What to expect on the 2001 Alaskan Model T Tour

Last revised: November 15, 2003.

If you are interested in making the tour, please read this page carefully. It contains very important information.

Plans for the 2001 Alaska tour are still being developed and are subject to change. However, I will post the latest information on this page so those who are interested may keep up with its development. There will be an additional page to show the itinerary as it comes together.

  • This tour is being planned as a voluntary association of people who would like to make an extended Model T Tour with other Model T lovers. There is going to be no competition. All druvers are expected to be capable of taking care of their own vehicle but, as on most Model T tours, when a breakdown occurs, other drivers will probably offer assistance. If a vehicle should have a major breakdown, the other participants are expected to offer any spare parts available, but the main party of the tour will continue on schedule and the broken-down party will be expected to implement repairs and catch up.
  • We plan to leave Bryan, Texas, on June 7, 2001. I encourage everyone to begin the tour in Bryan, but that is not required. Parties who do chose to begin the tour in Bryan will be given preference if the 20 vehicle limit becomes a factor.
  • Cost of the Tour – There will be no “fee” for the tour, but participants will be asked to contribute $50 toward the costs involved planning the trip. Meals and most other expenses will be paid by each individual as the tour progresses. However, when the itinerary is finalized and reservations are being made, participants will be asked to pay Ben Hardeman for their lodging accommodations in advance. Some of the motels in 1987 required partial payment in advance and a few required full payment in advance. Ben Hardeman will be responsible to pay the motel charges each night of the tour. In addition, the fees for cars and passengers on the ferries are also due prior to the trip and must be paid in advance. If any participants cancel their registration for the trip, all of the money they may have paid that is recoverable by Ben Hardeman will be refunded to them. Likewise, if any participants begin the tour and have to drop out for any reason, any recoverable money will be refunded to them. It is impossible to tell at this time what the total cost of lodging and ferry transportation will be. As a reference, in 1987, the average cost of participants who started and ended the tour in Bryan, Texas, was $3,525 for a car and two people. That included lodging and ferry transportation for 63 days. Chris Eggsgard from California camped out most nights and the amount he paid was $524 which included only the ferry passage for himself and his car. I am estimating that the cost of lodging and ferry passage only for a person travelling round trip from Bryan, Texas and return will be between $5,000 and $6,000 for a car and two people.
  • Health and Durability – We expect to drive 200 to 275 miles per day in the lower 48 states and have shorter driving days while we are out of the lower 48. This is a rigorous trip to be sure. However, if you are healthy at home, you will probably be healthy on the road as well. I don’t know the average age of the participants in 1987, but it was probably 65. Z.L. Simpson at 72 was probably the oldest. He was raring to go back the next summer! You will be the most tired near the end of the first week because you won’t be used to the routine. After that, each day will probably be like any other day at home except you’ll be seeing Alaska. There will be a one day layover at least once per week to allow for rest, repairs, and sightseeing. Whenever possible, we will plan an extra day around National Parks.
  • Weather – The weather in Alaska is not too bad in the summer. We did not encounter any freezing weather in Alaska in 1987. The daylight hours are long. It doesn’t get dark at all in early July north of the Arctic Circle. The coldest day of the trip was August 3rd, the morning we left Yellowstone National Park. It was 32 and there was frost on the tops of the cars. If you are driving an open car, you will need side curtains.
  • Road Conditions – The roads were not as bad as we were told to expect. Remember we will be travelling about 35 MPH. Modern cars need better roads than we do. The highway out of Fairbanks north to Prudhoe Bay is gravel after the first 30 miles or so. We were warned that the 18 wheelers travelling that road would shower us with gravel when they passed. They were so couterous that they slowed down to twenty miles per hour when they saw us to protect the Model T’s. Your car will show the wear and tear from the trip, however. Mine still has a cracked fender from the vibration.
  • Tires & Spare Parts – I took two tires as fender mounted spares, and never even had a flat. If your wheels are aligned and you start the trip with good tires, you should not wear out any. I highly recommend using rim liners inside the wheel to protect the tube. In 1987, we had a need for almost every description of spare part we had and some we didn’t have. You’d be surprised what you can find along the route when you have to. We did use 6 or 8 axles. You know what your car’s weaknesses are. You need to decide what extra parts you need to carry. We will attempt to coordinate a list of major parts taken by the group so that when a part is needed we can determine quickly if it is available. We are not planning to have any support vehicles on the tour. We will coordinate a list of spare parts so that we don’t have eleven axles and only one bearing. I plan to carry a rebuilt short block in the ’26 roadster pickup that my daughters will be driving. We will contact the antique car clubs along our route. In 1987 we found that they were a good source of both parts and garage facilities when we needed them.
  • Gasoline availability – We encountered no problem with gasoline availability in 1987 and I expect it will be available even more frequently in 2001. You should, of course, carry a filled one- gallon gasoline can as well as extra water and oil. The only time I ran out of gas, I was on the interstate-grade four lane highway coming into Anchorage. Unfortunately, I was seen emptying my spare gas can into my tank and had to endure a lot of friendly ribbing.
  • Cooperation – I have already had one potential participant decide not to make the tour because he felt that, “If you put that many old goats together for 10 weeks, you’re going to have a lot of squabbling and I don’t want to be around them.” If you aren’t dedicated to have fun, don’t go! We had a fine time in 1987. There were some people who did more than their share of helping out those who didn’t have all of the mechanical skills they needed, but they helped out voluntarily. We also had the typical amount of good natured debating over who was the best mechanic. We all loved the trip and look back on it as the “tour of a lifetime”. I still receive Christmas notes from participants who recall the “best trip” of their lives.
  • We will not have specific daytime schedules. Each party will be on their own. However, I expect that we will naturally group into “travelling partners” and drive in small groups. That is what happened on the 1987 tour. It is probably best not to travel as a large group on some of the roads as a large group would create a traffic problem.
  • We will have lodging reservations every night and, as you would expect with a group this size, the motels will not accept last minute group cancellations. Most motels will accept a last minute adjustment of one or two parties and will refund those portions.
  • Some communities that we travel through or stop in will undoubtedly host our group for organized community activities. There will be parades, cookouts, and other events planned. I encourage participation, but it is not required. We will probably also have some optional activities and functions that involve additional fees. In 1987, for example, we had a white water raft trip near Denali National Park that was an option.
  • Each participant is responsible for all aspects of their tour. It should be understood that the Hardemans do not accept responsibility for anything other than the lodging and other travel expenses that have been paid in advance. This tour is NOT being conducted as a money making activity. However, in some cases, the tour organizer (Ben Hardeman) may receive a free room or a discounted tab as a result of acting as the organizer and making group reservations. I want that to be known up front.
  • The trip is expected to be about 10 weeks long.

We are planning to continue this web site during the tour and to download photographs and a paragraph or two about each day’s activities so that your friends in your hometown clubs can watch the tour progress. Logistics will not be simple, but it should add a lot of fun for the folks back home. On the 1987 tour, some of the hometown newspapers did daily updates on the progress of the tour. With today’s communications technology, this should be a lot easier to arrange. None of the information will be copyrighted.