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"Northern Forts Tour" by D25

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Hello all — friend Jerry and I set off Thursday for another run up to the Northwest Territories in the rusty trusty '47. Dubbed the Northern Forts tour, we are following the footsteps (tire prints?) of some of the first Europeans in Alberta and the North.

 

If all goes well, we will pass through the fur-trading outposts of Fort Saskatchewan, F Victoria, F McMurray, F MacKay, F Chipewyan, F Fitzgerald, F Smith, F Resolution, F Vermillion, F Assiniboine and F Edmonton. Time permitting we will take an extra day on the way back for Fort Dunvegan up in the Peace River country. It will be a quick trip — we have our local club meeting tomorrow evening and the club executive meeting one week later.

 

The 202 miles between Fort MacKay and Peace Point promise to be some of the most interesting... this is Alberta's Winter Road, open only from January, usually, through March, usually. Unlike our 2012 trip up the wide and flat ice road to Tuktoyaktuk, the Alberta Winter Road is largely overland and narrow, with lots of up and down and occasionally quite rough.

 

I'll be shooting lots of photos on the way, and posting to the forum most evenings as long as we have the 'net.

 

Photos below: Bing map of the planned route. Google maps does not recognize winter roads; 13"x20" Frost Shields (double glazing) on the front windscreens; At JiffyLube this morning as Rick-the-old-guy wows the next generation with the wonders of postwar Mopars; Draft-dodger Jerry applying a little more weatherstrip; Vintage thermometer (with a very vintage 'phone number) mounted under the roof rack.

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Is there a thread about this car? I like to know more about it.

 

ken

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All the best Chris and Jerry, and this year us such a wicked cold one. I hope the weather cooperates for you Guys....

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Chris and Jerry, have a great trip and most of all please be safe. Hope the old D25 is as faithful as in the past. Looking forward to the updates already!

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..Off again on a tour in the "great white north"..eh? - when a lot of folks in this northern clime head south for a vacation break to get through the winter, (same as the migratory birds).Have fun guys,looks to be an interesting trip and as others, I wish you a safe journey ...Ralph 

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Is there a thread about this car? I like to know more about it.

 

ken

 

Hi Ken — there's some info about the car and our previous trip north in this thread: http://p15-d24.com/topic/28444-arctic-adventure/?hl=%2Barctic+%2Badventure

 

Thanks to all for your kind wishes. We are really looking forward to this one!

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Wow, Great Road Trip ! Have fun, I'm looking forward to more pictures. Rod

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Now that...was a thread! You guys are nutz, but I mean that in a good way. Now I have my own question. How did you decide on a roof rack instead of a small trailer? I suspect because the rack puts more weight on the rear wheels, for better traction on snow and ice?

 

Or, like me, do you just hate pulling trailers?

 

Okay, best wishes.

 

ken

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...Now I have my own question. How did you decide on a roof rack instead of a small trailer? I suspect because the rack puts more weight on the rear wheels, for better traction on snow and ice?

 

Not for reasons of traction, as we do pretty well with the studded knobbies. More for compactness and convenience, and besides I quite like the look of a vintage roof rack — the idea with this one was that it should look like a 1950s Popular Science DIY feature. We also made it big and sturdy enough to pitch a tent on top (have never done it) or use as an event viewing platform.

 

Besides, it's harder to carry a 16' garage door on a small trailer and the view from a trailer is not near as nice...

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Okay, I got it. Although...I bet there might be traction propblems pulling a trailer. Or not. Anyhow...well done!

 

I'm glad you are living your dream. I used to have one, being to drive all around the U.S. on back roads, driving a 1940's Dodge or International flatbed truck....but, not gonna happen. Might still take a trip in Lumpy one of these years though. 

 

ken.

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Bon Voyage Intrepid Messrs. Looking forward from Dispatches from the Outposts. Probably too late to put in an order for a Beaver Top Hat..............

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Hello All, Day 1: Edmonton to Fort McMurray via Fort Saskatchewan and Fort Victoria, 318 miles. No particular car trouble today aside from a brief and mysterious coolant temp rise to 200+ (stopped for a look see and it went back down to normal within a minute. Maybe a sticky T-stat?).

 

Fort McMurray, smack dab in the middle of the Alberta Oil Sands (or Tar Sands if you don't like 'em) describes itself as one of the hottest regional economies in the world. The numbers back this claim up: 2012 average household income $189,458, 7.1% annual growth rate 2000-2012, and the 66,000 population with addresses are bolstered by some 40,000 mobile workers in camps, campers and hotels. We experienced this last fact ourselves — in trying last week to book a room for tonight, most of the "budget" hotels were full right up and the cheapest room we could find was $185 + tax. For that one would expect luxury. We get a fridge in the room and a continental breakfast.

