Pottsville’s Magical Car Museum

We spent the night in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, not to check out the Yuengling brewery, but to have a chance to see Jerry’s Classic Cars and Collectables museum.

What a place.  In many ways it was a time machine taking you back to days that are long gone as well as presenting some spectacular classic cars.

As we entered the museum we had several really great classic cars to examine and admire.

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First was this 1951 Studebaker Commander “Land Cruiser”  that looks just fantastic.

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Then there is a Ford Mustang from 1969. A Mach I.

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Next to it is a 1970 VW Beetle.

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Next to that is a Nova.

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An then a Triumph TR3.

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In the next room are more great cars.

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Above is the Desoto. A 1958 Firesweep convertible.

Then a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere next to that.

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Then a 1970 Avanti II.

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In back a 1952 Dodge half ton panel truck.

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Then a 1952 Desoto Firedome 8.

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An Oldsmobile.

A 1952 Chevrolet Pickup truck.

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And more…

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But perhaps the greatest part was all the memorabilia from the fifties and sixties:

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It was a time machine that went on for a second floor.  This was such a treat.

If you find yourself in the Pottsville area please do yourself a favor and drop by Jerry’s Classic Car museum.

 

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2017–Carlisle National Ford Meet

This was my first time at this annual event in Pennsylvania.  I had hoped to attend last year but my schedule was just too full.  So after a drive north in the P71 we entered through gate 3 and onto the fair grounds where this is held. 

Acres of Fords awaited us.

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We parked in a section reserved for factory modified and police cars.  Here were three examples of the 5.0 Mustangs that were used by many of state troopers back in the late 1980’s especially for high speed pursuit.

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There were three examples.  One Georgia state patrol, one Florida, and one from the California Highway Patrol.

We parked the P71 and then explored the fair grounds.  There was a section of cars for sale.

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Then there were the rows and rows of parts and pieces for sale.  The variety was exceptional.

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Looking for those hard-to-find pieces?  Probably they were here.

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How about fiberglass parts for that rusted out Bronco?

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As we walked the field it often appeared to be a Mustang meet.

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But there was much more to see.  Here are some Fords from the 1950’s:

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The EDSEL was well represented…

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Then there was the Mercury Marauder pack…

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There were all forms of Fords and Mercury cars represented.

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We had a fun two days not only to see all the many different Ford cars represented, but we had a chance to talk to the many owners and enthusiasts that were there.  Every brand has its following and the Ford crowd has their national meet in Carlisle, PA!

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Mercedes 190 SL Restoration

As I was growing up a friend of the family bought a Mercedes 190 SL that was bright red and would carve up the country roads of Cape Cod for decades.  Sometimes being driven topless by the owner and sometimes being driven by one of the children.  Over the years it continued to slowly succumb to the elements, the years, and living next to the Atlantic ocean.

The owner would sometimes ask me about how it could be restored and repaired.  I knew it would not be a trivial process and so I would talk about the realities of a full restoration in terms of both time and money.  Key to a meaningful restoration of any car is that it be done by competent and experienced hands.

A couple of month ago the owner notified me that he and his wife had decided to take the plunge and get their original 190 SL fully restored.  They had first searched around New England for a competent business, but were directed to seek out Bruce Adams in Aberdeen, NC.

They took a visit to the facilities and opted to ship their 190 SL to Aberdeen where it was evaluated.  The assessment of the car was shared with them, along with the projected costs and timeline, and after taking a deep breath, they gave the go-ahead to proceed.

Since the shop is about an hour away, we decided to take a day-trip and check out the progress on the car as well as get a tour of the facilities.  We called Bruce Adams ahead of time and he welcomed our visit.  He met us upon our arrival and led us into his shop. 

Bruce has been doing restorations on Mercedes and the 190 SL in particular for well over 40 years.  His shop and staff are basically in the business of completely dismantling and then rebuilding these special cars.

