The VAE 40th Anniversary Tour

As you can read from Bill Sander’s minutes of the Saturday meeting it was just about 20 minutes in duration. My kind of meeting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009
There were 14 cars on the tour that went to Plattsburgh, NY for lunch at Geoffrey’s Pub and then on to the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum which is housed in several buildings on the east side of what was the Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

After the meeting, we arrived at the Ferry Dock and as I was the lead car, I told the ticket taker that we were a automotive tour and that there were 14 vehicles of various makes and models on the tour.

They managed to get us all on the same Ferry and we enjoyed a ride on the lake who’s founding we were celebrating.

In an effort to get a good photo of the cars, I asked the attendant if I could get permission from the Captain to come up to the wheelhouse in order to get an overhead view. He readily agreed. As I stopped by to thank him on my way down, what to my surprise should he pull out of his travel bag, but a current copy of Hemming’s Classic Car magazine. (Remember folks, they are out there, we just have to find them.)

We got to the Pub in good shape and were treated to a fine lunch at reasonable prices.

A short drive later, we were at the museum, where we met our tour guide Richard “Dick” Soper a very knowledgeable local volunteer.

After our introduction, we started the walking tour which last a little over 2 1/2 hours. As we were all standing outside commenting on how enjoyable and informative the tour was, in the not too far distance, many heard thunder. A harbinger of things to come – in buckets!

Hastily, decisions were made and plans were changed as a number of members decided to head back via the Ferry and not to complete the tour as planned.

An intrepid sextet, lead by 2nd. VP Wendell and Mary Noble in their 1930 Dodge Brothers roadster; Gael and Judy Boardman, in their 1917 Locomobile; David Stone in his 1930 Ford Model T Sedan, Don Lovejoy in his 57 Chevy, Joe and Judy Paradise in their Triumph and Clark & Isabel Wright decided to follow the original planned route and headed north into the ominous oncoming storm. In the meantime, Judy Boardman lost her hat so an unscheduled stop was made. Due to the design of the Nobel?s roadster‘s top, Mary had to literally hold the convertible top down while Wendell drove.

There is no doubt, that as time goes on, the rain story will be enhances and grow exponentially and sound something like the story of the fish that got away. As Gael pointed out in no uncertain terms, the 3 oldest cars did it! Congratulations to our intrepid drivers.

July 12, 2009
Seven cars met at the Shaw’s parking lot in Colchester and proceeded down Spear St. (to bypass Shelburne Rd.) toward Basin Harbor and the Maritime Museum.

Again your scribe lead the way and I was told that I was going too slow. True there was a parade of cars behind us so I went a little faster.
As we did the day before, we ate lunch first at the Red Mill located right on the airport of the Basin Harbor Club and enjoyed another fine meal at good prices.

As we had let it be known that we would be happy to join up with other like-minded enthusiasts. Our group was met by Dave and Joyce Silveira (members of the Vermont British Car List) with their sparkling white MGB.
We were also met by two former VAE Presidents who were dining at the Red Barn. Rod and Betty Jean Dolliver in their 1931 Model A Roadster Pick-up (Which by the way needed some human intervention to start it-the guys pushed it.) and Larry and Mrs. Johnson driving their Woody Station Wagon.

After our lunch we formed up and toured the Basin Harbor Club’s grounds and received may whistles and applause. Kind of a mini-parade. Then we were off to the Maritime Museum down the block.

A grand visit to some Vermont nautical sites. Another great day.
We are all back home tired but safe and sound after an enjoyable tour of the lake and celebrating the founding of Lake Champlain.

A very special note of thanks to Wendell and Mary Noble for putting this program together. Cheers and well done folks!

On the following page you will see some of the 150 photos of the tour, It was grand fun and we missed all who could not attend. We look for more tours in the near future. So, keep tuned and plan on coming even if your classic is not running.

Now for a surprise: Everyone who was on the tour will receive a CD of all the photos that I took (about 150), as well as an 8 X 10 photograph of their appropriate group. If you were in 2 groups you get 2 8 X 10’s, with my compliments. (gf)

A Good Mechanic Is Hard to Find

On St. Patrick‘s Day 2009, my man arrived on the scene and after I over-did myself, yesterday (March 17th). It was such a great weather day. A sudden stroke of good luck came my way in the morning when my ‘61 Triumph TR3A‘s electrical wizard called to say that if we could get my TR up to his shop, about three miles from here, he’d do a few things that have been nagging me. However, before that could happen he would have to diagnose why my Triumph wouldn’t start. I had experienced difficulty last November in attempting to start it one last time before “hibernation”.
On the fateful day, after keeping the starter engaged for a spell, all power suddenly died.

