gwells

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gwells last won the day on May 15 2015

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About gwells

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  • Birthday 07/25/1954

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  1. I'm a little late getting this (probably last) entry posted, but the reason for that will be explained in a few moments. Took my time getting packed up at the Comfort Suites-soon-to-be-a-Mariott in Allentown (right across the street from the Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, which I had never even heard of and I love rollercoasters; maybe next year...). Arrived at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles a bit after 10:30 a.m. and had a delightful visit. I had not realized just how steeped in local history is the Boyertown museum, but soon learned its deep and fascinating story. Not too many museums are situated in a former bodybuilding plant where a number of the vehicles in the collection were originally constructed. As the museum features vehicles built in Pennsylvania, the relatively small collection is a bit eclectic but very impressive. I learned that the Daniels car (built in Reading, Pennsylvania) was only built to order; the museum has three of these rarities in the collection. There were two of the ultra-rare and Full Classic Biddle autos on display. And no less than seven Duryeas, including some crazy models Charles very unsuccessfully tried actually to sell. Seems brother Frank, with whom there was a falling-out early on, was a lot more in tune with what sort of vehicles could actually be marketed. There was a full-size, mass-produced vintage 1938 O’Mahony diner inside, completely restored and seemingly ready to serve patrons (except all the food was wax and plastic props). Also, a very early Sunoco gas station, also completely restored, and surrounded by the kinds of auto service items appropriate to its early '20s era. Both of these displays were really lovely and not the sort of things normally found inside an automotive museum. One of the other interesting displays was a large set of cabinets containing hundreds of small oil cans and bottles of both well-known and very obscure brands, covering likely nearly a hundred years or more timespan. This was very colorful and featured some very early non-can small oilers I'd never seen before. I was amused to see a little 1-oz. Three-in-One oiler can in the collection identical to the one that sits on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, where it is readily available for occasional use. Not sure whether that says more about me or the collection... The Boyertown building was originally utilized for Jeremiah Sweinhart’s carriage factory from 1872-1914 and a small upstairs annex is devoted to locally-built carriages and other related conveyances. One of the best parts is that someone preserved a good bit of the old belt-driven machinery from the original carriage factory and the museum has reconstructed a small section of the shop with about a dozen closely-packed machines arranged to be driven from the proper shafting overhead. I didn't ask if this is actually operational but based on the rolls of extra belting nearby, I'll bet it is. The coal-fired forge on the other side of the room does work (as evidenced by the big basket of fresh burnable wood scraps alongside) and I was told it is demonstrated often, with blacksmithing work being performed basically as theater for small groups. There's a huge table nearby of the special tools used for this sort of work along with many examples of small items that have been produced during their smithing demos. One of the best parts of my visit was the fact that there were a lot of people visiting and viewing. While one might assume this was a post-Hershey rush, in fact, most of the folks I saw and interacted with were pretty obviously not regular old car hobbyists. Always great to see a car museum actually receiving non-trivial levels of visitation and I was told three busloads of field trip students were scheduled to arrive the next day. While I was in the house, some of the museum staff was rearranging tables in the entry area to bring in a couple of small WWI and WWII military vehicles that were being loaned for temporary display, which they did before I departed. Darlene, the busy and nice lady collecting admission, replied positively when I asked if they had a break room with a microwave I could use to heat up my terrific carne asada leftovers from a couple of nights ago. While chowing down and flipping through the March 2018 issue of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America magazine that was on the table with a few other car club mags, I was quite surprised to find a local friend is the national president of that well-known organization. I took my leave from the museum a bit before 2 p.m. and punched up the home address as the destination in my GPS; I think it said 775 miles, so I knew it was going to be a long one as I wasn't planning to do another hotel night before home. Thank goodness for those Starbucks 'double-shots,' which actually taste good as compared to the usual energy drinks. On sale at two for $5, they were a lot cheaper than a hotel room. Stopped once for a short bit of shut-eye in a rest area, and used a gas station microwave in Woodstock, Virginia, to reheat the other two slices of my delicious leftover Allentown pizza for a late dinner. Hershey seemingly didn't want to let me go so easily, as about a dozen miles above Harrisburg on I-81, right about where the exit for Hershey is located, traffic came to a standstill. Seems a semi and a dually pulling a very large fifth-wheel camper had tangled and the resulting wreckage blocked all lanes except for the shoulder. The back-up cost me almost two hours... I guess I should just consider it a reminder for what I will have to endure almost daily back home. For example, today I-85 South near my house had all lanes blocked by an overturned truck for almost four hours during morning rush hour. Pulled into my driveway at 4:47 a.m. to end what has been a very enjoyable trip to Hershey and environs for the first time in 38 years. Hope no one is too upset I elected to sample the sheets before tickling the keyboard to compose this post. And I hope there's at least a couple of readers of my scribbles who found them worth the time expended.
