Wheel Tracks Articles Archives

The Classic Auto Festival at Shelburne Museum

A collaboration between the museum and our VAE, June 15 & 16.

The first was in 1969 and it was called the “Shelburne Vintage Automobile Exposition”. Different name, same great fun. 

classic auto show shelburne museum

June of 1995 was the 17th VAE Annual Vermont Auto Expo at the Essex Jct. fairgrounds and it’s last. From old Wheel Tracks archives, the weather was great but for some reason Les Skinner was forced to leave his position as ‘The Weather Chairman’. (We will not ask Les about this, as we doubt we will get an accurate answer). 

The January 1996 Wheel Tracks announced, a successful contract was complete, and the June show will change addresses to the Shelburne Museum. Bill Erskine recounted his negotiations with the museum in a one page announcement and description of the new expo in Shelburne. He and Tom McHugh had been co-chairs at Essex and would continue. Bill commented on successfully convincing the museum of the importance of a flea market and a car corral, a well attended show depended on them to draw the public. Bill reported in the July Wheel Tracks that the show was a total success. He reported there were a few “unplanned stops” in the parade from Battery Park. There were countless comments about the museum’s “spectacular setting” and the owner of the ‘Best of Show’ was quoted as saying during the 20 years of going to car shows, this had been the best one. Financially, the club broke even the first year. 

July 1997 Wheel Tracks, Mary Mazur reported a bit of a problem in the Shelburne show parade. The 150 cars in the parade down Church Street was too much for the Police Department to handle!….Yes, one hundred and fifty cars!! The 1996 car count at the museum was 246 and this year it was over 300. There were over 3300 people who went through the museum gate that year. Dick Messier combined three expo shows in Essex and the two in Shelburne on a video tape and made them available for $5.00. (Does anyone have one of these tapes for one of our gatherings?) 

The May 1998 business meeting minutes, as reported by Fred Cook included a request from show co-chair, Bill Erskine, urged everyone’s help with the weather aspect. Fred added…”I think he means pray”. Mary Mazur reported in July the show was, again, a success. The weather was cloudy and a bit chilly but the car and spectator attendance was similar to the previous year. The parade was sorted out and “a good one”. It had been reported the flea market vendors and car corral had been unhappy the first two years because of location and a dusty parking lot. This year nothing had changed that we can find but Mary reported everyone was happy. She explained that it might have something to do with Mr. Rick’s Chuckwagon and Ben & Jerry’s vendors were added to the flea market area. Mary reported that Carol Lavallee’s fashion show was “fabulous”! 

August 1999 Wheel Tracks reports the May board minutes and the decision to change the Shelburne show name to “The Vermont Vintage Auto Exhibition”. 

The July 2000 Wheel Tracks has some of Avery Hall’s ‘observations’….. The weather was great! The 300 car number was added upon by 45 tractors for “The Antique Tractor Pull”. Frank Mazur and his crew greeted and got the cars to the right places in the upbeat spirit of the event. Tom McHugh had successfully “grown” the flea market. Fred Cook and Willis Spaulding & crew manned the Courtesy Tent and he had never seen it more busy. Rick and the Ramblers with Shana Antoniuc entertained the crowd with Western and Auto related music. Steve Dana gave rides and thrills to lucky folks in his Kissel Speedster. From Avery…” Speaking for myself, I had a great time driving around the grounds in my Packard Phaeton…I truly think the moving cars added, a new spirit to the event since people love to see them in operation”. 

November 2006 Wheel Tracks. It appears the June 2006 show at the Shelburne Museum was the end of that eleven run. The VAE board minutes simply noted, “ Since the Shelburne Museum venue, no longer appears to be available, discussion turned to other possibilities…..” 

So..this year, 2019, our show at the Shelburne Museum will be Number 14….a very good number! 

Some Serious Cleaning!