On St. Patrick‘s Day 2009, my man arrived on the scene and after checking all known electrical suspects, discovered the clamp on the positive ground terminal had corrosion. How embarrassing, especially for yours truly who prides himself on maintaining a clean engine compartment and a spotless battery. So he cleaned the terminal and then gave me the ?thumbs up?. After a few tries, the engine kicked over and ran quite smoothly. It seemed to run a tad better after he reconnected a spark plug wire we‘d over looked. Oops!

Needless to say I was jubilant as I never, in my wildest dreams, ever expected to get a technician to work on my Lucas Space Ship in the middle of Sugarin‘ Season. Never. But here he was.

So then I noticed the red dash light indicating perhaps a ?charging? problem. Right away he suggested that it was less than two years ago that he installed a new generator for me. Yep, he was right. June of ‘07.
Red light or no red light, he felt I could easily ?nurse? the ailing Tri-umph up to his shop, only about three miles. Trouble was, I did this . . . with the top down! Bad move, Fred! Lungs objected. Yep, it‘s been a rough two months of the new year!

About three years ago, Steve Miracle had replaced the complete wiring harness in the TR as well as performing work since, like installing a new starter and later the new generator, in ’07. Once inside his comfortable shop (with two double bays) he confirmed it was a faulty generator and immediately phoned Moss Motors, from whence the genera-tor had been purchased. The best news of the day was that their records indicated that the warranty on the ’07 generator was still valid. So he ordered a replacement along with a new emergency brake cable and we were off and running. Well, only a figure of speech, you know! Later the same day, the defected generator was shipped back to Moss Motors as part of the exchange.

It took less than 24 hours for the shipment to arrive at my door-step. Picked up by Steve the following morning, the car was completed and back in my garage by noon on Thursday (March 19). That included some welding to correct an e-brake cable guide attached to the frame! Oh yes, he is licensed to do State Inspections, too.

I may have mentioned him to a few of you before. He’s a expert on building and/or converting hybrid gas-electric vehicles to all electric. His name is reflective of what I believe him to be, i.e., a miracle! Steve Miracle is a good friend of Steve Skinner, Les’ son. In fact it was Steve Skinner that initially steered me in Steve Miracle’s direction.

But what Steve doesn’t know about electric/battery-powered vehicles isn’t worth knowing, or so I became convinced. He gave me a ride home in a Toyota Echo that he had earlier converted from gas to all electric. Last Fall he converted a customer‘s Honda Insight gas/electric hybrid to all electric. Over the last several years he’s been awarded contracts to work with E-Vermont on electric-powered vehicles to determine their worthiness in Vermont weather. He is a one of a kind, as far as I can observe.
Anyone considering a new Chevy Volt?

But back to more conventional power plants. Right now he’s re-building a Porsche 356 engine for a customer having completed the work on the TR. A ?70s something ?clean as a thistle? SAAB awaits his mechanical expertise next. Purchased off e-Bay for around $300, it is destined for Steve‘s soon-to-be 16 year old daughter.
The good news is that he‘s available to work on your car preferring British, German, Italian, and Swedish marques of recent vintage.
You can reach Steve Miracle at 802-223-3524. Shop is in E. Montpe-lier just off the County or Center Roads. Skilled, competent, trustworthy and a no-nonsense type of individual, Steve is definitely my type of professional.

Welcome to Spring, fellow enthusiasts!

V.A.E. – The Founders (The First in a Series)

Like many things, “home grown” is often best… and so it was with VAE. Springing from a husband‘s interest, (obsession, in her mind) Anne Gypson encouraged the formation of the kind of club for others like Ken Gypson to share their interest and enthusiasm. She couldn‘t have possibly known the consequences of her actions. Here, 56 years later, we are several hundred strong; a corporate entity and still enthusiastic. In this reflection, one can look back over this half century and muse … how come, who‘s responsible?

