Dave has a guest this month…

Paul Baresel from Buxton, Maine 

I have never not known a car enthusiast pass by an old barn, or even a collapsing old barn, and ask themselves “What old car or car parts are hiding in there?”. 

My big break came for me this summer after day dreaming what buried treasures are waiting for daylight in this big barn down the road from where I live. I had watched a huge wagon beside the barn disintegrate before my eyes, trees collapse on an old van, and a farm tractor sink into the earth. The day came when I was driving by and saw a door open to the barn and an elderly man dragging some old wood boards outside. I seized the opportunity and introduced myself to him and asked if there were any old car parts inside. I waited with bated breath and “Yes” he said, “but you can not see it!”. “Why not?” “ Just look in the barn” he said. So I did. I thought the term hoarder was the name of a tv show, and here it is in real life. My eyes beheld boards of all shapes and sizes, tables, chairs, books, ancient televisions, refrigerators, and stoves. I asked him “There are car parts in there??!!!” 

The old gent told me that, somewhere in there was a 1930 Model A doodle bug that was put there 30 years earlier. 

1931 ford model a doodle bug

The gentleman was an actor and his life has been spent in a Portland, (ME) theater. When the theater burned down, many years earlier, he had asked if he could salvage the items that remained. The barn contained all that he had rescued and now he had the task of cleaning it out, because it had been sold. 

He was so sentimental about the theater, that he had rented storage units and planned to move the barn contents into the units. I offered to help in exchange for the Model A and he agreed. 

After a lot of work we uncovered the doodle bug. There it stood gleaming like the Holy Grail, flat tires, broken steering wheel, and broken head lights. It was love at first sight. 

The ultimate challenge was how to get the thing out of the barn. He had built walls around it to hold all of his junk! 

The day came when a friend, the gent, and I began the job of getting the doodle bug out of the barn. The tires held air, we got the transmission free, and the brakes were not frozen. So far, so good until I pushed from behind the bug. 

The ground caved in under my feet, the back wheels began to settle into the cavern. I found my self standing in two feet of porcupine crap! I knew that they would destroy wood, but tunnel? This was a new experience for the three of us. 

We tried to moved the truck again and the front wheels joined the rear wheels sinking into the porcupine tunnels and poop. Using jacks, old boards, and big crow bar, we finally had the vehicle outside for its first day-light in 30 years. 

We had gone through a dozen or so face masks, a container of hand sanitizer and two 6 packs of beer. 

Local people who had heard of the barn commotion, came by just as we pushed the buried “Treasure of Buxton”, on my car trailer. They looked inside the barn with a disappointment. They too, had wondered about the mysteries of the old barn and found only porcupine poop, the junk and this old “jitterbug” (the local term for a doodle bug). I was not allowed in the house until I showered with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. I even had to burn the clothes I was wearing! 

Several local people came by my home to stare at the golden radiance of the truck. One comment…..“I always wanted to know what was in that barn?” The look of disappointment and disbelief was amazing, as they left shaking their heads. I was thinking of charging people to gaze upon the “Treasure of Buxton” to recoup my efforts. 

The “ Treasure of Buxton” is sleeping, awaiting Spring to start its engine. 

A Different Kind of Pandemic Story

Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my maternal grandfather. His name was Maurice J. Villemaire, M.D., and he served the town of Milton, Vermont, as a general practitioner for 40 years. He was born in 1902, grew up in Winooski, went to medical school at the University of Vermont, did his residency out of state, and came back home to marry a cute nurse. They settled down on Main Street in Milton, hung out his shingle, and started practicing medicine in the early 1930s. until his death in 1972. His home and office were one and the same. 

All this background leads me to the early 1980s when, after my grandmother passed away. My mom and family were cleaning out my grandparents’ house, getting ready for sale. I remember we discovered heavy cardstock signs, 12 x 5 inches, with words like “mumps,” “German measles,” and “scarlet fever” on them. My mom told me the Vermont Department of Health provided these to doctors around the state for when they made house calls and diagnosed one of these dreaded diseases. She remembers my grandfather would nail the appropriate sign to the front door of a house as a quarantine measure. I always found it amazing that any of these signs survived, but under the front stairs were a stack of them! 

