1918 REO Model F Speed Wagon

Mike Daigle and sons Domenico and Charlie have a new project at their home. The 1918 REO Model F Speed Wagon will be their winter project… And maybe beyond winter.

Asked why a REO Speed Wagon Mike Daigle said “Probably because of his neighbor Gene Towne.” 

Gene Towne died a few years ago, but he left a huge foot-print in our memories, especially Mike Daigle’s. It was visiting Gene’s place over the 16 years that Mike and his family lived as neighbors, that he caught the bug for ‘old stuff’. 

In fact, it appears Mike’s sons, Charlie, eleven years old and Domenico, 16, have also caught the bug. Domenico, recently, fired up his project in the family garage for the first time. A late 40s Oliver 66, wide-front-end tractor. Maybe that Oliver 66 could be a Wheel Tracks feature some day… We hope! 

Mike found the Speed Wagon in the back hills of East Wallingford. He said, after getting his trailer loaded, he had serious concerns if he was going to make it out. He did, as you can see, and the three have plans to get it, mechanically, in good shape but want to keep the same basic appearance that you see today. Mike’s background is mechanics while spending a number of years working at the VT. State Police garage in Colchester. So he knows his way around a tool box. 

The Daigle’s have the REO running. They were fascinated with the exposed valve tappets and the chain-driven starter. 

Chain-driven starter

The Speed Wagon is built for a top speed of 22MPH, while other trucks from that era was 5 to 10MPH slower. Its engine puts out 27 horse power. This is how the term Speed Wagon began. REO started building “Speed Wagon” trucks in 1915 and they advertised that their trucks “had long-term viability and theirs could go faster”. 

They were also known to go faster in stop and go city traffic because they had “Tall Gearing”. Tall Gearing (vs short gearing) simply means you do not have to spend as much time shifting because of the REO’s gear ratios. 

REO used the “Speed Wagon” term through 1939, they changed the term to one word in the later years. 

REO started making trucks in 1908, merged and became Diamond-REO in 1971 and went out of business in 1974. 

The Model F 1918 serial numbers started with #15000 and ended with #21543, which means REO built 6543 of these trucks in 1918. 

Another huge plus, if you purchased a REO truck, especially a Speed Wagon, it could be refitted for whatever special purpose was needed, and the REO Motor Car Company knew that was part of their appeal. They advertised the ease with which the Wagon could be customized and started building Wagons with bigger engines, heavier flywheels, and larger water pumps. If you needed something done, the Speed Wagon could do it. 

By 1925, the company had produced more than 125,000 Speed Wagons. 

How much wood can a woodchuck chuck

You all probably know I love to garden. 

Well, by now I’ve started to put the flower beds to rest for the long winter ahead, but I’ll tell you about my August/September problem. And it turned out to be a BIG problem. 

It seems we had a gopher invade our lawn. Well, at least that’s what I thought it was. I even looked up pictures of it and, yep, seems like that’s our guy. Well, the little bugger was living in the culvert that goes from one side of our driveway to the other and would come out to eat. It was eating the clover and I thought, great, I gotta deal with that clover at some point anyway, so have at it. 

Well, fast forward through to September and – dang it! – it turns out that it wasn’t a gopher at all. I discovered it, one morning, standing on its hind legs eating – EATING! – my flowers in the very large pots on our front porch. It stood 14-16 inches, and that ain’t no gopher. Gophers weigh between one and two pounds, and this was much bigger than a couple pounds. So back to Google I went and, lo and behold, it turns out that it’s a groundhog, otherwise known as a woodchuck. 

Okay, so this means war. I tolerated it for the previous month because it wasn’t doing any serious damage, so I thought, and then to find it eating my petunias and brand new phlox in my brand new front bed, plus it started on my Montauk daisy that I’ve been babying since last fall, and I’d had enough. 

Out came the animal trap. As you are reading this, I’d like to say we caught the woodchuck, but I can’t, so you’ll have to stay tuned to my future Softer Side and I’ll put a side note in to let you know how this terrible saga ended either for me or the woodchuck. 

