Posted by: bkivey | 14 October 2016

WAAAM 1930’s Rod Run

In which I talk about the last scheduled trip of the year.

Back in May I’d taken a day to run up to Hood River and see the sights. This was my first visit to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM), and a life-altering experience it was. When we were at West Point the second tour we’d get to the City 4 – 5 times a year. Nearly every visit included a stop at the American Museum of Natural History. That’s how I feel at WAAAM.

Saturday 8 October was a date I’d had circled for a while because the museum was going to run some of its 1930’s aircraft and cars. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I wanted to see it.

It’s a 1 1/2 hr to 2 hr drive to Hood River depending on traffic. Pretty smooth sailing once you get to Troutdale. The drive in the Gorge never gets old.

There was a front coming in but Hood River was fairly clear. The museum opened at 0900, and the activities started at 1000.

Things perking up in the parking lot:


Pretty much what the museum looks like:


There were some new things. A 1923 Oldsmobile:


With oil can:


And some cool turn signals:


A 1923 mail plane:


The aircraft is beautifully finished. The owner flies it during the Summer and stores it in the Winter. A win for all concerned.

Activity in the hanger area:


The museum offers rides in vintage autos. They form a taxi line and you can pick whichever car you want. I chose to ride in a Model A rumble seat: something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.

There is this sign:


My goodness! One might think there were vintage autos ravaging the countryside.

And riding:


The rumble seat was surprisingly comfortable. There was a steam tractor running around. No rides offered, but very cool to see one operating:


The steam is from the whistle. Watching those guys it looked like operating it was like steering a ship. The tractor is 1910 vintage, so not entirely in keeping with the theme of the day, but that thing looks like enough fun to run it every chance they get.

At the hanger door was a gorgeous wooden sailplane:


A British product and very much flyable. Superb craftsmanship.

The museum had some aircraft operating. They don’t offer rides on the airplanes, but it’s cool to see vintage aircraft operating. The museum hauled out an ‘L-bird’, which is the military variant of the Piper Cub. I watched the haul-out, and it was cool to see a museum piece taken outside to fly. Another aircraft was prepped, but the pilot couldn’t make it. A bi-plane was doing run-ups, which may not seem interesting, but the aircraft was near the end of its restoration, and this was the first time the engine had been mated to the airframe:



Hand-cranking a prop looks just as dangerous as it sounds, and is probably as dangerous as it looks. The engine did start. In a few weeks the airplane will be another operating addition to the collection.

I took the Restoration Hanger tour.


This is where the magic happens. And in the machine shop:


If it can’t be bought, it’s made. I learned that while the museum has some 300 autos and aircraft on display, and that all of them are operable, they may not be ‘ready for prime-time’ at the same time. The gentleman in the center of the photo is the Chief Aircraft Mechanic, and he noted that only about a dozen aircraft at a time are ‘current’. It may be that an airplane will wait ten years between flights as aircraft are cycled through the museum. The machines live, they just live on extended time-frames.

Afterwards wandered around a bit:


I was surprised to see an electric auto from 1932. The early hey-day of electrics was in the 1910’s, and by the standards of the day this look is dated. A nice interior, though:




That is steampunk luxury.

A visit to the restroom revealed:


It’s a blower, likely off an aircraft. I wondered if the museum planned on turning it into a hand-dryer.

Some items from the WW II area:


Organizations (schools, civic groups, etc.) would raise money to buy parts for Jeeps. As money was raised, the part would be cut-out and pasted on the Jeep.

It was a fun day. Got to see some vintage machinery operate, and talked to some interesting people. The museum has a few examples of horse-buggys, so I suggested that they be offered as rides. One member said that hadn’t come up. Maybe it should. Something to consider.

I feel guilty about exposing WAAAM. The museum charges what they need to cover costs, but it runs on love.

Things Around Portland

Looking down a ‘street’ in the West Hills:


A double rainbow in Hillsboro:





  1. I am a fan of old fashioned automobiles and aircraft, I like that you post these pictures of your museum trips, old ways of manufacture required a lot of hand crafting and as such, wound up having a lot of art in it, as an example, wood and fabric aircraft, under that fabric lays some very fine wood work, it seems a shame to hide it with a fabric skin. Today, we have average cars that have so much function and luxury items in them that an old luxury car is relegated to heap status, it has been many decades since the car lost status as an automobile, at least in the realm I live in.

  2. Hi Joe,

    In the restoration hanger at WAAAM you can see mostly aircraft in various stages of restoration. And yes, there is some beautiful work underneath the skin. I had similar feelings when I built balsa aircraft models as a boy. You spend hours building a nice airframe, only to have to cover it up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: