View Full Version : New guy, sort of, from Maine

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-09-2007, 09:23 PM
S.P.Martin Lawn Care And Caretaker Service

Greetings from Maine,

After nearly 30 years of law enforcement, time for a change. *I did have a lawn care/landscaping business from 1987 to 1990 with a good friend of mine, but it took too much time away from my family. *Made obscene money with it though. *So now that I am retired, I decided to give it another go, solo this time except for family members.

Got a late start so my customer base was a bit thin, but I have doubled it already in anticipation of the upcoming season. *Also have some solid leads on some good paying commercial accounts. *Even managed some mutal aid gentlemen agreements with three of my competition, most of whom I have been friendly with for years.

Currently negotiating to buy an existing business with over 30 accounts and a nice Walker mower. *Hope to have that by April at the latest.

Equipment consists of 2004 F-150 crew cab w/tow package, 12 ft single axle trailer, 2006 Ferris 3100 w/water cooled Kawasaki engine, 61 in deck and bagging system, Echo trimmer, and a Toro Mulcher 22 inch walk behind.

I anticipate purchasing another Ferris 3100 like I have now, a 22 ft custom tandem axle trailer, two more trimmers and two edgers, 2 more Toros, and a pair of Echo back pack blowers.

I have a couple of contracts I will be posting in the near future for examples. *

Other interests of mine are building my replica 66 Cobra, general construction, volunteer work, Harley Davidson, and too many other things...

I look forward to being in touch with everybody out there!

Steve Martin

02-09-2007, 09:45 PM
WoW Steve! *That is a great intro! *Welcome to the site.

Are you planning on doing the business long term or short term? *By that I mean, you said that you retired, so are you going to just do it kind of part time for extra cash, or are you going to build it to run itself? *

What type of services will you be offering?

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-09-2007, 11:06 PM
I have every intention of growing the business for the long term. Retirement money is good, but its a pay cut just the same. I have college tuition to cough up for the next five years or so, a great incentive....

Right now I'm keeping my services simple, mowing and cleanups. Did plowing before and its a pain in the rear, but I'm considering it for next year. This winter would have been a bust.

Additionally I offer off season caretaker/keyholder service as there are quite a few seasonal properties in these parts the owners wish to have an eye kept on. I also offer the same service short term for anybody that wants it. For example you are gone for a few weeks on a vacation in January and want to make sure the heat is on, plants watered, and the mail picked up.

Part of my 5 year plan is to branch out into largescale landscaping. One of my daughters will be going to Penn State for Architecture and Landscape Design. Hopefully I can turn the business over to her with residual income so I can spend more time on the HD.

02-10-2007, 11:13 AM
Hi Steve,

Welcome to our forum!

Quote[/b] ]I have a couple of contracts I will be posting in the near future for examples.

Other interests of mine are building my replica 66 Cobra, general construction, volunteer work, Harley Davidson, and too many other things...

We do thank you for posting contracts and allowing us to share them with others.

Do you have any pictures of your car That you could post so we could see?

02-11-2007, 12:28 PM
I was talking with Steve and he sent me some links to the site with pictures of the replicas.


Awesome Stuff!

02-11-2007, 12:48 PM
One of the things I find fascinating about this kit is that you use a donor car for certain parts. I bet that keeps the cost of the project way down too.

Steve can you tell us a little how you got started in this project? What made this company the one to go with? How long has the project taken so far and how much longer until its completed?

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-11-2007, 02:21 PM
Cars and hot rods have been a serious interest of mine for years. *I've owned a '71 Corvette, '89 Mustang GT, '68 Cuda fastback, and an '82 Trans Am. *I have also worked on plenty more.

About 20 years ago I read an article in a car magazine that followed along for a build of a Cobra kit car. *It seemed so easy and I decided I would own one and build it some day.

I researched several manufacturers over the years and settled on two, ERA out of Conn. and Factory Five in Mass. *I visited the companies to get a feel for quality, attititude, and so forth. *I chose Factory 5 only because I was intrigued by the way they did it. *Seemed so logical to me. *The frame they use is race quality and far advanced over the original style. *If I had a larger budget and wanted a more authentic replica, I would have gone with ERA, the generally accepted leader in quality.

