Buying Triumphs Unseen In Europe – 10CR Part III

We had our estate. Now we needed another car. It seems the group, as a whole, was a sucker for cars with names. When purplebargeken put Flipper up for sale on the Dolomite Club forum we jumped! Flipper is a Dolphin Grey 1300 Front Wheel Drive Triumph. Front Wheel Drive? We knew NOTHING about Triumph’s front wheel drive other than the engine stayed front-to-back instead of side-to-side. This meant that the engine actually sits on top of the transmission. I think we bought Flipper more to be around that setup and check it out more than anything else. We picked her up for a bargain but soon the bills began to mount. It seems somebody had repaired the shock tower with newspaper and bondo.  This is not a good option for a car in which one planned to go travel 2000 miles in Europe.

This would have been a good time to write Flipper off but we’re not very bright so we poured over twice what we paid into the required repairs and still h2 Sept Flipper Quillerad a car that looked like this! Now you can plainly see that new front fender was properly installed. We decided against painting it to match so that we could share our brilliant story with any and all who asked! The truly amazing thing is how well Flipper drove. That little 1300 with a single carb really did well. It was truly the shock of the trip. The interior is red and in very good shape. The trick was to drive long enough to forget what the outside looked like and you thought you were in the best car out there!

We were in early 2013 and Doug had finally decided to pull the trigger. He found a white MK I 2000 Saloon on ebay. He had to spend some money on it but it was for things like tires and rubber bu5 Sept FIrst Gas Stopshings/mounts. You know, things that normally wear out. He didn’t have to rebuild that car! Lee and Tim were the caretakers for his car now named Casper. Those guys did a bang up job and really prepped Casper for the 10CR.

We were one car short. Billy Ray really wanted a Sprint and we had several get away at the last moment. Fortunately, I had become very good friends (well as good as one can be on the internet) with Jon Jackson. Jon makes an amazing brake upgrade for the Dolomite that has saved my life more times than I car to admit on this page. He had a 3 Sept Stonehenge RebeccaSprint and was considering parting with it. After a few months Rebecca completed our fleet. Now Jon is known for speed.He drives well and fast. He built his car to do the same.

We were six months out and in pretty good shape with The Mule, Flipper, Casper, and Rebecca. The finances were looking shockingly good for a guess of $1800 each two years earlier. But there was a big surprise waiting for us around the corner that nobody could have guessed.

Food Fight: Tasty Treats For Your Mouth!

I got into a fight recently…at a bakery…over food. Some nut was waiting for his order at Blanchard’s Bakery and casually said to the crowd “there are no good bakeries in Atlanta,” WHAT?!? No good bakeries in Atlanta? We were standing in one! I could not let this foolishness go unnoticed or unquestioned.  It turns out that he had lived in cities where bakeries had been around for close to a century and THAT is what made a bakery good. I mentioned four in my first salvo and he discounted them because they hadn’t been around very long.  Longevity isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for tastiness.  I’m sure those long-standing bakeries in Chicago and Saint Louis were good but we have great options here.  In alphabetical particular order I suggest you find the time to jump in your cool car and visit these bakeries and eat these treats before 2015:

1) Belly General Store – 772 North Highland Avenue NE – Atlanta – 404 872 1003 – A bagel is a bagel right? WRONG! The folks at Belly have moved the bagel to another level by using olive oil in the process.  At least that’s the rumor. They’re nice and these aren’t your father’s bagels.  Get your toasted with the pecan cinnamon cream cheese…I did.

2) Blanchard’s Bakery – 4226 Old Dixie Highway – Hapeville – 404 366 0267 – I visited Blanchard’s when my friend Christy  mentioned that the Petit fours there were amazing.  Hmmmm Petit fours in a bakery near the airport?  They were good but I quickly found the real reason to visit Blanchard’s: Doughnuts. They make doughnuts there that are truly amazing.  The double chocolate is the star of this show but they’re all good. On Friday they offer a croissant doughnut (Cronut). Nobody can stop at one so be careful!

3) Jake’s Ice Cream – 660 Irwin Street – Atlanta – 678 705 7945                                     Zuzette and I almost opened an ice cream store about ten years ago. I had recently discovered Jake’s and was in an altered state of mind due to the amount I was consuming. The list is long and each flavor is superb. My favorite is Devyn’s Animal Cracker named after a little girl (probably in college now). The combination that can’t be topped is Mexican Hot Chocolate with Bourbon Raisen. Yummy.

