Dogs, Old Cars and History in Still-Winter

The beginning of March already! This winter has gone by so quickly I can hardly believe it – the foster-puppies sure helped with that for a few weeks 🙂 With Father Winter still hanging on, though, dogs and old cars and writing about history are all helping the days continue to go by quickly.

Last weekend was our Heritage Day long weekend, and also the main weekend for our end-of-winter Sourdough Rendezvous. We didn’t go in for any of the festivities, but the weather was so nice, we went on a bit of a road trip for the first time in what felt like a very long time. About 40 minutes east of home on the Alaska Highway, a small herd of caribou stopped us for a minute.

Caribou along the Alaska Highway
After a huge and excellent lunch at Jake’s Corner, the rest area at the junction of the Alaska Highway and the South Canol Road was our turn-around spot.

South Canol Road
We’ve been keeping in touch with a few of the families who adopted our foster puppies and their mom, and got an invitation to go out to visit the family who adopted Elderberry (“Blue” to us). The reaction we got from Blue was wonderful, and it was so good to see her very happy with her new life. She sure enjoyed getting to play with Tucker and Bella again.

Our foster husky Blue
If there was any way that a third dog could fit into our lives, Blue wouldn’t have left our home. She’s a beautiful soul.

Our foster husky Blue
Bella and Tucker had a ball playing outside during the warm spell with lots of new snow. After an hour or two of play, they come in the house and crash, usually on a bed or the couch 🙂

My Sheltie-husky cross Bella
I finally put my many other projects on a shelf for a bit and have gotten to work on the 1952 Austin A40 pickup at the Yukon Transportation Museum (YTM). It’s had a lot of restoration work done over the past few years, but there’s lots to do yet, on the mechanical, the electrical, and the body.

1950s Austin A-40 pickup at the Yukon Transportation Museum

Because putting stuff online is what I do, I’ve created a Web page about Austin A40 pickups generally, with photos and specific information about the GQU4 model that I’m restoring. For me, it’s a handy place to keep the information I need, and hopefully it will also help others with their projects.

It’s a really cute little vehicle, about as basic as you could get.

Interior of the 1950s Austin A-40 pickup at the Yukon Transportation Museum
We don’t know for sure yet, but it was probably sold by Tourist Services in Whitehorse. It was located where the Yukon Inn is now.

Yukon advertisement for 1950s Austins
Yesterday, a crew arrived and pulled the Waco out of the shop that it and the Austin shared. It’s getting fabric and paint at other shops before returning in a couple of weeks.

Waco at the Yukon Transportation Museum
Father Winter returned today. It was -19°C (-2°F) with strong winds that dropped the wind chill to -29°C (-20°F). It would have been a really good day to stay home and snuggle pups, but I went back to YTM instead.

Nasty winter day on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse
The little bitty engine that put out 40 horsepower on a good day is really easy to work on – not a computer module to be seen! I was hoping to fire it up today, but there’s an electrical and maybe a transmission problem to figure out first. Old cars are like old houses – there’s always something to do.

Engine of the Austin A-40 pickup at the Yukon Transportation Museum
The rear brakes are particularly funny. They’re so small that I thought about what it would be like to go to Skagway with the truck. A great deal of caution with those teeny brakes might get you safely down the hill, but trying to get back up the hill with 40 horsepower could be really interesting 🙂

Rear brake on the Austin A-40 pickup at the Yukon Transportation Museum
I’ve been getting distracted a lot in my historic research lately, but one of the results has been reprinting newspaper articles about the Alaska Highway from 1945-1950, the period when the highway was being opened up for civilian/tourist traffic. Click on the screenshot below to go to that page (which will be getting much larger).

Alaska Highway News, 1945-1950


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