By: Michael Sullivan
Fellow Horseless Carriage Enthusiasts-
Post #1: On Sunday, June 24, four 100+ year-old cars will begin the journey from Southern California to Colorado Springs for the HCCA 75th Tour. We will be driving across the California and Arizona deserts and into Southern Colorado before arriving 1200-miles later in Colorado Springs. During this drive, we will be posting photographs of places we visit as well as summaries of the challenges we face along the way keeping our cars running. Please join us on this tour by following our adventures on the HCCA web site. Feel free to post comments and encouragements. See you in Colorado Springs. ‘brass is a gas’
Post#2: I have posted a photograph of me and my 1910 Parry Model 40. This is an unrestored survivor automobile which has the original paint, interior and top. The photograph is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the 2012 Grizzly Bear Tour. We encountered closed roads due to snow conditions at about 6000 feet elevation. This Parry is the only surviving example of the 1910 model year for the Parry Automobile Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. Recently, HCCA Board member Bill Carpenter posted a video of this car on the HCCA web site. Please review this video for more details about my car. ‘brass is a gas’
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Last minute preparations have been completed. The Parry is greased, oiled, fueled, adjusted and prayed over. Sunday morning at 5:30am I will begin the 212 mile drive from Thousand Oaks to Twenty Nine Palms, where I will meet the other three cars coming from San Diego. I will try to remember to take photographs along the way and post them plus a summary of the day’s adventures. I have posted another photo of the Parry when we were at the HCCA Convention in Yuma, Arizona.
1910 Parry in Yuma, Arizona
‘brass is a gas’
The ride began this morning at 5:30am…at first light. It was cold but I tried to enjoy it as I knew once in the desert this afternoon, it would get hot. I have posted a photo of the Parry in front of my home at 5:30 this morning, ready to leave. The trip followed roads to Fillmore, Santa Clarita, Palmdale (where a side road was closed which necessitated using Hwy 138), Victorville, Apple Valley, Yucca Valley and then 29 Palms. Today’s total over 220 miles. This is the longest single mileage day I have ever had in a brass era car.
The drive from Victorville to 29 Palms was on hot, 2-lane desert roads. I have posted a photo taken as I was driving on Hwy 247 near Yucca Valley. On this road the Parry started to act like it was starving for fuel. I stopped to check the tank but it was half-full. When I checked the carb it turns out the the main fuel adjustment had come loose. It was tightened and I was back driving at 35 mph for the last 50 miles of the day.
Tomorrow, another early morning start as all 4 cars (3 others joining me here in 29 Palms) drive 125 miles to Parker, AZ and cross the Colorado River. Then about 90 miles into Arizona to our second stop in Congress.
Thanks for following our trip on this blog.
‘brass is a gas’
Monday, June 25-Today was a difficult day with 2 cars experiencing drive-ending failures. We all left the hotel in 29 Palms at 5:30am (see posted photographs of cars in parking lot) and drove towards Arizona. The drive was through the very hot California desert. At about 110 miles, just a few miles short of the Colorado River, the crankshaft in the Parry broke with a loud ‘bang’. I pulled over to the side of the road, and quickly determined that the Parry was going home. My dad and I loaded it into the trailer and we started the long drive back to Thousand Oaks. About an hour later, I received a call that a second car (now 2 of the 4) needed to be towed home. However, the drivers had a Model T which they wanted to use to complete the drive. So after leaving the Parry at home, I drove to their home near San Diego, loaded their car and re-joined the tour in Yarnell, AZ. So while this was a bad day for cars, I am very glad to have attempted this drive. Once the Parry is repaired, I think I will try again.
Tuesday, June 26-Today there are 3 cars on the drive. The Parry is at home and another car has been replaced by a Model T. The two original cars left early for the Grand Canyon and we found them in Williams, AZ and unloaded the Model T so it could continue the drive. I am driving my truck/trailer and following the 3 brass cars as I decided to attend the Colorado Springs tour. We made it to the Grand Canyon and spent a few hours exploring the rim. I have posted a photo of the three cars and the group in front of the Grand Canyon entrance sign. Later in the day we drove to our next stop: Tuba City, AZ.
