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Journal

April-09-07
Well, we are leaving on schedule. We were able to leave the car in a warehouse, where we hopefully will pick it up unmolested when we return in May. The La France is there as well.

We took it easy this afternoon, worked out, got a hair cut, and went around the corner to the Hard Rock Cafť for a decent cheeseburger.

Fred is headed back tomorrow and I am headed to Hong Kong for a day, then meeting Leejun in L A. We are picking up the G wagon we used in the Central America Rally and driving back to Vail. We will stay in Vegas one night on the way.


April-08-07
Easter Sunday in Beijing was a beautiful day. The rest of the group drove to the Great Wall today. We opted to hang out here and do some work on the car. Fred found some top hardware that had fallen off early on. So our top is fixed.

We went to the Pearl market which is in a Chinese Shopping center. Three floors of stalls full of all types of pearls. The problem is that I know nothing about pearls, so didnít really know what I was looking at. Then we went to the Chinese Friendship Store where there are all kinds of Chinese arts and crafts and antiques. We couldnít find the open air markets that used to be here and suspect they have been destroyed in preparation for the Olympics.

We did find a several story building full of stalls where we were able to check out a bunch of stuff including knock off watches. We then headed back to the hotel walking along a beautiful avenue on a beautiful spring day.

We came upon a Middle Eastern restaurant that looked to be pretty good, and it was. We decided to have our Easter dinner in a Muslim restaurant. Next to us was a large party of Expats having Easter dinner. The waiters brought a huge animal of some kind which was carved up and served. We decided that it may have been the Easter Bunny. Anyhow, we had a great dinner arriving back at the hotel well before the group who had gone to the wall.

We then learned that the problem of keeping the car here had not been solved as we had been told the night before. So hopefully Monday morning will tell the tale. Fred and I would both like to leave on time. More to come.

Jim


April-08-07
Greetings from Beijing:

It is Easter afternoon. To the Chinese it doesn't seem to matter.
There was an Easter Egg hunt in the lobby but they were looking for 1,000 year old eggs. I passed. Jim and I worked on the car for a few hours getting it ready to leave here. It appears that things will work out and the car can remain in China instead of being exported and returned. The group went to the Great Wall for a ceremonial finish but Jim and I passed as we will leave on the next rally from the same spot on the wall.

When we left Hong Kong there were 8 classic cars. A Mercedes 190SL driven by two Americans. A Mercedes 280SEL driven by two Germans. A Bentley from Los Angeles with three American drivers. A Rolls from Los Angeles driven by Chicken Jim and Mrs. Chicken. A Rolls driven by Alistar from New Zealand and his English navagator. A Ferrari driven by two Italian Swiss. A 1918 American LaFrance that was driven by two Germans from Hong Kong. This car is going on to Paris also and is car number 11 on the Peking Paris Rally. There were also three Americans that drove a rented Hundai after and two Swiss guys that rode with the travel agent. These guys were promomised transportation by the disorganizer but it never materialized. We all became good friends beginning with our troubles in Hong Kong and then throughout the various solutions.

I want to thank all the people giving us advice on our overheating problem. It is not totally over as we expect some warm weather down the road and I will bring back a stronger electric fan and hopefully a larger mechanical fan. At the suggestions of Bob and Kip we will use low octane fuel only when necessary as we were using it most of the way. It was sort of neat using it when we pulled into a gas station and shut off the engine it would give off one big backfire. All the Chinese gas station attendents, mostly young women, would run for cover. They thought the cavalry was coming with six guns blazing. It was a hell of arrival and attention getter. Within a few seconds between 20 and 50 Chinese were gathered around the car chattering away.

The cascading overheating problems began with three boil overs in Hong Kong before arrival at the Border. We discovered that the radiator filler and the pressure cap were not a match. The filler replaced and a small electric fan installed stopped the boil overs but not the heat. The Chinese pressure cap then blew a hole in the radiator The leak fixed and a new thermostat had no effect. We then had a larger fan installed and replaced the coolant with the Chinese version of wetter water. Still no relief. We had no water in the oil and no oil in the water. We were not losing any water.The head was torqued and compression checked prior to shipping. The water pump was working and thermostat opening. We checked the timing with a light. We were now at a loss for fixes. I wired the heat flaps in the exhaust open and began to slowly advance the timing. The weather turned cool and things got better. It seems that the accumulation all the fixes has given us relif and we run much cool er. Thanks to everyone for advice and prayers.

Jm and I fly home Tuesday and we will begin a new chapter next month when Jim and I return to take the Buick on the next leg of its journey around the World.

Happy Easte!
God Bless America!

