A 1949 Indian Roadmaster makes it back on the road.

With a little help from Wendell Noble and an assist from Fred Gonet

For as long as I have known him, my friend and neighbor, Dallan Baker, has owned an all original 1948 Indian Roadmaster motorcycle. That’s at least 30 years and I only recall seeing him ride it once. When he recently mentioned that he wanted to sell, I found it merely interesting. I’m not a motorcycle guy so the thought of buying it didn’t immediately spring to mind. I did ride a little motorcycle briefly in the ‘70s but I gave it up. Unfortunately, I was going around a corner at the time. However, the idea of owning this wonderful piece of motoring history did gnaw at me. I finally made him an offer which I thought was reasonable and better than any offer he had had at the time. We are both very happy with the results.

1949 indian roadmaster motorcycleIt’s great to acquire something like that which comes with plenty of provenience information. The first owner, who bought it new in the Springfield, Vermont area, put 194 miles on it before he took a spill and then put it in his bedroom for the next 10 years. Dallan, who was 18 at the time, bought it from the deceased owner’s estate in 1958. He rode it regularly until he went into the service a couple of years later. We don’t know the actual amount of mileage on it now because the speedometer drive gear has been broken for a while. The odometer now reads 5,413 miles. Owning it is one thing, learning to ride it is another. Wendell Noble

Editor’s notes…… A nice phone conversation with Dallan Baker uncovered a few other details in the life of this Indian. Asked if he had ever taken a spill on the bike, Dallan recalled a day when he was a passenger while his cousin was slowing down on wet pavement to enter his driveway. A little too much rear brake was applied and they went down. He recalled how his cousin jumped up, pulled the bike back on its tires and quickly pushed the Indian into the garage. All the time leaving Dallan lying, unhurt, in the middle of the road. He guessed he might have put 15,000 miles on the bike, with his longest ride being the 300 miles from Arlington to Essex and back one day many years ago. He had done very little to the bike during the time he owned it. The seat was changed to allow room for a passenger. Before that, the passenger sat on a blanket on the fender rack with one foot resting on the kick starter and the other on a part of the frame….that was where he was when his cousin hit the rear brake too heavy. He also said because the bike had sat for 10 years when he bought it, the engine compression was very low. He had the engine overhauled with new rings and etc.

Dallan Baker's 1949 indian roadmasterAnd where does VAE’er Fred Gonet of Proctorsville fit into all this? Soon after Wen-dell purchased the Indian, Fred got word and was anxious to make his way North to see it…..he has this huge “thing” for Indian motorcycles. In the mean time Wendell and Dal-lan had spent some time unsuccessfully getting the bike to run. Fred did come North and found the main culprit was a bum condenser and the bike was soon making it’s beautiful sound.

The bike controls are…. Left hand throttle, right hand spark, left foot clutch and right foot brake. When asked, Fred explained how to stop at an intersection with your left foot occupied and not tip over. It goes like this….You hold the brake with your right foot, the clutch with you left foot and keep the bike from tipping over with your

1948 indian roadmasterThe Indian Chief, built in Springfield, Massachusetts by the Hendee Manufacturing Co. and the subsequent Indian Motocycle Co. from 1922 to the end of the company’s production in 1953.

The Chief was Indian’s “big twin”, a larger, more powerful motorcycle than the more agile Scout used in competition and sport riding.

Engine is a four-stroke 42 degree V-twin, 1210 cc, 40HP. Top speed 85MPH.

Transmission, 3-speed hand shift, chain final drive.

Suspension, girder fork, weight 550 lbs., fuel capacity 3.7 gal., new price, $800 without sidecar.

John Johnson’s Pro Street 1967 Camaro SS

john johnson 67 camaro ssA few in the VAE have heard about John Johnson and his Mountain View Auto Body & Sign company in Sheldon, Vermont.

If you see the logos on our show trailers, they were made in John’s shop. There are also some beautiful member vehicles that have departed John’s shop ready for the show field.

67 camaro ss pro street supercharged engineThis ’67 Camaro had been a “full dragster” in its earlier life. A quarter mile in the 9 seconds comes out about 150 MPH, and this Camaro had a reputation of beating most anything that wanted to go up against it. John says the car was showing its bumps and bruises when it came to him in 2005. A worn out paint job, a weird painted figure on its side and fist-bumps on its roof where maybe the former owner was teaching the SS to behave…. It also had no engine or firewall and the inside was gutted. You can see in these pictures what John has accomplished. His attention to detail is abundantly clear, all the way to the 100 hours that was spent to redo the hood into exactly what he wanted.

Superchargers were originally built for aircraft during WWII. Essentially, it is a large pump that compresses air and forces it into the engine’s air intake resulting in a horse power I increase of 50 to 100 percent. John has a supercharger that produces 9 pounds of boost on top of his 502 Chevy engine and when he wants to, he can produce HPs in the 700 range. Having a supercharger means it will not affect the engine’s reliability, longevity, or fuel economy under normal driving conditions but when you want to press your right foot down, all hell is let loose! Wheel Tracks has just learned about the term “Pro-street”. John’s Camaro is street legal and at the same time if he wants to do “some screaming”… the car is ready and willing. A “double barrel shot gun” is what they call the supercharger air intake that you see on top of the engine, another one of those terms an old antique Dodge and Franklin guy might never use.

67 camaro ss pro street interiorThe SS was about a two year project from ‘05 to ‘07 and John can still show you items he wants to add or change. To allow the engine to be as low as possible the mounts were special made. A Dano 60 rear-end was installed along with a whole new rear suspension system to accommodate the extra power. The paint job is a work of art, and all one can imagine is all the work unseen, when you walk up to a car like this……and the work continues.

There is a possibility we will see this Camaro at the VAE/Shelburne Car Show on Father’s Day Weekend. Another Camaro that has come out of John’s shop is the one you see on Wheel Tracks (page 16), the McDermott Camaro. Mark “Blue” McDermott will have his beauty at the show along with many others that have been invited. We see these wonderful ‘finished’ automobiles, and Ernie Clerihew & Don Perdue, hopefully, will have a surprise for us at the Shelburne show. The show’s co-chairs have found a true “barn find” ’67 Camaro for the show that will demonstrate the amount of work involved when we use the word “restoration”.

1967 camaro ss tail

1930 Ford Model A “Tudor”

Does anyone know why Henry Ford decided to call this Model A a “Tudor“? Read on for a couple of theories…

Don Pierce's 1930 ford model a tudorDonald and Anne Pierce found this 1930 Ford Model A in the 2015 VAE car show “Car Corral”. The purchase took them back another 25 years, toward the beginning of the auto era for them. Their oldest at that point was their ’55 Dodge panel Truck. Don’s Model A was restored by John and Chris Center of West Rutland in the 1980s. Don purchased the car from Bill Pinkham of Monroe, New Hampshire. He had wanted an older vehicle and is very happy with his Ford choice. It’s a very reliable car, he says.

The Ford Model A was the second huge success for the Ford Motor Company, after its predecessor, the Model T. First produced on October 20, 1927, but not sold until December 2, it replaced the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years. This new Model A (a previous model had used the name in 1903-04) was designated a 1928 model and was available in four standard colors.

1930 ford model a tudorBy February 1929, one million Model As had been sold, and by July 24th, two million. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at $500 (in grey, green, or black) to the Town Car with a dual cowl at $1200. In March 1930, Model A sales hit three million, and there were nine body styles available.

Model A production ended in March, 1932, after 4,858,644 had been made in all body styles. Its successor was the Model B, which featured an updated 4-cylinder engine, as well as the Model 18, which introduced Ford’s new flathead (sidevalve) V8 engine.

There were 376,271 Tudors built in 1930. They weigh 2348 pounds and the L-head 4-cylinder engine produces 40 brake horsepower at 2200RPM (rated horsepower is 24)… see footnote.

1930 ford model a tudorDon is our VAE treasurer and in his spare time operates three businesses. There is Melody Electric, his residential company and Middlesex Electric, his commercial electric company and finally Kerin’s Sign Service. Don started his electrician career in 1973 as an apprentice and got his journeyman’s license in 1977 and his master electrician’s license in 1979. In 1983 he started his own business. Don’s wife, Anne, is in her 28th year as a court reporter in the federal court house in Burlington. Wheel Tracks was told Anne has not driven the Model A yet, maybe we will see her driving it at one of our events this summer…

Footnote… What is the difference between rated horsepower (HP) and brake horsepower (BHP)?

Horsepower was figured “back in the day” when, mostly, four legged creatures were used.

Invented by James Watt, one horsepower originally was measured by the amount of work, that a horse lifting coal out of a coal mine, could do in a minute. Back then, one HP equated to 33,000 foot-pounds.

So, what is BHP? Well, if you take all the items off the car that the engine needs to power, like the transmission, the water pump, the generator… everything , you have an engine with no work to do and all kinds of extra power. That is brake horsepower.

This Model A Ford needs 16 of its horsepower, out of the 40 HP it produces… just to sit and idle.

You pick… Henry Ford used the Tudor name because…

  1. The House of Tudor, the royal house of Welsh and English origin, descended in the male line from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland from 1485 until 1603. Henry Ford thought that was cool.
  2. It was a marketing ploy. Manufacturers had pet names for different body styles. The model T touring car became a phaeton on the model A. It sounds better. The tudor (2-door) and fordor (4-door) were marketing terms designed to stick in the minds of the public.

Ric & Donna Venner’s 1950 Chevrolet Deluxe Project

1950 chevy deluxe trunkRic is a retired Westfalia engineer where he spent much of his time installing and fixing the German company’s milk separators throughout Germany and the U.S. These were fantastic machines that could separate 100s of thousands of pounds of milk per hour. Donna is also retired after a career of working in medical administration. They are a great couple and their lives in Barre, Vermont seems right out of the “supposed-to-be” book. Ric falling on the ice recently, resulting in a head injury was not supposed to be and Donna discovering breast cancer last year was not supposed to be either; but guess what, they are doing fine… together. Donna swears by early regular mammograms and believes that is why she has beaten the disease. Ric has the Vet hospital in White River watching over him and is looking forward to being OK soon.

1950 chevy deluxe interiorThe ’50 Chev came into their lives about 5 years ago, purchased from a gent in Corinth, VT. A switch to 12 volts and some re-wiring has been done along with some rust damage work as you can see in the be-fore and after pictures to the right. You might also see a couple of other changes if you look sharp. The “three-on-the-tree” is missing and there is a stick coming out of the floor. Ric found the floor shift kit from a company called “Mr. Gasket”. You might also pick up something else that GM had nothing to do with… Bucket leather seats, front and rear! Ric found the seats in a 2002 Grand Cherokee Jeep and could not resist. He even has the electric seat controls working.

1950 chevrolet deluxe interior restorationHow many of us know the “real” name of the rope that goes across the back of the front seats of these early cars? Many of us think those ropes were there to help us pull our butts out of the back seats – NO. When talking of the old seats being taken out of the Chevrolet, Donna added that she missed the “blanket rope” that was there. Donna said she learned that term from her Grandfather many years ago.

The car could be driven very nicely when they first purchased it, in fact a number of miles were put on the vehicle that reached above 50 MPH. All the time there was an odd noise that Ric believed was some small detail that needed tending. Like all Chevys from 1929 to 1954 they had “torque tubes” where the rotating drive-shaft between the transmission and the rear-end was all incased in a tube that did not rotate. Ric found the “odd noise” was actually a totally disconnected U-joint that somehow was still doing its job. In fact, after replacing the warn bolts the original U-joint has continued to do its job. There are still things that need to be completed on the Deluxe Chevy including a new paint job. Ric has told Wheel Tracks he will send a picture when the new paint is on.

The Chevrolet Deluxe was a trim line of Chevrolet automobiles, marketed from 1941 to 1952. Ric and Donna’s Deluxe has the 216.5CID “Thrift-Master” engine that produces 92hp. It has a 3-speed transmission, a wheel base of 115 inches and weighs 3150 pounds. The average cost new was $1700.00 when gasoline was $0.27 per gallon. GM claims they produced 1,236,778 of the Deluxe models in 1950.

 

Richard & Roxie Kerr and their 1951 “Cab Over” Dodge

Why would Richard Kerr want a two ton Dodge truck?

1951 dodge 2-ton interiorYup, you guessed it… he has been a truck driver since he was nineteen years old and that is what makes him happy. He found the truck about 20 years ago, so the restoration has been a long haul for him. Richard works 10 to 12 hour days, for the past 26 years for ABF in the Burlington area, so he has had to farm a lot of the work out. He also claims he is not a mechanic but there is evidence in his garage that he might be more of a mechanic than he claims. They are a ‘trucking’ family, as Roxie works for FedX in the office in Burlington. She also has her antique ride sitting in the garage…a really nice MGB.

1951 dodge COE restorationThe truck engine, transmission and rear-end have all been taken apart and rebuilt when needed. The body was taken down to the bare metal before repainting this beautiful green. It is a very impressive eye-catching vehicle. Richard built the flat-bed wood body in his shop and as you can see, he did a great job. The truck has a 238 Dodge Six engine with a 4-speed transmission and a single speed rear-end with a weight capacity of 2 tons. It has 27,915 miles registered on its odometer. Some call this type of truck a “COE” meaning Cab-over-engine. Another term used is a “pilot-house cab” which seems to be a loose term used even for some Dodge pickups. A more modern term is “cab-forward”.

1951 dodge COE  2-tonAnother term that came up during the Wheel Tracks feature is something that is hard to read but is printed on the area just above the number plate. The term is “Job Rated”. The best history Wheel Tracks found was that Dodge started using it in 1938 as a sales way of getting folks to think about matching their “jobs” to one of the many types of trucks that Dodge produced. Do any readers have more of the term.

Richard bought the truck from Dale Slack of Jeffersonville, Vermont after it made its way here from North Carolina.


Editor’s notes… The amazing thing about this truck is how little is published about this type of Dodge truck. A few of us in the club have International High Wheelers and if you try to research this type of vehicle, except for some pretty pictures and a video or two, there is practically nothing available. I found the same for Dodge trucks from that time period. The High Wheeler folks attempted to put something together by starting a “registry” of owners and vehicles and the “Horseless Carriage Club” agreed to hold the registry. I did find a registry for Dodge trucks for 1948 to 1953 with only 298 trucks registered and no 1951 “Cab-over engine” trucks. This might mean that Richard and Roxie has a fairly rare vehicle. The Dodge Truck registry can be found online at townwagon.com

Another term I found when looking for information on this truck is “Fargo Truck”. Fargo was a brand of truck back in the 1920s and over the years after a number of buy-outs, Chrysler ended up with the brand. Also over the years, the way I understand it, the word “fargo” just became a truck type and not a brand.

Lets start talking about those heavier antique trucks. I know we all have stories from our younger days about these big work trucks. Example… I was too young to throw bales of hay on to the old ’47 Reo 2-ton. So they put me behind the wheel. I knew what I was doing but my short legs tended to get the truck into regular “jogs” that made the worker on the back of the truck call me names. If you have information or a truck… or a truck story please pass it on to Wheel Tracks. I know VAE members have a few pickups but Idon’t know if VAE members own larger antique trucks.

Doris Bailey: 1922 – 2016

Doris Jane Doerfler Bailey died on September 13, 2016 at the age of 94. She was born on March 10, 1922 in Yonkers, New York, the fourth of five children of Dr. William and Betty Doerfler. She lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York until age seven. Then after her parents’ divorce, she moved to and was raised in Morrisville, Vermont where she rode horses, swam at Lake Elmore and graduated from Peoples Academy. On January 19, 1943 during World War II she married Everett Bailey before he was deployed to Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. Doris and Everett met skiing on Mt. Mansfield before the lift was built (in 1940). Everett and Doris lived and raised their family in Williston, Burlington and South Burlington.

