Since getting seriously into the Model T thing about 8½ years ago I've worked on the cars a lot and made plenty of short drives, but I don't think I've ever driven a T over twenty miles in one trip. So I decided to drive my roadster to the Flatland T's field day at Gary Paulsen's in Galva. That's four counties away, a distance of about 125 miles.
Rolling up Cowley 1, about ten miles from home, at 6 AM. I was glad I was wearing a coat, because even on the last weekend in May it was a chilly morning. I haven't painted and installed my new wheels yet, and the old wheels on this car aren't as straight as I'd like. I found that a cruising speed of 35 to 38 mph produced the least wobble.
The first eighty miles were uneventful. I stopped to fill up in El Dorado, about sixty miles, at 7:40 AM. At 84 miles I turned off K-196 and headed up East Lake Road. I didn't get far. With lots of rain recently the streams were way up and the road was under water. Not a big problem. The next road over, a mile east, was OK. But I noticed that my speedometer had quit working. After a stop to attempt a fix, I went on without it.
The next twenty miles were fine. I would get to Gary's around the 10 AM start time. But when I got to the road where I intended to turn west, it scared me off. A sign said "GRAVEL ENDS", and beyond that was water and mud as far as the eye could see. So I drove a mile north to the next road. Nope, no better. But the next one looked OK and I turned west. It was fine for a few miles, but then I came to a muddy stretch.
I was doing fine, moving right along, until I made the mistake of trying to stay where the road looked driest. That was sand deep enough to steer me off the road into the wilderness.
I knew I wouldn't get unstuck without help. I phoned Chris Paulsen and asked him about contacting a local towing service. He was only about ten miles away, so he brought a 4WD and a tow rope. But the 4WD couldn't get traction on the muddy road. So I started up the roadster, and with the other guys pushing I hit the low pedal and made it back out onto the road. I didn't dare stop. This time I stayed on the wettest parts of the road, which were more solid than the sandy parts. There were three or four places where sand had washed across the road and the car bogged down. I backed up a few feet, hit the low pedal again, and went a little farther. Backed up a few feet, hit the low pedal again, and went a little farther. Eventually I made it through that muddy mile and reached a paved road. I don't like driving a T on main highways, but in this case I was glad to go a couple of miles north to US 56 and go on to Galva with the modern traffic whizzing past me.
When I turned south on the road to Gary's, believe it or not...
...another sandy patch put me off the road again. This time the 4WD was on a drier road, and Chris was able to get me out in short order.
Eventually I arrived only an hour an a half late, thanks to flooding detours and mud. That didn't spoil the day.
Here are some of the field day sights.
Spear the potato.
Balance your T. I tried it too. Through a brilliant stroke of beginner's luck, I got it on the first try.
It was a very PC event. Everybody who brought a car won best of show.
Some interesting cars, T and non-T.
My favorite feature here is the exhaust pipe through the fender.
If you're using a tractor magneto, what do you do with the spark lever?
One of the highlights of the day was riding in Chris Paulsen's Fronty.
Steve Robbins, Verne Shirk, Kimberly Shirk, Gary Paulsen, Jerome Hoffman.
The drive home was mostly uneventful. Through McPherson and Marion Counties I stayed on paved county roads, and south of there the unpaved roads were all fine. When I started I noticed that my speedometer was working again. I don't know how it cured itself, but it hasn't failed again. I ran out of gas a few miles west of El Dorado, but three gallons off the running board took me on to the filling station. I left Gary's place a little before 3:00 PM and got home at 7:40.
Muddy but unbowed. With no speedometer part of the way I don't know the exact mileage, but I think the total was about 270 miles. Heading up the road early in the morning I noticed myself feeling tense a few times. By the time I got home I was a little tired, but perfectly relaxed.
Great pics and story Steve. Glad you and your T got home unscathed
Congratulations, Steve! I've been touring in brass cars for several years, and have never gone that far in a day even on good roads, let alone sand and mud. Thanks for posting.
Wonderful and congratulations! Now you really know what travel was like a hundred years ago.
Great story and photos. Thanks for sharing.
Here's the video: https://youtu.be/LvsqSdzZQaU
Okay Steve,....."bottom line",.......if you had that trip to do over, would you do it again? Or would you drive "modern iron"?
Ooops! I forgot to say,.....nice pictures and nice video of what looked to be a very fun day,.....and thanks for a very interesting and entertaining post Steve,.....harold
Enjoyed the story and pics. Hope to see you doing well in Richmond. Also glad to see you have a lower wishbone for that kind of traveling.
Steve, that was pretty gutsy to drive all that distance considering you just finished putting it all back together. Nice job. When i rebuilt my trans, i ran it on jack stands for an hour or so to make sure it didn't grenade.
Great pics and cool story. Glad it made it home. Tim
Harold, the answer is yes. In a heartbeat. I intend to make more long trips. But first I have a few more things to fix.
John, you know who rushes in.
Steve - Sounds like you made it without any spark plug issues. Are you still running the X's?
I'm like you, I think I'd be nervous as heck. The first big trip is probably the hardest but also a big confidence booster.