Bought the kit about 5 years ago. *Went down and picked it up with my trailer. *I had made a deal with the local vocational school to do the body work at cost. *The kids loved it and did a pretty good job. *Not museum quality, but so what, I intend the drive this thing and I expect some minor dings. *It cost less then $450 for paint and material. *Body shops wanted over $2500 to do it.

Located an 88 Mustang GT, not my first choice as I wanted an 89 up for its mass air flow engine, not the speed density. *But the price is right, it ran great, was a 5 spd, and since I was going to leave it stock anyway, I bought it for $1500 and stripped everything out that I needed. *Had the carcass hauled off for $50.

So for the past couple of years I have been working on putting the thing together when the mood strikes me. *I have about 300 man hours in it. *There is lots more in the work I farmed out. I figure it will take about the same to finish it. *Lots of the work is not really necessary, but I chose to upgrade some parts, like suspension pieces, rear end gears and axles, wheels and tires, exhaust system, and steering. *Lots of detail stuff that eat up time quickly.

If this were a straight swap and installation w/o any upgrading or refinishing, the car can be done in about 400 hrs. *When its done it will look like the one on the web site, except for the color. *I went with the Dodge truck bright blue w/white stripes.

02-11-2007, 02:37 PM
Great stuff!

You know I was looking at some of the videos and at least one of them seems to shoe horn in a big block engine? Is that right? Or did it just seem huge compared to the size of the car? What size engines do these cars use?

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-11-2007, 07:46 PM
The most common setup is for Ford Windsor blocks, the 5.0 and 5.8. I also know that some use the FE blocks, like the original 427 side oilers($$$), 390s, 428s. The 385 series, 429 and 460, are also used. Quite a few builders put in stroker 460s and push well over 500 inches and 500 hp. In fact I have a 429 I was going to rebuild and put into the car, but the rest of the deal was a budget buster. Rebuild w/aluminum heads, pistons, bell housing, transmission, clutch, etc. came close to $6K alone.

Newer cars can swallow the SOHc and DOHC modular motors. Just tell them what you want to drop in between the frame rails. Supercharged Cobra motors are used frequently, sound real nasty when pushing the loud pedal. Dimension wise, these are very large motors, mostly due to the width across the OHC valve covers.

And then there a few more that prefer big and small block Chevy and Chrysler power, even the new and old HEMI. To each his own. Not all makes are supported by the factory due to difficulty in the manufacture/set up for all the differing motor mounts and so on.

I have my doubts as to street time and and reliability for those high power cars, never mind trying to insure them. You can insure them through specialty companies, but the mileage restrictions and so on can be very restrictive. I'm a firm believer in the KISS Principle, Keep It Simple Stupid.

02-11-2007, 10:31 PM
Those engines are super huge! That car must really haul.

How do they register such cars? Are they classics or just regular vehicles? Do they have any problems getting past emission inspections?

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-12-2007, 09:31 AM
Getting the car registered and inspected varies by state. *In Maine you have a couple of options for registering. *You can register the car as a "Custom Vehicle" or the typical menu of regular plates. *The only real distinction I believe, but I can't get my hands on the section, is restrictions in using the car too much if registered as a custom. *Regular registration has no such effect.

You need to have the MCO, Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin, bills of sale for all parts, and so on. *BMV will get you in touch with an investigator and eventually you will have a VIN assigned to the car and then a title. *It may well be the one the manufacturer used for internal purposes.

The car is still subject to an annual inspection up here, but the only sticking point is the use of cats in the exhaust system if the year of the engine you are using came with them. The air injection system may or may not be required. *Didn't see where it was required last time I checked it out.

02-12-2007, 01:36 PM
How big of a shop do you need to put this together? I am thinking at least 2 bays? You must have a ton of parts all over!

Do you have to do any welding on this project? Were there any steps that you got stuck on that the average person might need to call in professional help with?

It must be fun http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-12-2007, 03:50 PM
The garage is 26 by 30 deep. *One side is mostly taken up by the project. *Boxes of stuff that will come out as I need them are at the back of the garage. *Not as bad as it sounds as quite a few of the bulky parts are on the car already. *I have the body sitting outside on a buck. *I was going to hang it from the ceiling, but I made the buck instead as it was easier to do.

