Friday, July 30, 2010

The Kruse WWII Victory Museum

Dean Kruse has developed two, combined museums in Auburn, IN -- one focused on automotive items and the other on WWII transportation-related vehicles. This museum was amazing and featured the largest collection of WWII vehicles in the world. As we entered, we were greeted by this Jeep -- arguably the most famous of the WWII vehicles.

The interesting thing about the museum is that all sides of the war are included. There were quite a few German vehicles included such as this armored personnel carrier. The museum started in Belgium right after WWII when a collector gathers hundreds of vehicles. in the early 2000 period, he could not longer care for his collection and Dean Kruse moved it to Auburn, ID.

Allt he vehicles were in fully restored condition such as this half track armored vehicle. I am not sure how parts were found to restore vehicles such as this, but it must have been quite an effort as there can't be too many of these still around.

Rick is a big VW fan and this is the Kublewagon which was a German staff car and based on the VW. In fact, the more modern relation to this was the VW Thing offered for sale in the US in the early 70's.

Here is another German staff vehicle that was ready to run. The number of items in this museum was amazing and well in excess of a couple hundred vehicles. Plus, each vehicle was appropriately staged so that you could get a good idea of the environment that the vehicle operated in.

Rick was delighted to find an Onan generator on display. Looks like Onan was a player in the WWII environment and was a vital force for providing power in the field. If this one runs as good as the one in our coach, they had power to spare.

While most of the displays were focused on ground items, this incredible model was remarkable. Apparently, this model is capable of sailing and must look great on the water.

Speaking of the water, this amphibious assault vehicle, the DUKW (better known as the DUCK) was restored to like new condition. This rig can drive on the road and then when it comes to water, can enter and propel itself with propellers. Pretty handy item!

The museum was arranged somewhat chronologically and toward the end of the displays was General George Patton's actual staff car, complete with a mannequin of General Patton. This car was quite a bit bigger than a regular jeep and came with a siren, machine gun and other command items.

Interestingly, the museum also held General Erwin Rommel's staff car as well. This was an interesting combination since these Generals fought each other's Armies in the African battles in WWII.

This display focused on the Battle of the Bulge and contained German and American vehicles. This armored Jeep was interesting in that it was modified in the field to add better protection for the crew.

This museum was wonderful and highly recommended for anyone wanted to learn more about the real vehicles in WWII.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Kruse Auto Museum in Auburn, IN -- Great!

Right next to our RV park was the Kruse Automotive and WWII museums. Dean Kruse, the famous classic car auctioneer, has amassed an amazing collection of autos, carriages, and WWI related items. We will start with the auto collection first!

Kruse features a remarkable collection of horse drawn carriages and stagecoaches including this Wells Fargo Stage. At one time, these coaches were the choice of travelers all over the western USA.

There were also several carriages that were owned by famous folks -- such as this carriage called a Phaeton owned by U.S. Grant. Apparently, he really liked riding in it while in office to think about problems he was dealing with.

Kruse also houses many cars created by Carl Casper -- a famous customizer of cars and builder of movie cars. Here is the original General Lee from Dukes of Hazard fame that is signed by all of the cat of the show. Casper created many other cars that are displayed here such as K.I.T.T. from the Knight Rider series, the Batmobile and more.

Here is a blast from the past. The A-Team van is here and ready for action. I wonder what Mr. T would think about this!

In addition to the movie cars and carriages, there were many real classics on display, such as this Auburn. Auburn, IN still hosts a huge classic auto auction around Labor Day featuring cars like this one.

Wow -- look at this! the famed Marmon Wasp #32 -- the FIRST winner of the Indy 500 race in 1911. Driven by Ray Harroun, it was perhaps the first race car to use a rear-view mirror. It was fun for Rick to see this car since he had read about it several times.

This is a car of a storied owner -- the Indy 500 race car by Andy Granatelli. In 1967 and 68, he fielded a turbine-powered car was easily leading the field when minor failures caused the car to withdraw in the last stages of the race. How frustrating that must have been! He finally won the Indy a couple years later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN

We traveled the short distance from Muncie, IN to Auburn, IN and visited the Auburn Cord Duesenburg Museum. Located in the original factory and administration building of the Auburn Automobile factory, this is perhaps the finest auto museum we had ever seen. Even the building, a beautiful art deco structure, is magnificent -- and the cars -- WOW!

These classic cars are literally home! E.L. Cord was the brilliant manager who developed a transportation empire made up of automotive, aircraft, shipbuilding and even taxi companies. Many of the cars his firms built are now seen as true classics and worth in the millions of dollars. This Duesenburg was one of the best cars in the world in the early 30's and was the fastest car available at the time.

This 1936 Cord looked like new. Featuring front wheel drive, it is a work of art that takes to the highway. Wish I could tow one of these behind our motorhome!

