Design, consulting, and fabrication

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Tennessee Table

I-Beam base with Cherry table top engraved with the Tennessee state outline. POATN table closeup

I had this idea in my head for a while, it originally had a concrete top but that seemed like it would be just a bit too heavy. This is made with a steel I-beam I found at a local salvage yard, stabilized with channel steel from the same yard. All of it is nice and rusty, bent, scarred, and full of character. It comes with skid pads so the metal won’t give your flooring any additional character.TN table side

The top is made from a 2×12 of Cherry that I got from my favorite local lumber yard, Good Wood of Nashville. It comes from a locally fallen cherry tree. The square head bolts, washers, and nuts are from my collection of rusty metal that I hauled down here from Montana. If you are interested in this table, or a custom piece of furniture, feel free to contact me. Thanks!

TN table

Historic Racing in Birmingham

I spent the weekend attending the 2nd annual Barber Historics at Barber Motorsports Park.

This is the second event in as many years and I’ve been to both. This year there were even more cars and more things to do. What’s really great is that you get to walk around the paddocks and chat with mechanics, racers, and owners. With such a wide variety of interesting cars the action on the track can be fascinating too.

Barber 16

I arrived Saturday morning and caught hours of warm up laps and then the first heat races in the afternoon. On Sunday the Porsche hot laps track was open to the public so I took the old S60R for a couple laps. On track heat races got going again in the afternoon and were entertaining, particularly the sports car class that saw everything from a Lotus 7 to a Porsche 914/6, and included a classic old Daimler that looked like the offspring of a 427 Cobra and the Batmobile. Other attractions included a Bar-b-que cook off, a swap meet, the Barber Museum, and a “cars n coffee” type auto show.Barber museum

Good fun for all, check it out next year.

Coffee table for Monroe Harding fundraiser

This table is made with leftover wood from the fireplace surround I did last fall. I also picked up some short pieces of 3×8 and 2×4 for the legs and spreader from Good Wood Nashville. coffee table 3

Coffee table 2

A new home, somewhere in the south, someplace called Nashville.

Well, we moved, my wife is pursuing a PhD at Vanderbilt so we moved down to Nashville June of 2013. We have been pretty busy since then, adjusting to a new place, remodeling a different house, adjusting to new schools and employment. It has been a huge change, we miss our place in Missoula, we miss our friends and the community. But Nashville has a lot to offer. I have been hiding out at home probably too much but it gives me time to work on the house which we have basically redone from top to bottom in the last 15 months. Here is the fun part, getting creative with our previously ugly ’70’s paneled kitchen and fire place surround. Out went the paneling, in went new cabinets and concrete counters, and for the fire place, reclaimed smoked oak planks from a tobacco smoking barn. That wood was as hard as stone but I predrilled and fastened them with square head nails, finished off with a rusty piece of angle iron as the mantle. iphone 030314 064

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Connecting the drivetrain

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A stage 2 clutch from SPEC should help all those horsies hook up with the T5

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The transplant continues

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Dropping her in last February!

The Swap

I’ve been working on the Volvo again. This is what I have been building up to for the last couple of years, a turbo motor swap into my ’79 242. The donor? An ’89 744 turbo with intercooler. The car is actually in really good shape, needed a new turbo and a brake booster and was a little cosmetically challenged but overall not to bad. But I needed an engine and the car was only $250 so I bought it. As I make the swap, I am replacing its turbo with a larger one, a 16t, out of an s70, and also upgrading the cam, cam gear, and doing all the “level 0” stuff like new wires, seals, plugs, and filters. I am also replacing the transmission with a t5 WC out of a ford mustang cobra.

T5 with adapter

T5 with adapter











This trani swap is very well supported with adapters and instructions/recommendations from the Volvo community. It is also the only way to handle the power the motor should be putting out with the upgrades I’ve made.

Engine with Turbo

Engine with Turbo











Now I just have to sort through the wiring harness, cut some rust out, get my clutch installed and bolt the trani to the motor and then I will be ready to drop the motor into my freshly painted engine bay.

Sorting the 89 harness

No problem.

