Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Articles - Magazine and online

Our club magazine the MOWOG will be publishing the article I have written about the trip.

Space considerations require it to be edited down quite a bit from original, so if you are not a member of the MG Car Club North West Center (MGCCNWC) or you also want to see the whole article here it is on the Sprite Midget Club web site, you will need a PDF reader like Adobe to read it:

Here is a link to our Sprite Midget USA club:

And to our MG Car Club web site:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Missoula then on to home 7/24 - 7/25

After driving nearly 640 miles from Devil's Tower to Missoula we were tuckered out and just about couldn't function at all. I coined a new term which is being "Road Dumb".
This is how you feel after being on the road so long that you can no longer do simple math in your head or form coherent sentences. Wisely I deferred posting to this blog anything other than - "Homer tired now, must sleep" sort of thing.

Entering Montana

We got behind some very slow moving trucks on our way up the Great Divide then we saw the sign so we pulled off to get a picture and check the oil in the car - good thing it was low.

The sign reads like this:

We crossed the Great Divide then coasted down the other side which was really good for the engine temperature!
This was beautiful mountainous country and the lower temperature on the west side was welcome to me.
We entered Idaho

From here we started getting excited about the thought of getting home 'today' so we pressed on, eating the remains of our snacks and the reserve of our drinking water instead of stopping for meals.
Peter was finishing the book he brought for the trip, "Sent" by Margaret Peterson Haddix:
(note Peter's "Road Hair")
Getting closer - Moses Lake:
Roslyn, Snoqualmie Pass, Tinkham then...

At Last!!

See the pictures of the final two days here:
and here:

Going Home -7/23 camping near Devil's Tower National Monument

Today we visited Mt Rushmore and then we drove on to Sundance, Wyoming.
This is Devils Tower National Monument

We camped at the KOA here, where every night during the summer they play the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" which was filmed here. The Tower looms off to your left as you are watching the movie and as it gets darker outside you glance off to the left to see the silhouette of the tall spire as you are watching Richard Dreyfus build a monument-al mess of a Tower in his kitchen and then finally see on the tv news the Tower itself and looking at the perfect replica he has made in his home of the thing the light finally switches on for him and his journey begins.
Peter would look at me and then look up at the Tower with the faux look of shock and amazement and point at it several times during the night - it was a great joke between the two of us.

Here we are with the car, Tower in the background:
(see we have Devil's Tower shirts?)

The camping was in a good spot, the night was clear and from this spot with the almost complete lack of light pollution and the high clean air we had a spectacular view of the night sky.
During the outside showing of the movie we saw several satellites pass by above then a very bright pass of the International Space Station. It was ironic given the nature of the movie to see these space craft passing by, another small bit of humor shared by father and son.

Waking up early I had a chance to take a few more pictures of the place before everything got busy.

I'd highly recommend camping here to anyone who likes this kind of thing, the grounds are very clean they have a swimming pool, a restaurant and a very nice gift store with a stuffed Kodiak bear and many interesting things to buy. I bought a couple T-Shirts.

It wasn't long before we had to pack up and start driving again, I took a "few" more pictures before it was time to leave and drive to Missoula - a mere 639 miles away...
Bill's Orange Crate, Frogeye Midget at Devil's Tower

Peter and the car and Devil's Tower:

Next - On to Missoula Montana!

More Devil's Tower pictures here:

Going home, Mt Rushmore and Devil's Tower July 23

The second day of our trip home started out with a great breakfast cooked up by our friend Nancy, Kurt and Nancy very graciously hosted us all another night and fed us pizza and cooked up a very tasty breakfast for us in the morning. 
After checking fluids in the cars and sayiing our good by to our friends and their farm we were off heading for our next night's stay in Wyoming.
First however, we were planning a couple of side trips to do a little sight seeing.
Mike and Wally and Yvonne wanted to drive through the Badlands and then visit Wall Drugs.
Bill and Peter and I opted for the trip to Mt Rushmore and then camping at the KOA at Devils Tower in Wyoming.
The drive up to Mt Rushmore is steep, it's important that your Midget be running well and not prone to over heating on this trip. 
The road is scenic and the little town of Keystone is amusingly brilliant with all the store fronts. These guys have taken 'tourist trap' and made it into an art form.

