The VAE Mobile Museum & Classroom Vision

Started with a seed of an idea to “have our own museum”. During one of the discussions Gene Fodor spoke of a car club in New Jersey that has a “Museum on Wheels”. It was the Vintage Automobile Museum in Beachwood, N.J. (they are the folks whose museum was devastated by Hurricane Sandy just a few days after their grand opening). The idea started a chain of events that started with looking at everything from step vans to even fifty-cent tours of the UPS trucks you see driving around town. Gael Boardman was the chairman of the VAAS Board at the time and probably mentioned the exciting idea a few times at home when his son Owen happened to find a Bluebird bus for sale in the Plattsburg, NY area.

Thus, the picture you see here and on our Wheel Tracks front page. The VAE membership voted to purchase the bus at last November’s annual meeting and the journey was started!

The bus found it’s first temporary home at Duane and Marnita Leach’s home in Fairfax and then after leaving it’s mark (huge ruts in the Leach front yard) it made it’s way to Vermont Technical College to get a “look over” at the school’s auto tech garage. After a few repairs at VTC it moved to Tom Mchugh’s yard for a while and currently it is parked at Wendell and Mary Noble’s home. In the few short months since the VAE has owned the bus it has been cleaned up very nicely, some signs have been made for it’s exterior and some display cabinets have been installed. A tow hitch has also been installed if an old car needs a trailer ride to a classroom event.

It’s first big outing was at the Stowe Car Show where you might have seen it proudly parked by the front gate. It was open to the public in it’s “beginning form” for all to see and to share their vision of how we might proceed in our mobile museum and classroom project. Some visitors thought there should be lunch pails and books around, others thought we should have a gift shop and ice cream bar inside. Another was that we should have videos of past parades and car shows to view. Some advice on outside painting was to leave the yellow and paint the lower area green. Another idea was to do the outside in a vinyl wrap with old cars and car parts.

So now how does the ‘mobile museum project’ go forward? As you can see there are some great ideas and if you have been around the block a few times you know those ideas will give birth to other great ideas. A discussion with a Vermont career center auto tech instructor said it all. When he was told about our plans and how we could someday roll into his facility pulling a trailer with an antique car prepared to show his class “how they did it back then”. His response was that we could have his classroom as long as we would like. During the seventeen Golden Wrench Award presentations this year we met many top notch high school juniors and seniors with amazing abilities. One wonders if being exposed to our hobby if some of those students might get into the lucrative world of restoration?

Now we have to throttle back to the one-step-at-a-time pace. Where will our museum be parked, what color will it be, how will the inside be arranged to best serve our needs, who will drive it through the hills of Vermont?

Mobile MuseumHow do we raise the funds to complete our mobile museum? Checking with our treasurer there have been about $3000.00 contributed to date. You will soon have your chance to throw a few coins into the contribution pot. A fund raising campaign is being prepared as we speak.

If you would like to write a check today just write it to the:

VAAS
c/o Dick Wheatley
PO Box 180
Underhill, VT 05489

(Oh, by the way, you can write your contribution off on your taxes.)

White Kress Fire Truck

Tom Mclays’ White Kress Fire Truck

White Kress Fire TruckI first discovered the fire truck in 1974 in a shed in Washington, Vermont. It belonged to Frank Bushey, a school teacher from Bloomfield, Conn. Frank had purchased it to use in his Gremlin Camp for Young Boys. Instead it had rested in the shed for 23 years. I had surveyed and designed a pond for Frank at the time. A couple years later I was working on two more ponds in Orange and Washington and I stopped to visit with Frank while traveling by. I inquired when he was going to get the fire truck out and get it running? His answer.. “I’m going to sell it”. I agonized for a couple days and much to my wife, Shirley’s objections I bought it….I still loved her though . The date July 29, 1976. When I went to bring the truck home Frank said he would get the headlights. He had hidden them in a closet under a pile of house-hold goods, so as he said, “old man Miller couldn’t steal them” (A K Miller the Stutz man lived a mile away.) The lights were Gray and Da-vis 1912-13 Cadillac brass. My son, Tim, and I towed it home and began working on it. We tinkered on the motor and had it running in short order. Then began the process of restoring it. We disassembled the body, fenders and sand blasted everything. It was painted and put back together. As fate would have it, the fire chief from East Berkshire, Norm Lavallee, was at the Middlesex Fire Equipment where Tim worked at the time and he mentioned I had their first fire truck. Norm looked up some old pictures of the truck and told me to come up and we could search in the old fire house. We found most all of the old brass rails and fittings that had been taken off the truck when they sold it. What a discovery!!

