Transported a 1936 Cadillac Fleetwood from Santa Clarita to Santa Monica. The car is going to be in the Auctions of America sale. When I was dropping off the car, I saw a lot of nice looking vehicles. I don’t know what it costs to enter the auction, but it is pretty hard to find such a big and eclectic collection of nice old cars in every shape and size in one place.
I like and hate transporting the old cars. I like them because they are not cookie cutter vehicles. When you are going down the road, you are not confused as to whether it is a Chevy, Buick or Ford. It is also fun to have the public ask questions about the vehicle I am transporting. Also, I love to see people take an interest in the old vehicles. They can be maddening, but a lot of fun too. Old cars can be a great investment opportunity. There are plenty of entry level cars in Southern California that can fill the role of cool car to tool around in and maybe put a little coin in your pocket when it appreciates over time. As in real estate, they are not printing old cars. You don’t have to be Ken Martin from WHAT’S MY CAR WORTH to get a basic understanding of the value of a vehicle. There are plenty of web sites that will tell you all about planes, trains and automobiles.Finally I hate them because unlike the new cars, the old cars do not have systems that make them easier to hook up. I guess the pluses outweigh the minuses.
here are a couple pictures of the 1936 Cadillac Fleetwood I brought to the auction
This is a beautiful old car from the 50’s. They do not make them like this anymore. This is a good thing as far as safety and a bad thing as far as styling. I have a hard time telling a lot of the new cars apart. All the new cars are trying to be as aerodynamic as possible. In doing so, the new car loses what the old cars had-style. All that style goes out the window when you bang your head against the metal dashboard in a low speed accident. Ouch. As long as you keep the rubber on the road, you will be styling. This car is a real head turner. Sometimes it is hard to tell who/what is better looking. The car or the person driving them. I like old cars so the tie goes to the cool old car.
Your just driving along when wham, your not just driving along. You never know when someone or something is going to meet you by accident. You have to be careful about who will tow your car. There are a lot of companies that will stop at an accident have you sign the unfilled out towing receipt and take your car to their yard. Next thing you know, you have a bill for many hundred or thousands of dollars. Yikes. The outrage has hit such a level that the Los Angeles Police Department has finally taken notice. The predatory nature of this kind of towing is that it takes advantage of your confused state of thinking. These towing companies will act like an official police tow or even the towing company that you or your insurance company called out. You, the accident victim, sign the paperwork and off to the races they go. Proactive is better than reactive, so get a plan of action. Know the number of your insurance companies towing line and have a backup plan with another company that you know and trust. Maybe have a trusted friend, not at the accident, that can help you through this trying time. Towing is expensive-especially for an accident tow, but the prices should be inline with the rates set by the Los Angeles Police Commision. With a little preparation, you can save yourself the trauma of an expense tow bill.
Here is a car that was totaled in an accident. They had to be cut out of the car. I bet ten minutes earlier the last thought on their minds was this happening.
I am a locally based San Fernando Valley tower. Big deal you say, well a lot of other companies pretend that they are locally based and are not. Let me explain. Every day I get numerous calls from the towing wholesalers that want me to do towing for them. They are trying to milk a profit out of the towing industry by being a middle man between me, the service provider and you, the customer. If you call my service in the San Fernando or Santa Clarita Valley, I will come out and tow you. If you call the wholesalers, you get a call center or a computer directed call directory that sends you to a towing company that may not be locally based. One of the problems with this is the directory company needs to make a profit. In contrast I get to keep one hundred per cent of the job. When I give a quote, I am happy with the money I am making. I don’t know if the guys that tow for the wholesalers can say the same. The second problem is communication. I have been towing in the San Fernando Valley for thirty five years. I might not know everything about the Valley, but I have a good working knowledge of the Valley. This comes in handy when a customer calls me and gives the wrong information. This might happen because they are new to the area or are flustered with their predicament. Many times I can correct the situation before I go out and waste their time. By calling me, you are losing one degree of separation. As the old saw goes, the more things that can go wrong, do go wrong. I think these places would like to employ the uber model but the skill and equipment requirements are a little too much for this model to work in towing. The internet and computers are driving the mom and pop businesses out of business.
I was watching one of my favorite car shows on television today and I noticed the car being brought in on a trailer.I am not trying to slam the person that hooked up this car but I did notice something about the hookup.
Here is the picture captured off of my TV.
You might notice that the straps are going the same way on the car to the trailer. Both straps are pulling the car backward with no visible strap pulling the car forward. I cannot see the other side so maybe the two on that side are pulling in the opposite direction but’ in my opinion, this is a bad way to hookup the vehicle. If these two straps are the only way the car is held on the trailer, then in an emergency stop there is no strap holding the car from flying backwards. Yikes. If the straps on the opposite side are going the other way, then this will not happen. I still do not like to tie down this way because I prefer equal pressure on each side of the car. I realize it would have to be an extreme situation, but this hookup method could come back and bite him. Always have your straps pulling against each other.
Because I am on straps today. Lets talk about crossing the straps at the back of the trailer. If you are towing something light or has low friction to the bed, you want to keep your vehicle in tow from sliding around. Great idea, but here is the problem. If one of those back crossed straps comes undone, the other strap will not be able to hold the vehicle tight on the trailer. The vehicle could move forward until the only back strap that is left tightens up. Because the strap is tied across the vehicle, there is some slack that would not be there if you went straight to the vehicle at its closest point. There are times I like the cross strap method, but I use a third rear strap just to be safe. Yes, I am Sally safety, but Mr. Murphy and all his correlations are waiting for just this opportunity to strike.
