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sparkplugs & judging


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At a recent CCCA Grand Classic Judges meeting, a member asked if there should be any deduction for non-blued sparkplugs in a Classic Car. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about I'll explain. The metal base (the part you put the wrench on to tighten it) of many spark plugs today<BR>is finished in a silvery colored finish (cadnium plating?) This guy did some research & found that that type of finish wasn't used until the 1950's or 60's; hence it could not have been originally on ANY CCCA car. He wanted to know if he could take a point off if a car had non blued plugs in it. The head judge said no, stating that the CCCA has a policy that states if an exact copy of an original part is not available or is not currently being reproduced, that the closest replacement parts should be used. A comment was then made that AC plugs could be used, since they do use a blued finish on their base. It ended there & the decision was that NO points would be taken off for that. I would just like to say that I agree with that decision. I have heard of other single marque clubs (such as the Model A Restorers Club) have the following occur: A guy drives his car off the trailor & onto the judging field using new sparkplugs. After parking the car, he removes the sparkplugs & replaces them with NOS original plugs for judging. After the car in judged, he puts he new plugs back in & drives the car back onto the trailor. Personally, I think this is overkill & I hope I never see it at a CCCA meet. Perhaps this would be a good topic for the Judges Corner in the Bulletin to cover, just so the whole club is on the same page.

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For UNREGIS. (regarding your comments on judging and spark plugs)<P>First of all....do you have a name ? If you do not know your name, check with your parents. They may be able to provide you with a copy of your Birth Certificate. A Brith Certificate will give your real name (that is..assuming you are a human being that was born alive in the western world....? ? ? ).<P>The advantage of using your real name, is that we tend to assign more credibility to people who have real names. Generally speaking, people who HAVE real names, and USE real names, and talk to other people who have REAL names and use their real names, tend to focus more on the real technical issues that interest us all, and spend less time on silly personality issues.<P>Of course there are a few legit. exceptions...perhaps you are a well known movie star or other celebrity - we have to respect their desire for privacy, and that their "celebrity status" might turn our focus away from what we SHOULD be doing in here...talking CLASSIC technology.<P>Now...about CCCA judging. Elsewhere in this "site" I have explained the fundamental difference between CCCA judging concepts, and that of the public car "show". Within the confines of THIS Club, we are interested in historical accuracy as our prime focus. It is CONSISTENT that we best comply with the over-all concept of encouraging historical accuracy by keeping these cars IN SERVICE.<P>That means, our judging rules encourage USING our cars. A car that can not be USED will do poorly at our judging events. That is why, to get high points, the car has to RUN...and RUN WELL...its windows and accessories must be OPERATIONAL. We do NOT take off for signs of USE, as we know that a car ready for its new owner on delivery day would have been USED (ROAD tested, greased, and serviced)<P>Thus various aspects of SERVICEABILITY, such as spark plugs that WORK, porclien manifolds that show "cracking" from use...CAN NOT AND WILL NOT RESULT IN POINT DEDUCTION AT A CCCA EVENT ( assuming the Judging staff know what they are doing).<P>The kind of "fussing' you are referring to, DOES belong at an "entertainment" type car show, where people want to see "winners" and "loosers" and want to be awed by the "prettiest" car. As some of our "chatters" have pointed out, our CCCA may be evolving towards the concepts of the public car "show". I personally disapprove of that.<P>And that...folks...and a fifty cent piece...will get you a Coke anywhere...!<P>Pete Hartmann

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Two cents worth of opinion from a non CCCA member. The 1928 Packard 443 I once owned came fron the factory with "Packard" script AC plugs, with gun blued bases. If given the choise I'd restore the car to "As new" condition with the correct looking plugs. It takes very little time to acid dip new cad plated bases and gun blue them. If the Ford guys can do this surely people with "superior" vehicles can pay soneone to do it.