I’m sure reading this, what comes to mind, is the following, which I’ll end on: 

“How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” 

Editor’s notes…. 30-aught-6 comes to my mind Anne. 

Just saying. 

Battery Disconnect

Dave! 

Hope you enjoyed your vacation? Did you go anywhere fun? Did you find anything that interested you, or your family? 

Hey, I need some help, please? I just bought a low profile “sliding” battery disconnect, which will mount to the negative terminal of my antique car’s battery (6v). It seems apparent to me that when the switch is “open” (slide not making contact with the receptor) the battery will be disconnected from the circuit and the car will not start…which is great! Obviously, when the switch “closes” the circuit, juice will again flow, and the car will be able to start – Great! 

My question is what about when I “trickle charge” my battery between tours, or while in semi active storage…Is the circuit to be closed with slide making contact? or open & slide making no contact? 

Thanks, I wanna avoid fires, problems, while still ensuring that the battery is fully charged. Maybe its easier and safer to remove the disconnect apparatus entirely, and then charge the battery as normal? 

Chris Chartier, Ascutney, VT 

Chris, good questions! A battery disconnect is a great idea. Many older cars have wiring that is not fused. This, coupled with old lacquer braided wiring is a recipe for disaster. 

Cars should have the battery disconnected when in storage, for safety. There are many battery disconnect switches. I have seen many of the cheaper ones fail. Ideally you want to be able to disconnect the battery from the drivers seat, in the event of a short while driving. 

With conventional lead acid batteries it is a great idea to have the battery hooked up to a battery tender while the vehicle is in storage. Conventional batteries lose about 1-2% of their charge every day. 

If the battery is a gel cell or AGM battery, the best thing to do is leave the battery disconnected. These batteries lose a minimal amount of power while in storage. 

1951 Ford Victoria

Allan Wright’s 1951 Ford Victoria is almost 70 years-old and has 80,000 miles on the odometer…..but, if you look closely, the car is in better shape than when it came from the factory. 

After a complete professional restoration and winning a number of national awards, Allan was able to purchase this Ford “Vic” from its owner in Manchester Maryland in March of 2017. 

Wheel Tracks met the car, and its owner for the first time during the club’s “Flash Parade” on the 8th of August. 

Allan Wright's 1951 Ford Victoria

The 1951 Ford Custom Victoria was Ford’s first hardtop, offered only in V-8 guise. It appeared in the last year of the 1949 styling generation. 

Styled by Gordon M. Buehrig, who originally worked at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg plant. When he came to Ford he had just left the Loewy team at Studebaker. 

A plus for this 1951 top-line model was the debut of Ford’s optional self-shift Ford-O-Matic this year. The war and being required to 

basically stop all domestic automobile production from 1946 through 1948, the 1949 Ford is credited with saving Ford. It ushering in the modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more. This design would continue through the 1951 model year, with an updated design offered in 1952. 

Ford built 110,286 Ford Vics in 1951. The 239 CID Flathead engine was one of the most reliable engines ever made and produced 100HP. The wheelbase is 114 inches, length is 197 inches and weighs 3188 pounds. New cost was $1925. 

When Ford began this line in 1949, the engine was moved forward to make more room in the passenger compartment and the antiquated “torque tube” was replaced by a modern drive shaft. 

Competition from GM and Chrysler great and in some ways the new design in 1948 was rushed into production. One example was the door mechanism design. It was found that the doors could fling open on corners. In the 1950 model there were some 10 changes in the door latching mechanism alone. Ford easily out-sold GM and Chrysler with assembly plants in six locations; Dearborn, Michigan  Chester, Pennsylvania Long Beach, California Saint Paul, Minnesota Australia Singapore, Malaysia.

1951 ford victoria

Allan Wright first put eyes on this car at the AACA Hershey car coral in October of 2016. From talking to him, he decided at that time, he wanted this car. Like most of us, we go to Hershey with a little stash of cash, but need to do a little “banking” for the bigger purchases. 

