Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another West Coast Crosley Meet Done and Gone!

Got back last night from the annual West Coast Crosley Club meet in Buellton, California.  I'm sunburned, sleep-deprived and - as always - STOKED.  I look forward to this meet all year.  It's a chance to catch up with friends I haven't seen since the last meet, and of course I love looking at all the Crosley junk that shows up, from restored cars to rare ephemera to parts for sale.   I forgot to book a room at Pea Soup Andersons (the official hotel) so when I arrived on Friday night I ended up at the slightly skanky Country Lane Motel right next door. 
I hustled over to Andersons for the Friday night get together as soon as I got in.  This year was a little different... for one thing, there were SO MANY new people!  It was great to meet the dozen-plus folks that had never been to a meet before.  Some of them came in response to the membership drive we'd had earlier in the year, and some just happened to come out for the first time this year.  One way or the other, it was great to see all the new faces.
I got a bit of a surprise when I opened the door to the motel at 7AM- rain!  It doesn't rain much in California this time of year, but we got some sprinkles Saturday morning.  Gary Loomer's pickup was already in the park, soaked.  I joked that it probably hadn't seen rain in a long time and Gary said, "not since I've had it, at least."  It was overcast most of the day, but the rain was done by 10AM.
There was plenty of stuff in the swap meet including about a dozen engines for sale.  Of course I loaded up on Crosley gunk- I found an extra set of doors for my Super Sport, some NOS tires (ten bucks each!), a vintage clock radio and a forged steel crank that looked (and micrometered) like new.
I was a little bummed that the number of cars was down - I think there were 11 total.  It didn't help that four cars that are always at the meet were no shows this year: Dave Brodsky blew the engine in his convertible the day before the meet, Lee Osborn hadn't quite recovered from reassembling his '55 special after blowing the clutch (and nearly losing the tranny) at Monterey, The axle failed on Mike Bainter's tow vehicle just before the meet (he had to rent a car just to get there himself), and last, Ardell Johnson just wasn't up to the drive all the way from Oregon- this is the FIRST meet he's missed in 26 years.
If there weren't as many cars this year as usual, the ones that were there were nice.  Continuing the trend I've noticed over the past few years, the quality of the restorations is going way up.  The cars at this year's meet were undoubtedly some of the nicest Crosleys in the country, and Hemmings mag star Ron Bauman continues to lead the way.  This time he brought a very nice roundside pickup, making for three pickups at the meet!
On the other end of the pickup spectrum was my contribution to the meet.  I brought a very rough, partially complete, total hillbilly-mobile.  All it needed was a Joad in the driver's seat to complete the picture.  Liv and I had picked this up outside of Salt Lake City just last weekend, meaning that it had covered about 1000 miles in the past 7 days.  I'll detail the story of that trip in another post, but the short version is that I got it home, went through my parts stash and made it as complete as I could before it went to Buellton.  I found most of the rest of the missing parts in Buellton and added them to the load in the back of the truck.  It was for sale, but nobody bit.
Another thing that was 'new' this year was the tour to Solvang.  We usually have a funkana - a silly driving-skills test - in the parking lot, but this time we went back to an old idea: a trip.   After lunch a whole herd of Crosleys roared off to Solvang, about 10 miles away for an hour or so.  I ended up missing the trip, but everyone had a great time, and the cars ran well.  Kudos to the Dunners who led the way in their nice Hotshot.  Next year I plan to be driving MY car in the pack!
When the troops got back we held the much-improved Crosley raffle.  People donated some amazing stuff, including a complete set of new Crosley hubcaps- worth about $300!  I won a vintage model kit, still in the shrink wrap, and a FarmoRoad manual.
After the raffle we milled around checking out the cars.  There were quite a few that I'd never seen before.  This CC 'vert used to belong to Dave 'Slo-Cal Special' Wheeler, but the new owner had rodded it to the extreme.  He drove it in but I don't think he drove it on the tour to Solvang.  That would have rattled some windows!
Another 'car' that didn't go on the tour was this beautiful rolling chassis.  Owner Bob King JUST got into Crosleys last year... he jumped in with both feet, buying three in one day!  This should be installed under a car soon and will be a nice complement to the CD wagon Bob DID take to Solvang.  Sounds like he's done more Crosleying in the past year than I've done in the past five.
That was the story of a lot of the new folks: work work work.  The couple who inherited the 'garage find' Crosley I wrote about last year have it nearly finished.  The Browns have done an incredible frame-off mild custom, and it's probably only a couple of months away from being done.  The pictures they brought showed the progress and it was amazing to see the transformation - I can't wait to see it at the next meet.  They had a fun time at the meet and heartily agreed that Crosley folks are super.
Another example of new Crosley work was Gary Cochrane's Super Sport.  He'd recently completed a resto-mod on his car, converting it to a Datsun-powered automatic so his wife Jan could also drive it.  The conversion was very cleanly done, and that dark paint showed off the outstanding bodywork.  Unfortunately Gary got a bug and took off early, so I never got a ride.
I also missed a ride in Mike and Robin Stoner's FOR which had a freshly rebuilt engine.  They drive this thing everywhere, so I'm not surprised that they wore a motor out.  This time they had the motor built by Bonneville daredevils the Liebherrs, so I suspect it'll go a long time.
After we closed up the meet we got together for the banquet/business meeting at the Firestone taproom.  We ate til we couldn't move and Mike Bainter announced the results of the People's Choice Awards.  It was no surprise that a freshly-finished Skorpion from San Jose took the Best of.  Incredibly, the owner had started this project FIFTY-FOUR YEARS AGO, and completed it this year!
He was genuinely stunned when he won, but there was no question he deserved it.   The car - and the story - were absolutely incredible.  There was a bit of discussion about the Bob Carson Award; Dave and Aileen Brodsky were nominated for blowing the motor in their car the day before the meet, and I nominated the couple who had come all the way from Seattle (not in a Crosley, mind you) to see the meet.  I was also nominated for hauling the tetanus pickup out from Salt Lake City, but as I said at the meet, 'No problems!'  In the end, the Brodskys took home the gold.
The next morning we all met up for breakfast and then we were homeward bound.  As always, I started thinking about the next year's meet before I'm out of the hotel parking lot on the way home... Can't wait!


Barry & Jan Welch said...

Congrats to all you crazy West Coast Crosley freaks that attended the meet. The cars look amazing!

Ol' Man Foster said...

Thanks! They sound good too...

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a Crosley flat side pickup for a year or so. Please e-mail "Goktady@socal.rr.com" Goktady, that's Korean for Tall man, it's really "Bridgelegs" but who's picky when they are all 5 foot tqll or so. I'm 6' 9". If you find one in similar condition to the "BUELLTON OR BUST" Truck, that's what I'm looking for. That looks like a '48 or so.
Bob Farwell
Huntington Beach CA

Ol' Man Foster said...

Hi Bob- They're out there- I'll keep you posted if I see anything!