Fred


April-07-07
Greetings from Beijing:

We have arrived. The run today was uneventful and all down the expressway as we were ready to arrive and sort out the issues with leaving the car here. Everyone else is here. Alistar got here first with his sick Rolls.

Jim and I have now completed a loop in China from east to west in the north and west to east in the south and hooked it up the last days from south to north. We have traveled in excess of 9,000 miles between our two trips. We began this trip in the same hotel in Hong Kong we ended the HERO trip and we are ending this trip in the same hotel in Beijing we began the HERO trip. We have seen many things and met many people. Lots of adventures and memories. We made many friends on both rallys. I love this country and its people. Paris here we come!

The Buick did well here at the end and I will go home with a long list of things to bring back for the next rally in late May. Things I forgot and things I learned we need are on the list.

Tomorrow I will email a summary of my trip.

Happy Easter!

God Bless America!

Fred


April-06-07
Today we were in two local newspapers in Qingdao. There was a picture of Fred and me and the car after we came off the ferry yesterday and a picture of the Buick in front of the hotel in the other. We attract a lot of attention where ever we go. We visited Chicken Jimís chicken farm today where the mayor, Mayor Ma, hosted us for a large Chinese lunch. He is appointed by the party to be Mayor. He has been to the USA and very complimentary about Americans. He left out our British cousins. The day was mild and beautiful, so we drove with the top down all day. We are in Jinan tonight at drive to Beijing tomorrow. Incidentally women can not vote in China, of course neither can men. Car seems to be running well. The only thing we have to get sorted is whether we can leave it here until the next rally. We may have to ship it to Hong Kong and back. Nothing is easy here.

Thanks to everyone who has signed into our guest book. We enjoy the messages.

Jim


April-06-07
Greetings from Jinan in Eastern China:

We had a good run today. Left Chingau early as we were invited by Chicken Jim to visit his chicken ranch(not to be confused with the one in Bastrop Texas).

Alistar along with us joined the convoy for the morning. The two Roll Royces are on the road. Alistar's is still sick but my money is on him getting to Beijing and making repairs at home in London.

The convoy was met at the expressway exit and we had police escort for about 30 miles to the chicken ranch. Lunch was with the mayor and then a police escort back to the expressway where Alistar and ourselves escaped the convoy.

Chicken Jim's company (Tyson Foods) imports 400 40 foot ship containers per month of chicken feet into China. China is the number one and the only consumer of chicken feet in the world. For Tyson it is their number one profit center. I had one on my plate last evening but just could not bring myself to eat it. Apparently the Chinese prefer chicken feet from the USA.

For dinner last evening in Chingau we had seafood Chinese style. We chose the entrees as they swam in tanks on the first floor of a five story restaurant. One of the best Chinese meals I have ever had.

Latest problem seems to be that the disorganizer never made arrangements for us to leave our car in Beijing between rallys. We are told that we need to ship the car out of China by April 19th.
Another challenge we need to sort out.Hopefully it will not delay my return home on Tuesday.

Tomorrow Beijing! The car seems to be runing fine. The weather warmed up as we have moved inland and spring is here. We were caught in a traffic jam and still had some warming but not as bad as before in the south of China.

God Bless America!

Fred


April-05-07
Off the beaten path again today. With the car running well, we are confident to take the local roads and get off the freeway. It is a lot of fun driving thru the local towns and villages and the looks we get as we go. I get a head ache every day from the horns of people honking at us.

As we neared Qingdao we headed over to the coast and drove for about 30k thru an area where they are apparently building a new town. A lot of new buildings, including apartments are done, but not in use yet. It is an eerie feeling driving thru.

Although we were told that there is no ferry going across the mouth of the bay, when we arrived we discovered that there is. It was leaving as we arrived so we were able to drive right on with no wait. It took about a half an hour to cross. We were able to see a new container port that is being built Ė massive. And a shipyard that is both building new ships and refurbishing old ones. We arrived in town and were met at the ferry by a local newspaper reporter who interviewed us and took our picture with the car. It will be in tomorrowís edition of the local paper. We will try to get some copies.

We then drove thru town and on to our hotel (a dump in an out of the way place). Chicken Jim invited us to dinner with one of their partners. We went to a great seafood place where we were able to select the live seafood and then have it cooked for us. Both Chicken Jim and Alastair are having problems with their cars, but hopefully will have then solved by morning. We are stopping at one of Chicken Jim's chicken farms for lunch tomorrow. You can bet it wonít be prime rib.


April-05-07
Greetings from Qing Dou in Eastern China:

This is the home of the famous Chinese beer Tsingtou (pronounced Chingau in English and Spanish). They have changed the spelling for the town but not for the beer and they pronounce it the same.

