Posts Tagged ‘Diamond T truck’

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m once again working on the long neglected ’59 T’Bird.  Part of the inspiration for the re-build came from a Rod & Custom Magazine “Sketchpad”, wherein automotive artist Keith Blacks rendering of a Square-Bird inspired by the Hirohata Merc was featured a couple of years ago.  I’m not copying the car, but several features of that rendering have found their way onto my ‘Bird.

Today, I had the thrill of seeing THE Hirohata Merc, the inspiration for that artwork, at the Gilmore Car Museum in my own backyard.  Not only did it inspire the rendering that inspired me, but it also inspired me to invest, several years ago, in a ceramic model of the car from the Peterson Museum, one of only 100 produced.  The little care graces an end table in our living room.

Funny, isn’t it, how things seem to work out?  Here are some photos of the real Merc, which inspired the artwork that inspired me.

THE definitive custom car.

THE definitive custom car.



Eric Blacks artwork

Eric Blacks artwork

Maybe the bumpers should be chromed...

Maybe the bumpers should be chromed…

For some reason last night I couldn’t load the images of Eric’s Thunderbird version of the Hiroata car. Got ’em now though, so you can see how the two totally different cars get get wildly customized, but keep their identity. And keep inspiring guys like me.


Inspired by a challenge from my pal “Crafty B”, I hit the ‘Bird again this afternoon, finishing up the metal work on the right front fender and headlight.  I “tucked” the fender around the Caddy bezel, and filled all the resultant gaps.  Then, the headlight bucket got welded into the body, and all the gaps filled where I had to re-shape the pan under the headlights.

The front bumper needs to be trimmed and re-shaped to make it fit the body line better, so I spent a little time figuring out how to accomplish that.  An inch needs to come off each side to have the side of the bumper line up with the fender lip.  This will require cutting the ends off the bumper, trimming the needed material off, re-shaping the arch at the top, and fitting the end back on the center part.  I don’t want to cut it out of the middle, that would narrow the grill opening, which I don’t want to do, and the brackets would no longer fit.  So, it’ll get cut up.  As long as I’m cutting, the rectangular park/turn lights are going away, to  be replaced with round driving lights frenched into the bumper.

I’m also showing the modifications made to the dash, as it got dropped along with the windshield frame.  That meant cutting it all apart, raising the “pods” the instruments and glove box are in.  This actually makes the dash more closely match the “humps” in the tonneau, which fade into the character “humps” in the deck lid.

It’s all coming together.

New fender peak to match the Caddy headlights

New fender peak to match the Caddy headlights

Fender tucked around the Caddy headlight bezel.

Fender tucked around the Caddy headlight bezel.

Dash mods.

Dash mods.

New profile.

New profile.

And, just so you don’t think I spent all of this glorious October day in the shop, here’s a photo of some fall color on the way home from Crafty B’s Geezer Coffee this morning. I drove the Diamond T, a great day all in all!

Hickory Gold.

Hickory Gold.

Diamond T, Big Red Truck.

Diamond T, Big Red Truck.

DSC05585My fiend Ric mentioned today that he and some other local rodders had arranged to meet for a photo shoot at the Park Theater in Augusta.  The theater has been closed since 1996, but owner, who opened it in ’49, and is now 84 years old, was going to light the neon marquee lights, and the local fire department would be there to hose the street down.  Would we like to be part of it?

You bet!

At 7:30, we met half a dozen other local hot rodders in front of the theater, and waited for the “right” light.  This was tricky, because that lasts only for a minute or so, and we had to jockey the cars around so everybody could a shot of their own car if they wanted.  With the help of the Augusta Fire Department and their bank of halogen lights on the pumper, we made the “right” light last much longer than just that instant at dusk.

It was lots of fun, we all got some great shots, and most of them are going back tomorrow to do it again.

DSC05608Kim and went to the movies there many times when we were dating, and continued to the the shows until the theater closed in ’96.  The last movie I specifically remember seeing was “Billy Jack”, but I know we saw others after that.  The theater lobby is very mid-century hip, the long, thin brick fireplace was always going, and the owner, always in a black tuxedo with a red bow tie, was the usher.  His wife sold tickets, and the rest of the family sold popcorn and sodas.  It was a great place.

Come along as we go back to the movies…


Canners giving the secret sign at Kearny, NB.

Canners giving the secret sign at Kearny, NB.

