Tag Archives: car restoration

Working With Dad

Nobody was better with a wrench than Dad…

As we celebrate Father’s Day, we here at Backyard Buddy can’t help reminiscing about learning to work on cars with our dads, and thinking about some of the ways we can pass a love of wrenching on to our kids. A lot of us had great times working with our dads, whether it was handing him tools while he did routine maintenance on the family’s Olds 88, or him helping us keep the pile of junk that was our first car running so we could go out on a saturday night.

For a lot of us, it seems like nobody was better with a wrench than Dad, although we suspect that he thought the same thing about Grandpa. If you’d like your kids to think the same thing about you, there’s no better way than to have them help you take care of your vehicle, whether it’s the family minivan or your fully-restored 58 Vette, or for you to help them take care of theirs.

For young kids, or kids without much interest in “how things go”

Take them on a “tour” of your family’s vehicle. They’ve likely never given much thought to how a car works (Mommy or Daddy sit up front and we get where we need to go!), but if you ask them how they think a car goes, they may suddenly be very curious about how it works.

The key is to keep it simple and fun. Show them that the gas pedal makes the car go and the brake makes it stop (you can show them the clutch, but good luck explaining the transmission. There’s plenty of adults that don’t get how that works), let them turn on the wipers and the turn signals, and as long as you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, let them turn the engine on and off. For the finale, let them pop the hood (if they can) to hear the satisfying “thunk” of the release, and lift them up to look into the engine bay. If they’re still curious, you can talk with them about how the engine works and show them the major components.

Once you’ve shown them the basics, Invite them to “help” whenever you’re working on something, but be fully aware that they’re probably going to wander off or stay and ask 100 questions, so be prepared to not get much done.

For school kids

This is the classic “hold this flashlight for me. No, point it there. No THERE” age that we all survived. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to get kids to fall in love with wrenching.

Instead, try holding the flashlight for them. Give them simple tasks that you know they can manage (break a lug nut free and then let them take it all the way off, have them check the pressure on the tires, let them pour the oil in during an oil change), explain carefully what they need to do to complete it and what tools they need to use, help them if they get stuck, and encourage them when they are successful. It can take the patience of a saint, but the worst thing to do is to take over the job from them when they’re too slow, or doing something wrong. The investment in time and patience will be worth it!

When you’re working on a project, bring them over and explain what you’re trying to do (“I need to change the parts that make the car stop”) and give them a simple overview of the steps you need to take to do it, then ask them if they’d like to help. Odds are they’ll wander off in 5 minutes anyway, but it can be hard to tell what will strike a child’s curiosity. We’ve seen a first grader with no interest in cars suddenly decide that she was going to be an expert in changing out a dead brake light bulb after asking her dad what he was doing to the car, and she became a lifesafer getting into the confined space with her little hand.

Also, don’t overlook teaching them to fix their things. Instead of fixing a flat tire or squeaky brakes on their bike, work with them to help them fix it.

Like most skill building with kids, the keys are to be patient, explain things thoroughly, and let them learn from mistakes (this may not be the time for them to help with the Vette mentioned above), while celebrating their successes. They’ll have plenty of time to curse at a stuck bolt when they’re older. For now, try to keep it fun and enjoyable.

For older kids

Hopefully by now you’ve sparked an interest in wrenching, but don’t be disappointed if your teenager doesn’t want to get a junked car and rebuild it for their first car.

Many of our households had a “you drive it, you fix it” rule, and while we may not have appreciated it at the time, we learned a lot from it. Although modern cars are getting harder and harder for backyard and shade tree mechanics to repair, you can still help your kids do basic maintenance on their own vehicles. Again, be patient, but teach them how to change oil, change air filters, swap out a battery, replace dead bulbs, check tire pressure, and fix the basic little problems that come up with their car. Always be there to help, but make sure they’re the one doing the work. Even if they’ve never shown an interest before, once their ride is on the line, teens may suddenly be all ears about how to maintain and fix their car.

After all this, your kid may not end up being the type that can tear down an engine or fix anything with spit and bailing wire, but they will at least know the basics of working with their hands to take care of their own vehicle. That’s a Father’s Day gift for all of us.