Each summer Shirley and I would vacation in Maine. In my inquiries about White Kress Fire trucks I was referred to Harold Walker in Marblehead, Mass. Harold knew all the fire departments in Maine that had White Kress trucks and sent me the list. So each year we traveled to different locations and visited with the fire departments. Finally information came out that the truck came from Augusta. With that in hand we came up with old pictures of the truck. The folks in Augusta believe it was their first motorized fire truck.

It was fun to search and find missing pieces for the truck. The hose bracket came from an old Plainfield fire truck. The siren came from Roxbury. I found lanterns and nozzles at flea markets. A good friend from Suncook, NH sold me the lantern brackets I needed.

The steering wheel was an interesting event. When stored under the high drive** to the barn a beam broke one winter and fell across the steering wheel and dash board breaking the wheel into eleven pieces and gouging out a part of the dash. Frank had saved all the pieces of the wheel and I had them welded back together. When it came time to reassemble the wood parts of the wheel I found one was missing. For some reason I was looking over mechanical parts and there was the missing piece on the inside web of the frame. Talk about luck!

The truck is now back in Augusta Maine. I donated it to the Fire Department. I know it’s in a good home and will be well taken care of. I still miss it when I walk into the garage but it was more than I could handle at my age.

* Tom’s Pumper is the 2nd from the left pictured here in it’s early home in Augusta, Maine
** Some folks in Vermont call a ‘high drive’ a ‘wharfing’….it’s the ramp where one would drive a load of hay into the barn “hay mow”. The Picture at the top is of the Hartford Fire Station in Augusta, Maine early in the fire trucks history.

1928 Ford AA Dump Truck

The 1928 Ford AA Dump Truck“Don Adams’ Doodlebug”

These are some possibilities that Don Adams would not have his Doodlebug parked in his garage today…

  1. That our Vermonter Calvin Coolidge had not left a nice ‘surplus’ in our U.S. Treasury when he left his presidency in 1929.
  2. That our Washington politicians had not voted to give ‘war bonuses’ to all of our veterans returning from WW1 and then reneged on their promise.
  3. That our stock market crashed in 1929 and the ‘Great Depression’ took up most of the 1930s.
  4. The November 1927 flood did so much damage, especially in the Winooski River watershed area in central Vermont.

    Don Adams bought his Doodlebug from his brother-in-law, Bob Rowe of Montpelier, in 2008. Bob had done a lot of work on the vehi-cle since he purchased it in 2003. The story goes that the vehicle was purchased by a Cuttingsville gent at a government auction after the Waterbury dam was completed in 1938. The Cuttingsville gent bought a number of the construction dump trucks but they were in such bad condition he made Doodlebugs out of them. Doodlebugs at the time were used by many farmers to replace horses. You can see an ad on page 12 where for only $195 you could buy a “Staude Make-a-tractor” kit and plow with your Ford the next day!

    Don’s Doodlebug was made from a 1928 Ford AA one and one half ton dump truck (serial # AA65814). It has 40 Hp, a 4 speed transmission and very stiff suspension. No one knows when this truck was put to work on dam construction but we do know there were three dams involved and 184 dump trucks were leased by the Corps of Engineers when the first dam construction started in 1933. The first dam to be built was the East Barre Dam, the 2nd was the Wrightsville Dam and the last was the Waterbury Dam. When did Don’s AA start work…we don’t know, but we do know that between 1933 and 1938 some 4 million yards of material was hauled to build these dams. A lot of trips for trucks with a 4 yard capacity!

