Saturday, June 30, 2012


California, here we come, right back where we started from.  Wells, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA, 405 miles.  Left real early in the morning, heading west.  You know how you can tell it is real early and you are heading west???  The sun makes this neat shadow in front of you,,,,TDSC03223 We hummed along for 75 miles, patting ourselves on the back, then found ourselves in a construction zone, single lane, semi on the rear bumper, flat out, foot on the floor, zipped up a hill, started down the other side, and “do you smell oil??”   and then, “I smell something hot!!” and then looked in the rear view mirror at a big cloud of smoke.  Figured we were done, I think the Chevy man in the picture thought we were done also. But,,,, no good Ford is going to quit in the presence of a Chevy man.TDSC03226 Holy cow, where did all that oil come from?

Undercarriage was dripping, dipstick showing essentially no oil,  But,,,,,, still sounds okay, not pumping oil out at idle, didn’t seem to be smoking any more, so we concluded to add a couple quarts, and drive a little more gently,,, and check the oil in a few miles. Not sure what went on there, oil splashed onto the exhaust pipe???  or the babbitt in the rear main rearranged itself????   or your guess is as good as mine???   After 22 more miles at a sedate 50 mph, we weren’t losing too much more oil out the rear main, so we kept going, checking the oil every 50 miles, light on the throttle and believe it or not, finished off the day with one more quart.  For sure, the leak is very sensitive to throttle setting, over Spooner Summit also sent out some oil.  We sent a message back to the Nicholsons, “just follow the drips.”  You want to see a welcome sight???  Here it is,,,,,,  Lake Tahoe,,,,,TDSC03228 And the welcome sight at Tahoe,,,,,,TDSC03231 Gonna sleep good tonight,,,,,,  We did hear from Nicholsons, they are in Montpelier, ID. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


Yellowstone Canyon Lodge, WY to Wells, NV, 438 miles, and 4 states, WY, MT, ID, and NV.  What can I say, it is downhill from Yellowstone and the little black coupe just got the bit in its teeth and headed for home.  That combined with some nice level four lane highways and favorable winds most of the way sure helped us cover the ground.  We got to our intended destination at Twin Falls at 2:00, looked at each other and said, “Let’s go to Wells.”  Happy to report that the oil consumption fell to a more reasonable level, only took one quart at the end of the day.  Being in Wells tonight puts us in reach of Tahoe tomorrow (if the winds are halfway favorable), and home on Sunday. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Only took a couple pictures today, geysers in the sunrise,,,TDSC03210 Steam across the road,,,TDSC03213I love Yellowstone in the early morning, the steam clouds are much larger and the wildlife is just waking up,,,TDSC03214  The only other picture I took was of this stretch of road between Twin Falls and Wells.  Little dusty, and notice the waves in the asphalt, almost got Patti seasick.  TDSC03216 Tahoe tomorrow or bust!!!!!!!


Sheridan WY to Canyon Lodge, Yellowstone, 273 miles. Today we had easy flat cruising interspersed with climbs that tested the Model A’s. First order of business for the day was a little sidetrip to Aberdeen, MT to get Nicholsons to Montana just so they could say they have been there.  DSC03146 Second order of business was to get over the Bighorn Mountains, beeeeg mountains.  This was a long hard climb for the A’s, pretty much full throttle in second gear overdrive.  The black coupe pumped out a quart of oil on this ascent, and at the top I smelled gear oil.  Both transmissions were really hot to the touch, makes a guy wonder just how good this modern gear lube is.  Pressed on, top of the Bighorns is really pretty,,,,TDSC03154Going down the other side of the Bighorns, we met this gentlemen who is cycling coast to coast, he said he is only carrying 50 lbs of gear, he was about one third of the way up a very long grade. TDSC03157 Anyway, bought a bunch of oil in Cody, and off to the Buffalo Bill Museum,  always a great place to spend time and refresh our sense of history.TDSC03163 When you leave Cody, it is another long climb up into Yellowstone, this time we were rewarded with a snowbank at the top, had to throw a few snowballs, only thing I hit was Bill’s car.  Linda Nicholson discovered her shoes were too smooth to climb up the snow, I missed the shot of her sliding back down on the seat of her pants.TDSC03180 Numerous stops to look at elk, bison, and fumeroles, and mud pots, this big fella was sitting beside a mudpot just watching the tourists go by.TDSC03201 Arrived at Canyon Lodge, our abode for the night is kind of a rustic shack in the trees, no tv, no internet, no cell phone, so we are roughing it. TDSC03205 Patti only jumped out of bed once when she found an ant crawling on her. (Well, it was really BIG.)