  2. I was tipped off Friday afternoon about a ‘Packard Truck Meet’ not too far away on Sunday but could not find anything about it on online. I posted a query over in the General Discussion forum here early Sunday morning and, as usual, a couple of the ever-helpful AACA members offered up sufficient info to allow me to find the location and to attend. It seems that Packard Club stalwart Dave Lockard of York Springs, Pennsylvania, has been hosting a post-Hershey get-together on his lovely farm the day after the Hershey car show for a number of years. He calls it the Packard Truck Show and indeed there were several of those rarely-seen heavy-duty trucks on the grounds, including Dave’s massive accurately restored 1918 Packard 3-ton truck carrying a ‘Packard for Pershing’ banner, but also numerous other cars including several nice postwar Packard sedans and a very nice and rare 1934 Plymouth cabriolet. Most of the attendees seemed to be Packard Club members and enthusiasts from the area, although I was told there was someone from Mexico, so I wasn’t in the running for the long distance award even if there had been one. A very nice lunch of burgers, brats, and dogs with all the fixings and sides was provided, with only donations asked. After a couple of hours of conversation and conviviality, the typical October in Pennsylvania drizzle set in and I said my farewells. Dave confirmed that this year’s event is the last one he plans so I consider myself very lucky to have heard about the event and to have actually been able to attend. When turning left off US-15 to follow Dave’s well-placed sign directing folks in, I noticed a sign indicating that a right turn would get me to the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing and thought I would check that out as I left. I am extremely glad I did, as it turned out to be one of the finest museums on racing I’ve ever visited. The focus is on the history of eastern short track or bullring racing, usually on dirt, in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states although there is quite a lot of attention given to drag racers and racing. The amount of historical material present is mind-blowing, including rare cars, engines, pictures and other ephemera, and lots and lots of other neat stuff. I was particularly taken by a small meeting room where the walls all the way to the ceiling were covered with the racing uniforms and fire suits of famous drivers from the eastern states, from all eras. There’s even a recreation of revered local racer Tommy Hinnershitz’s tiny race shop based on period photos and using some of his original shop equipment, including one of his cars. Mario Andretti’s first open-wheel racer was there, too. Detailed displays on all of the tracks and many of the drivers are featured. The museum’s library must be nearly unmatched anywhere; as when the famous announcer Chris Economaki passed away, he willed his complete library, said to be over 25,000 books and publications, to EMMR. I could spend a couple of months reading there, if they’d give me access to the material in the locked bookcases... A lot of the famous race cars on display are on loan and I understand these can change over time, but it’s highly doubtful anyone would be disappointed with what cars are present on any given day. If you have an interest in midget, sprint or ‘big’ car racing, or any other style of short track racing from the teens almost up to the present day, run, don’t walk, to EMMR and plan on at least a full day. It won’t be enough but it’s a start. BTW, there is no admission charge of any kind, but I don’t see how anyone with a heart could leave the place without putting something in the donation box; I couldn’t. It was very gratifying to see how many of the pile of bills visible in that clear box were larger dominations. There’s also a terrific gift shop with many racing-oriented books of a quality rarely seen in other museums of this nature. Another place where I willingly lightened my none-too-heavy wallet. The lovely lady greeting visitors, EMMR President Nancy Miller, told a great story about a driver’s uniform in a display honoring the late Gary Wofford near the entrance. “I was the EMT on duty at that race when Gary crashed badly. I cut that driver’s suit off him. He never raced again. Later one of his neighbors sewed the suit back together and that is how we are able to have it on display here now.” Note that EMMR is only open Friday through Sunday. And if I do make it back to Hershey next year, as I hope to do, I will definitely be making a beeline to this museum for an extended visit. I ended up staying in Allentown last night, at a great hotel that is being remodeled as part of rebranding it under a new national franchise. So it was considerably cheaper than usually would be the case. Dinner was at one of those small hole-in-the wall family run pizza parlors featuring hand-tossed pies cooked in a wood-fired oven. I knew I was in for a good meal when I heard the staff communicating among themselves in Italian. Looking forward to making my lunch today on the leftovers. Today’s agenda is the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles and after that, I guess I need to point the car’s front end south toward Atlanta. Don’t know if I will make it all they way in today, but hope I can.
  3. gwells

    Car Logo Quiz...

