|Members and guests are encouraged to attend club drives; drive your British car or non-British car - join the fun!
Brits’ Wabash County Spring Drive
May 15th, 2010
On a cool sunny day, twenty members in 11 cars met for breakfast at the Hilltop Restaurant in Lakeville. Fearless Leader (Keith Wishmeier) continued his dubious streak of driving non-British iron when he and Mary showed up in their Jeep. After an over-the-winter rebuild of his engine and solving a fuel problem just days before the drive, he discovered a speed-related violent vibration in the rear end (the car’s, not his). Ready to drive were an MGA (Terhune), 4 MGBs (Gushwa, Kerstetter, Palguta, Piser), a TR6 (Shepherd), an Arkley/Midget (Dillon), Mini Cooper (Deacon), Spitfire (Glanders), a BMW Z-3 (Dieringer), and the Jeep (Wishmeier). The club filled up on sumptuous breakfasts which included that local favorite - mush. If you haven’t been on a Brits’ drive, you should know that any restaurant that serves mush or smelt has a high probability of being selected as a stop by Fearless Leader. Diametrically opposite was the President unknowingly ordering the Breakfast Sampler which had enough food for three breakfasts; he actually ended up “sampling” his breakfast. But the Hilltop is a good place for a pre-drive breakfast.
At about 9 AM, the 11 cars crossed over US 31 and headed south on local roads. Generally straight and smooth was the driving, although there were occasionally a few pot holes that had to be avoided. We circled Lake of the Woods near Bremen, zipped though Bourbon (some members on their CBs seemed to be lusting for the liquid version) and Tippecanoe. Just out of Tippecanoe came the first surprise of the day - the Shepherd’s TR6 was tail ending the caravan when the clutch slave cylinder seemed to fail. Roger Deacon unraveled his towing strap and hooked it to the towing loop that he attaches to the back of his Mini Cooper. When it comes to maintaining the club’s cars, Roger has it all covered - including emergency tows. The TR6 got a small, actually “Mini”, tow to a safe corner at the IN 331/IN 25 junction, and AAA dispatched a tow truck from Warsaw. With the Shepherds and their TR6 safely set up for a ride back to town, the club bid farewell for the day to Kai and Michele (but only temporarily, as it turned out). The club headed west past Rochester and then down to Stockdale for a guided tour of the Stockdale Mill. The Mill is quite a bit larger than the Bonnyville Mill in Elkhart County, and has all of the 4 water-driven turbines and milling equipment in working condition, which was demonstrated during the tour. It even has a drive through, not for fast food but for horse-driven grain wagons to be lifted by their front wheel hubs so the grain is dumped into a below-floor grain delivery mechanism. Three large floors of impressive 100+ year old equipment processed 20 tons of grain into 10 tons of floor each week. Outside on display is an old French-made, segmented stone milling wheel dug up accidentally in the yard. Club members made individual contributions and the club contributed $50 to the Stockdale Mill Foundation that funds operation of the Mill. Now under overcast skies, the club drove just a couple of miles to and through the 1877 covered wooden bridge at Roann. About 20 years ago, the bridge was burned down by a couple of historically challenged teenagers but the town rebuilt the bridge to its original glory. Also little remembered from that period is an issue of the Sunday morning paper “Parade” insert with a cover page picture of a man who ran the nation’s largest “chop shop” operation in little Roann.
The club then traveled down to Wabash where, surprisingly, virtually no downtown restaurants were seen, so we decided to do lunch in North Manchester as originally planned. While circling downtown Wabash, a pickup truck driver next to Larry & Deb Palguta’s MGB said he had a 1966 MGB in storage down the street and asked if the club was going to park somewhere (he was disappointed by the news of our immediate departure for lunch). We made one quick stop in the little burg of Lagro where the members wandered into someone’s backyard to see and be photographed at the remains of an original lock of the Wabash-Erie Canal. Down the street was a lawn mower show/meet - the Sherriff’s car swung by twice and looked more like he was checking out our yard trespassing gang instead of the lawn mower event. Heading north we went through Servia - virtually just a cross roads intersection with a U.S. Post Office in an old multi-color mobile home trailer.
We drove side roads up to the covered wooden bridge adjacent the main street (IN 114) of North Manchester. A popular sight - several south bound cars waited while our caravan of 10 drove through the 1872 bridge. We ate at the Main View Restaurant in the middle of town. The Main View is more restaurant than tavern - the food was very good (excellent tomato bisque soup, onion rings, and sweet potato chips), not to mention the tall adult brews. Being behind schedule by one car breakdown and a long tour, we decided to do antique shopping in Pierceton, so we drove past numerous well-kept turn of the century homes, the middle of Manchester College, and up IN 13 through Sidney to check out the “oldies” at Pierceton. There are plenty of antique shops in Pierceton, which seem to be its main industry, along with a jewelry shop and a hand-made chocolates shop (pricey sweets but good). Roger’s announcement that everyone had 5 minutes to shop fell on many deaf ears. After about a half hour, we loaded up to head to Syracuse and its famed tavern under the gazebo. Just across US 30, the Dillon’s Arkley/Midget stopped suddenly. It started up after the gas cap was opened and gas began flowing through the fuel filter (plugged vent hole???). By the time we reached Syracuse, 3 cars had departed for other Saturday evening activities and the remaining 14 members entered the gazebo and descended into a rather large restaurant/tavern. There is a long history to this underground establishment, too long to repeat here. After a round of beverages of various brands, the club departed for home. Three cars did stop to look at the old out-of-service Baintertown Hydro Electric Station located in an Elkhart County Park.
The club had a very enjoyable and interesting drive to the sights of Wabash County. The Brits’ enjoyed the breakfast and lunch locations, nice cool weather, and got to see a lot of northern Indiana country side and historical sights. As usual, members and guests are encouraged to attend club drives; drive your British or non-British iron and join in the fun!
Epilogue – Larry & Deb Palguta stopped at the Shepherd’s and Roger arrived to check out the TR6. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is a clutch/transmission problem which may keep their LBC on the sidelines for a period of time.