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Old 05-08-2019, 11:45 AM   #1
KCTA Chris
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Default Road trip: making it there and back

I took the truck out for a run from KC to Barltelsville and back last weekend for the Stray Kat 500 show in Dewey. Had quite the adventure and smiled most the way. Thought Id share the story.

9 years ago I started assembling a chassis for a fenderless, per-war roadster. Engine was an unknown rebuild. with new babbitt, .40 over and never ran but stored since the mid 80s. I added the usual stuff: reground touring cam, lightened flywheel, dual Zeniths plus a Simmons head. Chassis updates were typical: friction shocks for the front, custom springs front and rear, mechanicals with new drums from Mel. I paid attention to bushings and tolerances, some things got the full service while some parts (like trans) just received new bearings and gaskets. everything was nice and shiny until... I found the truck cab.

I always wanted a truck and finding a local rust free cab pulled from its 40 year indoor storage was alright. Once the lettering on the doors and hood hinted at its tow truck history, I knew it was right for me. I tracked down the original family and got the full history and photos of the station. Even took the original owners son for a drive, giving him his fathers old steering wheel in exchange for stories of its work in the depression and his driving adventures. Truck became a Midget race car hauller and solt to the local scrap yard in 56!

That changed a lot, the new pretty stuff was swapped for used, the chassis was hit with satin body bolted on. I accumulated 40k miles of gravel roads a few cross state drives. So I might as well make another trip and talked my neighbor into going in his flatty powered 35. Only difference was I wanted to rough it as much as possible, I packed several vintage items re-purposed for the trip and decided to camp. Routed the perfect Kansas City to Dewey line through back roads and parts of old 66. With an oil change I was off.. so heres some of the adventure...
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:00 PM   #2
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I didn't do much maintenance other than an oil change, grease check and few tools. I thought if it's going to go, it will go. I did add an accessory cigar plug under the seat, my truck is still 6v and that is enough to charge my phone and power a few needs. I needed a radio so weeks before found a cheap used 80's cathedral style radio, tapping the power feed found it can run off 6v too. Also installed a direct line to the speaker from my phone as well as installing a bluetooth speaker. It worked and had tunes and local weather updates (much needed later). My paperwork stays in a Prince Albert tin so the interior style all fits together. Realized I needed a map when I'm out of phone signal so did a little photoshop work overlaying a Google map onto a Phillips 66 map. also copied the driving directions too. Kept my flashlight next to me, it had a red side light I use for hand signals at night.
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:08 PM   #3
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I lucked into a reproduction wood box. It was a perfect travel companion on the floor holding all my needs, drink, map, few tools and road food. Keep things off the floor when it got wet was much appreciated. Another great find was a reprint of Missouri and Kansas state WPA books. Inside it had late 30's info about every town and region plus several driving routes of the era. It was a nice guide and those abandoned buildings now had reference to the past history!
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:16 PM   #4
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Wow!
That was neat!
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Old 05-08-2019, 01:29 PM   #5
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The rain broke and we left on somewhat dry pavement early. The first few miles were countryside running about 50 mph tops with no issues, but quickly realized flooding from heavy rain required a 70 mile trip down a major interstate. Luckily the traffic was light and really didn’t have any issues with other motorist or holding up traffic. I cranked it up to 55-58 (checking on my phone app) and again did fine... or so I thought. Soon as we pulled off the highway I noticed a little red showing on the Motometer which is unusual on my truck. Thats when I remembered the missing radiator baffle and several soldered off tubed from an ancient incident. Funny, I can drive my truck all day under 50 in the summer heat and barely use any water, anything faster it (I assume) slings it out of the tube (which is already pinched slightly). Added 3/4 gallon and settled back on the slow roads for several hours more driving. This was enjoyable! Cloudy and smooth roads running at 52 mph without a care in the world.
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Old 05-08-2019, 01:56 PM   #6
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Once we hit Joplin, I topped off the water and started following old 66 West. Again great drive and the Simmons Super Power head really charged up the hills! I followed the WPA book right through Galena only to find the museum was closed for lunch. The guide sent us to a WPA built park and continued on. Next stop at Riverton I was happy to see some of the Route 66 followers out and making their drive, even if they were in late model cars. We continued eventually onto Miami OK where you guessed it, the motorcycle museum was closed too. No matter we had fun.
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Old 05-08-2019, 02:48 PM   #7
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Great trip in a great truck. We had a couple in our club drive their Model A from Michigan to Southern CA in the past year. They followed as much of Route 66 as possible. I want to drive my A from where I live as much of Route 66 getting off and traveling to Denver area and then return. I'm considering the trip before I repaint as the only thing I haven't done yet. Good luck and have a great time on your trip, I'll be following your thread as you progress.
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Old 05-08-2019, 02:49 PM   #8
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Drive them; that's why they were made.
Thanks for sharing Chris!
Good Day!
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Old 05-08-2019, 03:25 PM   #9
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Thanks guys... Leaving Miami the clouds really started to form and by the time I got to turn off "66" my phone started buzzing with weather warnings. Not much for brains I pressed on. We were set for a two hour drive on secondary highways and kept moving. Soon as we started out of town the downpour hit, and rain was standing everywhere. I worried about the roads ahead closing as several places already had water up to the road but kept moving. At times I could barely see and fought with the hand crank wiper, and horrible headwinds that seemed to shift blowing the "Champion" like a sail. At one point I felt I was doing over 50 and was only making 26 mph - that was fast enough. The old body leaks some but with the wind water blew in from everywhere. I wore my cowboy hat so I could direct water off my knee and back funneling it to the floor. I suffered some water in a headlight connection and my suitcase on the running board gate I use for tools was soaked. Clouds parted and had a beautiful drive with thunderstorm heads in the landscape. Of course regrouped ourselves and ended up exploring an abandoned hotel that offered baths, not that I was ready for another. My flathead road partner had no issues of course. An adventure, but I really did enjoy it. It's part of driving you don't get to experience that often!