Anne and Ken are both gone, but not before inspiring a whole lot of others to keep the rims rolling. If you personally missed Ken and Anne, then the loss is yours but they didn‘t do it alone. Of our founders there are only a few remaining. Rod Rice was in from the very start and a pre-war pal of Ken’s, Rod was on Anne’s ?invite list?. Here is just a little of the VAE-Rod Rice story:

A local boy, Rod went through Pomeroy School (now gone – vanished) in Burlington and then on to High School. Timing was such (he was born in 1924, April 22) that WWII interrupted college and he spent some time as a B-24 bomber pilot. Rod mentions that as the teetotaler of the crew, he was the designated driver when his crew ?went out?. One good thing to come out of this was a chance to buy a military surplus Harley 45 near the end of the war. He did and he was hooked! Later the 45 became a neat 1934, Model 74 that he drove until 2 years ago. Another Rod find was a Studebaker Touring Car from, I think Idaho.

After the war, Rod came home and went to UVM and being an outdoors person, he majored in Dairy Manufacturing. and became a legend in the Green Mountain Club, (GMC) as a hiker and helped in train and cabin maintenance on the Long Trail. Rod’s greatest stories include his drive up Camel’s Hump in a recently acquired Franklin Roadster with chains in the winter. Another tail was his drives (several times) up and down Mt. Mansfield toll road in his 2-wheel brake Cadillac and with his Stevens Duryea – to who can guess where.

As to the Stevens: after the war he happened across 2 and had to buy them both. He kept the one with better tires (in 1946 Hemmings was not selling tires.)

The other Stevens, well it went off to Jerry Duryea… Rod mentioned a few other cars he may have kept: a big DV Stutz, a Stanley, and maybe that Studebaker from Idaho. The cars listed in the Roster have been with Rod a long time and he used to drive them all a lot. Rod takes good care of things; consider Nosey his 23 year old cat who purrs along pretty well.
The photo (below left) is very recent. Emily looks great … we don‘t know about that beard, Rod.

Memory recollects that Rod was VAEs second President and was the only President to serve consecutive terms. In his spear time, he had a 34 year career with International Harvester (IH) in Burlington. He serviced his own cars and exemplifies the talented and knowledgeable enthusiasts. When offered a corporate job with IH in Albany, New York Rod, declined saying, ? Where could you keep a half dozen old cars in Albany?”

Rod is known to have attended more VAE meetings than anyone, living or dead. He has helped and encouraged more enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts than, to my recollection any other member. Rod not only collected and preserved old cars (and motorcycles, boats, etc.) but he shared them.

Rod drives his cars—an example to all of us.

There is a great deal more to say about Rod Rice, but why not let Rod himself share that with you. At 85 and recovering from last year‘s stroke, he has slowed down a little. Give him a call 802-864-4036 or drop him a line at 201 Prospect Pkwy, Burlington, VT 05401 and maybe you can set up an appointment to visit with Emily and Rod. Don‘t forget to check out Nosey the cat and if you are lucky, you may just get to peek into his garage.

The Vermont Vintage Vehicles Show Report

If you did not go to the show that was held on June 23 and 24, you missed a good one. We had an exceptional show! This was due to many factors, one being the committee that was generous with their time and energy, the location, and the weather.

I can’t say enough for all of the folks that lent a hand in helping with the organization, set up, manning the different areas such as registration, flea market, gate, information and car corral. My hat is off to each and every one of you.

For a first time show with a new location, and a new date, we did very well with a registered 250 cars, a flea market of some 40 vendors and a

super car corral of 19 exceptional cars, and countless spectators.

Fred Cook was the driving force behind most of the advertisement, with a couple of tapings for the local Channel 15 and seeing to it that the Rotary heard all about us and what the VAE is all about. We might not have gotten as much sponsorships as we would have liked from the Saint Albans area merchants, but at least they knew we were there and what we were doing. I would like to thank the many people and businesses that did support us. Your help was greatly appreciated.

Granted there are improvements to be made which are in the works for next year’s show, which I believe will only make our show better.

The only down side of the event was the announcement of Ellen Emerson’s desire to step down as co-chair due to her expanding business demands. I personally want to thank Ellen for all of her hard work and commitment to see the show through. Without her, I’m not sure that we could have succeeded as well as we did. We are fortunate that Gene Fodor has stepped up to the plate to take Ellen’s place. Our first meeting, for the 2008 show is November 27, 2007 at the Burlington Police Department in their Community Room. This date will be confirmed later in Wheel Tracks.

