David Fights Goliath

Goliath Wins

Side view showing the height mismatch between the front bumper of the 1962 Studebaker Lark and the 1992 Foretravel Grand Villa
David versus Goliath except this time Goliath won. The Studebaker could have broken the fiberglass air dam under the nose of the Foretravel’s bumper, but it didn’t.

On the 31st of May 2021 at 7:00 PM or 19:00 in the evening I called my husband from Memorial Health University Medical Center Savannah, Georgia and demanded that he get in the Studebaker and come and pick me up. And he did his best. While backing out and driving into our driveway to test his mastery of the car’s controls his foot slipped from the clutch pedal. And here is the aftermath.

Photograph of our 1962 Studebaker Lark after it hit the front of our motor-home.
June 1st 2021. I demanded the impossible from my husband, and through no fault of his own, I got what I deserved.

As luck would have it, Studebaker-International, holder of the remains of the Studebaker factory parts warehouse, had a new nose piece in stock, plus the bezel and grill. A local autobody shop took care of the parts change and paint chores while I attended to recovering from my injuries.

Engine side photo of the radiator showing damage cause by the cooling fan blades striking the radiator core.
The pristine Studebaker radiator after the collision. Several Radiator tubes were cut by the fan blades.

The radiator I sent back to a trusted shop in Bow, NH. I don’t know when he’s going to become too old to do the work he does but Bob Rondeau is one of those rare individuals who does one thing and does it very well.

The Studebaker does everything that we hoped it would do with no fuss or bother. And that’s pretty much how I spent the summer of 2021 post Memorial Day. It wasn’t until the end of the year that my right eye was pronounced to be “as good as it’s going to get.” I’ve learned to work around the blind spots, and to be aware that they exist. I think I’ll show you an example of what can go wrong when you don’t recognize your new limit. Art


What Have I Been Doing Since 2 February 2022?

Selfie in the Waiting Room.  Keep in mind that in addition to damaging my eye and breaking my face more accurately the orbital wall., I couldn't understand why I couldn't be taken care of immediately.  After all, there is no one else in the waiting room.
Waiting to be admitted to Memorial-Meadows in Vidalia, Georgia

Memorial Day 2021

I had plans. I had things to do and places to go. And a Studebaker in need of tender loving care. As is my way, a holiday is a good day to stay home and catch up on work, so I started out for my morning walk with Duke the Dog. He bolted after a cat. I wasn’t awake yet and I fumbled the hand over over his leash, but I had a good grip when he reached the end at 25′ and off my feet I came. And down I came stopping my fall with my face on the corner of a BCI Group 24 Gel-Cell battery.

Injury sustained? A Crushed Eye Injury and an Orbital Wall Fracture.
I have more than a passing acquaintance with concussions. I take blood thinners. The Insurance Company didn’t think that “close following was warranted.” And the hospitals were full of patients who “couldn’t possibly be sick from the SARS COV-2 Virus because everybody knows it’s a hoax.”

So I caught a ride over to Meadows-Memorial in Vidalia, where the onions come from, and there I was asked if I had driven myself in, we have a history, then the emergency room team politely threw up their hands and I caught a ride in an ambulance to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia where I was assured I’d be much more comfortable. In Savannah I got the good news, just as the portable x-ray machine arrived, that I as a Class-3 trauma, was going to be set aside because (4) Class-1 traumas were arriving. It’s always a good thing to be told that you can wait; never a good thing to be moved to the head of the line in hospital.

Thirty-six hours later I was kicked to the curb. Now please keep in mind I’m still concussed. I had just been examined by an eye doctor who impressed me by showing up with a bright light and a magnifying glass. He dilated my eye, pried open the eye lid and had me look up, down, left, right, upper right, upper left, lower left, lower right and pronounced me fit to go home. So I did when any rational person would do, I called up my husband, told him, ordered him, to get into an uncertain car he’s never driven before, drive at night to a city he’s never been to, find a hospital he doesn’t even know the name of and bring me home. Lynn did what any rational person would do: he crashed the car into the front of our motorhome.

I took an Uber home.