So, Allan decided to give the owner a call when he returned to Vermont, after the show. When he did, he found the car had not been sold and better yet, the price had decreased! After making arrangements to travel to Maryland and most likely bring the car home, he had a small health problem and had to cancel the trip. Then came time for their normal wintering in Arizona, so the Ford Vic was put on the back burner. 

While poking through Ebay the following February, Allen “found” the Victoria one more time and decided it was an omen he could ignore no more. 

Another plus…the price had come down even more. 

He then flew to Vermont in March (2017)to get his truck and trailer and headed south. The trip was rewarded to find the same beauty he had seen in Hershey four months earlier. He had to go through some winter weather on his trip back to Vermont resulting in a complete ice covered Ford on his trailer, but he successfully stored it in his garage and escaped back to Arizona to wait out the Vermont mud season. 

Allen’s Ford has not been to our August car show in Waterbury yet, but watch for it in 2021. It is a beauty! 

Stories for your Grandchildren

I was thinking, the other day, about Covid-19 and what it will be like to be on the other side of this horrible time. Of course, I hope that we will all get to the other side of this virus. Like most things in history at some point our grand or great grandchildren will hear of the terrible epidemic of 2020 and want to know how it affected us, good and bad. So, the following is the story I will tell (if I remember!). 

This is not your grandpa, or his camp, just an example. Actually, he was very happy at camp, with his old magazines.

It was March 2020 and Grandpa had left for his yearly trip to Chickasha, Oklahoma with his friend, Vin Cassidy. Before he left, we had been hearing news of a deadly virus in China, but things seemed to be simply fine here in the USA, so he left. He was probably two thirds across the country when there were cases in Seattle, Washington being reported. They continued toward Kansas first and then on to Oklahoma. About the time they hit Kansas, events started to be can-celled but so far, the Oklahoma event had not been. Grandma, being somewhat of a worry wart, suggested they head home to Vermont but Grandpa, being an Olney, moved on with no fear, even spent time with some ‘car guys’ from Seattle headed to Oklahoma. Suddenly it seemed that overnight a great concern hit the country and you could not keep up with the cancellations and closings. Grandpa and Vin headed to Oklahoma even though the event had been cancelled, thought they would just say, ‘Hey’. 

This is when Grandma said, ‘COME HOME!’. There was talk that some states were about to close their borders to all who were not essential. Of course, Grandpa would not believe he was not (essential), but they did high tail it back to Vermont. Now, we had to decide what to do with Grandpa once he got back. Answer: go to camp. Grandma packed food, water, clothes and other items in totes and put them on the porch 

because Grandma was not letting him in the house until he had quarantined for at least 2 weeks. The plan was to come to the house in Derby Line, get the truck and the packed items and head to camp. 

Problem #1: big snowstorm all the way from Massachusetts 

2. Truck would not start. So, Grandpa slept in the front of the 2006 Ford Fusion and the next morning shoveled out, jumped the truck and headed to camp. Thankfully, the snow did not last too long and with 4-wheel drive he could get in and out. 

The camp had no running water, (which causes a bathroom problem), camp not well insulated and totally open underneath so a bit tricky to keep warm with electric and wood heat. At this time, the lake was frozen over, still. 

Grandpa stayed over a week before he came out to stock up, again, still not being allowed in his house. Probably the children will ask, ‘what did he do?’ Well, he read newspapers, clipped old Life magazines, cut wood, and did yard work (once the snow was gone. Of course, some time was spent making his own meals, but he would bring his dishes to the house and Grandma would wash them and send them back. It was about 3 weeks before he was allowed home to shower and shave. 

To get all the yard work done and wood cut, he ended up staying for about 2 months. By now, Grandma was used to being a single woman and enjoying it, I might add. But it was Grandma who finally said, ‘pack up and come home’, Willy the cat misses you. And so, he did, and he is still there (home) today. 

The End. 

1926 Chrysler Model 25

This is a test… is Fred Gonet’s automobile, pictured here, really, a Chrysler or is someone playing a joke on us, and it is really a Maxwell?
Answer… in 1925, this exact model would have had a Maxwell badge on its hood.

That same year, Chrysler bought out Maxwell, named this car the Model 25 and in 1926, slapped the Chrysler badge on it.