She had a fondness for antique cars (She was her own mechanic.) including a 1947 MG TC which she drove to Nova Scotia when she was 80 years old. She was an active member and officer of the Vermont Auto Enthusiasts and worked for years on the annual antique car show in Stowe. She was predeceased by her husband, Everett, in 2014, her oldest son, David Leslie Bailey of Montpelier, and her siblings, Doug Doerfler, Dorothy (Dot) Sargent, Dayl Kelly and David Doerfler. She is survived by her children, Thomas Bailey (and his wife, Linda) of South Burlington, Vt., Anny Cain (and husband, David) of Jamestown, R.I. and Everett (“Clark”) Bailey, Jr. of Draper, Utah, and grandchildren Tappan Little of Colchester, VT, Spencer Bailey (and wife Jacki) of Burlington, VT, Skyler Bailey (and wife Crystal) of Newport News, VA and Rachel Dibiase (and husband, Dave) of Vergennes, VT.


From Jan Sander… I took these photos (the front page) of Doris in 2003. Our club, The New England MGT registry publishes a magazine called “The Sacred Octagon” and the publisher had asked me for a picture of Doris in her TC for our front page. The featured picture was captioned “The MG Girl”.

When Doris received her copy she was elated and immediately called me up. Her first words were “Jan, we’re FAMOUS”! I had won the Best Cover Photo and she was the cover photo.

Doris and I met in the late 80s at one of our Stowe Shows. I had returned to my TC and she was sitting there waiting for me. She explained that she knew my car because she had seen it in my driveway many times and that she had owned a TC for many years but had sold it. She missed her old MG. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and the start of Doris’ successful quest to track down her beloved green TC and buy it back. That also brought her back to the VAE.

There are many more Doris Bailey stories, but they will be for another day in Wheel Tracks and TSO.


doris bailey
We have lost Doris.

This loss is not just the VAE’s loss. Doris was (is) a unique and exceptional person. She and I drifted together through Maynards Auto Service and their extension, Vermont Engine Service. Doris was drawn to this automotive stuff and became somewhat of a “groupie”. She then worked her magic on me and got herself hired at our auto dealership as a line mechanic. Friday afternoon we’d send her off to a social weekend of country club activities or to the current concert circuit with mechanics fingernails but Doris could handle most things. (Think of her most recent Wheel Tracks Softer Side article.)

Although she physically wore out after a few weeks rotating tires and doing brake jobs, she (and I) were proud that she was Burlington’s first female dealer line mechanic. She loved most things on wheels, music, poetry, the big Camaro, the little MG, the London taxi were the wheels¦ And you and I were the rest. Did she ever tell you the inside story (s) of her part in the Great American Race? I bet she did! ..and so much more.

Rest in peace Doris Bailey… It was great to have known you. Gael Boardman Thank you for your dedication



When asked about Doris and “The Great Race” Son-in-law, George Little writes…

It 1944 packard 12was the 1985 Great American Race that Doris was involved with. She and Avery Hall organized and largely funded a Vermont effort using the late Joe Kaelin’s 1944 Packard twelve seven-passenger sedan.

Our brochure is attached, showing, L-R on the cover, Joe Kaelin, Linda Welch, Vicky Buffum, Doris, Avery, and myself. The route was LA to NY; the field was about 120 strong, and we finished about 60th, or respectfully if not spectacularly.

This was one of Doris’ many automotive adventures, though I’d hazard to observe that we often considered the GAR more “character building” than fun.

As Jan may well illustrate in her comments, it was with her 1947 MG TC, and the not-so-serious “Sacred Octagon” crowd, that Doris had genuine Big Fun. Big Fun for Doris was people. She loved being out and about with friendly, like-minded folk, and would take every opportunity to start and keep conversations going.

Even if it meant turning sideways to maintain eye contact with a passenger while barreling down a hill at imprudent speeds…

You can see why the GAR was not necessarily a good example of this recipe.

The Women of the Annual Car Meet in Stowe

For many years these women have worked to make our show in Stowe the successes they have been. For instance in Pat Mainetti’s case it has been somewhere between 15 and 20 years. Yes, there are also many men involved too, but this is the “quiet group”.

Thank you for your dedication

This 1927 Ford Model T Roadster Pickup is 89 years old…

with its first 28 years still shrouded in mystery…

The truck’s known history begins about 1955 when a VAEer found it for sale On North Main Street in St. Albans, Vermont.

model t ford pickupThe Roadster Pickup is locally known as an East Fairfield truck, a little village fifteen miles East of Lake Champlain in Northern Vermont. The village is known for saying yes to the railroad. The story goes, when the railroad wanted to build a line through the town in the 1860s the sleepy village center 5 miles West of East Fairfield had hysterics at the idea of becoming a rowdy railroad town. East Fairfield opened its arms to the idea… rowdy and all!