As always, we’re here to help you work on your vehicles with lifts and accessories that even the youngest mechanic can appreciate. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time so that we can help you find a lift that your kids are likely to inherit.

Great vintage garage. Coll old parts and tools

6 Steps to Spring-Cleaning Your Garage

 

Spring is in full swing, with summer just around the corner.  Have you done all your spring-cleaning yet? One area of your home that might not get the overhaul it really needs is the garage. From camping equipment to trashcans to toolboxes, the garage can be a black hole of stuff that stacks up throughout the year.  If your car spends the night in the driveway or your have to clear a walking path through boxes of Christmas decorations, it’s time to spring-clean your garage.  Before the weather gets too hot, try these six spring-cleaning steps to clear out the clutter and make your garage useful again.

Take it all out. ALL of it.

If your garage is overrun with clutter— from garden tools to car accessories to kids’ toys— shifting your mess from the garage to the driveway can help you get started with a clean slate.  It may seem counterproductive to just move the clutter from the garage to the front lawn, but emptying the garage is helpful because: 1) it gives you more room to sort and organize, and 2) you can survey the space you have available, so you can plan your organization strategy. It also helps to start grouping things together as you remove them. Are your fishing poles tangled with the rakes? Are the flowerpots encroaching on the paint cans? Placing alike items together makes them easily accessible when you begin re-stocking the garage.

Get rid of what you don’t need.

According to This Old House, organizing professionals estimate that only 30% of people actually store their car in their garage! Why do the rest of the 70% park elsewhere? Too much stuff stuffed into the garage. When it comes to what should be stored in your garage, stick to things that you want to use over things you just want to keep. (Use the basement or attic for keepsakes!)  After you’ve moved your garage contents to the lawn, look over everything and get rid of the things you don’t need. A good rule of thumb is to toss anything you haven’t used in at least two years, and of course anything that just doesn’t work anymore. Bonus: since everything you’re getting rid of is already outside, plan a yard sale for some extra cash!

Get in the zone(s).

Once you’ve cut your clutter down to size, don’t immediately start packing everything back into the garage.  Here’s where a little tactical thinking can help make your garage more functional and organized.  With your remaining garage contents, separate your garage space into zones. A tool zone, a gardening zone, a sports equipment zone, a workspace zone— group together alike items in the same location for easy access, so you never have to look for your wrenches in the garden trowels ever again. Don’t forget the most important zone— the auto zone. With less stuff and a strategic floor plan, you can join the 30% who can fit their car into their garage!

Build storage up and out.

If you don’t have enough storage in your garage, there are a few quick additions you can make to maximize your newly zoned layout. Utilizing shelves and tall cabinets along the walls provides ample room to store smaller items and bins. Hooks and pegboard on the wall offer a way to neatly store tools, cables, and other items you want to keep readily available. A workbench that folds out of the wall gives you useable space that you can easily fold away when not in use. With a little handy work, it’s also possible to use what would otherwise be dead ceiling space for storage, with a system of sliding overhead bin caddies. As a final touch, break out the label maker and get all your bins and boxes labeled to quickly identify the contents.  Make a weekend project out of overhauling your garage space, and you’ll have a more efficient, manageable workspace slash garage

Put everything on wheels.

An ingenious organization tip from Popular Mechanics is “Everything on wheels!” If you routinely work in your garage, adding wheels to your equipment allows you to easily maneuver around, and re-organize as needed depending on your latest project.  Put caster wheels on your cabinets, chairs, benches, drill presses, and more to quickly move things around and— the ultimate goal— make more room for your car.

Buy a car lift for your garage!

Another way to maximize the available space in your garage is by installing a car lift! Whether you want to keep your classic car and your everyday autos in the same garage, or you have smaller vehicles to get out of the way when not in use, a car lift is a beneficial investment.  A car lift affords extended storage space, instantly doubling your storage capacity from one space into two. If you frequently work on your automobiles, you’ll also gain more access to work on your vehicles and in your garage.  A garage car lift like those from Backyard Buddy should be durable and versatile to safely store all kinds of vehicles.  In addition to cars, you can use a BYB lift to store trucks, ATVs, motorcycles, boat trailers, snowmobiles, and more.  Take advantage of the vertical space available, and create more possibilities to work within your garage with a freestanding residential car lift.

