Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On the Road: Scottsdale and Escondido

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

I just returned from another trip, which started in sunny, warm Scottsdale, Arizona. My wife, Wilma, and I arrived on Saturday afternoon after traveling all night. Facing a two-hour time adjustment, we went to bed early so we wouldn't be too groggy the next day.

On Sunday morning we headed for the 2nd annual Arizona Concours d' Elegance at the Biltmore Hotel. They have a great setting for a show--a little small, but very friendly and pleasant. We met several people there, including Dennis Wise, the founder of Fountainhead Development. Dennis was showing his 1937 Packard, which ended up winning third in class in the American Open Classic group. This was the first time Dennis had entered a car in a Concours d'Elegance, and he was delighted with his award.

We got to meet novelist Clive Cussler, who was at the Concours with his 1918 Pierce-Arrow. We really enjoyed visiting with him and his wife.

Early Monday morning we headed for Escondido in Southern California to visit Allen Schmidt's Horseless Carriage Restoration and check on our projects. While there I got a chance to drive our air-cooled, single-cylinder 1902 Knox runabout. It will be a great little car to tour in around Fairbanks when it gets here. The Knox is ready to ship, but we'll have to wait for warmer weather before we can put it on a truck to Alaska. I spent Tuesday in Allen's shop working on our American Underslung projects, but will leave that for another blog post.

We headed back to Arizona on Wednesday morning so we could take in the Scottsdale auctions. First up was Bonham's. The only car that interested us was a nice 1934 Lincoln KB Victoria. It went for $410,000, which I thought was a little high for that particular car. There weren't any early brass cars in the auctions, so we didn't buy anything new for the museum. But, we got a chance to visit with a lot of folks and see some really great cars. I still have trouble, though, knowing that someone bid $155,000 for a 1960 Fiat Jolly!

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lanvin and Lacroix: Recent Fashion Acquisitions

Tiered evening gown, ca. 1929
Kerry Taylor Auctions

“I can't believe we've lived in Alaska for 6 years and just now found this gem. We were totally WOWed!”  ~ TripAdvisor reviewer from Anchorage

Unless you are an antique car aficionado, when visiting Alaska an automobile museum is probably not high on your to-do list. If so, you are missing out on seeing some treasures at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Without fail, visitors are astonished when they see our collection of beautiful automobiles and antique fashions here in Fairbanks, a region not known for its automotive history or vintage haute couture.
Bradley's opera coat, ca. 1925-28
Kerry Taylor Auctions

When we started planning the museum we knew that a warehouse full of old cars would have limited appeal. So, we filled our custom-built facility with an eye-popping assortment of Victorian and Edwardian finery, flapper dresses, Art Deco gowns, and some of the most visually stunning automobiles ever to grace America’s roads in the early 20th century. Woven among the vehicles and 100+ fashions are entertaining photographs, videos, and exhibits showcasing Alaska’s wild automotive history.

Jeanne Lanvin 1915 orientalist evening coat
Kerry Taylor Auctions

Museum owner Tim Cerny and his wife, Barbara, acquired the museum’s extensive assortment of cars and fashions from private collections and auction houses throughout North America. In December they attended the "Passion for Fashion" event with Kerry Taylor Auctions and purchased four interesting pieces for the museum. These include a circa 1929 tiered bugle-beaded evening gown attributed to French designer Jeanne Lanvin, and a circa 1925-28 Bradley's brocaded opera coat. 

The rare and early Jeanne Lanvin orientalist evening coat now in our care was reportedly exhibited in the French Pavilion of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. The other piece we acquired at the auction is a stunning, 1920s gold lamé evening jacket attributed to Parisian designer Margaine Lacroix. It is covered with beaded and sequined oriental figures, and like the Lanvin evening coat, is an interesting example of Western fashion inspired by Asian and Middle-Eastern cultures.

It will be several weeks before these fashions are cataloged and placed on exhibit. Watch our Facebook page for updates!

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fageol Coach Update

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

We finally started working on the ca. 1924 Fageol safety coach that belonged to the Mt. McKinley Tourist and Transportation Company. This once-upscale coach carried tourists on sight-seeing excursions in what is now Denali National Park. After the Park ended MMTTC's concession, the Fageol was brought to Fairbanks and parked outside where it set deteriorating for over seven decades. You can read more about it here

Last fall, we rescued what's left of the Fageol and moved it into the carpentry shop at Fountainhead Development. Last week Brad, Pete, and I began the task of pulling off all the remains of the body to evaluate what was left.  We found very few surprises. Most of the wood was pretty well rotted away, but the aluminum sheeting was still in decent condition. The roof is long gone.

We don't plan to restore the coach to its former glory. Instead, we are going to turn it into a historical exhibit that will be displayed outside the McKinley Chalet Resort. The Chalet is situated near the entrance to Denali National Park, and it will be nice to return this artifact to its original "territory."

The Fageol's interior and mechanical components will be left as is for now, but we will restore/rebuild the side panels and top. Stay tuned for progress reports.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In The Shop: 1914 Henderson

by Derik Price
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Since the weather outside decided to dip down to more normal temps (about -25 F) Willy had to put the Model T Racer away and get back to business. We decided to bring our 1914 Henderson out of deep storage with a goal of getting it running, and then assess it for restoration or refurbishment. Here's a picture of it when it arrived in Fairbanks in 2008.  You may remember the background on the Henderson from our post last summer -

The vehicle has been sitting in our backup storage since bringing up to Alaska in 2008. I visited the shop last week to get an overview of how it looks and what will be be required to bring it back to life. We started by soaking each cylinder in mystery oil and hand cranking the engine to make sure it rotates freely. It turned over fine, so the crew started taking turns hand cranking the engine to test the compression on each cylinder. Each one tested about 50# - woo-hoo!

The generator was working fine and making spark, so we double-checked the firing order and then set out making new plug wires. We also figured out how to turn off the engine once we eventually get it started. This nice little (metal) rod with what looks like a bolt through a thread spindle on the end is what you pull to disconnect generator.  We'll draw straws to see who has to grab that thing to shut it off once we get it running.  :-)

Up next: we'll check out the lower end, transmission, rear end, fuel and cooling system. A lot of work goes into checking everything out before we'll actually try to start the engine. But hopefully, if there are no big surprises, over the next few weeks we'll get to fire it up!  I am taking video of our progress and toward summer will put together a YouTube video on the project. So stay tuned!

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort.