VINTAGE CAR CLUB of CANADA

OKANAGAN CHAPTER

OIL PAN TOUR 1997

Seven Magnificent Ford Model A's to Alaska & Back

Modified from a Scrap Book created by Daphne,

and includes some interesting excerpts from Bev's Diary.

From LEFT to RIGHT: Jack & Daphne Bergeron 1930 Coupe; Ernie & Pam Koch 1930 Roadster; Bruce & Cathy Fosbery 1929 Roadster PickupButch & Bev Chouinard 1930 Sport Coupe; Denny Branfield & Audrey 1930 TudorDan Watkin 1930 Tudor; Jim & Polly Green 1930 Tudor.

The trip also included a support vehicle along with two lovely assistants.

 

The OIL-PAN Tour: Kelowna to Alaska and Back. The CALENDAR, Wed. July 23, 1997. Reporter may have been by Steve Kidd. The following is an abridged copy of the original article. 

  Oyama vintage car buffs Daphne and Jack took their 1930 Model A Ford Coupe on a 31 day - 5000 mile trip to Alaska and the Yukon with 6 other Model A owners from the Okanagan Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada.  

  The idea for the tour was the brainchild of Butch and Bev of Kelowna who had spent 35 years in the Yukon, Their restored 1930 Model A Coupe originally came from the town of Mayo in the Yukon and it was their dream to drive the car back to the Yukon.

  Two years ago Butch and Jack began openly talking about the logistics of such a tour in automobiles that came off the assembly line more than 65 years ago at various club "camp outs".

  "All of a sudden we had 10 couples that wanted to make the trip . . . a year later 7 of us were committed and ready to go," said Jack in an interview with the Calendar. He went on to say that the decision was made restricting the trip to Model "A" Fords to accommodate the support vehicle which travelled along with the tour. That vehicle carried an extra motor, transmission, rear-ends, wheels and other parts so that the vehicles could cope with any breakdown or mechanical problems.   

 "Four of the seven cars were completely restored specifically for this trip and were finished just 2 weeks before this trip. As it turned out we had more problems with the support vehicle that we did with the old cars," said Jack. "We allowed one day per week during our trip for maintenance of the cars and we didn't use those days. We did have to change the motor in one of the cars but that was only a 4 hour job and we were back on the road again."  

  Originally those taking the trip met to plan a schedule and other issues pertinent to making the 5000 mile trip, living out of a tent and with camping equipment that takes up a bit more room in automobiles that were designed long before camping became an acceptable mode of accommodation for the automobile traveller. 

  At the 3rd meeting, they decided to forget about schedules and planning and to "wing-it" on a day to day basis. "Our only reservation was at a campground in Dawson City on June 21st, 1997 where we wanted to be on the longest day of the year," said Daphne.

  

                  

  The tour left the Okanagan on June 7th and from the very first day, the car buffs caught the attention of the people in towns and communities they travelled through. "We made our own parade and, almost every day dressed in period costume, and were warmly greeted by everyone," said Jack. Every time they stopped they were surrounded by well wishers and the hospitality of the people they was at time, over-whelming.      

Dawson City, the primary destination, was also the highlight of the entire trip that included side trips to Alaska and other historic communities in BC and Yukon. Its laudable to mention former Lake country resident Denny K., who lives and works in Dawson City, and the wonderful contact person he was for the tour. He opened so many doors for the group with people in that fair city.

  "We were treated like royalty  . . . we met the Mayor and dignitaries from all over the western world at a barbecues hosted by the Mayor. Box seat tickets to "Palace Grand Follies" were provided to the group and they met all the dancers from "Diamond Tooth Gerties". The Mayor gave permission for them to park their Model A's anywhere in the city they pleased . . . even in the "No Parking Zones." 1997 is the Year of Transportation in the Yukon and the year long salute to various modes of transportation used in the development of the Yukon over the past 100 years provided the tour with even more focus from the thousands who thronged around their entourage.