Circumstances, here at home, have forced me to do some serious cleaning. I always said that Gael was the hoarder, but I have added my name to that list. When you live in a house for fifty years, things accumulate, especially if you have room in closets and spare rooms. 

That’s the case here. I think of friends that have neat homes with no clutter and wonder where all the stuff is. I guess it isn’t, it gets tossed. I just made two trips to the recycle place in Jericho and took a car load of things (I won’t call it junk yet) to the church Clutter Barn. I saw Gary Irish there helping! 

We have had to eliminate two closets where the overflow from the kitchen went. Those things that were on sale at the grocery store and it was too good a deal not to purchase. I often wondered, on my rare trips to Costco, where people store those 48 rolls of toilet paper or paper towels. Under a bed? Not at my house. The places under the beds are already filled. 

I think it all started when we purchased our first home in Underhill. It was partially furnished with a lot of things that belonged to Gael’s grandparents. Along the way we added things from my parents house and Gael’s mother’s house. Toss in three kids and their things and, presto, you have stuff everywhere. 

I’ve discovered a number of things that I have forgotten about, so it is also a trip down memory lane, if you will. I found the first issue of Wheel Tracks with a lengthy article that Pev Peake wrote, about one of his famous trips with a friend in an old car. Very funny!! Lots of photos of old cars and car parts taken over the years. They are being kept. How about calendars going back twenty years. They are going in the recycle bin next. Twenty five years of tax returns. I’ll just save the last seven and the rest goes in the wood stove, which is still being used. Then there are the buckets of pens and pencils that haven’t been touched in years. They are going out too. Nobody wants textbooks any more, so they are going. That free up a book shelf. Christmas wrapping paper, boxes and ribbons. Knitting needles, old thread, sewing supplies, parts to a sewing machine that’s been gone for years. Most of that went too. Gael’s electric typewriter is staying and I found a few new typewriter ribbons that are still good. It’s a daunting task but needs to be done, so I’d best get back to it. Would anyone like to buy a great old pine corner cupboard? 

The 12,806 Mile Quest for Old Cars by a couple of VAEers….

Gary Olney and Vin Cassidy have “the old car syndrome” that most of us have. Our level might be called a “melody”, theirs might be called a “fever level”….just an opinion, mind you. 

Here is an attempt to track their travels that took place in about a period of one month. Please excuse us if this sounds like envy. 

#1…Gary leaves his home in Derby Line the first part of March to meet Vin in Rowley, Massachusetts (2). They are heading out early because a snow storm is heading in and they need to be in New Jersey (3) to meet Fred Hock and check out all his Mercers. 

Then off to Mitch Gross’s garage in New York (4). Mitch is in a deadline race to finish his White steam car and get it on a ship bound for China. The steam car will be the first to do the 9300 mile Peking to Paris race, that will be taking place this June to August. You can watch the race progress on the internet. 

Then, off to Richmond, Virginia (5) and Reggie Nash’s Nash collection. The truck/tractor museum in Southern Virginia was next. A needed break for sleep happened in Kingsland, Georgia (6) then on to Amelia Island in Florida (7) and their big annual auction. A couple of $800,000 old cars sold and a couple of others for only one million and oh, did we say the two VAEers are pulling a trailer? The trailer was handy when someone asked if they could haul a 1906 Pope Toledo back to New Jersey. So the two, head back to New Jersey (3) for the delivery and back to Rowley (2). 

In Rowley (2), they load the trailer up for the Chickasha show and head for a stop in Buffalo, New York (8) and Pittsburgh, PA. (9) for a ‘few car-parts purchases” of the show. Next, a sleep-over in Perrysburg, OH (10) and then on to St. Roberts, MO (11) and Edmond, OK (12) for a few more purchases. And….finally their destination, Chickasha, Oklahoma for the Annual Spring pre-war show and parts sale (13) Sadly, next year is the last Chickasha Swap Meet. A spring shackle breaks and the trailer is stopped in its tracks. Along comes a gent by the name of Ryan Ersland from the swap meet. A welder is produced, the repairs are made and they are on the way again. Ryan would not accept proper payment for his work because “he will not take advantage of someone broken down”. Vin and Gary both agree there are really good people everywhere in this world. 

