New University Motors Website

John Twist has a new website to represent the shift he made in 2017 from business owner to international instructor. will remain active to commemorate John and Caroline’s legendary MG repair business that served customers at three West Michigan locations from 1975 to 2016.

UniversityMotors.Online will be the new home for John’s teaching, travel schedule, videos, and MG Tech Tips.

The Facebook group and YouTube channel remain the same.

Come visit UniversityMotors.Online!

University Motors 48th Birthday Party!

Saturday, January 21, 2023 from 1:00– 4:00 pm

John Twist brought back the University Motors Birthday Party tradition. The first location of University Motors opened in January 1975.

John hosted friends, former customers, UM employees, and MG fans at the Wolverine Room of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Grand Rapids on January 21 from 1:00-4:00 pm.

They enjoyed chili, birthday cake, charity raffle & cash bar. When it’s freezing outside, we enjoy warm MG fellowship inside!

John Twist’s 2021 Calendar

I thought I would be travelling the USA from coast to coast in 2020. Instead, I travelled the Globe with my bi-monthly Zoom gatherings, hearing from MG lovers on every continent except Antarctica! I hope 2021 will bring the opportunity for more gatherings in-person, but until that time, I am continuing to offer Zoom gatherings on Monday nights.

I am available for virtual lectures, workshops, seminars, and one-on-ones for individuals and groups. I had a wonderful time Zooming into many car club meetings this past year. Please contact me at for more information.

To participate in the online Tech Zooms, please sign up for my newsletter.

*denotes an in-person event (pending due to COVID restrictions)

02/28/21SundayGilmore Car MuseumLecture*
06/05/21Sat.Moss Motors, Petersburg VAAMGCRA National Meet*
06/17/21Thu/SunAtlantic City NJMG International – 2021*
08/26/21Thu/FriAltoona PATech Seminar w/Jim Pastore*
08/28/21Sat/Sun Altoona PACentral PA British Car Show*
09/03/21Fri/SunPortland ORAll British Field Meet*

John Twist’s Technical Seminars 2018

For a list of all of our upcoming events or features, visit our events page.

Last October at the Hunt Country Classic Weekend in Virginia. This tech seminar was at the home of Randy Schuck, Chantilly, VA

KIMBER FESTIVAL, Hammondsport, New York 

Friday and Saturday  April 13 and 14, 2018

This is a Friday and Saturday event for all MG enthusiasts with many speakers covering a variety of MG topics. Included is a tour of the Glen H Curtis Museum.  I will present a paper, “Tuning the XPAG Engine.”


                    NEMGTR Chesapeake Chapter                       April Tech Session, Rockville, MD

Saturday and Sunday   April 21 and 22, 2018 

This is a two-day seminar during which I’ll be working on eight to a dozen MGs.  You can sign up to bring your MG to the workshop, or, you can sign up just to watch for one or both days.  The MGs have issues from ignition to suspension.  This is my fourth visit with this great group.


There are still about six spots open for MGs that MUST be filled by Sunday evening April 8th.  This is largely a T type organization, but MGAs and MGBs are welcome.  Costs, times, etc are available from Charlie Adams.  Email Charlie TODAY:  or call him NOW at 703-582-3757!  If you cannot raise Charlie on the phone, contact Milton Babirak by email:   or by phone 703-501-7924.  Let’s make this event a success!


JD’s British Cars MGA/MGB Tune-up Seminar, Nashville, TN

Saturday   April 28, 2018

During this one-day course, I will explain the “hows and whys” of tuning the MGA/MGB while tuning an MGB in JD’s shop.  This is a lecture and hands-on all-day event.  You will know HOW to tune your MG when you leave this course.  Printed material accompanies the lecture and hands-on demonstrations.


Phone (615) 361-3887  or email:

Participants at the 2017 tech seminar at Elite Vehicle Restorations, Denver, NC

 Quality Coaches Technical Seminar, Minneapolis, MN

 Saturday and Sunday   May 5 and May 6, 2018

This will be my eighth time to Mark Brandow’s shop in Minneapolis.  In the past we’ve discussed electricals and tune-ups, rebuilt an overdrive gearbox and an MGB short block, performed the Complete Lubrication (Boot to Bonnet inspection – lubrication – adjustment).  Two full days of thoroughly MG subjects!  We are still working on topics for this spring’s event.