    So….“who” built these three dams? Most everyone thinks they were built by ‘civilians’ in the Civilian Conservation Corp. Very few ’civilian’ were involved, but instead were veterans from WW1. When the veterans started returning from the war they started lining up to get their promised “war bonuses” but there were none. The politicians had disappeared with the promise and the bonus. Coolidge had built a fairly nice treasury surplus during his time as president and the Congress and Senate spent much of their time figuring ways to spend it to make votes. The mi-nute Coolidge left, the war bonus was passed with much funfair. When a large group of war vets marched on Washington in 1932 for their war bonuses they were ’run off’ causing much embarrassment to the folks in power. The next year President Roosevelt decided to allow these older vets into the CCC which was designed to put young non-vets to work. Some 25,000 (out of the 4 million) WW1 veterans were allowed into the CCCs to earn a living. A very large group of these veterans came to Vermont from all over the United States to live in CCC camps and work on the dam construction. Vermonters of-ten made comments about how lucky they were to have these ’older’ vets in the work camp instead of ’young rowdy’s that many other states had to deal with. In fact over the five years that some 15,000 war vets came and went in the camps, other than some public drunk-enness there was only one crime reported. A prize chicken was stolen in the Barre area and blamed on someone in the camps.

    When construction began there were very few mechanized vehicles to help do the work. Some 2500 men used axes, shovels, picks, grub-hoes, bars, sledges, drills and 600 wheelbarrows to do the work. Then came the 184 dump trucks, 16 steam shovels, 4 draglines, the bulldozers and the huge cement rollers to pack the earth. All three dams are packed earth structures with Waterbury having the largest in the country at the time. Most of the men had wives and kids at home and they were able to make a living during the terrible depression. The dams were built be-cause of the 27 flood devastation and the decision to bring in the war vets. You wonder how many families survived the depression because of Don Adams’ Doodlebug…

    (From the editor, some depression and CCC facts vary depending on the publication)

1926 Buick

The St. Albans Fire Chief’s 26 Buick is found!

Alden ChapmanIf you remember, Wheel Tracks had a really nice story about a fire truck from St. Albans, VT that was turned into a ‘Speedster’ back in the February issue. A question was simply asked at the end about the car in the picture that was “the fire chief’s car. “What make and year is the car?”

Well, did that go places! There were a number of calls from folks who claimed the car was a 27 Buick, just like a few of the guesses that had come in earlier.
Then a call came in from this gent pictured to the right, Alden Chapman of South Barre. Alden is the famous VAE member who has a lifetime collection of over 2000 diecast cars. You might remember a short article about his collection in the August 2011 issue of Wheel Tracks. He confirmed the chief’s car was a 26 Buick Roadster and told me a little about it being re-stored some 43 years ago. His last comment was the Buick was stored in a garage and he knew where!

Greg SabensThe Buick is owned today by Sue and Greg Sabens and the “garage” was just up the road from Alden’s home. Greg’s Dad, Dell, had purchased it from Charlie Arnholm on August 12th 1965, Charlie was a longtime VAE member and club president in 1961. A meeting was set up and Jim Sears and I went South to find this garage. You can see the garage on the front page with the Buick looking out from the shadows. As it turned out, the gar-age is at the home of Dell’s wife, Helen, who was the person who did all the leather and fabric work for the Buick restoration. The family lost Dell some fifteen years ago, but it was easy for us to know a little about him from seeing his part of the loving restoration on this car. Charlie Arnholm was known for his great abilities with the pin-striping brush and the Buick carries some of his work. Charlie Arnholm was also the second
owner of the Boardman/Teachout Speedster.

Greg told us with pride how his Dad won the Governor’s Award at the 1970 Stowe Car Show and how Governor Davis presented the award to his father, Dell.

Greg and Sue became the new owners in 1998 and he speaks of the many trips he has made to the Stowe Show since then….and some of the repairs he has made on the 86 year-old car. From our conversation, I think he knows a thing or two about how to keep this roadster on the road.

There were over 255,000 Buicks built in 1927 and around 10,000 of them were coupes like this one. Around 12,000 Country Club Coupes were also made. They had 207 cu. inch engines that produced 63 HP and average cost was $1100.00.