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Old 05-08-2019, 03:37 PM   #10
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We had to make another high speed run headed south, once again over 55 and I loose about 1/2 gal of water, since I'm checking it I'm not overheating. Imagine that... water all over the landscape but suffering from an adequate service station with an outdoor water faucet. Gassed up and headed into Bartlesville. Ran into Dewey meeting friends. then off for the camping adventure.
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Old 05-08-2019, 04:04 PM   #11
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I wanted to camp in the truck this trip, I have before, but not so far away. My comfortable cruising buddy opted for a hotel rather than his truck (flathead guys). My choice was a stay at a RV Park- wife and I travel in a 1940's camper and knew I could get a shower and electricity at one, I wanted both... (one more than the other). Perhaps I should have said more than "it's a truck with a bed camper", or done better research when selecting campgrounds. I was parked between the late shift semi-permanent resident and the camper full of kids that didn't quite get it. Either way... I had an audience. Plus side was plenty of 50 amp service for my single Edison bulb, the bad was the buzzing streetlight and truck traffic. When I constructed the cover I chose heavy cotton tent material. Looks vintage and still is waterproof, just not all the other areas around it. Most my stuff was dry but some damp to the touch. With the exception of blowing up my air mattress camp was set up in minutes. times I'm glad I made the bed a little longer as everything fit and no feet hung out this time. Wasn't bad once I was all zipped in and crashed worn from the drive.
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Old 05-08-2019, 04:07 PM   #12
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Excellent 'Big Adventure', enjoy every minute !


One way to deal with the Interstate is to spread out so not to become a bottle neck. This allows others to get in between you before passing again, if necessary. Works well.


Happy trails.......
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Old 05-09-2019, 02:41 PM   #13
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Day 2: Woke up and realized my charcoal was damp so it was a fast food breakfast, overcame the shower-house fear and made it to the Stray Kat 500. Was a great show so much on the HAMB you may want to read it there. Quality cars and people. Toured the Tom Mix Museum and the old Hotel.

