It’s All About the Mud

mud season vintage carDisclosure: “The views expressed in this article belong solely to the writer and do not reflect the VAES’ idea of a good time”.

Mud season is frustrating for non-mud enthusiasts, most classic car owners and livestock caretakers alike. If Vermont were to name a state season, mud season would be a viable candidate.

Vermont’s fifth season is undeterminably long, it disappears only to reappear spontaneously, striking without notice. June tent weddings, Fourth of July and the Stowe Car Show have all fallen victim to torrential rain and mud. I like car shows best when the solar deity, Ra, chooses to be in attendance.

vermont road mud season
“Muddy road after thaw, near Stowe, Vermont” – from the Library of Congress – April, 1940

Some folks are drawn to mud like a moth to a flame, adding mud to sporting events to enhance player and viewer enjoyment. Mud wrestling, mud volley ball, mud football, and let’s not forget my personal favorite – mud bogging caravan style, entice a cult following. I have personally experienced mud bogging due to a kind hearted gentleman who saved my husband and I a coveted spot in the back of his 1952 Dodge Power Wagon. His vehicle was meticulously restored and CLEAN which meant its occupants were not motored through a 30′ by 60′ foot pit of mud. This pit was truly impressive, indiscriminately swallowing up jeeps, miscellaneous retired military vehicles, men – women – children- dogs, and beer coolers. Needless to say my husband now attends this rally alone.

On the brighter side, mud season is the catalyst for change. It ceremoniously welcomes in the running of the sap, spring flowers and the highly coveted dog days of summer.

Cabin Air Filter – Dave’s Garage

Most cars sold today have a cabin air filter, usually located behind the glovebox in the dashboard. This will filter dust, pollen and dirt entering the Heating, Air Conditioning and Ventilation System.

cabin air filterI recently noticed the airflow on my Subaru’s heater was weak on one of the many below zero mornings. I remembered this car had a cabin air filter, and I know I have never replaced it. The owners manual states the filter should be replaced annually, or every 15 thousand miles, depending on the conditions the car is driven in. This car has 230,000 miles on it, and this was the factory cabin filter, I had never changed it. I live on a very dusty dirt road, so I should theoretically be changing the filter more often.

The filter was inexpensive enough, and in stock at my local friendly auto parts store. When I took the old filter out, I was not surprised to find the filter was quite dirty. I was surprised to find a great deal of dirt and pine needles sandwiched between the A/C evaporator and the filter. I pulled out about a cup of dirt, and a handful of pine needles.

I used a vacuum cleaner to vacuum out the HVAC box, and a paint brush to get all the dirt off the A/C evaporator. I turned the heater fan on high to blow out any remaining dust, dirt and debris.

I was very impressed with the improvement in the airflow with the new filter. The volume of air going through the cars vents was noticeably higher.

The heater works much better now.

Cabin air filters in cars are a relatively new phenomenon. As cars have become more and more maintenance free, it is a bit unusual to have something new to remember to maintain. If the new filter does not include a sticker to log the date and the mileage of the replacement, it is a good idea to log this information on a piece of masking tape and place it somewhere on the car as a maintenance reminder.

Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

Kenneth Barber, VAE Photographer Laureate

Ken BarberKen Barber’s title, “VAE Photographer Laureate”, has been decided upon by a committee of One… and that is me.

I believe 100% if you were part of that committee you would agree with me. Photography has been a huge part of Ken’s life and it just so happens old cars and VAE car shows, all the way back to Spruce Peak, has been some of his main subjects.

I had heard about this “photographer gent” from Barton, Vermont but had never met him. Then, I received two photos in the mail one day and a nice note from him giving me permission to use them in Wheel Tracks. Those photos take us back in time to 1917 during a special period in the automobile history (they are on page 2 of the last two issues).

Whenever I visit the NEK (Northeast Kingdom) it is always a treat to me and when I met Ken at the Parson’s Corner Restaurant in Barton a few weeks ago it became a special treat. I know more than got my head in the door when Carmon Brown called me by name and directed me to his table. Carmon is a waitress there and if only I had her ability to remember names and be ‘that happy’; I would have it made. I doubt if it was two minutes after meeting Ken that I knew he had a very special talent and I also knew that he was going to be one of those long time friends I would always learn from.

Ken spent most of his career as a machine operator in an area machine shop. Other than an adventure as a young man when he worked for Douglas Aircraft in California for a short time, he has spent most of his life in the NEK. The camera that you can see at his right elbow was his first real dive into photography, it is a Mamiya twin lens reflex and the “dream camera” in it’s day. The camera led him to a very good fortune one day when he rented a space for a darkroom at a local business. The landlord asked Ken if he would take some boxes off his hands that were in his attic. The boxes had been left behind by a photographer many years before. It turned out to be hundreds of glass negatives from the early 1900s.

Producing photos from those negatives and from the thousands that he has taken with his Mamiya has been Ken’s passion over many years. The bridge pictured to the left is one of his Mamiya photos from the 1960s. Ken said he waited for hours to get that shot. Photographers have a very special way of watching life’s everyday happenings and picking out scenes that you and I would never pick as important… but are very important. That is why Ken Barber is so interesting to talk to and learn from.
Ken has also been struck by the same fever that many VAEers are afflicted with. He says now that he is 86 years old, he seems to be bothered by it less these days. If you have ‘the fever’, you are required to seek out and drag home any object that even looks like a gas powered vehicle… even diesel powered will do. I remember asking Ken when we first met if he had brought any old cars home, in his days. I got the impression there had not been many. As the conversation went on and a second visit to his home plus a few phone conversations, I have determined there have been many “barn-finds” in his life…

I have seen pictures of piles of steel “basket-cases” on his trailer, only his explanation allowed me to see that it was, in fact, a car of some sort. There was a picture of a collapsed barn with a vehicle hiding in it’s shadows. Ken dug that car out and if I have correct notes, he drove that car for a number of years. Another hint that revealed his true identity was the folks he has kept company with over the years. Gael Boardman, Dave Maunsell, Gary Olney, A.K. Miller and Pevy Peake… I needed to hear no more.

Ken is flying to Arizona to visit his brother soon and speaks about his friend wanting to go on a balloon ride while out there. I challenged him (sort of) to doing the ride also, I will ask when he returns to the NEK. What photographer worth his salt would turn down a new adventure…