You should always take a snowmobile to a mud fight ! Congrats on a nice run.
You experienced a true Model T adventure. Your story sounds like some I heard when I was a boy. I remember my grandfather telling about a trip across the country from Los Angeles to the east coast and up into Ontario and back across the United States to L.A. Somewhere they went into a ditch and a crowd gathered. He asked them to help him get the car back on the road, and they picked up and carried it back to the road. He then thanked them and went on. They carried a tent which the pitched each night, wherever they happened to be. Somewhere along the way they broke a crankshaft, but the Ford dealer was able to fix it with a short delay. They visited relatives along the way, two of which I met during the 1990's. They had remembered when "George" visited them in 1926, in his Model T. They were just boys then, but when I met them they were in their 80's and 90's.
Dan, I'm currently trying a set of Autolite 3095 in this car. So far they're fine.
Steve, I bought the 3095 Auotlites. I couldn't test them out this weekend, I had to work. Hope to try it out on the road next weekend. Sounds like you had a fine trip this morning. Tim
So, even when Ts were new, they were breaking crankshafts??? Hmmm.
Oh and Steve, now that all the pictures have downloaded to my slooooow dial-up interface, gee, I never knew you were a Bush-wacker!!
I've bent small trees with my Barney on his first drive!
Steve, I forgot to ask before, when you ran out of gas on the way home, did you check the level in the tank before you added the three gallons from one of your running board cans?
I'm just curious as to how much (if any) gas was still in the tank when your engine quit.
Looked like about a gallon on the stick I used. (There's a disagreement among sticks.)
A couple of T Guys from Kansas City (KC Chuggers) were at outing in Galva. It was fantastic! Gary Paulsen organized a great outing, and he was also able to get the rain gods to cooperate that day. To me, this event shows the best of what the Model T community does to keep this hobby alive.
Nice video, Steve, and I really enjoyed the story also.
Great story, pictures and video. My longest day was on the trip in Baja from Loreto to LaPaz about 220 miles but some big hills just after the start. Your trips off the road are a little frightening, I guess you were not traveling that fast on gravel road. Most dirt roads in Cal and Az are bone dry so it has never happend to me. If seems that the first excursion damaged a top bow, hope you can fix it without too much trouble. I lent my 14 touring to a local theater group and they broke the front and rear bows pushing on and off the stage. That was quite an effort to fix. Again a great, and brave, day out.
Quite an adventure, Steve. You are in the truest sense, dauntless.
Tony, one of my favorite trips ever was down Federal Highway 1. Beginning at Rosario it was not only unpaved, but a lot of it was ungraded. Just wheel tracks over dirt and rocks, some of them pretty big. Two hundred miles of road like that kept out the riffraff. My Buddy Herb and I camped on the beach at Bahia de Los Angeles for a week. In that time we saw one other car, when some local guys came out to fish. It was glorious, and never to be repeated now that the highway has been paved.
Glad you made it home better Steve.
Not sure of the application, but these might help next time
That looked like a great trip Steve. I really like the photos. Your roadster is an impressive little car.
I've had a desire to take off one of these days in my touring car and drive the 140 miles to my brothers place up North.
Up till now all longer trips were done with others while on tour. There's a lot of support when done that way. But to take off alone takes a heap of testicular fortitude.
3 years ago I went 100 miles North and back by myself. Only issue was one flat tire.
Again; great job Steve!
Really great adventure, Steve. I'd like to ask a clarifying question about your two little side trips where you departed the road.
Did the drag of the sand pull the steering wheel out of your hand and actually steer the car off the road, or were you able to hold the wheel straight and the car simply "slithered" off to the side ?
Ed, what kind of Model T wheel do you suppose they fit, with three lugs?
Mike, maybe I'm brave, or just foolish.
Dick, in both cases my hands were on the wheel but I was unable to hold it straight. The sand was stronger than I was.
As always, your video is grand and your photographs are exemplary. I applaud your joining the ranks of the Intrepid Solitary Planetary Fordist. Bravo and Huzzah!
One of my most pleasant adventures took place several years ago when I drove my coupe from Keene, NH to Bethel, ME for a Mainely T Tour. That leg was about 200 miles. I left home much later than planned and drove for over two hours in the dark. I was way too late to arrive at the campground on the way to Bethel so I slept in the coupe. (I'm not quite diminutive, but I made do.) Ran around with the group, which included a foray into New Hampshire to the Balsams Resort. Drove home with another couple of hours of night travel. By the time I arrived home I had put around 625 miles on the coupe.
I had to laugh at myself the following day when I drove the modern car to the gas station and aligned the passenger side front door with the gas pump.
Keep up the good work Steve. Bill
A great trip Steve. Thanks for sharing. When time permits I love to go on long drives in my T. Not sure if you caught it or not on fb, here is a link to my most recent 300 mile drive with a mate in 2 1916 T's.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdfWaW_cDes Really enjoyed the video of the games at Chris's place. I am currently planning a games day with T driving based actrivities so it was good to see some ideas.