We’ve done it again.  Fifty  people, nine dogs, with 2 veteran RV’s, one ex-Dead-Head hippie bus, two hot-rodded trucks, a bone stock “survivor” ’53 Buick and 21 vintage trailers, headed out across the Midwest on a 2400 mile tour of Americas Heartland.

Here’s a re-cap of the highlights of the trip for us.  It’s not a mile by mile accounting, just some pictures of the good memories we made with our TCT family.

We gathered in Ashland, OH, on the third weekend of June to start our journey, coming from Florida to the south, and Ontario to the north.  The first stop was (in retrospect) maybe the nicest, on the grounds of a Vo-Ed center.  We had shade, grass, ample electric hook up, and port-o-johns.  While we lacked showers, water hook-ups or a dump station, it would prove to be, thanks to our hosts, the most relaxing stay we made.  The beautiful rolling green hills of eastern Ohio were a great background for the vintage trailers, trucks and RV’s.  The hospitality and enthusiasm of the people who attended the open house was welcoming.  For me, maybe the best stop of the entire trip.

Sandy and Helen's Cree, Dawns '66 Nova and Scotty, Matt and Brians "Stanely".

Sandy and Helen’s Frolic, Dawns ’66 Nova and Scotty, Matt and Brians “Stanley”.

Brian and Kim's Diamond T and Spartan Manor.

Brian and Kim’s Diamond T and Spartan Manor.

Coincidentally, the ATHS was having a regional truck show in town, so on Saturday morning Kirk, Craig and I all jammed into the tiny cab of the Diamond T and headed for the fairgrounds.  Lets suffice to say that the three of us were “cozy” for the trip!  It was a fun diversion, with not one but THREE other Diamond T trucks.  Two 201 pickups, and a bigger 509 with a grain mill on the back.

Kissin Cousins.

Kissin Cousins.

Unrestored 201

Unrestored 201

I will leave out details of our stop in Mansfield, OH, and the visit to the penitentiary there.  Suffice it to say, it wasn’t my favorite part of the tour.  Lets just say I wouldn’t do well in prison…DSCF2248Image

Goshen Indiana is a prosperous looking town just east of Elkhart, and Kim and I stopped for a soda and mid-day rest.  In the town square is a little fortress, supposedly built to dissuade crooks in the bootlegger days of the roaring 20’s from enjoying a soda or robbing the bank across the street.  It looked imposing, and by report had a 50 caliber machine gun mounted in the turret at the top.  We did not attempt any heist, but paid for the sodas instead.

Police fort in Goshen IN

Police fort in Goshen IN

Lunch-counter in Goshen, IN.

Lunch-counter in Goshen, IN.


At the RV Heritage Museum in Elkhart, I was tempted to search for a veteran heavy truck to build my own version of Mae Wests housecar, but that thought faded after we left.  Strong storms through the night shook the campers in the parking lot behind the museum where we were encamped, and had us leaving in cloudy, rainy skies the next morning.  A couple of the rigs got a little “cranky”, requiring some impromptu  repairs, that ended up needing professional intervention.  Thank goodness our pal Mike Greene was there, his shop close by with expert help, advice, and specialized service.  One Onan generator, one fridge that didn’t cool, and one leaky door, all better thanks to Mike and his crew.  Thanks, buddy!

Mike Greene, watching me cobble a weatherstrip job.  He did offer me a job...

Mike Greene, watching me cobble a weatherstrip job. He did not offer me a job…

RV Heritage Museum, Elkhart, IN

RV Heritage Museum, Elkhart, IN

"Behula, peel me a grape."

“I can fix this.”

As always, the visit to the museum collection left me wanting to build something, but since I have no place to store a vintage house-car, that isn’t going to happen.  Besides, we already have 4 vintage campers, how many do two people need?

Pierce Arrow house-car.

Pierce Arrow house-car.

"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to se me?”  Mae West’s studio house-car.

Then, it was on to Elgin IL.  We’d made an attempt at Mike’s shop, to staunch a leaky entry door, and were a little late leaving, so chose to take I-80 through Chicago-land.  A good choice of routes, as Rt. 30 through Joliet is evidently not the quickest way to get around the Windy City…

From there, things sort of blended together for me.  Perhaps if we lived in a big city, the drive through the mid-west would have been more entertaining.  Living in rural America, it was mostly like driving around our neighborhood.   That, combined with my lack of keeping a daily journal, makes it hard now to remember where everything I took pictures of was, and what town was where.  So, here are some random interesting things we saw along the way, somewhere in Illinois and Iowa…

Mike and Frank were not there.