Elm table #2

This table is made with locally harvested and milled Elm, and has a small box in the middle for storage.  It is also designed to hold couch pillows in the wings. The legs are made of Cherry and it is finished with a natural Danish oil and wax.  Salvaged brass hinges and knob as well.Sonya table 2

Minor adjustments

I spent all day Saturday at the Misfit’s car show in Bonner Montana, it was fun to see all the great cars and tons of rat rods that frequent Missoula’ s streets.

I spent most of Sunday afternoon trying to wrestle a fuel line apart so I could pull the in-tank pump out and replace with an IPD upgrade. I’ve been wrestling with fuel problems since day one. What happens is that when the tank is below about ¾ full and I corner hard the engine will starve for fuel so I suspect either a weak pump or a split pickup line. So I’ve been racing this and last season with nearly a full tank every race. IPD makes an upgrade kit that comes with all new lines, etc. so I went that route. I should probably also replace the main fuel pump with something that sprays like a fire hose but the wife has informed me that I am over budget on expenses and it’s time to stop spending. I also wired in a different stereo out of the ’76 parts car I had and I replaced the turn signal clicker which had been shorting out.

I also found a much desired and rare Zender rear trunk spoiler on Swedespeed, and that should be showing up in the mail on Thursday. The third MT challenge race is this weekend in Helena, so hopefully the pump and spoiler will be in and good to go.

homeWord conference table

I just finished a conference table for local nonprofit heroes Homeword. The top is made of bowling lane and the legs are from an old steel bridge girder. The Homeword logo in the middle was routed out and filled with stained bondo.

The racer gets, um, racier.

I spent the better part of two weeks, and with huge help from Steve Nelson and Jimi Willett, installing all new suspension parts into the 242. I spent quite a few months researching suspension upgrades. There are quite a few for the 240, and many are very similar to stock parts but better built, and many are completely different parts that can be adapted to fit. Obviously you could spend a small fortune on this stuff, and serious racers do, but I wanted to make sure my money would be well spent and would last quite a while. I’m one of those people who will definitely spend more up front to get something that will last and also be able to adapt with me as I progress. So I ended up going with a company called Kaplhenke Racing that is located on the east coast. The owner has been racing Volvo’s since 2000, and from what I could tell from countless hours of searching on forums and websites, he makes high quality well engineered products. I didn’t go for his high-end stuff which is mostly all different components and involves lots of suspension geometry knowledge and commitment.

I went with coil-overs in the front corners with an adapter he calls the quick steer roll corrector. As you lower a 240, and really any car, it will change the geometry of the suspension and how those parts work, so the adapters compensate for the lowering of the car while increasing the quickness and response of the steering rack.





In the rear I went with new firmer springs that essentially just bolt into existing spring location, and Koni racing shocks. I also bought some reinforced rear unequal arms and replaced all the rear bushings. I also replaced the torque and panhard rods with adjustable ones from IPD.


Of course while doing this I ran into a number of existing parts that were completely worn out and needed replacing. This included: ball joints, front bushings, front rotors, pads, calipers, and a tie rod end. I also put new to me seats in along with a new steering wheel, now I won’t be sliding all over the place in the car. Its really hard to drive    from the passenger seat.

So now the car sits 2 inches lower in the front, 1 3/4 in the back, and it turns super flat and smooth. There is hardly any body roll or brake diving. So what’s next? Putting the 15″ wheels and Toyo RA1’s on. My wheel spacers shipped yesterday and will be here in time for this weekend’s race, so I will finally get to try out some sticky rubber. Now all I need is some power. A 2.3 liter turbo motor out of a 90 or later 740/760 or 940 Volvo.

Volvo 242 racer project

I want to be a race car driver on a budget so what do I buy? A ’79 Volvo 242. Few people know that Volvo won the European touring car championship in 1985 with a 242 turbo. I wanted to get a turbo but I came across this ’79 NA car in Portland with 260k miles on it and snatched it up. My plan at the time was to keep it NA and race it and see how it handled. If all went well, I would do some engine and suspension work, and try to make it competitive. Right off the bat I got sidetracked from performance mods. I was at the junkyard pulling parts off another ’79 242 when I spotted a BMW Bavaria that was totally wrecked. The interior however, was spotless and really looked cool. I measured it out and decided to try an interior swap for the BMW. The back seat needed some small snipping and cutting to fit, and I was able to mount the front seats onto the existing Volvo hardware after I bolted on some 1/8” plate to the bottoms. When I did the seats I also swapped in a custom cluster from Roger Patricio and a new dash that I got at V&B auto parts in Portland ( a guy who has a warehouse full of old Volvo parts, and the business is for sale by the way).

