This BLOG will chronicle the daily travels of our trip to Vancouver, BC in our 1931 Model A Ford Town Sedan. We will be joined by our good friends Dick & Barbara who will be driving their 1929 Model A Station Wagon. We are looking forward to visiting interesting places along the "road less traveled."
It's been quite a while since my last post after our return from Vancouver and I thought you might be interested in knowing what happened to engine # 1, the one I replaced at the beginning of our trip. I had always thought that it was a blown headgasket. Well, it was partly a headgasket, it didn't blow out, but it was leaking water. The leaking water caused the engine to over heat and while doing so the, it washed oil off the wall of # 4 cylinder which caused the piston to get overheated and seriously damaged. In retrospect it was a good decision to replace the engine rather than try to fix it on the road. In addition to the piston failure, I also found some slight damage to the babbitt on the rods and the rear main. The only option was to have the block rebored and have the bearings redone.
Well, it's been a few weeks since we arrived home after spending 6 weeks on the road for our "Excellent Adventure." I must admit I haven't even looked at the Model A in the garage. But, that will change soon as I need to prepare the Model A for a weekend trip to the 54th New England Model A Meet. I will have to do some maintenance, like replacing the broken brake rod, changing the oil, etc. and washing off the dried mud I picked up from road construction in Glacier National Park. I think I'm going to miss that mud as it's kind of like a merit badge! Taking your "A" on a long journey is a great experience and I would highly recommend it. We traveled to so many places that we have never visited before. And driving the Model A seems to be a catalyst for meeting so many nice people, who all added to the total experience of the journey. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting our National Parks and Monuments that we had placed on our "must see list." Memories of the sights, sounds and smells of Glacier and Yellowstone (and the Alaskan cruise) will be forever etched in our minds.
Our pre trip planning scoped out a proposed route and nightly overnight stops. However, since we only needed two rooms we didn't feel the need to make advanced hotel reservations and that would give us flexibility to modify our schedule. Nan was a great navigator, finding interesting places to visit along the way and finding some good roads that kept us out of traffic if we needed to modify our planned route. Armed with her GPS, maps, AAA books and cell phone she kept us going and She was also the key to us having a place to sleep each night as she would call ahead each day when we determined where we thought we would be for the night.
Preparing the Model A for a trip like this varies, for me I rebuilt my Borg-Warner overdrive to make sure it was up to the task. Replacing my front spring lead to a whole new front axle being installed. I replaced all the brake linings. New tires were put on last year for our trip to Dearborn, MI so they were fine. I also installed LED taillights for an extra margin of safety. I had rebuilt my engine two years ago for this trip, but unfortunately that engine was replaced after it suffered a problem 80 miles into the trip. The replacement engine did the job. Other spare parts were probably pretty consistent with what we all carry for most tours. My actual mechanical problems consisted of:
Engine #1 was replaced by engine #2 which was replaced by engine #3.
A loose spindle nut causing the front wheel to come close to falling off. This situation caused the brake shoes to wear badly and had to be replaced. Thankfully I did have a spare set of brake shoes with me.
Ignition coil replaced
The CB inverter died and was replaced
I have a few statistics that I thought some of you might find interesting.
We drove almost 7400 miles, 3400 miles from Home to Vancouver and 4000 miles from Vancouver back home.
Averaged 19.9 MPG for the trip, excluding the first 3 days (lost some records) and the final day of driving (I haven't fill the tank yet.)
The highest MPG was 23.6 on the return trip from Douglas, WY to Chadron, NE.
The lowest MPG was 16.9 in from Manitowoc to Tomah, WI.
I can see the high mileage from WY to NE as it was flat and we had a tail wind, but I can't figure out the low mileage in Wisconsin. It was hilly but nothing that I would call taxing for the Model As.
The longest driving day was 366 miles from Sheridan, WY to Butte, MT
The shortest driving day was 60 miles from Bellingham, WA to Vancouver, BC
The average driving per day was 246 miles for the trip.
We traveled through 14 states and 3 Canadian provinces.
Traveled in 5 different time zones. (Alaska, Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern)
Crossed the Continental Divide 6 times
I'm not sure how many unique visitors the blog had, but I do know the blog has had visitors from the following countries: USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Cote d' Ivore (The Ivory Coast), Japan, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Latvia, Croatia, India, Russia, Mauritius, Belarus, Indonesia, France, Malta, United Arab Emerites, Greece, Finland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Paraguay, Pakistan, Romania, Austria, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Shri Lanka, Malaysia and The Philippines. I'm amazed that we have had visitors from such far reaching places.
Our little caravan caught the fancy of a couple of local newspapers and I thought that you may find the articles interesting.
The first link is from our local paper, The Metrowest Daily News, that called us about the trip while we were in Idaho. Reporter Dave Riley had read our blog and wanted to get a little more information for his story.
OK, today was going to be the last day of our adventure that started 6 weeks ago. We left Albany and continued on RT 20 through the city without any trouble other than a few turns that weren’t marked very well. The GPS got us over the river and past the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Model A’s were running well and we were just enjoying the drive. The weather forecast was for temperatures in the 90’s and as it got later in the morning we could tell it was getting hotter. The miles ticked away and soon we crossed back into Massachusetts. We stopped to take a picture as we crossed the border but the sign was pretty boring. I guess the sign with more glitz was probably on the Mass Pike. But, we are now back on home ground.
