An Impromptu Road Trip

A cursory glance at the calendar combined with a dose of perhaps a bit too much anticipation had us on the road to a car show that was…ahem…a few weeks away yet.  The distinct lack of collector cars on the road as we neared, was the first clue that something was awry.  The empty park that Google maps led us to was a strong second.  Ooops.  Might as well make the best of it, lemons to lemonade and all that!

One of our go to methods of planning road trips is to look on the map for the most winding roads we can find, and stringing them together.  With the planning stage altogether omitted, we were forced to improvise.  Simply pulling off the four lane highway instantly improved our situation, pointing the car towards a string of towns and crossroads we had yet to visit sealed the deal – a road trip happened.

Our route followed a path rich in history and featuring some great museums and beautiful parks.  We will be featuring our various road trips including this one, in detail here in the future.  For now enjoy the photos of our simple roadside discoveries.  From rare rural architecture to delicious butter tarts.  From clock towers to sunbathing roosters.  Even an impromptu road trip can be filled with roadside adventure if you keep your eyes open.  If you have any questions or just can’t wait for the specifics, post below, and we’ll be happy to fill you in.

A vestige of times past

Looking south across Lake Erie

A rare 8 sided barn, now a source of outstanding butter tarts

A typical trait of round barns is the cupola

At least they cut their lawn

A twist on the typical rusty farm wreck

A warm glow peaks out of the clouds

Will today’s gas stations ever be considered charming?

This truss bridge was never intended to be beautiful

A glance out the window reduces the landscape to a blur of colour



The F-Bomb Studio Presents

Adding a Fire Extinguisher and Driving Lights to the Mercedes Fintail

You have entered the F-Bomb Studio, where the craftsmanship applies as much to unique combinations of curses, as it does the cars we work on.  We recommend all children and sensitive types don ear protection until work completion.

Truthfully there wasn’t a lot of swearing on this small collection of projects, some very straight forward brackets to mount a fire extinguisher and driving lights to a Mercedes Fintail.

The Mercedes W111 Fintails have a rich history in Rally competition especially going back to the early 60s. The intention with this car was always to present it as a survivor car of some local rally competitor that modeled their car after those of the big boys in Europe that they read about in “Canada Track & Traffic”.  Probably some proud owner with one car, that drove it to work during the week and flogged it in competition on the weekends.  Perhaps it was retired when, finally it just wasn’t competitive any longer, or perhaps a new addition to the family showed up and racing weekends just weren’t practical any longer.  Either way our story sees the car relegated to more pedestrian use maybe even right up to the point that the ‘new addition’ inherited it as their first car on their 16th birthday.  Eventually as happens the car is finally carefully stored away in the garage, left to slumber until we stumbled upon it decades later.

“Fintails have a rich history in rally competition especially going back to the early 60s.”

The car itself is pretty solid, and running well, so most of the effort is being directed at adding period rally equipment that will still be functional and serve our modern campaigning needs.

While we invested grueling months researching the actual competition cars and searching for the correct vintage equipment, the actual garage time is thankfully, pretty simple and rewarding. 

We searched long and hard for the right car when shopping for the Fintail, and an important trait of this particular car is its solid but bumped and bruised appearance adding to that aura of a life of competition. With that in mind the last thing we want is to bolt on a bunch of fresh shiny parts.


While authentic vintage fire extinguishers can be found easily enough, no respectable shop will refill them as their safety expiry will have long passed.  While we could have opted for a vintage extinguisher for the car shows, and a modern one for regular use, the thought of suffering a fire with the wrong extinguisher at hand was sobering. Instead we opted for an extinguisher with a vintage chrome appearance and modern effectiveness.  The extinguisher and extinguishing agent were carefully chosen but we will cover that in detail at another time.  With the extinguisher finally chosen the next task was mounting it securely.




The transmission tunnel was chosen as a mounting location for it’s accessibility to both driver and co-driver alike.   Using the seat belt attachment points rather than drilling new holes was a no-brainer.

First a cardboard mock up was made to accurately locate the seatbelt threads, and bracket holes, then it was transferred to aluminum sheet.

Cardboard, especially press board like that cereal boxes are made of is a great tool for templates.  The cardboard is stiff enough to keep shape but unlike the corrugated version, bends easily, and cut edges are clean and accurate.

Some templates for projects coming soon to the F-Bomb Studio

A large washer was used to form a radius on the ends both to protect the carpet, and for a cleaner appearance.  The aluminium was cut with a fine blade jig saw, and cleaned up with a drum sander on a die grinder.  