In trying to make a 100% connection between this Buick and the St. Albans Fire Department, I asked Greg haw he knew it was the Buick in the fire station picture. The Buick part, we know is correct and the 1927 part is also correct. The positive connection with the fire house was made from the fact that the “St. Albans Fire Department” logo was still on the car’s doors when Dell brought the car home.
There are two remaining mysteries and we would like to hear from you if you have any information……

  1. When and who was the Buick sold to when it left the St. Albans FD, and how did it spend it’s time before 1965?
  2. Where is the Boardman/Teachout Speedster? Where did it go when Charlie Arnholm sold it?

1917 Studebaker Tour Car Changes VAE Homes

From a home in the Great Northeast Kingdom To The Champlain Valley…

1917 StudebakerJanuary 20th, 2013 was a cold and windy day in Greensboro Bend. Hundreds of Snow Rollers were poked up in the white fields around Dave and Dot Maunsell’s home on Cook Hill. Dot had prepared a great lunch while outside at times one could see only a few feet through the swilling snow, only the Champlain Valley folks seems to be amazed at the weather outside.

Four VAEers had made their way to Cook Hill to haul the 1917 Studebaker back to Milton. The car had spent the last 18 years in Dave Maunsell’s garage and driven frequently . Gene Towne of Milton had finally convinced Dave to sell him the car after many months of negotiations. Dave is pictured above on the left and Gene on the right. (unknown to all of us at the time…the two trailer tires you can see are flat! Try to picture some ole-guys taking turns replacing the air with a hand pump…yes you have it.)

A friend had told Dave about the car and in 1995 Dave and Pev Peake drove to Michigan to examine it. The car was mostly original and had very little wear. So Dave bought the car and had it hauled home. He and Gael Boardman put new rod bearings and piston pins into the engine. Gael knew of two sisters who did leather work, and they made a new leather band for the cone clutch. Otherwise, very little has been done to it. The interior leather is in good condition but the top is not useable. Gene said that will be his first priority, to find a shop to replace the top.

It is a fair weather car. It has a 16 gallon gasoline tank, a vacuum tank and takes six quarts of oil. The owner’s manual states the car will use about a quart of oil every 85 miles. It is capable of 50 miles an hour but with two wheel brakes, which are marginal and have never been replaced, 40 MPH is a safer speed today. The speed limits in 1917 were 25MPH on the highway and 10MPH in town.

One unique feature is that the front passenger seat can be flipped to face the rear passengers. Another is that there are two ’jump seats’, with arm rests that can be used and then stored under the rear seats. The front seats are adjustable back and forth along with the clutch and brake pedals. It has a 6 cylinder engine with a monobloc (no remova-ble head) that produces 50HP. The car has a ‘transaxle’ type transmission where it is ‘married to the rear differential. It was sold new for $1075 in 1917.

In 1917, Studebaker was the largest man-ufacturer in the world of horse drawn equipment, wagons, buggies, gigs harness and the like. They got a contract in 1916 to supply the Allied Armies with their extensive horse drawn army equipment including the wooden caissons and wheel used for field artillery. With the end of the war in 1918, the company directors decided that automobiles were their fu-ture and ceased operation of all horse drawn equipment. They built a new mod-ern auto factory in South Bend, Indiana, where they remained until the end of 1964.

Have Buick Will Travel

Vin Cassidy 1915 Buick Tourer Vin Cassidy, the tale is told, purchased this 1915 Buick Tourer in Iowa last year (2011) but did not have the room to haul it back to his home-base in Rowley, Massachusetts. Vin and his family operate Cassidy Brothers Forge in Rowley where some very beautiful architectural wrought iron is manufactured. Along with running the sales department, Vin also buys and sells vintage auto parts throughout the U.S. If you are ever in his neighbor-hood you really need to stop by and tour the many garages and containers of old car parts in the rear of the forge business. Many VAE members have bought some of Vin’s treasures at surprisingly low prices.
Now back to the tale and travels of Vin’s Buick…. Earlier this year Vin returned to Iowa and hauled his Buick home. Then in August, deep inside of our Stowe Car Show vendor area we could all hear an engine cough a couple of times then take off with a bang or two. It was Vin’s 1915 Buick looking about what it looks like in the picture to the left. Someone could be seen stand on the trailer feeding fuel to the engine and working the carbure-tor….Vins Buick had arrived in Stowe! No one at the show was interested in buying the car so Vin hauled it back home. During the return trip one of the doors fell off requiring Vin to back-track to Stowe looking for it. This reporter forgot to ask Vin if he found it so you can ask when you see him next.