One of the cars couldn't wait to see was HAMBs Dr. Dave's 4 door "A". Now might not be the thing for some of you. But lots of good "old man" restorations from years ago that sat and owners age or family decided to sell. If its a coupe or roadster we often see them cut up and do our appropriate bitching. Several of us who had or still do own the go fast cars have come to enjoy and respect the slower life and the great things that make Henry's Lady a classic. Dave's a guy who saw a nice car and bought it and made it work in his style without severely altering the car. With its roddish drop retaining mechanical brakes and rubber rake, subtle touches lights and dropped bar made it a standout perfect family cruiser. I overheard someone looking at the interior and commenting how cool it was, I bet a lot of guys looked up the 4 doors for sale that night - I did. I believe it attracted new people to the beauty and details that would have been overlooked without the attitude/altitude adjustment.
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:27 AM   #14
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Reading this thread made my day. Thank you for taking the time to post the pictures and details.

Your trip is something I would love to do with my 28 pickup sometime. A trip across the country. I also thought about making a camper tent in the truck bed for camping which you showed is doable. How do you think yours would hold up to rain? Unfortunately, my wife who said she might join me on a long trip said the only camping she would do is at the Hampton Inn. I may have to work on that.

The vintage touches you added to your truck were pretty cool. Old pictures and maps and all. Fun stuff.
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Old 05-10-2019, 01:38 PM   #15
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Thanks jquinlan! The fabric worked great in the rain, it's a cotton duck tent canvas. The open ends that let the water in, but I keep the back open for visibility. A professional shop could really do a better job. Also keep in mind I used wood pattern from a T era accesory bed making mine 6' long, On a stock truck might want to design something that converts to a tent with the tailgate down for leg room. FYI - My wife is the same and already thinks Im crazy!
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Old 05-10-2019, 01:57 PM   #16
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Day 3. The night before I detected a bit of stumble and assumed it was water in gas (we had also been running 87 octane 10% meth gasoline from some flooded area gas stations) cleaned my main idle carb, filter and drained out some gas and it ran great.

Up early and hit the road with a slight change in path to see some new sights bringing us through Kansas then back East to 66. I watched a beautiful sunrise and purred at 55mph as we made our way home. Sun was shining and continued on another 90 miles enjoying the countryside playing some great road tunes and really enjoying moment.
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Old 05-10-2019, 02:24 PM   #17
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Driving would have its challenge and suddenly the motor acted like it ran out of gas, no power and shut it down on the roadside. First thought was timing gear as Ive been there before. Pulled the cap and had rotation. Plenty of gas trickled so focused and expected a head gasket. I pulled the plugs to get a quick look for anything unusual and all were light grey/brown. Double checked the plug wire and was a little loose but nothing unusual. Damn if it didnt fire up and idle nice. Water fill and hit the road, another 20 miles, when I turned it stumbled and had bad hesitation. Radiator showing red so water stops became a mandatory occurrence. Worried it could be head gasket related I checked every-time for tale tell signs of bubbling air but nothing. Oil usage is minimal and clean as ever.

Id try less and more timing and more GAV. After a huge backfire seemed to run better. No low to mid range power but once I get going I can still scoot along, this became the norm of trying to adjust and watching the radiator.

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Old 05-10-2019, 02:35 PM   #18
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I worried about a blown intake gasket and fear of burning valves so I ran a little richer than usual. Biggest was issue now was the warmer temperature and radiator problem, at slower speeds it was fine but knew I had a huge interstate push ahead. I thought of Gene Kranz on the Apollo mission - I tried to just work the problem and not get overwhelmed with the big picture. That took the stress away and still found myself smiling and loving the adventure. Besides I had Jean, Betty and Albert staring at me to make it home - lol.

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Old 05-10-2019, 02:37 PM   #19
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Here's a little in car video, sorry for the noise!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht1ODCvE8oo
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:00 PM   #20
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Close to home but still had to drive the interstate for 60 miles. Suffering lack of power and the radiator issue I stopped every 10 miles to add 1/2 gal of water. I choose on-ramps with a downward slope to help the low end power issue. Still no clue what happened until compression test, I assume its multiples events: blocked and clogged radiator, trapped dirt or water in a carb (maybe condenser).

All the troubles were nothing over the fun I had and places to see in an "A". I changed my changed my mind on a few upgrades: I would rather fine tooth examine my mechanical brakes to get them perfect. Also saying no to the T-5 upgrade as I really enjoyed the driving and double clutching, the gear sound winding up is a great part of an “A”.

Sure was fun to take some old "junk" down the road. Hope it motivates a few to get out there. I'll keep you updated for the next trip!

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