Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003


Friday, July 27, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts



Day 52 - July 27, 2001 - We woke up this morning in Muncho Lake to a slight overcast but it cleared off pretty quickly. We had made arrangements last night to take a flightseeing tour this morning and were eager to see as much as possible. All of us but Joyce and Ken met our pilot, Urs Schildknecht, at the seaplane we would be taking. Urs has owned the Northern Rockies Lodge for 14 years but has had a flying service in Muncho Lake for nearly 10 years. His plane was immaculate and extremely well-maintained. As he told us, "I'm selfish. It isn't just your life I'm concerned about; it's mine." Nancy got to sit in the co-pilot's seat while the others stuffed into the remaining seats. Six passengers is a little crowded but we didn't care. None of us had ever been in a seaplane before but after idling around on the lake surface for a few minutes, we took off as though we are on the ground. We flew up over the lake, around and over the mountains (where we saw two herds of mountain goats) and down through the valley leading back to the lake. While we were up there, Urs let Nancy take the controls (briefly) which was pretty exciting. We were all disappointed when we returned to the Lodge and were amazed when we touched down on the water without even a bump. The only way we knew we were down was the fan of water coming out from the pontoon. It was a wonderful flight, even if only for 30 minutes, and gave us a chance to see the landscape off of the Alaska Highway.

Later, it was time to check the cars. Jennifer had had a little problem with the coupe misfiring and Ross had heard a funny clicking noise in the pick-up. They checked and tightened and oiled and examined. They found a loose wire in the coupe that probably caused the misfiring. Unfortunately,they found a problem in the pick-up truck that was more serious. We had joked about finding a problem with one of the cars that could delay us in Muncho Lake but it was supposed to be on Ross's car and it was not supposed to be serious. They found a chip in the rear axle shaft that was causing the wheel to be loose. It could have led to a breakdown like the one Ross suffered out on the road to Prudhoe Bay. In case you were wondering where we would ever find an axle out in the middle of nowhere - Bruce had brought one from England in his luggage! (When Ross had broken his axle on the way to Prudhoe Bay, he had called Jennifer Pardue, our friend who works for us in Bryan. Jennifer had called Bruce with the list of parts Ross wanted,. Bruce carried a bag of parts, including an axle, with him on the plane.)

Urs, our pilot, has a wonderful hanger for his planes which he had shown us earlier. Ben talked to him and he allowed us to move the pick-up into the hanger to work on it. That got us a level floor, a clean work area, and out of the rain that came later in the afternoon. The car was repaired and running again by 9:00 pm that night. We didn't get to take the boar ride around the lake we had talked about but we avoided a potentially dangerous breakdown on the road through the mountains tomorrow.

We met for dinner afterward and celebrated the successful repair. This group has become like a pit crew in terms of the speedy repairs. Ross commented that he wouldn't really know what to do with himself if we got in some evening and there was nothing to do to the cars. The rest of us wouldn't mind him being a little bored.


727a - Our plane this morning is a Beaver, built in 1954. This plane was a lot cleaner than our cars and the engine was spotless. Ben is checking out the radial engine prior to the flight. The lake was very calm and a beautiful turquoise blue.


727b - There were six of us flying, plus the pilot. Here you can see how crowded the cabin was, although Urs assured us that we were well within the capacity of the plane. Ginger got put in the middle because "she is pretty tiny" and Bruce got put in the back because "he isn't tiny". His head touched the ceiling of the plane and even Jennifer was brushing it where the top started sloping. I probably don't have to tell you by now but that is Ben Hardeman, Ginger Hardeman, and Ross Lilleker in the front of this picture and Jennifer Hardeman and Bruce Lilleker in the back. Nancy took the picture from the co-pilot's seat.


727c - An eagle's eye view of the mountain. We were flying at about 6000 feet when this picture was taken, well above tree line. You can see the pontoon skid at the edge of the picture and the Canadian Rockies in the distance.


727d - We have seen the mountains from down below and we've seen them while passing through them but to actually be on their level is an exhilarating sensation! We could see the top of the peaks, the crags and valleys that made their shape, the waterfalls from their beginnings. It was wonderful! Here you can see the view we saw as we flew above the Rockies.


727e - Now there's a scary sight! Nancy, who is the biggest fraidy-cat of the group, at the controls of the airplane! I flew the plane briefly; not as longs as Urs would have let me but longer than I wanted.


727f - Here we are, safely on the ground again. Look at all the happy faces. If you ever have the chance to do a flightseeing trip when on vacation, go for it. We all would have gone up again in a minute. In front, Bruce, Ginger, Nancy and Jennifer. In back, Ross, our pilot Urs, and Ban. And the Beaver.


727g - The Model T's are always making clinking, clanking, and clucking noises so how can you tell whether that particular "clunk" is normal or the sign of something bad? I don't know but these guys knew there was a problem when they heard that clunk from the pick-up and, sure enough, there was. Ross hold the broken pieces next to the axle. We have quite a collection of broken parts to bring home as souvenirs.


727h - Analyzing the problem: Ross, Ken, and Ben consider options when they discover the chipped axle. The car is parked next to one of the cabins at Northern Rockies Lodge and they are on grass and gravel. At this point, the sun was still shining.


727i - Urs was kind enough to let us use his hanger to work on the car. The RV portion of the campground was completely full and our cars and the on-going repairs provided the afternoon entertainment. Everyone one of these guys has either owned a T, ridden in a T, knows someone who owns a T, or once owned an A and thinks these are really A's. See the guy with the folding chair? The rope stopped them from actually coming in and offering advice but not from sharing their recommendations.


727j - The thing that most fascinated the onlookers was that two of our repairmen were girls! Jennifer and Ginger were in their coveralls and were greasy up to their elbows and the crowd could not believe it! The fact that the car was up on jacks without the tail end in was interesting. But girls working on the cars - amazing!


727k - Ben and Nancy's Fordor parked at their cabin. You can't see the back porch in this photo but there was a lovely deck that looked out to Muncho Lake. The cabins were quite nice although this one is a little nicer than some of the others. (There has to be SOME reward for making all these reservations.)


727l - Jennifer and Ginger's cabin and the little green coupe. One more comment on the girls: Jennifer is 23, Ginger is 20. Ross Lilleker is 22. There aren't many Model T tours of any size where you have this many drivers under the age of 25. And it is rare to have a tour with two female drivers, at least where we come from. The young people attract attention everywhere we stop.


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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