1915 Buick TourerFast-forward to the Fall Hershey Car Show…. And guess what is making it’s appearance? ….The 1915 Buick sitting rather lost on it’s trailer! About the second day of the show some ‘higher old-car power’ kicked in and yup you guessed it…a person from Iowa appeared and was interested in buying the Buick. It is told the Buick is now residing in Forest City, Iowa with a possible bright future.

Buick made around 42,000 cars in 1915, 19,080 of them were touring cars like Vin’s and the car pictured to the right. They were also still making carriages in 1915, in fact a completed carriage would come out of their factory every ten minutes, some 25,000 each year. The company started around 1850 as McLaughlin Carriage Company not far from Oshawa, Ontario and made it’s first automobile in 1907. In the beginning the cars were known as “McLaughlins”. Later the name changed to “Mclaughlin-Buick” then became simply “Buick” when the company became General Motors of Canada in 1915. Interestingly, until 1914 the cars were finished with the same paints and varnishes the company used on their carriages…some fifteen coats on every car.

 

Shelburne Area Tour

Showing our stuff at Shelburne Farms  Gael Boardman’s 1918 Locomobile

Lake Champlain  There was an international bicycle race in Burlington on the 18th of August with many roads closed to cars. That only meant the VAE had to get up earlier for our tour start at Wake Robin at 8:30AM. After a grand welcome and breakfast treats from the Wake Robin folks the tour started with many Wake Robin residents joining us. The tour included Shelburne Farms and a wonderful loop into Charlotte where we even found the ‘shortest covered bridge in the world’. The pictures will tell the rest of the story.Charlie Thompson doing “donuts” with his Whippet

Veteran Stowe Vendors

Stowe Show Vendors… here are four of the 250 who brought their wares to this year’s Show. What makes them so special? They have been coming to our show for nearly 40 years.

It was Chuck Haynes’ birthday on the 10th of August, the first day of the 2012 Stowe Car Show. It was also his 37th time coming to the Stowe Show to sell his wares. Chuck, pictured on the right, has been a long time VAE member and was president in 1970. He has seen many changes in our club and has helped guide the VAE to the great club that we are today. Chuck’s son, Paul (on the left) has plans to carry on when his dad decides to slow down.

Chuck specializes in Ford parts and has a 5000 sq. foot warehouse in Montpelier. He sells mainly on Ebay where he renews his listings every Friday, his Ebay handle is vtcarnut.

A car delivery in 1966 started him on his Ford journey. While working for a dealership in Haverhill, NH the owner sold a Model A to a customer in Chicago. The buyer wanted it ‘driven’ to Chicago to be sure the seller was telling the truth about the car and Chuck was chosen to make the 1000 mile drive. While driving through Detroit he decided to stop at the Ford plant with his Model A to see if he could get a fifty-cent tour. This led to a job offer and employment at Ford Motor Company. The big city and big business did not mix well with Chuck’s country background and he soon returned to New England where he was involved in many other adventures in his 68 years. Some of us might remember an auto parts store by the name of Daltons on Hoyt Street in St. Albans. The store opened in 1922 and closed in 2005….Chuck purchased the inventory and spent 14 months moving it all to his warehouse. Can you imagine visiting Chuck’s warehouse?


walter rodiman stowe showWalt Rodiman (left) became a Stowe Show vendor in 1976. A retired Air Force gent and a dealership parts man is most likely what led Walt into his vendor journey. In years past, Walt has spent his summer traveling to as many as 16 car shows. He claims the Stowe Car Show is one of the best. When asked why, he points to the people passing by and says “look at the big crowd and there are no fights…everyone is happy”. Walt has 6 spaces and makes three trips from Piermont, NH to fill them before the show…and full they are. It didn’t take long to discover that Walt ‘knows his parts and his cars’ as customers had all kinds of questions for him. It also didn’t take long to find that Walt is as honest as they come. Customers would have a part in their hands ready to purchase and Walt would be telling them they would be wasting their money by buying the item because it would not fit on their car. Walt has two sons, Michael and Wayne. We all hope his Stowe vendor tradition will continue another 36 years. When asked if he could do something better than the sober expression when his picture was taken he replied if we want him to smile we should wave a one hundred dollar bill in front of him. We all had a big laugh. Good luck to you Walter Rodiman.