Details:   or phone 612 824-4155

 Carlisle Import Car Show, Carlisle, PA     Weekend of May 18 through May 20, 2018

Neither Carl Heideman of Electic Motorworks nor I will be able to attend Carlisle this year.  We’re hoping to get back in 2019.

Memphis British Car Club Rolling Tech Session, Memphis, TN    

Saturday   June 9, 2018     

During this rolling tech session, I will look at about 20 MGs, TRs, and AHs throughout the day.  Each vehicle will have its own tuning issues – some of which I will be able to sort out in the time I have – some will require more work later.  This is an excellent opportunity to view a number of British cars to see the similarities and the differences – as well as the tuning issues encountered.  Steve already has a full list of cars for me to work on, but there is plenty of room to come down and spend some time or all day watching.

Details:                              Steve Wayne 901-921-7709


John at the Toronto Car Club Tech Seminar last spring.

NAMGAR GT-43, Richmond, Virginia

Thursday and Friday      June 14 and June 15, 2018   

I will work on as many MGs as there is time for Thursday and Friday of this week-long MGA event in Richmond.  It’s fun to come and just hang out.  There will be a lot of banter, flying spanners, and a lot to learn.



NAMGBR MG2018, Gettysburg, PA

Tuesday    June 19, 2018

As at the NAMGAR event, I will work on a number of MGs throughout the day Tuesday.  I’ve performed this rolling tech for many years at many NAMGBR and NAMGAR events.   Some enthusiasts wander by; some stay nearly all day.  There are a greater variety of problems diagnosed and solved than one might see in a shop for a week!


John at a rolling tech seminar about 20 years ago!


GOF Central, Delevan, WI  Rolling Tech

Wednesday       June 27, 2018            

As before, this will be a rolling tech, checking timing and carbs and diagnosing other MG problems.



Maple leaf flag flying in the wind

British Motoring Festival, Windsor (Halifax), Nova Scotia

Saturday and Sunday      July 14 and July 15, 2018

This weekend includes two events:  an MGA/MGB tune-up seminar on Sunday, as the one in Nashville; and, a rolling tech session during the Saturday event.



Technical Seminar, Altoona, PA

Thursday and Friday  August 23 and August 24, 2018

 British Car Show , Altoona, PA

Saturday and Sunday August 25 and August 26, 2018         

This event begins with a two-day seminar at the shop of Jim Pastore.  Jim, with his wife Lori, organizes the British Car Show at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park which takes place the following Sunday.  Both events are a great time!  This is about the tenth time I’ve visited Altoona.  In the past, we’ve tuned MGBs, rebuilt engines (twice), rebuilt gearboxes, rebuilt carburetters, and covered electrix.  This year’s subject is still up in the air, but it’s always a great time.

Contact Jim Pastore:



GOF West, South Lake Tahoe, NV

Week of September 10 through September 14, 2018        

Again, I’ll have my hands in a score of MGs throughout the day in a Rolling Tech Session.  More details coming.



I hope to be able to organize a seminar in St Louis, MO, at John Mangles’ shop before the end of summer.  Also, I plan to return to England in the autumn to do several seminars there again.  If you are interested in hosting a seminar, either through a business or club, please drop me a note:  JohnTwist@UniversityMotorsLtd.Com



I was saddened to learn that the Radiator Hospital in Grand Rapids has closed down.  They repaired our MG radiators for 30 years.

I was just at Southwest Sandblasting in Grand Rapids – Randy is continuing his fine service.  Find him at: 616 243 1611.

