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.
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 John@UniversityMotorsLtd.com for more information.
And examine my research findings on the effects of various medical supplements on male potency. Follow the link https://grosseportal-de.com/.
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 SundayApril 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.
!! STOP PRESS !!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him NOW at 703-582-3757! If you cannot raise Charlie on the phone, contact Milton Babirak by email: email@example.com or by phone 703-501-7924. Let’s make this event a success!
JD’s British Cars MGA/MGB Tune-up Seminar, Nashville, TN
SaturdayApril 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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: www.cdsengine.com
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: http://whitepost.com/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more info about the show at: http://www.pabritishcar.com/
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: email@example.com. Visit Matt’s website: http://www.brooklandsbritish.com/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org For more info about the car show: http://www.mgcarclubdc.com/hcc/hcc_main.html
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.
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.
WORKSHOP SPACE NEEDED!
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.
MG SERVICE & RESTORATION
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.
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: www.ourheroesdreams.org.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Just before the Meteor Crater we dropped away from I-40 to visit the WigWam Motel at Holbrook, AZ.
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.”
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.
Craig Perry from Colorado suggested this new title for my blog. Thanks Craig!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Despite the popularity of the Route, there was a dearth of traffic.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Left Claremore, OK, about 11:00 am at 46193 on the odometer and arrived in Elk City, OK, at about 7:30 pm at 46485. We traveled 292 miles in about 8 ½ hours at about 34 mph. But we had lots of breaks.
Our first stop was the J M Davis Arms & Historical Museum. They don’t advertise that they own an example of every gun made (just most of them). Drat. Immediately foiled. Open Tuesdays – Saturdays.
Right outside the Arms Museum was a Will Rogers monument with his famous quotation: I never met a man I didn’t like. That triggered a memory from my time with the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1969. There were only a few flush toilets on base. One of those was at the headquarters where I worked as chief clerk in the offices of the G-3 (operations). There was so much graffiti on the walls that our sergeant major affixed a whiteboard on the stall wall with requisite markers so the walls would not continue to be defaced. One day I added my own line: “Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like. What would he have said if he were in the Army?” The first reply was: “I never met a lifer I liked.” And under that was penned: “Rojer that.” The next entry was: “Fool – Roger is spelled with a ‘G’.” And under that: “Rojerg!”
We passed Patti Page Avenue. Much later in the day we passed under Garth Brooks Highway.
Into Tulsa to view the Golden Driller. Then onto the Sapulpa Rock Creek Bridge – a steel truss with brick deck, built 1921.
In Bristow we circled the 1920’s recently restored building of the Bristow Motor Company. Bristow was a lively town in marked contrast to the ghost town of Depew.
Beautiful brick buildings all lay empty save two gov’t offices which were apparently not staffed today. Depew, with its deserted main street, was bypassed when Route 66 was rerouted about a quarter of a mile north in 1928. It and has suffered terribly.
Just down Route 66 we viewed the Shoe Tree and the Shoe Tree Trading Post but there was no trading today. Look carefully at the image on top to see dozens of shoes hanging from branches. Mary says there’s a tree like this on US 131 up near Mancelona, MI.
Into Stroud and the original Rock Café. The staff was very friendly and the food very good. The Rock Café opened in 1939 and has a throng of visitors from across the world every day. “Rock” has no reference to music but to the rock used in construction. Love the toilet facilities!
Posing in the Rock Cafe.
As we were exiting Chandler, we spied the Chandler Armory, a WPA project used until the ‘80s by the National Guard. Once abondaned and nearly lost, it is now repurposed as the Route 66 Interpretive Center. Purchased some Route 66 memorabilia.
Throughout the day I take tech calls. As I was talking to Ross Baker from Chicago about his MGB charging circuit but also about the Episcopal Church in the USA, we came upon the
Round Barn in Arcadia. It was built in 1898 the to store loose hay, prior to the introduction of baling. We stopped here on the recommendation of Steve Hull, an MG owner who lives in Arcadia. Steve! We would have loved to meet up but our schedule was so uncertain. We simply didn’t know when we’d be there.