Mike and Frank were not there.

Preston's station, Belle Isle, IA

Preston’s station, Belle Isle, IA

DSC05152 (1024x768)

Lincoln Highway bridge, Tama, IA

Lincoln Highway bridge, Tama, IA

King Tower Café, Tama, IA

King Tower Café, Tama, IA

Somewhere in Iowa...

Somewhere in Iowa…

Crossing the Mississippi in Clinton, IADSCF2340

DSC05186 (1024x768)

Kate Shelly Bridge.

Kate Shelly Bridge.

Closed traffic bridge just upstream from Kate Shelly bridge.  Kim did not jump off this one...

Closed traffic bridge just upstream from Kate Shelly bridge. Kim did not jump off this one…

Mile high Trestle

Mile high Trestle

Regan's boyhood home.

One of the many murals along the way.

One of the many murals along the way.

Once in Kearny, we were fortunate to find ourselves in what was, for that part of the country, a little “cold spell”.  Temps were in the low 80’s rather than the usual high 90’s to 100’s, and we were (relatively) comfortable at the fairgrounds camping area.  One thing the fairgrounds did provide was a 360 degree view of the constant fireworks around the city on Saturday night.  It looked like everybody in town bought a thousand dollars worth of fireworks, and started setting them off all around us.  It was quite a show.

Coke sing in Kearny

Coke sign in Kearny

"Camping" in Kearny, NB


Miss Nebraska.  Really.

Miss Nebraska. Really.

Kirk and I took a side trip to Marquette NE to visit a guy from the HAMB (Hokey Assed Message Board).  His shop/man-cave is a 1911 Ford dealership, and after we found the place (his directions were, well, let’s just say “sketchy”) we had a great time and a nice visit.  He has a great collection of cars and automobilia, and hands down, the coolest work bench on the planet.  Thanks, Mayor Dennis!IMG_0707


Coolest work bench ever

Coolest work bench ever

Back in Kearny, we found a repair shop with a beautiful neon sign out front of the art deco facade, and a vintage fire truck inside they were restoring.  The owner, Dan, was very friendly and happy to let us climb all over the fire truck and make siren noises…

Vroom!  Vroom!

Vroom! Vroom!

Kim and I had been given a Spartan trailer brochure from the 1950 Spartanette by a local guy, whose Aunt had bought it new in 1950 and lived in it untill her death just a few years ago.  When he brought it to us, he’d told us that the trailer was still in town, and right where his aunt had lived.  The property was bought by a landscape nursery, he didn’t know what they were doing with the trailer, but it was still on the property.  We had no trouble finding it, it was just down the street from Bill’s Liquor Store  (a place we visited often during our stay!).

The trailer indeed was still there, and looked like it did the last time that lady had shut the door.  Mailbox still out front, electric cord still plugged in, propane tanks out front.  It looked very cool, but it was Sunday, the store was closed so no one to talk to, and, even if they gave it away, it was $2,000 away from home.  Fun find though, and the brochure and owners manual from it are AWESOME!

Imperial Spartanette

Imperial Spartanette


Let's just hitch it up and go!

Let’s just hitch it up and go!


A visit to Kearny isn’t complete without a visit to the Classic Auto Museum, located in the Cabela’s complex, and we took it in as a group with the rest of the TCT travelers. It seems I have good taste in cars, because a twin of our ’48 Pontiac convert was there, along with a ringer for the only car I’ve ever regretted selling, a white ’59 Ford Skyliner Retractable, and a ’71 Ford Country Squire exactly like the one Kim’s folks had when we were in high school.

'48 Pontiac 'vert.  Same color as ours.

’48 Pontiac ‘vert. Same color as ours.

'71 Country Squire.

’71 Country Squire.

Friday, it was time to pack up and go.  We caravanned with Kirk and Beth, and stopped in Lincoln NB to see Speedy Bill’s “Museum of American Speed”.  For me, this was the highlight of the trip, it was amazing.  Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to publish pictures  of the collection, so you, gentle reader, will have to take my word that it’s a collection of race cars, speed equipment, toys, pedal cars, Indy cars, sprint cars, midgets, and Miller engines the likes of which you’ll never see in one place, anywhere.  I can show you a picture of us at the parts counter buying $60 worth of T-shirts and signs to save $20 admission to the collection.  Speedy Bill is a smart business man!