Casey DeHollander and Dave Stelma are running an excellent machine shop – CD’s Engine Service in Hudsonville, MI.  I was just there to drop off the pistons to my MGA engine and saw that Brian was assembling an XPAG engine.  They know British!  616 662 1553.   It’s difficult to find a good machine shop, but CD’s has offered us excellent service for several decades.  Website:

Whitepost Restorations just rebuilt a tandem MG Midget master cylinder for me.  They’ve been rebuilding our master cylinders for 30 years, too.  We’ve always enjoyed excellent service from them.  Find Whitepost at:

Sourcing original engine parts is trial and error on eBay.  If you’re looking for factory original or high-quality parts, contact Basil Adams in California:  707 762 0974.  He’s just helped me with some pistons and tri-metal rod bearings.

For used MG parts there is no one better or faster than Paul Dierschow at Sportscar Craftsmen in Arvada (Denver), Colorado.  Paul has scores (hundreds?) of used MGs and can provide nearly any part in good, used condition.  Plus, he can send it out same or next day!    Phone 303 422 9272


 My videographer, Dayton Dimond,  is due back into Grand Rapids at the end of April.  We have plans to re-commence making YouTube videos.  I was surprised to find that the channel now shows 6.7 million views.  Thanks to everyone for watching!




MGB Engine Rebuild Seminar, Wed-Thu, Aug 23-24, Altoona, PA.  I will rebuild a five main MGB engine and start it up over the course of two days.  This is a great opportunity to learn about engine rebuilding from start to finish.  This event precedes the 23rd Annual British Car Festival on Fri-Sun, Aug 25-27, in Altoona.   There is room for just a few more participants.   For information about the engine rebuild seminar or the car show, please contact:  Jim Pastore at (814) 931- 0627 or  Find more info about the show at:

MG Tune-up Seminar, Sat, Sep 16, Tacoma, WA.  Matt Graham of Brooklands British Car will host this tune-up seminar.  I will present a “Complete Tune-up” throughout the day in addition to answering as many questions as come up.  Participants will take away a small pamphlet including tune-up charts for the MGs from 1946-1980.  If you have ever wanted to tune your MG correctly, THIS is your opportunity to view the correct sequencing of all the steps.  Plus, it’s great MG fellowship!  The cost is $100/person for this one-day seminar.  The seminar is limited to 25 participants.  Contact Matt directly to sign up: (253) 584-2033 or in WA State only (800) 244-4648 or via email:  Visit Matt’s website:

MG Tune-up Seminar, Sat, Oct 7, Chantilly, VA.  The Washington DC Centre, MGCC, presents the 22nd Annual Hunt Country Classic car show on Sunday, Oct 8, at Middleburg, VA.  The day before, at Randy Shuck’s shop in Chantilly, I will present my “Complete Tune-up.”  In addition to tuning an MGB, I will answer as many questions as come up.  Participants will take away a small pamphlet including tune-up charts for the MGs from 1946-1980.  If you have ever wanted to tune your MG correctly, THIS is your opportunity to view the correct sequencing of all the steps.  Plus, it’s great MG fellowship!  The cost is $100/person for this one-day seminar.  The seminar is limited to 25 participants.  To sign up, contact:Jim Spurgeon at: (703) 680-6774   For more info about the car show:

MG Seminars in England, Fall 2017

MGB Tune-up, Sat, Oct 14, MGOC Workshop Swavesey, Cambs, MGB Complete Lubrication, Sun, Oct 15, MGOC Workshop         MGB Tune-up, Fri, Oct 20, Wroxall Abbey Hotel & Estate near Warwick, England                                                                                     MGA/Magnette Tune-up, Sat, Oct 21, Wroxall Abbey                                T Series Tune-up, Sun, Oct 22, Wroxall Abbey*  (In association with the MG Octagon Car Club and the MG “T” Society)

Cost is £90 for each seminar.  Wroxall Abbey is a wonderfully splendid country estate re-purposed into a hotel.  They offer accommodations as well as an on-site restaurant and bar.   There will be a dinner on Saturday evening, Oct 21st, at which I will be the guest speaker.

This offers a brilliant chance to book a trip to England, visit the sites your wife wishes to see, maybe Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey, AND attend a Tune-Up Seminar.