  At Watson Lake the car buffs were honored guest along with Canadian Astronaut Dave Williams at the grand opening of the town's new pavilion. Later they hung their club sign with hundreds of signs on the famous signpost there.

  The tour travelled approximately 200 miles per day and stopped and camped each night in supervised campgrounds. At one such camp they were charged 1930 camper fees, 25 cents per vehicle per night in recognition of the vintage of the restored cars they drove.

  From Prince George to Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Whitehorse, Carcross, Atlin, and Skagway Alaska, people came forward to greet the tour and everywhere a friendly smile and words of encouragement from everyone we met.

  The group had a communal food fund and each individual put $100.00 into it. Another $55.00 per person went to pay for the support vehicle. Camping averaged $5.00 per night and Jack and Daphne spent $805.00 on gas. Not bad for a 31 day, 5000 mile excursion.

   

First stop, VERNON to top up the gas and Jean's Wine.

First Night Camping - 2 tents, 3 biker tents, vintage teardrop trailer and tent trailer.

The CORKS treated us royally in Prince George!

Local Car Club treated us to a super barbacue.

Hudson Hope and Hydro Electric Project.

Looks like the camera person left out their Model A.

For the record, the group witnessed the longest day of the year, as planned . . .

. . .  in DAWSON CITY!

Song written by Polly to the music 'California Here We Come'.

Excerpts adapted from Bev's Diary:

June 4th, 1997.  Butch and Bev go ahead of group to break trail. When they get to Prince George they decide to pull the motor and fix oil pan leak. They have the motor back in when the rest of the group catch up four days later.

June 7th, 1997Departing Kelowna, they made their way to Lac LaHache. Here they discovered that Bruce and Cathy had forgotten to pack their tent poles. They had to rent space in Jack and Daphne's tent. Jack snores so loud that he now referred to as 'Bear Repellent'.                                                                                     Continues to your right.

June 8th. Quesnel.  It is raining hard but the group dresses in 1930 vintage costumes to meet the local car club for a short visit.

After driving to Prince George on the same day, arrive in time for a bargecue hosted by Sam and Diane Cork.

Over to Burger King for a show and shine with the local car club, everyone is surprised that we are driving our "beauties" on such a long trip.

June 9th. Leaving Prince George camp ground at 9:00am.  We will be stopping to gas up, this is where the recovery van, drives right on by as if they don't recognize 7 Model A's! Denney goes after them, but runs out of gas. After joining up with there van, we proceed to Dawson Creek, "but wait" - no van?  We sit for about two hours, finally Denny and the van reach us. Seems the battery in the van was dead, thus the delay.    Continues to your right, and so on.

  . . . Hart Higway - Bijous Falls (Jewellery Falls). Jack's muffler drops off, Daphne jumps out so fast we thought the car had exploded. While we are stopped a black bear with three cubs shows up. Because Jack is the 'bear repellant', he scare them away. Butch and Jack fix muffler while the ladies look at flowers.

Dawson Creek. Mile Zero Car Club are waiting for us at Pioneer Heritage Village. This is a village where heritage buildings have been moved to make it easier for visitors to see all the old buildings in one place. The car club have a barbeque ready for us, they also brought out the cars to view. We spend a wonderful evening together.

June 10th. Still in Dawson Creek - 8am. We proceed to Aspol Motors to have our pictures taken (Ford Dealer). We drive our vehicles around the famous 'Mile Zero Mile Post'. Dan give his movie camera to a bystander to film the pass-by. Viewed it later and discovered the bystander captured the sidewalk and street - no pictures of cars! 

On route to Fort St. John we take a side trip on the Old Alaska Highway to place cars on the last curved bridge left over from the original building of the highway. the wooden bridge is over the Kiskatinaw River.

Arrived in Fort St. John where Butch and Bev's daughter Jody and her boyfriend Chris are waiting to drive us to the Village of Hudson Hope for a tour of the Bennett Dam. Upon returning we find Darrel Brunt has washed all our cars.