Art lying in a hospital bed about 36 hours after the initial damage.  Swelling has already begin to recede.
Resting and waiting in Memorial University Savannah, Georgia

Our New Car

The 1962 Studebaker Lark 2-Door Hard-Top powered by the Studebaker 259/4.2 V-8 driving through a 3-speed manual transmission, Borg Warner Overdrive and a Dana 27 Twin-Traction Rear Axle.

Surprisingly peppy. Short gears around town yet long legs for the highway.

When you roll up the side glass, they fit together tightly with no air leaks.

It’s only the two of us and Duke, the Dog, and Duke is perfectly capable of crawling in and out of the back seat.

I always wanted true dual exhaust. Sounds nice.

The GM cars of the era would leave gasoline on sudden acceleration. The Lark has a high mounted air vent and a sealed gas cap.

There’s something about the roof line.

Hub caps I have but don’t like. Ten inch dog bowl hub caps are in the near future.

Four headlights, a grill, a lark emblem and the one year hood ornament.


The Next Day

I did a walk around while Lynn slept in this morning, and the only disappointment I had was damage to the fiberglass bay doors on the passenger side. The first door, the door for the propane and diesel needs to be replaced. Well, it could be “repaired” but I’d rather see if I can lay up a new door. Makes me feel useful.

After breakfast Lynn took me out to show off where he had been living for the past week. Wow! The interior was mint! The layout was a good as I hoped after looking at the FTX. Lynn was happy that the bathroom had good light, in fact at first I thought the interior light was on it was so bright inside. This bed I could shuffle around so re-doing the covers is easier. And the cedar wardrobe is everything I hoped for, a place to hang stuff and a shelf for white goods. Everything works except for the refrigerator but we knew that going in. I mean what is the difference between a 27 year old Dometic that has a cooling unit of undetermined patency or a dead Dometic that needs a new cooling unit? Easy. A brand new cooling unit is easy to install and brings peace of mind and improved performance. And it was going to happen sooner or later.

And I got to drive our new home. Well, I backed it out into the driveway and backed it into our space.


The Arrival

Knowing Lynn as well as I do, I could tell that he was pushing himself to arrive home even so Duke, the Dog and I retired at 11:00 PM. Shortly after midnight I heard the rumble of a diesel image, the sound of air brakes being set fo the night, lights through the windshield of the Rockwood and a sleepy dog barking at this apparition. Lynn waving from one rig to another. You know the drill, all arms and elbows, pants, shirt, shoes, leash, cane, door lock and try not to fall on my face on the way out the door. Duke, the Dog nearly pulled me over as he spied with his nose and eyes our nosy neighbor eyeing the lack of a license plate and trying not to be seen.

Lynn insisted on giving us a quick tour before I hustled him into the warmth of the Rockwood and a glass of milk before putting him down for the night.


The Trip

Lynn is a long distance driver. He loves to drive late into the night. He responds well to short naps. He likes to get where he’s going. We corresponded via text messages when he stopped. In 20° weather it would have been nice if just 1 of the 3 heating systems worked.

Lynn wasn’t comfortable driving local roads so he stayed on the interstates and in truck stops. Until he reached Birmingham, Alabama, the Scranton, PA of the south.

I-20 ran at that time through Birmingham. Not a nice, boulevarded interstate with on and off ramps, but right through Birmingham on the city streets. And just to keep things interesting as new detours were created, the signs for the old detours were left in place. For this type of skill building exercise, it’s best if the husband is left to his own devices. Other than doing the driving myself there was nothing I could have done and learning where the 4 corners of a 22,000 pound 36′ long truck are, and where the off side tires roll can only be acquired through hours spent in the driver’s seat. After 30 years with this man and even through my Asperger’s syndrome view of the world I knew enough not to ask “Didn’t you pay attention to the route the bus driver took?” And after Lynn’s arrival I saved my walk around inspection for the next morning, while Lynn was asleep. I noted and did not mention the high polish to the sidewalls on the curb side tires.



Lynn went partly because I’m an Asperger’s Syndrome adult. As such I don’t respond well to being told lies. So if I ask you if a wire transfer to your bank is acceptable to you do not, do not, do not, say yes if you do not know what a wire transfer entails. I am paying what I consider a hefty bank fee for the speed of what is essentially a computerized transaction between two banks. Unless of course you now live in the rural south where banks still return your paper checks with your bank statement. Then you find out that your local bank uses an affiliate account with a larger bank for their wire transfers.

