Tag Archives: driving

Not your standard Edsel


1934 Ford Special Speedster

Edsel Ford was the president of the Ford Motor Company from 1919 to 1943. When he returned from a tour of Europe in 1932, Edsel Ford turned to Ford’s chief stylist, E.T. Gregorie, to create a sports car like what he had seen in Europe.

Built on a Ford ’34 Model 40 frame, the Special Speedster is a work of art. The body was aluminum over a tubular aluminum frame, crafted by Ford’s Aircraft Division.

An extreme rear cockpit, looked out over an elongated hood. All four wheels are at the car’s corners.

The cockpit featured Lincoln period instruments, leather seats, simple windscreens, and no doors or top. The instruments were replaced by Stewart-Warner gauges in 1940.

Originally powered by a stock Model 40, 75 HP Flathead V8, the engine was replaced in 1939 after a winter freeze cracked the block! Tsk, tsk… The Speedster is now powered by a 100 HP, Mercury 239 Flathead V8.

The Special Speedster can be seen at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.

Photos credit: FoMoCo


Rover Repairs

I have not done a Rover post in a while, simply because I have not worked on the vehicle in a while. I have not been idle on that front however, as I’ve been hoarding Rover parts for at least a year, and quite possibly two.

Since my work truck now has a body shop appointment, due to an Out of State Trespasser, I will need the old Land Rover for a week or two on the job, so my motivation to rid the Rover Hut of parts has grown considerably.

As in life, one part going out, leads to the replacement of several others, and such is the World of Land Rovers. After installing the new Turner engine in San Antonio, I found that this motor was not happy with the standard mechanical fuel pump. I then installed an inline electric pump, which made all the difference. The added benefit to the electric pump, was that the problem of vapor lock dissipated. Living in Alaska, vapor lock was like the Yeti: the stuff of legends. Traveling in Texas and Mexico, brought the beast out into the realm of reality.

The electric pump recently fried out, which started this whole affair. The last time The Rover was in the Lower 48, my gas tank started to leak at the seam. I had heard that rubbing Ivory bar soap at the point of the leak, would seal the thing, and sure enough, Ivory worked like a charm. In fact, that field repair ended up lasting several Years, and yes, I meant to capitalize that. Obviously, once one replaces the fuel pump, one might as well replace the leaking tank, especially since a new tank is sitting under the work bench.

Dropping the old tank on this truck is relatively easy, although a tad harder when it is almost full. One thing that constantly amuses me, hours later, is how a simple item like a gas tank can change over the years. One would think at 52 years old, the mold would be kind of locked into a pattern, but no. This isn’t the first time I’ve replaced the tank, so I know that the tank has grown in length incrementally over the years. That is only a problem due to the fact that the tank fits into a fixed amount of space. You’ll get the thing in there, but it will take a bit of pressure.

Rovers North claims that the new tank has been tested for leaks. It better be, but I’ll carry a bar of Ivory just in case.

Since I was under The Rover, and the tail pipe had broken from the muffler, and since I have the replacement parts, I decided to pull the exhaust too. I know what you’re thinking, the tailpipe was hanging there just fine from the clamps, but there is another reason for the exhaust removal. That will be for another post, assuming the job goes in the direction of the plan.

While dropping the muffler, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown blur racing at me. I had just enough time to jump up, and bang my head, which caused the blur to change direction before running through my hair. I thought I knew what it was, but I hadn’t seen it for a while. Sure enough, the little force of nature came zipping by me again, and this time I was able to get a good look at it.

It was my resident weasel, which I’ve written about on here before. He was living in my wood shed this past winter, but as each week passed, and the wood pile became smaller and smaller, he was forced to find another place to live. He’s brown now, with the black-tipped tail. The weasel is as feisty as ever, not even remotely impressed by my presence, and quite possibly still holding a grudge.


Copper River Salmon


Salmon fishing the Copper River near Chitina, Alaska

Alaska’s famed Copper River is seeing a brutal return number of salmon so far this summer. The return is so low, that an emergency order closing the Chitina area to dipnetting was issued last week. Since statehood, Alaska has never closed the river to dipnetters.

This is a blow to Alaskans and their freezers.

During an average summer, 7000 Alaskans head to Chitina to dipnet the Copper River. 170,000 salmon are caught this way every year.

Until 2018.

Dipnetting is an Alaskan tradition, since only residents can get a license to dipnet. It’s how many fill their freezers with salmon for the year, and Interior Alaskans in particular, love making the drive to Chitina for this special personal use fishery.

This really is historic, and it has a lot of people on edge. Biologists have pointed blame at “The Blob”, which was a large mass of unusually warm water that took up residence in the Gulf of Alaska from 2014 to 2016.