The western part of RT 20 through the Berkshires to me is one of the nicest drives in the state. The road follows the Housatonic and West Rivers with high rock walls in many places. It was in this area the Dick had to remind me we were passing through Blandford, where my troubles started on the first day of our journey. We were about to get on the bypass around Springfield when I hit a pothole while braking and I heard something break and then a scraping sound. Dick was already on the bypass when I radioed that I had to pull over. A quick look showed that the left front brake rod had broken and the scraping noise was the broken piece, which got bent, dragging on the ground. I pulled the two clevis pins and was ready to go by the time Dick circled back to me. A test of the three brakes remaining seemed to be fine, no pulling noticeable. Nan also commented that we now knew which brake was making the squealing noise, because it was now gone.
Our lunch stop was at the Steaming Tender (http://www.steamingtender.com/) in Palmer. The restored old train station looked great and while we were eating an AMTRAK passenger train went roaring by which startled many of us.
The CB crackled with Dick saying he needed to check a rear tire. We pulled into a gas station and sure enough it was low. A little air and we went another 10 miles before Dick radioed that the tire was going low again. We pulled into a parking lot and put on the spare. Good thing Dick fixed that tire a few days ago.
It wasn’t long before Nan & I turned off to head home. It seemed strange to break away from Dick & Barbara as both of us went our separate ways. The good thing is that we would both be going home after an unbelievable Model A adventure.
We pulled into our driveway and got a reception from our neighbors, our daughter and grandkids who gave us huge hugs. Ah…it’s good to be home.
The first thing Dick did in the morning was check the tire pressure in the spare. The patch was holding as the pressure was the same as he measured last night. He was feeling better about having a spare again. At breakfast we got talking to some guys who were here for the week fishing on Lake Erie. They were happy they had caught their limit on Perch and Bass; I think they had hundreds of each. They reminded me of the guys returning from a fishing trip with all those boxes of fish with them in Vancouver. They had been fishing Lake Erie for years, sounds like us going to Hershey.
We followed the Lake Erie Ohio Coastal Trail which afforded us a pleasant drive through some nice towns and great views of the lake. We managed to make good time and didn’t get caught up in traffic in Cleveland or Erie PA which was good. We stopped in Dunkirk, NY to visit the Historic Dunkirk Lighthouse. We got a history of the light house and how it came into the hands of the Veterans group who now help maintain the light which is still active, although it is now fully automatic. Some interesting points: the lens that multiplies the power of the lamp cost $10,000 in 1857, about a Million dollars in today’s money; and local fishermen still use the light house tower as a reference when establishing fishing locations. I asked about taking some pictures of the Model A’s at the light and was given the green light. Even the lighthouse staff came out to take some pictures. We bid the lighthouse good bye and off we continued, eventually stopping in Henrietta, NY for the night.
Off and running in the morning we could really feel the call of home. We thought today would be a good day for some antiquing. We managed to find some interesting shops along the way, with Nan & I buying some old magazines. We took a pleasant break in Skaneateles, NY for lunch at our favorite place in that area, the Sherwood Inn. Lunch was great, especially since I was able to get a Yuengling beer, which is not available outside of NY and PA. We also did some shopping in the town before continuing.
We have been travelling on RT 20 for much of the time since leaving Yellowstone NP. In this section of NY it is quite hilly and some of the grades really tested the Model A’s strength. I think we went over the Rockies easier. We forged on and eventually put the “big” hills behind us and finally stopped for the final time in Albany.
It was another beautiful morning and we were looking forward to our visit to the Gilmore Museum. The motel was close by so it was a short ride back to the museum. As we were entering the grounds we could see the motorhome so we knew that Jack & Jo were here. The first thing we did was to head to the vintage Shell Gas Station to take some pictures of the Model A's in front of it as the sun was just right for pictures. How convenient that admissions was inside the gift shop. Oh well, we all managed to find something we needed to take home with us.
The first thing I noticed in the gift shop was a huge car door, then the rear seat area of a Yellow Rolls Royce which was a set used in the Disney movie the "Gnome Mobile." It was fun to check out the detail of this 4 time normal set. The detail was really great. As for the museum itself, I must say that my first impression of this place was "Top Shelf" as everything was at this facility was done with the highest quality and attention to detail. Those of us who are MAFFI members are excited about our museum to be built on the grounds of this beautiful facility.
We headed out to visit the rest of the buildings to check out not only the amazing cars but also the beautiful buildings (barns) in which they are housed. It was nice to see everything from a Waltham Orient Buckboard to Duesenburgs and everything in between. Some of the cars I liked were; the beautiful unrestored 1935 Ford with only 20K miles on it, the Tucker exhibit, and all of the very early vehicles from 1903. I have to say there wasn't any area I didn't like, the whole place was amazing.
When it was time for lunch, what better place to have it then at the 1940's restored Silk City diner. Great atmosphere and food.
Leaving the museum we headed the Model A's southeast towards Ohio. We circled around Toledo and got on the Shore Route and arrived in Port Clinton for the night. Since we got in early Dick wanted to repair the flat tire he got a few days ago. We got the tube out and repaired a 1/2 inch cut on the tube. With the tire remounted Dick filled it up with air. Hopefully it will still be holding air in the morning.