Sander’s VAE Meeting 2007

Looking to the east, the morning of May 20th dawn with low dark rain clouds and obscured mountains and the streets were wet from the last night’s rain.

By 10 AM a hardy group of VAE “Wheel Nuts” had gathered for a short road tour to the Sander’s automobilia complex. A few drops of rain did materialize, but then, as by some miracle, the clouds parted, the sun began to shine and the temperatures rose.

At 1 PM with 33 members participating in the meeting and having brought fine examples of down home culinary products, the covered dish event went on and was again a total success. Even without any specific food designations, the delicacies were many and varied. When the dinner bell rang, there was great scurrying to the serving tables and everyone had their fill with some even returning for seconds. (And you know who you are.)

As President Andy Barnett had a previous engagement for the date of this meeting and could not attend, 1st. VP, Nancy Willet made her executive debut conducting the meeting (to the resounding sound of a ground swell of applause from the gather membership and their guests) in a first class fashion.

Member Gene Napoliello explained the events of the June 2nd meeting which will take place at the Sheraton and is part of the welcoming activities of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Founders Tour which is being held in Vermont this year.

The meeting adjourned about 3 PM, with the attendees leaving gastronomically full and satisfied after a great meal and another informative tour and Club meeting.

If you have never attended a VAE meeting, you are missing out on a truly great social and informative opportunity, so the next time you can, come on down and join the fun.

Lastly, but not least, a grateful thanks to the Sander clan for all their efforts on behalf of the
V. A. E.

History of my 1933 Harley Davidson Big Twin

In September,1944; several of us newly-commissioned Second-Lieutenants in the Army Air Corps, having just received our pilots’ wings, reported for training on B-24s at Cortland, Alabama. One of my buddies had spotted a neat looking red motorcycle for sale as he was coming through Birmingham, and we thought it might be fun to share ownership and have personal transportation. Acting on this idea we took a bus to Birmingham our first free weekend and bought the motorcycle; which turned out to be a low-mileage 1942 Army Surplus WLA Harley with a buddy seat. Although neither of us had ever ridden before, we both considered ourselves expert by the time we got back to Cortland.

I enjoyed the 45 cubic inch WLA, but always had the feeling that it should be geared a bit higher for comfortable cruising. Back at the barracks I usually parked next to an old ’33 VLE 74 cubic inch Harley which never seemed to be used. Upon investigation I found that it belonged to a fellow in the next barracks who would be glad to sell it for $75.00, “as is”. The only trouble was that it had a broken piston. That didn’t seem like an insurmountable obstacle, so three of us chipped in $25.00 a piece and became owners. It soon became apparent, however, that my interest was greater than theirs; so I became sole owner.

At that point, I borrowed a buddy’s car and took the engine to Birmingham to the Harley shop for a quick repair. New pistons were not available during the war so the dealer fitted a good used four -ring piston in the one cylinder and retained the three ring piston in the other cylinder. It didn’t do too much to promote smooth running, but then Harley big twins never were famous for smoothness and freedom from vibration. At any rate, it went for several years and many miles before needing serious work again.

While the engine was out of the frame, I convinced one of the painters in the maintenance shop to paint the tanks and fenders so the bike was starting to look quite presentable. About this time I had moved the whole operation inside the hallway of the barracks and I remember being quite concerned when the Major pulled a surprise inspection. All he said was, ”Don’t let that thing get away from you!”

After reassembly, it became apparent that the old VLE was a more comfortable road bike than the ’42 army surplus WLA; so when I had a chance, I sold the 45 cu. In. job and continued to enjoy the old ’74 big twin. It seemed to do fine on short trips, so one weekend I ventured further afield and rode up into Kentucky to see an old friend who was stationed at Fort Campbell. This proved to be a pleasant trip and further increased my confidence in the bike. A few weeks later, when orders came through to transfer to Lincoln, Nebraska, with a ten day delay en route, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to ride the bike home to Vermont. The only trouble was, it was the day after Christmas when I headed north and the weather was not cooperating. It rained most of the way across Tennessee, and north of Bristol, Virginia, up Route 11 it was all snow!

Fortunately, before starting for Vermont I had acquired a winter windshield, which provided more protection for the hands as well as the lower body. I also made some aluminum leg shields which were attached to the crash bar, and these also afforded some protection from the elements. The farther north I traveled, the more I needed protection from the elements; because although the weather had cleared, the temperature had dropped. Between the cold and trying to keep the bike in the wheel tracks of the snow-covered road, it pretty much took the fun out of riding.