Mr Sam, just 90, entertained us and signed our Route 66 tour guide. We signed the guest register immediately below a couple whose home was in France. Mary and I walked up the stairway and into the hayloft. OMG! My acrophobia took over and I had to sit down even though we were standing on a very sturdy and octagonally designed floor – that ceiling is something like 45 feet high. My head spun and my legs weakened. I laughed out loud the sensation was so intense! Mary is standing in the center for perspective. Arcadia is just east of Edmond, OK, home of the late Don Peery, MG collector.
The land in western Oklahoma is flat. This view is from the hayloft in the round barn, looking SW.
The things you see! The lettering on the back of this truck reads “Fresh Squeezed” but the cargo is bottled water. Go figure.
As we drove into Oklahoma City, Mary began searching for her Garmin. Somehow this little device, the size of a modern I-phone, was lost in the small space of the front seat, cluttered with maps, books, and paper. It was not to be discovered. We finally pulled off the road and STILL couldn’t find it. Then Brian called from Wayland MI about his 1974 MGB ignition light and we discovered the Garmin on top of my ringing cell phone in a cubby in the dash. We paralleled Route 66 for miles – sometimes it was on the north side, sometimes on the south. Sometimes it was still in use, sometimes it was dramatically overgrown. Mary spotted Lucille’s 1941 gasoline station as we passed by Hydro.
The Garmin needs an update. It would not deliver directions to the Hampton Inn. This occurred last night, too. Both of these hotels are very new and apparently opened after Mary’s last update. We overran Elk City then doubled back, exited, finally found the location on my cell phone, and arrived about 7:30. Another long day – but what fun!
We passed through several Indian nations and spied numerous casinos. The car was pushed about by the wind, especially west of Tulsa. Every tree is bent and waving. The American flag outside the Hampton is flapping loudly and jangling its cables. We were buffeted every time we exited the car. The clerk on the front counter here says it’s always like this – well, sometimes it’s blowing harder. No wonder some of the 19th century prairie brides quit and returned east!
We left Rolla, MO, this morning about noon, at 45893 miles. We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Claremore, OK, this evening about 7:30 pm, at 46193. That’s 300 miles in 6 ½ hours – about 46 mph avg.
Leaving Rolla, MO, this morning proved especially difficult. First was the hour-long phone conversation with the reservations people at a hotel I had booked for next week. They’d already run my card and told me that cancellation was prohibited – or that I’d suffer a penalty equal to the length of my stay. They were adamant that they WERE the hotel but it sounded like a bunch of third party malarkey to me. Several years ago I’d booked a flight with Captain Kirk on Priceline. The flight was cancelled because of a snowstorm. Neither Priceline nor the airline would refund the ticket amount EVEN THOUGH I’d purchased “flight insurance.” I swore I’d never use a third party again. But something’s going on here that will take another morning to sort out. The young man on the phone was named Riley. He’d never heard of the Nuffield automobile by that name.
Then it was off to get gasoline. The pump wouldn’t accept my card and displayed “See Cashier.” There were about a dozen people in line so I went to the station across the street. I got out, went to insert the card but was stymied as a printed paper across the pump read “Not Accepting Credit or Debit Cards.” So I backed up to another pump which gladly accepted my card but delivered the gasoline at about the same rate as an SU fuel pump. It took about five minutes to dispense 14 gallons. But, then, finally, we were on our way!
I-44 parallels the original Route 66, sometimes as closely as fifty yards. I found it fascinating that while Illinois and Oklahoma line the interstates with fencing, Missouri does not. One twitch of the steering wheel and those 18 wheelers would be in my lane! We passed through Hooker’s Cut
and then past the Devil’s elbow in Hooker where we hazarded upon a score of motorcycles parked along a bridge, no doubt following Route 66 as we were. In St Robert we encountered the Uranus Fudge Shop. No doubt it was thusly named before the pronunciation police shifted emphasis of the seventh planet’s name to the first syllable. The mental image was too much — we didn’t stop. For all the comments in the tourist books about the great numbers of sightseers along the route, we found it very lightly travelled.