4) Lee’s Bakery – 4005 Buford Highway NE – Atlanta – 404 728 1008 – We all know that the French were in Vietnam before we were. What I found out recently is that the locals kept some aspects of French cuisine afterwards. At Lee’s Bakery you will find amazing sandwiches on baguettes (banh mi) that will surprise your palate. You choose which meat (I prefer the pork but the chicken is good as well). The balance of the sandwich is pickled veggies and jalapenos. The secret is that if you buy five the sixth is free. Just get three of each!

5) The Little Tart Bakeshop – 437 Memorial Drive SE – Atlanta – 404 348 4797   – LTB is located off of Memorial across from Oakland Cemetery around back. The word I heard was that the ham and cheese croissants here were amazing.  They are. Whatever else you get please take one of these as well. If it’s still warm I promise it’s a breakfast you won’t soon forget. Leave before you eat it or you’ll end up with two in your belly! There are tons of sweet and savory baked treats available. On the sweet side I recommend the dark chocolate almond meringue. It’s like biting into air but trust me, there are glorious calories awaiting. Don’t eat these two in the car or you’ll have crumbs all over you and the carpet. Octane Coffee is co-located here so you get great coffee as well!

6) Mae’s Bakery – 2770 Lenox Road NE – Atlanta – 404 565 0938                              – Croissants like you’ve never had them. I told my partner Lissa that I was going to take some croissants from Mae’s to an office for breakfast one day. I mentioned the almond in particular. She was skeptical. When I opened the box she was intrigued. I watched her knees literally buckle as she bit into the almond croissant. It comes with fresh toasted almonds and some serious sweet topping mix with cinnamon, sugar, and other secret habit-inducing spices. The regular croissants are some of the best I’ve ever had. The chocolate is really good but the almond is the reason to go. So go!

7) Southern Sweets Bakery – 186 Rio Circle – Decatur – 404 373 8752                                   – Tucked away in the area between Decatur and Avondale Estates is the place for cakes, sweets, and biscuits. There are so many choices that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I’m eating my way around the display case now. So far the most amazing thing has been the cappuccino bar. Imagine a blonde brownie with a base of java taste. Now throw in white chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut. One office I gave this too drove thirty miles just to get a pan! I’ve had the red velvet and pecan tarts as well. All are great. With each biscuit comes handmade raspberry preserves. Just up your cardio to compensate!

8) Star Provisions – 1198 Howell Mill Road – Atlanta – 404 365 0410                 My experiences at SP have been limited but are so good that I fight the west side traffic to visit. Each holiday season I make a dash over for two loaves of their bread and we eat for a week. There are so many loaves to choose from I can’t make a pick. I do know that leftover turkey sandwiches on SP bread is why I look forward to Thanksgiving! SP also offers cheeses and meats beyond compare as well as artisan chocolates and baked goodies. The website bills SP as the pantry and walk-in cooler for Bacchanalia. How could you go wrong?

9) Sublime Doughnuts – 535 Tenth Street NW – Atlanta – 404 897 1801             – More doughnuts but boy what doughnuts these are! My son Andrew went on a teacher outing to this shop close to Georgia Tech. Wow! The flavors are fun and they get funky with the shapes. You can even special order doughnuts shaped like the letters in HAPPY BIRTHDAY. My two favorites are the Orange Dream Star and the Chocolate Banana Fritter. The store actually limits you to two dozen unless you order a day in advance! These are that good.

This list isn’t complete or meant to give you all of the great bakeries in town. Rather, it’s my experiences so far. I bet by next summer I have another nine places to suggest. Feel free to share your favorite spots. I’m always up for finding new places!




Slaves To Triumph

Jim Orr and I decided to attend the Georgia Triumph Association’s December Pub Night in my Herald Saloon. I wanted to drive it and he wanted to see how it was to ride in one. He’s restoring a Herald Coupe that arrived in many boxes and had yet to experience the Herald Difference in motoring!

We climbed in and the awesomeness of 1496 cubic centimeters fired up with the wrath of an over revving Snap-On mower. I smiled confident that Jim would be impressed. As I pushed the clutch peddle my smile quickly went away…NO PRESSURE!