That night I made it to Hagerstown, Maryland, where I stayed overnight and put the Harley in their garage so I knew it would start in the morning. The temperature was down around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. When I resumed travel in the morning, progress was slow with stops at least every half hour to get warmed up. Late that afternoon, when I reached Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground. I found that Railway Express would ship the bike without it being crated. That was the best $35.00 I ever spent!

A couple of days after arriving home by train, I had a call from the depot saying they had a motorcycle for Lt. Rice on their back platform; and would I come and get it? That was easier said than done because it was still very cold and everything in Burlington was covered by a thin coating of ice with snow on top of it. There was no salt and very little sand used on the streets in those days. However, the deed was finally accomplished and the bike was in storage for the rest of the winter.

In the spring I was still in the Service, but I got a call from one of my buddies who was home on furlough and wanted to borrow the Harley. This was fine except he got reassigned to a base in Plattsburgh, and did a bit of commuting and also visited relatives in Maine. When I came home on furlough a few months later, I found the speedometer showed 7,000 additional miles and one tire had cord showing in the tread.

Incidentally, I discovered the bike had Goodyear Safety Tubes in both tires; which I thought was a great idea, but after about the third flat and patch application and still having a slow leak, I relegated both tubes to the circular file and replace them with new conventional tubes.

The summer of 1946 I was home from the Air Corps and going to college at the University of Vermont in Burlington. I also had a job as a caretaker of a cabin on the Long Trail, a hiking trail running along the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada. The cabin was accessible by a 3 1/2 mile logging road from the valley, so I commuted around 50 miles each day on the Harley. It continued to provide most of my transportation in good weather until it became more expedient to use my 1922 Studebaker touring car.

In the spring of ’47 I planned to head west to spend the summer in Boise, Idaho; and since a good buddy was heading for Oklahoma, we made up a hitch for the back of his ’40 Plymouth. After removing the front wheel from the bike, we towed it as far as Springfield, Missouri. There Emily, my wife to be, who was also on the trip, took the bus to Little Rock to visit her folks.

After reassembling the bike, I too headed for Arkansas to meet her folks for the first time. After a too short but pleasant visit in Little Rock, I again continued my trek westward to visit a cousin in El Reno, Oklahoma, and on across the Texas panhandle into New Mexico and over Ratone Pass into Colorado and over Loveland Pass and the Rockies in Utah, and finally to Boise, Idaho. It was a great trip and the Harley performed valiantly. After a summer spent piling brush and fighting forest fires for the U.S. Forest Service in the Payette National Forest about 60 miles north of Boise, it was good to be headed back to Vermont again. The return trip was by way of Yellowstone National Park, where a bear ate the bread and milk I’d left on the picnic table as I slept on the ground nearby! From Yellowstone I continued east, mostly on Rt 20, to Chicago, Illinois; where I enjoyed the Museum of Science and Industry and then on to the Ford Museum in Detroit. My only bad memory of the trip was a stop for oil at a Harley shop in Kansas where I discovered, with a shock, that the front axle nut had come off; letting the axle work part of the way out of the front fork. It was quickly fixed and just in time to avert a certain disaster!

Over the next few years the bike got only occasional use and was eventually stored for several years. It must have been in the 1970’s that I got it out and rode some. In the late 1980’s, after my retirement, I decided to restore the bike. The appearance had deteriorated somewhat and there are always mechanicals that can be improved. I did most of the disassembly and reassembly myself. Harbor Vintage Motor Company in Jonesville, Vermont did the engine, rebored .020 oversize etc. Dave Gonyon, a VAE member, did the paint job and Henry LaCombe, also a VAE member, did artwork on the tanks.

Up until 2004, a lifelong buddy, Dave Otis, and I would get together a few times during the season; even though he had a Suzuki, and enjoy some nice rides in Vermont as well as an occasional trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Adirondacks of New York State. About the last three years the bike has been used very little, as I’m considered by some members of the family (just because I’m 83) to be too old to cope with such a “dangerous machine”.

Incidentally, 1933 was a year of very limited production for Harley Davidson, and, even though $330.00 would buy a new one, there were not many people around that time with that much cash. So for many years, my machine was one of only two that were known to be in the State of Vermont.

