Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

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Cliffy
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Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Cliffy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:26 pm

Hello, new guy here, 1st post
For many years I've been contemplating rerunning my father's 1925 drive from downtown Los Angeles to June Lake, CA., @ 350 miles. He was 22 years old and had a Model T with a Ruckstell axel, Frontenac head and a blacksmith lowered front axle. He painted the T green with a bicycle hand pump on a home made mason jar paint sprayer. The trip took him 2 days with an overnight in the desert near a place called Little Lake. After North Hollywood it was all dirt roads and wagon trails.

Looking for the expert's opinions on feasibility, etc. My plan would be to find a complete good running T, drive it around town for a while to find any weak points and then start the trip. Would probably need to attend to transmission bands and brakes before starting the trip. There will be a long uphill pull from Bishop, CA to Tom's Place at the top of Sherwin Grade (old road). Will have support and trailer following.
BTW, I have 50+ years experience as a licensed aircraft mechanic and auto mechanic. Studying all I can on Ts. Have had Porsches,Corvettes, Caddys, boats, planes and lots more but never a T.

I've been lurking and reading here for some time. What say all the experts?

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by kmatt » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:06 pm

This trip should be fun with the proper planning and a well restored Model T. There are several Model T clubs in the LA area that could help you find the right car. Some LA area T clubs even do tours like this, such as; Model T Ford Club of Southern California , or Long Beach Model T Club. Etc.
The following is a MTFCA list of local clubs:
http://mtfca.com/clubpages/chapters.htm


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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by E THOMAS » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:09 pm

Sounds like a splendid adventure. Any well sorted T should be able to make a 350 mile trip on old roads. Speeds need to be kept to 30-35mph. Are you going to camp out in the same spot? If you have someone following with a trailer Etc. that is kind of cheating, however, they could be hauling a big canvas army tent with all the supplies for a fine camp out/pig roast Etc. I suggest you fit out the T with at least brake lights. Possibly a reflective triangle so you do not get run over.

For less than the price of a used Toyota, you can get a very well restored Model T.. The automotive bargain of the 20th century and still going. They are easy to work on and plus this website is one of the very best automotive sites.
IMG_20180611_162517_resized_20190109_043916178.jpg
I learn something every time I view it.

I have a '25 Roadster pick up. I use it around the farm and around the village, it is very handy. Once you have one, you may find you enjoy them. They are light and lively. My '25 has the "modern" 21 inch tires on detachable rims, thus, a handy spare is available. The '25 is the last of the upright, old black style cars, Though each year of Model T seems to have something good about it.

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Craig Correll » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:31 pm

It sounds like a great adventure. You need to map it carefully. Highway 395 is a very FAST corridor on the East side of the Sierras. The issue will be NOT having your slow moving vehicle squished by a North bound L.A. speed demon -- of which there are many. This time of year on week ends there is, in addition to the potential for snow, a hoard of skiers & snowboarders headed to Mammoth. The CHP has a great time writing 80 & 90 MPH tickets. (Mid-week in the Fall may be the least trafficy time of year - I'd check with the CHP) A chase car with blinkers may be helpful to slow impatient folks down. Maybe there are side roads in some areas, but in some places 395 may be the only choice. Do you have any photos from your Dad's original adventure?
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Allan » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:13 pm

Cliff, with the right car, your trip would be a cinch, other traffic being perhaps the biggest concern.
I was involved in a far longer trip a few years back. A elderly gentleman had bought a TT to drive from Victoria to Perth, something like Las Vegas to New York. In seeking help from his local T club he was directed to me. In 1930 his dad had a chain of country shoe stores, which went bust in the depression. He packed his wife, young son Jim and all their belongings, into a model T tourer and headed clear across the country to find work in Perth. The trip made a lasting impression on Jim, and he wanted to do it again.

We had a support car, a new Falcon on dedicated LPG, provided by Ford as a towing test mule, with my trailer for back-up. Jim's older Falcon carried two of his old time mates. and there were his grandson and son and one of their mates. I trailered my 20 T buckboard to Swan Hill in Victoria for the start. The Victorian T club had members travel with us for a while on the first leg. We covered around 300-350km each day, depending on where we could book accommodation. The terrain in this trip is hardly challenging, but long hours behind the wheel were. I was quite happy to delegate driving to interested party members. The only trouble we had was one blowout. I think the support team was a little disappointed , having had nothing much to do. When we had the blowout a comical sideplay was an argument between Jim's son and his mate.They were both Traffic/infrastructure engineers from neighbouring city suburbs. There was a heated discussion about the distance back from the disabled vehicle the warning cones should be placed, how thy should be spaced, and at what angle the line of cones should be set!!!!!

