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The trip is now halfway over... NOT

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 10:05 AM

Surprisingly it wasn't raining when we left Pendleton, OR, yesterday morning at about 6:15 AM to complete the relatively short (~250 mile) final leg to McMinnville, but the weather gods were just toying with us... the rain started back up about noon and hasn't stopped since. It is still raining this morning...

This day's run was the scenic highlight of the journey so far, as I-84, the interstate leading to Portland, follows the Columbia River gorge for about 100 miles. The first half of the run, the the terrain is treeless, with tan and brown hills rolling down to the water and the occasional green vineyard along the bank. Then all of a sudden, as if a switch was flipped, trees appear and turn the river's banks a deep emerald green. Jairus indicates the decreasing altitude is the reason.

Indicative of the climate in Oregon is the moss growing profusely on the center divider of the interstate in the lower part of the gorge...

Again, it is hard to convey the majesty and beauty of the gorge in pictures, but here's one shot that will give a hint.


As I have more than a passing interest in railroads, it was fun to see the numerous trains that pass through the gorge on both sides. In fact, I suspect we saw more trains in half a day than I see in a normal month back east. The enormity of the gorge and the rail line on the opposite bank allowed us to see the entire trains of 100 plus cars, again something we simply can't do back home.

I took this shot of a "meet" through the passenger window as we were rolling and show it here more because of the view of the gorge in the background.


We got to Jim Doran Chevrolet in McMinnville about 11:45 AM and met up with Tim Elliott, the dealership's general manager for the last fifteen years, who is acting as the owner's agent in this sale.
The car was everything I hoped it would be, with just a few minor cosmetic flaws that weren't visible in the photos. I took it for a short jaunt through the neighborhood behind the dealership and was pleased at how it drives. Once I figured out that the fuel shut-off was already on and that I had turned it closed, the car started easily and ran smoothly. The clutch releases a little high but engages smoothly, with no judder; I may be able to adjust that today. The steering has a little more play than I would prefer and that too may be helped by an adjustment, but it's something I can live with and will attend to when I get back home.
Once Tim and I completed the financial transaction and I did my little test drive, Geoff and I went off for some lunch and then headed for the incredible Evergreen Aviation & Aerospace Museum, which has to be one of the finest such facilities anywhere on earth. I wonder is there's any other museum that utilizes a 747 for their sign? LOL!
The museum's centerpiece is, of course, the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose seaplane, which famously flew only a single time and then was mothballed by Hughes for over three decades (at a cost of a million dollars a year). It was displayed at Long Beach, CA, for a few years before being moved to Evergreen in a massive relocation project that involved erecting an enormous new building to house it.
BTW, the Spruce Goose is actually made of birch and I learned at the museum that the reason for that is the initial war-time government funding contract prevented Hughes from using war-critical metals like aluminum.
The size the plane is astonishing. Its wingspan is 320 feet, i.e. more than the length of a football field. By comparison, the wingspan of a Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is 217.8 feet.
Here's my son Geoff standing by the nose of the Goose for a scale reference.

One surprising item in the museum is a 1931 Model A Ford coupe in essentially the same colors as my new Tudor. Didn't seem to have much connection to the aircraft displays, but was nice to see nonetheless.


Here's a pic for Butch Dunaway, who used to own and fly one of these aerobatic Pitts Specials. I thought displaying it in inverted flight was brilliant, as a Pitts is as comfortable flying upside down as right side up, as Butch will confirm.


The Evergreen complex is four main buildings: the Aircraft Museum, the Aerospace Museum, a large restoration complex across the street, and the Wing & Waves indoor waterpark. The craziest feature of the waterpark is a 747 perched atop the building, with waterslides emanating from its fuselage. We didn't go in, but I bet it's a very fun place. It certainly has to be a unique one.


The plan for today, after inhaling the excellent breakfast Jairus whipped up for us, is to head back to the dealership and service the Model A: to attend to all the grease fittings (and a Model A has dozens of them), to change the oil (no filter), to check the lube levels in the trans, diff, and steering box, and to go over the car checking for loose nuts and bolts.

Then we'll drive it back to Salem, where we will stay with Jairus another night, before heading out at first light tomorrow morning to begin the second part of Greg and Geoff's excellent adventure.

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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 07:26 PM

Hoo-boy, it is has been a very exciting afternoon, as well as a bit of a frightening one.


After picking up up a few items at Walmart, we went to the Chevy dealership to do some service on the car.


Using a mini-grease gun fitted with a special tip sold by the Model A vendors so it will work with the obsolete Alemite fittings on the car, I greased every one of the 38 fittings on it, though some are obviously frozen and wouldn't take any grease. We changed the oil using non-detergent 30 weight with added ZDDP (again, a Model A vendor product) and filled the steering box with 600W lube. Changed the distributor cam, because the one on the car showed some wear. Added some coolant and most of a bottle of Redline Water Wetter.


And then we headed for Jairus' place.


Unfortunately while we were working on the car, a very strong wind storm accompanied by some rain moved in, with gusts exceeding 50 MPH! Combined with the 1/3 to 1/2 a turn of play in the steering, I was all over the road and the roads here essentially have no shoulders, only four to six inch drops-off. It was a tremendously difficult and tiring 26 mile trip and honestly, I will have to re-think this trip if we can't adjust the steering to eliminate most of the play.


I am not ashamed to admit I had a couple of stiff drinks after I finally pulled into the garage at Jairus' house... I knew we would have to face some challenges on this trip, but wasn't expecting one so hard and so early...


The good news is that the engine ran well and has excellent power for a Model A. With the wind and the slop in the steering, I can't tell if the brakes pull one way or another but for an A they're not too bad in terms of braking power. So there is some good news and right now I am cautiously optimistic that we can pull this trip off, especially if I can get the steering adjusted.


One fun point: since I was in the lead, with Geoff following in the chase car, I stuck the Garmin GPS on the A's windshield so we could get back to Jairus' place.


Astonishingly, the 84-year-old speedo in the car is dead accurate, matching the speed shown on the GPS exactly!




So, onward we will go!

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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap

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