Science has come a long way: German measles (rubella) is no longer constantly present in the U.S. thanks to a vaccine developed long ago. Likewise, smallpox, a highly contagious, disfiguring and often deadly virus, was also eradicated decades ago after a worldwide immunization program. The World Health Organization considers it one of the biggest achievements of the time, in international public health. Whooping cough (pertussis), though not eradicated, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that is easily preventable by vaccine. 

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported that polio was once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. In the early 1950s, before the polio vaccines were available, polio outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year. Do you remember seeing pictures of people lying in an iron lung? 

Following development by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1955 of the polio vaccine, the number of cases fell rapidly to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s. 

His name was Maurice J. Villemaire, M.D., and he served the town of Milton, Vermont, as a general practitioner for 40 years. 

This brings me to the date of May 4, 1954, when my grandfather, Doc Villemaire, administered the first polio vaccine shot in Vermont to a child in Milton as part of national testing of the vaccine! I’ve often wondered what was going through his mind at the time? Would it save lives? Was he doing the right thing? 

Now, here we are, in 2021 with our very own version of a pandemic that has killed so many worldwide. I’m sure you’ve all read or heard news about the unprecedented research, development, time, money, and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

1954 polio shot
Boston Herald, May 5, 1954 Sandra Smith of the Checkerberry School in Milton, VT gets her Salk anti-polio shot from Dr. Villemaire. Milton was the 1st VT town to start the trials.

I still marvel today how men and women so many, many years ago, without the high-tech computers and modern-day scientific tools, were able to discover and produce those older vaccines that are still in use. 

I’m so very proud I can say that, back in his day, he was on the front lines and helped save lives! This also goes to show just how far the human race has come, yet how far we still have to go. 

UPDATE: With regard to my last article about the woodchuck, it seems he got into our neighbor’s shed and met his demise! I didn’t ask cause of death. 

1951 Mercury

Ken Gypson’s Journey with His Mercury Creation 

The old car hobby has many facets, maybe too many. Grandpa was into Maxwells, early Buicks and Pierce Arrows. Dad was into British sport cars, open wheel race cars (midgets and sprint cars) and Franklins and Packards.  Me? I’m into all of the above plus vintage stock cars and traditional Kustoms. 

1951 mercury hot rod back

The 49-51 Mercurys are the holy grail of traditional Kustoms. (Yes, with a “K” as coined by George Barris.) 

I bought mine in 1988 for $3,500. It was already a mild Kustom. Nosed, decked and shaved. (Nosed – hood ornaments removed, decked – trunk emblems removed, shaved – all other non-essential trim and latches removed.) It had a modified ’51 Merc grill that I immediately replaced with a shortened ’55 DeSoto grill. Door handles were removed and replaced with ’57 Plymouth trunk locks. I also “frenched” the head lights (no outside trim rings). Shortly thereafter the stock flathead went south. In the course of a rebuild the flathead was bored 40 over, given dual Stromberg 97carbs, a Chevy 283 distributor and a one wire alternator upgraded to 12 volt negative ground. 

While the engine was out for machine work, I got the crazy idea to chop the top. I had no idea the task I created for myself. I took a perfectly good car and whacked it 5 and a half inches! 

1951 mercury hot rod paintjob

With such a radical lowering I had to get a donor ’50 Merc for the rear window. The ’51 window has a 90 degree corner and would have been 2” below the fender line. The ’50 is rounded and worked perfectly. 

I also slanted the door posts and removed the drip moldings over the rear quarter windows, and installed a ’49 Merc dashboard with brand new VDO gauges. I drove the Merc in enamel and lacquer primer until 2018. During this time I also installed a MSD electronic distributor and adapted a Chevy S-10 5 speed overdrive tranny to the flathead. 

1951 mercury interior

It was time to refresh the Merc. I was also determined to finally get an interior done up for it. All those years it had late Chrysler seats and NO other interior. My friend, Dave, and I took the ’51 Merc interior seats and panels from a local junk yard to Labaron Bonney 2 days before they closed their doors. The shop manager took the seats home with her and did a great job in her home shop. 

Dave and I stripped the car and did whatever minor body work was needed to paint it. We flush mounted the skirts and had a body shop friend shoot the car in SEM Products Hot Rod Black. It took 3 months to put back together and install the beautiful black and red Naugahyde interior. 

I now have at least 6 times the amount of money into the Merc than what I paid for it! And, I only got to drive it one day before the snow came! 

1951 mercury flathead

My stud welder/slide hammer

Happy New Year! Although 2021 will have many challenges, I truly hope we will all have a better year. 

subaru bumper repair

Absent any questions this month, I decided I would write a review for a very affordable and useful tool. I purchased a stud welder/slide hammer from Harbor Freight. This tool allows me to pull dents out, especially handy with blind dents, with no access from behind. 

While very handy for blind access dents, it is also handy for dent repair that will require repaint anyway. 

subaru bumper repair tool

I tried this tool out to repair damage to my Outback after it hit a guard rail (I was not driving…). I was very impressed with how strong the weld from the studs is, and how easy it was to pull the metal back with the slide hammer. I am also overly impressed with the quality of the welder. The slide hammer is not extremely high quality, but it works. I would love to have a blow molded case to hold this tool, but I guess that is too much to ask for at this price. I will probably buy a tool case from Harbor Freight to keep it in. 

slide hammer

I moved the slide hammer from stud to stud, until the panel was where I wanted it to be, when I was satisfied, I snipped the studs off and ground the welds away with a flap disk on my angle grinder. A skim coat of body filler, followed by filler primer, epoxy sealer, base coat and clear coat and it was done. 

I was able to fix the bumper with two-part epoxy, flexible filler primer, base and clear. The best part of this tool is that it is an affordable $100. I would consider that a bargain. 

subaru bumper dent fixed

Lost – Found – Give

I do not know about you, but I ‘hate’ to lose something. 

I would rather drop it and see it run over by a bus (or in my case, an antique car would be more likely) and know its whereabouts and thus know what happened to it. The other is to give it away, I love giving things away. Gary had a grandmother that you had to watch what you said to her or you could go home with several items from her house. All you needed to say is, “oh grandma, that is so cute, I love it”. It would be in your bag as you left. Much to the envy of the other relatives, I might add. Though I might say I have seen her generosity used for someone’s’ benefit, too. But you can read that in my memoir someday. 

When I was first married, I ran to the Grand Union and did not take my purse. I carried a $10 bill in my hand. When I got to the register, it was gone. I re-traced my steps but to no avail. There was one person, who I thought was keeping a close eye on me, and I always thought that I had dropped the money, and he picked it up, and was watching me to see my reaction when I realized I couldn’t pay for the items I had picked up. Probably more likely he could see how cute I was (1972) and wanted my phone number. Never found out any of it! Was it the money or my looks -probably neither! 

I lost a ring when I was 8. My mother had given it to me, and I was going to get my initials engraved on it but lost it before that could be done. About 3 years later, a neighbor girl and I were playing, and I noticed her hand. She had a ring that looked exactly like my lost one. When I mentioned it to her, she said, ‘it probably is yours, I found it in my yard where we always played dress-up’. She gave it back to me but about a year later I was helping my mom throw brush over a bank and the ring came off – never to be seen again but I guess in this case I at least know where it is!! 

This brings me to a lost item that you may know about, my pie basket. I could buy another, but the reason it means so much to me, is my dear friend of many, many, years did a painting on the lid. 

It is of apples and is done with a technique called Tole Painting. I have had it for almost 50 years. 

I have searched everywhere I could think of and asked countless numbers of people if they had seen it. I even searched the cupboards of the church in Waterbury, in their fellowship hall, because I know I have sometimes taken it there, with my contributions to the lunch, for ‘show and tell’. I admit I ‘kind of’ accused my oldest son and his wife, Kate of having it under something in their garage. Like I should accuse anyone of having it under something in their garage (have you seen the Olney garage lately)? 