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Each customer car is dismantled and all its parts are kept in its own storage area.

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Not only the unitized body, but every component will be cleaned, rebuilt and refurbished.  Each engine and drivetrain is rebuilt.  Almost all work is done in house with the exception of re-chroming and cooling/heating systems. 

Our friend’s 190 SL will require extensive rebuilding of the unibody frame as well as some of the body panels.

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Some of the replacements are fabricated in the shop and others of the more complex pieces are sourced.  The grey section above was the last piece of its type available and was sourced from Germany.

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The above example shows just how involved a restoration can be.  It is a challenge that Bruce’s staff can handle, but it takes many hours of exceptionally experienced hands to accomplish.

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Every body goes not only goes through complete disassembly, but also media blasting, initial primer coat, and many iterations of careful and complete sanding in order to get it prepared for initial painting.

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Sanding and more sanding to prepare it for the first coats of base color followed by three coats of clear.  Then more sanding and more clear coats.  The end result is paint that looks as if you could dive into it.

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The colors are matched to the factory colors.

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There was a car at the facility that had been restored several years ago and was now up for sale by the owners.  I took a photo of it because it represents how our friends 190 SL will look when it is completed in perhaps another 12 months or so.

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Bruce took us over to another area where the final finish work is done.  Here were examples of 190 SL’s that were in the final phase of completion.

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Care is taken to improve these cars in ways that will not detract from the originality while ensuring that ownership remains trouble free.

An electric fuel pump is wired in to the choke so it is activated to prime the fuel system rather than straining the mechanical pump on initial start up.

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The front anti-roll bar is increased in diameter from 18mm to 25mm.

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The battery looks like a lead-acid style right from the 1960’s, but is actually a modern sealed unit in disguise.  The distributor is converted from points and condenser with advance weights and springs to a unit that looks the same but is all electronic.

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The air filter has a K&N custom element installed that replaces the inefficient original air cleaner element.

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Bruce and all his staff are dedicated to the work they do.  I was introduced to them all and it was clear that every one of them loved their work and the challenges of restoration.  We enjoyed the visit and feel we not only received the tour of our lives, but have made some great new friends.

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More Great Things from PRI 2016

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The crowds are filled with people soaking up all the displays of new racing technology at PRI.  There is just so much to see.

The Cars

Amidst all the equipment and accessories to support racing are the many cars on display.

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Both Ford and Chevy had their sideways cars on display to show off many of the optional components motorsports enthusiasts can modify their cars with.

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On the left is Ford’s underbody air scoop to keep the transmission cool.  You just have to take it off to do oil changes, but what a great solution to keeping your transmission temperatures down.

The Technology

With over 750,000 square feet of display floor space and the crowds of enthusiasts at PRI it takes diligence and persistence to discover all the new supporting technology on display.

With the advent of computer control in motor vehicles a huge industry has sprung up to take advantage of OBD II as well as stand-a-lone tuning and engine management.

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DSC has computerized the control of suspensions with their shock absorber system.

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Randy Pobst was at their booth as well…

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In depth suspension testing and analysis is critical for finding the edge in racing and this company has the tools to get you there.

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Above is a scale model of their test machine.

How about new engine technology?  This prototype V-16 engine puts out over 4,500 horse power. 

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Going fast with lots of power also means being able to count on the best technology in brake performance.  No brand epitomizes that than Brembo.

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On the edge of these rotor are spots of paint that indicate when different temperature thresholds have been reached.  Key information for understanding the parameters a braking system must work under.

Pistons go up and down thousands of times a minute and must be reliably connected to the crankshaft.  Here are some interesting examples of connecting rods on display.

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Spark plugs ignite all that power in gasoline engines and the Champion spark plug company has been providing solutions since the beginning.

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Here is a great example of one of their solutions for those pesky 3-valve Ford V8 engines:

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The design is of a single piece that won’t break apart upon removal like the original plugs tend to do.