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Chuck:<P>Hopefully, I mis-understood you in several areas of your above "post".<P>Let's start with "modern" paint finishes. My recollection and understanding of our judging rules, is that we most certainly WOULD take off under "authenticity" for use of wrong paint materials. <P>Nitrocellulose lacquer is still available. No question it is an inferior finish in terms of durability, to the modern family "two part" paints (Imron is one, Sterling is another - and damn..they sure are slick-looking and shiny - I had my airplane done in them). BUT...even the un-trained eye can spot the difference between an authentically applied nitro-cellulose lacquer finish, and a modern "two-part" (typically followed with a "clear coat"). <P>When the first acrylic lacquers starting appearing for re-finishers, we had whopping arguments as to whether there should be point deductions for this. We agreed it was (check your old Nat'l "Minutes"..this would have been around '58 or so) a difficult "call", since even I can not always spot the difference between nitrocellulose and acrylic lacquer finishes ( sure can tell the diff. between those and the modern "two part" finishes tho.)<P>I damn near got into a fist fight with a guy who was mad at me because he somehow found out I knocked a point off for the revel mouldings (a Packard Twelve similar to mine - for those of you who dont know...the top of the line Packards were the Twelves...these had more expensive interior fittings than the eights, which included real rose-wood window mouldings, and, for some more elegant formal closed bodies, slick vanity cases. When original, they were sprayed with clear lacquer. <P>Some over-enthusiastic restorers "shoot" these beautiful ornamental wood mouldings with some mind of clear plastic/varnish...which looks great to the modern un-trained eye, but stands out like a sore thumb to the eye that KNOWS how much softer...more elegant, they looked when new with the proper hand-rubbed clear lacquer).<P>I disagree with you about the spark plug issue. First of all, it should NOT be hard to get 100 points - if the car is as close to an "as new" condition as is reasonably practical, that is what we are all about. You may recall my earlier "post" about So. Calif. Region member Malcolm Willit's two Cads. (one is around a '32...the other...a '34). Both are LITERALLY NEW CARS. I am sorry to tell you I would have to agree with the tone of your remarks ...given guys with attitudes like yours...they'd be lucky to get 80 points, for the reasons you point out - as new...they were hardly perfect. Nice....but NOTHING like the "jewelry case" perfection (from an appearance standpoint...from a mechanical standpoint I've seen high scoring show cars that I would not feel safe driving around the block...!) of the typical trailer queen.<P>As for the plugs themselves, I would argue this was essentially a "service" part might have been "messed with" at the dealership level. <P>If a car was otherwise satisfactory, I would give it a 100 points, even if the one alongside it was better..it too..should only get 100 points. Again...I think this under-scores the difference in traditional CCCA judging, and that of the so called "competitive" public car show types.<P>Again, I am NOT making fun of the guys who throw so much money at their cars, they can't stand the thought of driving them and messing up years of expensive work (heck..if they want to know what a properly maintained Packard Twelve can do..they can always come out, buy me dinner...and drive mine...!).<P>Now...where did John go..I want to beat him up a bit more for his "post" that the classics were "crude"......!<P>Pete Hartmann

