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Garage-Mahal Mini Tour

by Vic Donnell

For those members who did not participate, this report will tell you what you missed. Despite what the TV weather guessers forecast, the weather was warm and mild with light overcast and sunny periods of the day. In other words, it was a perfect touring day and made for plenty of interaction among our members who were able to participate. The group consisted of 34 members and guests. Guests are a really great idea. That’s a good way to recruit new members. We need to do more of that. The group formed at the Donnell’s in Dripping Springs. Sweets and drinks were provided while members were gathering.

The theme of this mini-tour was the auto hobby shop. We visited the auto shops of five members and viewed five very different configurations to support the needs of that individual hobbyist. Vic began by describing how his shop (about 52x54 ft) had been configured when the primary focus was on antique auto repair and restoration. Then he took the tour group into the former auto disassembly and assembly room (26x40 ft) where an O scale model railroad is now being constructed. Two trains were operated briefly and then the group moved on.

For the second viewing, the group walked all the way to the next door neighbor’s shop. This one belongs to members Lee and Lynn Reed. Lee constructed the shop himself. It features a two stall garage area, and a small office (machine room/storage space/restroom) downstairs, and an efficiency apartment upstairs. The team of local enthusiast (helpers) have been meeting in Lee’s shop for several years to customize their cars to their likes. Lee’s shop has been configured for several different tasks so that his shop, though only a two stall space, has served several functions that would normally require a much larger building. For example, the team had constructed a wooden framework, covered in plastic sheeting with box fans at one end and high energy light fixtures for light and heat. This gave them an extremely effective auto paint booth, inside the shop, where they painted the Camaro project car. This car was viewed by our group and was a dazzling, candy apple red.

Next, we drove to the home of members Rob Norberg and Juan Barraza.  Their two story tall, 40x60 ft building has been customized into a store/warehouse to support an obsolete car parts business. This was an absolutely awesome experience. Hundreds, if not thousands, of new/old stock car parts have been catalogued and stored in support of their online business. You have to see this to believe it. I purchase old car parts by the “eaches”. Rob buys out complete store stock in terms of thousands of pounds. Rob let us wander around, upstairs and downstairs. We also got to see his antique GMC truck that may get on the road one day.

From there we drove a very scenic two lane road to the home of members Roger and Carolyn Spillers. Roger is a very skilled wood worker. He built his own house and outbuildings. His primary shop space is a 24x40 foot self-built structure. His walls are lined with storage compartments for tools, parts, and equipment. Roger is one of the most organized people I know. He can get more utility per square foot of space than anyone else I know.  When he needs more space, he simply throws up another building. We saw the restoration work in progress for a Model T Ford center door sedan and a MG sports car. In a second building, we looked at his completed restorations, a Ford pickup, MGA, and Model T Ford roadster.

From there we drove to the home of George Brunner for a lunch stop. The gathering was in George’s museum where all most of his collection is on display. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been here, you will always see things you didn’t see before. George had prepared hot dogs for lunch. Several members brought additional items/sides/desserts for the lunch. A lot of furniture was set up and later stored away. It’s wonderful to see the members of our club pitch in the help when these tours are planned. Without being asked, the members present pitched in to help break down the folding tables and chairs and store them away. Many thanks are due for those members who came to participate and those who contributed to make the tour a great experience. Hope more of you will participate in the future.