Tomorrow we leave our traveling buddies and head out on our own, making tracks for home.  Hey,,,, it’s downhill from here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Custer, SD to Sheridan, WY, 333 miles.  We started early and finished late.  First stop was to catch a picture of the Crazy Horse monument, click on picture for big image. I don’t think they have made much progress since we were here in 2006.TDSC03120 Stopped at Deadwood and ended up in the cemetery at Wild Bill Hickok’s grave, and next to him is Calamity Jane, amazing how many people trudging through the cemetery just like us,,,,TDSC03121Off to Sturgis, we were a little early for this years main event, but it was fun to poke around. This is the center of all the action.TDSC03124 Girls had to clown around,,,TDSC03126  We met Pete, the voice of the Sturgis rally, they pipe his voice all over town, he said about a million people show up at some time during Sturgis month.TDSC03133

Ran across a guy in the parking lot, a retired optometrist, who was restoring a Model A and asking us some questions, so we asked if he had any spare parts, since Bill Nicholson needs a breather cap.  He said no, but we should go talk to Father Karey at the rectory, because he has Model A’s, and just gave an engine away.  So off to the rectory, but Father Karey was out doing a mass somewhere but they said go over to the mortuary and talk to Randy the mortician, he might be able to help.  By this time Bill is hot on the trail and we are all wondering where this is going to lead us.  Bill found Randy the mortician in the basement of the mortuary and he informed us that the recipient of the engine was Motorman Mike, and gave Bill a phone number.  Now we are really getting close, Bill dials up the number and finds himself talking to Dave the gravedigger.  At this point we are having trouble keeping straight faces and Linda is howling with laughter.TDSC03135  But the phone call was not entirely in vain, Dave did have Model A parts but they are all in Hill City which we drove through an hour ago.  One more trip to see Dave the Mortician, and Bill got the right phone number for Motorman Mike.  Hot dog, Motorman Mike says yeah, there probably is a breather on the engine but it is in Rapid City.  Downer, he did offer to talk to Randy the mortician and have him take one off his car and Mike would promise to replace it but Bill told Mike that Randy was with a “client”, thanked him, and so concluded our quest from saloon to church to the mortuary in pursuit of the holy breather cap.  We all had a good chuckle. And declared that Model A Bill is a “character”!

By this time, we had burned too much time in Sturgis, so we made tracks for Devils Tower.  Does this picture look vaguely familiar, John?  TDSC03139 Sacred place for the Indians, and you can see why,,,,TDSC03140 By this time, it was 2:00 and we still had 170 miles to go.  So we ground it out on Interstate 90.  We had a howling headwind, full throttle the whole way, and knocked down to 40 on any grade.  Fortunately, those A engines are tough and since we were at 45oo feet and up, probably only making 2/3 power anyway.  It was very smoky and hazy all the way and you could smell wood smoke very strongly, and the sun could barely make a shadow.TDSC03143I had noticed earlier that my gas mileage was going to hell and I felt like my power wasn’t up to snuff on this windy stretch, and the mixture knob didn’t respond like it had been, I ended up running with the mixture knob shut off, what’s up with that???  I puzzled over that so when we got to Sheridan, I had a look at the carb and this is what I found,,, do you think that had anything to do with it?TDSC03144 And here is a tech tip on a different subject.  As you know, I am a big proponent of using anti-freeze in the cooling system because of the anti-corrosion properties. Today, I discovered another reason to use antifreeze, if you spring a leak on the road, (hose clamp loosened somehow) you can smell the antifreeze and get a heads up before you lose all the coolant and get into a heating problem.  What a day, had dinner at a place called Sanfords Pub and Grub, with $1 beers, today was a two beer day, if you ever see a Sanfords, be sure and stop, decor is jam pack memorabilia and Americana.  Onward to Yellowstone!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Pierre, SD to Custer, WY, 258 warm miles.  We knew we were in for it when the TV predicted record 105 degree temperatures for today, and they were right.  We left earlier than normal to beat the heat, but it eventually caught up with us because we just had to stop at all the great sights.  First stop was at the Minuteman Missile Historic Site.  We wanted to see a silo but they don’t offer tours of the silos.  Did you know there are still 400 Minuteman III missiles on active status?TDSC03067 And then the Badlands, actually a very beautiful mix of erosion and grasslands,,,,TDSC03089 TDSC03072and the other cars caught us there,,,,TDSC03083Somewhere in the badlands there is a Model A breather cap, (Bill’s),,,,TDSC03087This sign is for our AZ kids,,,,,TDSC03088 Us tourists got trapped at,,,,,TDSC03099But that was okay, cause the temperature outside was approaching 100 and we took this splendid opportunity to cool off and have lunch at the famous drug store,,,,TDSC03090 Then the temperature started to cause us problems,,, my A was the first to be struck,  just began to buck and starve with vapor lock, so I stopped under an overpass spritzed everything with water and did a wrap job on the fuel system,,,  and that worked until we got on the HILL up to Rushmore and I had to stop and double wrap it.  That did seem to do the trick.  105 degrees and 5000 feet of elevation are just tough, gas wants to boil.TDSC03100 Bill did fine until he got on the HILL, and he came to a complete stop,  spritzed everything, put some foil in strategic places, and he’s okay now also.TDSC03102 Linda to the rescue with liquids and a new box of foil,,,TDSC03104 We finally got to Mount Rushmore, with just a little boiling on that last steep hill and waiting in line at the ticket booth, but compared to the vaporlock, that was minor.  Parked them in the shady parking garage  to cool down and went and enjoyed Rushmore,TDSC03109 We hear that the other travelers are going back tonight for the evening show, but we just can’t make that,,,,,