I just hope that future owners of this bike will derive as much pleasure and pride of ownership as I have enjoyed these many years.

The Value in Becoming a Member of VAE

Let’s see. Should I join an old car club: ____YES or ___NO?

This may not have been a pressing question for you and you may or may not have done so. I did, in 1954 and I’m glad I did. Let me tell you why.

First, we should assume that you have a pretty strong old car interest. (I can’t imagine how any reasonable person wouldn’t but that may be the part of what my 50-plus years with the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts has done to me).

At 16 years of age I was probably the auto nerd of my high school. My interest wasn’t speed or noise, it was age. The day that Jimmy Davis sold his Model “T” for scrap, (I viewed it in the junk yard but it was painted barn red, probably with the barn broom and I decided against any resurrection attempt), I then had the oldest car in the school.

It was a ‘27 Chevy Superior Landau Brougham; a pretty nice original car. I also had a ‘32 Chevy, most of a ‘28 Chevy and a ‘29 Viking out of parental sight in charitable garage space around town. Too many cars, too little money resources, not enough knowledge and encouragement, no parts sources, and no general support group to network with.

I proudly took my Superior Chevy to a summertime parade in town that first “licensed” year… and my life changed. I met two nice older guys that admired my little Chevrolet and offered to sponsor my membership in an “old car club”. The dues were cheap; they had monthly meetings and the occasional newsletter. They accepted me as a true enthusiast (who else had a ‘29 Viking?) and really encouraged me. Now
weekends weren’t times to get into teenage trouble, they were for road trips to distant, formerly unknown junk yards. Better yet, maybe helping somebody with a new barn find. Often just a drive around giving you a chance to drive somebody else’s car. My first experience with a full-fledged Rolls Royce came that way. ‘Never would have happened without the “old car club”.

I could go on and on telling you about what I learned and enjoyed from our monthly meetings. The peers here were a bottomless source of history, technical stuff, places to find what you thought you needed, entertainment, support and fun. There were members into period music, movies and prominent people. I learned more history here than back in my high school classroom.

The reason to share this with you is two-fold. First, I hope that my enthusiasm comes through and might encourage your membership in our Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts, Inc. or a local club or chapter of a national club. Good.

Second, we need your help in securing the future for our auto interests and our auto clubs. Statistically, club membership is aging. We are not doing for the younger folks what the VAE did for me. Part of this is our fault as maybe we have not shared enough with younger people.
Maybe we assumed that they weren’t interested. Let any kid drive a Model T and chances are they would get interested… but we haven’t done enough of that kind of thing.

If you have made it this far and you are a younger person… we’d like to share with you. Approach members at the show and mention an interest. Ask questions! We love to talk about our cars. Want to ride or maybe try driving an old car? Speak up! If you are a little older – same deal. If you are part of a multi-generation family, why not sign-up older and younger members.

Oh, by the way, this isn’t just a “guy” thing either. The VAE has many lady members including Stowe Show workers, a senior Vice President (soon to be president), our newsletter editor, the Shelburne Car Show chairpersons, Vintage Fashion Show coordinator, etc.

The whole family can have a great time sharing the history and fun with our hobby and we urge you to try it. Many members start with no car and no real specific interest, and find both over time, through VAE events.

Let’s go back to the top of the page. Check the “YES” box and sign-up today. We’re expecting you at our next event.

Stowe Show: VT Chamber’s “Top 10 Summer Events” List plus Street Rods

VAE’s 49th annual Antique & Classic Car Meet and automotive flea market will be in the spotlight again this year when this popular event returns to Nichols Field, VT Rte 100, south of Stowe Village, August 11-13.

Chosen “One of the Ten Top Summer Events for 2006” by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, this year’s event will be hard to beat. Few summer recreation events can top the “Stowe Show’s” location, entertainment value and family fun factor with spectator tickets just $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and children under 12 admitted free.

All this and the scenic backdrop of Mt. Mansfield, the state’s tallest peak (4,393 ft) and the picturesque village of Stowe with its world-class resorts, restaurants, unique craft and quaint gift shops. Don’t forget the Stowe Recreation Path, great for biking, walking and strolling!