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I have just spent the afternoon posting the CCCA Judging Rules and the CCCA Judging Manual on the Club?s Web Site. Just go to the CCCA Home Page and follow the links. I had to reformat this stuff from a DOS based program (not Windows) which my computer did not like. There are some formatting errors, but the information is there. I?ll make it look pretty when time allows. Eventually, I will get a Judging Form posted. Even though doing that task should be simple, finding an electronic version of the form has been fruitless. A simple scan does not make an image that you can reliably download and read.<P>Now, don?t shoot me when you read the rules. I did not write them. OK, I was the guy who pushed to get appropriate looking column mounted turn signal controllers to be allowed with no deductions. I did this so we could drive a little safer. I also made the CCCA Judging video and re-wrote the script to be a little more understandable, but I am just the messenger. I did not get "Carte Blanche" on the script re-write. That's me on the tape, but I did not write the rules.<P>As for Peter?s latest question, we do not deduct for use of modern paints. All that he says about the differences in look can indeed be true if you carefully compare the finishes side by side. Even so, I have to admit that I?ve seen some Imron jobs that looked really right on the car. I think some of the "look" has to do with the skill of the painter and not just the chemical makeup of the paint. That doesn't change the fact that the use of these modern finishes, even when they don?t appear like the original, is simply ?over restoration? and the Club policy is no deduction. We also do not deduct for the owner?s choice of color, although the use of improper color schemes is certainly discouraged. We would deduct for the use of a metallic finish on a Classic made prior to 1927 since metallics didn?t exist before that time. If you know absolutely, for sure, that a car never came with a metallic finish, and you are judging a car that has such a finish, an authenticity deduction would be in order. You must make such deductions from certain knowledge and not by hunch or suspicion. If you have any doubt, the presumption of authenticity is always in favor of the car.<P>Peter, as for your statement referring to ?Guys with attitudes like yours?? well, I?m one of the easiest judges you'll ever meet. My score is usually thrown out because it's too high. As a Director, I'm not allowed to judge any more, but that was most definitely the case when I was active in CCCA Judging. AACA has figured this out too, and usually makes makes me a Team Captain. I direct a gaggle of judges, but don't actually score the car. When I do judge, I try to keep personal feelings out of it. I just try to follow the rules and be fair. If I don?t know something, I wouldn?t take any deduction. I hope others would treat me the same way. <P>If you don?t know about the rules, you would make the right personal call by not making a deduction. In the case of the spark plugs, another judge would still be within his rights to make a deduction for this issue. In CCCA, it will be straightened out in the tabulation process.<P>One of the reasons we have four judges on a team is to keep people with extreme opinions (one way or the other) from unduly influencing the judging results. Of the four scores given, the highest and the lowest are thrown out. The remaining middle scores are then averaged to result in the final score. This way, if you have a Team where one judge loves every car and gives them all 100 points, and you have another judge on that team that believes all the cars are terrible and thinks 65 points is a generous score, reason will win out. Both scores will be deleted from the final results. It's not perfect, but it seems to work.<P>In the case of the spark plug, you are partially right; they are a service item and undoubtedly were ?messed with ? by the service department. BUT, they would still have been black when the car was new. We are judging cars, as they were new. Cad plating on spark plugs did not happen until well after the end of the Classic era. Nobody expects you to find the NOS take-apart plugs that your car may have some with. We?re not going to extremes here, we?re just attempting to make our replacement parts look reasonably correct. <P>Now speaking personally, my cars are just ?Touring Class? cars. I drive them, and yes, some do have Cad plated modern plugs. One point out of 200 for spark plugs isn?t going to make any significant difference in the judging results for my cars. I only go to Grand Classics to have fun, but we must recognize that some people are much more serious about it. It matters to them. Even so, six black based AC?s for my Bentley cost about the same as a set of Champions and are cheaper than NKG?s. We?re talking lunch money.<P>If I had a fresh high dollar restoration, putting in the right plugs or doing the simple fix of some gun bluing should be a no-brainer. <P>As for your statement that ?It should NOT be hard to get 100 points,? I have to totally disagree. To do less simply denigrates the cars that have achieved that goal.<p>[ 07-21-2002: Message edited by: Chuck Conrad ]

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A quick check of my AACA Judging Manual says: "Cadmium plated spark plugs. First year-1956." I don't know where AACA got that information, but most accept it as true. Perhaps in the land of motorcycles, things were different.<P>Now to start an interpretation war with Peter:<P>We do say in our Judging Rules that ?Some concessions have been made in regard to items that cannot be replaced by original equipment where replacement items are available that perform as well or better than the original and do not detract form the appearance of the car.? There is a list of these components in the judging rules, and ?spark plugs? does not appear on that list. I do see how you could interpret spark plugs to be included, although it can also be argued that the wrong color plugs certainly do detract from the appearance of the engine.<P>Our Judging Manual (which is a separate publication from the Judging Rules) makes no specific note of spark plugs but does recommend a one-point deduction for ?wrong color or texture on (engine) components.? Spark plugs are engine components. <P>If you are spending the kind of money it takes today to restore a car to the way it was originally delivered to the owner (that?s our goal), then spending $20 on some AC plugs that look right (even if the car came with another brand from the factory) is no big deal. If you want to use Champions, it only takes a few minutes to apply some gun bluing to the cad. plate. You can find this stuff at most hardware stores. It looks pretty good, and should fly with the judges.<P>A judge would be perfectly entitled to take an authenticity deduction for the wrong color spark plugs if he wanted to. Whether this deduction is worth pursuing may be another story. On a touring class car that would be disqualified if it scores over 93 points, it?s probably not a real issue. There are bigger fish to fry. On a potential 100-point fresh restoration, it is the little details that make or break things. A hundred points ought to be hard to get.<P>While I?m making trouble, another string mentioned over restoration. It is very true that most cars today are over restored. When you took delivery of your new car, it was a 100-points. That?s about as good as it gets, and we all know they are not perfect.<P>It was mentioned, ?we can and do deduct for over restoration.? That is not entirely true, at least officially. Let me refer everyone to the Official CCCA Judges Manual. It says, ?Over restoration is a problem with no solution known to those currently involved with this project. Literally all restored cars are over-restored! Therefore there are no deductions for over restoration.?<P>This is not to say that we don?t deduct for people doing things to their cars that were not original. Things like chrome plated generators and water pumps that should be painted are obviously not original, and therefore they are subject to authenticity deductions. <P>Most of today?s restorations have a better paint job on the chassis than many cars? exterior finishes. We all know that a shiny Imron painted chassis was not the order of the day when these cars were new. When new, the manufacturers were probably lucky to just get the entire frame painted. They didn?t have mirror finishes. Even so, for that kind of over restoration, we do not make any deduction.

