Steven B 1938 Bentley (Mann Edgerton coatchwork)


Picking up a "new" old car from Wichita KS and planning a road trip to its new home in PA involved quite a bit of planning. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the actual adventure of motoring cross country in a 1938 Bentley.

Now, this was not the first "new" old car that the author was acquainted with. Strongly interested in pre-war British cars, a 1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith had received extensive work with the help of many Rolls-Royceologisits and much expertise from the RROC! That car was adopted at an antique auto orphanage in Springfiled OH....

Now, there are five tires on this car (the usual four, plus one spare for those who may have taken a moment to digest this). This will be important information. Your author has become something of an expert at tire changes having had 12 changes of tires as a part of this exciting adventure! A bad run of tubes *AHEM* *COUGH* (<-designed to inspire intense, profound discomfort and several sleepless nights for any individual reading who happens to be closely connected with the manufacture of tire tubes for historic vehicles--you KNOW who you are) which were literally separating at the seams. Surprising since both tubes and tires were new and tested that week.

The plan: Drive Route 40 East.

Morning noon and night of the first day finds the author in Cottonwood KS. No more perfect, beautiful or quite Mayberry-esque city could be found in the entire state. The Riverside Inn, complete with floors manufactured from old barrels, was the perfect place to watch the cotton float from the cottonwood tress on the side of the river. Besides, anyone city who's mayor has a Harley bar in their backyard has GOT to be an interesting place (and they sell Ethanol-free gas up the street at the local station next to the courthouse).

Morning noon and night of the second day..... Louisville MO. The car and I are both a bit more hot and tired than usual. The riverside Inn (again!) is perfect. In the morning after we have both slept well (he has decided his name is Mr. Barnes--Willard Barnes, actually) I discover a slight list and notice that two of the tires are slightly low (this cannot be good!) Luckly the gas station had free air. Away we went.

Morning noon and night of the third day. Now, I shouldn't fail to mention Gays IL which (in addition to the 2 story outhouse) is probably worth stopping at just for the photo opportunities that present itself throughout the city. I'm sure you are all waiting for it--TWO flat tires. Paris IL. Now who should live out in the middle of a corn field in IL other than one of the nations experts on Dusenburg--Mr. Charlie Glick. Two patches later....(18" tire tubes, seriously? If you ever want to hear gales of laughter from a tire shop, just try calling ANY of them asking if they carry tubes these days).

And the fourth day; In fact, let's just abandon the Genesis-esque style right here. The car and I arrive in Indianapolis (destination) and move finally on Route 40've been waiting for it I know... SPRINGFIELD IL *see paragraph 2* and not one but two flat tires again--different flat tires. Really??! Really?!! Here? Really??! Well, after begging the use of a jack and air compressor to fill my now slowly leaking spare as well as the usual Greek chorus from the local tire shops, I remembered something Charlie and I had been discussing the possibility of using heavy duty motorcycle tubes for vintage tires (said tire manufactures should be reading this part with some unusually uncomfortable attention right now) and sure enough, a sizable specialty shop (Competition Accessories) not only had 2 of the necessary 5 18" tire tubes IN STOCK, but was able to do the change over on everything by the next morning. Of course, Mr. Barnes and I couldn't resist driving past the original location where I met my first Rolls Royce (Lady Olivia, but that's a story for another day involving a 20' GMC box truck, a scrap yard, a 12 rank Midmer-Losh pipe organ, a grand piano, an ice storm and the Spread Eagle tavern which I most highly recommend operated by fellow car nut Mr. David Johnson). At any rate, all tubes were replaced at this point and both the car and I were much happier with the prospect of the remainder of the adventure ahead.

For the rest of the trip, both tires and tubes behaved well. One of the tubes purchased did have a defective valve stem (change #11) and one final blow-out was legitimately the result of a sharp slow turn in Cumberland Maryland (#12). We both arrived safely at our destination at an Eastern PA storage facility....two days ago on July 12, 2014. And THIS is why I am typing the story for you all--no experience could have given more joy or connected me with so many people in very special and even unbelievable ways as this incredible mad, beautiful adventure of motoring through our beautiful country. The truth really is stranger than fiction.

Nothing is so valued or appreciated in this life unless it is shared and it is my way of trying to say thank you to all of those who have so generously shared their passions and expertise with me.

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