Friday, October 10, 2014

Denver or Bust: Part 1

So I was buying another Crosley - cue frantic scrambling.
First order of business was to figure out how I was gonna haul it 1000 miles over two major mountain ranges - my $50 trailer has done all I've asked of it, but that would have been a bit much.  I tried to rent a car hauler from U Haul but discovered that they weigh 1700 lbs - about 400 more than the Crosley.  I asked a few friends from the West Coast Crosley Club if they had a Crosley-sized trailer I could borrow and Dale Liebherr immediately offered up an open trailer that sounded perfect for the job - and I could pick it up in Minden on the way to Denver.
The tow vehicle was another question, and then I lucked out: my pal Tim had just bought a new Ford Transit and was itching to test it out on a little trip. Like me, Tim had friends in Denver, including Suzy, my friend who had inspected the Crosley for me - the same Suzy who had tolerated that Nash in her driveway all those years ago. After she moved out of Sacramento Tim and I had driven out to Denver to visit her a few times.  Once we rented a car Friday after work, drove 16 hours straight, hung out with Suzy for a half day then drove 16 hours back, getting home just in time to get a few hours of sleep before we had to be at work on Monday morning.  Ah, youth.

I've mentioned Tim White before - we've taken many a road trip together, and have been friends for nearly 25 years now.  He used to be an old car fanatic and, come to think of it, he was the very first person I met with an honest-to-god microcar- a Fiat Bianchina that he drove every day.  He'd cut his teeth on muscle cars back in his home state of Ohio but had switched allegiance to weird European iron shortly after arriving in California to start college.  By the time we got to be close friends he'd moved on to a 'big' car - a Triumph Spitfire.
Tim was a much better mechanic than me so I relied on him for advice and hands-on help whenever I got in over my head, which was often.  He'd given the thumbs up on the 'ran when parked' '51 Nash Airflyte I found, offering to help me work on it if I bought it.  I paid the $350 asking price, towed it to Suzy's driveway and Tim guided me through my first engine removal, the first time I'd attempted a really big car project.  I was floored at how straightforward the process was once we got started, and the project was a huge confidence booster for me.   I soon figured out that the engine (and the rest of the car) were toast, and had to sell it to a salvage yard.  When I asked Tim why he'd given the car a thumbs up, he laughed and said, "I knew you'd never get it running, but it'd be fun to mess around with."

Tim was a fan of the mid '60s American cars I drove in the early-mid nineties - I think he was a bit jealous of how reliable they were compared to his elegant - but finicky - Spit.  And, they held a lot more band equipment.  I can't count the number of times I hauled band members and gear to gigs in San Francisco in my '64 Galaxie, but Tim rarely ventured out of the 95814 zip code in his Spitfire.  Eventually he reached back to his roots, supplementing the Spitfire with a 4 door '69 Cadillac which he promptly made into a 'convertible' with a Sawzall.  THAT held a lot of band equipment.
When I got into Crosleys Tim shook his head.  Tiny European cars were one thing - clown cars were another matter entirely.  Still, he went with me to inspect both the '51 Super Sports that would become my first Crosley, and the '49 convertible that eventually became my daily driver.  But, by the late nineties he was burning out on cars altogether. He'd gotten tired of spending most of his money on parts and most of his weekends wrenching.  He sold the Spitfire and picked up a friend's 'reliable' Valiant wagon.  When it caught fire on the freeway it was the last straw - he sold it, bought a Subaru appliance vehicle and spent the next 15 years razzing me about my dumb car projects.

On Labor Day weekend we loaded up the Transit and headed east to pick up my latest dumb car project.  A quick stop in Minden to pick up the trailer also included a visit with Dale, and a sneak peak at the new location for Service Motors, which he had just purchased about six weeks before.   He'd brought one truckload back with him in July, but more than half of the Service Motors stock was still in Indiana.  I have no idea where he's going to fit it all - his warehouse/shop was jam packed with shelves of new, used and remanufactured parts and his home garage had been converted to a shipping and receiving office.   It's already a tight fit.
He walked us through an incredible array of Crosley gear, finally stopping at a row of old filing cabinets.  Opening a drawer, he pulled out a huge mechanical drawing - an original Crosley Motors parts blueprint.  He has every single one - every blueprint for everything Crosley Motors ever made.  The concept of it is overwhelming, and I'm glad that Service has ended up in the hands of such a great caretaker.

We hooked up the trailer and got on the road for Denver.  Only 1000 miles to go.

to be continued....

1 comment:

bkrsdoz said...

OK Tim, What did you find this time?
Hope it's a prewar!