Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dancing with the Cars

Of all the events happening in Fairbanks Friday, February 12, I made the great choice to attend Dancing with Cars at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. There was quite a diverse crowd – I would guess around 250 people. It didn’t feel crowded because the museum is so big and there is so much to see that people were spread all over the place. You could actually move from area to area and visit with folks without hitting elbows. Except of course, there was always a line for the great food (can you say seconds and thirds?). My big favorites were the Marinated Beef Kabobs (which melted in your mouth) and the Salmon Sliders.

The historic 1905 Bobby Sheldon car, on loan from the Museum of the North, had just been installed and was quite a hit. The story of the Sheldon car is one you’ll want to ask about when you are at the Auto Museum.
One of the neatest happenings of the evening was a demo show by Street Beat. What a dynamic and fun group! The Fairbanks Concert Association brought them to Fairbanks. I imagine there were many folks that showed up at Hering Auditorium for their full performance on Saturday. Street Beat got the juices flowing for everyone to then enjoy their own dancing to the sounds of the Damian Martin Quintet.

I was tired and had planned to make it an early night but the “buzz” and excitement at Dancing with Cars perked me right up! I hope it will be an annual Fairbanks event!

Buzzy Chiu, General Manager
Bridgewater Hotel

P.S. You can watch a video of Street Beat dancing inthe museum at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Snow Flyer on the Fly

Well we finally got time to get the 1917 Ford Model T Snow Flyer out for its maiden run, and it was a nice warm day but lacking a little snow. We did get to run it around the parking lot and the snow storage area and gave a couple of rides to folks that were here.

Thanks to the crew for all their work and allowing me the opportunity to educate them on clincher wheels and tires. On Tuesday we had three docents come in for the project, Rick Larrick, Paul Tekin, and Will Chase. We put new tires on the new wheels we had made, and then put them on the Flyer, adjusted up the tracks and made it ready for operation.

The test run went well, except that the battery power to the coil box failed and it quit on us, causing us to fire it up on the mag, which runs very well. We continued to play around with it, and now it's ready for the annual Tired Iron Rally, soon as we fix the electrical issue.  Great job guys!


2/23/10 update: Check out this video of the Snow Flyer on YouTube:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Moving the Sheldon Car

Here's another project coming together at the museum. This is the custom crate that we built to move a very special car from the UA Museum of the North to the Fountainhead Museum. Their museum is generously loaning us the 1905 Sheldon car, which was the very first car to ever appear in Alaska. Built by Bobby Sheldon, the car has a great history and we are delighted to be able to partner with the Museum of the North on its display.

The crate is constructed so that the axles will rest on the upright supports and the wheels will not reach the ground. The car is rather fragile at this point and we do not want to damage it in any way. Lynden Transport will be bringing a heated truck to haul the car so that it is not shocked with temperature or humidity changes during the move.  This is very important when handling 100+ year-old cars that are all-original.

The car will be secured down to the crate with straps around the axles to prevent it from moving, and then the crate will be secured in the truck. With all the help from the docents and UAM staff this should be a very smooth operation.

Keep watching for updates on the progress.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Snow Motors

We've had an amazing number of people check out our December post on Fordson Snow Devils, so I thought I'd follow up with more pictures of these funky machines.

The first photos are of a nice-looking Fordson Snow Motor at the Heidrick Ag History Center near Sacramento, CA. We need to get measurements and photos of its rear gear mechanisms so we can fabricate a set for the Snow Motor we have on display.

I found the next two photos on the Internet and they've been reposted so many times I have no idea who the photographers are. If one of these pictures is yours and you would like credit, please let me know. This wonderful example in the upper photo belongs to the World Museum of Mining in Butte Montana. The one below it is a mystery. Anyone know where that Snow Motor resides?

While searching for more photos I was stunned to discover how viral the video of Henry Ford demonstrating a Snow Motor has gone. It's been posted on a gazillion forums, ranging from antique tractor groups to hot rodder forums. If you haven't seen this video, you really must! 

Finally, here is a photo I took of the Fordson Snow Motor parked behind the museum in Valdez, Alaska. Like the Snow Motor we have, this is one of the original three that were brought to Alaska to support the 1926 Wilkins-Eielson transarctic flight attempt sponsored by the Detroit News. Although it still has both sets of screws, it's missing a lot of parts.

I've come across several historic photos (and one video) of these Snow Motors in Alaska, but if you know of others I'd love to hear from you.