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Museum-goers line up to drive nearly century old Model-T

“Where's the Dipstick?” Historic Ford car stars at Fort Pelly-Livingston Museum opening.

PELLY — Despite chilly temperatures and damp conditions, the Fort Pelly-Livingston Museum welcomed eager visitors for its grand opening of the year on May 25. Memories were crafted amidst the backdrop of history, featuring the iconic nearly 100-year-old Model-T Ford, a hearty pancake breakfast, and live entertainment from Thomas Hazlett accompanied by his daughter Sophia, serenading guests with their voices and Thomas’s guitar.

The event showcased the enduring appeal of the Model-T Ford, with Fred Konkin and Ian Abrahamson at the helm, assisted by Jordan Abrahamson. These dedicated drivers and helpers brought the vintage vehicle to life, offering rides and sharing insights into its unique design and historical significance.

Fred Konkin provided fascinating details about the Model-T Ford's unusual transmission design.

"The Model-T is quite a unique vehicle. Its transmission was designed with a band system rather than clutches and gears, which, I believe, eventually inspired the automatic transmission idea," Konkin explained. He noted the car's distinctive controls, saying, "This car has three pedals and no gear shift. The throttle is a lever on the steering column, not on the floor like modern cars."

Konkin also shared his personal experience driving the vintage car.

"Two years ago was the first time I drove this Model-T. It was quite a challenge because I had never driven one before. You have to adjust the spark on the lever to prevent it from backfiring and control the throttle manually," he said. "It's amazing how intelligent the design was for its time."

Don Budz, head of the Fort Pelly-Livingston Museum, discussed the museum's plans for the future. "We have a five-year strategic plan that outlines what we're going to do for the next five years, both in capital projects and programs," Budz said. "We're going to be participating with the Seneca Root Association and will be developing a five-minute video of our museum. This video will be professionally produced and released online, showcasing all the local museums in the area."

Despite the weather, Budz expressed optimism about the day's turnout.

"The weather has put a bit of a damper on things, but people are still looking to have a good meal and tour the museum. They're enjoying the Model-T rides, which is great to see," he added.

Attendees expressed enthusiasm for the event, relishing exploring the museum's exhibits and enjoying the festivities. As the Model-T Ford approaches its centennial milestone, plans for celebratory events are being considered.