Commercial fisheries are also feeling the heat, as they saw the second lowest take in 50 years. The commercial fishery was shut down in May by the Alaska Fish & Game.

There is nothing easy about dipnetting The Copper. The river roars past the steep banks, forcing dipnetters to tie themselves off to rocks or trees to keep from being dragged into the deadly cold water. It’s a helluva workout, holding that huge net out into the flowing water, and if a king hits that net, hold on! It’s quite the experience, and you will sleep well at the end of a long day in the river.


The Chitina River, near Chitina, Alaska. Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak T-Max 120

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Not to be outdone, the Ship Creek King Salmon Derby in Anchorage saw their worst year yet. The contest on Ship Creek has been held since 1993, and they had the smallest king ever win the derby at less than 29 pounds. Only 98 kings were entered into the derby total, when in past years they saw that number entered in a day. The winning angler still walked away with $4000 worth of gold & silver.

Needless to say, the price of salmon will be going up.


Gooseberry Falls

Two Harbors, Minnesota


Gooseberry Falls with Lake Superior in the far background

My cousin and I decided we needed a hiking trip when I was back in Minnesota, and her suggestion to head up I-35 to Duluth was met with enthusiasm by me. The Duluth area is special to her, and I had not spent much time along the North Shore of Lake Superior in years.

We ended up at Gooseberry Falls State Park, which allowed us to jump on the Superior Hiking Trail. The SHT runs along Lake Superior’s North Shore for 310 miles between Duluth and the Canadian border. We would hike 8-10 miles of it on this warm April day.


The Gooseberry River

We spent much of the hike within sight of the river. The Gooseberry flows 23 miles before it reaches Lake Superior. It was an incredible day for a hike, with temps in the mid seventies, which was warmer than the Twin Cities on this day.

I had hiked a good section of the SHT years ago, and it is a wonderful trail. Grouse were drumming all along the hike, and one flushed right next to my cousin, which was amusing to watch. How was I to know that she had no idea the bird was within a few feet of her?

The river provides five waterfalls within the park, and all are accessible by trail.


Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, PA


Jim Thorpe competing in the Stockholm Olympics, 1912

Jim Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern times. After winning gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, King Gustav V of Sweden said to Thorpe, “You sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

Thorpe was a collegiate All-American, NFL All-Pro & charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and played baseball with three different MLB teams. He also played for a traveling professional basketball team.


Jim Thorpe Olympic statue near Jim Thorpe, PA

When in Pennsylvania for hockey, we traveled through Jim Thorpe, PA. Originally founded as Mauch Chunk, the community made a deal with Jim Thorpe’s widow in 1953. After Thorpe’s funeral in Shawnee, OK, city officials of Mauch Chunk bought his remains from his third wife, and Thorpe’s body was shipped to Pennsylvania without the rest of the family’s knowledge.


Jim Thorpe’s tomb

I had mixed feelings about the monument to Thorpe in Penn. On one hand, the tribute, if a bit dated and weather-worn, was well done and seemed sincere. On the other hand, it was hard to get past the fact that Thorpe has become a road side attraction. Of all the turn-offs I’ve taken traveling, this one was as surreal as any.


Thorpe’s football statue at the turnout/monument

Upon receiving Thorpe’s body, the communities of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and were renamed Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. His tomb was built on a mound of dirt from his native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, where he earned international fame.

In 2010, son Jack Thorpe sued in Federal Court to have his father’s remains returned to Oklahoma. After several court rulings favoring both sides, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 refused to hear the case, effectively ending the suit and leaving Thorpe’s remains in Pennsylvania. Jack Thorpe died in 2011.


Reading Royals

Santander Arena
Reading, Pennsylvania


Reading Royals Logo

While in Pennsylvania, we caught an ECHL game in Reading, with the Royals facing the Railers of Worcester, Mass.
Santander, is a nice rink, and I bought a pair of tickets online while riding into PA. Technology has its advantages, until someone hacks your information.


Reading Royals take on Worcester Railers

It wasn’t the Royals best night, as the Railers scored twice in the final five minutes to take a 3-1 lead. Worcester would then add an empty netter, for the 4-1 win.


He shoots! He scored!

Two highlights for the Royals: Matt Wilkins skated in his 100th game, and Jack Riley made his professional debut.
A highlight for the Curator: Jack Randolph, the Duluth native, and former University of Nebraska Omaha player, was now skating for the Worcester Railers.
Author’s highlight: I received a phone call today from a representative of Royal Hockey. He wanted to know how the experience was in Reading, whether I liked the seats, etc. I do not think I have ever had a hockey team call me up before, to see if I had a good time. I assume that they would like me to buy upcoming playoff tickets, but I was never asked to do so. A pretty impressive tactic from the Reading Royals.

And yes, we had a great time.


Railers logo added for the Curator


Engine #8