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46  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 13, 2012, 07:53:09 AM
I think I've heard the name Slover, to be honest I'm not sure, could have been around the time I left TRACO.

Like any workplace / shop, some employees were friendly, others mainly out for themselves. I was friendly with everyone, or tried to be, Bolthoff and I got along very well. The group was tight for Jim and Frank (TRACO), not necessarily for each other, but if it came down to it, we had each others backs and would do anything to assist. There were a lot of employees not mentioned in most articles, like me; Jonesy, Jack, Larry & more, besides the names I've seen in articles and mentioned here.

I spent many of my weekends at various tracks around the country, not the best thing for my marriage / family. In between the hours at the shop and the hours at the tracks, I had a minimal family life. Most of the time I spent at tracks was for Penske, with the Cameros, Javelins and then Matadors. I've been to so many tracks I can't even remember, they all sort of blur together.

47  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 12, 2012, 09:58:10 PM
Hi Jon,

I've been spending a little time reading through the forum, lots of information and lots of posts here.

Remembering back on the exact years is tough, but I started at TRACO shortly before Al Bartz left, so around 1963 to 1964. I was there when "Skipper", George Bolthoff started, in about 1965. I had little experience so I offered to do whatever they required, Frank Coon handed me a push broom and asked if I knew how to use it, I started sweeping the floor and he immediately said "let me show you how to do it properly", which he then did, after that I learned "the proper way" to do everything that Jim and Frank could teach a punk kid. I left TRACO for a year to set up Roy Woods engine shop, then returned and finally left for good in the early 70's. The last engines I built were for the Penske AMC Matador NASCAR project and the IROC chevys. Over that time frame I probably built and rebuilt 400+ Chevys, 75+ AMC's, a few dozen Fords, a few Pontiac's, a few Ferrari V-12's and countless sets of Chevy heads.

After I was there for a few months, the person building the heads left (he was named Willy I think) and I took over the job, after many months of training that is. I built the heads for a few years, along with other work as needed, always learning. Walking down the isle to the bathroom one day, covered in Cast Iron dust from grinding valve seats, Walter Howell "Davy Crocket" made some cutting remark about my appearance as I passed by his assembly area where he was oiling the cylinders on a block he'd just cleaned, so I walked up to him and jumped up in place once, the Cast Iron dust from my shop coat covered the area in a black cloud, the entire shop fell silent waiting for the punch, he stood there for a moment staring at his freshly cleaned and oiled block, now covered in dust, then pointed at me and yelled "PIGPEN", then everyone in the building laughingly yelled it as well, so it stuck.

To my knowledge, Lockerman's was the only Port and Polish shop that TRACO used, he was fast and did a very good job. We selected the new head castings, did some machining in the chambers, then scribed over blue die the outlines of the ports. Lockerman usually picked up a lot of 10 to 30 heads at a time and more would be ready when he delivered them. I never saw anyone at TRACO attempt to Port and Polish heads.

Edit: Missed the part about "Hot Rod Alley". That term was coined before I started there, TRACO, Hilborn, Narin , Iskenderian and probably more were located there. Across the alley was a large dirt parking lot for Hughes Aircraft, caused some problems for us when the wind blew, so we used it as a dumping ground for all our used oil, lots of oil, sort of cheap asphalt. I pitied the Hughes workers getting into their cars with all that mess.

Sorry if I'm rambling on some, it's been a lot of years and millions of miles on multiple continents ago, a lifetime ago, so I'm proding the old grey matter a lot.

48  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 12, 2012, 03:17:42 PM
Hi Robert,

Lots of good times with "Goldy", he actually let me drive one of his Pantera's on an LA Freeway, really impressive, the stuff dreams are made of - LoL !

I'm not sure about the CS & KS, but those could be factory stampings as TRACO requested special handling of the block and head castings, mainly just to make sure that they were cast properly to the print specs; e,g: Material, tempering, centering of the mold core pieces, etc. The factory must have had some way of keeping track. they were helpful in selecting castings for us. As with all production castings, core movement or placement is (was then) dependent upon the workers and how the mold was handled, there's always variations, we just ask for minimal variation from the design prints.

TRACO did not actually stamp the earlier blocks, later on we used a code stamp on the top front of the block, there is a small land on the block cylinder surface in front of the # 1 cylinder. The code contained a date and the engine CID as I remember.

Each main bearing cap is stamped with it's position number, as are all components in the assembly, heads were simply stamped 1 & 2 on the ends corresponding to cylinders 1 & 2 (so opposite ends). (EDIT) Later on the heads were stamped with each cylinder # on the exhaust port flanges (my memories are coming back - LoL).

49  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 12, 2012, 07:10:46 AM
Hello TRACO fans. I'm Edward (Gene) Owen "Pigpen" from the old TRACO days. I too just got my copy of "Race Man" from Gordon "Teenage Tuner", and spoke with him (email) for the first time in 40+ years. He put a lot of time and effort into the book, it's an excellent work up of Jim's life. Jim and Frank were recently inducted into the Indy Hall of Fame, thanks to efforts by Roger Penske, something they very much deserved, unfortunately Frank passed away before seeing it, but Jim is still alive and well (Crabby as ever - LoL).

I've been out of racing for many years, but during the Pony Car days of the 60's and 70's, I built many of TRACO's Trans Am Engines, many for Penske, both Camero and Javlin. If anyone has questions, I'll try to stir up the old grey matter to answer. Some of the articles posted here are excellent and very detailed, but may miss some particular item, strictly engines, I didn't work on any other components.
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