There were a few more stops over the next three days before arriving back in Rowley , Mass. (2). The end of their east-coast motoring….but there is still a little more….they were not done yet! 

They got on an airplane and headed for another car show and swap meet in Bakersfield, California (14). There was also a ‘luxury break’ in Hermosa Beach (15) to view the pacific and remove some road-dust. They then went home to their respective homes,……and they were done! All 12,806 miles contained antique cars and parts that were picked up and delivered all over the United States that only Vin and Gary can keep track of. Can you imagine the stories that can be published from these adventure; maybe if we had 100 more pages! 

Timing Is Everything!

A co-worker of mine just had an expensive experience with her Volkswagen. 

vw 5v timing

The car has the two liter twin cam engine, with a timing belt. The car had 85,000 miles on it, and had the original belt. This engine has five valves per cylinder, and it is an interference engine, meaning the valves will hit the pistons if the camshafts turn out of sync with the crankshaft. 

Unfortunately, the timing belt broke. When the belt broke, the valves hit the pistons, bending the valves. What should have been a several hundred dollar preventative maintenance repair, just became minimally a $1,200 repair. Minimally, the head needs to be rebuilt with new valves, if it can be saved. The head may well have to be replaced. The pistons could be damaged as well. 

If your car has a timing belt, it is not worth delaying the timing belt replacement, especially if it has an interference engine. A proper repair may involve replacing the water pump, camshaft seals and the front crankshaft seal. 

I Am Now Retired!

By the time you read this article, I will have been retired for all of five weeks, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what I’ve been doing for the past 40 ½ years and also give a plug to a career that is in desperate need of people all across our country. 

A little background: I was born and brought up in Burlington, attended Rice High School and then went on to Champlain College in their Court Reporting Program, graduating in 1978! Yep, I’m a court reporter, or maybe you’ve heard the term “court stenographer.” I am one of those people that sit behind that funny looking machine, you may have seen on TV, and make my fingers dance across the keys. 

For the first 10 years after graduation, I was a freelance court reporter in Rutland, which means I was hired directly by attorneys where I would go to a particular law office, and “report” the questions and answers asked by the attorneys and answered by witnesses in court cases. I’d also report contentious school board hearings, arbitration hearings, and even fill in a court because their court reporter was away that day. In 1988, I was the luckiest person in the world! I was hired by Judge Albert Coffrin to succeed his retiring court reporter. That meant a move back to the Burlington area and family & friends; and since then I’ve been reporting nonstop for 30 years and 7 months at the United States District Court until my retirement on March 30. 

Daily, I reported to work and was in the courtroom whenever there was a hearing scheduled (be it jury trials, motion hearings, sen-tencings, etc.) taking down – reporting — every single word spoken by anyone in the courtroom. One may ask how is that possible? Well, as the name implies, the shorthand machine has 20+ keys on it, and each key corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, and you, in essence, create a shorthand system. I always say it is much like playing a musical in-strument. I learned how to play the piano when I was young, and if you think about a piano with so many keys, you strike one key and it sounds one way, you strike 2 or 4 or up to 10 keys all at once, it sounds another way. That’s the way the shorthand machine works. 

I’m sure none of you have ever been to a gym or a bar and watched the TV screen with the translations at the bottom of the screen!?! Well, that’s a court reporter, a closed-captioning court reporter. TV stations by law have to closed-caption news and sports — like the Super Bowl or the World Series, and many other broadcasts for the hearing impaired, in what’s called “real time”, and the only way to do that is to have a court reporter, probably at home in his/her jammies, getting a live feed from the TV station to their home. The reporter then writing what they hear through their headphones onto their shorthand machine, that being translated back into English by the specialized software, and then the feed going back out to the TV station and, in turn, being broadcast out to your TVs. Whew! Seems like a lot of extra work, doesn’t it? Why don’t they just use voice recognition software you have on your iPhone and be done with it? Because, ultimately, court reporters are the gold standard for accurate, instantaneous translation. Only the human ear and brain can discern the difference between “pahk the kah” and “park the car.” 

