When Ron Davis agreed to help with the local leg of a historic cross-country journey, he never expected to become part of the story.
Neither did Cliff Hay.
But there they were, in Mr. Hay’s Cobleskill shop sday, elbow-deep in grease, fittings, and tools, helping to reassemble a 1909 DA Maxwell touring car bound for San Francisco, California.
“I thought we were just going to wave hello and goodbye,” Mr. Davis dead-panned.
“This wasn’t part of the plan.”
In June 1909. then-22-year-old Alice Ramsey and three friends became the first women to drive across America in a 1909 DA Maxwell touring car.
One hundred years later, Emily Anderson of Washington State is retracing the 3,600 mile route in a car owned and rebuilt by her father, Richard Anderson, accompanied by an entourage of riders, support staff, and fans.
The car left Broadway last Tuesday and was expected in Cobleskill in time for a picnic with SVRAACA members that evening.
But when it arrived, three hours late, it did so in a trailer after breakdowns on both sides of the Rip Van Winkle bridge.
After a short night, Mr. Davis, Mr. Anderson, tour mechanic Tim Simonsma, and others spent the next day ferrying the engine to Fort Edward for repairs and digging up parts locally.
By suppertime, they were in Mr. Hay’s shop, where the Maxwell had spent the night, working into the night to get the Maxwell back on the road.
Just before 8 Thursday morning, Mr. Anderson drove the car to Cobleskill’s Super 8 Motel, to meet up with the entourage and head out.
But things didn’t sound “right” and the Maxwell headed back to Mr. Hay’s shop so he and Mr. Simonsma could rip the engine apart again.
“That’s where the tools are,” Mr. Simonsma said. “It doesn’t make sense to leave until we have everything right. We’re still working the bugs out.”
It was about 10:30 when Ms. Anderson and the day’s riders pulled on their dusters to wave goodbye to Cobleskill; the last leg of their local journey took them up Route 145 to Route 20 and through Sharon Springs to Bouckville for unfortunately, more of the same.
According to the group’s blog on www.aliceramsey.org, the problems with the Maxwell’s oil delivery system continued across the state and it wasn’t until Friday that the group made it to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Not till Sunday did they cross into Ohio—without a breakdown and in the Maxwell’s longest day of the drive so far, according to a posting by co-pilot Christie Catania.