If your garage has accumulated enough junk to be the subject of an episode of Hoarders, it may seem like an arduous task to try getting the mess under control.  But starting with a plan to tackle this spring-cleaning project is the key to making your garage an organized workspace again. Take everything out, get rid of nonessentials, and then plan your strategy to organize and store your stuff.  For extra organization, try adding wheels to make equipment mobile, and install a car lift to optimize your available space.   With a little elbow grease, these six steps to spring-cleaning your garage will get rid of the clutter once and for all— and get your car back in its proper place!

5 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Car Lift

Buying a new car lift is not exactly as exciting as a buying a new car. However, picking the best car lift is nearly as important as picking the car you’re going to put on it.  There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve picked a quality product, only to learn later that it is substandard in design and, crucially, safety.

But with so many companies and brands of auto lifts to choose from, making the right choice for your auto needs can be difficult.  It’s necessary to understand the differences between lift designs, and make decisions based on the quality of the lift and its manufacturer.  Just like a car, if you want find out how well your auto lift will function, you need to “pop the hood”!  Whether you’re a mechanic working in a full-scale garage or a car collector who needs a car lift for the home garage, you’ll want to consider these 5 things to buy the best car lift:

Car Lift Column and Lock Design

The Column and Lock design is one of the most important things to consider as relates to the safety of your auto lift.  The leg and slider combo of a lift determines its rigidity— will it wobble, or will it stand firm under the pressure of your vehicle? To know for sure, all you really need to consider is whether the column and lock is designed as an “inside plastic slider” or an “outside steel sleeve.” The inside plastic slider is the design to avoid! These designs have a smaller plastic material block that rides inside an open-sided, bent thin gauge leg, to keep the sliders and lock inside the leg. Unfortunately, this means the legs can also pivot and wobble where the sliders meet the leg. On the other hand, outside steel slider joints are engineered much differently, because they use steel tubing to wrap around the outside of the leg instead of plastic blocks on the inside. Steel equals rigidity! An outside steel slider creates a solid joint that eliminates wobble and keeps your vehicle secure.

Power Unit

Picture this: you push the button on your lift to engage the power unit, and begin lifting your classic car. You’re approaching the garage ceiling, and it’s time to shut off the power. But instead of stopping, the motor keeps running— and your car keeps rising. In a matter of seconds, you’ve turned your classic into a crunch of scrap metal. How could this happen? Probably because your lift’s power unit came from an overseas distributor whose power units are prone to failure. A lot of Chinese units pull upwards of 30 amps, and only offer a 90-day warranty on the life of the power unit. You’re probably planning to own your auto lift for more than 90 days… so you should have a power unit that is also designed to last for much longer.  Before making a lift purchase, do some digging to find out where the power unit has been constructed. For companies like us at Backyard Buddy, American-made power units (and our 5-year warranty) are the standard put into all our auto lifts.

Construction

What kind of stuff is your lift made of?  From the cables to the lock linkage to the shape and material of the metal, how your auto lift is constructed will speak to its quality and safety.  In considering cables, a respectable rule of thumb is: if you cannot see cable coming out of the lift’s threaded end cable, they aren’t good cables.  Good cables have flexibility, strength, and intelligent design. Since cables are responsible for hoisting the weight of your car, these are three vital components you want your cables to possess!  Lock linkage is another little detail that will give you a good indication of a lift’s quality, but it’s also one of the most underrated. Steel rods that are 3/8 inch, with precision rod ends, offer positive locking and a smooth quality feel. This kind of rod engages properly so your lift locks every time. In contrast, cheaply-made lifts usually use 1/4 inch rods with cheap ends; these rods can bend and fail to activate the locking mechanism on a lift— a safety hazard waiting to happen. Don’t overlook those little details! Finally, what metal makes up your lift determines the lift’s durability.  American-made steel lift frames have been proven to outlast foreign steel, and be much stronger, because they lack the impurities that make “off-shore” steel difficult to weld properly.