We saw President Washington first on the drive up, nearing the memorial.

Then we got to the entrance, the National Park Service is currently charging $11.00 per car to enter and park. We paid the fare and found a good spot to park. The fee covers entry and re-entry for a day so you can leave, eat something and do some shopping in Keystone if you like and then return later to see the fireworks if that's what you choose. We had only a couple hours to spare in our itinerary, so we knew this would be short.
We walked up to the viewing area and Peter and I were both struck with the enormity of the place.
Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln

Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Peter

And thanks to the remote control on my DSLR:

Next we were off to Devil's Tower in Sundance, Wyoming. Yes - also of "The Sundance Kid" fame.
This is the location for the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". See all about it in my next post.


Going home, Friday July 22

We said farewell to all our new friends and started out at about 8AM.
Kurt and Nancy, Bill, Mike, Wally and Yvonne all packed up and ready to go we started out on what was supposed to be a 450 mile trip to Kurt and Nancy's farm in South Dakota.
Well it ended up being about 550 miles.
We arrived late and tired and had very little internet bandwidth so we did not upload any pictures and I only posted a small bit here. The netbook was tethered to a very poor connection on my smartphone.
Here is a picture of us the morning of the 23rd, getting ready to roll out at about 7AM.
There's Peter with our green machine, Kurt with his nice white Midget and Mike with is red Bugeye.
One very cool thing we saw on this part of the trip, as we were getting closer to Kurt and Nancy's farm there was a train crossing and we were the first car to stop. Off to each side were grass fields and it was dusk.
All above the grasses on each side were hundreds of fireflies, apparently disturbed by the passing of the train they were all lighting up randomly - it was really fun. I tried to take a picture so you may see some very dark pictures in the web album with a train - that was the attempt to image the fireflies. I think the video camera might have been a better choice but it was out of power so I had to use the DSLR. Later I thought I should have increased the ISO to 1600 and I might have been able to capture the little bugs.

Another thing to note was the odometer hit 33333 during this trip, and here's the photo:

We drove through one significant thunderstorm, we saw one awesome lightning strike in front of us where there were 4 separate bolts that all joined at a single spot high up in the sky, probably arcing across several miles from the ground.
Then came the rain - buckets and buckets of rain. I was dressed only in shorts due to the extreme heat leading up to this event and by the time we had passed through the storm and stopped at a rest area with the others I remarked that I felt over dressed for the occasion.
Our car had standing water in the floorboards and everything inside got a real proper rinsing with rain water.

The next couple days would be more than enough to thoroughly dry everything out.
We stopped at the crossings of the Missouri River and the Mississippi River, got our feet wet in each just for fun. So we put our feet in Lake Michigan and these two major American rivers on this trip.

Peter and myself in the Mississippi:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Made it home, uploading pics

I have one more day's pictures to upload, then I'll post about the last few days of the drive home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Great internet tonight, but too tired to post!

After driving 639 miles today I'm worn out and need to sleep.
I am uploading pictures to Picasa, hopefully that will tide everyone over until I can get rested enough to do this properly.
We are back in Missoula Montana, where we were on Friday the 15th.
Tomorrow we plan to drive all the way home!
My car is burning oil and Bill's may be about to blow a head gasket, but we will give it a try.

Limited Internet

For the past couple days we have had very limited internet, as soon as we have a good connection we will upload a lot of pictures.
We have been to Mt Rushmore and Devils Tower where we watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind with the tower to our loft, it was great fun!
Hopefully I will post more details tonight, and picture!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Last day, full day.

Today was our last day, and it was a very full day.
We started the day with breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes.
Juice and coffee and chocolate milk rounded it off.

Then it was off on another tour, dozens of spridgets lined up driving around the countryside.
We saw the beautiful Kettle Moraine and it saw loads of Midgets and Sprites.

After a quick rest in our air conditioned hotel room and a few snacks Peter and I went back to the pool.
We spent entirely too much time there again, then went out for the "Drag Races".
This is an event where you strap a tow rope around your torso and pull a Spridget across a parking lot.
I did it, Peter did it too.
Several others did this, then Dave Lieb came out barefoot and made it in a very respectable 7.0 seconds.
My first time was 8.5 seconds so I too kicked off my sandals and tried again.
Though I couldn't beat Lieb's time I did reduce my time to 7.3 seconds.
Of course, Ron Soave took first place with a 5.9 second run.

Next Peter and I started really thinking about starting to get ready to pack up for departure on Friday morning. We did a bit of organizing of our trunk (boot) and checked the car's fluids.
Then we took the laundry off to be washed and got that started.
Next we were back at Victorian Village for the Banquet.
Also the silent auction.
There were some very nice things available, a couple things that caught my eye were a radiator that will fit my car and a period accessory - a fender mirror / radio antennae.
I bid modestly on these and actually won them!
Great - more stuff to haul across America!

Dinner was good, and then the special tributes to Paul Asgeirsson and Frank Clarici III were given.
Both of these men were giants in our community, they embodied what it was to be a Spridget owner.
Whether it's "Pay it forward" or "It only goes one way" Paul and Frank will be remembered.

Our speaker was Burt Levy, author and race historian. He was funny and captivating and had great stories of his life and his racing days at Road America.
After awards and auction payments and everything was over I got out just in time to go to the laundry and get our dry clothes before the place locked up.

Now we are all packed up here in the room and ready to take the stuff down to the car in the morning.
Starting another epic journey of discovery, Peter and myself in the Green Frogeye Midget.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Track Day! Wow what a blast!! Plus - Lake Michigan!

We skipped breakfast this morning, all the activity is taking a toll and so we just slept in a little.
Getting out in time to join the Tour of the old track was easy, since it was set to start at 10AM.
50 (or so) little British cars took off and drove around the old track, over surface streets not having to stop due to Police support at the intersections.
Cars and drivers ended up at gate 6 to enter Road America.
We all drove out to the track and lined up, then the track official came and gave us "the talk".
Basically the rules, not driving over 70mph etc etc.
At this point I thought about the fact that I had not gone and filled my gas tank since arriving on Monday.
I talked to my friend BillM about this and he said confidently "It'll be fine..."
The great thing was that Peter would be allowed to come out with me on the track.
Peter was apprehensive at first, then he heard that there was a speed limit and I told him we had gone more than 70 mph on the freeway. Then he was fine with it.

The driving was spirited, to say the least. There was a little bit of a competitive edge to the thing since we were allowed to pass each other. So there was a good deal of that going on.
Peter took lots of pictures and a few videos out on the track. I don't think he was prepared for how hot we would be going into the corners.

And hot was the word, not only was it an even 100 degrees outside today but driving seemed to soften up our tires and make us very sticky on the road surface. With the competitive driving especially around corners I didn't even feel the outside temperature.

Our car performed perfectly, even with worn shock absorbers up front and needing new bushings we managed to more than hold our own. This was due more to the great running gear under the hood of the Frogeye Midget than to any technical know how on my part. This was my first time ever doing anything like this.
I was very happy that Peter got the chance to have this experience, and that the car performed so well.