    46 for me. I’m annoyed I missed an easy one: Saab.
  4. gwells

    Post-Hershey Packard truck meet today?

    Peter, The Packard meet was about 3 miles from EMMR, on the other side of US-15.
  5. gwells

    Post-Hershey Packard truck meet today?

    Peter, Perhaps I wasn’t clear: I spent a couple of hours at EMMR and it wasn’t nearly enough. Funny you should mention Bobby Gerhart. His brother and crew chief Billy is a good friend. Next time you see him, ask him if he knows a guy called Cheater Wells in the ‘small’ car world. Wish Bobby and Billy could have better on-track luck than they’ve had the last few years. In fact, I am in Allentown tonight and planning to hit the Boyertown museum tomorrow. Halfway thought about getting an early start and heading to Lebanon to surprise Billy but it’s a fairly long trip do on a lark.
  6. gwells

    Post-Hershey Packard truck meet today?

    Peter, My post #5 above was actually made from the parking lot at EMMR! Thanks for your kind advice, but I had noticed the sign for EMMR when I turned off US-15 to go to the Packard truck meet and went directly there when I left Dave’s farm. ”Very interesting” to say the least. I could spend a month there if they’d loan me the keys to the locked shelves in their library... Wish I had had more time and energy today,
  7. gwells

    Post-Hershey Packard truck meet today?

    Using the info provided, I had no trouble finding what Dave terms the Packard Truck Meet. It was surprisingly well attended with lunch provided for all, most of whom were Packard club members. Very interesting small selection of non-Packard collectors cars along with numerous Packards. Super nice people, too. Dave confirmed that this indeed the last version of this long-running meet.
  8. I’ll bet I’m not the only person to feel just a little bit of a letdown on Sunday morning of Hershey week. Wish I was headed off to the swap meet or the show field for a day or two more, instead of trying get packed and checked out of my really nice Baymont hotel. Yesterday was a long day. Up at 4:30 a.m. to two-finger the previous post in this thread then out the door to head for the judge’s breakfast at 7 a.m. In the dark, I took a wrong turn and finally arrived at Giant Center just a couple of minutes late. Holy cow, were there a lot of people there, but I guess it takes a seriously-large crew to judge nearly 1,150 cars. After being well-fed, and hearing some opening remarks of welcome, the judge’s participation awards were handed out. Hard to believe that there are AACA judges with as many as 300 credits for judging activities, as it has to have taken more than a couple of decades to reach that number. And there were many who received plaques for 125, 150, 200, and 250 credits, too. The rare entrant who carps about his car’s scoring at an AACA meet probably has no idea of the incredible amount of work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in generating that score he’s whining about... Since this was my first official judging stint, my fellow neophytes and I practice-judged a few DPC cars, including a fairly rough NYC Checker cab that helped us better to understand how to assign the various deductions. We only judged the exterior in these exercises and it was a terrific learning experience. Mucho thanks to team leader Dain for his knowledgeable insights and kind demeanor. It was planned for us to judge three cars but we ran out of time and only got to two of them. On to viewing some of the cars in the show and, while I obviously didn’t get to see them all in the few hours of the show that remained, what cars I did see were in most cases beyond spectacular (as has always been the case for me at Hershey). Another point to make is that the people who volunteer to judge knowingly limit their own show viewing time pretty severely, which is a good reason to bite one’s tongue if the scoring for your car didn’t go exactly as you thought it should. Remember, without willing judges, there wouldn’t be any scoring at all! My aching lower back had me looking very enviously at the various golf carts and scooters others were utilizing. I’d hoped not to have go that route for a number of years, so if I return next year, I think a pre-Hershey exercise routine might be called for. With my well-known lack of willpower, I admit it’s unlikely... but maybe this year’s discomfort will encourage me actually to do it. Another deterrent to seeing more of the cars in the show is my marked propensity to ‘chat up’ many of the car owners. I’ve always loved steam cars and when I mentioned to several guys a rare Stanley 30-hp a Georgia friend has just recommissioned, the reaction was extraordinary. Seems that particular model is one of the ‘holy grails’ of Stanley-dom and also that this particular car has fallen off the radar of the close-knit steam car community. If I hadn't promised to hook up several people with my Georgia friend, I think physical harm might have befallen me. Most owners waited until the 3 p.m. official time to depart (leaving earlier meant being disqualified from scoring) and there was quite a crowd lined up to watch the exodus once it started. I’ll likely do the same on subsequent visits, as resting comfortably in one’s chair while the cars file past is obviously a lot less strenuous than walking acres of the show field. I didn’t tarry much before making the long trek across the Orange Field to my car and then heading back to the hotel. Was hankering for some really good Mexican food last night and a little searching on the ‘net suggested that El Sol in the shadow of the state capitol would be a great place to find it. Believe me, it was. The couple at the adjacent table essentially ordered my food for me by recommending two of their favorite dishes, which were both delicious. But that Hershey magic continued to appear. Once my young server Pedro learned I was in town for the ‘car show,’ he sat down in the chair opposite to tell me about his uncle’s Model T and Model A and how he had helped him at his Hershey space in years past. When he returned with my boxed leftovers, he brought some additional items for my ‘long drive home.’ While this is my last Hershey related post to this thread, I’m off this morning to see if I can locate a private early Packard truck event nearby and then will head to the Boyertown Auto Museum. Whether I head south later today or sometime tomorrow will depend on how much time I spend at both places. Call me flexible... If there’s anything worth sharing about these additional stops, it may appear here... At this point, I am going to unlock this thread so readers may now post any comments they’ve been unable to make before. If you’ve followed my drivel to this point, thank you for your persistence. Hope no one feels reading these scribbles was completely wasted time.
  9. gwells