Functionality

No matter what you intend to use your lift for— working on your car, storing multiple cars, conserving space in the garage— you want a lift that has functionality within its space, and also compatibility with accessories that can increase lift functions.  For example, if you’re a city dweller, where real estate is limited and storage is expensive, a residential car lift should afford you an increase in storage by stacking two vehicles safely on top of each other (so
you’ve got room for the minivan and the Maserati!). But what else can your lift do? Being able to add accessories, like hard rubber casters, increase functionality by making that auto lift easy to move around your space, so you can work in or organize your garage efficiently.  The more customizable the lift, the better it’ll suit your lifestyle.

Warranty

As mentioned earlier, you’re probably planning to own your car lift for a long time. Which means it needs to maintain working order for a long time.  Any distributor that has a warranty full of caveats and asterisks, or a “ship and wait policy,” should automatically raise a red flag.  An auto lift that offers a free, no-questions-asked policy, or has an extended warranty period, is going to give you the best (and most long-lasting) bang for your buck.  For example, at Backyard Buddy, we offer a warranty of 5 years top to bottom, with no fine print to wade through.  Extended warranties are also available at the time of lift purchase.  When buying your lift, always ask about the warranty!

Once you’ve considered these 5 things while buying a car lift— column and lock design, power unit, construction, functionality, and warranty— you’ll be on the right track to choosing the best lift to fit your needs and your life.  When it comes to car lifts, you truly get what you pay for. Considering the key elements that go into an auto lift, from the initial construction to the after-purchase warranty, will help you determine what is worth the most— a lift’s price, or its value? When you’re driving your car, you want that car to be safe, reliable, and maybe a little bit impressive. You should expect the same from your car lift!

Classics & Modern Cars — there’s more to it than meets the eye.

What drives a person to want to invest in American Classics? (Pun intended.)

There has been much discussion over the decades amongst car collectors, forum debaters, and  salesmen within the auto industry on the pros and cons of buying “American.” Depending on the product, angle of presentation and/or a person’s prejudices, answers may vary.
Regardless the angle or opinions you may have that has shaped your perspective on these cars, history tells a story that is worth repeating.

They have and continue to hold a unique place in the heart of car buyers for many reasons and patriotism isn’t their main incentive. While there isn’t one simple answer to this, a combination of factors play a part and some may surprise you!

A classic car has a story

A classic car has a story and for many, when they encounter a classic, history speaks: engine sounds, hand-crafted auto parts, genuine leather, uniqueness and style unparalleled by modern-day car finds. Before assembly lines and robots, cars were treasured and parts were thoughtfully and carefully made by hand. Designers and craftsmen were not hindered by constraints such as crash tests or aerodynamic drag coefficients. Instead, they were free to explore and reflect current trends and culture, delivering desirable and memorable treasures that could stand, and have stood, the test of time.

Mechanically, modern cars are quite different when it comes to car control and operation. Modern engines are now a sealed unit with components that are usually unserviceable by the average person. Advancements in technology have influenced car designers to embrace electrical systems that can now control steering, clutch usage, torque vectoring, and more.
While these systems seem to offer improvements on efficiency and safety, car character and uniqueness are really lacking. Older machines are intricate mechanical systems that function not off of pre-calculated driver aids installed within an electronic-brain, but in harmony with thousands of individual parts tuned to work together and dependent upon direct input from the driver. Today’s modern vehicle just can’t compete with this type of authentic driving experience.

One thing is for sure, getting a new car serviced can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out with the amount of money it can take to fix a problem! Take changing a fuel pump for example. What takes one person thirty minutes of work on a 1955 Chevrolet and $45 in parts might take multiple people and a lot more time to do on a 2006 Saturn. A complete assembly would be required because the gas-gauge sending unit is built-in and the fuel pump is located inside the gas tank which would have to be emptied and dropped in order to get to! The times have changed the way we take care of our cars and now due to complex engineering and electronic systems we usually have to pay someone else to get the job done.

Classic cars

Classic cars offer the driver and admirer personal experience, unique style, and an appreciation for true craftsmanship. All of which is hard to find in most modern cars manufactured by robots and in assembly lines for fast reproduction and quick money. While modern cars are safer, faster, more dependable, and more economical than the cars of the past, many classics have stood the test of time and have lived to tell about it, making car owners proud on many levels.
Your grand kids’ “classic car” will be a lot different than the ones in your Backyard Buddy Lift today. Soon the Chevrolet Stingray, will rest in your grandson’s garage taking the place of your 1969 Boss 429 Mustang, and it will be his most prized possession.