Part of getting the most out of your suspension is corner balancing.  That is where you use precision scales to ensure your road racing car handles the same regardless of whether you are taking a left or right hand turn.

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Filtration is of paramount importance if you wish to keep your hard working engine alive.  Fram has been providing oil filtration products for decades.

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Fuel filtration has often been overlooked in its importance, but not by FST Performance.  Their fuel filters go above and beyond what has ever been available to ensure fuel is clean and free from water and other contaminants.

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The filter above is approved for use in NASCAR.

 

There was so much to see at PRI this year that this blog can never give you a complete view, but let me close with some shots of the racing personalities that make motorsports great.

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PRI 2016–Women in Motorsports

I was anxious to go to this seminar for many reasons including a desire to see just how far women have come in their interest in motorsports.  I had read Mad for Speed, the Racing Life of Joan Newton Cuneo, which covered her automobile racing career from 1905 to 1915.  A time period when women were definitely not welcome in the sport of car racing.

Today there are far more women in motorsports with far less obstacles to their participation, but they still are a minority. 

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This seminar featured several women that have found out how to live their dream in the motorsports world.  Lyn St.James, former Indycar driver and the 1992 Indy 500 rookie of the year was there, along with Jessi Combs – a professional driver and well known fabricator and television personality.  Jennifer LaFever, RoushYates engines quality assurance manager, along with Jeanette DesJardins who founded Car Chix and Crank It Media.

Lyn spoke at length about her entrance into racing and how she stayed focused on what she had to accomplish rather than looking for obstacles.  I liked her attitude, realizing that nothing that is important to you is easy to achieve and that there is always a lot of learning along the way.

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Jessi Combs also had an interesting comment saying that it took her a while to realize that she could be what she wanted to be in the motorsports world.  The implication being that she was inhibited by the fact she was a girl and maybe there was no path for her to reach her dreams.  She said that by the time she was seventeen she knew that she had to make her own path and has worked hard ever since to learn what she needed to support her career dreams.

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Jennifer LaFever moved from California to North Carolina and found her spot in the racing industry with Roush Yates.  She studied hard and got the engineering training that opened the door for her.  She is very motivated as well as focused on her career and also understands the sacrifices that that kind of achievement requires.

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Jeanette DesJardins had the foresight to buy the domain Car Chix even though, at the time, she wasn’t sure what she would do with it.  A few years went by before she leveraged the domain and created the premier motorsports organization for women. 

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The attendees of this seminar were very interested in motorsports and were eager to hear the advice of the featured guests. 

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In addition the audience contained other racing personalities.

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The young girl above is Courtney Crone who has been racing motorcycles since she was 4 and has a decade of racing under her belt along with hundreds of wins.

It is not easy for women to get somewhere in racing and motorsports, but then again its never been easy for anyone.  Its nice to see more and more examples for women to follow.

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PRI 2016 off to Indianapolis

I didn’t expect to be the only flyer at the airport, but I was surprised to find a couple of flyers that had their own wings at the gate.

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All went well and all my connecting flights were successfully achieved.  My hotel room was favorable and at dinner I met many other attendees of this years premier professional racing event.

The next morning we took a shuttle bus to the convention center and waited in line for the traditional opening breakfast. 

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After a rendition of our national anthem and a few opening remarks we were treated to a Dave Despain interview with Jeff Gordon and Rick Mears.

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The audience enjoyed the stories and the charm of the guests.

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Dave and his guests could have kept us as an audience for an hour or two, but the big show had to go on and that was PRI itself.  With over 750,000 square feet of show floors fully occupied with the gamut of racing products and services the attendees were eager to see what this year’s show held for us.

While most of the exhibitors and vendors are from the US, this year many more came from outside of America.  There were companies from England, Italy and several from China.  In one booth I found a Japanese tire company that had tires made in China for full out race cars as well as DOT race tires for track day enthusiasts.  This business is really expanding.