Wroxall Abbey:                                                        MG Owners’ Club:


 Mike Blackport has updated my website – Thank you very much Mike!

There is now a PayPal button on the upper right side of the site through which you can make a contribution to my travel and office expenses.  You might choose to donate because I’ve helped you on the phone or through a YouTube video.   I still continue to answer technical calls and am able to answer a few emails.  If you need an answer, CALL!

I want to thank Eli Albalancy and Wlliam Slabich who made contributions this past month.


 I have been fortunate to have owned or had a workshop under lease for the past 45 years.  Right now, I have nowhere to work.  There are still a couple of projects I’m obligated to complete and I need 1000-1200 feet of space in the Grand Rapids area.  This could be stand-alone space or shared space.  It could be in a commercial district, it could be in a residential area.  If you have space available or know someone who does, PLEASE contact me!  John Twist (616) 307-6737.




 Forrest Johnson, Curt Saunier, and Mike Blackport continue the University Motors tradition of high quality service and restoration at the Rusty Moose Garage.  Contact Mike at (616) 301-2888.

Twists and Turns California 2017 == 7/30 ==  Friday, June 16, 2017

We Departed Flagstaff, AZ, at 9:30 am with 47431 on the odometer.  Arrived in Barstow, CA about 5:00 pm at 47732

That’s 301 miles in 7 1/2  hours  or about an average of 40mph.

Today’s highlights were Mr D’z Diner, Oatman, AZ, and the Sitgreaves Pass.

On our way to breakfast we encountered Sgt Justin Bond and his service dog Boomer.  Bond lost a leg in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.  He is heavily involved in a veterans’ aid and relief organization:

We left Flagstaff anticipating about a 400 mile run, one of the longest on this trip to California.  We quickly quit I-40 at exit 139 onto Historic Route 66.  From there the road runs very straight into Seligman.  One of the MG enthusiasts following this blog suggested we stop there.  It was good advice!  Finally, we found a true tourist destination along Route 66.  We observed about six tour buses, probably stopping there on their way to the Grand Canyon.  The town was alive.  Not only that, I spotted the first MGB on our trip – a highly modified pull handle MGB.

Seen in Seligman AZ

From Seligman we ran through endless lands, sparsely dotted with scrub.   Route 66 is lightly travelled.  We encountered only about one car per minute.   The roadway is fenced, but only rarely did we see a lonely steer foraging in the browned weeds.  Houses, or more likely ranches, were very few and very far between.  There were occasional, modern Burma Shave signs along the fence lines. Here is one we particularly enjoyed:

T’would be more fun                                                                                                      To go by air                                                                                                                            If we could put                                                                                                                These signs up there                                                                                                Burma Shave

In the distance were hundred-car trains passing along the flats.  We suddenly came upon the Grand Canyon Caverns.  This was once the second most visited tourist attraction in Arizona!  In the late morning, there were only a dozen cars or so parked around the grounds and motel.  We didn’t view the caverns.  Perhaps another time.



Inside the cafeteria at Grand Cavern Caverns


A mechanic cannot pass up a tool board.

We continued to follow Route 66 into Kingman and lunched at Mr D’z Route 66 Diner.  THIS was the perfect nostalgia diner experience of our trip!  Two cheeseburgers, drinks, and onion rings tallied $29.00, including the tip.  Expensive, certainly, but worth the experience.

We followed the road out of town only to find we were on our way to Las Vegas.  Route 66 is not always well marked.  We made our way back to I-40 west and immediately exited onto Arizona 10, Oatman Road, Historic Route 66.  This was an adventure!

Vaughn Wasom, also a blog follower, encouraged me to visit Oatman.  It is on the west side of the Black Mountains, and to get there one must crest Sitgreaves Pass, at an elevation of 3,586 feet.  The desert floor looked to be 2000 feet below us.  On this mountain road, Route 66 is about one lane wide, with a painted center line.  We encountered only seven vehicles, two wanting to drive more quickly than I.  As soon as possible I pulled over to let them pass.  Coming towards us was a very large camper van.  OMG!  There are few guard rails and the drops are precipitous.  We wanted to warn them!