So I have the privilege of dealing with a surprise on my end. I do not need to be instructing you on the mechanics of wire transfers. But that is all on the past, the seller has his money and Lynn has moved into our new home. What? Did you think we wold allow it to sit unattended on his lot once we paid for it? Think again bucko.

Now comes the paperwork. Now Texas is a nice conservative state, but I’ve learned over the years that conservative is shorthand for “as long as I don’t have to pay for it” and as such I do my best to avoid paying any more than I must. All I asked was to have the paperwork over-nighted to me and I would take care of the paperwork and overnight a valid registration and tag in return. All I wanted to pay was the Georgia tax on imported vehicles.

Lynn had other ideas. So he jumped through the hoops for a Texas title, and temporary travel permit that was route and time limited. Just what I want when driving a 27 year old vehicle of relatively unknown provenance 1,400 miles. I have no problem traveling long distances in antique vehicles, and I expect to reach my destination. Setting a day and time for arrival on the other hand is, shall we say, daring?


The Purchase

Lynn found a 1992 U225 on the New Mexican border and my gut feeling was to go for it. It was more than I wanted to spend, but then again, classic thought used to be to purchase the largest house that you could afford. Could we really step up to a diesel pusher with air brakes? Well we can try.

After the initial telephone calls, came transportation. There really was no question that it would be Lynn doing the traveling and making the purchase. He had been corresponding with knowledgeable folks on the Foretravel forum, and knew where to look and for what to look. I took on the task of booking transportation.

First choice was was air travel. That quickly turned into a bust. Airliners are great if you’re going from hub to hub, but flying into the middle of no where? Bus! Savannah, GA is closer but Macon, GA eliminates a 3 hour tour of South Carolina. And I know how those 3-hour tours end up. Besides. The bus driver would be taking the same route Lynn would use to return, either on another bus or with our new home. I also suggested purchasing a nice rust free Texas automobile for the drive home if the Foretravel didn’t meet our requirements.


Our New Beginning

In January of 2019 our home of 8 years, a 1986 Rockwood motorhome was beginning to fall apart. We spent some time looking for a new home to live in, and for the price we were focused on Fleetwood Bounder motorhomes. I’d had enough of the Rockwood’s over-taxed chassis and wanted full airbag suspension. The Ford V-10 engine kinda made me wanna look at that option. Until I looked, but even then I was willing to block out the $2,500 dollars a spark plug change gone wrong would cost. I am single minded if nothing else. Then my husband suggested Foretravel.

Now we both had heard that Foretravel was a top of the line motorhome when new, ans we wondered just how ancient we would need to go to fit our resources. After doing a 200 mile or so day to visit a 1986 10th Anniversary Foretravel FTX, Foretravel 10, get it? I returned home convinced that we should make a serious search so we made a list. We needed through bays underneath for storage. We needed a little more length, because the 32′ Rockwood wasn’t really designed for full time living, unless you wanted to wear either a bathing suit or jeans and a sweater. I did some soul searching and recognized that if I have a fault, it’s that I “go too cheap” when I really shouldn’t and I found some more money. Lynn found this 1992 U225 in west Texas. It’s one of two entry level motorhomes that Foretravel made, the U240 with a larger more powerful engine being the other. It has Goodyear Velvet Ride Torsionaire suspension rather than the more complicated 8-air bag system Foretravel uses on the bigger coaches. 1992 appears to be the last year for a diesel engine with a mechanical injector pump, the same goes for the Allison 4-speed transmission. The transmission looks much the same as the second generation General Motors Hydramatic, and I can live with that. Then Lynn said the magic words, if you have the built-in washer dryer you lose 1/2 of the Cedar Wardrobe. My head snapped around and I repeated cedar wardrobe?

Some further research showed that the rubber mounted torsion bar suspension pieces were being manufactured by an aftermarket company called Silastic. Check. We decided that we both liked the ride quality of torsion bar suspension. Chrysler Corporation used torsion bars on everything from the Plymouth Valiant to the Imperial at one point in time. And we decided to go for it.