One area of concern for racing enthusiasts is the recent interpretation of the Clean Air Act of 1970 by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) where they proposed a rule stating that it is illegal to convert a motor vehicle into a racecar if the vehicle’s emissions system no longer remains in its certified condition.  If this goes forward it would seriously impact racing in a very negative fashion.  Naturally this is a subject that has gained the attention of PRI attendees as well as racing enthusiasts in the US.

3D printing is getting far more sophisticated and is allowing for more durable prototypes as well as design creativity that is not possible with conventional casting and machining techniques.  We need to continue to watch this area for important changes in technology.

America has reentered Formula 1 racing for the first time in over 30 years and an example of HAAS racing’s entry was on hand for PRI.

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Obviously this is an early prototype of the car used this past season, it is important to note that HAAS has achieved far more in its first year that some of the more seasoned F1 teams. 

Speed Demon racing had an example of their land speed racing car.

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Racing personalities were not to be found just at the breakfast interview.  Many more were around the show floor.

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It is a treat to have so many racing personalities available to talk to and get autographs from, but there are also thousands of racing products to be seen and evaluated.  The product representatives are very helpful and interested in what these racers are looking for and any new needs they might have.

Gforce had bolt-on IRS kits for Mustangs, Camaros, and Chrysler cars:

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NEO Motorsports is producing billet aluminum calipers with titanium pistons for track and street use.

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Anderson Composites had three examples of cars using their light weight body parts on display.

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Grassroots Motorsports was there, too.

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Race America displayed technology to make track racing safer and leverage electronics to keep racers, race control, and fans informed.

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There were suppliers of composite drive shafts:

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And of course there were many cars on display:

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There is so much to see when you attend PRI and I have another day to find some more things of interest. 

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Cars (and Trucks) You Find on the Side of the Road

In our own town we can drive by them hundreds of times and not give them another thought, but when we spot them outside of our normal territory suddenly they become visible and interesting.  Well today I was in my town and I didn’t just drive by.  I stopped and looked and talked to the owners of vehicles that caught my eye.

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First off was this fine example of the classic VW transporter.  If it had the small windows in the roof it would be called the micro-bus, but that doesn’t matter.  This is a classic VW van from 1967.  It even had the pop-out split windshield.

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I talked to the owner, Matthew, who has owned it for at least a decade.  He has had plenty experience with the air-cooled era VW’s.  His one is a pip.

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It is the last of these transporters with the all metal dash, and these babies have plenty of room.

The engines were not full of torque and this was the first year that VW converted from a six-volt system to a 12 volt.  The engine in this bus was not a 1967, but that doesn’t matter either.

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It has the dual-port cylinder heads and sports an alternator instead of the earlier generator.  That would place this engine to be somewhere near a 1974 era motor.  A larger displacement than the 1300cc version that was originally bolted to the transaxle.

These air-cooled wonders still managed to move this large box although climbing a hill was often described as rowing since you were forced to downshift in order to get more torque from higher engine speeds.

The owner had this one painted a while back and chose a classic blue and white two-tone scheme.

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It could use a real restoration but that doesn’t take away from its practical capabilities.  He has used it to take his family to the beach and other road trips.  I am sure that it has produced memories galore for the owner and the family.  I hope Mathew will be able to invest in a thorough restoration in a few years so that it can continue to be what it is – a VW transporter.

Less than a mile away I spotted another vehicle of interest.

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This is a very different type of truck.  This is a rat rod!  I talked to its owner and found out that he had acquired it just about a year ago.  He had been looking for a truck that he could convert into a rat rod and then discovered this one already done as well as for sale.

He did a few alterations, but it was essentially the truck he was looking for.

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With rat rods the beauty is in the beholder and the details count.  So take a close look at some of the details:

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Yes, its slammed and an air pump allows it to drive when its not parked.

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No parking brake needed.

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Did you notice the roof treatment yet?

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Joe, the owner is having a ball with his rod, and I don’t blame him.

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