Hot Rodding, Then and Now
Rumbleseat's East Coast Run 2003 Part Three
Thursday, May 22. Weather was hot and dry. Missed a turn in Dickson, Tennessee which would have kept me on state highways clear into Nashville. Ended up using I-40. Traffic was it's usual loud roar, but was moving along pretty smoothly. I came up behind four semi trucks in a convoy. I was running 65 mph. The old flathead was feeling good when I pulled out to pass. No traffic in the hammer lane for quite a distance. You guess it....play time. Shifted the two speed rear end out of overdrive (2.64:1 ratio) and back to direct drive (3.78:1 gear). This put the engine rpm at about 2900. Stood on it and felt the flathead start winding up. I don't think there is anything like the sound of a flathead at speed. At 85 mph (about 3800 rpm) I shifted up into overdrive got back on it. The speedo needle swept past the last numbers (90) on the stock '34 speedometer. Just before the needle pointed straight down I passed the lead semi. I interpolated the speed to be about 105+ mph. It still had rpms left, but I backed off. Sure didn't need to crater or hurt the engine so far from home. Felt really good, though!
Pulled into Franklin, TN about 12:30PM and called Flatiron. Ed said he was just finishing a meeting and would meet me at the Waffle House about 1:30PM. While I was killing time I tried to reach Monroe in Tullahoma, TN. I wanted to get something set up for later in the day. No answer. While I waited, I downed a second breakfast (my favorite meal) at the Waffle House. Ed arrived early and we had coffee while we got acquainted. He'd brought some pictures of his '32 pickup hi-boy. Looked like a real "hauler" (that's a pun, son) for sure. He's having a lot of fun with it and wants to put on fenders and running boards when he has time. We discussed flathead stuff for a time. Ed's son is helping him on the rod and enjoys riding in it. Way to go...we need young blood to carry on the flathead traditions. I would have liked to have seen his deuce pickup, but time was getting short if I wanted to reach Tullahoma before dark.
Headed south to Tullahoma on side roads. Got a motel and tried calling Monroe. Finally reached him at 7:00PM. He lives a dozen miles from the motel. I was pretty tired and he said he would drive into town to meet me. It was much appreciated. He soon arrived in an immaculate '47 maroon convertible. NICE car. Other than duals, air conditioning, converted to 12V, it's stock. The air conditioner looks like it was installed at the Ford factory. It uses really neat brackets. Went for a ride and he let me drive it. Drove very nice. Not a thing wrong anywhere as far as I could tell. Then we went for a ride in my heap. When we got back to the motel, his son was there in his chopped '34 three window. It's full fendered adn a done rod. Too bad it has a 3 carb Chevy, but they're the way to go if you're going to drive long distances....although my flathead seems to go the distance with no problems. They run cooler and you can get parts along the way (you'll need them?) a lot easier than you can for a flathead. I had to call an end to the visit way too soon but I was pretty tired.
The next morning I headed south to meet rocknroll in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The weather was hot and dry. Chad had driven to the Falcon Nats in Nashville last year. We had spent a large part of the day viewing the Falcons and talking about his current project. He's building a flathead powered off-road Jeep. I was anxious to see him again and to see his Jeep. We met about noon. He left his car and rode with me to a nearby Sonic Drive-In where we had a sandwich. Chad insisted on buying. (Found out later that Billy, in LaVerne, California, had sent him some parts. He told Chad there wasn't any charge for the parts, but he was to buy rumble seat a lunch. Hell, if I'd known about this before I ordered, I'd have ordered all of page two on the menu! Thanks Billy.)
Then we drove out to his place to see his project. It's coming along nicely and is on the ground with all of the running gear in it. Nice tidy flathead installation. The body is nearly done. He hopes to get it done soon so he can return to Colorado adn do some rock crawling (his thing). We drove the roadster over to his friend, Larry, to see his collection. Quite a few cars. A '36 roadster with a 331" OHV Cad, a '36 cabriolet with an OHV Chev V8, a '29 pickup with an 8CM flathead, and a '27 "T" tub with a flathead in an extended frame. All of these are on the road and Larry says he drives them frequently. It was getting late when we left Larry. I dropped off Chad at his daily driver and turned south.
The next stop would be to visit an old friend in Moody, Alabama. Ron and I had gone to high school together and were best budds. He's an old member of the Denver Timing Association (same as me). Never did figure out why he left Colorado and moved to Alabama...go figure! It would be good to see Ron and Joyce Smith again......rumble seat