We took 9 days to make the trip. I stayed on in Perth for a few days and flew home. 3 of the team, with trailer and T in tow behind the new Falcon, driving around the clock in shifts, made it all the way back to Melbourne in 3 days, having dropped off the trailer and T at my home on the way through.

Allan from down under.


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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Cliffy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:16 pm

Thanks for the replys guys Any more? I'm all ears.
I know 395 VERY well having traveled it over 100 times in 65 years. I go back to a 2 lane asphalt road way with lots of water in Owens Dry Lake and the old Sherwin Grade road. Precautions and a contact with the CHP are on the agenda.
Glad to hear it is possible with a 100 yr old vehicle although I fly a 54 year old airplane all over the USA.
No pictures of my Dad's trip but he said it was a roadster and he told me all the work he did to it. He was a Ford parts salesman in the 20s and early 30s. Still knew the part numbers for the rear end gears in a T. He worked for Rocky Mountain in later years.
I would plan on 30-35 mph as a top end trip speed for longevity of the power train.
395 would be used only if no other routes were available (some places its the only way possible and I wouldn't be doing it with the hot dog ski crowd in their time of year. Mid Oct. may be the best time.
Red triangle for sure with maybe flashing lights installed if allowed by the CHP (slow traffic lighting).

I would think that with a good set on linings on the tranny bands that 350 miles would be doable.

I have some connection with Australia as I put on a couple aircraft maintenance seminars down there in Rocky and Albury with a stop in Mount Beauty just a couple of years ago. May return in a year and go all the way to Perth. Its the only country my wife and I have traveled to (and we have been around the world) that we would even consider moving to besides the good ol' USA. What a great place and people.

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by DLodge » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:34 pm

Cliff, I bought my Model T in 1996 and spent the first couple of weeks driving around the block (all right turns). When I finally drove a mile to the local library, I thought I had gone to the end of the earth. By 2003, when a member of our local club raised the idea of driving from St. Louis to Dearborn for the Ford Centennial, I was all in.

Seven Ts left St. Louis and three days later, the same seven Ts pulled into Dearborn.

DBalongtheroad.jpg
On the road.

DBDearbornSign.jpg
Made it!

The total mileage, as I recall, was around 1,270 for all six days of traveling. On a less ambitious note, I also drove my Model T from St. Louis to Richmond for the Model T Centennial in 2008. If you're comfortable that the car is ready (and you are ready) for the trip, go for it.

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Steve Jelf » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:44 pm

In September I made a 2780 mile trip in my 1915 runabout, and I agree that your biggest challenge is likely to be finding alternate routes where you won't get run over. Forty years ago I would have told you to get the world's best road maps, the county maps from Automobile Club of Southern California. They were beautifully detailed. But then ACSC changed them to conform with the AAA format, which I considered a long step down in quality. I don't know how they are now. You might have a friend in southern California who is a member get some for you to check out. Living in Arizona, you're not allowed to join the club yourself.

Big city driving is not a problem as long as you avoid the freeways. On most of the surface streets the traffic will be going as slow as you are. A quick check of Google maps suggests to me that you'll find alternate roads much of the way, but for parts of US 395 there may be no other choice. There you might want to have a chase vehicle with its lights flashing.

In the June Lake area there are notable places to visit, like Devil's Postpile National Monument and the old silver mining town of Bodie.
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by DanTreace » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:47 am

Follow-up to others on your planning, the Model T will do the job rather easy, when you are comfortable driving it and have the knowledge that all systems are functioning well. The T is reliable vehicle with good parts in order, and maintained.

The issue of today's drivers recognizing your T is running at much slower road speed is of caution to you of course. Many driver's aren't expecting a slow vehicle, some can't judge distances either, some are on cell phones anyway :?

