Hot Rodding, Then and Now
Rumbleseat's East Coast Run 2003 Part Ten
PART TEN. Turned southeast and took two lane roads to meet Dave in Richmond, OH. Rained the remainder of Tuesday, June 10. Wednesday I drove in moderate rain and ran more two lane roads. Neat drive even if it was raining. I had called Dave Tuesday night and set up a mid-morning meeting on Thursday. Richmond is a small town near the east border of OH. Rained most of the day Wednesday and was still sprinkling Thursday morning. Called Dave at the only pay phone in town and got directions to his place. One thing about small towns…. everything is only a few blocks away. Dave and his family were in the front yard next to his black '36 cabriolet when I rolled in. Cabriolet was the name for cars with retractable tops with door windows. I think it was '38 when they got their named changed to convertible. Nice rust free '36 with a lot of original Ford accessories. Mostly original except for some newer updates like a two brush generator and juice brakes. The original boiler motor has been replaced with a 59AB engine and has dual Stromberg 48 carbs on a regular intake manifold. Dave's plans are to do a full tear down in the near future since it's an old build and is showing it's age and neglect. Had coffee with them and kidded his wife and daughter a lot. Super nice people. Didn't hang around long due to the threatening gray skies. Next stop was in the center of OH near Columbus.
Tuesday evening I called both Dale Hays and Jim Leis. They both live about 2 hours south of Columbus, but would drive to Columbus. Something came up at the last minute and Dale couldn't make it, but Jim showed up in his chopped sano blue '49 Merc custom with a blown flathead. It has skirts, side pipes, louvers, is lowered, and a custom grill. Super neat tail lights and rear end treatment. The white interior is immaculate too. Engine is an 8CM bored 0.080", Isky 400 Jr. cam, Offy 425 heads, Mallory dual point, and Joe Abbin blower making 5 psi of boost. Impressive to say the least. He had a couple of riders…. Mac and Jim. We met at a restaurant/service center near the intersection of I-270 and I-71. If I remember correctly, this was originally the Quaker State distributor for the area, but was converted to a restaurant/service center years before by the owner. Easily enough memorabilia to keep me busy for a whole day. And super food. I understand they have regular cruises to the place. Had a long lunch and talked flathead stuff. Outside, after a goodly amount of tire kicking we parted and I got back on the road.
Since I was passing by (?) Goshen, IN I decided I look up a couple of good friends, Bob and Marge. I met them at a Falcon National several years ago and have stayed in touch. Goshen is located near the north border of IN just south of Elkhart, IN. Friday afternoon, June 13. I was running on two lane roads and enjoying the small towns and "yard art" in the ranches and farms I passed. The skies started getting dark…. real dark. Stopped and put up the top. Kept getting darker and the temperature dropped. Knew I was in for a storm and soon. The clouds looked like ones I associate with twisters and severe weather. Made me more than a little nervous since I've been on the fringes of two twisters many years ago. Stopped and got out my winter weight Denver Roadster jacket. It felt good in the cool air. Figured I'd stop in the next major town for the night and get everything buttoned down before the storm hit. Yeah… right! Like that was ever going to happen on this run!
Saw a wall of solid rain coming across the fields to my right. I nailed the gas and ran hard into the next town. It was a small town. I watched for a car wash or service station with an awning over their pumps to shelter me from the impending storm. No such luck. Then the rain and wind hit with a vengeance. I've never seen any rain so intense in my life. It dumped rain like someone pulled the main drain plug in the sky. Had to stop on the shoulder of the road because I couldn't see the road…. only wave after wave of rain. I never saw a vehicle on the road all the time I waited out the storm. Nothing was running. The driving rain came from my right and blew in the right side door opening. It had such force it went straight through the car and out the driver's side door opening. Since I was in the middle of this driving rain I got to absorb lots of it and was wet in seconds. The heavy Roadster jacket, with its leather sleeves, was soaked clear through almost instantly. The top kept out the rain for a few minutes before the water soaked through. It was almost like I was sitting underneath a waterfall!! Fun, fun, fun. The carpet had standing water since it couldn't drain out the doors fast enough. I found out later even the billfold in my right hip pocket was soaked completely through! But the thing which was amazing was how hard it was raining and blowing…… I couldn't even see the radiator cap! And a '34 hood is pretty short. I tried to drape a towel over the door openings to deflect some of the rain, but the driving rain blew it down as fast as I could hang one from the top rails. The storm maintained this intensity for over 40 minutes before it let up.