A quick inspection turned up an empty master cylinder and a large puddle of brake fluid (Castrol of course) on the carport. Instead of pushing the Herald out of the way and jumping in the Stag I did the obvious. I filled the cylinder, placed the fluid container in the trunk, jumped into the car, and pumped until the pressure returned. With this setback conquered we drove to the meeting and had a great night with the GTA members.

Back under the carport another puddle formed over the next two days.  It’s not a complicated system.  As you can see from this diagram from the online Moss Motors Spitfire catalog.  The fluid was escaping through the master cylinder, pipe, or slave cylinder.  Into the garage and up on jack stands went Herald.  The problem was the slave cylinder.  That should be an easy fix.  However, there were two options…3/4″ for the early cars (which my car is) and 7/8″ for the later cars with larger engines (which my car has).  Andy Mace, the USA Herald expert, said that I should have the larger bore with my engine.  The only way to figure out what I needed was to pull it out and hope that there was a part number stamped on the side.

Clutch System


Jim agreed to show up one night after work to help me remove the cylinder.  After I finished up fatherly duties I found Jim in the garage greasy and under my car pulling out the cylinder!  There was a number on the side so I put the info on Facebook and Andy told me I had the 3/4″ cylinder.  I wanted to repair this quickly and now could order the kit.

Enter Tom Horvat…he read about my dilemma on Facebook and mentioned that he had an extra rebuild kit or two.   The next day I drove to his house (he lives in my territory) and chose one of the FOUR rebuild kits he had laid out for me.  By the way, if you need a rebuild kit for a 3/4″ bore slave cylinder I recommend Tom in Sharpsburg.

Herald Slave Rebuild Kit

The kit look pretty daunting.  Yeah, two pieces.  I bet it took me 45 seconds to remove the old pieces, wipe the cylinder out, inspect it, and reassemble.  Now came the fun part. Andy suggested that the job would be a lot easier if we removed the transmission tunnel.  Because I installed overdrive with the switch on the shifter we didn’t remove the tunnel when we removed the cylinder.  Because of this it was a bear on removal and would have been impossible on the installation.


I disassembOverdrie Switchled the overdrive knob (which was more complicated than any other job on this project) and attempted to remove the tunnel.  This diagram is from the Rimmer Brothers online catalog for Spitfires.

The radio I installed with the help of Mike Roe about ten years ago prevented the removal.  However, we could lift the tunnel about four inches.  With me under and Jim in the car we were able to refit the slave, bleed the system, and restore the system to working order.  That last sentence took about five seconds to type but over an hour in the garage!  I left out the fitting, unfitting, pipe removal, refitting, and bad language.

I purchased the Herald in 1994 and had never replaced the slave so my expectation is that this is a twenty-year fix.  I hope Tom lives nearby in 2034!


Assembling Team Torpedo – 10CR Part II

The plan was to buy Triumphs, go to Europe, and participate in Club Triumph’s Ten Countries Run. We had no idea how much it would cost but we guessed $1800 each. The scheme was an initial buy in and then a low monthly payment from January 2011 to August 2013.

Our goal was to take guys who would be laid back and easy going. We knew that the chance of things going sideways with cars purchased via the Internet an ocean away was pretty high. The initial list was small. When we approached our fellow Triumph owners who met our criteria we were pleasantly surprised. We would explain the plan and before we could ask them to join they would interrupt and ask how to sign up! Others had to ask their significant others. That’s where the spreading out of the cost really helped. It wasn’t a quick financial hit. Soon we had twelve guys unafraid and foolhardy enough to join.

We needed a name and struggled with this for a while. Most of us are involved with an annual charity scavenger hunt called “Damn The Torpedoes” so TEAM TORPEDO was born!

Team Torpedo Logo
We were over two years out and checking UK club sites, Ebay UK, and other classic car sites daily looking for cars! Each of us would post cars on the Team Torpedo Facebook page. I’m not pretending that we were very smart during this process because we bought a car in early 2011. We decided that we needed an estate wagon, or station wagon in America, for luggage carrying capacity. One popped up on Ebay and we pounced! The previous year our group met Rimmer Brothers agent Christopher Dennis at the Vintage Triumph Register’s National Convention. He was kind enough to drive north and inspect this prospect for us. After the auction ended we realized we had purchased an estate wagon with an automatic transmission that that we didn’t need for two years and had no place to store it!