So do add some attention getters to the rear of your T.
IMG_0007.JPG
My T's have flashing lights in yellow, (magnetic attached) and big CAUTION signs (sticker or magnetic) for warnings, double brake lights, reflectors, etc... Many states call those Triangles for very low speed vehicles, under 20mph. Have never heard of another T'er being questioned by police on them, as in fact, the T when pulling a steep hill IS a 20mph vehicle :shock:

But sometimes you even have a 'friendly' citizen help you out. Last time I ran busy Hiway #100 near my home to get back to the back-roads, about a 3 mile run on that busy #100 that is two-lane and a speedy 60mph+. A nice guy in a little red pickup pulled up behind me and ran his flasher lights too, until I was able to get to my turn and get back to slow lane. Nice citizen! Gave him a friendly 'Blattt' from the T horn :D
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Original Smith » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:26 am

I don't recall seeing any kind of lodging in Little Lake. There used to be a hotel and a gas station years ago, but I think that is all gone now. I would run that trip in your modern car first, and figure out everything you wish to do.


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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Rich Bingham » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:51 am

How quickly can you gear up for this, Cliff ?
Mule Days in Bishop is May 21-26 this year. Ghost town of Bodie is worth a look. Sounds like a great trip and a wonderful adventure ! Go for it !
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Steve Jelf » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:24 pm

Fossil Falls Campground is just north of Little Lake. Fossil Falls is an interesting geographical feature to see.

I think gearing up for this by May would be a bigger bite than you want to chew. It will take some time to find the right car, make sure it's ready for the trip, and become used to Model T driving. Summer in the Mojave gets pretty toasty, so your idea of making it a fall trip is a good one.
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Cliffy » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:02 am

YA probably a fall trip after most of the vacationers are gone. Middle of Oct slows way down up there, weather is way better on the desert then also.

I have spent over 68 years traveling the route from the age of 3. My first trip was 1949. I know it like the back of my hand. Ate at the Little Lake Cafe once when I was about 8 or 9 yrs old. It was depressing then. Nothing left but a turn off on the highway now. Little Lake itself has a cave in a big rock on the east side of 395 with very old Indian pictographs but its all fenced off now. Saw it 40 years ago. As the Shadow used to say (for those of you who even remember that radio program)- "I know many things"- about that area and its history going back to the first cattle drive from the Bakersfield area in the mid 1800s. Before then the Piutes lived on fly larvae from the shores of Mono Lake and grass seeds. The fly can actually live under water in the lake. A fair number of Indian attacks were accomplished on the early settlers. Many towns have disappeared into the dust in the Owens Valley. Lots and lots of interesting history in that valley and up on top around Mono Lake and Bodie.

Going to spend some time looking at ads for Ts before I jump in. Time line about 2 years from now. Want to really learn about Ts before I run down that road. If I can keep a 54 year old airplane in excellent shape I figure I can do the same with a T but I have to learn the ins and outs first.

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:57 am

Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the planning for this thing. But it was The Whistler (The Signal Oil program) who knew many things, "...for I walk by night. I know the stories of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak!"
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by DLodge » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:57 am

Steve, didn't the Shadow know "...what evil lurks in the hearts of men"?

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by kmatt » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:49 pm

Clifford,
I spent a year of my 32 years with Ca. Dept of Transportation working out of Bishop and surveying up and down Hwy's 395,14,6, etc. Your idea of making your trip to June Lake in early to mid October sounds good. The aspen trees will be turning color and the pictures will be great. You might consider taking Hwy 6 out of Bishop to Benton and Hwy 120, then Hwy 120 west and around the south end of Mono Lake and back to Hwy 395 a little north of the June Lake loop. Part of Hwy 6 near Benton is along the old narrow gauge railroad line that ran down the Owens Valley, the remains of which can be seen at the Laws Railroad Museum off Hwy 6 near Bishop. The Benton area and Hwy 120 is a little like going back to the 1920's, or at least pre WW2. If you plan to make a trip to Boide remember that there is another steep climb on Hwy 395 to the Bodie turn off, or you could take the road to Bodie off the north side of Mono Lake, also a steep climb, but a 1920's type road.
You said that your dad made his trip from LA to June Lake in 1925, much was going on in the Owens Valley and Mono lake area then. The LA Power and Water was building their diversion structures, canals and pipe lines, like the one to Crowley Lake, in the mid 1920's. Was you dad's trip in 1925 made for work or just a fishing trip to June Lake ? Enjoy you trip planning, and you finding the right Model T, and the learning about the Model T stage.
Kevin

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:00 pm

...didn't the Shadow know "...what evil lurks in the hearts of men"?
Indeed he did. "The Shadow, mysterious figure who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man about town. Years ago in the Orient Cranston learned a strange and mysterious secret — the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him. Cranston's friend and companion, the lovey Margo Lane, is the only person who knows to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs."
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:15 pm

Steve J, I love how you know so much about all that old radio stuff! It has been a long time since I heard any mention of "The Whistler".
Just more fun stuff.