Image 3From there, it was on (almost) to Des Moines, where Kim and Beth were able to score us sites in a REAL campground on a the 4th of July weekend, with shade, grass, water, and electric.  It was a nice stop, a great place to kick back and reflect on the trip, and get ready for the 500 mile trek home the next day.  Good job ladies!

Look at those big smiles!  Those are some happy campers, right there.

We headed out early in the morning on Saturday, we’d initially planned going to Peru Indiana, and visiting Dan Pipers “Vintage”, but when we looked at the map, it was as far there as it was to just go on home from Des Moines.  So, after a brief discussion, we all decided we’d been on the road long enough, and headed for Chicago-land.  We blew through in the afternoon with no trouble, no traffic, no problems.  At the Michigan Welcome Center, we stopped and bade good-by to our friends, and headed on home.Image 1

It was a good trip.  The Diamond T performed flawlessly, on what was basically a shake-down run.  Well, other than an initial low power steering fluid leak, which magically stopped after adding a little fluid.  We got an average of 12 mpg, which was a little less than I initially thought we were getting, but pretty good considering we were towing our house on back roads, into the wind.  No troubles, other than I admit it is a little loud, and A/C would be nice.

Image 2Would we do it over?  I’d have to say yes.  The journey was not the trip itself, but the experience of doing it with our Tin Can Tourist family.  As with all families, there are occasional disagreements, conflicts and minor aggravations, but in the end, it’s still family.  We met some new folks, got better acquainted with some people we didn’t know very well before, and became close friends  with some.  Certainly I wouldn’t have picked central Nebraska in July for a vacation destination, in a parking lot, but it was fun.  We ate some killer barbecue, got to meet Miss Nebraska (who seemed to be every bit as nice as all the other Nebraskans we met), and saw some really cool old stuff.  I even began to like the trains.

Happy Trails!

Happy Trails!

It’s July 4th, we’re still encamped in the dusty gravel parking lot at the Buffalo Co. fairgrounds in Kearny, NE.  The wind machine here in Nebraska is cranking up today, strong southerly winds are blowing hotter air than we’ve been having in from the hot southwest.  Today, upper 80’s to low 90’s, and increasingly hotter through the weekend.

That’s OK, we’re leaving tomorrow and heading home.

IMG_0715IMG_0761Last night, we went out for another barbecue pork and brisket fest at “Skeeters”, and ordered an embarrassing amount of food, even for the four of us.  A rack of ribs, 2 complete, halved chickens, a slab of brisket that looked like a third of a cow, and what had to have been all of the pulled pork left in the kitchen.  Plus, an endless supply of coldslaw, mashed sweet bourbon sweet potatoes and baked beans.

We made a valiant effort, but we had to throw in the towel after eating about a third.  It was enough for at least 8 people, and we have a fridge full of barbecue to eat today.  And tomorrow.  And probably the next day.

The fireworks show was great, and we had front and center seats at the hotel parking lot next to Skeeters (now my favorite BBQ joint!).  It lasted a long time, and leaving was easy as pie, we were back at the fairgrounds in less than 10 minutes.

Speaking of pie…

IMG_0690IMG_0699The open house for the trailers was in the afternoon, and we had some worries that nobody would show up.  Those worries were allayed when people started rolling in at about 2:30.  Evidently, the Lincoln Highway Auto Tour organization was rather hap-hazard, and those folks were told our open house was from 2 to 4, not 4 to 7.  One couple opined that their entire tour from the west coast had been this way, and they were ready for it to all be over.

I baked a rhubarb pie in the oven so the trailer smelled like pie, and set it on the stove grate to cool during the open house.  It smelled great. and everyone commented on it.  It was fun.  Kim suggested I simply bay a scented candle, but you can’t eat a candle, and everybody likes pie…

IMG_0687IMG_0683Terry counted 139 people through their Wayzless, and we must have had the same.  Kirk and I did a little traffic control with Herby Curby’s to prevent looky-loo’s from simply driving around and in between the trailers (yes, people really did this) which helped a little to keep dust down as well.  We’d already parked our trucks in front of the trailers, between them and the paved drive, as quite a few people thought simply driving by the front of the trailers on the gravel at 30 mph was a good way to see all of them quickly.  And raise huge clouds of dust.  After that, 1t all went pretty well.