Estate Left Side

Estate Left RearEstate Left Front

Yeah, we were nuts.  Do you SEE THAT RUST?!?  Chris agreed to store The Mule (a name which would be earned on the 10CR) for us for almost two years. This purchase, and the accompanying logistical issues, slowed us down for a while. While we wanted to jump on some deals that came up constantly, we had run out of friends in England with storage space.

While The Mule was a group car owned by twelve owners, we offered an option for syndicate members to purchase a car privately to import back to the USA after the event.  The syndicate would “rent” the car for the 10CR.  Billy Ray and Doug planned on doing this. They took different paths to new car ownership. Doug had a serious spreadsheet and tracked the sales of the big six-cylinder saloons on for over two years. His plan was to buy early in 2013…MUCH smarter than the group as a whole . Billy Ray wanted a Dolomite Sprint or two-door Toledo and wanted to get the best car when it presented itself. We put the word out through some Internet acquaintances in the Triumph Dolomite Club Forum.




The roster of Team Torpedo went through several changes throughout 2011 and 2012.  As we ended 2012 the final roster was set:

Joe Earnest – Georgia
Trent Hubbard – Georgia
Doug Jensen – Kentucky
Billy Ray Magella – Ohio
Glenn Minucci – Maryland
Michael Montoya – Florida
Jim Orr – Georgia
Victor Rohner – Michigan
Mike Roe – Indiana
Stanford Van Dorn – New York
Rob Wolosonowich – Arkansas
Howard Yankelov – Pennsylvania

We were one seriously spread out group with the following goal: Go to Europe, drive four cars across ten countries, and return without being dead, maimed, or tortured!



Meeting Victor or How The Trouble Started – 10CR Part I

In 1993, I attended the Roadster Factory Summer Party in Armagh, Pennsylvania. It’s an annual gathering for owners of English cars to drive on great roads in the hills of western Pennsylvania. One of the events scheduled for the day was a 70 mile ride through the countryside to the Portage Railway Museum. What a sight it must have been to see! We were a caravan of over 100 cars. I was in my TR250 (TR=Triumph) stuck behind some slow slow slow MGBs and Spitfires. It was so painful! I had just rebuilt the engine and my patience was growing thin. I wanted to go go go! When we finally merged onto an interstate-type highway, I roared into the left lane passing those slow cars.


Suddenly, in my rear-view-mirror was a guy in a green TR3 flashing his lights for me to get the hell out of the way! I looked at my speedometer…95mph! I moved over as he sped by with a small wave. I looked over at my passenger and said “I don’t know who that is, but when we get to where we’re going I’m going to track him down, shake his hand, and be his best friend forever”! That’s exactly what I did. Victor was the TR3 guy and he is always up for a good time. Although he is in Michigan and I’m in Georgia, we have remained fast friends.


Over the years we have met either at the Summer Parties or other Triumph gatherings. Driving the cars and road trips are the key to our fun times. One fall I flew into Detroit and gathered my ebay-purchased Dolomite from the parking lot. Of course, Victor was there for the trip in his TR4 (not a typo…Triumph folks can never stop at one) and we drove both cars to Atlanta. Later that year he flew down and we drove his TR3 and Bugeye Sprite from Atlanta to his house near Flint, Michigan.


As the Internet came along and news from all over the world became easier to discover, we followed Club Triumph in England with great interest. Every two years they hosted something called LeJog or The Round Britain Reliability Run. This event would start in London at the Plough Pub and participants, all in Triumphs, headed north to the tip of Scotland, South to the Southwest tip of England, and then back to the Plough. No need to hit up Googlemaps, it’s 2000 miles in 48 hours! Driving around the UK on the wrong side of the road…on the wrong side of the car…what more could we ask for? To us this sounded like the Super Bowl of Triumph ownership!

We schemed on how we could participate. All it took for some crazy plan to come up was a beer or two or three. We thought of everything from an illegal raffle of the car in the states after the event to just taking sponsorships. Sadly, the plan never happened.

In 2009, we heard about Club Triumph’s other long distance event The Ten Countries Run (10CR). Let me repeat TEN COUNTRIES RUN! HOLY MOLY if LeJog was the Super Bowl this had to be the World Cup of Triumphs. It’s a bit more leisurely going ONLY 2400 miles through ten countries in four days. The more we thought about this event the more we knew we had to go. Traveling on the European mainland meant driving on the side of the road we are used to. Fatigued Americans sensing a disaster in the wee wee hours would normally go right. In the UK this would get us killed moving into the oncoming lane. In Europe the worst that would happen would be to careen off a mountain to a spectacular end.