    Post-Hershey Packard truck meet today?

    Thanks, guys. I’ll head in that direction.
  10. I’ve been told that there’s a meet of some kind today where the Packard truck guys and other old truck enthusiasts gather. Can’t find anything about this online and my source for the info can’t help either. I’m in the area and if such a meet actually exists, would love to check it out. Is there anyone with further info on this mysterious show?
  11. I heard about him but sadly was not able meet him and I was looking...
  12. I’m not usually a player, but I think I am going to buy a few lottery tickets today. I mentioned our little informal get-together at the Warwick Hotel on Wednesday night, where I didn’t order any food, just a single drink. But while I was there, I noticed several good-looking plates of food being delivered to nearby diners. So I opted to pay the restaurant a return visit on Thursday evening for dinner. If you’ve not been there, the hotel is an old historic place in downtown Hummelstown, well over 100 years old, and as to be expected, the restaurant is a mashup of several smaller rooms, perhaps as many as five or six, with maybe as many as 90 or 100 seats, plus a large bar. On Wednesday, it took me a good bit of searching to find the group I was seeking and there was a single seat unoccupied at one of the several four-tops where the group had gathered (to the right of Tom Warth, founder of the lamented Classic Motorbooks, and across from Donald R. Peterson, ‘cofounder’ of West Peterson; like I said, it was the only open seat, so I had no other option... LOL!) On Thursday, I arrived at the Warwick well before the dinner rush and the restaurant was uncrowded, with just a few tables in use. The host seemed unsure where to seat me, I.e which server was ‘up’ for the next patron, and after a short discussion with the floor manager, he led the way to the back corner of the third room we traversed and offered me... the exact same seat I had sat in the night before! What are the odds of that happening!! My other Friday ‘adventure’ was potentially more dire than interesting. As I was a late judging volunteer at Hershey, after being informed by former AACA president Joe Vicini at a concours in Georgia that a few more bodies were needed, I had to attend the judge’s training session at Giant Center at 2 p.m. I was impressed with the arena, which reminded me of some of the large lecture halls in college, with the seating angling up from the floor. As the session extended beyond about an hour and a half, I became less impressed with the amount legroom provided between rows of seats. I became more and more uncomfortable as the session continued, and began shifting and squirming like a prepubescent girl in her first sex ed class, in mostly vain attempts to ameliorate the tingling and numbness creeping into my nether regions. The judging seminar was excellent, well-presented, and informative but it would be dishonest of me to say I was disappointed when It ended so I could exit my well-upholstered confinement. I headed over the bridge toward my car parked in South Chocolate and stopped to chat with a mascot vendor who was packing up his stall. After a few words, I reached for my wallet to exchange business cards.... and it was not there!!! I instantly realized my twisting and turning in my seat during the judge’s training almost certainly caused it to fall out there. Sweating like field hand on a hot August day in south Georgia, I raced back over the bridge to the Giant Center as fast as my tired legs would permit. It took three panicky tries to find the correct row and seat, but, aaahhh... there it was. Whew doesn’t even come close to expressing the level of relief I felt. I suspect I looked rather funny to more than a few as I traversed the bridge for the third time, walking with my right hand feeling my right rear pocket for reassurance almost continuously... The problem alluded to in my previous post is, alas, not fully resolved. Some weeks back I had stopped at a roadside fruit and vegetable stand back home to pick up some terrific tomatoes and a few other items of homegrown produce. I vaguely remembered a roach crawling out of the bag when I lifted it out of the trunk but didn’t think much of it... then. How could a roach survive for long in a well-sealed car with no water and no food except for whatever crumbs might be embedded in that carpets? A couple of weeks later I began to notice that the leather-like covering over the hard plastic foam that the steering wheel was formed of was deteriorating, something I had seen before on older cars with similar wheels in the hot south. But the