We had a great run today. Still quite cold but we still had the top down. We did all back roads again and saw the China I remember from my last trip. We were without road books or tulips but Jim and I found our way. The maps we bought in Hong Kong were not accurate. Many roads, even expressways were not on our maps. They are building them so fast the map makers cannot keep up. On the maps there are only a few English versions of town names and on road signs also only a few. Somehow they are rarely a match so it is extremely difficult to figure out where you are and where you want to go. It is nearly impossible to ask for directions as we are rarely understood and "okok" doesn't seem to work in that environment. But we get along, have a few laughs and head on down the road.

Pollution is back. We did not see the sun today but we know there are some clouds up there also.

We crossed the bay into town on a ferry while all the rest took the expressway. Alistar and Chicken Jim (the Tyson guy) are now having trouble with their Rolls Royce's. Alistar was stumped when we left this morning. That is saying a lot for the problem. He is with both vehicles at a workshop right now.

Jim and I have travelled alone since Shenzen as we would on a HERO trip. Alistar is also traveling alone and the rest are in a caravan led by the travel agent. Always they use expressways. Since our car got well we have left the expressway for the highways and byways of rural China. I love this country and its people. Everywhere you go everyone is working at something. They are the busiest people I have ever seen. The country sides and cities are constantly under construction being renewed. They are so curious and nice. We know they think we are crazy whenever we have contact with them. We get lots of laughs and everyone is smiling.

Great fun!

God Bless America!

Fred


April-04-07
Greetings from Lianyungang in Eastern China:

Shanghai was beautiful. We had two wonderful dinners. One was on top af a building overlooking the Bund. The skyline was as
spectacular as any I have ever seen. We rode the magnet train to the airport at 431k's per hour. Saw that the TGV went faster yesterday.

We spent half of yesterday in a workshop replacing the shocks as they were broken. A long discussion with Bob and we think that they were broken on the boat. I have been so consumed with the overheating that I left this problem until now. We had a long drive today from Shanghai. We have two more nights and then Saturday we arrive in Beijing. The Buick behaved well today and we probably had our best day of the trip. We traveled the back roads and it reminded me again of driving in a video game. Great fun. Winter is still here and the trees have not yet bloomed. With the top down we were all bundled up but enjoyed it. We woke up yesterday morning and saw the sun for the first time in China. It was out today again but the haze was still there. A wind must have blown most of it out to sea. Watch out California it should arrive in a few days.

The cold keeps the Buick cool and Jim and I are not quite so paranoid as we drive down the road.

The group is splitting as we go. Two cars quit in Shanghai. There is a story there that I will tell in a later email after the traveling is ended and the story is complete.

Jim and I are still doing well and having fun. Getting the car problems resolved will be a big relief.

God Bless America!

Fred




April-04-07
Today we stopped at the Shanghai Automobile Museum on the way out of town. It is above my expectations and very impressive. There were some loaners from GM, one is a 1936 Chevrolet Suburban labeled as a 1938, as well as 60 cars from then Blackhawk collection. These guys have really positioned themselves well for when the Chinese allow classic cars to be sold here. Yesterday we spend a good part of the day getting the suspension system worked on at the local GM Ė Buick garage. They were very nice and accommodating, as well as reasonable in their charges. We have new shocks on, but are not convinced that they will not break as the old ones did as it is the same design. I think we have some work to do in this area. The disorganizer did not arrange for the car to stay in China between rallies, so we are working with the freight guys to try to get the proper paperwork to make it happen. GM China is going to find a Buick garage show room to park it in.

Most of the pictures we have shown are car related, because that is what most of this rally has been about for us. We were able to get off the beaten path today on our way to get some pictures of a growing China as it exists today. Hope to get more tomorrow as we drive on a local road along the coast.

In Shanghai we didnít get to do a lot of sightseeing, but we did ride the Maglev, a system that reaches 260 mph in eight minutes on the way to the airport. It floats on magnets and has no tracks. Simply amazing. Siemens, from Germany built it and we were told never paid by the Chinese. Also we heard that the Chinese have already knocked off the technology. There is talk about building one from Shanghai to Beijing. Imagine going coast to coast in the USA on one of these in 24 hours. We also had dinner at a restaurant on the Bund that over looks the river.

The drive today was thru rural areas with a lot of canals, very interesting and a good change from all the freeway driving.

Jim


April-03-07
Greetings from Shanghai:

Arrived here after a short and cooler run. The top was up and it was raining. The car ran well and we are now thinking about how to keep from having similar problems in Mongolia and Siberia in June. I now will begin to look at some of the other lesser problems that have cropped up. Thank goodness for this trip to have the car's weaknesses show up. I will still be under the hood some tomorrow.
From Ningbo to here (about 200 miles) it was solid urbanization and Industrialization. Shanghai is a sprawling city of 23,000,000. I read in the newspaper that they are running out of cemetery space for all the dead and the government will pay $50 US to a family that will have a burial at sea. The problems of this country with its population are impossible to imagine. Pollution is still bad if not worse and has been solid since Hong Kong.