Now - back to the fuel question I raised earlier...
Halfway through the last lap what happens?
That familiar feeling when you mash the right pedal and the car goes "Huh???" - "You want what???"
I told Peter, well I think we're out of gas.
The car still had momentum, so I turned the key back to turn off the engine.
Then I turned the key back to the on position so the electric fuel pump came on, then I rocked the steering wheel left and right to slosh any remaining gas around in the tank while the pump was attempting to fill the float bowls on the twin HIF4 carburetors.
This worked and so I compression started the car and drove on,
Having to repeat this process twice more to get it to the end of the lap Peter and I were relieved we didn't have to call for help out on the track.
When we got parked I noticed that the treads on all my tires were filled with black tar and quite a bit of gravel was sticking to it.
Next was lunch, we assembled in the control tower and had lunch. Well most of us did, apparently there was a bit of a SNAFU having to do with the number of lunches delivered. Peter and I waited a while and then the food arrived. When it did it was very good and hit the spot.
Dave Woerpol led us over to the gas pumps, after BillM pumped out a pint or two from his own car to make sure we would make it. The race fuel was 98 octane and cost $8.90 per gallon. We put in two gallons, more than enough to get us to a gas station outside.
At this point Peter wanted to go back to the hotel, and not stand around in the heat and watch the Autocross.
At least I convinced him to go swimming in one of the resorts pools. At first he didn't want to, then after he had been playing in the water for a while he didn't want to get out.
Having missed the opportunity to go back to the track for our dinner we set out for Sheboygan.
We went into a large-mart to get oil and coolant and a few snacks. Then I asked an employee how to get to Lake Michigan. He didn't know. I asked a second, she didn't know. I said, "isn't it just to the east a little ways?" - finally a third employee told me a few directions and we were off and found the lake, it truly looks like a sea and I'm glad I took Peter to see it. We found a park and went down and got out feet wet before returning to the car.
Pictures of it all are uploading to Picasa as I write this, hopefully you will be able to play the videos and see the pictures and it will all make some sense. Peter took most of the pictures again today, and the video as well. I know that he should have held the camera up a bit higher during video and some of the angles might look a bit funny, but just realize that his dad was putting him through a few G forces that he wasn't really used to.

Track Day @ Road America!

Today is track day, we will spend the day out at the race track, starting with a tour (road tour) of the historic track then on to the modern race track. Should be fun! Peter will take pictures while I am on the track. Unfortunately anyone under 18 not permitted on the track is what I have been told.
Hopefully there will be video, stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cheese, Car Show and Tech Session

Today, Dad and I registered for the event at the hotel theater building, and we both got a bag and a T-Shirt. We got breakfast, it was pretty good, I got full before I ate 50% of it, it was good, I just don't know why my stomach decided not to let me eat the rest. I didn't know what went on after wards, we were just on the road, but then I heard something like "*Blah* *Blah* *Blah* Cheese Factory, son." When we got there, I was excited, because I saw a kid with ice cream. Dad walked somewhere, I followed him, like usual. I got more interested when I heard we would hear the history of the factory, because I like history, a lot. I also liked that we were at Hennings Cheese Factory. After wards, I got "Superman" Ice Cream. Dad had to "help me" throw it away after eating the top part, though, because it was melting like there was no tomorrow.
I also saw a 2000 pound cheese wheel, Dad reminded me it was about 4 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter.
We calculated that it had 51.44 cubic feet of cheese.
- Peter Bastedo

Well that's nice, Peter finally posting here.
I have uploaded today's pictures here, Peter took many of them and did not know the camera was set to take rapid fire multiple exposures while holding the shutter button - so you may find several pics that seem to be duplicates - they are not but they may only be a fraction of a second different from each other:

We bought a tasty peppercorn cheddar and some extra sharp cheddar, which we will eat later.
The ice cream was rapidly becoming a huge mess, blue goo running down his arms.
We had to find a bathroom to get it washed off, then we were late for the group leaving to go to the Marsh - the park where the car show was to be held.
Instead we went back to the hotel and put the cheese in the mini fridge.
Then we went to the Marsh.

The car show was fun, some people clearly and rightfully being very proud of their cars.
Some of us, like usual, not taking things very seriously.
There was one other Midget with a Bugeye front end, a very nice car too.
We had a good time, then at the end we all lined up for a group picture.

After we got back to the hotel we had about an hour to spend before the Tech Session, I spent it in the pool
while Peter spent the time in the AC of our room.

Our Tech Session was put on by Jeff Schlemmer of Advanced Distributors.
Jeff is a great guy and very knowledgeable about distributoors.
It seems like the Q&A period was longer than Jeff's presentation, which is most likely an indicator of the interest in distributors shared by the assembled group.

Tomorrow: Track Day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finally made it to Elkhart Lake!!

We crossed the Mississippi and entered into Wisconsin, which displays on their sign that they are indeed "open for business".
Peter at the Welcome sign

We pulled into town at about 9:30 pm and registered at our hotel - the Victorian Villiage.
Here is a link, it is a nice place, pictures (our own) to follow tomorrow.