deterioration quickly got worse, and I began to wonder if I had gotten something on my hands that was affecting the surface finish of the steering wheel rim. It wasn’t until the second time I opened the door to find a roach on the rim that the light bulb went off: those miserable vermin were eating the faux leather coating off my steering wheel! And actually munching on the hard foam beneath as well. So on my 4 a.m. trip to Walmart the other night, I grabbed a can of lemon-scented, low odor ant and roach spray and back at the hotel, removed everything from the car including the floor mats and liberally doused the carpets, seat tracks, and underdash panels, paying particular attention to the steering column where it enters the dash. While treating the car I also discovered they’d been eating the black finish off my shifter boot, but only on the side away from my sight while in the driver’s seat. That’s a level of sneakiness I never imagined such a low lifeform could possess. So far, I’ve found the carcasses of five or six very mature roaches on the floor of the car, which suggests to me that there must be decent nourishment in some of the petrochemicals used in modern synthetic finishes. We’re often warned such things are bad for humans, but darned if it doesn’t seem like the damn roaches thrive on them. There must be reasons the cretins have survived unchanged for so many millennia... This whole situation gives new meaning to the term “roached out.” Anybody got a nice standard black steering wheel and shifter boot for a 2009 VW Rabbit? Off to the judge’s breakfast now... where I’ll be in an unfamiliar role at my advanced age... a trainee.
  13. Yesterday was one of those days where the weather boffins got it right, unfortunately. Reminded me of several years at Hershey in the ‘70s and I really would have preferred not have those rather unpleasant memories exhumed. As it was already raining a bit when I was planning to head over, I dawdled around hoping the weather would improve... and it didn’t. It’s not that us Georgians are so sweet that we melt when we get wet, but we can get a bit moldy. I had requested a presidential ‘audience’ today and was granted an early afternoon slot, so eventually had to brave the elements to head out. Typical of my luck, not only was the AACA trailer on the north side of North Chocolate from the southern edge of South Chocolate where I parked, but when I arrived it was raining as hard as it did all day and my trek to the meeting meant splashing through 1-2 inches of standing water the entire way. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest choice to only bring sneakers as footwear... Since I was there and couldn’t get any wetter, I made the long jaunt to the farthest reaches of the most distant Red Field to finally meet up in person with someone I had corresponded with for a good while but had never met. I found him chatting with the editor of one of the major old car mags whom I had also never met but had communicated with several times. That’s Hershey... it’s crazy how many times I strike up a conversation with someone I thought was a stranger only to find out we actually knew each other from afar. When I spotted Corky Coker at the tire company stand on the stroll up to the Red Field, I couldn’t resist stopping for a few moments to rag on him, only because he takes it so well. He was still there as I cycled back towards my car, so doing my best John Steed impression, I gently poked him with the tip of my bumbershoot. Alas, Ms. Peel was not with me and I was not headed for a vintage Bentley to carry me swiftly away... I suffer infrequently from a bit of GI trouble and night before last I was awake and uncomfortable in the wee hours so decided to find the closest ’Wallyworld’ for some OTC preparations that usually provide relief. I arrived at the store, which was slightly more than four miles away, spotting the brightly-lit familiar blue and yellow logos from a good distance. To my utter surprise, even though it was fully lit inside and out, the store was closed until six a.m. I can’t recall any of this biggest-box retailer’s locations in the Atlanta area that don’t remain open 24/7. Just because I am a stubborn old coot, I headed for the next nearest unit not too far away and was chagrinned as I approached it that all of the exterior signage was dark. But, mirabile visu, it was open and the notice at the door confirmed it to operate 24 hours a day. So the fully-lit Wallyworld was closed and the unlit one was open... go figure. I also picked up another item that I needed to resolve a surprising problem with my little car that I had finally diagnosed the day before but this entry is running too long and I need to get going. I’ll relate the sordid tale tomorrow. It’s a unique one in my non-trivial experience with four-wheeled motorized conveyances.
