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The 2014 New London-New Brighton Tour

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:58 am
by oldcarfudd
The 28th annual New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run in Minnesota is now history, and what a great tour it was! Wednesday, Thursday and Friday offered “pre-tours”, open to any pre-’16 car. We visited Heartthrob Exhaust Accessories, a custom fabrication shop started many years ago by John Forbes, and John’s home and private car collection where he enjoys the fruits of his enterprise. (I’m trying to get him to design a set of dual headers to soup up my one-cylinder Cadillac, but so far without luck!)
Autocar, Stanley and Model T Ford at John Forbes's home
Model S Ford at John Forbes's Home
Model F Ford and Columbia at John Forbes's home
We had lunches and dinners at the American Legion Hall, a visit to a nursing home where we were joined by local car enthusiasts, a parade through New London where it seemed all 900 residents were outside waving flags and cheering us on, a fish fry, a barbeque, and the traditional visit to a lakeside park for root beer floats. We drove about 130 miles in the three days in perfect touring weather.

Some tourists used the pre-tours as a shake-down cruise to find and fix problems before the Big Run. Feet were often seen poking out from under cars. John Linderman’s Stanley had a Failure To Proceed when the pilot light malfunctioned; the resulting BOOM! blew out some insulation and a chunk of sheet metal from his smoke bonnet. John found some sheet metal, effected a repair, and Proceeded once again after borrowing Gene Grengs’s spare pilot light. Greg Lange’s Autocar had an ignition problem that Greg fixed; unfortunately, the next day the Autocar broke its crankcase and was done Proceeding for this year’s tour. Several cars had tire troubles; Rob Heyen impressed the rest of us weaklings by demonstrating how to change a clincher tire with his bare hands. Several times!

Get out and get under - Stanley division

Get out and get under - Autocar division

Get out and get under - Franklin division

Get out and get under - Cadillac division

The main event was the 120-mile trip to New Brighton on Saturday. It was open to any pre-1909 car and any 1-or 2-cylinder or steam car built before 1916. Cars were being prepped in the dark long before any self-respecting chicken was out of bed, since breakfast started at 5 a.m., the National Anthem was played at 7, and we were off! There were 5 scheduled stops, all of which had food and bathrooms available. The best lunch stop was at Kingston, at only mile 48, where we arrived at about 11 a.m. But since breakfast had been so early, an early lunch was reasonable, and what was offered was superb pulled pork, together with corn right out of the field and shucked on the spot. And the whole town turned out for this Major Event, so we got to eat and talk with the local folks.

There were large engines (model K Ford) -

- and small engines (DeDion-Bouton)

Shortly after we left New London, it began to rain lightly (OK, occasionally more vigorously than just lightly), but after a couple of hours the rain stopped and the touring became pleasant.

There were big cars (Tim Kelly's Model K Ford) -

- and small cars (Mary and Alan Travis' Jeanperrin) -

- and powerful steamers -

- and rear-entrance Fords

The roads were gently rolling, and the good sight lines and very light traffic allowed many of us to roll through stop signs quite safely, to the benefit of our brakes and clutches. Safely, but not lawfully; one tourist was stopped by the local gendarmerie. The driver told the cop to stick around - he’d be able to give out 60 tickets at this intersection – and the cop let him go! Actually, we had superb police support; there were local policemen or deputy sheriffs at every potentially troublesome intersection, stopping the moderns and waving us through.

New Brighton is a suburb of St. Paul, so the tour has to go through the Minneapolis suburbs and then cross the Mississippi River. It sounds like not much fun after a long day in the saddle, but in fact most of these suburbs are quite scenic and not at all hard to negotiate. Again, there was plenty of police assistance. The destination was a lovely park, and the antiques got to drive in over a wooden pedestrian bridge.

Here are some specific things that stood out for me:

Friendliness – These folks were glad to have us. All along the route, there were families waving. Locals ate with us and were very welcoming. I got to sit and chat with an ex-B-17 pilot. “Minnesota nice” really means something!

Organization – You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. There are literally hundreds of volunteers putting this together, and it works. It reminds me of a swimming duck – serene above the water, frenzied below. A Buick lost a steering pin and went into a cornfield (he was super lucky); the vulture truck was Right There and fished him out; he found (and re-cottered!) the pin and motored on. And the idea that volunteer drivers will spend the day schlepping your tow car and trailer to New Brighton and then go home in a bus is mind-blowing.

Alphabet Fords – I gather that Carl Pate (for 2-cylinder cars) and Rob Heyen (for 4–and 6-cylinder cars) are the spark plugs behind getting early Fords out on tour. These cars have developed a poor reputation over the years. Don’t you believe it! There were an A, an AC (shipped over from England by John Biggs), an F, two Ks and several N-R-S Fords; they all made it to New Brighton in good fettle. And the camaraderie of this group is infectious. Every pre-tour morning, Rob had great music playing in the “Ford Camp” section of the parking lot. On Saturday, the Ford guys waved us all into the parking lot of a local watering hole for a “safety check”. If you could carry a beer without spilling it, you were deemed safe, but non-Ford guys had to buy their own beer. I hope we will get to see more of these neat cars and their aficionados on eastern tours.

French Cars – There were four: a Darracq, a deDion-Bouton, a Le Zebre, and a Jeanperrin. That last car had one cylinder, a three-speed sliding-gear transmission shifted from the steering column, and a top speed of about 40 – and it was built in 1898! The French were ahead of us by leagues. Their cars had the reputation for being too flimsy for the rocks, soft sand, and axle-deep mud that passed for roads in the USA in those days; our (few!) cars were cruder, simpler and more rugged. But our roads are better now, and these tiny French cars look like a hoot.

Other Rare Sights –How often do you drive a 120-mile tour with a St.Louis, two Stevens Duryeas, two Autocars,, a cross-engine Franklin, two Indian motorcycles and a 9-passenger International high wheeler? And, finally, how often do you see an original Maxwell touring car with a man and three women, all in costume - and one of the women is driving it?

This was the Maxwell - sorry I didn't get a picture of its crew!

I need to do this one again someday, as well as doing the Lansing-Dearborn again. And I’m hearing good things about the New London-Brighton tour in Iowa. Too many good Midwest tours, not enough time or money!

Gil Fitzhugh the Elder

Re: The 2014 New London-New Brighton Tour

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:58 pm
by FullerMetz
Great report, GFtE!
Thank you very much for sharing the memories and the photos.

Re: The 2014 New London-New Brighton Tour

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:26 am
by MochetVelo
How many cars showed up, Gil? Were there any other Maxwells than the touring you mentioned?


Re: The 2014 New London-New Brighton Tour

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 2:12 pm
by oldcarfudd
Maxwells were well represented. The pre-printed roster showed 58 cars registered for the Saturday run to New Brighton, including 12 Maxwells, and six additional cars (mostly Model Ts that are too new for the main event) registered for the pre-tours. There were a few no-shows, and late registrants who didn't make it into the roster, and people who brought something other than what the roster said they'd bring.


Re: The 2014 New London-New Brighton Tour

PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 10:00 pm
by AlanTravis
Thanks Gil for another fine report!!!! After finishing the event with our old car , we are now on the east coast and ready
To ship to London for the other event with a similar name on November 2nd.
Thanks ,Alan and Mary