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Just Another Day In Ireland

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Hey y'all!

I don't know how I've managed to keep this quiet for the week, but last weekend I went to a local car show. I saw a movie style General Lee and began talking to the man standing next to the car. It took me a minute to realise that I was talking to none other than Tom Sarmento. Yes that's Tom Sarmento as in the lead mechanic for the Dukes of Hazzard. We spent over an hour talking about stories and myths surrounding the cars and methodology the builders used back then.

That evening I messaged Hoss to see if he would like to meet up with Tom, as he's the only other Irish Dukes fan on HNet that I'm aware of. I also contacted Tom to see if he would like to do a recorded interview to help bust and confirm some of the stories surrounding the cars.

Fast forward to Friday evening now, and I got a text from Libby, a friend of Toms who lives about an hour north of Dublin and who Tom was staying with. She said Tom would love to do an interview, and if we could arrange to do it the next day that would be ideal.

Naturally I said yes, and quickly messaged Hoss inviting him along. I'll leave Hoss to tell his side of the story, including a surprise phone call, but let me put it to you this way. Hoss and I arrived at Libby's house roughly an hour apart at 1.30 and 2pm. We only planned to stay a few hours but somehow managed to leave at 8.30 that evening!

Anyway over to Hoss now!

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I only got the message late last night, and initially thought that it sounded like a long to go (I live more than twice as far away as CDoherty). Then, as the magnitude of the opportunity I'd be missing began to sink in, I decided to go.

Libby pretty much left us to it, and we spent several hours listening to Tom's great behind-the-scenes stories. There were stories about how stunts were done, how the cars were set up, stunts that went wrong, and the odd tidbit about the stars of the show.

Tom is such a nice guy, and really down-to-earth. I'd also like to thank Libby for opening her home to a pair of strangers.

As to the phone call, Tom's phone rang sometime between 6 and 7pm. I think CDoherty and I looked at each other in disbelief when we heard him greet the caller. It was none other than Don Pedro Colley aka. Sheriff Little, and he very generously let both of us speak to him. He also seems like a cool guy.

That leaves a lot of thanks for me to give: to Tom for his time, to Libby for letting us invade her house, to Don Pedro for talking to us, and to CDoherty for inviting me along - thanks to all of you :).

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That great! When I started reading I though "What in the world are CDoherty and Hoss doing in Ireland"? But then I saw your two locations were Ireland. I always thought you both lived in the UK. :oops::oops::oops:

CDoherty, you say a 'movie style' General Lee. I presume this is one from the 2005 movie?

Also, was the this first time you saw a General Lee or did you see one before?

What was Tom Sarmento doing in Ireland with a General Lee by the way? Did he really come from the USA just for the car show? I think there must have been more about it than that.

I don't think I express this right but you two really deserved it to meet Tom and hear Don Pedro.

Would you two mind to share some of the myths of the Dukes of Hazzard you've heard?

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That great! When I started reading I though "What in the world are CDoherty and Hoss doing in Ireland"? But then I saw your two locations were Ireland. I always thought you both lived in the UK. :oops::oops::oops:

I'm English and grew up in the UK, but have lived in Ireland for nearly 10 years.

Would you two mind to share some of the myths of the Dukes of Hazzard you've heard?

I'll have to leave CDoherty to answer your question about the General Lee because I didn't see it.

We discussed so much that I'll have to try and remember all the things that Tom said. I'll sure we'll be posting some of them, so watch this space :).

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I brought along my camera and recorded about half an hour of our conversation before it died.

Roth yes it was like one of the 2005 movie cars, and no I've seen maybe 7 General Lees at various car shows in Ireland.

I'm going to upload the video to my laptop later today, and aim to have it online by Wednesday, but the Internet connection where I am isn't the best so it could be a bit longer.

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  • 2 months later...

Ok ok ok I'm sorry I'm so slow! I intended to edit the video to have pictures and video clips over Tom's voice, but I could never manage to separate the audio from the video.