Cliffy, Your trip sounds like a wonderful adventure! Careful though, you may catch a long running affliction of enjoying model T drives!


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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Cliffy » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:05 pm

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows!
While the Whistler "knows many things as he walks the night"!
Used to listen to them as a very young boy on my little 1 tube radio. Even stretched the IF coil so I could listen to the police calls down in the 400KC range way back when.

Like I said, I know the area from Bridgeport to Mojave like the back of my hand. Have been to Bodie by both roads many times. Have been up on the Mono Craters and out to Parker lake and Walker Lake, Used to hunt on the east end of Mono Lake. Do you know of the Indian Chief grave on the east end of Mono? Used to go out to Gas Pipe Springs and hunt. The marker is long gone now. I remember the marina on Mono Lake. And there were 2 grocery stores in June Lake. The ice house (now a condo) was the cooler for all the deer that hunters collected in the June Lake area. I remember when the ski lift was put in and OH! Ridge was built. How about before the "new" Sherwin Grade? Did the original one many times ( my Mom hated that road because she saw all the dead cars at the bottom). 395 went by Happy Jacks and up the hill now seen from the 4 lane in the valley just before Crowley Lake. Geysers popped up all over 395 near Mammoth Lakes turn off until they built the thermal plant and capped all of them. 395 was always a 2 lane road. Several times as a youngster we saw the same prospector walking along 395 between Bishop and Lone Pine dragging his donkey behind him.

My Dad knew the Sheriff in Bishop back in the 20s His name was Tom Seeds (IIRC). Lived just north of town near where the Indian casino is now. Brocks Sporting Goods was always a stop.
My Dad's trip in 25 was just for the fishing and the average fish he caught was 5 pounds in June Lake. He liked fishing Grant Lake better BEFORE the second higher dam was put in. He remembered when the diversion was blown up by "unknown forces". Thought Mulholland was a crook. He probably was back then by all that I read now.

Had a friend of mine who's father was a blade driver for the county based in Bishop. His last name was Bell. I think (again IIRC) his first name was Marvin. He graded all of the dirt roads in Inyo County at the time. 50s and 60s. His first words to me when I met him was, "don't let Stan take you to "the hole". The Hole was a hunting spot on top of the Whites near 14,000' I heeded his words and never went.

I've studied the history of the area for decades (latest book was "Inyo", it goes back to the Piutes and how they lived in the area all through until about 1960). Used to hunt rabbits in Manzanar before they rebuit it as a tourist attraction. There used to be a saw mill near Lone Pine (Bell Saw Mill) where relatives if Marvin Bell had a gun fight with the law back in the 30s. Owens Valley was green from Cartoga to Bishop. Lots of little towns from Cartoga to Bishop I've seen and read about. Most are just dust blowing in the wind now.

Reading this forum and all the rebuild threads is a wealth of information. It's like a college degree in Ts!!!!

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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:20 pm

A little more trivia for you guys who remember real radio: The Whistler was heard only on CBS stations in the West where Signal gasoline was sold. The eerie theme by Wilbur Hatch was whistled by Dorothy Roberts, a secretary at CBS radio in Hollywood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZU9fOql2K0
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Re: Reenact father's 1925 Model T trip

Post by MWalker » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:01 am

Cliffy -- as others have said, a 350-mile trip in a Model T is no big deal. (Not for the car, anyway.) Lots of us drove our T's many hundreds of miles to the Centennial in 2008. I recommend that you look for a Roadster Pickup. To me, that is the most versatile body style. It is lightweight, has plenty of room for one or two people, and it will haul lots of "stuff." If you can find a Roadster of any year, you can remove the turtle deck and add a pickup bed. This was done very often "back in the day," because it makes the vehicle so handy and useful.

Good luck with your search for a good car, and please keep us posted on your progress.

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