Gary Fiske put an ad in Wheel Tracks a few times, thank you. I have gotten ‘over’ the ring and the $10 but could not seem to let go of the pie basket and just hope that someone was enjoying it as much as I. 

The other day my son Josh put on Facebook that he was collecting winter coats and boots at his store in Orleans, Vt. You could bring them in and donate or if you needed some items, you could pick them out and take them home. 

I went into a closet where I knew I had some extra coats. I found 1 jacket I had been looking for, 3 jackets to donate and low and behold my PIE BASKET!!!! 

How did it get there? The Olneys have people that come in when we are away and move things around. That is the only explanation I have. 

My suggestion to each of you (with 4 fingers pointing back at me) is to give things away. That way you will not lose them, damage them or have them become mice food. There will also be less for the folks who come in and move things around when you are gone! But the big PLUS, you get to see the smile on the receivers’’ face. 

1933 Chevrolet Master Eagle Phaeton

This 1933 Master Eagle Phaeton Chevrolet now belongs to Gary and Nancy Olney. Some of us travel to the other side of our nation in search of our treasured antique auto. For the Olneys, the car had been hiding in a barn only 20 miles away, since 1954.

The picture, right, is what a couple of VAEers found, the morning they volunteered to help move the old car to its new home in Derby Line.
The Chevy had been visiting this garage for only a short time, as its former residence was being sold. The Sandville family, who lives nearby, had agreed to care for the orphan vehicle until a new owner was found. The original family, who purchased it new in New York City, had passed away, the nephew, Mat, who inherited the car had also passed away and was now owned by his brother Klaus, who lives in Germany. This must explain the Phaeton’s sad face, in a strange home and an uncertain future.

The Chevrolet’s original owner was Roselle Brittain. Roselle was a makeup artist, in the early television days, in New York City. She later started her own cosmetics company in the city and called it Rozelle Cosmetics. Driving the Chevrolet to northern Vermont on a vacation, she and her husband fell in love with Waitsfield, Vermont and ended up purchasing a property on the Loop Road. Not much later, they moved to Waitsfield, along with their business. Rozelle Cosmetics still exists today, at number 4260 Loop Road.
As mentioned, when the Brittains passed, the property, the business and the Chevy, was passed down to family members in Germany. The Chevy even visited our August car show when it was in Stowe, while nephew Mat owned the car.

Now, eighty seven years after Roselle purchased the Chevrolet Master Eagle Phaeton in NY City, Gary and Nancy Olney of Derby Line owns it. Like always in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, there is a bit of mystery. How did Gary Olney hear about the car being for sale? There were no advertisements, no auction or no VAE gossip to help him. You see, Gary has a bit of a reputation in the Kingdom. He is known to be a bit of a car buff, well, there are better words of description, but we want to be polite here.
When the gent in Germany wanted to find the value and desirability of the car, he asked his friend, Jim McIntyer, of the Kingdom, for advice. Like everyone in the VAE, if we were asked that question, yup…Mr. Gary Olney would come to mind!

So, Gary’s life long love for old cars paid off for him when Klaus asked him for ad-vice. “Kingdom Communications” also helped.

Now for the star of this show… The 1933 Chevrolet Master Eagle Series CA.
There were only 543 Phaetons built that year and the only year the name master Eagle was used, according to the Standard Catalog of American Cars. The high-end Chevy built in 1932 was called the “Confederate” and in 1934, called the “Master Series DA”. There were two less expensive models in 1933 called the Mercury and the Standard. The company built 486,280 cars in 1933, and kept them in the number one in the US.

The Eagle introduced new styling that year with its vee-shaped radiator, rear slanting hood door louvers, skirted fenders and the beaver tail back panel. The Fisher body was called the air-stream and had a no-draft ventilation system.

The Eagle mascot stood proudly on the radiator. The engine is a six cylinder Ohv, 65HP with a carter carburetor. It had a 3-speed synchromesh transmission.

When Gary first heard about the car, it was said to be a 1934. The advice he was getting was to “run the other way”!

The Master Chevys from ’34 to 1938 had the “new Knee-action front suspension” and they were trouble. According to publications from that period, many Masters were converted back to the standard I-beam and the Knee-action was ditched.

