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.