And, we have pie for today…

IMG_0679IMG_0682Earlier in the day we’d all gone to a restaurant in town for lunch as a group.  It was VERY good, although tempting to over eat at the buffet.  Since I was planning on a pork-fat-barbecue-fest for supper, I was trying to pace myself, but I may have re-visit our diet plan to make up for the excess calorie intake of yesterday.  We had a very nice lunch, a great wrap-up review from Terri Evans, then retired back to the fairgrounds for a group photo-op before the open house.  It all worked out great.

IMG_0707IMG_0775So, the trip is almost over.  Tomorrow we’ll head for Lincoln and the “Museum of American Speed” at Speedway Auto to see Speedy Bill’s collection of cool old stuff, but today we’re just hanging out here watching our fellow canners head home.  Half  a dozen of us happy canners are staying, relaxing and getting a little dog therapy for the long trip home.

We’ll update a little more and have details of the return trip, and some details of more we did while we were here, but for now, so long from Kearny Nebraska!


Image 24Image 20Yesterday morning found us arriving at the Buffalo Co. Fairgrounds.  We and our friends Kirk and Beth headed out early from Boone to avoid the afternoon wind machine, and got to Kearny just after 1100 am.  After a little confusion at first, we all got settled in and hooked up, ready to start our stay here in Nebraska.  The rest of our group came rolling in throughout the day.

Image 22We had some time to explore town a bit, and get ready for todays parade downtown.  By report, over 12.000 people came into town for the party, it certainly looked like that many from the parade route.  One of our group arranged at the last-minute for those of us with vintage cars towing the trailers to participate in the parade, which worked out well.  The rest of the group of Canners filled up an entire city block with trailers, and those of us in the parade joined in at the back afterwards.

Image 27

Image 26The Diamond T and Spartan were a hit with the crowd, getting cheers and applause when we passed.  It was fun.  By all report, the cars and trailers garnered the most enthusiastic response from the crowd watching.

Image 31More tomorrow when we visit the Arch over i-80, and other exciting events!

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Image 18We’re relaxing just west of Blair, NB at the Armstrong Co. Fairgrounds.  It was another day long thrash to drive about 150 miles, but perhaps starting the days travels at a winery was part of the problem…

Image 16We left Boone and the fairgrounds next to the railroad switching yard (Fun fact.  Did you know railroad yards have their own smell?  It’s creosote and hot brake linings.) and backtracked about 10 miles east to the town of Madrid (that’s MADrid, for you non-Iowa natives) and paid a visit to Snus Winery.  Yes, Snus, rhymes with Zeus, winery.  It was a fun way to start the day, we sample some very good Iowa wines, VERY good Pinot Noir, and came home with a couple of bottles.  Sharp eyed readers will note that I am holding the bottle in my right hand, but we weighed it and it’s less than two pounds.  Dr’s orders!

Image 17After that we drove west on Highway 210 a short distance to the High Trestle Bridge trailhead, and walked about a mile to the bridge.  This is a train trestle, built in the 70’s and abandoned in the 90’s, tracks taken up, leaving just the giant piers.  It was then sold or given to Rails to Trails” group, and a beautiful concrete roadway was built over the Missouri river, about a mile.  Image 19Steel arches over the bridge represent area coal mine shafts.  They are sometimes illuminated at night, which looks spectacular.  Concrete arches decorated with dark stones in veins representing the layers of soft coal in the area stand at each end of the roughly 1/2 mile long-span.  It was beautiful looking out over the mighty river, swollen and muddy, racing under the bridge.  A very fun diversion, and a great way to spend an hour or so.

Image 13From there we continued on down the Lincoln Highway to the little farm town of Jefferson IA.  It’s the prototypical midwestern late 1900’s town, laid out in neat squares, with beautiful brick storefronts.  It’s also the county seat, and has a typical county courthouse building in the main square.

Image 12In front of the courthouse is a bronze of Abe Lincoln, seen at left.  Just to the west of that, in stark contrast to the 1900’s look and feel of the rest of town, is a 14 story tall bell tower, very 60’s modern.  We rode the elevator to the top observation deck, and the view of the (very flat) surrounding country side was beautiful.  The docent told us we could see beyond the county in all directions, and pointed out the massive concrete grain silos in every surrounding county’s large towns.  The thought occurred to me that they could have saved the money and just put bells on a grain silo, but that would sort of take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?

