Getting an 89 year old Model A Roadster Pickup to the NY start offered some interesting possibilities, one of which was the Amtrak AutoTrain. Now some would say that’s taking a short cut, but history reminds us that in 1908 the Thomas Flyer was shipped by rail from the Buffalo factory to New York City and George took the night train from Providence RI to Times Square for the start of the Race. In keeping with the 110th Anniversary Celebration, the train was the only way to go!
The road trip up to Sanford was the usual I-4 nightmare around Orlando, especially with the late spring torrential rains. I suppose I should introduce you to “Tommy”, my 1929 Model A I’ll be driving. The name was inspired by Great Gramp’s Thomas Flyer, and you’ll find a lot of 1908 connections in this Blog during the coming weeks. 110 years have passed since the start of the New York to Paris Race that cold February morning in Times Square, but there are many things that haven’t changed. I’ll get to that later…
It was a good shakedown run to the train station, and I had some heating with a thermostat to remove and a water pump seal to adjust. Doc, at Jenkin’s Ford in Fort Meade, FL took me right into the shop and out of the downpour. Definitely, a Ford Dealer in the right place at the right time!
Never having taken the AutoTrain, I didn’t know what to expect. It was a terrific experience, and Tommy was the center of attraction. Roger, a senior member of the Amtrak station vehicle crew was old enough to remember a stick shift and took over like a pro. There may be a brief pause to load video:
Today’s northbound train #52 is 46 cars long, two engines for 8,000 hp, with 459 passengers and 287 vehicles. We’ll cover the 855 miles to Lorton VA by 9AM tomorrow morning cruising along at 70mph. The trip would take me 3 days in the Model A.
As the cabin lights were dimming for the evening, the Conductor advised me there is only one Model A on the Amtrak system tonight!