Hot Rodding, Then and Now
Rumbleseat's East Coast Run 2003 Part Seven
PART SEVEN. Monday, June 2. Followed the instructions FRDTRKS50S had given me. James had said to take Orange Ave. exit off I-581. Easy to find his home. James is retired after burning his leg severely in a biking accident. He has three F-1 pickups. Two are very sound and will make good drivers. He's not interested in making any of them show quality. Plans are to make them drivers. I had to pick up some 40wt oil since stations don't usually carry it. When I had first built the 59 series engine, consumption was a quart every 1800-2000 miles on the road. It now has 80,000+ miles on this build. Oil consumption is now a quart every 700 miles or so. I run 5 quarts without an oil filter (one quart over the full mark on the dipstick) which probably increases oil consumption. The 286" engine has 3 ring solid skirt racing pistons with increased clearances. I usually use Vavoline 40wt, but have been using Castrol or Quaker State on this trip due to availability. James and I went to an Auto Zone and picked up some oil. On the way home, we stopped and ate lunch and talked. Back at his house, he asked if I could stick around so his grandson could see my car. His grandson was still in school. After he'd seen the car, I cranked it up and got on the road again (good name for a song!).
Pointed the '34 towards Washington, D.C. using I-81 and I-66. I wanted to get to McLean, VA (west of D.C.) to meet Rod Mason. Traffic is very heavy on the eastern part of the US. Much more so than I'm used to. Driving a two lane road is very slow due to the heavy volume of traffic and the frequency of long traffic signals. The only way to get anywhere in a reasonable length of time is to use the freeways. But get off them before 3 PM or face loooooooong traffic jams. Took me a few days to learn this. Nothing worse than trying to find a motel or phone in rush hour traffic or in a jam. Called Rod on Monday evening. He's retired. We met just before lunch in Vienna the following day, Tuesday. Vienna is near McLean. Rod has a very nice blue '33 sedan. He had the 5 speed transmission out. After a time, I got underway again.
Tuesday night, I called rdbwoody. Richard lives in Ellicott City. This is a western suburb of Baltimore, MD. It was raining pretty good on the highway to meet him on Wednesday. Got soaked again. Practically a daily occurrence. Guess this is one of the wettest springs on record for the east coast. The rain stopped as I approached Ellicott City. We went to his place to check out his '35 fordor slantback. Black and was taken off the street for some changes. He's installing a 9", a 5 speed trans, and Vega steering. His 8BA will run 3 carbs. He has intentions of building a wilder engine after recovering from the impact of the current changes. Very solid and straight with very good paint. Got a motel east of Baltimore, MD and called it a day. It was fairly early, but this old body was beat and needed rest. I was quite close to Federalsburg, MD.
That evening, I called NOTPIT500 and set up meet for Thursday at the local McDonalds in Federalsburg. Met Matt and his father. Matt is into roundy-round in a '55 Chev with an OHV, but he has quite a collection of flathead stuff. One of his current projects is stuffing a 337" Lincoln flathead into a pickup chassis and body. He prefers the bigger Lincolns under the old adage "There's no substitute for cubic inches." (Well, maybe cubic bucks might be a substitute.) He has about a dozen flatheads. Most are 8BA type. He has several frames with running gear and some good pickup sheet metal.
Left Matt mid-morning and crossed the state of DE. Got on I-95 just east of Wilmington, DE. This soon changes to the New Jersey turnpike. I decided on the turnpike to by-pass Philadelphia, PA and the traffic. I stayed on the toll road until north of East Brunswick, NJ. East Brunswick is just east of New York City. Then I traveled various divided highways etc. until I found highway 24. This took me to Rockaway, NJ where FLATDOG lives. Getting to Rockaway, NJ from Federalsburg, MD took two days of driving. Oh yeah, NJ seems to have a pretty firm grip on bad roads. It's like they have no idea how to make a smooth transition from asphalt to concrete on bridges etc. This also applies to frost heaves and cracks. Their concrete freeways and interstates are a joke in my book. Amazing, but they're not the only state that has these problems. Sure tough on these old cars with buggy springs.
I had called FLATDOG and said I'd be in late Thursday. Told him I'd call when I got into town. Rained all morning on the lousy roads.... like what's new! Called him and he gave me directions to his transmission shop. Easy to find. Pulled into his parking lot to see his '34 five window coupe with full fenders and boards. No hood or side panels. Super rod. Runs a 9" rear end with a C-4 transmission. Which makes sense since his shop builds automatics. Don's present flathead engine has a BIG stroker. An 8BA that's bored to 3-5/16" with a whopping 4-3/8" stroke (isn't that about 301"?)! Running a roller cam with 3-twos. But the wildest thing is the header system he's built. Looks like it was patterned after limp spaghetti! Don swears it makes a lot of hp. I sure wouldn't have the patience or skill to design and/or build them. We stood around and talked flatheads. Don is a real gear head. He seems to live for his coupe and the quarter mile. He's always trying a different combination to get a little more out of his '34. He took me for a ride. He has his own "test strip"..... a dead end street with no traffic. He left-braked it while he brought up the r's. Then he launched it. Talk about torque! Felt like an old B-gasser to this old geezer. Instinctively I raised my feet and legs..... a habit from the old days when clutches/transmissions might explode during a severe launch. The coupe really hauled. Lots of r's too. VERY impressive. Says he's knocking on the 14 second door and hoped to open it the next drag night. Wouldn't surprise me if he did. No slicks, nitrous, or blower. And he must weigh a good 220 lbs or so (just guessing). The all steel coupe ran very smooth on the street and in traffic despite it's wild cam. Probably a lot of it due to the automatic transmission.
Back at the shop, I asked if I could get on his computer and check the forum. While I was on the computer, Bruce Lancaster (sp) and his pretty lady drove in. Bruce is a member of this forum. Very interesting person and well-read. Don said he's head of a library. His lady friend is fully supportive of his hobby. Nice when a gear head's woman enjoys his car hobby. Bruce just acquired an original '32 roadster a day or so before! This makes him a proud owner of two '32 roadsters! Envy, envy, envy! We had a nice visit until well after shop closing time. Bruce and his lady had driven over a hundred miles to meet up with me. It was very much appreciated Bruce.
Told Don I'd best be finding a motel and get ready to head out the next day. Nothing doing. He insisted I spend the night at his place. So I followed him out to his house. Super place and shop. Has a couple of mild customs in his well equipped garage. He insisted on parking his rod outside so mine would be inside. Met his beautiful wife, Karen, and his son Zack. Zack is building several interesting electronic gizmos. We went to an Italian place for dinner. Super meal. We stayed up until nearly midnight talking.
Up early the next day. Don and I went out for breakfast before I left for the beckoning road again. Don, thanks to both you and Karen for being so nice to this old fool with an itchy throttle foot. Headed to Dresher, PA to meet up with a forum lurker by the name of Bob Carlson and his forty...... rumble seat