So when it comes to comparing classics and modern cars, you can see that “there’s more to it than meets the eye.”    Investing in or having a special interest in Classics goes beyond what many would say is a hobby. It’s a coveted experience that keeps driving us towards them and leaving us in awe of a different era and timeless memories packaged in steel, leather, and sounds.

Car Collection displayed on Backyard Buddy lifts

This classic car collector trusts Backyard Buddy

Most Underappreciated Classics to Consider This Spring

Spring is in the air, and if you’re like us, this is the time when a young (or not so young) man’s thoughts turn to buying a classic car to work on this summer.

We know that not everyone has a Shelby GT budget (or even a kit car Shelby budget), so we wanted to talk about some cars that get you a lot of oomph without draining your wallet. We’ve got to thank the folks over at Hagerty’s classic car insurance for their classic car valuation tool, which handled the numbers part of this list.

Some of their most undervalued classics are:

•    First Generation Mazda Miata (1989-97- $5,000): If you aren’t fooled by its reputation for cuteness (and don’t mind always having the top down if you’re over 6’2”), it’s hard to beat this little convertible. With tens of thousands still on the road 20 years after the original line was ended, you can still fix one fairly easily.
•    C5 Chevy Corvette (1997-2004- $15,000): Thanks to depreciation, it’s possible to own a Corvette for less than you’d pay for the most stripped down new econo-box. They’ve got some years on them now, but Corvettes are some of the most pampered cars on the road, so you’re likely to find a C5 model in great shape.
•    Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe (1984-88- $6.000): Even though it’s from the 80s, the T-bird Turbo Coupe feels like the child of a 1960s American muscle car and a European performance sedan, and was Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1987. 30 years later, these are a bit hard to find, but still fun to drive.
•    Porsche 914 (1969-1976- $12,000): While not a powerhouse like a modern 911, the 914 is often considered the pinnacle of lightweight, low-power design where the fun comes from nimbleness, not raw power. With a choice of a flat-four or flat-six air cooled engine and a distinctive body, it should come as no surprise that the 914 was designed as the replacement for Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia.
•    Studebaker Avanti (1962-1963- $20,000): The rarest car on this list, the Avanti was the swan song for a venerable American car maker. While it never captured the public imagination, the Avanti featured an innovative fiberglass body with looks that were 20 years ahead of their time, and a 240hp V8 that gave it plenty of muscle. If you can find one of the roughly 6,000 made, buy it and be the only guy you know who has one.
•    Volkswagen Corrado VR6 (1992-1995- under $5,000): Originally designed as a replacement for the Porsche 944, the Corrado VR6 packed nearly 200 horsepower into a sporty 2,800 pound car with German handling. If you can find one that hasn’t been destroyed by a teenage boy, and don’t mind the mysteries of VW electrical systems, you can get a lot of speed for a tiny bit of cash.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. If you do your homework and can be happy with a more obscure car, there are still plenty of deals to be had, particularly in late-classic-era cars (full sized convertibles from the late 60s to the mid 70s are a steal, especially if you know how to fix a top), oddball pickups and work trucks, cousins of classics (a ‘67 Mercury Cougar GT is thousands less than a comparable Mustang, but has almost the exact same specs), and professional cars (what’s cooler than tooling around in a late 60s station wagon turned ambulance?).

And remember, a Backyard Buddy lift can help you double the space in your garage while giving you a great platform to easily work on your new find. Give us a call and then get out there and look for your next treasure

Treat Yourself

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice

If you’re like most of our customers, you’ve just spent a lot of effort and money buying nice things for everyone but yourself. We have no doubt that you’re great at playing Santa, but now it’s time to think about getting yourself something nice, something that will make it easier to work on your hobby, take care of the family car, or keep your garage organized this winter.

Since you’re on our site, you can probably guess what we’re about to suggest: This winter, make your life better with a Backyard Buddy lift.

For hobbyists, a Backyard Buddy lift is a great way to remove some of the less-than-enjoyable parts of working on your vehicle. You can trade in laying on a cold garage floor and hoping your jack stand holds up while you work on the underside of your vehicle for sitting or standing while you work. You’ll never want to use a creeper again once you’ve installed an exhaust system while sitting on a stool, or replaced your brakes at eye level.