There is no way a hand held camera can capture the view.

Twists and turns and switchbacks. Exciting!

The acrophobia I encountered at the Round Barn several days ago was but a whit compared to the near panic I felt ascending the east side of the mountains.  Mr Wasom’s name was included in epithets as I neared panic.  This is not a journey for the faint at heart.   Nor is it an expedition on which one can be inattentive!  Mary would exclaim,”Look at that!” as the landscape swept out for a hundred miles.  I was looking at the center line.  We did stop at the pinnacle of the pass to view the terrain stretched out before us.  Mary, on the other hand, enjoyed every moment of this scary ascent.  She even generously offered multiple times to take over the driving.  I couldn’t bring myself to concede that my female companion was more courageous than I.

Fingers in mouth scared!

As we descended, we eventually came upon Oatman, a western village unequalled in my experience.  As a lanky cowboy strode up the street, spurs jingling, loose burrows wandered the village street seeking fodder offered up by the tourists.  I would never have hazarded upon this incredible sight had it not been for Vaughn’s insistence that we make the trip.

The Oatman Hotel in downtown Oatman, a thoroughly Western and cowboy town.

This guy pushed his head in Mary’s window hoping for a treat.

The landscape was rife with flowering cacti.  Later we learned that touching these plants was a horror.  I was amazed that the palm trees we saw later looked almost the same but taller.

Cholla Cacti in bloom.

From Oatman, Historic Route 66 winds to Golden Shores.  Golden Shores?  There wasn’t a drop of water for miles and the temperature was 110F.  Then we spied Goose Lake and the Colorado River, replete with motor craft and fishing boats.  Here we re-entered I-40.

111F and not a drop of water around (until we spied the Colorado River)

In the middle of all this heat — the flowing Colorado River.

The temperature never wavered more than five degrees.  It finally showed 111F although the three men in the California visitor center told us it was 115F.  Perhaps the Dodge’s thermometer maxes out at 111?

The visitor center was at Needles, home of Charles Schultz of Peanut’s fame.  Then it was onto Barstow, home of the Fort Irwin National Training Center where my son James trained in September, 2011, prior to his deployment to Afghanistan.   Dinner tonight was takeout from Subway which we enjoyed in the clean and quiet of the hotel breakfast section.



Twists and Turns California 2017 == 6/30 ==  June 15, 2017

Departed Gallup, NM about 9:00 am at 47105 on the odometer. Arrived in Flagstaff, AZ, perhaps as early as 5:00 pm at 47431. That’s 326 miles in 9 hours or about an average of 36 mph.  We spent a lot of time at Painted Desert National Park and at Meteor Crater.


With the car full of our belongings and our stomachs full from the wonderful Hampton breakfast, we set out to traverse Route 66 from the eastern end of Gallup to points west.

Route 66 in Gallup NM

We tried last night to view some of this but were foiled.  Gallup has Indian artifacts, Indian Jewelry (wholesale AND retail), Cochina dolls, the works.

West side of Gallup on Route 66.

Gallup is a vibrant community.  Not until we reached the far west end of Gallup did the blight of closed down gasoline stations and abandoned motels begin.

An octagonal log cabin!

I-40 is the improved road and the preferable route, without question.  But we continued on Route 66 which paralleled the new highway for miles, sometimes on one side, sometimes the other.  There were some steep hills and roughly patched surfaces.  At one turn under the expressway we espied this fascinating octagonal log cabin.  We wondered if the octagonal structure was an aberration.  Soon we were back on I-40 and stopped at Chambers to purchase gasoline.

An octagonal Shell Station.

The Shell station at Chambers was ALSO octagonal.  Go figure.  I was set upon by a young panhandler with a tale of woe.  As he was painting his picture of a lost wallet, stolen cell phone, and broken vehicle, I suggested he’d have better luck with someone else.  I saw him talking to the truckers as we left.

Waiting for the train. Cars were stretched left and right as far as the eye could see.

I was rewarded for my lack of philanthropy when I ignored a road closed sign on Route 66 and had to double back about five miles.  Karma, I expect.