And then as if the plan couldn't go any worse.... my laptop crashed and I lost the video footage. Sorry everyone, I know you were all really looking forward to the video. Hopefully if Tom is over again next year I can record our interview again...

Haha just kidding!! Here's the youtube link to Tom's interview. Unfortunately youtube wouldn't let me upload the video as one, so I had to break it into three parts.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Tom Sarmento's Interview!

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

And once again thanks to the amazing Libby Tobin who let me and a Hoss, basically two complete strangers, invade her house for a Saturday.

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Thanks for posting these, CD. I was there, and I had already forgotten the story about the cows and coyotes :).

You'll have to help my recollections of some of the other stories, CD. I do remember that they had two Rolls Royces for filming '10 Million Dollar Sheriff', and ended up having to buy both cars after the stunt crew damaged them practicing skids.

Was it one of the early Cooter tow trucks that broke in half pulling a car out of a ditch? I think it might have been the blue and white Ford.

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Was it one of the early Cooter tow trucks that broke in half pulling a car out of a ditch? I think it might have been the blue and white Ford.

I had forgotten about the tow truck until you mentioned it now, and it's also reminded me of another story with a Jesse pickup an a General Lee.

Firstly though, the crew used the tow trucks mainly as props, but would sometimes use them to tow a car out at one of the ranches. They were in the middle of filming season one or two, and a car ( did Tom say it was a General Hoss? ) slid off the road into a dry creek. On this particular day instead of using the tractors at the ranch the crew decided to use Cooters tow truck, after all that's what it was built for right? Well as the crew hooked up the car to the truck and began to winch it up, the truck bed and rear of the frame separated from the cab and front of the frame. It turns out a previous owner had welded the cab and bed to the frame instead of using the factory bolts, and the welding and towing weakened the frame until it snapped in half.

And now onto the Jesse pickup and General Lee. As I'm sure some of you know the Mean Green Machine from Season 5 was built out of a wrecked Jesse pickup. And because the only time we see Uncle Jesse's truck wrecked is in Enos Strait to the Top we all naturally assume that the truck that rolled over went on to become the Mean Green Machine. However you'd be wrong.

One day during filming of the second half of Season 4, the crew were on lunch break out in Lake Sherwood. Corey Eubanks and I believe Russell Soelberg ( I'm almost certain that's spelt wrong ) were both sent out to find bales of hay and cattle for the afternoons filming. Russell took a Jesse pickup and went off to look for bales of hay, while Corey went off in a General Lee to find cattle. Neither of them thought to bring a radio with them, and as Lake Sherwood was private property, the two boys were able to break the speed limit.

Now what could possibly go wrong?

Well Corey and Russell both came round a corner from opposite sides and BANG!! Both the Jesse pickup and General Lee sustained heavy damage to the front, and were towed back to Tom Sarmento's shop on the ranch. Stunt coordinator and legend Paul Baxley was just returning from a mornings filming on location, and just happened to be passing Tom's shop when the cars were being towed back. Needless to say he wasn't very happy...

Tom told me and Hoss that the truck was repairable, and was nearly in the bodyshop when he and his team received the order to build the Mean Green Machine. To do this they simple cut away the bed, cab, hood, fenders... Everything besides the engine, drivetrain, steering and brakes were removed to allow the Mean Green Machine to be built. As you can imagine a cars engine gets quite hot. And you can probably imagine that a car without windows can get quite hot. Apparently the stuntmen hated driving the Mean Green Machine, because it didn't have a firewall and it didn't have proper windows, making it a sweat box.

Hoss do you remember Tom telling us about the second General Lee train jump?

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You fooled me at first. :(

Anyway, thank you so much for the interview! Most of it I already knew but some things were new. There were some times I couldn't understand what was being said and I missed the topic. :-?

It is funny that John Schneider said on the DVD that they used something for cleaning clothes on the wheels to make the tyres squeal and then Tom Sarmento says the engines were big enough for squealing itself.