If you live in a snowy climate like we do, a Backyard Buddy lift can help keep you out of the freezing slush and cold water that comes in with your car any time you need to make a repair to your daily driver. Just put it on the lift and let the snow drip off at your feet. No more soaked-through back and knees while working.

Even if you’re not planning to work on your car in the winter, a Backyard Buddy lift can make your life easier. Our vehicle lifts can help you get back valuable real estate in your garage, and are safe enough for you to lift your vehicle out of the way and put mowers, bikes, snow blowers, garden supplies, and other garage clutter under all winter long. Drive up onto your lift, lift your vehicle to the ceiling, and enjoy brand new floor space.

We also have a special boat lift that is specifically designed to accommodate most 102 inch boat trailers. Your boat can spend the winter on the lift and your car can have some garage space back to keep it out of the snow. We also offer a solid deck for our 7,000 pound capacity lifts so that you can store ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles, lawn tractors, or other mid-sized items on our lifts.

Backyard Buddy also offers a variety of lift accessories to make your life even easier. Our caster set allows you to move our lifts around, even with a vehicle on them. Combine our casters with our crane accessory and you can pick up and drop engines into your vehicle, move heavy objects around your garage, and even pull a body off of a frame for painting or body work. Our hydraulic jacks allow you to raise the front or rear of your vehicle off of the lift with the flip of a switch so that you can comfortably work on your wheels or brakes. If you’d rather use your own jack, our jack platforms easily roll along the length of the lift and support any kind of jack (including our two-ton air jack).

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 any time between 8:00 and 4:30 EST, and we will help you customize a gift to yourself that will make you happy for years.  Merry Christmas!

Your Guide to American-Made Products Online

We proudly proclaim that Backyard Buddy is an American company, using American steel and American workers.

For years, you also know we’ve been helping to promote other companies that can also stake that claim.  Given the state of our economy and the high unemployment rates, it’s crucial that we all make a conscious effort to search out American-made products.  We want every American to know that they have the power to fix the economy, provide jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and to increase the quality of the products they buy.  Vote with your wallets and purchase high quality, American-made products – Be American, Buy American!  There are many online resources for shopping “Made in the USA” products so we’ve gathered a few here for you to peruse:

Made in America Store

This is an excellent source for a huge assortment of merchandise, including clothing and accessories; groceries; toys and games; hardware; stationery; and outdoor, home and pet products.  The site offers free shipping on orders $100 and over.  And be sure to check out there amazing “American dream,” comeback story – “The Beginning, The Crisis, The Opportunity, and the Future.”
http://www.madeinamericastore.com/

USAonly.US
This site is all about “Gettin’ America Back in Business” by asking Americans to commit again to buying products from our neighbors.  There are 24 product categories, and it’s easy to search alphabetically for the nearly 1,300 businesses listed under company bios, with a link to each of those sites.  Mark Reasbeck, founder and patriot, said it is his hope that the site “will link consumers and manufacturers arm-in-arm across the country.”   
http://www.usaonly.us/

AmericansWorking.com
This site was created to provide consumers with an easy to use and highly accessible means of finding products made in America, which strives to “help keep good jobs here.”  Want to keep your dollars in your home state?  This site also features American-made product directory by state, so you can support your closet neighbors.   (We’re happy to plug that Backyard Buddy is listed on this site.)
http://americansworking.com/

Made In USA!
This website is a product search engine and database for those looking for products made in the United States.  Companies can add their “Made in the USA” listing for free.   The MadeInUSA! organization behind the site is dedicated to bringing jobs and prosperity back to the United States of America.
http://www.madeinusa.org/

Toys Made in America
Here’s a fun site – for the kid in you!   In all seriousness, this site was launched in 2007 (after so many China-made toys were recalled) to provide a listing of safer, American-made toys and products.   There’s a variety of merchandise, listed alphabetically and by toy companies.
http://toysmadeinamerica.com/

Backyard Buddy at the Spring Carlisle

One of the surest signs of spring is the annual Carlisle spring collector and classic car swap meet, car corral, and auction. Held every spring (and fall) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, this huge event fills the 150 acres of the Carlisle Fairgrounds with cars, car parts, memorabilia, and just about anything else related to transportation.