Tomorrow we will take the train to the airport and back. It travels at over 300 miles per hour and arrives at the airport in 8 minutes. I still am enjoying these people. They are so curious and friendly. This is a very different trip from the HERO trip three years ago. That trip was rural China and this one is all urban and through the boom cities. We will have dinner tonight with Alastair on the famous Bund. My recollection of Shanghai was from old steamy movies of the Shanghai port. It is quite a cosmopolitan place and not like those movies at all.

God Bless America!

Fred



April-03-07
Well, we confirmed a ďUniversal TruthĒ again today. At the risk of being accused of being a male chauvinist pig, the ďTruthĒ confirmed today is ďLittle old ladies in all cultures like to drive in the fast lane at 40 mph.Ē

True!!!!.

I ran into Brian Murphy today. He is the step-son of Don Williams who runs the Blackhawk collection in Danville, CA. They shipped over 60 classic cars and opened a museum about 45 minutes from Shanghai. Although classics canít be sold in China at this time, they will be ready when the time comes. We plan to visit on our way out of town on Wednesday. Although they car has been running well the last couple of days because of the cold weather, we are concerned about going up thru Mongolia in June, so we are considering our options. Kip just send me an e-mail saying that, after doing a little research, he has found the the average temperatures there in May are highs of 67 and lows in the high 40s, so maybe we are OK as we are. Of course if go as we are they will have a heat wave this year. We will do a little sight seeing tomorrow, then off toward Beijing in Wednesday.

Cole: thanks for your note in the guestbook.


April-02-07
I canít add a whole lot to Fredís entry. Canít emphasize enough the air pollution. We are coughing and our eyes are burning. Thanks to Chicken Jim Rice (he is head of Tyson foodís China operation, raising millions of chickens) we have been in touch with one of the top people from GM in China, Margaret Brooks... She is arranging for a dealership in Beijing where we can store the car and will also find us a place in Beijing to have a new radiator fabricated. We think a larger radiator may help with our overheating problem. We head further north today, only about 200 K and are expecting cooler weather and possible rain. The rain takes some of the crap out of the air. We are going to stay in Shanghai for 2 days and skip one of the other stops.

Jim


April-02-07
Greetings from Ningbo,somewhere in Eastern China:

Had a good short run today. We are running everyday with the top down. We have been burned by a sun we have never seen. The country side is beautiful but we cannot see it. Our vision is limited to one or two hundred yards either side of the expressway. In the haze we can see some pagodas and hills but they are difficult to make out.

After several calls to Bob and a email from my mechanic in El Paso I began to push the timing of the Buick engine and advancing it beyond the OEM Specs. I have advanced the timing about 4 degrees as best as I can tell. The effect of this has been masked by a weather change. We
are now in jackets and wish the Buick had a heater. A cold front has arrived and the ambient temperature was about 60 degrees during the drive. This dropped the operating temperature on the expressway from 210 to 180. It does not overheat in the slow driving which at times it
reached 250.

Alastair encourges me not to feel secure as June in the Gobi desert
could be a scorcher. He says to expand the capacity of the radiator and get a very large electric fan from the states. The small ones available here are not enough.

Jim and I did a little exploring today and feel a lot more secure now.The Buick attracts endless attention. At rest stops as well as anywhere we are surrounded by smiling Chinese saying hello hello, how are you, nice to meet you. I answer back with my newly learned Chinese of "okok". I would estimate that the image of the Buick has been captured by no less than 3,000 digital cameras and camera cell phones. They pass us on the expressway, slow down and the phones come out clicking. They have seen nothing like the Buick before and they get very excited. We wave and smile for the cameras. In traffic jams
everyone on the sidewalk is clicking pictures. At gas stops and in workshops they think we are race drivers and pose with us.

We are off to Shanghai tomorrow for two nights and I hope a rest from having my head constantly under the Buick hood. But really I have no complaints for that is fun to me. Constantly pushing on.

God Bless America!

Fred




April-01-07
Greetings from Wenzhou, somewhere in South Eastern China:

Arrived here today after a short run from Fuzhou across from Taiwan.Both cities of many milliionas of people no one has heard of.

The pollution here is worse than anything I have ever seen. It has beenwith us since we left Hong Kong.We washed the car last evening and left Fuzhou in the rain and it now looks as though someone dumped coal all over it. When we arrive I brush my teeth and the foam from the toothpaste turns black. Aids is the scourge of Africa and the Chinese are slowing killing themselves with lung disease. There is no way to
survive this stuff long term and they are in it 24 hours a day everyday.

