Friday, August 1, 2014

Fourth of July

Odometer 40242 (resting in home port)

July 3rd, 2014

BMW 300 Isetta

When I (Jeff ) was at Oregon State University (1967- 1972), I saw an intriguing little automobile sitting in a farmer's field outside of Lewisburg.  My fascination with this little car grew, until, unable to stand it any more I finally knocked on the door of the farmhouse and asked about the car.  The woman who answered told me they were just storing the car for a professor on campus.  I wheedled the name out of her and was off on my bicycle back to campus, to talk to Robert Larson, in the School of Pharmacy.  
In our first conversation, I was told that his wife would never agree to sell the car.  It wasn't currently in running condition, and the mechanics that they had gotten to work on it, could not get it running.  He told me he would talk with her about an offer to sell, but he doubted that she would agree- come see him tomorrow he said.
In our second conversation Robert asked why I wanted to buy the car- he'd seen many of them cut up and made into go-carts and funny cars.  I told him I'd like to get it running if I could, and us it as my transportation.  He related that seeing the car deteriorating out in the field was breaking his wife's heart.  If I would agree NEVER to cut up the car, and to give him first right to buy the car back, they would sell.

Here is the earliest photo I have of the car.  My recollection is that I bought it in 1969-or 70.  
I had my girlfriend at the time, tow the car to my house in Corvallis.  She had a Studebaker Commander and I had a tow strap.  We backed her car out into the tall grass surrounding the little car, hooked the strap up to the car.  I did a quick look around the car, all the tires seemed to have air, so I got in and put it in neutral, and took off the hand brake.  I signaled with my arm out the window to proceed, which she did with gusto!  We bounced out of the field and to the gate at the main road, where she braked hard- as did I- only the pedal went to the floor-Nothing! no brakes.  I quickly yanked on the hand brake and plowed a furrow with the rear two wheels.  Just about the time I figured I'd contact her rear bumper- she took off again!  We proceeded down the two lane highway, with me waving my arm out the window to slow down- which she took for speed-up.  I was never so glad to have been pulled over by the State Police in my life.  The officer gave us a warning for not having a current license on the Isetta, and I was able to explain to my girl friend, the only brake working was the hand brake- whew!  The rest of the trip was uneventful- thankfully.

The car needed a lot of work, but nothing catastrophic.  I rebuilt and replaced almost all the hydraulic brake system, and most importantly, found that someone had messed with the carburetor float, and totally ruined it.
I substituted a Thermos cork for the float and got the engine running again.  I drove the car during my last years at college, and kept it with me as I moved from Corvallis to Salem to start work as a carpenter.

During the period of 1984 to 1988 my father took on the Isetta as a project and did a full restoration on it.  Dad stripped it down to the frame, and slowly, carefully, cleaned, re-plated, repainted, re-sealed, rebuilt, replaced, as needed.  The car was show-quality when I got it back- a real beauty!

Fast-forward 45 years, and the Isetta, a perennial favorite at the Medford car shows is now a garage queen, rarely seeing the light of day.  Joan and I come to the decision to sell it.  After inquiries to Prof. Larson at OSU go unanswered, we listed the car with a broker and sold it.  The new owner engaged a motorcycle transport company and we were told, it would be a week or more before they could come by to get it.
Well.. the very next day (July 2nd) they called and wanted to pick it up the next day- we said fine.  Then late in the day they said it would be the 4th of July- we said "no way" we have plans.  We told them to come as late as they wanted, but it had to be the 3rd or reschedule for later.  So at 11:45 PM the truck arrived, and we loaded it up.

July 4th
Rotary Pancake Breakfast

After a late night with the auto transporter, I was up before the crack of dawn, and ready to assist at the Port Orford Rotary Pancake Breakfast.  Our club uses this event to help fund our scholarships to local college-bound seniors.  Pictured above is Mike Hewitt, our grill-meister extraordinaire, demonstrating the 21 pancake salute.

The Fourth is a big deal here in Port Orford and we don't give up anything to the bigger cities.  We kick off with the pancake breakfast, which is followed by quilt shows, art shows, a huge parade down Main street, dingy races, jerry can races, BBQ lunch, and of course...  a FANTASTIC fireworks show.

July 8th

Joan and I enjoy going to Coos Bay occasionally to get items that aren't available locally.  When in Coos Bay, we have been challenged finding a place to have lunch that would fit our vegan lifechoices.  On our last trip to CB for Joan's dental checkup, we stopped in at the Coos Head Food Store, the local whole food market, to ask about dining options, and were directed to the Cafe Mediterranean.  We now have a new favorite!  We enjoyed a sampler that came with a stack of pitas with hummus, and baba ghannouj, and tisatisiki.  There might have been some yogurt in one of those but boy, was it all good!

Jeff is a member of the local Watershed Council, and as such has spent some time organizing cleanup and tree maintenance in our watershed.  We have a gorse problem on this part of the coast and through grants are slowly getting gorse removed from the watershed.  To keep the gorse from re-seeding into the cleared area- tree seedlings and native grasses are planted.  The trees need help during the first 3 years to get ahead of the competing vegetation.  This is where we (volunteers) come in.

Joan and I decided to check out the Curry County Fair in Gold Beach.  We are not big fair-goers but everyone should be able to say they've at least been to their own local affair- so go we did.

The displays and booths were pretty much what we expected, and we had a good time.  We attended a presentation by A Walk on the Wild Side, a Canby Wildlife Rescue organization.  They showed off a young tiger, a wallaby, and oddly, a skunk!

July 29th

With my work on the Rotary booth winding down, I finally got a chance to bring out the Goldwing, and check it all over.

I rode out to the tip of Cape Blanco and watched the fog fly by, at times obscuring the lighthouse.  We are very fortunate here, that although it is breezy most of the time, it keeps the fog at bay and we enjoy a summer of sunshine!

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff

No comments:

Post a Comment