Monthly Archives: June 2015

Found: One Fageol Interurban Safety Coach

Fageol Safety Coach at DNP
A 1924 Fageol Safety Coach in Denali National Park. Photo credit:Frances Erickson

During the 1930’s, the Mt. McKinley Tourist & Transportation Company used a Fageol Safety Coach to haul visitors into Denali National Park. The Fageol had a 218-inch wheelbase and could carry 22 passengers. In 1941, MMT&T Co lost the National Park concession, and the Fageol was brought to Fairbanks, where it has sat outside for the past 70+ years.

1924 Fageol Interurban Safety Coach
The Fageol Interurban Coach after 70 years of Fairbanks weather. Photo credit: Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

An old photo of the coach in Denali, led to a rumor that the coach was in Fairbanks. It was found, surrounded by willows. After sitting out in the elements for 73 years, the Fageol Interurban was in extremely rough shape. The coach was donated to Fountainhead Auto Museum in Fairbanks, which went about preserving the vehicle for exhibit.

The refurbished Fageol
Photo credit: Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

The refurbished Fageol Interurban Coach, complete with its Hall-Scott 4 cylinder engine, can now be seen on display at McKinley Chalet Resort.


A Flashback Friday Edition:

The GMC ‘Deuce and a Half’ driver’s training during WWII

There were 562,750 CCKW’s produced by GMC between 1941 and 1945, only the “Jeep” saw higher war production numbers. Officially they remained in service with the U.S. Army until 1956, but unofficially the CCKW saw service for a decade after that.

“C”, designed in 1941
“C”, conventional cab
“K”, all-wheel drive
“W”, dual rear axles

In the Red

June 2015 Fire Map
Wildfires across Alaska

After a winter with very low snowfall, and the month of May being the warmest on record for Alaska, it should come as no surprise that we have wildfires kicking up all over the state. As of Wednesday, there were 278 fires burning across Alaska.

Every morning, my truck has a layer of ash on it, and outdoor events all over the state are being cancelled due to the nasty air out there. With fires all around Fairbanks, it no longer matters which direction the wind is coming from. The only relief will come from some much needed rainfall, which seems remote at best. Currently, the Tanana Valley is in a Dense Smoke Advisory, but just north of us, a huge swath on either side of the Yukon River is in a Dense Smoke Warning.

With Alaska Airlines now flying to Costa Rica, I’m tempted to just buy a ticket and fly out in search of some air to breathe that doesn’t make my lungs and head ache.

Graphic courtesy of Alaska Division of Forestry

Visions of 2004

South Fairbanks on June 28, 2004. Air quality particulate level at 900 micrograms per cubic meter.

I’m not quite ready to jump on the 2004 Bandwagon, but people in town are cranky with all the smoke, and comparisons with the summer of 2004, when over 6.5 million acres burned, are rampant.

2004 Fire Season Facts:
*There were 701 total fires, with 426 being human caused and 275 lightning caused.
*6,590,140 acres burned (more than 8 times the 10 year acreage average).
*There were 5 days in the summer of 2004 that saw over 200,000 acres burn.
*The Boundary Fire, near Fairbanks consumed 537,627 acres.
*There were 2711 fire fighting personnel assigned throughout Alaska at the highest. 1212 Alaskans & 1499 from the Lower 48. 46 states sent fire fighting resources to Alaska. There were no fatalities or serious injury to any firefighter during the summer of 2004.

I hiked the Chilkoot Trail at the end of June 2004 and stayed in Skagway through July 4th. During the time I was away from Fairbanks, the coals had really hit the fan. On the trail, hikers would occasionally catch a scent of smoke, but we had no idea how much was burning in Alaska and the Yukon. We did notice that there were no mosquitos due to the extremely dry conditions, which is almost unheard of.
My Dad was scheduled to visit soon after the ‘Koot hike, and I tried to get him to come at another time, but he came up anyway. We sat on my deck one evening, and watched a dry-thunderstorm come over the hills. The lightning was fierce, and we saw smoke rising on the horizon within hours, and within a few more, the planes were flying overhead dumping loads of retardant. We decided to drive up to the top of Murphy Dome to get a lay of the land, and from that vantage point, it looked like Fairbanks was surrounded by wildfire. The entire horizon was burning.