Finally, a general safety tip. If you are traveling a long way with vehicles or equipment on a trailer. The dot website has lots of safety information about securing loads. That is the beauty of the web, lots of information. Always pull over after twenty five miles and check your straps. Also, keep an eye on the load and if you see something moving, dangling, pull over when it is safe and check the load. Even if you are two blocks from home, there could be a child playing in a yard one block from your home that doesn’t want to see your vehicle in their playground. Err on the side of safety.
Post Script: This is a picture of a mufti car accident caused by someone not securing the mattresses they were carrying.
This time of year it can be really hot in the San Fernando Valley. Great for towing, bad for the person being towed. I should have written this post back in April when the weather was a bit cooler. It is better to be pro active than reactive. I towed a customer the other day that overheated on the Simi Valley Freeway and ruined his engine. The problem with our cooling systems is that we just assume they are there cooling our cars. Well, over the years, hoses get old and the plastic, yes plastic, radiators get brittle and the coolant loses its effectiveness to cool the system. You do not notice a problem in the milder months, but when the temperature rises and you are going up a hill and you have half the Swiss army in your car-boom. The first bit of bad news is the tow bill, which as it turns out, is the cheapest part of the whole deal. Next, off to the mechanic, where it could be a minor problem or a blown engine. Ouch. Of course the blown engine was not in the budget for the month, but life has a way of getting in the way of our plans. As the saying goes: “the best laid plans of mice and men oft times go astray”. So what I am trying to get at is check your hoses, belts, coolant, water pump,thermostat, radiator and cap for signs of aging. The ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure really applies here. Otherwise you will be driving in the San Fernando Valley and you will be singing the wouda shoulda coulda song ( I think it is by two chains). A final note, if you plan on checking the coolant level yourself, be careful, coolant is under pressure and boiling hot. Wait until you are sure the car is cooled down. Place a rag over the cap and be ready for any hot liquid that may come your way. Better yet, have a shop do it, maybe you will find a good mechanic in the process.
All of a sudden I have been getting a lot of equipment hauls. I’m not proud, if my truck can handle it, I will try to haul anything that I feel safe doing. I use a lot of straps and binders to keep the load on the truck. You also have to make sure that anything that can swing out on you during transportation is also secured. You just have to be careful, go slow and try not to bite off more than I can chew.
Here is a marble cutting machine that I was lucky to have forklifted on and off the truck.
Here is a small excavator/backhoe that is real nice. Love to own one but I have no use for it.
This is a mini excavator that has a blade on the back. Also a nice unit.
On April 10, 2014, I have made the milestone of thirty five years in the towing and transportation business. Yipee! I think in the big scheme of things, this is a small event, but for me, this is a big milestone. For one thing, you get a gold embossed number thirty five with red background ribbon from a company trying to sell you more ribbons. I am sure there will be more accolades arriving daily, I will just have to keep my eyes open for them. Here are some of my observations of the last thirty five years.
First, most of the companies that were around when I started are now gone. I have kept copies of the yellow pages from 1979 and I am amazed how much has changed. Not only have the companies gone away but the San Fernando Valley has changed dramatically too. I started out in North Hollywood and about twenty five years ago I moved to Van Nuys. Both cities have changed a lot over the years. Higher density of population and a more diverse population. The San Fernando Valley would be, on its own, one of the largest cities in California and the United States. With this population has come crippling traffic. This unrelenting traffic has put a major cramp in business economics and comfort of doing business. If it takes twice as long to go from point a to point b, you have to factor this in your pricing.
Finally, the biggest change in thirty five years of small business, is the computer. The computer has given us many benefits over the past thirty five years. But there is a dark side to this wonderful invention-big business. As we have seen with wall street and the millisecond advantage that translates to billions of dollars, so has the computer changed the towing business. The consolidator middle man has come on the scene and taken away the profits of the independent towing service. There are companies that have flourished under this system, but, in my opinion, the majority of companies have not. There are too many risks involved, money invested in equipment, training of drivers and government regulation to justify the profit margins of today. I don’t know if this is a fondness for the past or sour grapes, but I miss the business I entered back in 1979. Maybe I might look into buying a super fast computer and start making money on wall street.
When a vehicle is cut so that the camera can get a better angle on the object of filming, this is called a buck. The buck usually has either front or rear casters. Sometimes, as in the case with this vehicle, there are casters on all four corners. They can be a big pain in the *** to transport. The casters seem to have a mind of their own and I am just along for the ride. I try to get some help in wrangling the beast, but this is not always possible. Also, you learn or are told by someone who has learned the hard way, that you want to have the buck with the windshield or back glass to the front of the truck. The back pressure at about 55 miles per hour can sometimes blow out the opposing glass. Not good. This car started out with the windshield in and it was taken out on set. See, you thought all those tight shots were done by double jointed camera operators. This is almost like exposing a magic trick. I say that 90 per cent of the film industry is not magic but hard working people that have refined the business of making shows a little smoother and simpler than it was done in the past.
Because the vehicle is usually a half car, the client wants to pay half price. These vehicles are almost always more trouble than a nice rolling car. I think I deserve a couple more bucks for my buck.
Btw the top light assembly is called a hat. This is a New York style hat. The LA style or parts unknown hat is opaque white. The Las Vegas style is a big billboard with a florencent light in the hat.