We went off (after dumping stuff in the room) to find food after 10PM.
The Lake Street Cafe was about the only place open that was not a 'sports bar' so we went in.
We met several of the people we only knew by name before including David Lieb and Peter Caldwell and a few others. It was really fun for me, and Peter got dinner and house root beer on tap so not too bad for him as well.

Today started out with several guys bent over my radiator trying to figure out if I had a leaky hose or a leaky radiator. We replaced the hose and still had a leak so BillM produced some good old 'bars leak' and sprinkled some into the radiator. After a couple hudred miles it seemed to have worked!

Mike's Bugeye was still acting up, it had to be towed in about the last 50 miles.
They are all staying at a different place so Peter and I are alone at the fancy hotel (with a couple hundred other Midget guys).

Ok - so 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM was a lot longer of a day than I had anticipated and I'm going to ht the hay now.
Please look over yesterday's and today's pictures on Picasa and well there - that's just about it for now.

Oh yeah, I will have to look up an official number tomorrow but I know Peter and I logged over 2100 miles on the car to get here. Whether we get the prize for the longest journey or not, we went through more states and traveled more miles and we know it no matter if it's recognized or not.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 3 - Made it to Sioux City tonight!

Unfortunately via a short jaunt into Iowa...
But we are all settled now at our friends Kurt and Nancy's home / farm.
Peter got to feed the cattle a little bit, which was amusing.

It was a hot and muggy day, full of slight miscalculations again but all in all better than yesterday.
We had a couple issues today, we are trying to work out a signal for "I really need to stop and get out of the car soon". We will get it nailed down pretty soon I'm sure.

We had to visit Wall Drug, and it did not disappoint.
Peter posing at Wall Drug.

Here is a picture for Bill's wife Cathie:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 2 - traveling in the heat

We made it to Gillette Wyoming tonight.
We started out at 7AM and had a lot of stops today.
Fuel economy ranges from a good of 38 MPG while driving about 55 mph over a 265 mile stretch to a bad of about 25 MPG while driving up and down hills considerably faster.

It's definitely more economical to driver slower.

Peter and I saw quite a few Antelope this evening driving through Wyoming.
This is a beautiful state, and Peter thinks he found the inspiration for Sierra's (computer game maker of old) logo - the pyramidal shapes of the hills we passed along I-90.

It was a very long day, I am going to bed but I thought I'd post something here first and upload todays pictures to Picasa. Oh yes, and the fuzzy spots on pictures out the front windshield - yes those are bugs.

Peter took some sunset pictures so take a look probably near the end.

PS - maybe not totally obvious to everyone - read the signs on the pictures - the road signs.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 1 - Success!

We started our day at 7 AM just as planned, the three Little British Cars and one pickup (support vehicle) met at the North Bend McDonalds where many egg McMuffins were consumed.
We got on the road and proceeded to drive over mountains and through valleys.

After several hundred miles the little red Sprite just quit.
Fortunately the support vehicle had the ability to tow and so we were all on the road again, ending up in Missoula Montana just about on schedule.

Beyond my wildest hopes the Frogeye Midget started out the trip registering 40 miles per gallon exactly.
This car normally gets between 25 to 29 mpg tops, to see it getting 40 mpg was simply phenomenal.
The first tank of fuel was 'pure gas' 92 octane from the Grange Supply in Issaquah.
Subsequent fillups were with the available 92 octane ethanol blended gas and saw a reduction down to 35 mpg. Still very good, but not as great as the 40 that started our day.

The scenery was beautiful, the drive mostly uneventful.
We arrived in Missoula at about 6:30 PM, got settled in our hotel and then went off to find Steve Eastlick's home as he had invited us to a BBQ.
We arrived and immediately started borrowing bits and pieces from Steve to fix Mike's Bugeye.
The Bugeye was sorted pretty quickly, fuel pump replaced and some wiring fixed.
Then we went ahead and enjoyed the BBQ. Several local British car enthusiasts were there with their cars, a beautiful E-Type Jag, some big Healey's, a couple Triumphs and a beautiful Shelby GT.
Ok - I know that last one isn't British, but Shelby got some good stuff from the British and the car was there and was wonderful to see - so I mentioned it.