And for the first time in the history of the Stowe show, Street Rods will be a featured class among the 48 classes of vehicles displayed on the field.
These handcrafted, innovative, and uniquely engineered vehicles have become an American icon and are crowd-pleasers whenever they are shown. Additionally, a special exhibit will feature a 1912 Model 36 UU 4-passenger Pierce Arrow Touring Sedan whose first owner was a Mrs. Daniel Cady of Burlington.

Open all three days for spectators are the 400-vendor automotive flea market, a car corral, the Stowe Firemen’s food tent and the VAE’s souvenir sales tent. On Saturday, the popular Fashion Show returns with costume judging. In the afternoon, the antique car parade will winds its way through town, with activities capped off Saturday night with a Street Dance, complete with DJ, at the Stowe Post Office parking lot. Sunday brings the judges’ breakfast (7:30), actual technical inspections/judging and finally, the awards ceremonies by mid-afternoon.

Souvenir sales have been moved to a tent near the Stowe Firemen’s food service where one can purchase tee shirts, past event posters, dash plaques, and 50th anniversary memorabilia including coffee mugs, and a 50th anniversary publication that showcases the VAE from 1953-2003. Makes a great coffee table addition! Just $20.

For more show info visit our Stowe Show page.

Thoughts on the Mini Cooper

Some time back my wife Judy saw and admired the new BMW resurrected Mini Cooper. She likes small cars and really liked this one. “It shouldn’t be that expensive”… she thought… but it was. Admittedly they were kind of neat I thought… but quite beyond budget. “How about one of the originals?”, I suggested. They can’t be that much. Driver John Buffam brought a brand new one, in the 60’s, to our VW dealership to be “set up” for rallying purposes. VAE Friend and rally master Bill Moreau was a mechanic there at the time and it was his interest that got the car delivered to our shop. Bill did great work on the car… except for the “Hydrolastic” suspension. Wow. He did something and the car collapsed on the shop floor never to rise again. Several days later we quietly rented a trailer and took the darn thing to a shop in Montreal where they quickly fixed the problem. We spiffed the then-ready car up and delivered it to John who did quite well with it on the rally circuit. I think that Bill went along as navigator, not as a suspension mechanic, and the team became Canadian champions. Should I look for one of these “originals” for Judy? I checked Hemmings. They are kind of neat, I thought… but they too seem now, to be “quite beyond the budget”. And then there is the “Hydrolastic” thing. With Bill living in nearby Waterbury there might be a risk.

More on Trucks

After covering the introduction of trucks to the transportation scene in the early 1900’s, in a previous issue of Wheel Tracks, it becomes obvious that we are not talking about trucking as we know it today. They were not the recreational vehicles that are enjoyed today in our fancy pick-ups. No mag wheels, chromed exhaust stacks or hood scoops; strictly business was the standard of the day in the earliest years of the revolution of rolling commerce. The first years were serious business devoted to the work at hand.

It did not take long for many segments of work a day businesses to realize that there were many benefits in these mechanical marvels. In addition to industry and commerce, someone else was looking over their shoulders at the new mode of mobilization of materials and personnel, the United States military. Captain Alexander E Williams, a tall West Pointer from North Carolina became a dedicated proponent of the motor truck for military purposes. The year… 1911.

Captain Williams noted a small advertisement in a periodical of the day, promoting a new vehicle, which the builders in the military town of Clintonville Wisconsin, made, remarkable claims pertaining to its usefulness. Permission was granted to the good Captain to visit this company – “ The Four Wheel Drive Auto Company”, where company driver, 24-year-old Frank Dorn gave the visitor much to look at.

The Captain was amazed at the performance of his vehicles, really nothing more than a stripped down “Scout Car”. Returning to his superiors, the Captain extolled the virtues of the 4-wheel drive marvel. FWD offered to give the government vehicles to test drive, but the U.S. Military decided to buy the conveyance and have it shipped to Fort Myer, VA. where it was fitted with a wagon box.

In 1912, an extensive Army road test that encompassed a 1,500-mile trek from Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA and then to Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis proved the torture that these vehicles could endure. While every truck did not finish the trip – a White, an Autocar and a FWD did complete the entire route and set the stage for a giant revolution in military logistics.

The horse was on the way out, but they were still used through the Mexican Campaign and WW1. The First World War was the most mechanically mobile in history and when the Armistice was signed thousands of military vehicles became surplus commodities which were gobbled up by commerce and private individuals. The United States, in particular was on its way in the trucking industry.