There was one night after my Dad left, when the entire ridge was socked in by smoke. It was so thick, that visibility was down to mere feet. I awoke to the crashing of thunder rolling over the hills. There wasn’t a drop of rain. Just thick smoke that would suddenly glow in an eerie, greenish-brown light, followed immediately by a crash of thunder. The most surreal night I’ve ever spent in Alaska. If a fire had started on the ridge that night, I would have heard the crackling of the flames before I would have been able to see any flames.

That was some thick shit.

Stats & photos courtesy of Alaska DEC – Division of Air Quality


red-flag 3x2

We all knew it was heading this direction with the low snowfall this past winter and the lack of rain this spring.

Over the weekend, more than 100 new wildfires popped up within Alaska. Between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, over 8000 lightning strikes were recorded in the Interior. Of the new fires, most were due to lightning, but 17 are confirmed to be from human activity.

Alaska has basically been in a burn ban, statewide, for a couple of weeks. That means: No campfires, No charcoal grilling and No wood cutting. It’s tinder-dry out there people… Think!

Fairbanks had been spared up until Sunday, when some fires came to life around Nenana. The Tanana Valley is now a smokey bowl, and it was nasty out there today.


It does not sound like we are due for any relief anytime soon. The National Weather Service anticipates that Alaska will see higher than normal temperatures from July through the end of September. Warm surface temperature of the North Pacific and Bering Sea along with a lack of Arctic sea ice are contributing to keep the 49th State warmer than usual.

Graph & photo courtesy of Alaska DNR – Division of Forestry

New Carburetor

Rochester B carb

Time to get back to some Rover-izing.

I’ve wanted to replace the old Weber carb on the Rover for some time. The obvious choice, was the Rochester B, which was a popular GM carburetor back in the 1950’s & early 60’s. The Rochester B, appeared on many 216 & 235 Chevy motors.

The mounting holes on the Rochester B flange needs to be elongated for it to fit on the Rover 2.25L, which I have done. The linkage also needs to be adapted for the Series Rover, which I am in the middle of doing.

Luckily, there are quite a few Rochester B carbs out there, and rebuild parts are very easy to come by. The “B” carb has the manual choke and the “BC” version has an automatic choke.

Rochester B & Weber 34ICH
The Rochester B alongside the Weber 34ICH.

Happy Summer Solstice

Sun's Path AK Summer Solstice
The sun’s path north of Alaska’s Arctic Circle on the Summer Solstice
Photo credit: Alaska Stock Photo

The festivities are well under way here in Interior Alaska for the Solstice Weekend.

The Fairbanks Stats:
Sunrise: 2:58am
Sunset: 12:47am
Civil Twilight: Rest of Night
Length of Day: 21 hours, 49 minutes




Photo credit: Dungeon Canyon by Eliot Porter

“Past these towering monuments, past these mounded billows of orange sandstone, past these oak-set glens, past these fern-decked alcoves, past these mural curves, we glide hour after hour, stopping now and then, as out attention is arrested by some new wonder.”
— John Wesley Powell, 1869

Mounds & Monuments

Rainbow Bridge

Photo credit: Rainbow Bridge, by Eliot Porter

“On the walls, and back many miles into the country, numbers of monument-shaped buttes are observed.  So we have a curious ensemble of wonderful features — carved walls, royal arches, glens, alcove gulches, mounds and monuments.  From which of these features shall we select a name?  We decided to call it Glen Canyon.

John Wesley Powell, 1869

The Return of the Great White

Jaws 40th

“JAWS” was released on June 20, 1975 to 464 theaters in North America.  The film had a budget of roughly $8 million and did $7 million at the box office opening weekend.  It was the first film to gross over $100 million.

This weekend, “JAWS” returns to the big screen for its 40th Anniversary.  It will appear in 500 theaters across the country, just in time for the Summer Solstice.