We go to Boston Pizza for dinner and local car club members meet us for dinner and a Show & Shine in a local parking lot. Darrell Brunt (son of our Okanagan Chapter members Dick and Lil Brunt) entertained us by telling numerous jokes and stories - THANKS Darrell!

June 11th.  Fort St. John - time to stock up with a few grocieries, visit an oil rig, and a Senior Home. We decided the senior ladies are quite naughty, they all remember riding in a rumble seat. They show us their dance steps while holding onto their walkers. They were quite busy flirting with our men.

PROPHET RIVER - Arrangements are made with campground proprietor for 1930 prices. The price being $0.25 per Unit - Bev pays for all seven units then goes around and charges rest of group $5.00 each - this is where trouble starts! Cathy is busy making bannock, Bev gives Cathy a bath with a pail of water to cool her while she cooks.

June 12th. Raining this am - dreaded van won't start - battery charge one hour. Denny runs out of gas AGAIN! We visit Fort Nelson Museum where Beryl Brown gives the ladies a ride in his 908 Brush Roadster. He tries to go so fast that the ladies will be scared and hold onto him. 

Off and driving again, we stop to see eleven peaks surrounding Wokkpash Lake, snow still very close to the road. Many Mountain Sheep on the road. Moose attempts to attack Jack's car, must be head rack on Jack's car that attracts them.

Muncho Lake - We tour the lake by boat, here we learn these mountains surrounding the lake were across the ocean many million years ago and have come here during the great split.

TOAD RIVER - Time to make dinner, shower, and visit with Earl Brown. Earl does pictures for the MILE POST Publication. He has been with us at several stops since Dawson Creek

June 13th.  LAIRD HOTSPRINGS - This is a 'must to see.' Bev appears at Springs in a three piece bathing costume. Bev and Cathy cook steaks for a group of fifteen - paid for by the money Bev stole at Prophet River Campground!

June 14th. Watson Lake - City of Sign Posts. The group places their sign on signpost and gets word that the new Northern Lights Center is having a Grand Opening. We decided to "crash" this party. To say the least, they were a bit surprised. Northern hospitality being what it is, we were invited to stay. Our Canadian Astronaut - David Williams, is here to make a speech and open the Center, but first he joins us in the parking lot for pictures and autographs.

 

 June 15th. Breakfast at Watson Lake Hotel - here Dan say he interviewed Elvis - this is hard to believe, but Dan says "I have the interview on my movie camera". We must believe Dan because this could be a momumental happening.

Prior to leaving Watson Lake, we all gas up at Tags, where we were given a discount. We don't travel too far before we are stopped at a construction site. No road problems - construction crews have been waiting for two days to take our pictures. Crews came from miles away - a fun half hour delay.

Teslin - At the museum we again meet up with Tony and Sylvia, a couple from England.

Squanga Lake Campground - Here we find Tony and Sylvia waiting to spend the evening with us. Cathy goes swimming, Bruce tries to fish - Cathy scares off all the Fish. To bad, Bruce...

June 16th. Sixty miles to Whitehorse - we feel we can do this easily. Stop at Jakes corner to make phone calls. We inform the Ford dealer in Whithorse we are on our way and need to wash our cars. They inform us they will set up a power washer and inform the media.

Whitehorse greeted us with open arms. Upon leaveing Whitehous Motors to tour Whitehorse, our seven Model A's arrived at the outskirts minus the recovery van. Denny went in search and soon returned with the van. We set up camp in the back yard of our friends Marlene and Pete Sudeyko. Our three days in Whitehorse included visits to the Transportation Museum, Beringia - telling the story of the North from the days of the dinosaurs, SS Klondike paddlewheeler, Old Log Church, Log Skyscraper, McBride Museum, Frantic Follies Days of 98 Show, the '98 Bar, 202 Club to dance the night away. Cathy decided to take Bruce home but they could not find their pick-up (you would think it was pretty difficult to misplace a 1929 pick-up). 