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Chuck: Regarding use of the incorrect painting materials.<P>I am a little confused here - first, I have NOT kept abreast of judging rules evolution. <P>My CCCA stuff is still packed away, pending completion of our new home, which, amongst other things, will have a proper library for display and reference of my "old car stuff"...as my wife calls it. Someone else will have to take you to task for what I THINK is your error regarding use of incorrect paint finishes. Unless I am even more senile than I am ugly, my recollection is correct that we DO ( or DID...remember..again...I havn't been active in judging for some years now ) deduct for use of non-authentic paint - let me give you an example....there IS (or WAS) something in the Judging Manual, about "points off under AUTHENTICITY for use of enamel paint on a car that originally had lacquer, or lacquer on a car originally finished in enamel". This was the phrase (which, again, unless I am totally senile, was in our Rules from day ONE) which we relied on, when the paint industry started experimenting with non-organic lacquers. As I noted, at the time, it was pretty hard to tell the difference between the correct nitrocellulose lacquers, and the new acrylic or "plastic-based" much more durable lacquer, which first showed up on new cars in the mid 1950's.<P>I bet you a steak dinner I could tell an authentic nitrocellulose job from a modern "two part" / clear coat" job from 50 miles away. Reason...the human eye is smarter than our brains - even the un-trained eye can spot the much "shinier" modern paint.. it simply reflects light differently.<P>Of COURSE those modern "two part" finishes are spectacular. If our judging rules have changed to allow them without point deductions, I think that is most unfortunate, and NOT in keeping with our historical purpose.<P>If you have access to CCCA's old records and regional publications, see if you can find articles about Malcom Willitt's two early 1930's "new" Cadillacs. <P>In reviewing old articles about judging, you might find one of my "rantings" about how these two cars (how they escaped the ravages of time I no longer recall) MUST be the standard for the 100 point car...WITHIN THE CONFINES AND HISTORICALLY ORIENTED PURPOSE OF THIS PARTICULAR CLUB.<P>I felt quite strongly at the time, and still do...that while it is very nice that people toss TONS of money at old cars to make them really super-pretty, the "prettiness" of a restoration is not what we are about WITHIN THE CONFINES AND HISTORICALLY ORIENTED PURPOSE OF THIS PARTICULAR CLUB.<P>Down thru the years, they have been used as examples of what a 100 point car should look like. They are (or were...the last time I saw em)...literally time machines, about as "factory fresh" as you are likely to find. <P>So - I disagree...with your view that it should be "hard to get 100 points". I think you have been "infected" with the modern view, that judging events are some kind of "contest"...with "winners". As I have noted earlier, this IS appropriate when an event manager's obligation is to please the layman spectator, and make the guy happy with an incredibly over-restored "trailer queen". <P>I enjoy going to Grand Classics, even tho my own car is always in "Exhibition" (wouldn't win a bone in a dog fight). I love marveling over what the purchase price of my latest airplane can do to an automobile. But - again, I think all of this should be taken in historical context about what the objectives of THIS particular Club was and SHOULD be about.<P>In any event, I think you should be commended for donating your time to the Club; be assured, coming from one who has "been there"....anyone who isnt grateful for your efforts and work for the Club, should be forced to go drag racing in a 1949 Buick with Dynaflow......!<P>Pete Hartmann