A step drill makes drilling various sizes quick and simple

While simple rivets connect the mounting strap to the extinguisher mount, we felt that the connection needed to be more secure for occupant safety so the strap was placed over the bracket.  While this is perhaps less attractive it is hidden once the extinguisher is in place, regardless function first on a ‘race’ car.

The stickers were peeled off the extinguisher as they were too painfully modern.  They may even be replaced by faux vintage stickers at a later date.  Both the extinguisher and the bracket were subjected to some forced weathering – a close look at the bracket will reveal some peeling paint and rust on it despite being brand new. Efforts to dull the bright white strap ends are planned, or they may be replaced altogether.


No vintage rally car is complete without some auxiliary driving lights.

For the Finnie we went with some vintage well used Cibie Super Oscars that were sourced after lengthy research.  Finding these locally, already with a convincing patina helped the decision making. As a big plus they were sold as a set of 4, so we have spares if needed (every minute the car sits in a parking lot is sheer anguish).  

As we did with the extinguisher mount, we wanted to avoid drilling any holes to mount these lights.  Using the existing bumper mounts was a no brainer here however a cardboard template had serious limitations. As such the first one made was truly a test run.

A chop saw was used to cut four lengths of steel.  Each was cut the same length for simplicity, and if a mistake was made at any point, the bracket could be flipped in hopes of salvaging the bracket.

Like we did for the extinguisher mount, a large washer was used to mark a radius – a curved end just makes for a cleaner look.   The radius was rough cut with an angle grinder and finished with a flappy wheel replacing the cutting disk.  

A couple of quick beads, and flat stock becomes a bracket.

Again with redundancy in mind each piece was rounded even though one end is hidden from view when installed.  We have been known to make mistakes…there IS after all a reason the garage is called  the        F-Bomb Studio.



Granted adding some very straight forward brackets to mount a fire extinguisher and driving lights to a Mercedes Fintail is by no means a big project , but with safety AND appearance covered, it is one with a big impact.

Here the large 7 inch driving lights can be seen in place but still awaiting support rods, and wiring.  Stay tuned to the F-Bomb Studio for more on that project.


© Daimler AG.

The global copyright remains the property of Daimler AG.

I want to thank Daimler AG for making the historic photos available to all enthusiasts, visit their archives for some spectacular views into their competitive past.

The venue is a great little lakeside park offering a nice breeze, walking trails, and a kid’s play area, and would be well populated whether or not our cars were lined up for perusal.  

Why We Do it

Last week we attended a local cruise night.  We’ve been excited to have the Fintail out as it is undoubtedly a rare sight for most.  A couple buddies and their kids came out too, they aren’t as deeply immersed in the car scene as we are but like many, share an affinity for the automobile.   


In fact most of the audience at this cruise night could probably be described the same way.  Unlike most events where it really is just a bunch of gear heads looking at each other’s cars this event is very well attended by the general public.


The venue is a great little lakeside park offering a nice breeze, walking trails, and a kid’s play area, and would be well populated whether or not our cars were lined up for perusal.  



Strolling along the many lines of vehicles of all makes and models, it was interesting to overhear (okay, okay eavesdrop) the many conversations shared by this eclectic audience.  Of course nostalgia drove the bulk of the conversation, old stories from days long faded by the fog of time. Most were wistful, “My husband picked me up for our first date in a ‘58” or the “I could have bought one of these for $500 twenty years ago but…” or my favorite, a story about a young lad’s first driving experience in rural Ireland – rushing his mother, in the late stages of labour, to the hospital.


Of course some stories were more believable than others – you know the ones, standard fare for any automobile gathering – unbelievable horsepower claims, unlikely barnfinds, or “My buddy had one with factory one off, experimental heads that somehow slipped out to the dealership” – yeah sure he did LOL.  

The Cars or The People?

Among the many stories were perhaps even more questions (often whispered) and many answers in the form of shrugged shoulders, shaking heads, and looks of uncertainty.  Heck I had a lot of questions of my own, and often scanned the nearby attendees hoping to catch the attention of the car’s owner, usually to no avail.


It was at that point I realized, while indeed I’m there to enjoy the show, I should probably be around the Fintail, to perhaps answer some of the whispered questions that I’m certain my own car must have fielded.


Before I made my way back however I spotted a rare gem, an old boxy Volvo.  I was intrigued by a few details including a novel way to mimic a vintage battery, and an incredibly clean engine bay.  To my surprise the owner noticing my interest from afar, made the trip back to his lovely car to shoot the breeze.



Peter, with all the class in the world didn’t hesitate to throw our ‘young lad’ – someone he had met not more than 60 minutes earlier, the keys for a spin.