June 17th -  Television at Sudeykos - we finally get to see Elvis on Dan's tape. We sit quietly through two hours of preamble as we await the 'Elvis' section! Alas, Elvis is dead - Dan insists that he must have run out of tape! This we still try to believe. Guys service all cars free of charge courtesy of Whitehorse Motors - ladies go shopping, not free of charge! Afternoon stop for cocktails at Best Western where we meet Jim Robb, a famous Yukon Artist. The '98 Bar has invited us back for a Fiddle Hoedown - Pete orders Pizzs - major complication. . . .  Two hour wait. Very late arriving for the Hoedown and the fiddlers have gone home.
June 18th - We say our THANKS to the Sudeyko's and go to Takhini Hot Springs for a swim. Lake Laberge for lunch and to see where Sam McGee was cremated (Robert Service). At 'Five Finger Rapids', this is a view of a difficult channel where paddle wheelers had to be winched through during the rush of '98. Setting up camp for the night, we all wait for 'Bear Repellent' jack to set up his tent. Then we find spots as far away as polite. After a wonderful dinner, some of our group climbed down the 119 steps to the rapids. Those remaining played cribbage with Ernie. June 19th - Gas up at Stewart Crossing - we wait and wait and finally Dan shows up, being towed by Denny. We travel toward Dawson City, stop for lunch and try to carry on, but wait - the Van is in trouble, again! They have a flat tire on the trailer. Several tourists stop to tell us they are changing the tire. Half the group decides it will be ok to carry on to Dawson City. We wait one hour for the van - it comes limping in on three tires - spare would not fit. We offload everything on the recovery trailer and Can and Denny return the 100 miles to recover Dan's Tudor.
June 20th - Dan is difficult to get out of bed, he has found gold under his pillow. Now that he is rich, he thinks he can sleep in - this makes for good movie material. Butch finds garage to fix Dan;s car in. All the guys get into coveralls. They have been missing being useful. The ladies do their laundry and wash the other six tour cars. This is where we need Ernie to drive most of the Model A's to the wash rack, since this is not women's work.

Two o'clock and the replacement motor is now in Dan's car. One small problem - an oil leak. This is solved when the men find extra bolts that were forgotten. With six mechanics, this can easily happen. Ladies are waiting patenetly to tour Dawson City - what a beautiful colorful town. Several of the group make a trip to the Midnight Dome. Here Polly promise to return on the longest day with a song she has written to the music 'California Here We Come'. See the words above in the photo section.

June 21st - The midnight sun sets about 2:30am and rises around 4:30am. Audrey insisits this is the reason she does not want to go to bed at night and is always the first one up - except Ernie - he never sleeps. 4:00am he lets the air out of his mattress so he can pump it up to the great amusement of the group. Pam is not complaining. This game is catching on - Jim and Polly decide they have a hole in their mattress and also have to pump during the night. Jack and Daphne say they have a leak in their foamies and also should pump them up at night. At this time Audrey is complaining because there seems to be nothing wrong with their foamy. Cont'd.

. . . Our friend Denny Kobayashi of the Klondike Visitors Association welcomes our group and presents us with pins and tickets to the Palace Grand Theatre (third floor balcony seats) - WOW. He says he will see if the Mayor can find us more pins. Cocktails at the bar where the Mayor finds us to gives additional pins. He is sorry he will not be able to spend time with us because he will be hosting Ambassadors from all over the world. We decide we are needed at this party. In full vintage dress we rush right over to join in all the fun. The ladies get into the spirit by singing Polly's song and then having their pictures taken with Ambassadors from Cuba, Switzerland, Algeria, Thialand, Panama, Birkina FASO, Turkey, Myanmar, El Salvador, Iran, Japan, Ukraine, Spain, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Swaziland, Malawi, Barbados, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Ghana. Off to the Palace Grand - where again our cars steal the show. The girls once again sing Polly's sing, much to the delight of hundreds. Off to gamble at Diamond Tooth Gerties and to watch the can-can show. Back at Guggieville Campground the group decides to take the van to the Midnight Dome to celebrate the Summer Solstice. The ladies sing their song again to the delight of hundres of people gathered to watch and see if the sun will stay up all night. When it is very late and time to go home, surprise . . . . the van won't start! Ernie beats on the underside and the van gets the group back home.
June 22nd - The group is slow to rise - they have a lazy day planned. A tour of Dredge #4 gold placer mine, and to float around Dawson City. We got to visited the Masonic Hall, Jack London's Cabin, as well as Robert Service's cabin for a recital of his poetry. As the evening wears on, they decide to return to Diamond Tooh Gerties - here Audrey wins hundreds at the machines.

