Sunday, June 28, 2009

Driver Training

This is the IHC highwheeler we had out for training on Saturday. Ron Dane, Terry Whitledge (the "adopted parent" of this car), and Mark Cossen all got some time driving it. I just got started training Dan Gullickson on it when the rain started. Everyone ended with a smile and comments such as "Can't imagine driving this on the dirt roads and trails of the day."
I fired it up Sunday morning and was going to run over to the hotel and get a newspaper, but alas, the rain came again. bah humbug;;;

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1919 Ford Model T Wood Hauler

This Model T started life as a car, and as was common during the early years it was later stripped down and used for another purpose. This one was adapted to haul cut lengths of wood to the steam-powered sternwheelers that plied the Yukon and Tanana Rivers. It had wooden bunks on it that included a wooden seat bottom.

Notice that the front wheels are from a truck and have had the model T hubs welded into the center to keep it going. Living in the isolated far north during Alaska’s early days was a challenge, and vehicles were considered precious commodities. The territory’s pioneers wasted very little and often horded worn-out cars for parts or other future uses.

This heavily used model T was purchased from Agnes Simmons, wife of the late Charlie Simmons. Charlie acquired the vehicle in the 1950s. When the Fountainhead Museum salvaged it, we had to cut a few trees that had grown up through the chassis. thanks to Ron Allen and Paul Tekin, who with the help of Carl Gaul rescued it for us.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Driver Training

Here is the 1918 Stutz Bulldog Sport Touring out for its excercise and some driver training. Julio Merced and Jerry Mustard got some wheel time in this car, and it was also taken on a "run around" with the local car club. Here you can see Nancyin her period finery being driven by Jerry on the grounds of Wedgewood Resort. They both look rather sporting and fit the car nicely. Tim even got to take time to drive this great car a little, and he is still grinning.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The first problem, but by no means the last.

We've encountered a couple mechanical issues in the Maxwell on the Alice Ramsey Centennial road trip. Thank goodness for our great mechanics. Below is one example:

Problem #1: The right rear brake (as there are only two brakes in the Maxwell, they are both rear) was being -- accidentally -- oiled by differential.

Discovery: Tim Simonsma (from California) found that the car's rear end had been assembled with sealed bearings encased in grease. This means you don’t have to oil or grease them on a regular basis, right? When the mechanics assembled them, they thought “sealed” meant the grease could not escape from the bearing, when in fact; they needed another seal to contain the grease.

Combat: The mechanics used felt (3/8” thick) and made a donut, which they slid over the axle. This slowed the oil from dripping onto the brakes. In addition, Tim drilled a small hole in the rear end housing between the inner axle bearing and outer axle bearing. Instead of leaking onto the brakes now, the oil leaks onto the road. Safety first.

Tim mentioned that this problem would not have surfaced had the Maxwell been a parade or show car. When it comes to touring hundreds of miles, oil leaks become more important.

Cass -- In Napoleon, OH on the Alice Ramsey Centennial Drive

Saturday, June 13, 2009

REO Speedwagon was named after a car!

That's right. The 80's group, REO Speedwagon, was named after a car. REO was started by Ransom Eli Olds after he split from his original company, Oldsmobile. More interesting information? The Depot Hack (1911 Ford Model T at the Fountainhead Auto Museum) was used to transport people from the train depot to their lodging. In the early days, horse drawn carriages that met people at the train depot were called hacks. Hence the name!

The 1909 Maxwell and Alice Ramsey group has made it to Buffalo, NY. For more info, visit


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alice Ramsey Centennial Drive

Hello! Getting ready for the Alice Ramsey Centennial Drive over here on the East Coast.

Alice Ramsey was the first woman to cross the United States in an automobile back in 1909. Just think -- in 1909 it was strange to see a woman in the driver's seat of a car, much less four women driving across the country! Alice was sponsored by the car manufacturer, Maxwell, who throught this a marvelous publicity stunt. Maxwell went out in the 1920's, but more about that later. The 100th anniversary re-creation of this journey will leave New York City on Tuesday, June 9 with hopes to arrive in San Francisco by mid-July. Would you like to learn more about the trip? Follow us!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

FAAM in the News

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum has received some nice press coverage recently. KTVF (Channel 11) ran a nice newsclip on us last week. This week a glowing visitor review was published in the North Pole Chamber of Commerce's June newsletter at Rumor has it the museum is also featured in the current Antique Automobile Club of America magazine, Antique Automobile. Alas, Alaska's third-class mail usually arrives three weeks later than in the rest of the country, so we haven't seen the issue yet.

Be sure to check out this coming Sunday's edition of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, which will include a feature article about the museum!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Successful Opening Day

After a busy weekend spent moving in and polishing several more cars, installing vintage outfits in the display cases, preparing the car signs, putting up ropes, organizing the gift shop and setting the spotlights, we opened the doors on time today at 11 am with a big "whew!" Our first visitors--Art & Shirley Neil of Bellingham, WA (pictured here next to our 1906 Compound)--were eagerly waiting at the door. They, and the rest of the visitors who steadily trickled in throughout the day, had extremely positive things to say about the museum.

One thing we are hearing repeatedly from visitors is how amazed they are to see a museum and cars of this caliber in Fairbanks. We have to admit that, while we knew we had assembled a fabulous automobile collection, we didn't know it would look this good under the lights in the space we created. We are also pleased to hear folks tell us how much they love the clothing exhibits and big photographs on the walls. If you didn't swing by today, come visit soon!