Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 West Coast Crosley Club Meet - Part 1

I'm still recovering from the festivities at the West Coast Crosley Club's 30th Anniversary shindig this past weekend in the Gold Country: three days of Crosley shenanigans, 70+ Crosley fans, 23 Crosleys (or variants) and 160 miles in the driver's seat of a 26.5 horsepower mighty mite really takes it out of you.

Of course it didn't help that I'd been humping pretty hard to get everything ready in time.  Some readers may not be aware that our original September date for the meet had to be postponed because of the massive Butte Fire, which tore through the Gold Country, and came within a few miles of our meet site last month.  My friend Marty and his wife (who did lots of legwork on the meet) actually had to evacuate their house in Jackson and there was a very real question whether we might have to cancel the meet altogether.  Luckily, the wind took the fire away from the cluster of Gold Rush era towns that we had chosen for the meet, and the region escaped with relatively few losses compared to neighboring Calveras County.  We pushed the date back to October 24-25 and hoped that most members could reschedule.

Aside from rushing to redo planning for the meet, I was hustling in order to have a running Crosley ready to drive to the event.

Last year, after a week in which I drove to Colorado, trailered a deep storage Crosley home, then trailered it to the annual meet in Buellton, and then home again, I had a revelation: I'm done with trailers.  I didn't get into old cars so I could haul them around behind an appliance car - I got into old cars because I love driving them.  After last year's meet I swore I'd drive a Crosley to the next one.
I'll have to hold the details for another post, but I recently ended up selling the Denver wagon to a pal so that I could buy a different Crosley wagon - more on that soon.  This 'new' Crosley, a 1950 Super Station Wagon, was fairly straight and sorted, but hadn't run since 2009, so I had to redo the brake system, tinker with the electrics and do general clean up.  It took a couple of months, but by the meet date, it was running beautifully.

On Friday afternoon I loaded the car up with tools, spares, oil, water, gas and luggage and headed out on Highway 16 for Jackson.  I'd done a 50 mile road test through the Delta, but hadn't been on any highways or grades yet, so I wasn't sure how happy the car would be on commuter roads that climbed over 1200 feet in elevation.  My worries were unfounded. The Crosley buzzed along at 45, 50, 55, running smoothly aside from a loud rattle that came from a loose washer in the custom shift set up.

My biggest worry was varying my speeds.  A set of used pistons and a receipt for new rings and pistons had come with the car, so I figured I should drive as if I was seating the rings.  That means varying speeds/rpm during the break-in period, and since I didn't know if the car had been driven at all since the parts were installed, I figured I should err on the side of caution.  Not the easiest thing to do on a two lane highway with a 55-65mph speed limit, but I managed to do it while staying out of people's way.
Outside of Plymouth I turned on to Highway 49 and almost immediately began heading upward.  The Crosley plowed along, dropping to second gear on some of the steeper hills, but never heating up or feeling boggy.  I felt a genuine elation as I came to a familiar lookout spot I'd often thought of as the perfect place for a Crosley photoshoot - if I could only get a Crosley up the mountain that preceded it.
I got to Jackson about an hour after I left home -  not bad for a 45 mile trip that included plenty of hills.  The Friday night potluck crowd slowly assembled at the meet hotel.  As always, I was stoked to see friends that I only see once a year, and was happy to see a couple of Crosleys I didn't recognize.  The parking lot bustled with activity, but there weren't that many Crosleys in sight - I really hoped that our date change hadn't killed our attendance for the 30th Anniversary meet.

Liv showed up soon with the dogs and the extended Moe family - Jen and Mike, Liv's sister and brother in law, had offered to provide roadside assistance for Sunday's Crosley Cruise, and had come up with a truck and trailer.  Since they were bringing an empty trailer, I 'volunteered' them to haul the Denver wagon for my friend Dean - he'd managed to awaken it from its 46 year sleep earlier that week, but had only driven it two miles so far.  All involved thought it would be prudent not to drive it the 45 miles to the meet under the circumstances!
I fired up the wagon at 7AM the next morning, and after a good long warm up, headed over to our meet site.  We've had meets in the Gold Country before, but this was the first time we'd been able to book the Italian Friendship Society Park.  The Italian park is a little jewel of a venue - an old fairground with big oak trees, a small lawn, bocci ball courts, a covered picnic area, a 1940s cinder block meeting hall and plenty of parking all around.  I've wanted to use it since the first time we came up to Jackson but this was the first year we could get a reservation.  They'd even agreed to let us park on the grass, concours-style!
Club president Rick Alexander and treasurer Ronnie Bauman were already there, directing traffic, setting up the club store, unfolding chairs and helping get the swap meet going.  I helped direct traffic on the show field and by 9AM we had us a meet!  My worries about attendance were unfounded: in the end, we had 23 Crosley (or Crosley-ish) vehicles on hand, not quite a record, but dang close.

Longtime readers of this blog know (after at least a half dozen previous meet reports) what happens next: I provide a rundown of cars on hand, the stuff that traded hands at the swap meet, what got donated to the raffle, and then wrap up with the goings on at the club dinner.  I'll have the full details in the write-up in the next Tin Block Times, but for now i'm going to save us all a little time and just let the photos tell the story.

Next up: The Crosley Cruise.

The show field - that's a lotta Crosleys

First time out for Martha Straube's wagon - she picked up an award for a nice car

Gary Cochrane's Nissan-powered Super Sports heads a row of open cars

Club founder Dave Brodsky brought some rare and choice parts for the swap - I picked up a steel crank + strapped main crankcase and original JaBro paperwork.  Note Service Motors' 70 FOOT trailer full of Crosley parts in back!

Russell Martin brought this amazing custom Crosley/Indian/BMW build.  You can't see his awesome "Crosley Motorcycles" t shirt

Swap meet goodies

I 'borrowed' this photo of the '50 Farm-O-Road Firetruck from owner Bob Chase

Winner of the "Bob Carson" Award for Best Travel Adventure

Orv Madden has a buncha Packards and one Crosley - exactly like the one his folks had when he was a kid

Wagon row. The green Woodie up front picked up "Best of Show" - and earned it!  Exterior was beautiful and the interior was even better

That headliner!

Mike Chicconi and Bob King tinker with a new motor 

Nick Shelley and Bob Baxter with Bob's amazing Tin Block lamp - a total work of art!

Nick brought his freshly-finished electric conversion Farm-O-Road.  Amazing project! The Stoner's super clean coupe and Mike Blackburn's '51 delivery in back

Club prez Rick Alexander auctions off Sherri Stein's mind-bending project: hundreds of vintage club photos arranged to form a Crosley wagon. In a word: wow!

Don Rauch relaxes behind his shiny Braje-equipped Hot Shot

One of the coolest cars in the club: Glen Brynsvold started building his Skorpion in the fifties and still has - and drives - it!

Pride of the show: Kip Fjeld's Miller, Marty Stein's Siata and Lee Osborne's Shannon Special. Probably more horsepower here than in the rest of the show combined!

Ronnie Bauman with his newest toy - hard to believe this was a plain-jane stocker 15 months ago

Something for everybody


Jim... said...

Great report, looks like fun was had by all.


Dean said...

Super fun meet, and the wagon will make the drive next time the meet is in our general area. A big thanks to you and all the club members who pulled off the logistics for the meet.

Brian Bell said...

What a surprise, I can not think of a better home for Uncle Franks' wagon. All the more reason to quit 'lurking' and join the club. Hope to get his tractor out to one of the meets again.

Ol' Man Foster said...

Brian, I'm so glad to hear that the tractor stayed in the family! Would very much love to meet you and see it at a meet one of these days!