‘brass is a gas’
Wednesday, June 27- We got up very early today for a planned 5am leave-time. However, since we were near the time-zone change, several phone-alarms rang 1 hour early taking away needed sleep. We did leave at 5am. I have posted a photo of the sunrise near Tuba City with one of the cars on the road ahead of me. The drive today was wonderful. I got to drive the Model T through Monument Valley, which was a joy since I thought I would not get a chance at any more brass car driving. Monument Valley was majestic and we stopped for several photo-shoots to show the valley and the cars. I have posted one of these photos. A few hours later we arrived in Cortez, CO where we stop tonight. All three cars are driving well. While the temperatures, sometimes over 100 degrees, has been challenging, there have been no other problems since Monday.
Unfortunately, the news about the fires across the state is not good, including Colorado Springs. We are not sure of the status of the tour as the fires there have affected several tour destinations. However, we are continuing our drive and on Thursday we will be only 1 day away from Colorado Springs.
‘brass is a gas’
Thursday, June 28: Today we left Cortez, CO early and headed to Saguache, CO. The drive went through beautiful Colorado canyons, along rivers and streams and past farmlands. I have posted a photo of one of the roads we were on. Shortly after leaving Cortez, we arrived for a short visit in Durango. There we got to observe narrow-gauge steam locomotives being prepared to pull trains to Silverton. I have posted a photo of one of the locomotives. It was great to see these coal-fired steam trains in operating conditions.
After leaving the trains we headed towards one of the most challenging drives of the trip: Wolf Creek Pass. The road went from about 7000 to over 11,000 feet over a distance of 9 miles with some portions at a 10% grade. All three cars made it to the top. When we arrived there was a film crew working on a documentary about driving a Triumph sport car across country. They interviewed the drivers who explained their brass cars. I have posted a photo of the three cars at the top of Wolf Creek Pass, which is also the continental divide.
Over 10 miles of down-hill driving brought us back to flatlands and eventuallly to our stop for the night, the town of Saguache, CO. This is a very small town in an agricultural area of Colorado. We walked through the town and visited an antique store where several of us purchased magazines from the early 1900s. I have posted a photo of the three cars in front of out motel.
‘brass is a gas’
Thursday morning roads leaving Cortez, CO
Betty Swann is also posting on a blog on the EMF website. If you want additional information on our trip, please see her blog at:
Final Day of Driving, Friday June 29th-This morning we left Saguache, CO and drove about 175 miles to Colorado Springs. This was the last leg of our 1200+ mile journey from California. The day began with breakfast at a small breakfast diner (the only one!) in downtown. I met the owner the evening before and since the diner opened at and we wanted to leave early, she agreed to open at 6am and feed us for our trip. I have posted a photograph of the cars in front of the diner. Once on our way we headed north on CO-285 which took us over Pagosa Springs Pass which was over 9000 feet. This was the second high pass of the trip but all cars made it easily. I have posted a photograph of the cars on the road headed to Pagosa Springs Pass…these roads were often empty except for the 3 brass cars.
The road to Colorado Springs took us past the Royal Gorge, so we stopped to enjoy the view. I have posted a photo from our vantage point. We then headed on the last drive of the day into Colorado Springs. We arrived at around 4pm. The only trouble of the day was a clogged main carb jet in the EMF. The driver dismantled the carb, cleaned the jet, and was on the way again. I have posted a photo of the three cars in front of the hotel in Colorado Springs.
To drive 1200+ miles in a brass era car is challenging. While not all the cars completed the journey, all the participants enjoyed themselves and are already talking about how to do this type of trip again. One of our goals was to show that brass-era cars can indeed be driven and enjoyed even if the distances are long. We hope that this adventure has inspired others to drive brass cars.
‘brass is a gas’