• Summer 1969

    Summer 1969


    I returned from RVN in mid June of 1969; dazed of course, cold; Missoula has much cooler summers then “there,” no car; I had Dad sell my 1957 Ford Convertible, no girl friend; having received the Dear John the previous year. I decided before returning I needed to buy a Triumph TR4. I had driven one before enlisting, a very different experience from the 50's shoe boxes I was familiar. It was owned by a enterprising young guy in his mid 20's who showed up at the dirt used car lot where I was working to turn back speedometers. He offered to sell it to me for $550., but since I knew I would soon be leaving town, I declined. While I was stationed in New Jersey a friend had a fairly rough TR3, what fun to drive around Asbury Park and the Jersey shore. While in RVN I had read and reread a tattered soft bound book kind of like World Sports Cars. So, a TR4 it was.


    In the days before Craigslist, BAT, ebay, Autotrader, car shopping was limited to the local newspaper ads. A 1963 with the Surrey option showed up so I bought it. Presentable enough, needed tyres, a little smokey but not bad. It had 330 miles on the odometer which was broken, I assume it went over the top. Later research indicated it had belonged to a Smokejumper. The manual came with it, back then manuals were very informative, they included most everything you needed to know about maintenance. So I adjusted the valves, installed some new points and adjusted and synced the carbs, ready to go; bought a set of X stops. Since I had no clear idea what I was going to do or even if I was going to stay in Missoula, I lived with parents for a while. This of course complicated things a bit and since it was summer I kept some blankets in the boot, my new friends were not very impressed with my resourcefulness.


    Before things got serious, job, school, whatever as I had no idea, I decided to drive to the Oregon coast. The family had lived near Portland in the late 50's, liked it. Loaded the TR with Dad borrowed pup tent and sleeping bag, motor oil, beer, clothes, food, and a few basic tools; headed out. Thinking back, things were different, less traffic, fewer people, small towns on the Oregon coast were funky. No Strip inhabited Walmarts, franchise food manufacturers, far fewer RV's; all in all, better. I could camp where I wanted, maybe a campground or just pull off the road somewhere and set up camp. Next to a creek was best, natural beer cooler.


    I stopped in Portland to visit some family friends, Dad had attended Iowa State with John and well Jane was kind of special. When we were kids brother Scott and I were playing with our microscope, Jane decided we needed to look at some blood, she asked for a slide, found a pin and stuck herself in the finger. The morning I was leaving for Missoula, I started the TR, backed up and noticed a stream of green liquid in the driveway. I removed the coolant pump put it in a bag and caught the bus to the British Leyland dealership on West Burnside.


    Customer service sent me to the parts department to buy a rebuild kit and take it to a mechanic in the shop. Like I said, things were different then. I was visiting with the mechanic as he disassembled the pump and pressed in the new bearing and seals. I was wearing my jungle jacket as many of us did. The garment was very comfortable, I have always been amazed the Army designed something so practical and usable. The mechanic finished reassembling the pump, handed it to me and said “no charge.”




    ex spec5 Mark Richlen
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. DrEntropy's Avatar
      DrEntropy -
      Nice bit of insight, Mark. Thanks for it. Had me thinking back to my own return to "The World".
    1. TRopic6's Avatar
      TRopic6 -
      Yes, thanks for sharing the story; you sure earned that happy ending.
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