A week with a Pope

DSC_0051For those of you who might have missed out, this summer I am interning at Tired Iron Works in Monrovia, California. This is my first true experience in a shop, so it should be an interesting one.

I have finished my first week at Tired Iron and I can say that most of it was involving prep and painting. When I walked in on the first day Chris Kidd, the head honcho, briefly introduced me around the shop and put me to work. He told me if I did not know someone’s name that I should ask for Chris, since there are three of them working at the shop. I dug right into work, this was a welcomed surprise because I figured they would have me sweeping floors, getting coffee, or the like for the first day or so. You know what interns end up doing ,being a go-for. “Go for this” and “Go for that”.

DSC_0006I was placed on Mr. Kidd’s 1909 Pope Hartford, which will be attending Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance. Luckily I will be in attendance, so not only will I be able to see the car in person, I will be able to point at that car and tell everybody that I worked on that car, even if it is just a little bit. But I seem to be getting ahead of myself.

I was introduced to the person already working on the vehicle, another Chris, and got to work sanding on the frame rails. This car had been through a restoration almost ten years ago and has been driven a fair amount, so the restoration was starting to show it’s age. We were sanding parts of the frame rails and such to touch it up with some silver paint…brushed on…I know…I know…brushed on? Originally this vehicle would have been DSC_0012brushed on from the factory, but most people just shoot paint today due to it’s cost effectiveness, ease of application, and shine. Don’t get me wrong though, from the factory this vehicle would have had a good shine, but the painters at the time doing these cars were true craftsman, using the best of brushes, and having a great deal of experience…not some 20 year old college kid that just walked in. Also the paints of the time would have had much much longer drying times than what we have, so that the paint would have had a chance to flow more.

I can say that for the whole week I sanded, painted, sanded, painted, and so on. It is not the most exciting work, but it is what needs to be done to this vehicle as Pebble Beach looms closer. On that note we happen to have two more Pope’s. One of them is at the paint shop right now, while the 1904 is having some finishing touches done. There will be a section at Pebble just for Popes this year. When I was at Pebble Beach last year they had a section just for Ruxtons, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I like the fact that they have such variety in their special section.

On Wednesday I had a chance to go for ride in the 1904.  Mr. Kidd was taking it out earlier for a spin and I mentioned about being able to go for a ride in an early car later. Sure enough right as I am finishing up lunch Kyle, the head mechanic, asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. Heck Yes!

First I, along with a couple others, pushed the Pope up the hill in the alley, so Kyle could have a push start. After she fired up I hopped in and away we went. We went down a block, turned right onto Myrtle and started an incline. Not too long into the incline she started chugging a bit and then she died. I had to jump out and push her along until we were able to get to the side of the road to let traffic go by. Of course people were slowing down and taking pictures, after all it is not everyday that you see a 111 year old car broken down on the side of the road.

WP_20150529_11_36_07_ProI tried to push start her again, but she would not start, so Kyle jumped out and popped the hood to take a peek. After seeing that we had gas, we gave it another go. Still no luck. As he jumped down again I could not hep but think of an old song titled, “He’d have to get under get out and get under” in which a guy is driving his sweetheart around and every time he gets in close the car breaks down and he needs to fix it. It’s a neat little song if you want to hear it and no I am not the sweetheart.

WP_20150529_11_42_43_ProKyle noticed that the linkage for the timing was knocked loose, so we had no timing. He got the linkage back on and had me try to hand crank it, but after one rotation I couldn’t get it to budge, there was more resistance than I thought. I couldn’t do enough rotations to get it going so Kyle gave it a shot, but he didn’t have much more luck than I so we parked the ‘ol girl and we walked back to the shop, it wasn’t like anyone could steal it. I went back to work while they towed her back. There were a few things wrong with it that he hammered out, he also figures that whoever restored the car upped compression a bit, because it should not have been that hard to crank, though I am sure Chris Paulsen, a professor at McPherson who loves early cars, could put us to shame.

That is all I really have to report for this week, so I’ll leave you with a bit of history. Another tidbit that I was thinking of while we were going through this whole ordeal was that someone like Horatio Nelson Jackson drove his 1903 Winton coast to coast, being the first to do, so with his mechanic Crocker and dog Bud. They did encounter many troubles along the way, but they had to go across some crazy terrain with no paved roads and here we were. We didn’t even make it a couple of blocks from the shop. It is amazing that folks traveled in such basic vehicles across none existent roads. Jackson’s story is an interesting one and I highly suggest you take the time to look it up or if you get a chance, PBS made a program called “Horatio’s Drive” a few years ago.

There is something to say about the human spirit and perseverance.

Jackson, Crocker, and Bud in their 1903 Winton named the “Vermont” Image borrowed from http://korecologic.com/about/urbee_2/


About mecklin21

I'm a Southern California kid who ended up in the middle of McPherson Kansas pursuing a degree in Automotive Restoration at McPherson College. I own a 1940 Plymouth Pickup, which I am restoring, and enjoy adventures, writing, & photography.
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