Each strata has its own color. Stunningly beautiful.

I-40 cuts through the middle of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.  Mary has a national park pass so we saved the $20 entry fee.

Similar to the South Dakota Badlands.

Hundreds of feet and millions of years of erosion.

The Painted Desert is reminiscent of our trip to the Badlands in South Dakota last summer.  In fact, some of the literature described this area as “badlands.”

There were petrified sections of trees everywhere.

We saw a small “petrified forest” last summer, but the extent of the fossils today was enormous.  The landscape is so stunning and simply cannot be captured with a hand-held camera.

There’s another WigWam Motel near Mammoth Cave, KY

Just before the Meteor Crater we dropped away from I-40 to visit the WigWam Motel at Holbrook, AZ.

“Where is YOUR MG?” they asked. See you all in Solvang.


These MGA owners have guts.

Meteor Crater is a private enterprise.  It’s facilities and presentation match any public museum I’ve ever visited.  I’d been fascinated about Meteor Crater since I first read about it as a kid perusing the World Book Encyclopedia before bed.  Mary and I were sitting in the theater, waiting for their excellent video to begin, when in walked part of the Ocean to Ocean GT-42 excursion.   Follow their adventures on Facebook at “Ocean to Ocean GT-42.”

Blogging at the Hampton.

Flagstaff was a short run from Meteor Crater.  We moved into our room and sat down to recount the past two days.  As an aside, at this hotel, if one wants a room on the same floor as the front desk and lobby, ask for the “main floor,” not the first floor, which here is the basement.  Actually, our rooms at each of the Hampton Inns we have visited thus far have been most satisfactory.

Twists and Turns California 2017 == 5/30 ==  June 14, 2017

Craig Perry from Colorado suggested this new title for my blog.  Thanks Craig!

Books, travel plans, Garmin, but no substitute for a map!

Departed Santa Rosa, NM about 9:00 am at 46808 on the odometer. Arrived in Gallup, NM about 5:30 pm at about 6:00 pm at 47105. That’s 297 miles in 9 hours or about and average of 33 mph.  Again, we had a lot of stops.

The panoramic scene has to be thirty miles in any direction.


We are on sensory overload.  While much seems the same, more is so very diverse.  The huge hemispherical blue sky is always brilliant.  The landscape allows a line of sight that must be 50 miles.  The desolation and abandonment of business districts spreads out all along Route 66.   Shacks and trailers surrounded by volumes of junk give some communities the appearance of a third world nation save the air conditioning units in the windows.   Yet other communities are engaged in urban development.  Still others, not dependent on the tourist trade, are vibrant.

For miles we saw billboards for the Flying C Ranch.  If there ever was a business dependent on highway signage, this was it!  So we stopped to fill up and check out the wares.  There were moccasins, Indian jewelry, plaster Indians, plaster horses, T shirts…  THIS was souvenir haven, or so we thought.  Our guide book praised Cline’s Corners but it was unclear whether they had gasoline.

This IS souvenir heaven!

Cline’s Corners had gasoline.  They had a fifties era restaurant.  They had everything that the Flying C Ranch had, and a hundred times more.  This was TRULY souvenir heaven.  We couldn’t help ourselves and purchased homemade fudge.  Yum!

At the Albuquerque Art and History Museum — a wonderful display about the Tuberculosis community.

Albuquerque was the next stop.  My great-grandfather died in Albuquerque in 1904.  These high, dry communities were destinations for those with tuberculosis.  He’d come to the southwest to gain a little more time.  I knew little of the city or its early history.  As it happened, the Albuquerque Art and History Museum is hosting a display of the “Lunger” community, so we spent a couple of hours there.  Two old friends from Grand Rapids, sisters Mellisa and Hillary Ames, knew from following this blog that we would be in the area.  They drove down from Taos, NM, to meet us at the museum.   In spite of our 40+ year separation, we had no difficulty recognizing one another.  We spent a couple hours at the snack bar catching up.

This mural at the Albuquerque Art and History Museum coupled Indian Culture with Star Wars. Unbelievably incredible!

