Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003

Friday, August 3, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts


Day 59 - August 3, 2001 - While we were looking for options yesterday in Banff, Ben called Jay Klefoth of the Model T Ford Club of America. Jay gave him the name of David Cooley, a member who lived in Kalispell. When we first talked with David, he didn't feel he would be able to be much help because of some obligations of his own. However, he was able to reach us by cell last night to tell us that he had arranged both a loading dock to allow us to unload the car and a garage in which to work. He came by this morning and led us to the John Deere dealer who was letting us use his loading dock. Then Ross towed the Fordor to the home of Allen and Virginia Riebe who kindly let us use their garage. The Riebe's are not Model T people but do have antique cars and are in the local club with David. It was noon by the time they were actually able to get started pulling the engine.

Ben credits Ross, Bruce, and Ginger for putting the engine back together. Everybody helped to pull the engine but they worked primarily on the removing and installing the crankshaft of the Fordor. The new crankshaft had arrived just before they left the motel (God bless UPS and Jennifer Pardue!) so there were no delays waiting for the part. Everything went fairly smoothly and they were able to remove the damaged crankshaft and install the new one with little difficulty. Fortunately, since the casting had cracked during testing and not while actually driving, there was no engine damage. That would have been an insurmountable problem in getting the car back on the road. While they worked on the engine, Jennifer riveted new brake linings on the Rocky Mountain brakes on the Fordor and the pick-up. Ben was involved in both projects and some other miscellaneous maintenance that needed to be done. (Nancy did the laundry and tried to catch up the website.)

The good news is that they were done around 8:00 pm and we were able to drive the Fordor to supper to celebrate. The bad news is that it took the whole day and we didn't get to do any sightseeing in the nearby Glacier National Park. The frequent mechanical problems have be tiresome and frustrating and, since we have motel reservations in a different city almost every night, our schedule doesn't allow us to simply stay an extra day if we want to. Some of the motels have charged us for cancellations due to breakdowns (even though they probably rented the rooms to someone else). Even if they didn't charge, calling each consecutive motel and changing the reservation isn't always possible. They may not have rooms available the next day. So, after a wonderful dinner at the Bulldog Pub, we went to bed planning to leave Kalispell in the morning.

803a - The culprit! Notice the two parts of this crankshaft. Notice the break which took us down. I'm starting with this picture because I wanted you to see this even if you didn't look at the rest of the photos. We carefully checked the engine to see if the babbit bearings were aligned properly and they were perfect. The 4th Main, which was a Texas T Parts modern bearing 4th Main, was in excellent shape and also aligned properly. We concluded that the crankshaft was the weak link. This was one of the new counterbalanced cranks purchased especially to make the engine bullet proof. It became the bullet! Two of the Ts still on the tour and one which left the tour have original Model T crankshafts. The other engine on the tour has a Model A crank in an engine that made the 1987 Alaska tour also. We are not satisfied with the performance of this purchase. The $1,100.00 crankshaft nearly ended the tour in the middle of Alberta, Canada.


803b - David Cooley of Kalispell had arranged for us to use the John Deere dealer's loading dock to unload the car but the car was too tall to carry in his trailer. It had to be towed to the garage of Allen Riebe. Ross used his car to tow, with Bruce steering and Jennifer monitoring. For those of you who aren't T people, you shouldn't tow a Model T very far but there wasn't any other way to get it to a place where it could be worked on.


803c - I think it is fair to say that we know how to take over a garage! Fortunately, Allen's garage was roomy enough to work on three different cars at the same time. The nice-looking car that appears to be all in one piece in the background, actually belongs to him. Ours are the dirty ones in front.


803d - Ross Lilleker and Ginger Hardeman check the fit of the new crankshaft to the block. Virginia Riebe came out several times during the day to check on things and was amazed to see Ginger and Jennifer totally involved in the repairs on the cars. The girls have had a course in Model T mechanics this summer and Ginger had a dream about being hired by the local Ford dealer to rebuild engines.


803e - Virginia Riebe's cat makes himself (herself?) at home under the car. She was interested at first but later stretched out for a long nap and woke up with an oily tail. This picture really has nothing to do with the cars but is for my cat-loving friend, Linda, in Texas.


803f - Ben, Bruce and Ross say goodbye and thanks to Allen and Virginia at the end of the day. Being able to work in the Riebe's garage made the task much more bearable as it was a very warm day and the garage provided needed shade as well as a clean, smooth work surface. Allen showed them where things were and left them to do what they needed. Once again, we are grateful for the kindness of strangers.


803g - Bruce and Ross are offering their condolences for Ben's dead car. This is actually from August 1 but there were too many pictures to use it that day. The situation has never become so grim that Ross couldn't make us laugh and Bruce has the same attitude: "Nobody's dead. And you can fix the car."

For Further Information Contact:

Ben or Nancy Hardeman
Texas T Parts
1820 Gray Stone Drive
Bryan, Texas 77807
Tel: 979-361-0271
e-mail: or

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