. VFR planning chart on the wall with a string dangling from a pin pokes in your location, maybe an old wind sock and some coasters that look like aircraft instruments and you begin to get the effect. An Aeroshell sign would be a nice touch.

What drew all this into focus (and here comes the overnight dream part) was in my real-as-life dream land last night, Elaine and I were at some kind of event (might have been a class reunion) and I happened to see a couple of cops I knew from my beat reporter days.

They were driving a really seriously modified Dodge Barracuda that had been stripped down to racing trim and the engine was topped off with an “air-coupled super-charger” that I won’t even begin to describe.

Point is, at the end of our chit-chat they suggested that a nice cross between my woodworking skills and my interest in flying might be to take some kind of old car (the kind that had a frame attached), tear off everying but the windshield, doors, and doorposts. Then build the whole car over again as a wooden car.

As they explained it, there is simply nothing nice or even especially approachable about working with welding and sheet metal, although I argued the point with my recent old farm truck project on this side of the Dream Line as evidence that it could be done, even by a complete idiot.

While they agreed, they suggested that the materials to do a really first-class job of building up a wooden car body could be obtained from a couple of aviation sources, including Wag-Aero and Aircraft Spruce.

I wasn’t going to argue the point since it is true that wood is a wonderful material for many surprising applications. But they continued figuring that I’m an idiot who wouldn’t remember when I woke up, if they didn’t go on and on about it.

“For one thing, a wood car body is lighter on a per tensile strength measure than gross vehicle materials like steel.”

The other chipped in “Not only that, but for most of the car body, there is really no structural component. It’s mostly there for covering.”

They went on at some length about why it should be done:

The wood body is lighter.

With built up with laminated layers, it can be absolutely gorgeous when finished with a marine type varnish.

Wood absorbs sound, so less road noise.

Anyone can do the repairs at home. All it takes is imagination.

Well, one thing led to another, and next thing you know, I was flying out of bed to see what other enlightened people have done with wooden cars and the first thing I hit on was the list over here. And this amazing video….

Video for pop-up block users:

So there you have it, one of the most interesting dreams in a good while, a damn fine example list, and a very good idea for people looking for a different way to use some of those home mechanicing skills adding a fair bit of carpentry and boat-making skills to the mix.

Woke up amped as hell. Went down to the carport and started to eye the old Lexus.

Doubled-up laughing, too. Can you imagine Elaine’s shock if I took the cutting torch and sheet metal nibblers to her old Lexus?

The very though had me doubled up in laughter.

But then…like a thunderstorm in the distance…I heard the word men fear most:


Yeah, maybe I will just get up, write down the dream and get back on the dumb end of a paint brush later on.

A Note of Comments

Someone asked why I deleted their comments on the discussion side of things. Only a couple of reasons I do that. One is that the comment doesn’t even remotely relate to the topic at hand, or it’s the third, fourth, or fifth comment of the DAY. I think the record is 12, so no, think things through and stick to point.

Then there was a post from Mountain Man, or some such wondering why his post didn’t appear.

Well, got news for you: I don’t sit with baited *(or just bad) breath waiting for comments to come in. I try to look around mid-morning, in the afternoon, and as the first kick of bean is working on me at 4:30AM. Then I hit the futures markets and all the daily crap.

So, depending on when your comment comes in, it may take up to 12—hours for posting. Not that I am being a jerk, I just need some sleep and to get other things done.

Also, I have to read EVERYTHING because what would happen if someone were to threaten a public official in a post, huh? Do I need that kind of grief, let alone having a computer snatched by the Gestapo? Hell no. So be patient. A good comment, like a good wine, should age a few hours well.

Thanks in advance.

OK, where’s my nail gun?

Write when you get rich, or finish 7-coats of Varathane on that Dodge Ram Woody you’ve built, inspired by this morning’s Epistle.

10 thoughts on “Coping: With Alternative Materials & the Wood Car Dream”

  1. George
    Go Look up the Costin-Nathan GT of the 1960s a wood monocoque tub with metal suspension bits. very light so fast with a small engine.
    I always wanted to do this when I have the time, and before the rules prevent licensing.
    It would take a lot of cues from wood aircraft and boats.
    Big Al in Birmingham

  2. I lived for a time in England, near one of the Queen’s household regiments. The officers were often wealthy, and thus had all kinds of nice cars. My favorite was the Morgan, which was said to have incredible road feel. It was made of wood, but the skin, in many places, was cloth, stretched over spars, like older airplanes. I often think of building a ride with internal crash protection of foam and plastic, and a stretched cloth skin. It worked for Hawker Hurricanes, though they used armor for protection. These days, one could tinker with other frame materials, like basalt rebar, the poor man’s carbon fiber.

  3. So the man with the wooden car fell asleep while driving, probably because he was a board. (Painful pun, soooooo painful!)

  4. “For one thing, a wood car body is lighter on a per tensile strength measure than gross vehicle materials like steel.”

    You mean like a big V8 engine and steel chassis? Um, like that?

    Now show me a balsa wood, solar powered one without any ‘gross material’ content. And thanks for the LAFF.

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