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Peter and others, <P>When you posted ""....anyone who isn't grateful for your efforts and work for the Club, should be forced to go drag racing in a 1949 Buick with Dynaflow......!" I nearly fell out of my chair.<P>I've had a really long day commuting to Dallas and conducting some necessary business. (about 300 miles round trip) When I'm rested, I'll be happy to reply to your comments.<P>Meanwhile, you made my day!<P>Thanks. grin.gif" border="0

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During my period of activity with CCCA, which is admittedly shorter that Peter?s, I have not been aware of any controversy over paint materials, as long as the finish appears reasonably correct. That can go two ways. A mirror finish could look very inappropriate on certain cars, just as painting a car flat black would also look quite peculiar. I'm sure you could take an authenticity deduction if it looks <B>really</B> wrong, but there is a fine line where we do not take off for over-restoration. I guess judges have to use some judgment on this. Why else would we call them "judges?"<P>I don?t have easy access to any early CCCA information but it is in the library at headquarters. I?ll take a look the next time I'm there. I do remember in the 1960s, people did make a much bigger deal about the virtues of lacquer over enamel. I wasn?t involved in judging in any club at the time, so I don?t know how it was handled. I was just happy to have a car that ran (sometimes).<P>In our current CCCA Judging Rules under ?Paint,? there is no mention of a penalty for the type of paint used. Today, judges would still look at quality of workmanship, and defects like excessive orange peel, fish eyes, runs or sags, fading, and uneven color uniformity. You won?t find much evidence of the problems on high scoring cars. When they are found, a Judge would certainly be justified in making an appropriate deduction. <P>These days I think you will find that most recent restorations are painted with either a two-part paint of a base coat-clear coat system. In some areas of the country there is no choice. It is against local environmental laws to use traditional finishes that rely on a solvent evaporating into the atmosphere to cure. I believe these are called ?High VOC? materials. They are banned in many areas. California certainly comes to mind, and my former hometown of Dallas prohibited their use several years ago. This isn?t to say that people don?t still use these more authentic paints. They do.<P>I guess the logic is if we can accept chrome plating as a suitable replacement for nickel, then the type of paint used on the car is no big deal. For what it?s worth, I?ve never figured out why chrome is OK on cars that never came with it. It looks totally different. (And you think you can spot Imron from 50 miles away!) Unless I have my chemistry all messed up, I believe the usual process in plating is to put copper on first, then a coat of nickel, followed by the top plating of chromium. I don?t understand why you just wouldn?t stop at nickel and polish it. Early Pierce-Arrows look really strange with shiny blue chrome on them. <P>Unfortunately, the horse is out of the barn. There is no going back. Like I said, I didn?t write this stuff.

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I almost forgot. My Grandmother had a ?48 Dodge with ?Fluid Drive.? I only drove it once or twice, but as I recall, it didn?t matter what gear you started out in, you weren?t going anywhere very quickly. I think it might be an appropriate challenger for the Buick Dynaflow.<P>Maybe we could enter them in the Riding Mower Class. <BR> grin.gif" border="0

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At the risk of upsetting everyone for being a little off era - The last car I?ve gone through a total restoration process with, was a 1912 Buick that belonged to my father. The guy who painted it (A CCCA Member) suggested using Imron. I was pretty skeptical, thinking it would look way too shiny like a Lear Jet. He said, ?Oh, no, it doesn?t have to look that way. Let me shoot a couple of pieces, and you tell me what you think.? <P>To my total surprise, it looked fine. It?s really a pretty good period look; although I?m sure it is better than Buick delivered when the car was new. I don?t beleive they had spray equipment in 1912. <P>I?ve seen some amazing brush painting jobs on old carriages in England, and anybody who has visited London will attest that the enamel brush painting on many of the front doors of people?s houses is really nice. You don't see finishes like that in the U.S. very often. I have to conclude that it is possible to get depth and luster with a brush, but I doubt that very many people would dream of using one on a frame-off restoration on any car. I guess that is yet another form of over restoration. Of course, they did have spray equipment by the beginning of the Classic Era, so a sprayed on finish is in keeping with the period.<P>What I ended up with on my Buick doesn?t look that much different than some of those hand done finishes. I?ve been happy with the choice. I?ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the ?look? has to do with the skill of the painter, not just the materials.

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The last car I touched up was painted with Dupont Centari Enamel and it had a really good "period" look to it (good depth and shine, lacking that shiny sheet of plastic look). The paint also was very easy to work with (almost like lacquer), polish, spot repair, and related.

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