Forecast for tomorrow, 79 degrees, w-a-a-h-o-o….

Monday, June 25, 2012


Marshall, MN to Pierre, SD, 267 miles.  Started the morning off by changing the carburetor again, blasted zenith float valve just not making it,  okay on the road, but dripping like a leaky faucet at a stop.  So I am back to my original Tillotson, which seems to be doing okay after a complete disassembly and blowing out all the passages.  It was mostly two lane roads, started the day out following this rig,,,,TDSC03038

Lots of wind machines out here on the plains,,,,, and whoopee, it was blowing our way, a tailwind,,,, Meneely luck strikes again, 20 mpg!!!!TDSC03039 Stopped at the Ingalls Homestead,,,, where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up,,,TDSC03040 These two children leaped onto the merry-go-round,,,,TDSC03043 This is the little house on the prairie,,,, well okay, a replica.=,,,,TDSC03049 In the shop, they had a rope making machine,,,,TDSC03055 We actually spent a lot of time there today, had a cheese and cracker lunch on the bunkhouse porch,,   but finally hit the road again,,, on one of our gas stops, couldn’t resist taking a closer look at this monster grain bin on rubber tracks.TDSC03063 Giant farm equipment for sale at every crossroads town,we looked at a lot of corn and wheat and soybeans today,  finished the day off just the way we started, behind a piece of farm equipment,  this guy was rolling down the road almost as fast as us.TDSC03064 Interesting signs for today – Shade Tree Auto Repair,,, Hole in the Mountain Park,,, Prime Cut Ranch,,,

Sunday, June 24, 2012


256 miles, Eau Claire, WI to Marshall, MN.  We didn’t have to drive as hard today and I must say we did have some fun.  Stopped at the last fireworks stand in WI just to get a picture,,,,TDSC02995 But you know what happened, we ended up inside the store,,,,,TDSC02996 Linda, “Bill, these are illegal in California!!”  While we were sorely tempted by the bigguns, we were fairly conservative, no rockets to the moon or M80’s,,,  Outside we noticed part of the parking lot was blocked off.   TDSC03001 Closer inspection revealed a killdeer sitting on eggs in a hollowed out gravel nest.TDSC02997 She was quite assertive and stepped off the nest to reveal two hatched eggs and two about to hatch eggs.  What a location for a nest…Anyway, on to the Mall of America,,,,TDSC03005 which has an amusement park in the middle,,, who suggested a ride on this roller coaster????  Look at it, it is really tame.TDSC03011 Well, at least we did not go upside down,,,, notice the glee on the guys faces and the stark terror on the ladies faces,,,,,Troller coaster bandL Troller coaster bandpAnd our group which was scattered to the four winds yesterday somehow all ended up in the same place for lunch today,,,,and then scattered to the winds again…..TDSC03023TDSC03017As we were making tracks for Marshall late in the afternoon, we received a phone call from our old friends in Minnesota, Andy and Sally Vano, warning us about big bird attacks on automobiles on route 19.   We knew something was up when this little Cessna appeared and flew along side us.Tandysallyplane Yep, it was Sally and Andy.   They tracked us into Marshall and landed and we had dinner with them,  what an unexpected treat.  TDSC03033  You just never know what you’re going to find or what’s going to find you on those Minnesota backroads.  How ‘bout that???? Oh, three funny signs for today Shadow Hunter Blinds,,,Knotty Vines,,,Wildhorse Auto Body