We did look down at the street and see our Diamond T and Spartan at the curb from Image 11a very different perspective.  I noticed that the roof needs polishing…  Can you spot it in the picture at left?  A stop at the dairy bar right across the street from the truck and trailer netted me a delicious root beer float, and Kim a strawberry malt.  We left recharged, and headed back out for the rest of the days travels

Another fun fact.  In the afternoon on the prairie, the giant wind machine cranks up, and gale force winds greeted us on the  highway as soon as we got away from the shelter of the towns trees.  Which explains why they planted trees in the towns and around homesteads.

It was so windy, and we drove straight into it for a ways back north to Rt. 30, that I was afraid it would blow the big plastic window out of the front of the Spartan.  Happily, it held against a 50 mph headwind at 55 mph, and we (mostly) stayed in our lane for the rest of the day.  For a few miles, on a couple of occasions, we were lucky to pace freight trains on tracks right along the route that blocked the wind for us, but mostly it was a tussle.  Once I got used to the way the truck handled, and realized how much (or little) I actually needed to steer to keep it on the road, it wasn’t too bad.  At least we didn’t get blown off the road, or into oncoming traffic.

We had wanted to visit the De Soto National Wildlife Refuge, the sight of a bizarre shipwreck recovery.  In the 1860’s a paddle wheel river boat rammed a snag in a river bend and immediately sank, taking with her all her cargo.  All the passengers and crew were saved, and most spent the nigh on shore, after the crew reportedly tore lumber from the ship and built shelters, also salvaging the ships cook stoves and provisions.  They had a tasty hot supper, I suppose.

The ships cargo, supplies bound for the west and gold rush, were largely lost, and the ship itself soon filled with mud and silt, and was simply left on the bottom of the 12-20 foot deep river.  The river then changed course, leaving the wreck, with it’s cargo (including over a thousand bottles of champagne!) became buried under 20 feet of earth, miles from the current river channel.  It was found in a cornfield in the late 60’s, forgotten for over 100 years.

There is a nice display of some of the recovered artifacts, although most had to be removed a couple of years ago when the river flooded visitor center.  We had to make a whirlwind visit as the museum was closing, but it was still VERY interesting.  A good stop.  Image 10

Tonight we will once again be lulled to sleep by train whistles and the rumble of the tracks, before we head out tomorrow for Kearny. We’ll be there over the fourth of July, so we’ll have a chance to see the sights (?) there at our leisure.

Stay tuned!


Image 9A breaded tenderloin, on a bed of smoked, thin sliced ham, piled high with pulled pork, and topped with bacon.  With cheese.   Yessir, that’s a SAMMICH!  Add a pound or so of onion rings (recommended by the waitress, who’s menu advice was, “Lotsa folks have the onion rings with that.”  OK then…) and you’ve got the “Porky’s Revenge”  sandwich at the Lucky Pig, in Ogden Iowa.

Pork fat rules!

Todays travels, culminating with the above pork fat fest, from Sleepy Hollow campground in Oxford, to Boone, were an easy 120 miles.  I only got aggravated a couple of times, jigging and jogging around on (what may or may not have been) the Lincoln Highway.  The final straw came after waiting a half an hour at a railroad crossing for a mile long train to pass, then  back up 10 feet, then pull forward, then back up, then have another train pass, then finally move off the crossing, only to reveal a “Road Closed” sign a hundred yards past the crossing.  All this, as turns out, within sight of where we are now staying.

The sandwich made up for it though.

Image 5Yesterday we stopped at the “American Pickers” store “Antique Archeology” in Le Claire IA.  The store is mainly a set for the show, but it was fun to go there.  The drive down, along the Mississippi river for about 15 miles of beautiful river view was worth the trip. The store was packed with fans buying t-shirts and coffee mugs.  More power to Mike and Frank.




ImageWe had left from Geneva IL, and a night spent in the fairgrounds there.  Dinner was a catered affair, held in the cavernous exhibit building, which could have easily accommodated all our rigs.  A group of carny’s staying in the same lot made a very diverse bunch of campers.

Image 4Torrential rain in the morning had us stopping at Lowes next to the fairgrounds for some aluminum tape, which I thought might be a temporary way to stem the leak from the front door  As it turns out, the leak was not from the door, but from the wheel wells of the trailer.  This revelation resulted in a stop at Wal-Mart for some roofing caulk in a tube, a caulk gun, and (once everything dried out) a stop in a parking lot somewhere along I-80 to pull the wheels to clean and caulk the joint between floor and wheel house.