 

Tomorrow we set off early for Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories. It's said to be a slow drive over the winter road and we want time to enjoy the experience and take lots of photos.

 

Photos: The World's largest Mallard in Andrew, Alberta. Other "Alberta Monuments" include the World's largest badminton racket, beaver, pumpkin, perogy, mushroom, cowboy boot and Easter egg; Highway 63 to Fort McMurray is finally being twinned to better handle the heavy traffic both directions and oversize equipment heading north to the oil sands; Twinning didn't come soon enough for this guy, one of several abandoned vehicles we saw along 63; Jerry (top left, waving) on deck of a giant mining truck at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre in McMurray. These bad boys are up to 32' wide and run 4000 HP V-20 engines to carry a payload of 400+ tons; In one at least one respect, however, they are just like our Dodge… note the vacuum windshield wiper!

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Not much stuff on the roof-rack this time!

 

k.

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Hello All, Day 2: Fort McMurray to Fort Smith via Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan, 332 miles today.

 

We left the hotel at 06:15 on schedule but had car trouble within blocks — temp gauge pretty much pegged with no heat to the heaters. Seemed like a stuck thermostat, but they are tough to find anywhere at that time of day, much less in Fort McMurray where the average vehicle age is probably three years or less. In the end, the local Dodge dealer was most accommodating and found one in the back that would work and charged an hour labour for the R&R. Could have done it myself but not outside in 20 below, thank you very much. The car was a major hit in their shop and nearly every staff member came around for a look and a photo.

 

On the road for good at 10:00 we drove the winter road to Fort Chipewyan and on to Peace Point, almost 200 miles in total before we hit all weather road again. This winter road is much different that the ice road up to Tuktoyaktuk — narrower, hilly in spots and generally quite rough. One 30 mile stretch that took us over an hour. There are seven major river crossings (ice bridges) that are continually flooded to a 4' ice depth before they open the road to heavy truck traffic.

 

Fort Chip is Alberta's oldest continuous settlement and was established as a fur-trading centre in 1788. Unfortunately, it is now also known as a cancer hotbed, with the most likely cause being contamination of groundwaters and the Athabaska River by oil sands operations to the immediate south.

 

We are staying in Fort Smith with an interesting couple, Michael and Andrea, who are both German immigrants. Michael is a charter pilot, often flying a Cessna 185, and tells many interesting stories such as when he was a 20 year old in the East German army at a post on the Berlin Wall the night the wall came down Nov 09, 1989. We had not met before tonight but connected through "Couch Surfing" where travellers and hosts get together, worldwide, on a no-charge basis. First time for me, although my son Morgan has couch-surfed before. While it is mostly a younger persons' game there are a number of older ones involved as well. https://www.couchsurfing.org and scroll down for more info.

 

The car is not right yet — we are losing coolant at the rate of a gallon in 150-200 miles but no visible signs of leakage. At the same time we have a bit more of what appears to be smoke out of the tailpipe (of course the exhaust is always visible when it is this cold out). I'm wondering about a head gasket leak although the car seems to be running fine.  Thoughts?

 

PS: Merle, thanks for clarifying about that truck wiper, although I'm sorry to lose a good story as a result.

 

Photos: Old heap is a hit at Legacy Dodge; Typical Winter Road scene. Further north it was rougher and narrower; At the Fort Chipewyan Museum — noticed when taking this photo that we lost a hub cap this morning, dang it; First car in Fort Chip, a 1910-ish high wheeler, probably IHC (who advertised to the farmers that because their vehicles looked like horse-drawn wagons, they wouldn't scare the livestock); Our hosts Michael and Andrea, who met in a massive, stationary traffic jam on the German autobahn.

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Hey Chris. I've been following your first couple of days and it sounds like you are having a great time as usual although with a bit of car trouble. I think you may be right with thinking it may be a head gasket. They are usually good for a long time and you just did a rebuild not that long ago. Did I give you a head gasket a while back and if so, do you have it with you? Might be needed.

 

Thanks for sharing the great pictures and information. Too bad about the cancer rate in Ft. Chip but that has been a concern now for a while.

 

Hope the old heap, meant affectionately, holds together for you. Make sure to check the oil for any green additive that should not be there.

 

Take care and keep posting updates. We live vicariously through you.

 

Rob

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...I think you may be right with thinking it may be a head gasket…Make sure to check the oil for any green additive that should not be there.

 

Thanks Rob. There was no green goo or foam on the dipstick last time I checked, but haven't looked this AM.

 

One other thing I forgot to mention is the temp gauge behaviour.  Frequently swinging from normal up to pegged for a few seconds then back down to normal. This might not happen for miles and then happen 2-3 times in a minute. Kind of like there are intermittent air or steam pockets around the sensor bulb.

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