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2009 Alturas Small Car and Motorcycle Tour, Part 2

May 24, 2010


Friday morning we set off toward the South Fork Valley to the ‘town’ of Likely.  If you call a town a house and a general store, then this is a great little town.  We stopped to give the hot motors a rest, refill the steam cars with water, and to refill the pilots with cold ice cream on the front porch of the store.


An assortment of kerosene lamps. You can identify kerosene lamps by the barrel-shaped tanks on the bottom.  Acetylene lamps do not have this tank; although carbide lamps have a tank on the top for water and one on the bottom for carbide.  Also, the burners on kerosene lamps are not shaped like the gas lights, which typically have a ceramic burner shaped like a capital Y.  All three types of lamps need a chimney on the top to exhaust the burnt gas.



Burner for an acetylene lamp (or a carbide/water lamp)

acetylene burner


A Maxwell auto. I’m not sure why so many cars have this color of paint.  The front fenders have a great shape when viewed from this angle, like a crazy man’s eyebrows.IMG_1043

Lineup of bikes in Likely, CA.  X, Thor, X, Thor, HD, HD, HD & sidecar, HD


Cars stopped for ice cream in Likely, CA


An underslung car, notice how low it sits.  These cars had the chassis mounted below the wheel axles, not on top like the typical cars of the period.  Kim and the kids were given a ride in the car on Friday on the way out to Rodney Flournoy’s ranch.





We drove and rode from Likely along the Pit River on a great road out to Rodney’s.  It is out in a valley almost to Nevada, where his grandfather homesteaded 100+ years ago.  He has thousands of acres for his cattle to roam, and a team of cowboys to take care of ranch work.  In his outbuildings and workshops are some special cars and other vehicles, but he is best known for having the largest collection of Pierce Arrow cars in the world.


Some of the Pierce’s.  I didn’t get a full count, but there were at least 12-14 complete cars, and maybe a dozen or more projects.  He had about a dozen motors still in the factory crates, awaiting chasses to be restored.  Rodney is a real enthusiast and has undertaken the difficult proposition of having bodies made.  That is difficult for a typical car, but Pierce Arrows have bodies that are made from large aluminum castings.  Each major piece is around 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet, and several different ones are needed, each with its own large effort to construct the casting mold tooling.  Then the parts must be riveted and welded together, sanded, finished, etc.


Some of the cars had descriptive signs, others Rodney described to us.  Some of the special ones were made for bigwigs of the time, Sheiks, Senators, Presidents, etc.


Another International.  The porcelain number plate on this one dates to the range of 1916-1919 (blue on white was used during these years, with different annual tags made of lead castings).  I like the shape of the wooden roof; visible since the canvas top has rotted away.  You can see the use of wood on this car:  roof, body, wheels, seat frame, etc.




Wells Fargo type wagon.  These things are tall!  This one has saddles and bags, ropes and tack strewn all over it.



White steamer. They made several models and sizes of cars, varying from large to double extra large.  About 5 of them were on the tour this year, one pair owned by a father and son.



The White steamer of President Taft.  March 1909, at the White House.  Photo from the George Grantham Bain Collection, here on Flickr.  A mighty big car for a mighty big man.

president Taft's White steamer

Lineup of a few of the steam cars at Rodney’s ranch, just before the lunch consisting of tri tip (from the ranch-raised cattle) and more pies.  I think we had pie with every meal on the tour!


Pressure gage


Thor, Excelsior, HD


Saturday morning, breakfast at Cal Pines after a ride through Centerville Canyon.  International, HD, Thor, Thor, HD, Excelsior.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Richard McKenney permalink
    May 25, 2010 2:52 am

    Wonderful stuff Pete!

    You live the life of Riley! (blessed). Travelling around the country experiencing historic treasures at close quarters, thanks for taking us all along as well, priceless.

    Could you imagine trying to hang onto that wooden roofed, wooden wheeled, International, whilst traversing mountain passes!! I’d be wearing water proof trousers.

    Also a treat to see the Billy Lids (kids) enjoying Dads hobby, I wish I’d taken more photos of my monkeys at that age, now they’re six footers.

    Looking forward to next instalment

    Terrific stuff, Cheers Richard.

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