2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

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2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by oldcarfudd » Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:50 pm

The AACA’s biennial Reliability Tour for pre-1916 cars has, in recent years, morphed into a joint national tour with HCCA. Two AACA Regions (Genessee Valley Antique Car Society and Wayne Drumlins Region – more about drumlins later!) joined with HCCA’s Rochester RG under the leadership of Steve and Pamela Heald to put on this year’s tour in the scenic Finger Lakes of New York State.
Tourmasters Steve and Pamela Heald in their E-M-F
The host hotel, smack-dab on the shore of Seneca Lake and with ample trailer parking, was flanked within walking distance by a NY welcome center (which we used for evening presentations) on one side and an ice cream stand (aw, shucks!) on the other. Those who arrived early enough on Sunday could take a short 15-mile shake-down cruise to a winery or brewery.

Steve and Pamela had the help of AACA members who don’t have brass-era cars. Some of those folks were probably inspired to get an early car after seeing how much fun we were having. Others were probably inspired never, EVER to do anything so silly after seeing how many early cars thought it was an UNreliabilty Tour. My Buick ‘s radiator must have been inspired by one of the local waterfalls; it said: “Gee, I can do that, too!” I spent the rest of the tour as a grateful passenger in a Rolls-Royce, an Overland, a Pullman, and another Buick, and got to know their owners better. I personally saw an Overland, a different Pullman, and another Buick hauled away, and I know there were others.
A Buick needs some help to get to the vulture truck.
Pat Sharkey plays with his carburetor, to no avail - it was schlepped home.
But John and Pam Babson from Wyoming, driving their newly-acquired ’15 Ford on their first tour ever, did fine. And the slowest car, Bob and Liz Bailey’s 2-cylinder Maxwell, ran flawlessly (as always) even though everybody passed them more than once. Each day they did their routine maintenance early in the morning and then drove the whole day’s tour. There may be a lesson here.

Monday we went to the 40-room Sonnenberg Mansion and its many different types of gardens, totaling 50-acres. The original owner founded two banks, now parts of Citibank and Chase, and his wife was the daughter of the then governor. They lived well.
Arriving at Sonnenberg Mansion
Reliability tourists enjoy a porch at the Sonnenberg mansion.
The Sonnenberg mansion and some of its gardens
We went on to a 2-hour ride, with lunch, on the Canandaigua Lady, a replica sternwheeler reminiscent of the type that plied the lake before there were roads around it. Although powered by diesel instead of steam, it’s actually propelled by the great stern wheel unaided by modern goodies like bow thrusters. The captain let kids steer the boat; it was hard getting Augie Lesher back on shore!
Canandaigua Lady
Before heading home, we visited an 1816 mansion built by the Postmaster General (back when that was an important Cabinet position), a fine collection of horse-drawn carriages, and a Motometer collection.
This carriage is used for weddings; the wheel guard protects the bride's dress.
Terry Bond gave a great evening presentation about collecting early post cards. They were the social media of a century ago, and many had automobile motifs because cars were new and exciting.