When Gary found his Chevy and it turned out to be a 1933, and it was “all-ahead full”… that is a Navy term to go top speed using all propellers. And he did.

My Gypson Tours

The other day I saw a photo of the car I rode in for the Gypson tour this year. It was BJ Gonet’s 1931 Chrysler, a beautiful car. It was a lovely but cool day and Cousin Hal and I rode in the back with the top down for better visibility. I started out with my winter coat on and eventually put on my hat and gloves. Filling out the answers on the papers was a bit difficult but when I dropped the pencil for the umpteenth time, I ditched the paper and just enjoyed the scenery. By the time we arrived at our destination I was under one of the blankets that was kept in the back of the car.

1931 chrysler gypson tour
Fred (driving) and BJ Gonet, in front. Cousin Hal and Judy Boardman, in the back

I was reminded of past Gypson tours that we took, one in particular. We were to meet in Jeffersonville, so the Sanders probably had something to do with the planning. It was a cold, blustery, drizzly day and by the time we got to Jeffersonville in the 1929 Chevy I was frozen. Gael loved open cars and he never seemed to get chilled. Anyway, in drives Jim Sears, in his closed car. It didn’t take me long to make arrangements to ride with Jim and I think Cousin Hal might have ridden with Gael. We eventually departed and Jim and I headed down the road in a closed car with windshield wipers and heat.

The tour took us all over the back roads of the neighboring towns crossing over many railroad tracks. Here again, Bill Sander must have had something to do with the route because a lot of questions were railroad related. Because I was trying to fill out the paperwork without much success, I happened to tell Jim about a dear friend of ours who lived in Underhill. Stan Hamlet was a true railroad buff. I then mentioned to Jim…if only I had a cell phone, I would call Stan for help. Jim whips out his phone and for some strange reason I remembered Stan’s telephone number. I dialed the number and much to my surprise, Stan answered. I proceeded to explain the situation to him and read him some of the questions. Well, he knew the answers to most of them and then told me much more about the railroad scene in that neck of the woods than I needed. He did go on a bit, the way old car guys can do with their conversations. I promptly filled in the blanks. Fast forward and you can imagine what happened next. Jim and I won the Gypson tour that year. Thanks, Stan.


1928 packard gypson tour
Dave Stone’s 1928 Packard sure fills the bridge!

The Gypson Tour this year started at Wendell & Mary Noble’s home in Milton and ended at Tom and Michelle Noble’s Home in Fairfax. Their two homes are 22 miles from one another and somehow, they made member’s old car travel 50.4 to get there while finding the answers to 27 quiz questions on the way. The Gypson journey traveled North with a loop through Fairfield, including a covered bridge in East Fairfield, then South through Fletcher to Fairfax. We heard one vehicle was too tall to fit through the covered bridge and had to detour a bit. One quiz question at the 32.1 mile mark was “This is maple country but what are they tapping here?” (Answer…. A field of huge solar panels was tapping the sun.)

This year’s Gypson Tour was won by Buzz and Sandy Stone, congratulations. The Gypson family has provided a trophy since the beginning of the tour, 32 years ago and you will be presented yours when this upside down world allows us.

A little VAE history from Ken Gypson:

This tour’s first name was called the “Fall Foliage Rally” and started in 1956. It was won the first year by Rod and Emily Rice.

In 1960 the name changed to “Gypson Trophy/Fall Foliage Tour”. (Ken’s dad, Ken Gypson, was a founding member of the VAE.) In 1969 the name changed again to “ Fall Foliage Gypson Trophy Tour”. From 1977 to 2002 it was simply called “The Gypson Tour”. The 1988 Gypson Tour began in Vergennes and had 16 pages to the quiz…that is 144 questions! Aren’t we lucky it is the year 2020?

In 2002, my Mom was sick and in Long-term care. My Dad requested the VAE Board change the name to “The Anne Gypson Tour”, which it is presently called. In January, my Dad received a letter from board members, Jim Willett and Gael Boardman, agreeing to change the name. Mom passed in September 2006. Dad passed in August 2004.

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.