East Fairfield’s nickname is “Puddledock”that came from the Spring time hub-deep mud in the streets and the folks who live there are called “Puddledockers”; terms of endearment used to this day. When the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad came through town the transition was instantaneous. Hotels, granaries, a drug store, bars and pool halls were built overnight. Water power at the two dams on Black Creek sprouted all kinds of new enterprises. Puddledock took on the reputation as a rowdy railroad town while the little town center, just a few miles away, stayed safely away.

The story also goes that the model T spent many of its years, previous to 1955, in Puddledock, in fact the exact residence and driveway has been identified as its home. This information has been passed down from villagers long past away and the home was torn down many years ago. Is the story true, what was the truck used for and who owned it during that time has not been figured out completely, the detective works continues…

The VAEer who found the truck for sale in 1955 is Gael Boardman. The seller who brought it to Walter Benjaman’s garage on North Main Street, St Albans to sell it was unknown when Gael offered $20.00 to buy it. When Gael returned to find if the seller accepted his offer, he found a local hotel owner, Doug Kelly, had bought the truck for $25.00. Wheel Tracks found Mr. Boardman, sixty one years later, still a little upset he got “out-offered” by Mr. Kelly. Gael was prepared to go all the way to $30.00 but in the traditional way of bartering, one does not let that information out until the exact ‘correct’ time.

For many years the Model T was parked in a shed behind the Kelly Hotel on South Main Street until rumor had it that Mr. Kelly sold it to someone in the Boston area.

27 ford pickup dirtroadEnter another VAEer… John Lavallee. John’s dad and grandfather had a machine shop in Massachusetts and had decided to expand into Northern Vermont in the mid 1960s. John was a young man when he joined his father and grandfather in Winooski to inspect the building they had just purchased along the river and that is when he spotted a Model T pickup in one of the dark corners of the building. The truck then had a new owner, John Lavallee. A short time later, John heard a rumor the “T” had belonged to Mr. Kelly and after telling John it was impossible that the truck had been his, Mr. Kelly recognized the repair work he had done on the rear of the vehicle. The Model T was in fact the Kelly/ East Fairfield truck. Over the 20 to 22 years that John owned the truck, not a whole lot was done to it.

The Model T caught the eye of a dairy farmer in 1987 and again it found a new home, but this home was special… it was back in East Fairfield!

Dennis Dodd belonged to the VAE and his farm is a mile or two just outside the village. Over the 29 years the Model T hardly ever missed an area parade. Dennis and Linda’s children along with many other local kids spent many great times throwing candy to parade spectators from the pickup’s bed.

The “T” also had quite a transformation on Dennis’ farm. It got a Ruxtal rear-end and Rocky Mountain brakes. A new top and bed, a complete motor job and all the running gear trimmings along with a new coat of paint. Dennis told about the memorable hours he and his son drove the back roads enjoying the country side. He spoke of all the sights you can see when going 20MPH. He would just pop the Ruxtal into gear and chug along not having to shift, no mater how steep the hills.

So, now it is 2016 and Dennis has his attention on a 1908 International high Wheeler project. He also has a ’31 Model A sedan and a really cool home-built Model A Speedster… and the Model T pickup has caught the eye of another VAEer!

Enter the Wheel Tracks editor… The Ruxtal rear-end and Rocky Mtn. brakes was more than the guy could resist, the truck, again, has a new home. The good news is the 1927 model T pickup is only a few miles North of its East Fairfield beginnings. The bad news is the amount of filled space that had to be freed-up to make room for the “T”. All good, when you step back and look at the scheme of things…

Charlie Thompson’s 1930 Whippet Sedan has a story to tell…

charlie thompsonWay back in ’67, my friend Dick, who was driving a ’31 Willys as his regular car, told me about a ’29 or ’30 Whippet for sale in Charlotte, VT.