We got a bit of rain on Tuesday’s 89-mile tour. The coffee stop was at Sherman Hollow Coach, a supplier of tops and upholstery for many of our cars. Then we visited two of the nicest small museums you can imagine. Glenn Curtiss was an early bicycle and, later, motorcycle builder and racer, but is most famous as a pioneer aviator. The Wright brothers realized that you had to bank an airplane to make a controlled turn, and they banked their planes by warping the wings. Curtiss improved on this idea by inventing hinged ailerons at the wingtips; to visualize the improvement, imagine trying to bank a jetliner by warping the wings! Curtiss also developed hydroplanes, that could operate from water.
An early Curtiss plane; the little triangular piece at the wingtip is the aileron.
A replica 1914 hydroplane with hand-cranked, water-cooled engines; yes, it flies!
Just down the road from the Curtiss Museum is the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, featuring all sorts of small wooden boats built in the area. It’s built on the grounds of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, birthplace of the NY state wine industry.
Boats had a brass era, too!
Wednesday s 95-mile tour went down the east side of Seneca Lake and came back along the west shore of Cayuga Lake. The coffee stop was at a museum dedicated to Navy and Air Corps recruits in WWII. We visited Tom Overbaugh’s big garage. He has a vast collection of REOs of all ages, but lots of other goodies, too– like a Lincoln he drove several times in the Carrera Americana road race. Lunch was at an American Legion Hall, which sounds dull, but decidedly wasn’t. These folks had marinated their chicken for several days, and it was tender, tasty, and cooked just right. They could support their legion hall if they charged churches and other legion halls to teach them how to cater a meal. After lunch we went to Hipshot, that makes small precision parts for guitars. And we went to the nicest waterfall you’ve never heard of – Taughannock, 33 feet higher than Niagara! This day we got a short cloudburst. None of the brass looked good for the rest of the week, except the tourmasters’; Steve and Pamela polished their E-M-F to perfection before the next day’s run.
Yes, it rained.
Rain doesn't recognize rank or prestige; it falls on Fords - - -
- - - and Locomobiles alike!
And a glorious run it was, indeed! 84 miles in perfect weather to Lake Ontario,, passing several drumlins along the way. What, you ask, is a drumlin? It’s a short section of ridge, or oval hill, formed by a glacier. We drove over one that is now a small ski area. (Ski conditions were so poor that the lifts were not running.) The morning coffee stop included a tour of Legendary Auto Interiors, a company that makes upholstery kits for GM and Mopar cars of the ‘60s to the ‘90s. From there we traveled to Lake Breeze Fruit Farms. In addition to producing their own apples and cherries, this place stores local farmers’ apples in a controlled atmosphere. The oxygen is about 1% instead of the usual 20%, so this is serious business. Wander into one of these storage bins unprotected and you’ll suffocate, so safety is a constant concern. Our next stop was for lunch at the Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club, on the largest bay on the south shore of Lake Ontario.
The Healds' E-M-F at Sodus Bay; this UNCOATED brass was rained on the day before!
Food was good, and we were given a fun talk about the history of the area, with particular emphasis on the War of 1812. Modern tourists are still benefitting from that war, because the Americans dug the Erie Canal and the Canadians dug the Rideau Canal, each to repel future invasions from those so-and-sos across Lake Ontario; both canals are now largely playgrounds, peacefully enjoyed by people from both countries. There was good ice cream on the way home.

Friday’s tour was only 44 miles, so folks could get their car put away, pack, and get ready for the farewell dinner. We visited Rose Hill mansion, built in 1839 by an early user of drain tiles in his fields; 61 miles of tile increased his wheat crop per acre ten times.
The music room at Rose Hill; before electronics, people made their own.
Cars parked at Rose Hill, overlooking the lake
Yes, women drive brass cars! Jennifer Hess is chauffeuring Susan Bond
We went to a local dairy for cheese tasting, with a glass of good local wine available.
Tasting cheese
Just before lunch we took an unplanned detour to see what appeared to be a totally original Sears highwheeler. It was for sale, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it has a new home by now.
Does anyone know whether this car changed hands?
After a buffet lunch, we motored on to the Finger Lakes Live Steamers, where lots of us rode on the miniature railroad cars.
All aboard!
Dinner was a fine affair introduced by two blessings. The first, by Steve Rinaldo, was succinct: “If you’re thankful, raise your hand. - - - Amen, let’s eat!” Don Barlup was called upon for a more traditional blessing.

Steve and Pamela, you put on a tour to rival the one you hosted in 2004. Everyone hopes you’ll do it again. But if we have to wait another 14 years, I’ll be 96. Do you think you might do it a little sooner? Please?

Gil Fitzhugh the Elder
Canoes in front of a mural of old wine casks

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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by oakland12 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:06 am

Thanks Gil for another excellent tour report.

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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by FullerMetz » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:36 am

A VERY nice tour report! Thank you GFtE

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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by F12MAC » Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:13 am

Fantastic write up of a fantastic tour.

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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by JeffP/Mn » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:36 pm

Great Story! Did you consider driving the 1914 T ?

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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by oldcarfudd » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:31 pm

No, because I was saving space in my trailer to pick up my one-lung Cadillac on the way home. If the Cadillac had been ready, I could have driven it on this tour. The driving days were reasonable, the roads weren't crowded, and there weren't many hills. And Bob and Liz Bailey's Maxwell could have passed something!


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Re: 2018 AACA/HCCA Reliability Tour

Post by dllr28bl » Mon May 20, 2019 7:21 am

Great write-up Gil!

By the way, has it been determined where / when the 2020 Reliability Tour will be held?


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