So once the interior was in I decided to enter her in some local SCCA solo events. What a blast, I won first in class the opening weekend and ran second the next two events. So the Volvo really handled well, but more importantly I really enjoyed driving it. I’ve just really enjoyed the feel of the car from the moment I got it. So, along the way I have replaced the alternator, removed the AC, replaced the cooling fan, clutch, and wiper sprayer pump. But right now I have some lingering issues. The water pump is ready to go, the cooling fan is still really loud, the wiper motors only work on high, my radiator is leaking slowly, all the suspension bushings are shot, my front wheel bearings need replacing, and there is a huge rust hole in the spare tire well in the trunk. Oh yeah, it is also totally gutless.

So my plan is to swap in a ’93 or later 940 turbo motor. I will probably just do a straight swap since I’m running out of time before the race season starts up again. But ultimately I want to put a 16v head on it, with new rods and pistons. I am also planning on a major suspension mod. I haven’t decided on springs yet, probably either King springs or Eibach springs, chassis braces top and bottom, panhard and torque rods, Bilstein HD’s up front, Konis in the back. I already have an IPD sway bar up front and will probably put the back one on after I get the other parts replaced and see how it feels. I’m also looking for some wheels if anyone has some suggestions. They will be for autocross so 15/16×8 or wider. So, I would love some suggestions on the wheels, and I could really use some help tracking down a 940 turbo parts car, there seem to be none in Montana. And I also have flat hood, lights, grill, doors, rear windows and trunk lid off a ’76 242 that are for sale or trade, problem again is that I am in Montana, but . . .

Re-used Wine barrel

I got a wine barrel from Jeremy Smith a while ago and finally got around to making holiday gifts with the pieces of the barrel. I can also make these into Menorahs or drill them out to fit more candles and candles of different or various sizes depending on what you want. Price is $35 and includes three candles with glass holders. Menorahs are $40. Custom candles holders are $45.

A bathroom remodeled

We remodeled our bathroom using left-over cypress that I got from Dr. Schuttie, who in a classic small town Missoula twist of fate story etc., ended up performing knee surgery on me this fall. He did a great job, but it still is the second worst $5K I’ve ever spent. Anyway, the trim is cypress, the sink, bidet, mirror, and shelf are from Home ReSource, and the marmoleum was a remnant. The stained glass window we found on Ebay.

Painting Frames

I made frames for my wife’s art showing at Bernice’s Bakery in Missoula MT. They are made of reclaimed sunken Cypress.

Elm Table

Elm table

It has been a busy Spring and summer and I have had little or no time to get in the shop and make. But here is my most recent completion. The top is made of locally harvested elm, from trees taken down in Missoula. We actually have this same Elm and some local Birch for sale at Home Resource. $3/ board foot for

Coffee Table

rough sawn 5/4. The frame is a steel framework that I had powder coated at Powder Coating of Monatana. This was made for a client in Missoula and I am currently working on the second table for her.

Entryway cabinet

Here is a cabinet that Steve Nelson and I made for Home Resource’s annual event, Spontaneous Construction. This was made, except for finishes, in 5 hours. It is made of salvaged fir, brass hardware and granite. Steve sanded the granite for a long time.

Coffee table

Here’s a table that my wife and I found and then became an art table for our kids when they were little. It lived outside for a long time and the paint began peeling. So I sanded it down to find two bottom layers of green and white over maple. I then put a granite top on it and it became our coffee table for the last few years. My wife now wants something longer and narrower that is made entirely of wood. So it is for sale now. Sorry the pictures are so bad but they are with my phone. $200.

Oak and Lane

Here is a lab cabinet that came out of the Chem/Pharm building at the U of M when they remodeled a few years ago. I had to almost completely rebuild it because of all the “modifications” it had underwent over the years. It has some polished chrome hardware that was salvaged off other cabinetry and the top is made from salvaged maple bowling lane from Liberty Lanes.  This was sold in 2009.