The last part of my job is to return to my office and, when requested, prepare a certified written transcript of the proceedings. A full day in court will produce on average 280 pages of transcript! I will use my specialized software to translate the shorthand “gibberish” back into English and then correct spellings (is your name spelled Brown, Browne, Brawn); punctuation, paragraphing, identifying speakers; homonyms, unless you write them differently (their/they’re/there, to/two/too); and then be able to certify that the transcript is a true and accurate record of the proceedings.

My career has spanned an amazing 40 years, and I am truly grateful to Judge Coffrin for hiring me 30 years ago and bringing me back to my family and friends and the city that I love. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a great career that pays very well, has an aptitude for the written word, a good work ethic, a good ear, a desire to learn every day of their working lives, by all means have him/her get in contact with me and we can talk further! 

To the right is a picture of the paper that would have come out of the machine “in the olden days” with the interpretation on the right. Today, it’s all electronic and the steno machine simply down-loads into a computer, 

A Positively Good Idea

Recently I attended a SCCV driving event. Part of their pre-event inspection is verification of a cover for the hot battery terminal. I checked my car a few days before, and realized the positive battery terminal was not covered. I spent a minute thinking of all the possible ways the positive terminal could be accidentally shorted to ground. If nothing else, when working on the car, a wrench or other tool could easily be accidentally dropped, causing a direct short. 

The positive terminal is just a few inches from the aluminum A/C lines, the inner fender, and numerous bare nuts and bolts. I can understand the concern, the battery could easily be accidentally shorted out. 

I went to the local auto parts store and bought a pair of universal battery terminal covers. I had to cut it a little to make it fit my car. Just for good measure, I used a red zip tie to hold it in place. 

I passed the safety check with no issues, they checked to ensure the battery was securely held down, that the hot terminal is covered, the front end was tight, and there was nothing loose on the body of the car. 

I have also decided that the hot terminal of all my cars will be covered, as an extra safety measure. The $5 spent for terminal covers is cheap insurance and piece of mind. These covers can easily and quickly be removed for display on show cars. 

25th Anniversary Milestone

Anne was unavailable this month for her column, so instead, we have gone back in the Wheel Tracks archives to the 1980s. Enjoys…… 


Al Ward’s 1982 “25th Anniversary Milestone” Poem. 

Some 25 years ago at a lovely place called Stowe 

Stood five old cars pushed all in a row. 

The occasion of which was a picnic, I’m told.

And started the VAE as a club to take hold. 

Each year we have prospered under super direction 

Now each gathering held in close perfection. 

Our meets take place in august as we all know 

And features flea markets and a wonder show. 

The town is jam packed with enthusiasts galore 

Who arrive from Canada and the New England shore. 

They keep coming back year after year 

To take part in the show and give us a cheer. 

Who would have thought that from such a small start 

This club would have grown and we all could take part. 

In putting on tours and sponsoring meets 

Or just milling around while munching on sweets. 

Over the years, the scenes have change 

The designs of the cars have greatly ranged. 

At first they were mostly all in the teens 

But now it’s the fifties and in-be-tweens. 

The success of our club is due in part 

To those dedicated few who gave it a start. 

And also to those who have carried on, 

Through there 25 years we look back upon. 

And now on the anniversary of our very small start 

It give us great pleasure and comes from the heart 

To thank all those who through these glorious years 

Are most deserving and have earned these three cheers. 

Cheer, cheer, cheer! 