Not being men of great means we decided to form a syndicate with other Triumph lovers and go over for the 2013 10CR. That gave us almost three years to come up with the money for this adventure.

Now we had to find other guys crazy enough to do this and cars…

Augusta to Charleston the Easy Way

Some say Atlanta is “the city too busy to hate.”  Mayor Hartsfield coined that phrase when desegregation of the schools went more smoothly in Atlanta than in other large southern cities.  I’m not sure about that today but I do know this:  Atlantans love to argue.  Politics and religion are normal but one type of argument holds a special place in the hearts of the citizens of my town.  This argument is the best or fastest way to get somewhere.  We all think we know THE WAY to get to a certain destination.  Two friends of mine recently became rather heated discussing the best way to get to Charleston.  The question of going directly to Augusta on I-20 was settled.  The balance of the route was the catalyst for the lively discussion.  The options are either continuing on the longer Interstate route through Columbia or a more direct route through the small towns of South Carolina.  I believe these gentlemen are going to stage a competition to settle it once and for all.  I’ll let you know.

One day I turned to the South Carolina spread of my road atlas and wondered about the more direct routes.  There are several to choose from.  I was looking for a state route with few towns and two-lane roads.  I wanted to miss the eighteen-wheelers that sometimes frequent the US highways.  These were in place before Eisenhower’s Interstate system made it possible to go three thousand miles and see nothing along the way.  I can’t speak to the fastest or even best way.  A friend from a small town on the way to Athens (another story) suggested picking up South Carolina 61 just outside of Bamberg and taking it into Charleston.

Of course I left too late to appreciate the road as the winter days are short.  I found myself in an ever-growing line of cars headed for Charleston.  It seems South Carolinians in small towns head to Charleston for a good time on Friday nights.  My goal was to head back home Sunday morning WITHOUT a hangover.

My accommodations were at the Embassy Suites in the historic district.  It’s the old Citadel building and looks like a castle.  The staff was great and the added benefits of nightly manager’s reception and amazing breakfast makes it a sure bet for a return visit.  Sunday morning came and although the Monza and Closed For Business establishments did their best, my head was clear as I hit the Savannah Highway (Highway 17) and headed for Atlanta.


Artistic shot for the ladies

Immediately I missed the first, second, and third options to join Highway 61.  My first thought was that if you’re looking for a sleepy road it should be hard to find.  Within five miles a canopy of trees covered the road and I was immediately relaxed speeding along.  The road wasn’t very twisty but it wasn’t a straight shot either.

charleston2 charleston3 charleston4

Soon I passed Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.  This property has been in the Drayton family since the 1600s!  Being from a town that burned to the ground in 1864 I am always taken aback by structures being over 150 years old.  Maybe I’ll take the family to visit one day.  The road continued its lazy path under the trees.  There weren’t many places for a policeman to hide so I guess they get you here traveling in the opposite direction.  NOTE TO TRAVELERS ON ROUTE 61:  Take a good radar detector.  I recommend the Valentine as it tells you the number of detection devices and whether they are in front, beside, or behind you.  Ashford says the Escort works well too.

Shortly I passed Givhans Ferry and Colleton State Parks.  If you want to travel much slower there is the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail.  It goes from Colleton to Givhans.  It’s a seven to nine hour journey to go 21 miles.

Highway 61 continues to be a gentle way of travel compared to the Interstate.  Soon I was approaching Bamberg.  I had two options.  I chose the one NOT named “Augusta-Charleston Road” (Highway 301) and instead chose US78 and drove through Denmark.  After all, I’d never been to Denmark.  I had my passport ready for a new stamp but the customs agents must have been on break when I passed through.


I continued on my way through the small towns of Blackville, Williston, and Beech Island before crossing the Savannah River on Sand Bar Ferry Road near my friend Trent’s warehouse.  He specializes in salvaged wood from old factories.  Call him if you’re passing through.  I bet he has a beer or bourbon drink with your name on it.  This route might not be the fastest but I’ll be taking it the next time I head to Charleston.  Even if you don’t have the luxury of hitting the parks or gardens the trip is a relaxing one that I say is very much worth it.   After all, if you’re heading to Charleston who wants to show up stressed out?