The traffic is light as we are driving up the expressway and there are tolls. We would be off the expressway travelling with Alester except for the car running hot. It does Ok on the expressway but does not like slow
traffic or cities.

We have taken my daughters suggestion and named the car Sum Ting Wong. There are words in Chinese that are pronounced the same but mean" three stop king". We are going to have it painted in Chinese on both sides of
the hood.

Sorry I have not found time to write but still I am consumed by the problem on the car. It seems that I go from workshop to workshop and work into the night trying something different so we can go the next day.We have not yet defined the disease nor the cure. The things we try
sometimes help a little but we still cannot solve it. We are getting plenty of advice from people at home and here but nothing seems to work. We are down to having a bigger radiator fabricated in Shanghai and
replacing the head gasket.We have tried the Chinese equivelant of wetter water. It is called Blue Jade. A little help but not the solution.

My time in the workshops has been great fun. There are many wonderful mechanics here. They have all tried to help with the problem. I am learning some chinese in the shops. Just yesterday I learned "okok".
Still don't know what the word for beer is but since I am not drinking anyway so it can wait until I return in May. All this trouble with the car may however drive me to drink this trip.

Dispite it all Jim and I are having a great trip. We are working all our friends for ideas in hopes one will be the solution.

God Bless America!

Fred


March-31-07
More work on the car. We replaced the fan we had put in a couple of days ago and found some stuff to put in the radiator that is supposed to make the car run 15 degrees cooler. We will find out today. Luckily the garage was next to the hotel, but we were there until 10 last night. Hopefully what we are going thru now will have us better prepared for the P2P rally. Yesterday we drove from Xiamen to Fuzhou City on the freeway. We are hesitant to get off the freeway due to the traffic and our overheating problem. The pollution in the air is much worse than I remember it from a few years ago. I think you can tell from some of the pictures. We are coughing and getting particles in our eyes. I am struck at how rural this part of costal China is. Between the large cities it is many farm land and fishing villages. I expected massive urbanization all the way up the coast. Off soon heading north.


March-30-07
We are still having the over heating problem. Our radiator sprung a leak yesterday, so we had to take it to a back alley shop to have it repaired. We had put a higher pressure cap on it and think that caused the leak. We also fooled with the timing and at first thought that our problem was solved, but after we got on the road our temperature continued to climb. WE are going to try to have a larger radiator built when we get to Shanghai. This morning we are going to Walmart and buy a meat thermometer to check the actual temperature of the water incase our gage is off and also by some water wetter which hopefully lower the temperature. We werenít able to leave yesterday until 6 oíclock as we were waiting for the license plates which still have not arrived. Wee finally were able to drive to Xiamen, partly after dark. The travel agent tries all kinds of lies to keep the group from leaving with out the plates; they are always coming very soon, but never seem to get here. He told us, After Alastair had taken off in the morning that Alastair had been arrested and being held a local police station. After I tried to get a group to go bail him out the guy told me that he had been released and told to return to our hotel, but Alastair continued on. None of it was true. Alastair had reached Xiamen and gone on a boat ride around one of the islands and had a great lunch. Any how we continue to soldier on.

Jim


March-29-07
Greetings from Shentou in Southern China:

Day before yesterday was breakout day. We crossed the border from Hong Kong to China. An all day effort. To complicate things the Buick boiled over twice in traffic before arriving at the border. Our choice was to turn back, not cross to China and ship the car to Beijing from Hong Kong for repairs or hire a tow truck and go ahead into China. Remembering the advice from my hero Alester in my darkest hour in South America with the broken transmission on the Avalanche "on a rally you never quit, you push on". We hired the tow truck and pushed on. There are pictures on www.seamus.cc.

We towed the Buick to the Chinese inspection station and they took our plates and put them on a Mercedes and told the Chimnese that it was a 1941 Buick. All but the Ferrari failed any way so the Ferrari returned the next day with all our plates and passed through the inspection 10 times as different cars. We now have our plates. Does this remind you of Mexico?

Yesterday we were given a class in Chinese driving regulations ( as if there are any) for an hour or so. The class was in Chinese with a translator. What a joke but a neat experience. A least they are putting people to work.

As for the Buick. This is why you have not heard from me as I have been consumed trying to solve the problem. With multiple calls to Bob and Raymond and many hours of help from Alester,trips to parts store and mechanics working in the hotel parking lot we were able to follow the rally from Shenzen to Shentou. The problem is not solved but we are trying everything and hopefully something will take. We are "pushing on".

