TDR Article Issue # 40 - Making a TV Show...
Here's hoping that most of the TDR's avid diesel enthusiasts had the opportunity to see our TV show "Two Guys Garage" on SpeedChannel with the shiny new '03 Cummins Turbo Diesel powered truck. It was a beauty. From its incredible front-end treatment, beautiful charcoal metallic paint, to the four rear opening doors, this truck was inspiring. Of course it was the 305 HP version with a six speed!
The theme of the show was multifaceted. Dave Bowman and I took this opportunity to introduce the truck, and a new character on our show. His name is Dave McBride. McBride and I have been friends and co-workers for going on twenty years. I will refer to both my co-hosts by last name only so as to avoid any confusion. Ever notice how many Daves there are in your life?
Bowman and I have been friends as well as co-hosts on television for 12 years. Starting in 1992, we hit the visual media airwaves with "Shadetree Mechanic", which aired on TNN for eight years. Due to legal logistics of trademarks and copyrights, we changed the name to "Crank & Chrome Performance Shop" for the subsequent two years on TNN. Crank & Chrome involved a lot more than a name change. We were booted out of the neighborhood when we began digging deeper into performance projects and making more noise and smells.
The only logical progression was to take our craft to the next level, get a bigger, better-equipped shop, and of course, embark on more aggressive projects. When contracts could no longer be worked out with TNN, the natural move was to Fox's "SpeedChannel". The new home of Nascar racing, motor sports of all descriptions, and the newest generation of automotive programming. Again, Bowman and I were together having fun through all 268 episodes. That's a lot of television folks!
McBride and I became friends as we worked together from the early eighties at Allen Testproducts, a division of the Allen Group. Allen designed, manufactured and sold leading edge automotive diagnostic equipment. He and I ran the country's best technical training department supplying training to the likes of General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and all descriptions of after market or independent technicians.
McBride is currently the "Director of Training" for Cummins South in Atlanta, as well as the President / Owner of his own technical training company "Keystone Automotive". He is currently my co-host on our two live talk radio shows. The Car Show on NewsRadio 640 AM in Atlanta, as well as our nationally syndicated "Sam's Garage".
Having a guy with his talents on tap, and a new Turbo Diesel truck, it was only natural to invite him to make a guest appearance on our TV show.
Cummins stepped up to the plate investing in consumer education of their clean, quiet diesel engines used to power the Dodge trucks. They were also gracious enough to let us use their incredible cutaway engine for show & tell. So the planning began. Ken Scobel from Cummins was also on hand to lend his expertise, and to keep us straight.
Opening the show included a test drive with McBride behind the wheel of his new truck, and me as a passenger. A few miles around the highways and byways of Tampa, demonstrated this Turbo Diesel's strong points. It has the ability to make lots of power, run as quietly as some gas jobs, and help to keep Tampa beautiful by exhibiting no smoke from the exhaust. As we pulled into the driveway of Two Guys Garage, we were met by an eager to see, Dave Bowman. The purpose of McBride's visit was to use our shop to install an exhaust brake, but we could not pass up the chance to show off the new hardware.
What ensued was a detailed tour through the Cummins cutaway with some individual components to demonstrate a number of improvements made to the trusty "B" engine.
McBride walked us through the new exhaust manifold, which positioned the turbocharger lower, the all-new block casting which added rigidity and strength, and even gave us a peek at the new main bearing girdle, all contributing to lower noise levels, improved reliability, and longevity. He also gave us an in-depth look at the new "Common Rail" high-pressure fuel injection system. Cummins supplied us with parts to show details of the new electric fuel pump, fuel heater, fuel filter assembly, the new electric injectors, a cutaway high-pressure pump, and fuel rail with all the sensors and valves. Dave McBride also carefully explained the operation of "Pilot Injection". Pilot injection is responsible for reducing the "knock" associated with diesel operation.