Chrysler was responding to other car company’s reduced pricing. They had no low-end model to offer their customers, so the Maxwell became it. The model 25 continued through 1928, when they began to call it a Plymouth.

1926 chrysler model 25 grill

At $695, Chrysler could compete with this five-seat car. It had high-tension magneto ignition, electric horn and (optional) electric starter and headlights, and an innovative shock absorber to protect the radiator.

Fred and BJ Gonet became the proud owners of this 1926 Chrysler in 1982. Fred’s Dad was visiting from his home in Long Island, NY and the two went the little ways down the road to Springfield and brought it home to Proctorsville. Fred and BJ purchased the car from Harry Olney, which was stored in a barn, in the woods, behind an area church.

There was a surprise, for Fred, when the “Chrysler” arrived in Proctorsville. He noticed there were NO hydraulic brakes like other Chryslers of the era. That was when he realized it was, really, a Maxwell, built in 1925, and one of the ‘transition’ cars that Chrysler had basically just slapped their badge onto the radiator.

The car had another odd feature when Fred took a closer look. It has a 4-cylinder engine, and interestingly, when Fred took the engine head off, there was one piston at its lower position and three at the top position! Most car buffs know, that is not quite correct. It turned out the crank shaft and all of the connecting rods were doing their job fine, its just that one piston had broken in half, explaining the “tardy” half parking at the top of the cylinder.
The car needed engine work, new Nichol trim, a paint job, upholstery, the wood and head-liner was rotted and lots of body work. So Fred, BJ and their two young children went at it, with the grand plan of driving the car to Long Island for his Dad’s birthday.

Fred was working full-time for a company in town, so the body-off restoration had to happen on weekends and during the hours of 4PM and midnight during the week.

He would take parts off the car during his evening “shift” and the kids and BJ would clean and paint them while he was at work the next day. There were not too many other ’surprises’ with the car, just lots of work.
Oh, and did we mention this small detail? The time between the start of the restoration and Mr. Gonet’s 70th birthday celebration in Long Island was 6 weeks. Amazingly, the Gonet family made their 6-weeks-restoration deadline. In fact, the maiden journey for the Chrysler, just hours after putting away his tools, was the 275 mile trip to Mr. Gonet’s house.
The car made the trip in fine fashion with its, replacement, ’27 Chrysler engine and shiny new paint. Fred’s Dad could not believe it was the same sorry car he had helped pull from a barn just a few weeks earlier.
The old Chrysler is used regularly today. It is Fred and BJ’s going-out-to-dinner car, on rainy days.

1926 chrysler model 25 back

Fred was working full-time for a company in town, so the body-off restoration had to happen on weekends and during the hours of 4PM and midnight during the week.He would take parts off the car during his evening “shift” and the kids and BJ would clean and paint them while he was at work the next day. There were not too many other ’surprises’ with the car, just lots of work.

Oh, and did we mention this small detail? The time between the start of the restoration and Mr. Gonet’s 70th birthday celebration in Long Island was 6 weeks. Amazingly, the Gonet family made their 6-weeks-restoration deadline. In fact, the maiden journey for the Chrysler, just hours after putting away his tools, was the 275 mile trip to Mr. Gonet’s house.
The car made the trip in fine fashion with its, replacement, ’27 Chrysler engine and shiny new paint. Fred’s Dad could not believe it was the same sorry car he had helped pull from a barn just a few weeks earlier.
The old Chrysler is used regularly today. It is Fred and BJ’s going-out-to-dinner car, on rainy days.

How-to Lubricate Window Slide & Door Locks

had a question recently that may be of interest. The question was: “How do I lubricate my window slides and door lock hardware in my antique cars?”

fluid film

I use Fluidfilm to lubricate window regulators and the latch on the inside of the door. I undercoat my cars with Fluidfilm in the fall, and keep a five gallon pail in the garage for little projects. I keep a paint brush in the bucket, and use it to apply. Fluidfilm works well as a lubricant, does not wash off, and does not attract dirt.

What to do with all these photos…

Thinking back on the winter chores that I didn’t get done, one thing that is always on my list is ‘photos’.

I went through boxes of greeting cards, birthday cards and Christmas cards that seem to have accumulated in the desk.

Does anyone else save cards for thirty years or more? In a weak moment I discarded cards from people I don’t even remember, Christmas cards that go back to the time when people sent cards to everyone, even people you saw almost on a daily basis. That was when postage stamps were only a few cents. I did save those special cards that the kids made when they were little, the cards Gael made with the funny little poems in them, cards from the grandparents who are no longer with us. The kids will have to go through them next.

How about calendars. I saved calendars for thirty years or more. I’m not sure why, but there have been times when I couldn’t remember someone’s birth date and would look it up on a calendar in my stack.

family photos

But back to ‘photos’. If your house is like ours, you might have pictures from your grandparents, your parents, your in-law’s, not to mention all the photos of your immediate family, starting with your early days of marriage and then the kids, animals, etc.

Here, at our house, we have an additional category… old cars and equipment. These go back to the days of the Brownie camera with the film that would be taken to the store and a week later you would go back and pick up the photos.

Gael wasn’t too keen on having his picture taken, as many of you know, but he loved to take pictures of old stuff.

I came upon stacks of photos of trips to auto museums, automobile meets, various auto trips, Gael’s collection of things here at home, Stowe VAE shows, some having people from the club who have been gone a long time. Bob Jones, Peveril Peake to name a few.

My first trip to the Stowe Show was in 1960 when Mahlon, Gael and I took the speedster that they made from a fire truck in St. Albans.

I haven’t tackled the boxes of family photos that go back generations, I’m not sure what to do with them, so they will remain in their boxes another year. Throwing them out is not an option. At this point they are tucked away in safe places where I know they are.

Gael’s photos, on the other hand, are finally in a few shoe boxes, all in one location and sorted out as best I can. Is there anyone out there that would like to go through them with me and perhaps identify cars, equipment and people so they can go back in their boxes in some kind of order. Here, again, throwing them out is not an option. A little dust on the top of the boxes won’t hurt anyone.

1960 Chevrolet Impala

VAEer Richard Spitzer has a project on his hands with this 1960 Chevy Impala. 

This from Richard Spitzer…

When my dad told me he saw a 1960 Impala for sale, I had no clue what one looked like. 

Fins and a bubble top. What? I was 17 and driving a SAAB 99. I liked old cars, but had no idea what the models were back then. We drove over to Hyde Park to check it out. I was caught off guard a bit, it was big and turquoise! But we drove it around and it sold it-self. 

My friends rode in the car my last few years of High School at People Academy. Everyone liked it. Even my mom would borrow my car to run errands. 

I was jealous of the new 5.0 Mustangs and my buddy’s Camaros. So of course I tried flipping the air cleaner lid to make it sound powerful. I tried a big 4 barrel on the 283. No more power, but sounded great. I did get a dual exhaust system on it and some new Cragar Wheels and white letter tires. She rolled really good then. I would rev the car in first forever, then shift the Powerglide into high, and it would make a great exhaust note. It was big, heavy and slow. We even got stuck in the parking lot at the Stowe Car show. But with no seat belts, we could load it up with teenagers and cruise town in style. 

Those were the good days. When the front seat broke out of the floor and ended up in the back seat going up Quarry Hill, I new I had a rust problem. Bondo was falling off daily and the right front tire went 100 yards further than I did in Keene, NH. It was 1988, I was in the military and the Impala was pushed to the side. But soon misguided motivation and a side order of hair band music, led to the biggest mistakes many car guys make, and I disassembled the whole car. With the help of a few friends, the car was in pieces. I had the frame repaired, and the body was on its side in my garage while I repaired the floor. Pieces of that car are scattered from Enosburg to Jericho to Williston over six plus moves and I doubt I have all of them. I have miles of trailering and tons of wasted effort pushing it in and out of the garage, and now it still sits sadly waiting for repair. 