It is great to be back in China. I felt right at home immediately on crossing the border. I have such good memories of the trip three years ago and they all came back on arrival. The drive yesterday was beautiful until dark and them the driving was crazy. The pollution is as bad as I have seen. Our eyes are burning and we are coughing. Solid particles will hit you in the face as we are driving with the top down.

In spite of everything I am really having loads of fun.

I must now go as the mechanic is down at reception. He has come to
check the timing on the Buick. Keep your finger crossed that one of our solutions will take.

God Bless America!

Fred



March-28-07
We left Hong Kong and over heated so we were towed across the border., but at least we made it into China. It has been somewhat frustrating as they have not secured our plates yet. We waited at a toll booth for a few hours ,but the plates didnít arrive. Alastair took off this morning without them and we heard he was arrested and is sitting in the local police station. So we arenít moving until we get the plates . When? Who knows. We seem to be getting closer to isolating the over heating problem with the Buick, but not there yet. We think we will have a bigger radiator built because we think that the added weight with all the spares is part of the problem. We are in Shantou and hopefully headed for Xiamen today. Only a couple of hours drive. The La France broke down yesterday, A valve. But the tow truck dropped it about a meter causing some other problems. They think all fixable.

The group is great and keeping its sense of humor. This is the 1st classic car rally we have done overseas and a different experience.

Jim


March-25-07
Greetings from Hong Kong:
We are still here. We met yesterday and we proposed a fair solution to the group for getting down the road. Jim gave the presentation and with very few questions it seemed satisfactory to everyone and they all agreed they will go on.

We have control of most of the remaining funds and will get the last account in Germany in our control today. Three of the group are at the Border now with a stack of cash getting our permits to get into China. We still need to get the title to a Jeep that the disorganizer bought with our money. He wanted to come on the trip but I don't think we will let him. We plan to sell the Jeep in Beijing.

We have a wonderful mix of participants including two guys speaking Chinese one Chinese man from LA and another VP from Tyson Foods that has lived in China for 20 years. Everyone has pitched in with their skills and contacts including Swiss Germans Americans etc. The HK Auto Club has been a big help. The hotel people are extremely helpful but want our cars out of the front especially the Buick that is making puddles of oil on their bricks.

Sometimes I wonder how I get into situations like this and then I think of how boring my life would be without at least exposing myself to having shit happen. Believe me it happened here.

Keep your fingers crossed that our plan will work and we are headed north into China tomorrow morning. We are all ready and tired of hanging around this hotel and fiddling with the Buick.

God Bless America!

Fred




March-24-07
I guess we go on Tuesday. It turns out that the bill from the Chinese travel agency is legitimate, despite what our organizer thought. Thanks to the Hong Kong Automobile assoc. we were able to straighten that out. Tom Hamilton spend several hours with the organizer determining how much money is available to use to complete the rally. At this point most have decided to continue at a little additional cost. We are meeting tomorrow morning to finalize who is in and who is out.. Then we can pay the travel agency and enter China. We will cut out 2 overnites so that we arrive in Beijing on the same day as scheduled. Fred and I rode over to Repulse Bay for lunch with Alastair in his Rolls. The other Rolls and the Bentley went as well. Had a great lunch looking out over the bay. We returned to the hotel . Fred and Alastair went work fixing our exhaust leak and I and the others went to the HKAA and joined Tom and some others to figure out where to go. As mentioned above we will finalize tomorrow morning. Fred and I had dinner tonite with the guys from Sports Car Market who were supposed to go along as guests of the organizer. They have some decisions to make tonite as they donít have a car to do the rally in. If we had room we would take one of them with us.

Stay tuned,

Jim


March-24-07
Greetings from Hong Kong:
Well you might have known I would have walked into a mess. Another ho hum few days in the life of Fred Nelan.
A lot of angry people and one embarassed organize(disorganizer}. Everyone is here now along with reps for two rally magazines. The cars are parked in front of the hotel and for sure we will not go before Tuesday.

A meeting at the HK motor club took place all afternoon with all involved except myself and Alester. We had a lot more fun working on the Buick fixing an exhaust leak. When everyone returned I heard that there was a hostile takeover. We will now take over all funds {whatever is left}and pay the fee to Chinese authorities,cross the border on Tuesday morning and head to Beijing.We will be using the travel agent hired by the disorganizer.

There is a meeting in the morning to determine who is in and who is not. The trip will cost a little more but here we are and why go home if there is a way to go on. By the way guess who is now the treasurer for the group?

This is a great bunch of guys and the whole thing will make better stories for the magazines now rather than a ho hum rally? I expect great fun ahead. These kind of issues make great memories.

Here's hoping that on Tuesday we will be "On The Road Again".

