Day 1 – June 6 – After a get-acquainted dinner at the Hardeman’s the night before, we all gathered on Wednesday morning, June 6, to set out on our great adventure. Ben had finished his two vehicles just the night before and neither was really road-tested. The comment was made that one of his cars hadn’t run in 40 years and the other had a new engine, transmission, and Ruckstell rear axle and hadn’t even been out of the garage! (The Spring 2001 purchase of Texas T Parts had interferred with a timely completion of the restoration.) Ben and Nancy planned to drive the 1927 Fordor and their daughters, Jennifer and Ginger, would be driving a 1926 pick-up.
Tour participants David Johnson, his daughter Sue and her husband, Bill Capps had driven over from Mabank, Texas. The other couple, Ken and Joyce, had driven in from Tennessee and already had 600 miles driving over to start the tour with the rest of us. Ross Lilliker had flown in from England for the tour, having shipped his 1926 right-hand drive roadster on ahead.
The pictures show the fanfare take-off. Unfortunately, Ben’s Fordor didn’t make it very far before we noticed smoke coming from under the dash. After a brief analysis, the other drivers started off and Ben, Ross, Jennifer, and Ginger set to work. The apparent problem was a defective ignition switch, but the next day, the real culprit was discovered to be a short in the ignition wire to the coil with a bolt bracing the dash to the firewall. While the car was being worked on, Ben felt that the engine had become too warm considering the short distance driven so decided to remove the thermostat from the water outlet neck. A large wad of cotton fibers were lodged in the thermostat. The culprit was a mouse, who chose the radiator to make his new home. So, before starting off again, the Fordor had a new radiator installed.
After a quick lunch, we started again. Less than a mile away, another problem developed involving the new engine in the ’26 Roadster Pickup. Fortunately, it wasn’t as serious as once feared and we started off a third time. A few minor adjustments along the way and the cars were well on their way to catching up with the others, if not by nightfall then the second day. Just outside of Temple, a mere 80 miles from Bryan, Jennifer’s pick-up truck made a loud snapping noise and refused to go further on it’s own. Ross towed the truck into Temple where we set up “shop” in the parking lot of a Texaco station with bright lights. It became obvious that the problem was in the rear axle and Ross and Ben disassembled the drive train, propping the truck up on plastic beer crates and jacks. It took more than 24 hours to rebuild the axle and during that time, an amazing number of people appeared and offered assistance. Rick Clark, a local Model A man, came that night and brought additional jacks, took Nancy to get food for our group, and produced a firm 2″X12″ board which we still have (never know when you are going to need a hard surface for a jack!). Our friends,Steve Markowski and Jennifer Pardue, who drove up from Bryan at 11:00 pm to bring some needed parts. At about 10:00 pm, Temple residents, Frank and Robin Ach, saw us and came to see if they could help. In the next 24 hours, these kind people provided coffee and food; brought lights and a generator (the Texeco station turned off those great lights at 11;30); gave Nancy, Jennifer and Ginger a bed for the night; fixed a hot breakfast for the woman and brought some out to Ross and Ben who had spent the night by the cars.