24 Oct 2009, 10:38pm
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1929 REO at the Alamo

REO1Some old car restorations take longer than others.  In the case of the 1929 REO Flying Cloud coupe belonging to the Texas Transportation Museum, it took a number of volunteers over ten years.  But today, just in time for its 80th anniversary, it made its public San Antonio debut at the San Antonio Founder’s Day event held at the Alamo today, Saturday October 24, 2009.

REO2 After a shaky start first thing this morning, due to the fact I somehow managed to leave the ignition switch on over night, requiring a 6 volt battery substitution as the unexpected first order of business, the car ran really well on Broadway, from the International Airport all the way to the front door of the Alamo itself.  Museum volunteer Doug Goode put in extra effort to give it a tremendous polish and shine and it’s been a long time since it ever looked this good.

REO5It did not run when we it was donated to the museum in the mid 1990s.  Several volunteers had started then abandoned the attempt to get the recalcitrant old buzzard to run again.  I was involved all along but it took Ben Bennett, our quiet mechanical genius, to figure out just exactly what was wrong with unorthodox Schebler carburetor then find someone who could fix it.


RE03At one point a mechanic at the Ransom Eli Olds museum in Lansing, Michigan, who was kind enough to send the museum a treasure trove of technical information, told me to set aside maybe an hour a week to work on the car, which he promised would be a heart breaker.  He said sooner or later we would set up the carburetor just right, without even knowing it, and, all of a sudden, the car would run beautifully.  He sternly advised me, “At that point, LEAVE IT ALONE!”  Just drive it and enjoy.

REO4 And so here we are.  The REO is suitable for long distance driving as it was the first production vehicle to have hydraulic brakes, which means you have a better chance of keeping its rather powerful inline six under control.  Today is, hopefully, just the beginning of the car’s renaissance.  We don’t know how well it performs during the low speed, high stress – for cars – atmosphere that is parades like the “Battle Of Flowers” but we look forward to finding out.


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