This is truly a new generation diesel engine that can help dispel the notions of the uninformed that diesel is a codename for dirty. By the way, lots of manufacturers worldwide are busy conjuring up small, lightweight diesel engines to power their fleets in the near future. Fuel economy from the bogus gas V-8 s just won't cut it as the trend continues towards larger, more luxurious SUV's and pickups. I guess we diesel freaks are a growing lot!
Once we finished with the technical tour of the new Cummins Turbo Diesel, we turned our attentions to the brake installation. It was a relatively simple installation, and Bowman and I gave the hardest part to our visitor. McBride had to install the supplemental vacuum pump assembly. This came in the kit, and is necessary because of the lack of vacuum available from the diesel engine. The kit worked slick, with the arming switch mounted on the six speed's gear lever. Reminded me of the axle splitter switch found on "Big" trucks.
So much for what we did in this Cummins Diesel show, here's a little insight into how it all gets from our little garage onto your big TV screen.
This type of show is always a challenge for the director and crew. Additional bodies such as guests always add work, as they require their own wireless microphone, additional lighting, and, of course some fancy camera work. As usual, our fabulous crew was up to the task.
MoJo Tony on the cam-mate (boom) is probably the best in the business when it comes to operating it. All of those incredible overhead shots and floating horizontal moves that make you feel like you are flying around the set come from a camera mounted on a boom that is equipped with remote controls that rival any RC aircraft controller. When the director yells "Action", Tony looks like a hyperactive teenager with the world's most intense video game. He has to tilt, push in or pull out while following the action, and does this all without losing focus. Please let me tell you, "that ain't easy!"
Mike operates the second camera, and handles lighting, grip duties, some engineering, almost all miscellaneous duties, and all of the sarcasm. He is another multi talented individual who never misses a beat. The concentration and focus on their work is amazing to see. They don't even break a sweat, while the two hosts struggle to say two syllable words.
Steve and the crew in the "Control Room" monitor all of this. Odd name because I've never seen an ounce of control in that room. Steve is the video engineer whose job it is to make sure everything has a consistent seamless look. I could not begin to explain the equipment he sits in front of, but I'm sure I could fly it! It looks like a cross between an aircraft storm scope on steroids and a microwave out of control. Pete spins the tape decks, and Jody handles make-up as well as scoring and timing. Timing each segment is a critical job, but is overshadowed by her other challenge. She has to make Bowman and I look acceptable on camera.
All of this is planned, set up, and directed by Bryan. He only has about 100 things to consider as each frame goes by. There's a lot more to it than yelling "action " or "Cut". Come to think of it, I hear more forceful "CUUUTTSSS", than I hear "actions". Most of Bryan's work is done with his plan to execute the edit sessions. The better he is in getting what he needs from the crew and the hosts, the easier his life is in the edit booth. Bryan also does a great job of keeping things moving along as he skillfully derives the most from everyone on the set.
There is nothing quick about a half hour TV show that involves actual "hands-on" work. No slight of hand, no using four or five different vehicles, and no army of workers. For years, Dave Bowman and I performed every bit of every repair and installation. With the inception of Crank & Chrome, we decided we needed to get some help, so we went on a search. Our prayers were answered when we found Mike.
Mike is our prep guy, prop master, and technician, and helps us out tremendously. Mike trial fits some things, inventories products to make sure nothing is missing that would halt production, and jumps in to assist in getting things done between takes. Sometimes Mike will add his ideas and comments to make the show technically more accurate or more appealing. Its hard to always be objective when you are as closely involved as Bowman and I.
All of this takes place in one long day. That's how we schedule it. We normally shoot four shows in four days, and I would guess we average ten to twelve hours to get 20 minutes of show. It's a five to six day week when you count travel and production meetings. We do this once a month until all twenty-six episodes are completed. Television is hard work, but it's also a pleasure to work with a crew that is as fun, professional, and as dedicated as this group of people is. Kind of like the TDR members when we attend an event to play with our trucks.
Hope you enjoyed the show! Until next time, Happy Motoring!