  14. After checking out of my nice hotel in Carlisle, I made my way to the AACA National Headquarters and Library for the first time ever, to snag the parking pass that was left there for me before heading for the swap meet fields. There are very few places whose addresses are imprinted in my brain to the extent I don’t even have to look them up for confirmation, but like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, 501 W. Governor Road is one of them. It’s a lovely old building, clearly marked, so I likely would have found it easily without Mr. Garmin’s able assistance. Upon entering the front door, I was amazed at the amount of material just in the front room. Historical artifacts, material relating to AACA history, plaques listing club award winners over the years, etc., so much that it was impossible to absorb even a small percentage of it during the brief time I was going to be there. The hallways had virtually every surface covered with material to the point that they looked tiled with plaques and pictures. I took a few minutes to peruse some of the annual awards plaques and was delighted and gratified to notice the names of numerous people I had known in my earlier years in the old car hobby; in most cases, I hadn’t even known my friends had received the awards their names were now permanently listed on. And in almost every case, my friends are no longer with us. It was a little poignant, to say the least. After chatting a bit with the guys in the library, purchasing a Hershey program (which is an absolute necessity to find specific friends and vendor spaces at an event of this size), a ‘Bookmobile’ 2018 Hershey T-shirt, and receiving directions from the library guys as to the best way to reach the Chocolate Field, I headed over to begin my first day at the Hershey swap meet in 38 years. I’ve been asked to write a few words about 2018 Hershey and the thought of saying anything worthwhile about the event was rather daunting. So as I walked the aisles checking out the vendors and their offerings, and as always seeing things I’d never seen before in 50+ years of messing with old cars, I chatted up many of the sellers about their history at the show and their fondest memories from previous years. I also wanted to know what kept them coming back year after year after year. It’s too early to relate any firm conclusions, but there is a definite pattern emerging, even on the first day of my ‘research.’ What always strikes me so forcefully is that the people involved in the old car hobby, especially the AACA part of it, are as a group, the friendliest, warmest, most congenial group of people I’ve ever encountered in my 64 years on this earth. Their equal is not to be found anywhere else. After about five or so hours of wandering rather aimlessly about the Chocolate and Green Fields, and hooking up with a few old friends and meeting several new ones, I circled back to my car and set up my canvas folding chair for an extended sit. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but it sure seems walking on pavement makes my lower back a lot sorer than was the case when the fields were grass. I can’t fathom that being nearly forty years older would have any bearing on the situation... Then over to the Hershey Lodge at 5:30 to attend the RM’s auction cars viewing and to hook up with most of the Peterson clan (except West) to take advantage of the grub RM threw down for the attendees. Also to track down an RM employee from Georgia I needed to meet. I was also able to make the acquaintance of several more AACA and old car notables I’d not met before. A Wednesday evening tradition at Hershey is an impromptu gathering of editors and writers, many involved in the Society of Automotive Historians. In recent years this has been held at the historic Warwick Hotel at Hummelstown. There’s no agenda other than tall tales and short lies, and plenty of both was present in abundance. One attendee I was simply delighted to see there was Hummelstown resident William S. ‘Bill’ Jackson, who was the very capable editor of the Antique Automobile club magazine for many years a long time ago. He claimed to recognize me on sight, but I’d bet he was tipped off... A single drink and much raucous and wonderful conversation led to my early departure to spend some time between the sheets, in anticipation of a predicted-rainy day on Thursday.