The highlight of the weekend-as far as we’re concerned, anyway-is that Backyard Buddy will have a vendor booth where you can check out or lifts firsthand. We’ll be on the midway in booths M 106 and 107, a few rows south of the grandstands. We’ll be right in the thick of the action, so there’s no reason not to stop by and say hello!

Obviously, you’ll want our booth to be your first stop, but once you’ve seen our high-quality, American-made lifts (and maybe ordered one), you can check out more than 8,000 other booths from other manufacturers, vendors, and guys with a barn’s worth of parts for sale. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and find that OEM AMC Rambler camshaft you’ve been looking for!

If parts aren’t your style, there will be more than 2,000 vehicles for sale in the car corral. You can get behind the wheel and make a deal on everything from vintage trucks, to classic American muscle, to the latest and greatest supercars. If you’d rather try your luck against other car guys, you can check out the collector car auction on Thursday and Friday. Current consignments include a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang, a 1991 Lotus Elan, and a 1925 Lincoln limousine. On the other hand, if your budget is more like ours, or if your dream car is still in a bunch of boxes in your garage, you can get a deal in the daily driver blowout next to the car corral.

The best part about this event is that anyone can be a part of it. Vendor spaces are still available, and can be purchased for around $100. If you’ve got a garage full of old parts you want to get rid of, this is one of the best places to do it (and then re-fill your garage with new parts). We heard there’s a guy looking for an AMC Rambler camshaft, so if you’ve got one, make sure to put it up front.

If you need a little extra push to get out to the event, it’s less than an hour from Hershey, PA (Hersheypark won’t be open yet, but the zoo and chocolate attractions will be), 45 minutes from Gettysburg, and two hours from Philadelphia or Washington, DC.

The spring show runs from Wednesday, April 20th to Sunday the 24th. Admission is $10 ($7 on Sunday), or $30 for an event pass. The Carlisle Fairgrounds are about a half hour west of Harrisburg, PA, and are easy to get to off of Route 81. You can find all the details here: http://www.carlisleevents.com/carlisle-events/carlisle-spring-swap-meet-corral-auction/default.aspx

We hope to see you there because there’s nothing we love more than showing off our lifts to our fellow car guys (and gals). As always, if you’d like more information about Backyard Buddy, visit us on the web at www.backyardbuddy.com or give us a call at (800) 837-9353.

A Visit to the National Packard Museum

You’re probably not surprised that most of us here at Backyard Buddy love cars, trucks, motorcycles, and just about anything else you can think of with an engine and wheels (and we’re not even all that strict about it having wheels). If you’ve read our site, you also know that we’re proud to be an American company that makes American products with American workers right here in Warren, Ohio.

What you may not know is that we’re not the first automotive enthusiasts to open a factory on Dana Street in Warren. All the way back in 1899, two brothers who had been manufacturing incandescent bulbs for a few years, James and William Packard (if you’re a car guy, you already know where we’re going with this), started to manufacture high-quality automobiles in a factory just down the street from where we are today. Packard Motor Car Company was one of the first American luxury car manufacturers, and before joining most of the auto industry in moving to Detroit in 1906, built its first few model years right here in Warren.

Within its first decade, Packard became the standard in American luxury, and was known for its sleek designs, powerful engines, and high-end features like air conditioning. Perhaps reflecting the company’s early history, the cars’ electrical system was so highly-regarded that Packard’s wire and lighting business was sold to General Motors and produced automotive bulbs and electrical components in Warren for decades.

Never a community to shy away from its industrial roots, Warren now celebrates Packard’s history through the National Packard Museum, located in downtown Warren, about a mile from our headquarters and the original Packard plant.

Located at 1899 Mahoning Avenue, the National Packard Museum is open from noon until 5:00 Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00 until 5:00 on Sunday. As you might expect, the museum features plenty of Packards, with more than 30 cars spanning the first production car in 1900 to a 1956 Packard Caribbean that marks the last of the “true” Packards (its last model years offered re-badged Studebakers). The museum also features Packard memorabilia, items from the electrical division, and an archives featuring original catalogs, sales items, and other documents.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also features temporary and traveling exhibits. We love the current exhibit “What’s in Your Barn,” featuring 30 “barn find” motorcycles from 1939 to 1983. What’s really cool about this exhibit is that some of the bikes have been restored to showcase the hard work that it takes to turn “before” into “after,” but some of the bikes have been left unrestored (though cobwebs and mice have been removed, we think) and are in the sometimes-beautiful condition in which they were found.

