MEMBER SHOP TOUR 2003
March 22nd saw twelve members and one guest gather under threatening skies at the Youngs’ place in South Redding for the annual tour of members’ facilities. I’m not sure if this tour ever really had an objective other than to find a way around some of the Redding area’s finest home facilities for the care and restoration of British automobiles.
Jim Smith and his father Ken were in the Ford Bronco, Daryl Sutterfield showed driving his Triumph TR8, Gary Hartley was in the Cherokee, Kevin Burkholder drove the 4wd Midget, Carl and Robin Snyder attended with the MGB, Harry Heidel and Erik Wahlman shared Harry’s MGB, Rich Kenny wheeled his MGBGT, Alan Boring was present with his Ford Fiesta, and Paul and Barbara Young led off in their Bavarian Mystery Wagen.
The club provided the usual calorie, sugar and preservative-laden breakfast (doughnuts, muffins, juice and coffee) and everyone got to see the latest chapter in the Mini saga – the headliner was installed at Steve’s Trim Shop on Friday the 21st. Frank’s Glass will be installing the front and rear glass soon, then the doors and front end go on, then I can start my Ferrari replica (finally).
A route finder list had been prepared and was handed out to all co-drivers, and we convoyed off to Daryl’s place in the western uplands. Since I was last there, he’s added a four-post lift (as a way to store cars on top of each other) and sold his GT6. He told us his ’58 TR3 is also for sale, so he can restore his ’61 TR3. We all helped him move a garage – eight strong and not-so-strong ladies and gentlemen each picked up one of the posts for a temporary shelter and moved it from in front of his shop to behind his tool shed, where it will become home for the TR8 for a while.
My plan all along was to avoid freeways and take advantage of some of the curvier back roads around Redding. So, we drove over to Norm and Gail Whittaker’s place via Quartz Hill Road, Keswick Dam Road and Oasis Road. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind an old Chevy pickup pulling a trailer on Quartz Hill Road, so we weren’t able to maintain quite the pace I’d hoped for. Oh, well.
For those who’ve never seen it, Norm designed his own home and included a two car main garage, a single car side garage, and a workshop between them. This workshop is crammed with some incredible machinery for producing stuff in wood, metal (and a whole bunch of other materials besides.) Norm makes VERY efficient use of these machines to make tooling for working on his vehicles. The latest major piece he completed is an English Wheel;
used for shaping sheet metal. He can now form complete fenders, etc. if he so desires. He’s currently modifying a motorcycle/ATV jack that will eventually become a transmission/crossmember/subframe lift for removing major pieces of his two Mercedes roadsters.
Just around the corner from Norman is Kevin’s Kaverns – the home of the fertile mind and talented hands of Kevin and Carol Burkholder and their stable of Anglo-Japanese and American custom machines. Unfortunately, the current project (the shortened Jaguar Mark VII) is not back from the upholsterer yet, but we did see some pictures of it, and were able to look at the Toyota-powered Frogeyes, the mild custom Ford F150 and the ’59 Impala, as well as admire the shop with its complement of fabrication tooling.
Rich Kenny’s barn full of British cars and old tractors is only a couple of miles from Kevin’s place, so we pulled in there and looked at the collection of MGBs (including one GT which had a Datsun Z front end grafted onto it), Midgets, an MGTD, a Morgan, an Austin 7 (known in England as a "Baby Austin"), two Morrises (one sedan, one pickup) and several of his old tractors, some of which were not present because they’re on display at the Home and Garden Show at the fairgrounds.
Just off Airport Road is the Snyders’ place, and Carl and Robin showed us their American shop, containing a Buick Riviera, a Chevy Blazer, a Dakota four door and two Harley Davidson motorcycles – one full size, one subscale replica (for carrying behind the motorhome). In their English shop (actually the garage) we discussed the overheating and water spilling problems with their V-12 E-type before we all headed out again.
We took Old 44 Drive to get from Redding to Palo Cedro, and once again got caught behind a slow moving Chevy truck in one of the twistiest sections of road. After he turned off, Barbara and I almost had turkey for dinner – coming out of one of the turns in the Bimmer at about 60 we were suddenly faced with three wild turkeys wandering in the road. One went left, two went right and we went right between them without losing much speed!
Mark Lascelles and his brother Paul (visiting from Australia) hosted us in Mark’s shop, which contains his 1966 Riley Elf (his grandmother’s car from new and still only 54,000 on the odometer), his 1962 Mini Cooper vintage racer, and his nicely restored 1968 Merlyn Mark 11A Formula Ford open-wheel racer. This class uses a basically stock Lotus Cortina pushrod 1500 engine with stock compression, stock pistons, stock camshaft and is capable of lapping Thunderhill Raceway about ten seconds quicker than the NASCAR Historics with their 350 cubic inch V8 engines!
Our final stop on the tour was in the next lane at the home of Jim and Christy Smith, where we got the chance to see the home-made rotisserie that Jim crafted to hold the body for his Jaguar Mark VII sedan. Jim is teaching himself to weld as he removes the rusted out portions of the body on this car. He’s making real progress, and the chassis/engine/running gear portion of the car is close to completion.
Thanks to all the members who opened their shops for us to visit, to all the significant others who prepared treats for the starving hordes who descended on them, and to the members who braved the inclement weather to make the trip with us. For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, and those of you who started out with us but had to depart early because of other commitments, you missed a real treat. We got to drive about forty miles of back roads, got to see eight places where the British auto industry still reigns, and we got to sample some of those culinary delights that can be created with sugar before we braved a torrential downpour on our way home. See you all next year!