  15. Tuesday started off in a frustrating manner. While the hotel’s wifi connected just fine, there was no data transfer on either of my devices and the front desk staff was clueless as to what they could do. So it was off to the local Golden Arches to get online to make the post that started this thread yesterday. Then it was time to head off to Cass for my four-hour steam train excursion, a drive of about 60 miles or so, which I expected to be easy to accomplish in the hour and a half I had available. My GPS expressed a more pessimistic view, indicating an estimated arrival time of 12:01 for the noon departure! And the railroad had warned sternly that the train left on time. I had to channel Moss and Jenkinson at the Mille MiglIa in 1955, not that I came anywhere near their city to city pace. Thank goodness there was little traffic on the very twisty roads and what there was were locals who seemed to embrace the view that ten miles over posted speeds (where the roads permitted) was just about right when they weren’t in a hurry (and a bit more when they were). And thank goodness there wasn’t any ‘enforcement’ of any kind. To a car guy, it was enormously fun, and while I won’t admit here the speeds I hit, I never once scared myself and that’s always a good thing. I cut 8 minutes off the GPS ETA to arrive at the depot in just the nick of time. I stepped aboard Car A just as “All aboard!” rang out and the train eased to a start not more than ten seconds later. I was the very last passenger to get on a surprisingly long consist (perhaps 15 rather full cars) being pushed up the mountains by double-headed steam: two coal-fired geared Shay locomotives. When booking my ticket online, I selected seat 1 in the first car, figuring I’d be right behind the tender. Silly me, I was right in front of the first locomotive, so close that it wouldn’t have taken much of a stretch to touch the number plate on the smokebox door. One surprising aspect was the noise level; I never would have thought that the smoke being forcibly exhausted up the stack by steam after passing through the cylinders would be so loud, but then my location in relation to the locomotive was one that would be hard to experience on almost any other steam excursion. I was more than halfway through the journey before I realized there was a PA announcer narrating the trip. Shay locomotives are unusual designs, constructed with gearing between the steam cylinders and driving wheels to generate more pulling power in a relatively light locomotive that could safely traverse the fragile temporary tracks logging and mining railroads almost always laid. The trade-off is speed; geared locomotive rarely go faster than six or seven miles per hour. One benefit is that geared locos can go up grades a mainline loco could never climb. On the Cass, the train climbed grades as steep as 10.5%, whereas the steepest mainline gradient in the US is just 3.3% or so. The trip to Bald Knob (4,700 feet elevation) featured a fantastic viewing platform which I didn’t bother to sample. As a nut and bolts car guy, I wanted to look at the loco and talk to the guys running it. As soon as we stopped at the top, the rearmost loco cut off and drifted down the hill, not being needed on the way down. With my late arrival, I never got a decent look at it. The lead loco was Westem Maryland #5, constructed in Lima, Ohio, in 1945; the engineer, who has been working on the Cass for 44 years!, informed me that it was the last Shay loco ever built in the US. I complimented the much younger fireman on his obvious skill, as the smoke exiting the stack was most often the thin, light gray color that evidences efficient combustion in the firebox, no easy task when shoveling five and a half tons of bituminous coal one scoop at a time. The trip up and down the mountain was scheduled for a bit more than four hours, but an extended stop on the way up, due to having to clear a tree that had fallen across the track during the night, stretched the time to nearly six hours. There’s no easy way to get to Hershey from Cass, West Virginia, although the wonderful scenery through the Monongahela National Forest was as majestic as anything I can recall in the Appalachian system, making up for the slower drive. And the quality of the roads through the forest was as good as you will find anywhere; wish we had their equal in Georgia... I left Cass right at 6 p.m. and by 11 had only reached a little beyond Carlisle on I-81. Close enough to Hershey and to eyelids that weren't going to stay open much longer to search up a cheap hotel. I’ll make it to Hershey tomorrow before noon and promise to cease with the non-car ‘pre-tour’ tales to actually start writing about cars, parts, and the event itself.