If you’ve been thinking about coming to check out the Backyard Buddy showroom and need a little something extra to entice you, why not come see us and then visit the Packard Museum? We’re just a little over a mile apart, and will even give you the inside scoop about where to stop for lunch. For more details on the museum, go to http://www.packardmuseum.org/

Jay Leno’s Impressive Collection

It probably comes as no surprise that most of the staff at Backyard Buddy loves cars—especially rare, unusual, and collectable ones—so we wanted to take an opportunity to talk about one of the best-known collections out there.

Jay Leno, most famous for hosting The Tonight Show, is almost as famous for his love of cars. At last count, he has put together a collection of roughly 150 cars and more than 90 motorcycles, although like most dedicated collectors, he is always buying and selling, so the numbers change on a regular basis.

Jay isn’t happy to simply amass a collection of cars, and has become one of the most recognized faces of the hobby. His NBC show Jay’s Garage showcases some of his more unusual cars, and his regular Popular Mechanics column (http://www.popularmechanics.com/jay-lenos-garage/) provides a glimpse into some of the challenges he faces maintaining and restoring some of the most unique vehicles ever made.

Jay has an affinity for unusual vehicles, and unlike many collectors, refuses to focus on one type or era of car or motorcycle. Some of our favorite vehicles in his collection include:

•    1926-27 Duesenberg Model X: Jay worked for nearly 20 years to find this rare piece of early American muscle, one of just 13 produced. Like so many collectors do, he heard rumors that a local car guy had “something interesting” in his garage, and after a 20 year friendship, he finally found the Duesenberg when the man’s family invited him to look in the garage after the collector moved to a retirement home.
•    1916 Owen Magnetic: One of the more unusual cars in Jay’s collection is this century-old hybrid. Early automakers experimented with using gasoline engines as generators to power electric motors to actually spin the wheels to get around the complexities of getting rotational power from the engine to the wheels. The Owen exemplified this concept, using an electromagnetic transmission to remove the complex geared transmission from the drivetrain and keeping no mechanical linkage between the engine and the wheels. The design failed in its time, but the hybrid concept is alive and well a century later.
•    1909 Baker Electric: This is another car that shows just how many different ideas were tried before we settled on the gas engine for nearly a century. At the time, electric cars like the Baker were considered cleaner and easier to drive and maintain, and were recommended for the ladies of high society to drive to do their social appointments and shopping, since they involved no smoke, gasoline, or gears full of grease. This one is even dearer to us, since it was made just up the road in Cleveland.
•    1963 Chrysler Turbine Concept Car: Continuing his collection’s theme of alternative power plants, Jay’s got one of the last remaining Chrysler turbine cars. As you may have gathered from the name, this car uses a turbine engine instead of a traditional piston engine, a perfect idea for a country moving into the jet and atomic age in the early 60s. So why did a jet powered car never take off? Mostly because it could run on just about any fuel except the leaded gas that was available at every service station in America.
•    1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead: We’ve got to admit that as much as we love cars, there’s nothing quite like a classic Harley. This bike is another great collector story. When Jay got the bike, it was in great shape, but hadn’t been ridden since 1952. Figuring it would need some restoration work, he set it aside to work on other projects. When he finally got around to evaluating it for restoration, he was surprised when he added some gas, kicked the starter, and it started right up! He changed the tires, did some basic maintenance, and rides it entirely unrestored today.

We’re happy that Jay Leno is providing a good home to all of these unique pieces of America’s transportation history, but we’re even happier that he is a great ambassador for auto and motorcycle collectors everywhere, and shares his knowledge and enthusiasm with anyone who watches his show, reads his articles, or is lucky enough to talk to him in person. If you’re working on starting your own collection and want a way to make maintenance, restoration, and storage easier, give us a call at (800) 837-9353 to learn more about our lifts!