God Bless America!

Fred


March-23-07
Greetings from Hong Kong!

After many months of preparation Jim and I are finally here.
I arrived night before last and we picked up the car last evening. I have worked today on the car. Getting it serviced and fixing the many things I found on the run from El Paso to Long Beach. I now have two extra fuel pumps and the gasoline smell has faded with time on the boat. It is no worse for the ride across the Pacific and everything was as I left it in the warehouse in Long Beach.

This rally is put together by a first timer. The field is down to 10 cars and interestingly enough they are mostly our country men. One name some of you may recognize is Alester Caldwell. He was in the Ferrari in South America and popped up again in Africa in 2005. He is a great friend and great fun.

We have obtained permits for driving in HK but hear that getting into China is another story. The Hong Kong Auto Club is helping us with permiting and they tell us that our sponsor is as organized as Ceasar Salad. I question if he is that organized. He is finding problems that shoud have been worked out and solved months ago. HERO makes this guy look terrible. It seems that the Chinese government is demanding a new fee of 360,000RMB or about $50,000US in order to give us permits.

The group has bonded over the problems and if we can get into China we are sure to have fun with or without a sponsor. Everyone is appreciating the humor in coming all the way over here and after shipping a car across the Pacific and then not getting into China. We can rally around Hong Kong a few days.

I will keep you posted but it is beginning to look like we may be
shipping the car to Beijing and coming home until the Beijing to Paris run beginning in late May

God Bless America!

Fred


March-23-07
We took the car over to a service station and changed the oil and had them install a fuel filter. Then we spent the rest of the morning trying to figure out where an exhaust leak is. Fred tightened everything with no success. We also have an oil leak which will tackle tomorrow. One of the guys on the rally is the country manager of China for Tyson foods. He ha s12,000 employees and mainly raises chickens for the local market . He supplies all the Kentucky Fried chicken outlets in China. One of his biggest businesses is supplying chicken feet to the Chinese market. They ship chicken feet by the 100s of container loads from their chicken farms in the states and canít keep up with the market. The economics are very favorable. He is from L A and has been here for 20 years, has a Chinese wife and speaks Chinese like a native. A really nice guy. We are all wondering whether we are going to get into China at all. It seems like the organizer is having a lot of problems getting the approvals. Today the travel agent tried to hold him up for an additional $40,000. We are supposed to cross into China on Sunday, but who knows. As long as he can get us across the border the rally should be a success, but we arenít sure he can do it. Stay tuned.

We had dinner at a great Thai restaurant tonite. Hope to do a little sight seeing tomorrow.


March-22-07
We were able to get some of the cars today. We were supposed to be able to go to the yard late this morning to get our cars. We finally left about 3 P M to go to the yard . The Hong Kong Auto Association drove us out , almost to the China border to get the cars. After they opened the container with the 2 Rolls Royces things stopped until they could figure out who was going to pay to take the cars out of the containers. Somehow after 20 or 30 minutes it was resolved and we were able to get the cars in relatively short order and we were off to get fuel. The auto assoc guys led us back to the hotel. Where we have a parking place in front. Needless to say the cars attract a crowd. When driving we get a lot of thumbs up.Things are not very well organized and we hope that we donít have a problem on Sunday getting across the border to mainland China. I will be amazed if it goes smoothly. We get to hang out in Hong Kong for a couple of more days. The participants all seem to be nice guys. Alastair Caldwell arrived tonite. Havenít seen him since Africa.He is driving a 63 Rolls. Since our car has been prepped for the Beijing to Paris rally, it is for sure the meanest looking car here. We are trying to come up with a name for the Buick. Any ideas?. One of the Mercedes has front plate that says Ni hao, which should get a good reception from the Chinese.


March-10-07
Well, Iím off. Took off from New York City Monday afternoon and arrived in Hong Kong Tuesday night. Flight was uneventful. Fred arrives tomorrow and then we get the car. Fred says he has about a days worth of work to do on it. We are staying at the Harbour Plaza Hotel looking out over Hong Kong harbor. This is the hotel where we finished the China Tibet rally 2 years ago. Leejun took off Monday for Vail and will be doing a celebrity ski race fund raiser this week. She will meet me in L A. on April 11th. We are going to pick up the G Wagon we used for the Central American Rally last fall. It needed some work when we got back. As soon as we get some cars here we will get some pictures.

Jim


February-14-07
Greetings:
We have returned from California where the Buick was delivered to a warehouse and today will be inserted into a shipping container and sent to Hong Kong. You should have known that the trip would not happen without hitches. In fact the trip almost ended before I left.