The Panama Race with 97 cars, pre 1960, racing from Panama to Alaska is in town. This could prove interesting travelling over the 'Top of the World' with this group tomorrow. 

June 23rd - Again raining, our pland to leave spoiled by a leaky radiator on Denny's Model A. This is fixed by soldering at Northern Superior Auto, then two hours to rebuild the starter on the recovery van. Noon will see us waiting for the ferry and waiting, waiting, while the Panama Race Vehicles are sent across the river first.

Top of the World Highway is foggy snd wet. As we get half way up we get hungry so we open a hot dog stand on the back of Dan's Teardrop Trailer. The news media shows up to interview the group. We cross into Alaska. At Customs we are not asked about booze or cigarettes or anything else, as the officials rather take pictures of our very muddy cars.

We land in Chicken Alaska for a night of camping and gold pannung. Dan presents Idelles rubber chicken to the fifteen people who live in Chicken Alaska. Several of our group go to the local bar to see the bearded lady of Chicken Alaska.

June 24th - A fairly short drive puts into Tok Alaska where we gas up our cars, wash off the mud, eat lunch and buy booze before we are on our way again.

Our cars begin to backfire, cough and loose power. This we believe is caused by bad gas. Oh what an ugly word. But no, Denny insist his car has no problem - must be our imagination.

Picture stop - six cars waiting for Denny. Look out, someone is shooting at us - we all duck. Dan spots the weapon, it's Denny's car backfiring so loud it can be heard for miles. Sorry we laughed so hard Denny. You were so pleased at not having trouble like the rest of us.

A few more miles and backfiring getting worse. Butch and Denny stay behind to drain out the ugly gas. The group is back together at the Northway Junction.

June 25th - It's time to fix the tire on the van since if fell of on the Top of the World Highway.

White River - cars are still not running well. Jack finall gives up the battle and drains all of his ugly gas. Two and a half hours later and we are now happily travelling through Kluane Wilderness Park.

We stop at Burwash to visit the Wildlife Museum. Butch has a full mount Dall Sheep on display here.

Congden Creek is a safe place for the night. There is no rain in this valley.

June 26th - Butch and Bev wish to stay in the area of Kluane Lake to visit old friends and family and will rejoin the group in Carcross. The Group travelled to Atlin, Whitehorse and Carcross.

June 29th - Carcross is the home of Idelle's mother, who was raised here by the Watson's. Historical Watson Store still stands near the railroad tracks.

Bev has Jim sent to jail. Ladies must cut 20 cords of wood to get nim out. This is also not womens work - sorry Jim.

Off to Skagway over a mountain range. Jim and Polly say "our car will not make it - we might have to go home." But they were successful!

Skagway is an exciting town - tour ships are docking here daily and thousands of people are in a four by twelve block area.

We drive to Dyea to see where the goldminers climbed the Chilkoot Pass in '98 to reach the goldfields.

 

June 30th -Sightseeing in Skagway. A few of the group take the boat to Haines for a sightseeing expedition. They return bearing halibut, crab, and prawns.

July 1st - We decide to celebrate Canada Day with a parade. We dress in costumes, put our Canadian Flags on our cars, and make a lot of noise all the way to the White Pass Train Station. We board the narrow guage rail and travel for the next three hours to the summit and back.