Here is another custom Duesenburg which reflect the ultimate in classic automobiles. These cars are perfectly restored -- although there are many in the 150 or so car collection that are fully original.

There are so many spectacular cars that you almost do not know where to start. Plus, they are displayed in the same fashion as they would have been for Cord dealers who would come to the factory to select new inventory. We felt as though we were transported back into the 1930's.

In addition to the Auburns and Cords, there were also many other amazing vehicles. This 1905 Baker is an early electric car and is ready to go for a spin today.

Here is a few of the many cars that were built in Indiana and featured on the second floor of the museum. Cars like Stutz, Studebaker and many more were all built in Indiana in the early 1900s.

I believe this is a 1920's McFarlan auto which was built in Indiana. I was amazed at the number of vehicle makers from this area (over 70 makers were from the state!)

This is a Crosley, also made in Indiana, and represents the minicar of the late 40's. Designed as a small, inexpensive car, it was very spartan featuring a 26 hp engine.

This is a bit more my style. Actually, this is a replica of the famed Auburn Boat Tailed Speedster and dates from the 90's. Talk about arriving in style!

This was one of Rick's favorites. An all original mid 30's Pierce Arrow. This car still shines like a jewel and looks like it just came off the showroom.

Of course, Indiana cars featured many famous cars, but Stutz must be near the top. A top luxury and performance car. Look at the chrome and finish on this car -- they simply do not build them like this anymore!

How about a supercharged Auburn? This classy car was built right here some 75 years ago. It still looks modern and up to date today.

Here is a Cord L29 in spectacular condition. Plan to spend several hours at this museum to learn not only about the cars, but also about the people behind the companies.

The Academy of Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, IN

Time to head north from The Rally and venture into Indiana. We have had good luck staying at state fairgrounds and Indiana proved to be no exception. Indeed, this was the biggest fairgrounds we have yet seen.

Our site was a full hookup and worked out well. We initially planned to stop in Indianapolis and check out the home of the Indy 500 -- the Brickyard racetrack. Apparently, there is a great museum there, but when we arrived at the State Fair grounds, we learned there was a NASCAR event while we were there and it was hard to even get near the track. Time for the backup plan!

Fortunately, there seems to be no end to interesting things to see in Indiana. We traveled a short distance north to Muncie, IN and stopped by at the Academy of Model Aeronautics Museum and visitor center.

Rick has been flying radio control aircraft for over 35 years and is an AMA member which allowed us to get in for free. Plus, there was plenty of parking for the coach!

WOW! Look at the hundreds of model planes. These planes range from the 1920's up to the present and it was fun to see how they progressed.

The AMA has developed many small displays to show the state of the art in modeling at various times in history. This group shows a typical group of models in the 1940's.

Look UP says Orinda! This model plane, all 11 pounds of it, has actually flown across the Atlantic Ocean non-stop! Designed by Maynard Hill, this amazing achievement took place in 2003. Imagine a model flying accurately over the ocean and being landed by remote control.

Model aircraft have been used in many flight advancements. This model helped to prove the concept of carrying the space shuttle on a 747. Looked like fun to fly!

Of course, there are many great scale aircraft. This B-17 features 4 engines, retractable landing gear and other options. It is a great feeling to build a plane like this and then see it fly (and hopefully land safely!).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Attending the Rally in Louisville, KY

We wanted to attend The Rally, sponsored by the Affinity Group (parent company of Camping World and the Good Sam club). This rally is a get-together of several thousand RVs and many friendly folks.

This is a shot of the lot we were parked in and represents just one of many lots full of all kinds of RVs. The Rally provides hundreds of vendors of RV-related items, new RVs, and great entertainers (including Bob Newhart and Tanya Tucker at this Rally).

There were hundreds of new motor homes, trailers, trucks and all kinds of rigs to take a close look at. Plus, everything was in the Kentucky Exposition Hall and air conditioned. This a huge building with some 1 million square feet under roof! We were tired out just walking from one end to the other.

The Rally also featured a great collection of classic RVs and tow vehicles. This '55 Ford and matching Airstream trailer were in great shape.

Rick liked this early 50's Oldsmobile that was pulling a vintage Airstream that had also been restored. The paint on this car was like a mirror and absolutely perfect.

Not to be outdone, this early 60's Caddy was equally beautiful. Look at that chrome shine -- almost hurts the eyes with the reflection. This convertible was towing an Airstream Bambi from the early '60s which made for a great matched set. We liked these classics, but our coach with all the modern features looked pretty good at the end of the day.

We made a few purchases from the several hundred vendors and got some great deals. Orinda looks really excited about this new sewer hose!

Here is our coach right after we arrived. There was plenty of room in the parking lots to set up the slide outs and run the generator - which we needed since it was so hot. Still, we were very comfortable even without hookups since we can generate our own power and carry over 100 gallons of fresh water. It is pretty cool to be able to park anywhere and have all the comforts of home -- literally!