denise labrecqueOur next feature vendor is Denise Labrecque from Lyndonville, Vermont. This might be the last Stowe Car Show for Denise unless her son Richard decides to continue. Denise and her husband Rene started coming to our show many years ago and some-times covered 20 others in one summer. Denise lost Rene seven years ago and thinks this might be her last year. She has continued these last seven years by loading her car with only what treasures she can lift and with a little help from her vendor neighbors, she has stayed in business. In fact her Stowe Show neighbors have become such good friends over the years they insist that she spend the nights with them. The only comment from them when asked was how great of a lady Denise is. We hope to see you next year Denise….you can’t quit now!


davey nadeauDavey Nadeau has never missed a Stowe Car Show and 2012 was no exception. Mr. Nadeau had been there to set up their booth but was not there on Saturday, he had driven home to Surry, NH to tend his two dogs. His son Bryan and grandson Davey II was holding the fort. This was the five-year-old’s second time at the show and he knew the ropes. A customer asked if they had a certain item and dad Bryan didn’t have a chance. Davey II yelled “I’ll get it dad…I’ll get it” and all dad could do was stand and watch. People would walk by the booth and yell to ask Davey how he was doing and he of course would run out to greet them. Dad said he knew everyone around. Davey II was all business until a little blond girl his age walked by with her parents. When she asked if she could have one of the display balloons a new race began, the little blond girl got 100% of his attention. Brian has been helping his dad Davey for many years and says the Stowe Show is one of their best. He said other shows charge much more and very few allow them to stay the night on the grounds. He said they had done very well so far into the weekend. Brian’s business when there are no vendor shows is restoring cars for resale. One last Davey II story…. During the interview dad Bryan started laughing and pointed out one of his son’s ways to start a conversation with strangers. He had just gone up to some passersby and asked if they had seen his father.
They of course were ready to help when he points toward Bryan then asked how they were doing.

1947 Hudson Big Boy

mervin wells hudson pickupWhen I called Mervin Wells to ask if I could feature his Hudson Big Boy Pickup for Wheel Tracks this month, all I knew was what is entered in our 2011 Roster. A couple of phone calls later and a visit to Marshfield and presto, I have met some of the nicest folks you can find in all of Vermont.
Merv and his wife Clara live in the Winooski River Valley just south of Marshfield in the farmhouse his folks had and where he grew up; a beautiful valley, even in the middle of winter without our normal snow. Merv is 90 years old and they have been married 67 years, he was a plumbing and heating specialist and Clara a bookkeeper at Goddard College for many years. Their daughter Betty claims the reason for her parent’s great health is Clara’s cooking skills, she has a degree in nutrition. Merv was a drummer in a band back in the 40s and even though Clara’s folks wanted her to “stay away from that drummer”, they finally did marry and raised a family of four boys and two girls, which has led to some 33 around the Thanksgiving table with 5 missing.

1947 hudson big boy pickupNow to the Hudson… Merv purchased the Big Boy in Florida 27 years ago from Ralph Adell. The truck needed a lot of work and restoration but Ralph told Merv he would have no problem driving it home to Vermont and that is what he did, with his son following behind. Years earlier Ralph had found the Hudson in a Connecticut woods and needed to clear trees that had grown up around the truck to get it out. Once the Big Boy was pulled out of the woods Ralph added a battery, gas and oil; started it with no problem and drove it to his home in Pennsylvania, a tribute to 262 flathead 6 cylinder engine. I also heard that engine running and some could say the sound could be close to music.

Merv has since painted the truck in the beautiful two tone grey that you see in the picture, reworked the wood and added many new parts including all new tires. Parades in the area have included Merv and his Big Boy for years but since a small stroke a few years ago has limited his use of the clutch, he has decided to sell. Someone will end up with quite a treasure and the day it leaves that valley, I am sure, will be a sad day. You will see the listing in the classifieds for the contact information.

It was a great pleasure to meet you Merv and Clara, I wonder if there is a day in the future when you could attend a club meeting.

1947 hudson pickup truck