We dine out tonight. A photographer from Missouri asks us to pose for pictures on Mainstreet. Even at midnight we are willing to show our cars off.

July 2nd - Return to Carcross. Here we pick up all our Canadian booz left a few days earlier to make our border crossing painless. A stop at Tagish to watch people fish off the bridge. Gas up at Jake's Corner and off we go south again. This night we spend at Rancheria Campsite. The rain starts in time to try and spoil our dinner. But we are now avid campers so we string a tarp over the tables and enjoy our supper.

 

 

July 3rd - We are now on the Stewart Cassiar Highway - it tends to be a bit dusy, but our crs were made for this kind of roads and we can do this.

Dease Lake. The ladies have had an offer from thw RCMP offices for rooms, with showers. Sounds good.

Bruce catches fish. We all agree that we would have thrown the minnows back.

We arrive at Stewart at either 5:00 pm or 6:00pm, we are no longer sure. Hyder Alaska parade in one hour. We shower, set up tents, wash cars, and arrive in time for 4th of July Celebration. Stewart and Hyder are a beautiful setting. Visit glacier and the comment is "mother nature leaves our minds boggled".

July 5th - Kitwancool. We stop to see the oldest totem pole in the world. Dan decides to lead his own tour. It takes awhile to find him. Visit Kitwanga and then travel onto Smithers and the home of Butch's sister Bonnie. We will spend two nights here to rest and restore our energy. We are served a fine dinner by Al and Bonnie. After which some rather drunk and disordly ladies get into the hot tub to soak away their long trip. Bev offers Bruce $5.00 to join the ladies. However Butch only has $10.00 in his pocket. So Bev gives it to Bruce. He doesn't mind soaking, clothes an all.

 

July 6th - No power. Bonnie pulls the barbeue up to then kitchen door and makes a huge breakfast for 20 people. The promise is to barbecus a 36 pound salmon for dinner. Bruce, Cathy, Pam and Ernie opt to leave before the BBQ. They have friends they wish to visit in Prince George. We will join them tomorrow. Dinner a big treat - we managed to eat all but about three pounds of the salmon. Local car club members and other car club members join us for dinner. Daphne sees a strange 27: box - does not recognize it - long time since having see T.V..

July 7th - Leaving Smithers. Denny needs tires for the recovery trailer - starts looking here. Burns Lake and Denny still trying to find tires. Vanderhoof. We wait for Denny and the Van, and we wait somemore. Finally RCMP comes by to ask - "Do you have a black Model A travelling with you?" Why Yes we do. "Well, he stopped at Fraser Lake for gas and he forgot pay for the gas". Sorry Denny, this was just to funny  . . . 

Prince George. Pam and Ernie as well as Sam and Diane Cork join us at a nicce pub for dinner.

July 8th - Bruce and Cathy left for Quesnel yesterday. Rest of the group decides to go down the Yellowhead instead.

 

 

July 9th - Group growing smaller. Some are going to try and reach Kelowna today - we wish them luck. Today we are having a Ford Model A 'Manifold Lunch' of steak, new potatoes, onions and carrots. 11:00am place food on manifold. 11:10am beginning to smell the food cooking. 11:30am getting hungry. 12:00 noon we stop and eat - delicious. Ernie and Pam, Butch and Bev camp at Bergerons - not ready to finsih the trip just yet! July 10th - All cars are home except Bruce and Cathy. Need radiator repairs - stuck in Quesnel. All cars travelled 5000 miles or 8000 kilometers. This took 33 days. Each day a member of the group received a 'Turd Hat'. This hat was given to the person who did the biggest screw-up of the day. This tradition was brough from the New Zealand Tour by Jack and Daphne. All in all, we are glad to be home and be able to tell all our friends 'WE DID IT', and so can you.
   

Back in Kelowna July 9, 1997.

What an amazing trip!