After getting a little turned around on the way back to the hotel we arrived and settled in, ready to rest up for our trip to Wyoming tomorrow!

I am uploading pictures to a Picasa web album here:

I have to hit the hay now, it's been a long day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

About our car - What is it??

This 1978 MG Midget has gone through a bit of evolution, especially since I have owned it.
It began it's life in November of 1977 in England, was imported to the USA as a 1978 model year 1500 MG Midget. It was brown with a gold pin stripe down each side.
The bottom area of both sides was painted black.
This model came with big heavy black Rubber Bumpers, a Triumph 1500 motor and 4 speed transmission. Standard equipment for this year included a 3.7 rear differential.

This is what it would have looked like from the factory

It didn't look that nice when I bought it.
There was a hole in the hood due to the installation of a Nissan 1500 motor donated from a 1980 Datsun 210. I removed the rubber bumpers and put a teardrop bubble over the hole in the hood.

I bought a 5 speed Datsun 210 transmission from a guy on Craigslist, he told me "it's in great shape, no problems!
(Do you know that some Craigslist sellers lie??) :-)
After installing it I found it had NO 4th gear at all and everything in the box sounded very grumbly. 
My friend and great source of everything Spridgety - Bill Masquelier helped me pull the motor back out and put the old 4 speed back in.
Bill rebuilt the 5 speed and then at one of our meetings of the Northwest Spridget Handymen In Transit (that's NOSHIT) several of us put the 5 speed back in.

Peter tightening up a bolt fastening the clutch to the flywheel

We fitted a pair of British HIF4 carburetors to the side of the engine, along with the cylinder head from the Datsun A14 motor, this head has larger valve openings as well as larger intake ports - suited for the dual 1.5 inch carbs! I think they make the motor look "right" in the car.

Next due to an unfortunate accident - the car was hit while it was parked - I started looking for something new to make the Midget look better and a bit more unique. Bill M. came to the rescue once again, he had a front "bonnet" from a Bugeye Sprite in his garage that he offered.
We had to cut off the front of the car with a torch in order to fit the new bonnet, and then the tinkering really began.

One of the problem areas in a Rubber Bumper car after the bumpers are removed is under the tail lights, instead of the graceful curvature of the body line that the earlier cars had these cars simply had that area cut off and flattened to make room for the bumper.
I decided to try and fabricate the parts needed to 'fill' those areas with fiberglass. I had some experience with fiberglass many years ago so I dived right in.
Carriage Bolts fastened with epoxy
Then they were attached to the back of the car and the bondo process began!
Finally after sanding and painting, they looked pretty good!
Then with a lot more sanding, some more green spray and then finally the clear coat applied and the chrome pieces fitted, the car as it is today:

Minus one...

It seems official, we are minus one car and two members of our group.
Bill L. has had to cancel, to his and our great disappointment.
We will miss you Bill, we wish you all the best of health and hope you can at least follow the trip online.
Feel free to call us and chat, or offer advice, or news or anything on your mind.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shopping for the trip

Snacks, camping equipment, travel supplies (toothpaste, tooth brushes, sunblock etc) and more.
Tomorrow will be packing and doing last minute car preparation.
I have a list for the packing as well, only I don't know yet what I forgot to put on the list - but we will discover that as we drive!

FrogEyed Midget almost ready

We are Rick and Peter Bastedo.
Rick is 'dad' and Peter is 'son'.

We are currently planning a father & son road trip to Road America, a 2000 mile drive (each way) from our home in Snoqualmie Washington.

The Frog-Midget is almost ready for the big trip to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
We will leave Friday morning at 7:00 AM from North Bend Washington, our first days journey will end in Missoula Montana where we will be guests at a BBQ in our honor.

Joining us will be Bill L. from Kelso Washington in his red Austin Healey Sprite, Bill M. from Renton Washington in his orange MG Midget and Mike B. also from Renton in his red Bugeye Sprite.

Our plan is to arrive at Elkhart Lake on Monday, July 18th - the starting date of the Midget 50th anniversary celebration.