All this time I had kept the engine running to keep the distributor and coil dry. And to circulate hot water through the heater. Then the engine picked up a miss…. and then another. Fantastic (not exactly the word I used), just what I needed….. a drowned distributor in a rain storm. I'd never get it dry. The crown of the two lane road was a good 4" higher than the edges of the road for drainage. Both shoulders of the road were about 18" above the fields. The rain came down so hard the center line of the road was submerged under about 4-5" of rain! And the fields were overflowing onto the shoulders before it began to let up! The water was lapping at my right side tires. The downpour let up slightly so I could see…..almost. A good omen and I attempted to get underway while I had the chance. The missing engine didn't like it, but it managed to stay running on 6 cylinders while I drove in first gear…. trying to dry the distributor. Took about a half hour before things dried out and I could shift into second or high. Finally the rain stopped completely and I resumed running 65 mph. That didn't last long. Ran into TWO more of these rain storms within the next few hours. They were n't quite as intense and only lasted about 10 minutes each. Finally the rain stopped and blue skies returned.
Found a motel and pulled in for the night. My tennis shoes had taken on water and I squished as I walked across the lobby. It took all night for them to dry. I unloaded the rumble seat completely because the floor depressions were under water again. Looked like a couple of portable ponds. Hung things around the motel room and went to a car wash to use a vacuum cleaner on the twin lakes in the floor of the rumble seat. Emptied out my soaked bill fold and laid everything near the heat/air conditioner. Everything for the billfold, except for the leather, was dry by morning. The leather was still slightly damp. Before I went to bed that night, I checked my feet for webbing between the toes. I had been in so much rain the past couple of weeks, I was sure I had grown some.
Next morning I continued to Goshen. Pulled in Bob's place mid morning. As usual, Bob was wound tight when I pulled up. He really gets off on cars. He's got a black '65 Falcon convertible and a green mist '66 Falcon station wagon. Both have taken numerous first places in national competition. Marge gave me a tour of her yard and gardens. They were in Denver a few years ago on vacation. Marge and my wife, Pauline, took to one another right away. They're both into flowers big time (more so than I'm into flatheads!). Bob's next project is a '67 Fairlane. After a pleasant lunch, Bob and I went cruising in the roadster after putting the top down. Sunny day and the sun felt good after so much rain. Stuck around until early afternoon before leaving. I'd see them at the Falcon Nats in Dallas, TX in early July.
Next stop would be to meet V8 Bob in Granger, IN. Granger is west of Elkhart, IN and is a short run from Goshen. Called Bob on Saturday, June 14. He was out of town, but would be home late that night. Left message I'd call him the next morning. Something I noticed on this trip that was funny to me. Many times I would call and ask for the man by his name. His wife, or family member, would ask who was calling. When I gave my name, often I could hear the man in the background saying to take a message and he'd return my call. Each time I would then ask the person who answered the phone to tell him "rumble seat's calling". Several times I actually heard rapid footsteps coming to the phone. So I got to the point of telling them "rumble seat" when asked who was calling. They usually stumbled over this and I would repeat it.
Called Bob, in Granger, early the next day. He came to the motel to guide me to his house. We hit it off from the git-go. Met his wife, but failed to record her name. Sorry about that. She's very supportive of his hobby and a very nice lady. Super home and area. But the best thing was his garage…. or would enormous cavern better describe it? Bet I could park 35 cars inside and still have a car path down the middle! He has a ramp type lift, a large paint booth, and has constructed an old timey gas station replica in one corner. He's divided one end of the garage off for his main work shop. This is where the lift is. He's fabricated an engine test stand that looks professional. It had a flathead ready for testing. His current project is a Brookville duece roadster that will run a flathead engine that's ready to go. It's a 3-3/8" X 4" (286") with 3 carbs and finned heads. I didn't record what else was inside. The chassis is completed for the most part and is a roller. The Brookville body is about ready for installation. Bob is a brake specialist, so it figures his ride will have 4 wheel disc brakes. He also has a '51 custom with a stock flathead that he uses for cruises nights. It's a cool ride. One thing that I thought was really neat was the "chrome spear" down each side. It resembles a Buick spear. This is paint, but looks like chrome. Super job whoever did the painting. Outside the work area in his huge parking area, is a '40 coupe…. with a 427" OHV! There's another one of these engines sitting in the corner. We gabbed awhile while he helped me change my oil and give it a quick grease job. If your ever in the area and need your flathead oil filter changed, look him up. He's got a unique way to empty the filter canister. Ask him tell you how he does it. Very educational. I really enjoyed the too-short time we spent together.
The next stop would be near Grand Junction, MI. I was getting exhausted and would take a day off to rest up….. rumble seat