Since I always liked old cars and my Dad had told me about Whippets, I went to check it out. The owner was moving and didn’t want to move the car, which was not running at the time. He had bought the car for $300 “downcountry” and wanted to recover his investment. Marion and I had just gotten married, I was still a student at the University of Vermont, and I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, so I offered him $50. He was appropriately insulted by my offer and turned it down, of course. Then on moving day, he called and said that I could come get the car for $100. My brother and I rushed to get the car and found the owner and his belongings gone and the Whippet sitting on the lawn. We towed it to my place in South Hero, VT, sent a check, and never heard from the owner again.

whippet badgeThe Whippet was pretty much complete, but had had a rough life. It had been wrecked a couple times and had dents and rust with running boards replaced with old rough lumber. The top had been improperly replaced and water had rotted most of the wood around the top and door posts. Water and mice had totally destroyed the rear seat. But…with a little gas in the vacuum tank and a push around the yard with my brother’s car, it RAN! It burned oil like crazy, but ran all the same.

I didn’t do much with the Whippet for many years, busy with a young family and an old house. Around 1990 I installed a new set of rings and cured the oil burning. Then, in 1999, I installed a new top, and I drove it 500+ miles to Lamar, PA*, to collect the Long Distance Award*, given by the WOKR for driving the longest distance to our International Meet. In 2001, I reupholstered the rear seat and then drove it 800+ miles to Napoleon, OH*, collecting the Long Distance Award* a second time. A rod bearing failed after this trip, so I shipped the engine off for a Florida vacation to be rebuilt by one of our Whippet experts. Next came Nashville, TN* in 2005, Marshall, MI* in 2008, Flatrock, NC* in 2009, Bellefontaine, OH in 2010, Duluth, MN in 2012, Waynesboro, VA* in 2013, and N. Conway, NH* in 2015 winning four more Long Distance Awards* for a total of six. All trips were unescorted except Duluth when my friend drove his 1912 100-year-old Overland with me. Luckily this was the only trip which had a problem (other than flat tires and a plugged carb) when a fan belt broke and we backtracked 12 miles in the Overland to buy a new one. I have driven Rosie over 30,000 miles over the years with the only non-routine maintenance being the engine rebuild and new valves last year.

She is Rosie, named after Rosinante, Don Quixote’s old broken down horse and John Steinbeck’s camper pickup in his book Travels with Charlie.

1930 whippet rearWhat I remember most on my trips is the friendly and kind people I’ve met along the way. While touring Penns Cave, one tire went flat in the parking lot. By the time I got out of the cave tour, fellow club members had put on the spare. The tube, which I had never removed in 32 years of owning the car, had 4 patches already!

Somewhere near Ottawa, Canada, I had stopped under a street-side shade tree to take a break. The lady from a nearby house came out and invited me in for very welcome milk and cookies.

In Brussels, Ontario, I stopped at the home of Charlie Proctor, a fellow Whippet owner, but no one was home. Backtracking a ways to a Proctor mailbox I had passed, I met Charlie’s niece and her children. She told me the Proctors had already left for the meet in Michigan. I went to camp on Charlie’s lawn and his niece invited me back in the morning for breakfast and for use of her bathroom.

On my return, I had lost my way
and found myself in the middle of Flint, MI. When I stopped on a side street for a break, two children ran into their house and returned with their father. He invited me in and, using Mapquest on his computer, helped to plot a route to get me back on track. A bit later at the 6 lane Port Huron border crossing back into Canada, Rosie overheated and stalled at the customs booth. After the usual and some not-so-usual questions, the agent told me to stay where I was despite angry travelers behind me. He make a call and 3 burley bridge workers in safety green shirts came to push Rosie to their maintenance area to cool while custom officials stopped traffic in several of the lanes to let us cross.

Traveling through Virginia
, while tinkering on the generator in a shopping parking lot, Paul and Weeta Phillips came over to investigate the car and offer to help. They were collectors of scooters, pedal cars and old bicycles. They left me with their phone numbers and an offer to come back with further help and/or to put me up overnight with dinner and breakfast!