Funny story with the cows like pooping into the cars. :rofl: But I don't understand what was in the barrels. I never heard of the stuff.

Now I finally understand why they changed to tan. :)

I still don't really understand why everyone had their own cars like. Wouldn't they be jumped anyway? Or is he talking about that every stuntman had their own slidecar?

And a 440 with Nitrous?!?! thats Insanity!

Also thanks for the extra info you added CD. :D

You say you couldn't upload the video in one piece, that's because its on of your first uploads. I could've uploaded it in one piece.

You wanted to add some pictures in the video but you couldn't gt the sound separated from the video? Thats cause you have to import it ones as sound and ones as video and then set the audio to the audio track instead of the normal video track. Bit hard but it doesn't really matter. Great to see the interview. :p

Anyway, are we going to see those pictures?

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You remembered far more details about the Jesse pickup/General Lee crash than I did :).

... and I believe Russell Soelberg ( I'm almost certain that's spelt wrong ) ...

*Russell Solberg.

Hoss do you remember Tom telling us about the second General Lee train jump?

I'm sure you remember the stuntman/stuntmen involved, but here's what I recall (if I'm not mixing up two stories). I seem to remember that they were filming another train jump, and the driver misjudged his speed and position on the ramp. The result was that the side-mounted camera (like the one visible in the Styx River jump) got knocked off, and the car jumped so far that none of the other cameras caught the landing.

Was that when Tom told us about the camera mounts? None of the cameras were mounted on cars using bolts, they were attached using powerful suction cups (were they Tom's idea?). Anyway, during one of the stunts (it may have been the one above) a camera fell off. The strength of the suction cup system was being questioned when Tom retreived the camera and pointed out that the suction cups were still firmly attached to a chunk of Bondo which had been used in a previous repair. Needless to say, they checked the integrity of cars more carefully after that incident.

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The second train jump General was previously owned by someone who removed the standard engine and replaced it with a custom 4 speed manual Ford engine. Apparently none of the stuntmen wanted to drive it because the jump equipment they used was so tight that they were unable to move much once they were strapped in, hence they couldn't change gear.

The stuntman that was going to do the jump was John Cade. He was hesitant about using the manual General, until Tom took him for a ride on the section of road they had closed off. The engine was so powerful that it was able to reach 90mph in second gear! This meant the team could strap John into the car, put it in second gear, and he could simply gun the engine.

During the test run a crew member saw the speed and power of the engine, and asked Tom if he would be able to have the engine and drivetrain from the wrecked car, after all it was going straight to the crusher anyway. Tom agreed, as it wasn't planned to be a huge jump and the engine and drivetrain would survive mostly intact.

Well as we all know from Hoss the camera hit the barrels at the side of the ramp which sent the car off coarse. The massive speed reached also meant that the slightest mistake at the ramp meant a huge difference in where the car would land. The car landed with such force that the bell housing split and crumpled, throwing bits of gears all over the road. The brakes also failed on landing, and in a true Dukes irony moment John crashed into the only telephone pole about half a mile down the road. Well when I say crashed into the telephone pole I mean T - boned the Sheriffs car the crew had parked in front of the pole in the unlikely event the car went that far off coarse and hit the pole.

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I was watching "The Boars Nest Bears" earlier and remembered another story Tom told us.

About midway through season 4 the crew learnt that Warner Brothers lease on Lake Sherwood wouldn't be renewed for season 5, as the land was to be sold and the lake drained. Tom and the stuntmen got together, and decided to try and find a ranch that they could buy and rent out to WB. They discovered Valencia Oaks Ranch, and naturally agreed to keep the deal secret from WB until they owned the ranch. I think Tom said they were going to buy the ranch for $1 million, which wasn't that big a deal divided up between the stuntmen because they were all earning good money.

They were literally days away from signing the papers for the ranch when WB found out, and promptly bought the ranch for $1.2 million!

Hoss do you remember any other stories that haven't been posted already about the ranch?

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