Tractors And Stuff
I am writing to you in regards to Eric Geisert's article in the November issue ("Pete's Party"). There is a picture on page 145 of that article of a Ford tractor with a "well-detailed Flathead engine."
Did you know that Ford offered the Flathead engine as a dealer-installed option? My father worked in a Ford implement dealership in the late '40s and early '50s before starting his own garage. I remember him talking of these tractors and seeing some in his shop for repairs in the mid- and late '50s.
I called the dealership (Hartmann Farm Supply Inc., 618-785-2333) recently to see if my memory was correct. The dealership is still in existence and upon asking for the owner's son, I was told by him (80 years old and still working!) that indeed I was correct. He said they had records of installing several of these and there were still several of them running on farms in the area today.
Someone other than Ford (aftermarket) manufactured the kit, and he said it included motor mounts, exhaust, clutch, and pressure plate; he also noted that the clutch was what usually went out in them first. Perhaps you should have checked out the tractor more closely to see if it was indeed owner-built or one of the few "Hens Teeth" that was installed at a dealer.
I enjoy your articles and magazine very much. I have been reading it since it first came out, as I worked where it was printed in Sparta, Illinois, back in the '70s. Thanks for listening, and if you need any more info, I would be more than happy to help.Raymond HammelPoway, CA
Many thanks for the heads-up, Ray, as I have seen a number of early tractors with Ford Flathead conversions at tractor rod runs.
Thanks so much for the wonderful article on flagmen. I, too, was a flagman in my early days. I flagged at the Montgomery, New York, strip when it first opened in 1958. That strip was one of NASCAR's earliest forays into drag racing. I never thought about flagging style but rather tried to emulate what I saw in the magazines.
It seemed the most memorable event of that era for me was flagging off a match between Don Garlits and Art Arfons. The noise was unbelievable, yet I never felt threatened and just kept on flagging. It's interesting to see how much has changed since then, I remember dragster drivers wearing T-shirts and sunglasses. (Helmets were, of course, de rigueur.)
For several years, I would meet guys who recognized me. They told me that every driver studied the flagman's face, looking for some cue or edge they could use to get an advantage. But they never admitted to having found such an advantage. Who knows-maybe they did.
I was also involved in early drag racing in New Jersey through the longgone New Jersey Tuning Association. We solved the problem of disputes over whether a car had jumped the flag by having the engineer who designed and built our timers add a push-button switch that was placed on the ground and tied to the timer; the flagman pressed the button with his flag, thus arming the timer. A red light would light up over the offending driver if the start beam was broken before the flag came off the button. This feature eliminated all such disputes.
At the time I was flagging, I was also racing a channeled '34 coupe in C Altered. Even in the early years, I was more interested in the street than the strip with the result that the last time I went to the drags they started with flags. And I'm still on the street in a '37 sedan. Keep up the good work.Frank CareyWest Melbourne, FL
Frank, thanks for sharing with the rest of us your thoughts on a bygone era. I myself grew up with the likes of C.J. Hart and another whose name escapes me, but I was fascinated by how he would get us going.
Prescription For Happiness
I was in the middle of a bad month, and then I got the latest Street Rodder. It made my day and then some.
I can't thank you enough for printing the 100-year anniversary announcement, but then my wife and I saw our newly completed '32 roadster on page 75. We rolled out the car, Rolling Thunder, for the 38th annual Street Rod Nats. It received a lot of great reviews, even from ole Speedy Bill. The lack of windshield makes the car a pure joy to drive.
That's the payoff, my friend-to put out your hardest effort, day after day, month after month, and to see your blood, sweat, and tears appreciated in a great magazine.
Capt. Jack III
Via the Internet
Well, Capt. Jack, we do try, and it's always fun when it brings joy to our readers, much like the sport we love.
Chevys And Wood
We are Street Rodder subscribers and recently received the November issue. We were please to see the letter from Ted Bashinski, titled "Chevy is Best." Ted talked about a '35 Chevy Master Deluxe and the pains of cars with rotten wood.
I think we may be able to help. We too were drawn in by the allure of an OEM four-door suicide rod when we purchased our '35 Master Deluxe two years ago. Like most projects, we had no idea how much work was ahead until we peeled back the door panels. The wood is still there in most parts of the car, although it is far beyond repair, so we will use it for patterns as we replace it with metal.
If it were not for the advice of another longtime, experienced rodder from Daytona Street Rods who recommended using metal and bear-claw latches, we may have tried to stay with the wood. Although we drive the car for short trips, we don't feel it's ready for extensive runs.
We have opted to go with steel for safety reasons in the unlikely event of a collision, plus indefinite door alignment issues with wood (in Florida where humidity averages 90 percent). As for reference material, we found the Motorbooks International workshop book, "Hot Rodders Bible," by Gerry Burger and Steve Hendrickson; there is some material about replacing rotten wood on pages 75-81.Kurt and Dawn Van DykeCocoa, FL
Chevys and woodworking go hand in hand. And while many rodders try to keep the wood or replace it, going the steel route is the better long-term solution. We have our eyes (and ears) open, and if any rodders are replacing wood or installing steel, we would like to know about it, as it "wood" be a good story.
On The Subject Of Kitties
I just read your article about the kitty cat. Let me say that if there were more people like you and the others involved in this adventure, the world, not just the street rodding part, would be so much better off. God bless all of you.