1980 Glidden Tour with, 1929 Silver Annie 

“She’s not much to look at” by Cliff French 

After being on the 1968 Glidden Tour in Pocono, Penn., I wanted to go again in 1980 in the White Mountains. I pulled the motor out, and out of 4 motors, took the best of each and made a motor that sounds like a bucket of bolts. This motor runs nice and uses no oil. With a 1927 Marvel brass carburetor, I get 14 miles to a gallon of gas. 

I was accepted on the 1980 Tour with number 67 out of 341. 

Esther and I left Bradford in the rain, September 14th, arriving in Brenton Woods at the Mt. Washington House about 3:30PM. We were to stay across the road at the Bretton Woods Motor Inn. We spent the rest of the day visiting and admiring the other many cars arriving, coming from across the United States and Canada. 

Editor’s notes…. Taken from the 1981 Spring issue of Wheel Tracks. Cliff’s column goes on describing their eight days on the tour. We do not have the room to print the complete article but if you make a request, we will mail it to you.

Cliff ends his column with this……. 

When I saw and heard about the many fine cars that threw rods, clutches and rear ends, to name a few, it made me feel good that Silver Anne made the 775 miles and the only problem was a leaky manifold gasket. 

M37 Military Truck

Bob Chase seems the happiest when he is around Military vehicles, like this moment when he was unloading an M37 truck at the show field. 

He has been a co-chair of our August show since 2004. 

Duane Leach joined him in 2010 and together, they have exceeded all our expectations. The two live on opposite sides of Mount Mansfield and in the hundreds of phone calls they make to one another, Bob usually starts his conversation with…. 

“Hello, from the other side of the hill.” 

1937 Dodge MC Pickup

Mike Felix’s 1937 Dodge MC Pickup

From the build sheet I obtained from Historical Services at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, I have determined: 

My 1937 Dodge MC was built on June 23, 1937 at the Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Truck Division, Hamtramck plant in Michigan. When it left the factory it was shipped to Perth Amboy, New Jersey with the following options installed: shock absorbers, front and rear ($9.50), interior sun visor ($2), auxiliary windshield wiper ($4), a tire lock ($2.50) and a rear chrome bumper ($8.50). These accessories are still with the truck except for the tire lock, but the hole where the tire lock shackle would be locate is present in the hub where the spare attaches to the fender assembly. 

1937 dodge mc pickup profile

Curiously, two items on the build sheet remain unresolved at this time. The first is the abbreviation, “sov”, in the list of options contained in the build sheet. Accordingly, the truck was built with three “sov” and I currently have no idea what the “sov” abbreviation identifies. Secondly, I can not determine if the truck left the factory with the utility box. The build sheet indicates the rear body as a “2”, unfortunately I am unable to determine what the “2” refers to, when describing the rear body. And the “rear fender” option is left unchecked on the build sheet. As you might expect, the truck has no rear fenders. If you know of anyone with knowledge of the coding used in Dodge build sheets from that era, I would appreciate their contact information. 

1937 dodge mc pickup back

I have had several automotive professionals analyze the utility body to determine who manufactured it. In addition to being unable to locate a makers mark, these individuals all concluded that the box was made by a manufacturing concern and not a one-off built by a local craftsman. The gauge of the metal and the accuracy of the stampings indicate to them, that the box was built by, an unnamed industrial manufacturer. The wiring and fittings used to secure the box to the frame rails also indicate the truck probably left the factory, with this box attached. If you know of anyone with knowledge of utility boxes and their manufacturers, I would appreciate their contact information. 

1937 dodge mc pickup interior

The history of the truck from the time it left the factory until somewhere in the 50’s is unknown to me. The individual from whose estate it was purchased, in the 50’s, is identified in the faded black paint on both doors – Hans Kuhn, Builder, Grand Gorge. Grand Gorge is located in rural New York as is the farmer I pur-chased it from in 1977, who worked a dairy farm in Franklin, New York. During my college years I had seen the truck occasionally moved around the farm and noticed it did not have license plates on it. The story goes that the farmer bought the truck to use on the farm and for his boys to learn how to drive. The boys had no interest, so the farmer did not register it for the road. He used the Dodge to drive around the farm for approximately 20 years. So a few years out of college I got enough courage to ask him if it was for sale, we struck a deal and I towed it home a week or two later. 