I topped off with gas tank Sat night and drove to the El Paso airport a round trip of 30 miles. There was a strong smell in the car of gasoline and after numerous stops I was unable to determine the source. Frustrated, I finally spotted a drip coming from the trunk. The vent tube from the gas tank was in the trunk to avoid road dirt. It seems that when filling the gas tank a siphon was started. The next morning when I topped off again I determined more than 5 gallons had poured into the trunk. The trunk was also the location of the battery as well as the spare battery. Lucky there was no explosion. I have rerouted the vent.

I aired out the trunk over night but it still smelled like a Mexican gas station from the 1950ís. We drove to Phoenix with the trunk propped open where at my sisterís home I removed the gas soaked carpeting, I pine soled the trunk and then I sprayed air freshener throughout the trunk and passenger compartment. On to Los Angeles on Monday with the trunk still open and the car smelling like a gasoline soaked strawberry. I was worried the warehouse would not accepted the car as it smelled so just prior to delivery we hung multiple air fresheners around the cab and trunk. In the warehouse it smelled like a gasoline soaked strawberry pine tree. They didnít seem to worry much about the carís smell and accepted delivery.

The only other hitch came on a busy street in Long Beach when the electric gas pump failed. I replaced it on a busy corner with the spare for the trip. I attracted a lot of attention and many offers for help.

Never a dull moment for me!

The next report will be after Jim and I pick up the car in Hong Kong on March 22nd

Fred


February-10-07
Let the Adventure begin. The Buick continues its journey around the world. I will leave with Ernie tomorrow and drive it to Long Beach, California for loading the car on a ship to Hong Kong

The last time most of you heard from me was about 15 months ago when Jim Taylor and I drove our 1941 Buick from upstate New York to Dallas. In Dallas the Buick went through 13 months preparation by Bob Baxter to ready it for its journey. Hundreds of hours were spent in the process of toughening the vehicle to take the abuse in store down the road.

Jim and I drove from Dallas to El Paso via the Coal Mine Ranch (picture of tunnel attached) just prior to Christmas. We were followed by Bob with a car hauling trailer just in case. I hope we donít encounter roads any worse than the road into the ranch. Then my part of the preparation began. Test driving and gathering spare parts and supplies trying to provide for most conceivable failures. Bob came to El Paso to spend yesterday with me on a final test run. He is in the attached photos. He said the car is ready.

Jim and I will pick up the car in Hong Kong and drive to Beijing starting on March 22. We will return home April 10th between rallies. The Buick will sit in the show room of the Buick dealer in Beijing until we return and leave Beijing May27th for our appointment in the Place de la Concorde in Paris France on July1st. We will have crossed out of China through Mongolia and Russia and Northern Europe. Ernie and Lejun (Jims Wife) will meet us in Paris for the celebration. We will also have friends from prior rallies there to greet us

The Buick will complete its two year journey around the world in a container across the Atlantic to its home in Gloversville, New York.

Jim and I are trying to think of a name for our 1941 Buick. Any suggestions?

As we travel you can follow us through my emails as well as Jims website seamus.cc

The web site for the rally is pekingparis.com.

Wish me luck down the freeway and I will stay in touch.


December-22-06
We are further on our way to driving this Buick all the way around the world. I met Fred in Dallas last Sunday along with Bob Baxter, who has done the prep work on the car for us. On Monday we were up at the crack of dawn and spent 14 hours driving the car to Fred's ranch on the Rio Grande in south west Texas. We thought, at first, the engine was over heating, but apparently it is a bad sensor. We were able to cruise at 65 to 70 mph on the freeway. The last 40 miles into Fred's ranch was the real test of the day. We travelled over very rough roads and gave the Buick a good test. It passed with flying colors. We shook a couple of things off, but we expected that and this was the place to do it; rather than China.

We were up early again on Tuesday morning and Fred took us via an old Suburban up to the top of a cliff where we had a great view of the Rio Grande and surrounding countryside. The evening before, Fred's daughter Janey, who is working on her PhD, had a fire in the pit when we arrived and we had a great dinner of pork chops, corn, and salad. We also had a chance to meet Fred's ranch manager, Elvis, and his family. After our look around the ranch we took off for El Paso, driving out the rough ranch road putting the Buick to a further test. Because of the beefed up suspension, it is a hard ride, but we think just what we will need for the rally.

We have decided to enter the Hong Kong to Beijing Rally in early April. That will give us a chance to do a further shake down on the Buick prior to the big rally. We arrived in El Paso in time to meet Leejun and Ernie for a light lunch, then dinner with Kenny and Deanne that night.

Fred will do the final touches on the Buick, then we will be off in the Spring for the adventure. Bob Baxter followed us on our route with a trailer, which we didn't need. Bob did a great job in prepping the Buick.