There is no welding as the frame is welded up at the factory in a jig. *Some assemblers will do some minor surgury on the frame in the area of the brake master cyclinder to make room for a power booster. *Power brakes really aren't need as the car weights less than 2K lbs. wet. *Stock brakes work just fine for the Mustang, now take 1300 lbs of weight out of the equation and you see what I mean.

The only piece I needed some help with was putting in the new ring gear. *Needed access to a hydraulic press and some specialized tools to get it all right. *Its not an easy job for even an experienced mechanic. *Took me and an professionsl mechanic a little over 6 hours to get it right. *Had to keep taking it apart and readjusting shims and so forth to get the gear pattern correct. *Then the axles wouldn't go in enough to get the pin in. *Forgot to adjust the thickness of the clutch pack in the limited slip. *Out it came again, had to take the ring gear off the diff assembly, adjust the clutch packs, put the ring gear back on. *Of course we had to make more shim adjustments for the final fit. *Next time I would gladly farm it out, no matter what the price.

Painting of some things was farmed out as I don't like to paint. *I did help with the blasting to prep for it.

I took the transmission to a shop to check it over before I stuck it in the car. *Good thing I did as it had some wear issues that would have caused failure within a thousand miles or so. *They set me up right with a shop in NH that rebuilds T-5s so I bought one from them and gave them the core.

The only fitting problems were the upper rear control arms bushings on the top of the axle as I had to press them out a ways in order to line everything up to avoid binding. *Had a friend help line it up and attach the arms while I bench pressed it into position. *Sounds worse than it was.

The aluminim panels do double duty as they take shear strain to help stiffen the frame. *Some of the edges have to be snipped in order to get a good fit. Cleko pins help tremendously in mocking it all up.

Its alot of fun, just messy doing the disassembly and cleaning of parts. *Once I took apart the donor car, it was vey clear how the different modules all come together. *Just take it a step at a time, have a Mustang manual handy with plenty of diagrams and so on.

02-12-2007, 04:42 PM
That sounds like lots of work, I am sure it is fun.

The thing I wonder about is, tv is just chock full of all these vehicle make over shows. Where is a half hour Chip Foose can break down a car to the frame, rebuild it amd put it all together again looking fantastic.

How often are do-it-yourselfers buying these car packages and getting themselves way in over their heads? I can imagine it happening a lot.

I wonder if there are a lot of these kits put up for sale a few hours into them because the owner just had no idea how complicated it was going to be.

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-13-2007, 12:37 AM
It does happen that guys who have some money burning a hole in their pocket buy them thinking they can emulate the TV shows and have the car up and running in no time and then drive around with the trophy wife/girlriend riding shotgun.

Most grew up in the era of the muscle cars, which are now worth some serious $$$ thanks to Barrett Jackson. *They're smart enough to realize they really can't drive those cars as they get too valuable. *So the next best thing is to build your own, a clone if you will. *

Trouble is its been decades since they worked on their own cars and have forgotten just how dirty and frustrated they can get wrenching and reconditioning stuff. *The outlay for tools can get real expensive if they think they need Snap On or other high end tools. *Most keep plugging away on their own, some farm out the majority of the work, some pay for a turnkey, others give up and sell out at a loss. *

I retreived a partly built car from Long Island, NY a few years back so it could be finished at the dealer's shop up here. *We ended up stripping out all the wiring as the owner truly messed it all up. *When we hooked up the battery to start tracing wires, things got smokey in a hurry. *Incorrect or no torque applied to nuts and bolts was another problem. *He was an executive of a clothing company in Manhatten with about as much patience as a shark in a feeding frenzy. *At least he admitted defeat.

The unfinished cars are hard to find as they are seldom advertised. *A friend or somebody else close to the owner will scoff it up.

02-13-2007, 01:26 PM
What other kit cars would you love to build?

Which would be your dream?

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-14-2007, 12:09 AM
Two cars come to mind. A real nasty '34 Ford 3 window w/o fenders, and a Tornado Sports Cars TS-40 which is a replica of a 1966 Ford GT-40, the basis of the recent Ford GT. Its made in England.

Check it out at www.tornadosportscars.com

That would be about it!

02-14-2007, 12:37 PM


This looks amazing too!

I think the price is around $40,000.