Ttalk Tech
TD Stuff by Bud
Text of the article submitted to, and printed in the December, 2004, issue of TSO. Unfortunately, I failed to submit the images before the issue was printed.

Lazarus Meets an Old Friend

Bob Baldwin in Lazarus, 1959          Same guy, same car, 2004

Many of us can recall that great feeling when we finally found the car that we’d been looking for for a long time.  It happened to me on a visit to our son’s in Annapolis MD in October, 1988.  It had become my routine to scan the Antique Auto section of the Sunday papers wherever we happened to be in hopes the right TD would show up.  It finally did.
We drove down to Alexandria VA and saw the car, a bit rough and with a Volvo B16B where an XPAG belonged.  But, the price was right and the car was saying, “take me home’.  A deposit, a trip back to Massachusetts to borrow a trailer, and I was back in a week to get the car and the few usual boxes of goodies that always seem to accompany these creatures.

As far as I could tell from the previous owner, the Volvo conversion had been performed in about the mid-60’s, but it never got finished, i.e., the clutch linkage never was set up to work.  The exterior was a red that may have been applied with old swabs.  Under the red, and under the fenders (wings, if you will) the car was white.  Rain had gotten into the tub in the past few years and the wood under the passenger door was rotted.  The sheet metal was in superb condition, virtually no rust whatsoever and only a few dents.  The interior was an ugly mess; leather was torn and hard.  About this time our youngest daughter saw the car and congratulated me at having found it.

I felt that the best way to do that which needed to be done was to take the car completely apart, have a knowledgeable sort replace the rotted wood, find an XPAG engine and gearbox, beadblast the sheetmetal to bare steel, apply a good, modern etching primer, have the metal painted and put the car back together.  Hooray for catalogs, parts lists and the Service Parts List diagrams.  About this time said daughter came home from college and looked into the garage to see Dad’s car.  Just a big pile of parts!  She looked at me and said, “you killed it!”  It took until 1995 to have the car back together and driveable.
Youngest daughter came home from California, looked at the car and said, “you’ve brought it back to life!”  This brought an immediate response from another of our daughters, “just like Lazarus”.  The TD has since been known as Lazarus.

Among the items in the boxes was an oil soaked owner’s manual.  Stapled to the inside cover was a 1959 letter from the M.G. folks to a naval officer, Ens. Robert Baldwin, USS Rich, in response to his request for an owner’s manual.  This presented a challenge as great as finding an engine and gearbox.  Who was/is Ensign Robert Baldwin?  I started the hunt in 1988 by checking with the Naval Academy at Annapolis.  No help.  Privacy rules prevented the U.S.Navy from giving me any information.  I bought a CD with all of the U.S. telephone listings on it.  There were 650 Robert Baldwins.  In 1997 the NEMGTR put out a Member Directory that listed members and their email addresses.  I looked through it found a TD owner named Robert Baldwin, living in State College PA.  I sent off an email asking if he could possibly be Ens. Robert Baldwin.  He was/is!!!

He bought it from a used car lot in Norfolk, VA where he was stationed on the USS Rich.
When he bought it ($1,095) it was Ivory in color and had the usual Lucas gremlins plus worn out engine mounts.  He was posted to Eritrea in 1959 and the car stayed behind at his parent’s house in Arlington VA.  His Dad later sold the car ($995) to someone in the Pentagon.  I was able to contact another military name written into the manual, an Air Force Captain Art Andraitis, and  was able to add two more owners to the car’s history.  He recalls purchasing the car sometime around 1959 from USAF General Jake Smart (through an aide).  Note: the white (Ivory) color was on the underside of the fenders, but the car’s original color was still on the hidden side of the fuel tank.  It was originally Autumn Red, and is so today.

We corresponded occasionally and agreed that it would be great to get together some day.  I decided that this was the ‘someday’.  I was planning to go to Cleveland OH to do some family genealogy research.  Stopping by the NEMGTR GOF in Strasburg would give me perfect cover as far as my antique car insurance was concerned.  And State College was right along the way.

At 5 o’clock in the morning of Friday, July 9, Lazarus was aimed west (after having to use the hand crank to start him because the battery was dead).  I should also mention that I had been up until late the previous night installing a water pump.  Late Friday afternoon we swung by Strasburg and greeted a few of The Register folk.  Took a photo at the registration entrance to the Netherland Spa and drove back up to Harrisburg.  Saturday morning found Lazarus and I in Bob Baldwin’s driveway.  It had been 45 years since they had last seen each other, and Lazarus was white at the time.  The owner’s manual is not the only identifier of the car.  On the left windscreen upright there is a bracket that, at one time, held a TC style mirror.  The bracket shows in a photo of the car from 1959.  Bob brought his family to see the car and even took it for a spin.  All in all, it was a bit of an emotional event.  After a couple of hours I said goodbye and once again aimed Lazarus to the west.

The westerly portion of the trip was performed in perfect TD weather and the top was down all the way.  Only glitch was a flat tire necessitation the purchase of a new one in Cleveland after doing battle with a tire dealer who insisted that is no such thing as a 165R15 tire any more.  A phone call to my good friend Paul Hinchcliffe brought forth three fax pages of manufactures and models for 165R15.

The return trip on Wednesday, July 14, was under a totally different weather model.  The top went up on Tuesday night and didn’t come down until Lazarus was safely back in his garage.  I left Cleveland at 5:15 in the morning and drove straight through with just the stops necessary to handle nature and fuel.  Arrived home about 8:30 in the evening after covering 705 miles on Wednesday.  The entire trip covered 1,715 miles, used about a pint of oil and 68 gallons of petrol.  Only casualty was a hubcap lost to a Pennsylvania rumble strip.  I’ll swear that they have roughest interstate pavements in existence.  Also, they have somehow violated the rules of Nature – all the roads are uphill.  Lazarus performed flawlessly and gave a good demonstration of the benefit of installing a set of 4.3 gears in the rear end.  He crested the highest point on I80 at 4,000 rpm in top gear. Next trip just might be U.S.#1 from Canada to Key West.


email to:Bud Krueger
  created December 9, 2004