Cubero Cemetery with Confederate Graves.

Then it was off to Cubero which contains the largestConfederate cemetery in the southwest.  We were off the Garmin maps, driving on gravel roads only to find the gates closed.  But I got the picture and bragging rights.

YES This is my truck NO I won’t help you move. Seen in the McDonald’s drive thru.

Grants, New Mexico, was one of those communities devastated by the lack of road traffic, but they were doing their best to improve Route 66 through the city.  A beautiful median, trees along the boulevard, and revitalized motels evidenced the community’s efforts to lure new Route 66 travelers.

Next stop was the Continental Divide – where east meets west, at 7200 feet elevation.  We tried to get a picture of the sign on the expressway, even though we were on Route 66, but it was terribly out of focus.  This one was a lot better, anyway.

Aztec Street in Gallup NM while looking for the neon light display.

We rolled into Gallup about dinner time – WORN OUT.   How driving wears one out is a mystery as it seems all ones does is sit there and occasionally turn the steering wheel.  But by the time we got into the hotel room, everything hurt – my feet, my eyes, and my brain.  I’ve never driven this far in such a short time in my life.  Our attempts to find Route 66 in downtown Gallup in the dark with the neon signs touted in the guide book was for naught.  We got lost.  We really were on sensory overload and grateful to find our way back to the Hampton Inn without the Garmin.

California 2017 == 4/30   June 13, 2017

Departed Elk City, OK, at about 11:30 am at 46485 on the odometer.  Arrived in Santa Rosa, NM about 6:00 pm at 46808. That’s 323 miles in 7 ½ hours (we’re now on Mountain Time) or about and average of 43 mph.  Again, we had a lot of stops.

We thought we arose earlier than usual but ended up moving so slowly that we had to purchase a $21 breakfast at Huddle House – one that we could have had free at the Hampton.  It really wasn’t a problem as we walked across the parking lot to Huddle’s and the fare was much better than the Hampton.    Mary got the Western Omelet and saved half of it for dinner.  I copied my usual New Beginnings Restaurant breakfast in Grand Rapids.  It’s always hard for the cook to prepare my eggs “over hard, crispy on the edges – wreck ‘em and burn ‘em” but at least today they weren’t soupy.

This is our fourth day on the road, living out of suitcases.  Mary asked me this morning, “Why does every sentence begin with ‘Where is…’”

On our way out of town (the same route we followed last night searching for the Hampton), we stopped at the National Route 66 Museum.  This was a nice place!  They had an interesting movie about the development of Route 66 and the eventual demise of the businesses along the route when by-passed by I-44 and I-40.  It was unfortunate that the video and audio weren’t synched, but if you didn’t watch the person’s lips it wasn’t so disconcerting.  They had a number of smaller museums attached, not unlike Barry County’s Charlton Park near Hastings, Michigan.

Downtown Sayre. I haven’t seen one of these Rexall signs for a while.

We followed the original Route 66 where possible and came upon Sayre, OK.  They have a beautifully restored courthouse used in John Ford’s 1940 “Grapes of Wrath” movie.  On the front lawn was a bull painted up in military dress uniform with sergeant’s stripes.

We stopped at the last city in Oklahoma, a hundred yards before the Texas border.  Advertised as a true ghost town, Texola was certainly decrepit, I’ll give it that.

Just west of town was the Will Rogers monument.  In Oklahoma Route 66 was named the Will Rogers Highway.

Then into the Lone Star State!

Once fallen into disrepair, the community rallied to save this building. It was featured in Disney’s movie “CARS”

Beautifully redone

Mary laughed at the “auto laundry” sign

On to Shamrock, home of the U-Drop-Inn Café and a restored CONOCO gasoline station.  I recognized several foreign signatures in their guest book from yesterday’s visit to the Round Barn.  The older of the two guides told us that yesterday two Chinese tourists arrived.  The older spoke no English but his son did.  The son explained that his father’s lifelong dream was to follow Route 66.