On Route 209 in Pennsylvania, I had just passed Muchmore’s Antique Shop when I realized that Rosy had boiled out all her water and was overheating. At her shop, Dorenda Muchmore let me fill the radiator, refill my gallon jugs, and provided me with another gallon container for the road as well as wonderful conversation and a tour of her shop.

Later in the day, after negotiating a mountainous detour off Route 209, I stopped on the edge of a driveway to check the radiator and let Ro-sie cool off. Bill the homeowner’s, second question was, “Want a beer?” I told him about my leaking water pump and he just happened to be an old-time plumber with a spool of graphite string valve packing in his box, getting me back on the road toward home.

Returning home in the rain through northern NY, I failed to pay attention to mileage and ran out of gas. A lady stopped and went miles ahead to bring me gas if she could find a container. While waiting a man stopped, drove me to his shop to fetch a 5 gallon can, then to a gas station and back to the car. My first rescuer had returned with a gallon window washer container filled with gas. The 5 gallons went in the tank while the 1 gallon was used to prime the vacuum tank.

With all the bad news we hear these days, it is nice to find kind and generous folks everywhere along my travels

How NOT to buy a car

It is like sitting in your living room recliner when you ride down the road in this 1952 Imperial!

I bought this 1952 Imperial from a dealer is Canton, Ohio six years ago. It had been owned by the financial manager at the Canton Chrysler dealership who drove it to Florida every year. I bought this car solely on the basis of photos on-line which looked pretty good. The dealer told me it would need some plating…fine, then a week or so later he informed me that the engine needed a total rebuild, also saying he would rebuild the carburetor, which he never did.

At this juncture, it should have been a deal breaker, but I stumbled on agreeing to go forward. To his credit, he did lower the asking price. Finally the work was completed and we agreed to meet at Hemmings in Bennington where I would drive it home to Mont-gomery. When we got the car off the trailer it would not start. After various experts tried to figure out the cause, McNessor, one of Hemmings editors, found the fuel filter was on backwards. The filter had arrows indicating the fuel flow and they were definitely pointed in the wrong direction.

1952 chrysler imperialRecklessly, or just poor judgement, we decided to risk driving it home. It first stalled on Route 302 in Barre, backing up traffic for a half mile; then again in Shelburne but we finally did get home. Since then the carburetor was rebuilt by the Carb Doctor and there have been no problems.

I have had three different mufflers installed from local vendors, one even blew out the minute I started the engine. I am no mechanic but got good advice to order and install an original type muffler from Waldron’s. I have had no problems since.

1952 chrysler imperial engineThe car has needed a lot of additional work. A complete rewiring, more chrome plating, new tires and mostly correcting a lot of poor workmanship done by others. A new paint job and upholstery is my plan yet to do.

When I worked in Cape Cod one summer, an elderly lady with a mean face was walking by the house I was painting. I said “Hello”. She said “How are you?”

Replying honestly, I said I had gotten a severe sunburn that Saturday.

In a dry, raspy voice she replied, “ Well, I guess you learned your lesson!”

Yes, the lesson is when buying an old car, go and inspect it. Try to buy one, if you can, with low mileage and as good condition as you can find. Because the restoration cost are simply prohibitive.

Editors notes…….
I was surprised with Barry’s reply when asking him if I could fea-ture his Imperial. He thought Wheel Tracks only used “really old” cars for it’s features. He is correct and that is entirely my fault. My head is in vehicles older than 1930 and unfortunately that is what ends up in Wheel Tracks. I will try very hard to be more in-clusive of 1940s, 1950s and 1960s cars.

As I wrote on the front page, it WAS like sitting in my living room chair when Barry took me for a spin in his car! The transmission is a ahh-so-smooth “Fluid-matic Drive” an interesting cross between manual and automatic. The shift lever has reverse, of course but also “low range”, “neutral” and “high range”.

Another huge thing you will notice is when you close a door. It goes THUNK, not twang like my model T or boing like a 27 Dodge I know!

The Imperials were made from 1926 to 1954 and then a short time between 1990 and 1993. Barry’s “Chrysler Fire Power” engine is one of Chrysler’s first Hemi’s and puts out 180 HP. Chrysler, in WW2, developed their first experimental hemi engine for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. The XIV-2220 engine was an inverted V16 rated at 2,500 HP.