When I purchased the truck it was not drivable, the engine was seized, the interior was unusable, the windshield was delaminated, the rear window was broken and it had 107,960 miles on the odometer. I intend-ed to restore the truck and have fun with it. Over the years I never had the time or resources to devote to the truck. Fast forward from 1977 to 2015, the spring of ‘15, my son motivated me to get the truck running and usable again. Each of the trucks systems were evaluated and all parts that needed to be replaced were, so it would become a reliable driver. The Dodge passed Vermont state inspection in October of 2015 and I have been using it since. It does not have special antique plates, but regular truck plates, so I can enjoy it whenever possible and not have to worry about the restrictions imposed on vehicles with antique plates. 

The truck is as original as I could keep it and still be a reliable driver. The inner surfaces of the utility box has its original paint as does the fenders and firewall. Some-where in the 50’s a previous owner hand brushed the light green paint over the stock dark green paint. Inside one of the utility box compartments are the two remaining original sliding wood trays used to hold tools. 

The Dodge is used for weekend chores and has successfully taken me on one 320 mile round trip excursion in under 24 hours. What fun it is to experience the response of people as I pull into a shopping area. Most rave about the originality and patina of the truck, the uniqueness of the utility box and implore me not to change it. Double clutching to and from my weekend destinations has become something I very much look forward to and hope to continue enjoying for years to come. 

Birds of a Feather

Friday night (February 1, 2019) we lost a good friend and the area lost a knowledgeable, passionate historian in Ken Barber. 

ken barber

Ken was a VAE member and has contributed to Wheel Tracks many times. If you didn’t know him, I wouldn’t be surprised. He didn’t inject himself in the running of the operation, not to say he didn’t have opinions about its “runnings”. I think some of the reason was that things tended to annoy him, so he stayed away. 

He was an avid collector of information in the form of books, papers, magazines and photographs. He loved printing photo-graphs of local history from some glass negatives which he had collected. And with them, he had great recall and knew facts which, I fear, without being written down, will be lost forever. 

His knowledge spanned a huge number of things, from town and village history and changes, antiques, old tools, trucks and of course, cars. Recently Ken wanted my husband, Gary, to take him to Maine to get about 200 Life magazines from the 40’s and 50’s. After Ken looked them over he passed them on to Gary and they now reside under my dining room table! 

Ken was as concerned as Gary, about the loss of history, when things get thrown away or by people passing away. This would include the loss of skills, that at one time, many could do. I know Gael Boardman was impressed with Ken’s skill in producing hand hewn beams for a house Ken built for his family. I also know Ken would give Gary items knowing he would ‘hang on to them’. 

One of the reasons I liked Ken, so much, was that if Gary suggested going somewhere and I didn’t really want to go, I would say, ‘why don’t you ask Ken’. Gary and Ken, being like-minded, enjoyed the outings with each other and I enjoyed seeing them go! 

Ken could be kind of cranky and believe it or not, so can Gary. That along with their common interests and we have “Birds of a feather flock together”. Another ‘bird in the flock’ is Gary Fiske. Gary and Ken had become great friends with common interests. I can’t believe, however, that Gary ever gets cranky. Ken you will be missed by Gary and I, maybe not wholly for the same reasons but thoroughly missed none the less. 

Rest in Peace, dear friend. 

Wheel Tracks note…. Ken’s two sons, Glenn and Scott, while completing the obituary, decided to asked if someone would like to make a donation in Ken’s name, they can donate to the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts. Our treasurer, Don Pierce at 203 Colchester Pond Road, Colchester, VT 05446 is where it can be sent.