I think we got it.  At least, my fingers were well tarred…

After that little chore, we continued the short distance to “Sleepy Hollow”, a campground also right off I-80.  It was very nice, the owners provided supper, free stay and a pancake breakfast this morning.  The also had a very refreshing pool, which felt great after a long and sometimes frustrating day of travel.

Todays tour along Lincoln Highway had some interesting stops.  We found a nice winery, a historic bridge with quaintly homemade looking letters spelling out “The Lincoln Highway” in the railings, lots of desperate small town downtowns trying to stay viable, and a few great photo ops.

Here are few from the two days travels…


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Tomorrow, it’s more sightseeing here around Boone, then on to Blair, NB, where we hope to find more pork-fat goodness awaiting!






I know what you’re thinking:  “What happened to day 3, Brian?”DSCF2230

What happened was, by the end of yesterday, I was tired and stressed out from being blown all over the road, and from being pretty severely creeped out from our (very lengthy) tour of the Mansfield penitentiary, the site where “Shawshank Redemption” was filmed.

The day started out innocently, and cheerfully enough, with a beautiful sunrise, and coffee and donuts with our TCT friends.  I washed the walnut tree sap off the truck, so as not to be one-upped by Hunt Jones’s GMC (which he had been polishing at 0600) and we headed out on beautifully rolling country roads to Mansfield Ohio.

We rolled in at about 1000, an hour before the prison tours began, so Kim and I drove downtown, where, of Imagecourse, everything else was closed as well.  We walked around a bit, looking for a coffee shop we’d read about, but didn’t find, and headed back to the prison.

By then, many of our fellow travelers were there, and we headed in for a self guided tour.  The building itself is Image 1a Gothic/Victorian palace, or the facade of a palace, which was supposed to inspire inmates to…”Abandon their sinful ways and adopt a more productive lifestyle…”  It was certainly imposing enough, but the interior, once one got past the administrative and wardens residential area, was a monument to depression, torture, and what had to be utterly depressing and de-humanizing.

It was truly awful. DSCF2248 The cell block was 6 stories of steel cages, meant to house 1500 hardened criminals, but in reality housed up to almost 6,000 by the 1960’s.  It was a mess of peeling pain, rusted steel, and peeling plaster.  I’d have left, but hey, its prison, after all, and once in, there was no way, or no QUICK way, out.  As many prisoners found as well.

Kim was fascinated by the place, but it left a cloud over me that didn’t lift all day, and the afternoons storms and getting repeatedly turned around driving didn’t help DSCF2256my increasingly bad mood.

We did see some interesting things along the way to Van Wert, an old Sinclair station beside a bar in Lima (who’s seamy underbelly we saw ALL of on the way!), and a couple of interesting looking limestone markers, DSCF2262which we couldn’t find a place to turn around to see what they marked after we passed.  You can’t just whip a truck and trailer around on a two lane road to find a historical marker…

After a shower and good nights sleep at the (very nice) fairgrounds in Van Wert, I awoke in a much better mood, and we headed out for Elkhart, IN, a mere 80 miles from our home!  We’re staying at the RV Heritage Museum here, and are all tucked in the lot behind the building.

We had a very relaxing drive, nothing yesterdays hurricane challenge, and stopped in Goshen at a soda counter, had a snack, and got here happy and ready for an evening of fun.

Tomorrow, our goal is to get around Chicago without driving on I-80, and arrive in Geneva in one piece.  It’ll be our longest travel day, a little over 200 miles.

Stay tuned for more!





DSCF2184We’d heard yesterday there was an ATHS truck show at the fairgrounds today, so Kirk, Craig and I all squeezed into the Diamond T, and headed down.  Imagine my surprise when we found there was not one, not two , but no less than THREE Diamond T’s there, two 201’s (pickups, like ours) and a 509 with a grain mill mounted on the chassis.  Pretty cool.

DSCF2186The unrestored one, above, was totally original, down to the pin striping on the green belt line stripe.  Didn’t see or have a chance to talk to any of the owners, but I got some pictures.


We stayed for about an hour, then headed back, stopping at an Advance Auto Parts store to by some power steering fluid, as the pump started howling when I turned into the fairgrounds.

DSCF2193We got back to the campsite, Kirk lent me some coveralls, and I added some power steering fluid.  Easy, once I took the left front wheel off to get to the pump!  Happily, Kirk and Craig took pity on me, and put the wheel back on!