We passed Fort Leonard Wood and through a bevy of small towns. Mary toggled between a tourist map, two tourist books, and some printed instructions I found online. We were usually able to keep on the route but among some poorly written instructions and a lack of signage we made several wrong turns.
Gascozark was not the picture of a flourishing municipality.
We encountered another photographer shooting the marquee at the Munger Moss Motel and
Wrink’s Market interestly on Wrinke in Lebanon.
The Route 66 Car Museum in Springfield was closed, as it was a Sunday.
The Sinclair Gasoline Station in Paris Springs Junction was a hoot.
I was hindered from taking a full face-on picture of the beautifully restored courthouse in Carthage by a young woman in a halter top spray painting the rear bumper of her car. Still, I was able to get some good views.
Dropped down I-49 from Carthage to I-44 and headed towards Claremore OK at expressway speed. As such, we missed the Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma Tri-State marker by 800 feet.
Saw ZERO MGs
Took a tech call from John Giannasca, co-founder of the American MGB Association, about an overdrive gearbox.
We left Grand Rapids, Michigan, this morning about 11:00 am in the Dodge Journey, rented from Enterprise at the Grand Rapids Airport, at 45321 miles. We trust that today’s driving has aired out the cigarette stink or inured us to the odor. Arrived in Rolla, Missouri, this evening about 9:00 pm, at 45893 miles. That’s 572 miles in about 11 hours (we started on EST, spending the night on CST)
Took I-196 from Grand Rapids to Benton Harbor, then I-94 to I-80. Used the EZ Pass for the FIRST TIME as we whisked along I-80 past Joliet to I-55 south. Armed with Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 Guide for Travelers, we left I-55 and picked up the original Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois, where we immediately spied the “Gemini Giant.” At Braceville we were stopped for ten minutes while some 100 tractors of all kinds crossed the road in front of us. The deputy let us continue, but as I looked east, there were another 100 tractors coming toward the same intersection. Old men, young men, women – What a sight!
In Odell we saw the restored Standard Station and in Pontiac we viewed an incredibly beautiful courthouse. For miles we paralleled the crumbling and weed infested southbound lanes of the now abandoned Route 66. We missed the Bunyan Giant in Atlanta but stopped at the Octagon Library, perfectly suited for each of us. Mary is a librarian; I am an octogenarian (oops – octophile). We climbed back onto I-55 and headed for St Louis.
We were so excited about viewing the “Gateway to the West” arch that we missed our turn for I-44 but were able to ease back onto it within minutes. From I-64 I could just see the tower of the St Louis train station, the only building it St Louis worth saving, according to Frank Lloyd Wright. It was still another hundred miles to our first evening’s night away from home. That gave us another hour and a half to solve the world’s problems. The fellow on the front desk at the Hampton Inn here in Rolla is a nuclear engineering student.
I only took one technical call today while on the road. It was from Henri Dopierala of Northport, NY, who traded a running British Motorcycle for a 1950 TD (pictured). Henri told me of his time working for the UN in Egypt (source of the British motorcycles he restores), Syria, Gaza Strip, Central African Republic, and other fascinating locales. He ended up with an XPEG engine along with the original XPAG with the trade. There’s a lot of work on that trailer!
John Twist & Mary James
I’m now scheduled for a Tech Seminar in Tacoma, Washington, September 16th, Saturday, at Matt Graham’s Brooklands British.
I will present another Tech Seminar preceding the Hunt Country Classic in Washington, DC, October 7th, Saurday, sponsored by the Washington DC MGCC.
AND!! Perhaps another next winter in Tallahassee FL — stay tuned.
TECH TIP: Replace two prong flashers with the EL-12 and the three prong flashers with the EL-13 (negative earth only) from NAPA. These will work with LED lights AND give a steady rhythm to the flash rate.