The owner, Peter, as it turns out is not only an incredibly talented fabricator, who will be lending his talents to the Finny,  but an enthusiastic owner, and an all around great guy. Remember the young Irish lad? Well the adult version (and his especially patient wife) spent the better part of an hour pouring over Peter’s Volvo which is as it happens, the spitting image of the Volvo he used to dash mom to the hospital.  He couldn’t hide the wave of emotion he felt, and you could see his wife’s deep understanding in her eyes, it really was quite touching. By this point of the evening the field of cars was thinning and Peter, with all the class in the world didn’t hesitate to throw our ‘young lad’ – someone he had met not more than 60 minutes earlier, the keys for a spin.  I’d bet good money our Irish friend went home and started shopping for boxy Volvo of his own.  And THAT is how the hobby carries on.  The car hobby thanks you Peter!


I won’t spoil too much about Peter’s Volvo not only because it will be featured here soon enough, but because, if you can’t tell this article isn’t about the cars, it’s about the people, and their stories!  


Next week, I’m going to make an effort to spend more time at the car, answer some questions, hear some stories, and hopefully for the second week in a row, make a new friend.  I hope this inspires you to do the same!  Car shows – are they about the cars or the people?


Taking Your Hobby Car Out of Winter Storage


It’s that time of year, well for most of us anyway.  The days are longer, and while in reality the weather is unpredictable at best, we wake most mornings expecting sun, not snow.  Time to crack open that garage door, dust off the cobwebs and crank over our hobby cars, for the first time in months.  For those of you that live in locales that allow you to drive your hobby car year round, we hate you.  For the rest, follow along as we share some tips on taking your hobby car out of winter storage the safe way.


Of course, through the winter the battery was hooked up to a battery tender, a car cover was carefully draped over freshly polished and waxed paint, the car lifted onto jack stands, and a dose of fuel stabilizer poured into the gas tank-riiiight?



“Even with best intentions it’s easy to forget our summer romances, come the long dark nights of winter”



Ya right!  If you are like us, you drive your hobby car every chance you get until the first snow.  By that point the garage is too cold to work in. Even with best intentions it’s easy to forget our summer romances, come the long dark nights of winter.  It happens, but don’t let any minor neglect turn worse by not taking some precautions before starting and driving your hobby car after winter storage.


What’s Under the Hood?


Opening the hood seems like a simple and obvious first step, but don’t skip it.  Over the winter critters could have made a cozy home in your engine bay, worse yet the intake.  Check that the filter is intact and make sure no nest material or baby critters can get sucked into the engine.


Opening that hood would likely have scared away any creatures, but keep in mind for the next while that this might have been home for wayward animals and vermin for the past few months and they won’t give it up easily.  If there was any evidence of interlopers, for the next few weeks pop the hood for a visual before starting the car so no animals are about to get entangled in the belts.


Speaking of belts, check them and wires for signs of having been chewed and any natural wear you may have neglected during those cold fall days before tucking your baby away.


Life Blood


Before starting the car, check the oil.  If you haven’t had a chance to run the car over the winter, it might be a good idea to pull the plugs, and squirt a few drops of oil into each cylinder.  Disconnecting the plugs from power (usually by pulling the main coil lead) will allow you to rotate the engine in a controlled manner using the starter to build up oil pressure.  You could opt to turn the engine over by hand too . Turning the starter for about 10 secs two or three times should provide sufficient oil circulation. If you have an oil pressure gauge watch to see what it reports.


With oil pressure built up, and the ignition system back into play start the engine.  Once the engine is running, let it idle to warm up, I know you are dying to hear the engine at full song but don’t rev it.  Once the car is at operating temperature, observe the other gauges and idiot lights to see if any problems have come to light (see what I did there?).  Take a look under the car for any leaks. Now is a great time to change the oil.


If you are really diligent you’ll check all the fluids, but if you aren’t terribly diligent at least check the brake fluid level, and look for leaks at each wheel along before setting off on your first cruise of the season.  While you’re at it make sure windows and mirrors are clean, and brake lights are working, and tires are properly inflated, safety first!


Speaking of the first cruise, it would be wise to keep the first few short and sweet to flush out any mechanical issues while you are still close to home.  Don’t forget to bring along your cellphone and auto club membership.


Of course there are many more checks you should be doing but we perform those checks before every outing right?  Maybe you’ve spotted some glaring omissions, if so please let us know.


If you have a spring routine of your own worth sharing, let’s hear it.  We’d especially like to hear about any surprise engine bay encounters! Those are always good for chuckle or two!