An empty street is every businessman’s nightmare

Despite the popularity of the Route, there was a dearth of traffic.

Business I 40 was originally Route 66

This station sits at the “Crossroads of America” as US 83 runs from Canada to Mexico.

In Gray County we encountered the first wind turbines.  Over the next 50 miles? we saw them mostly on the north side of I-40.  We guesstimated that there were 1000 in view, but we could not find any real numbers after half an hour’s search on the internet this evening.  I did find news articles about “swindles,” but that’s probably because the government was heavily involved.  It’s all reminiscent of Lyndon Johnson’s friend Billie Sol Estes and his fertilizer swindle surrounding the US Department of Agriculture.  On the other hand, Mary read that during one 17-hour period, the wind generators throughout Texas produced enough electricity to power 40% of state.  They are so massive!

At Groom TX we photographed the “Leaning Tower of Water” which I suspect is actually empty.

Just beyond but east of Amarillo we spied half of all the cattle in the US.  OMG!  The landscape was black with steers.   Even a blind man would have known we were passing livestock!  I guessed that the distance between that feed lot and McDonald’s was about three days.  It reminded us of Sinclair Lewis’ book The Jungle.

On the west side of Amarillo, we caught a fleeting glimpse of the Cadillac Ranch – an automotive imitation of Stonehenge.  Dozens of cars, motorcycles, and people were lined against a fence marveling and taking pictures.  We would have remained on Route 66 but it often was barricaded, dirt, or simply not there.  So we followed I-40.

The sky was so beautiful but the temp was 97F

One sign said either “Keep Out” or “Help Wanted”

Our last stop in the Lone Star State was Glenrio.  Advertised as an authentic ghost town, the exit was aptly numbered zero.  This place is on the National Historical Register for reasons unknown.  It’s simply a ruin waiting for a bulldozer.  A British tourist from Bristol stopped me (yes, I was taking a picture) and cautioned against following Route 66 farther west as it was just gravel.  We returned to I-40.

Welcome to Arizona!

We immediately crossed into New Mexico but the signage wasn’t necessary.  The landscape changed dramatically within five miles.  The FLAT treeless countryside changed to one of plateaus, mesas, and buttes with low shrubs.   Wildly different colors defined the strata on exposed rock faces.  It is SO very different from Michigan!

The Blue Swallow on the north side of Route 66

The Motel Sahara on the south side of Route 66 in Tucumcari

Into Tucumcari which once boasted 2000 motel rooms.  It is now a shell of its former glory.  But young entrepreneurs are moving in and restoring some of the motels and other sites.  They have a vision and are willing to match it with sweat equity.  Bully for them!  I wish them well.  The pearl of this effort is led by the new owners of the Blue Swallow Motel, still illuminating their world famous marquee with neon.

The travelling day ended as we turned into Santa Rosa’s Hampton Inn.

Tech calls today included Don Turnbull from near Grand Rapids, who called about the two-bobbin control box in his Midget.

Another owner called about the trouble a shop was having trying to tune his Stromberg MGB – I called the shop to find that they had not replaced the air cleaner.  A Stromberg MG will NOT run correctly without the factory air cleaner!  I told the shop owner that a fellow called me from Texas about 35 years ago complaining that his MGB wouldn’t run over 3500 rpm.  I asked him if the air cleaner was on.  The owner told me that it was still off.  “Put it on!” I told him.  “What difference will that make?” he asked.  I said, “Look, you called me.  Let me know how it works.”  He called back the next day, wild with excitement that his MGB ran well again.  “What do I owe you?” he inquired enquired.  I said, “Send me some Lone Star beer.”  About a week later I got a call from the bus station telling me they had a suitcase there addressed to me.  It was full of Lonestar!

Several enthusiasts have written “Gosh, wish I’d have known you were coming through.”   Well, I’m sorry I’ve missed you, too.  We’re on our way to Santa Barbara, so if you’re along Route 66 or I-40, let me know!  Contact info is on the website.  Sorry, I don’t have time to stop and tune your MG.

ZERO MGs seen today







John Twist's legacy as an MG Technical Specialist