Bring in the new life, with a new wife, and a garage that makes most men jealous. I am just a few projects away from getting back on track with the Impala. I always say it has been more of a resurrection then restoration. It will move again under its own power. It is a little ugly right now. I am not a detailed body guy, just a mechanic. So hopefully there will be progress on this project each month. I am not sure yet what the car will look like in the end except the color, 1960 turquoise and a white top. I have kids that have never rode in it, so I hope to get the car done so everyone can enjoy it. See you on the road soon!! 


A question for everyone……Which vehicle would you say is the one you would like? 

This 2020 Chevy Impala? 

There have been 10 generations of Chevrolet Impalas, starting in 1958. 

Richard’s Impala is the 2nd generation. Chevrolet made 490,900 Impalas in 1960, with many variations. 

Or, this 1960 Chevy Impala? 

There was the Sedan, the Hard Top Sedan and the Hard Top Coupes. Along with the Convertible Couples and the Station Wagons. There were 2-door and 4-door variations and “Sport” packages. 

Engine choices were the 235 cu in “Blue Flame I6”, the 283 cu in “Turbo Fire V8”, and the 348 cu in “W-series Turbo Thrust V8”. A “Speedminder” was an option where the driver sets a needle at a specific speed and a buzzer would sound if the pre-set was exceeded. 

Right-hand drive cars were made in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, for New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. All the rest were built in Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri, South Gate, California. 

A two-door Hardtop Sport Coupe cost $2,597 in 1960, $19,425 in todays dollars. Regular gasoline in 1960 was $.31 per gallon, in today’s dollars that comes to $2.71 per gallon. The Impala with the 283 engine is reported to get 12MPG. 

So, yes, it will cost you more to drive a 1960 Chevrolet Impala, but there is no question which is more preferable. If you say the vehicle on the left, we need to talk. 

The 2020 Golden Wrench Award

Dave’s Garage is giving space this month to the 2020 Golden Wrench Award Recipients. Congratulations to you all. 

The Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts 

Golden Wrench Award 

May 29, 2020 

(Address & student name……..) 

Congratulations! You have been selected to receive VAE’s Golden Wrench Award. We have found you best exemplify the qualities of the positive attitude toward learning and a drive to succeed in a career in automotive technology or any career that you choose. 

The Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts is an antique and classic car club dedicated to the preservation, protection, promotion and appreciation of automobile history and technology. The VAE is based in Vermont with members from ten States, Canada, Europe and China. 

Your award has come from our belief in the importance of education and continued learning. You are part of a very special group of Vermont high school juniors. You are one of sixteen outstanding students being recognized this Spring, from each of Vermont’s sixteen career centers. Our hope is that recognizing you in your junior year, will energize you to use your last year as a senior, to focus on your future. We have learned of your demonstrative skills in automotive technology and believe you can be successful in any career that you choose. 

We have decided to inform you about winning the award now, but because of the current situation with Covid19, we will not be able to present the award to you until school is back in session, in the Fall. Please notify us of any changes in your residence or status that we will need to know, in order to make certain you receive your award. 

The VAE has been given the great opportunity to work with the Mac Tool Corporation which allows you to enter their Student Discount Program that qualifies you to a 50% to 60% discount as long as you are a student. All you need to do is apply online at Mac Tools and the discount is yours. The $685.00 of Mac Tools that are being presented to you today is the result of this program. 

Beginning this year, we have added a small scholarship to the Golden Wrench Award. It consist of $500 which you may use should you continue your education at an appropriate secondary educational institute. Let us know when you have proof of acceptance to any field of study, from an accredited institution and we will release the funds to you. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to continue your education. 

Your award today includes: 

  • The recognition of the VAE and your school staff for your accomplishments 
  • $685.00 of Mac tools and our VAE Golden Wrench Award Trophy 
  • The book by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, “ The Physics of NASCAR” 
  • A one year membership in the VAE that includes our monthly newsletter “Wheel Tracks” 
  • A $500 scholarship when you are accepted in any secondary education. 
  • Our Blessing to you and your future… Good Luck to you (student name). 

Ed Hilbert 
Ed Hilbert, Chairman, VAE Education/Outreach Committee