Chainsaw Graphics
I loved everything about your December '07 cover truck. That green is absolutely crazy. I like the two-tone black over the green, and I especially like the beltline graphics. They kind of look like the two colors were cut apart with a chainsaw or an out-of-control Sawzall.

I thought the hot-rod rake was excellent. The truck is still very low, but it's mean and low, not lowrider low. Those rear wheels are something else. That's about how much wheel you need to fill those huge wheelwells.

I have an '85 Chevy shortbed Fleetside on which I'd like to incorporate some of the mods found on Mike Cotten's truck. One item that I'd appreciate some information on is how the beltline graphics were done. They look both random and uniform at the same time. Can you tell me how they were done? Thanks.
Sumner Reva
via e-mail

Bring back that old-fashioned hot-rod stance. We were obviously taken by Mike's truck too, which is why it made the cover.

The beltline graphic is actually quite simple to do. Most painters will do the two-tone paint scheme first. Be sure that the two colors extend to approximately the middle of the graphic. Doing the graphic after the main paint allows more wiggle room for any possible mistakes.

If you look closely at the graphics, you'll notice that the main orange color has sharp edges. The peaks and angles are somewhat random, but they're done with straight pieces of masking tape. It's the yellow slashes/cuts/barbs that give the ragged, random look to the graphic.

The yellow lines were painted with pinstriping enamel. Even if you don't think you can pinstripe, you should be able to pull a 2-inch straight line. If you don't like a line, simply wipe it off. That's one of the great things about striping enamel: It's slow to dry.

If you don't think your hand is steady enough for even short lines, you can use two parallel pieces of masking tape as a guide. If you do it this way it will take much longer because you have to let intersecting lines dry before taping over them. If you still don't feel confident, hire a pinstriper. A simple job such as this shouldn't cost too much.

Mike used an airbrush to add little bursts of white pearl paint as highlights on some of the line intersections. These little "hot spots" need to be applied sparingly so as not to overpower the main design.

Jiminy Crickets
I recently replaced the alternator on my '91 Chevy S-10 equipped with the 4.3-liter V-6. My charging problems ceased with the new alternator, but now I hear a chirping noise coming from the front of the engine. The chirping gets louder when I rev the engine.

I didn't look real closely at the serpentine belt (I just loosened it enough to install the new alternator), but I'm pretty sure it was OK. Should I have installed a new belt? Did I do something wrong when I installed the alternator?

About six months before the alternator went bad I had to replace the water pump. I didn't have any chirping then or at least not any that was noticeable. This isn't a big deal, but it's one of those annoying problems that once you hear it you get more and more focused on it. Thanks for your help.
Shawn Watson
via e-mail

Check the alignment of all the drive pulleys contacted by the serpentine belt. One or more of them is most likely out of alignment. Maybe it's not totally flush against its mounting surface. When there is pulley misalignment, belt vibration or chirping can result. The misaligned V-belt makes initial contact with only one side of the pulley's V-groove. The greater the misalignment (or if several pulleys are out of whack), the more sliding that's experienced by the belt ribs as they try to seat in the V-grooves. That makes more friction and more chirping.

You probably did something a little differently when you installed the new alternator. It's too late now, but it would have been a good idea to compare the pulley location and mounting hardware of the old alternator with the new one before you returned the old alternator for the core charge.