Southern Nevada Model T Club

Members' Profiles Page 2


Jon Bibbens in his early Ford Speedster.  Photograph by G.A. Villa, June 6, 2010. Profile by G.A. Villa, SNMTC. Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2010.

The Bibben's Family California homestead showing shed full of Model T parts and vehicles.  Photograph courtesy of Jon and Pam Bibbens.  Copyright Jon and Pam Bibbens and SNMTC 2010.

Jon and Pam Bibbens share an interest in the fine art of painting pictures.  Pam enjoys the actual painting of pictures, and Jon regularly scours thrift stores looking for paintings of interest for his growing collection.  The fact that Pam genuinely appreciates Jon's like for paintings and the fact that Jon genuinely appreciates Pam's efforts as a painter were perhaps foretold when they met as they both seem to enjoy the details of that enduring story.

Jon is a construction carpenter and supervisor who has been with the Bomel Company for 30 years, and earlier in that career, he was working on a construction site at Lake Elsinore, California.  Pam saw him at the site and walked up and asked him to go to lunch.  They went to lunch, and when it was time to leave, Pam got up and, it may be assumed, was so distracted by the dynamic Mr. Bibbens that she turned around and fell over a planter that was behind her.  Jon says with an enviable grin, "She fell for me."  Their extended family of four girls reflects their genuine respect for each other.

Jon has nurtured a interest in all things Model T since he was 13 years old when his granddad, George Bibbens, gave him a Model T headlight and running board.  As Jon never did anything with them, his granddad replaced them in his predominantly Model T collection of car parts and chassis.  Jon's life-long interest in cars and antiques began with his granddad's gentle and serious introduction to collecting and preserving older things of value.  Jon notes that his granddad often found parts that had been abandoned in the countryside and that he sometimes had the indigenous Hat Creek Indians bring him parts that they found.  After his granddad and grandmother passed away, Jon was able to buy the entire collection of parts (see the photo above) and begin the long, loving process of organizing them in storage and beginning to restore cars part by part.  The speedster pictured above is one of the first of those efforts which will eventually include restoration of some lumber cutting equipment powered by modified Model T power plants.

Jon took this writer through his two-floor garage and storage shed where he has perhaps thousands of Model T parts and, most notably, a fascinating collection of early automotive mechanical turn signals.  Jon explains that early in the history of the automobile, there were no rules or restrictions about turn signals or stop signals, and the result is a collection of devices similar to the railroad semaphores.  Such is one interesting nook in Jon's collecting talent.

It is very good to have Jon and Pam and their lovely and intelligent daughters as members of the Southern Nevada Model T Club.
 


Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2010.

It would perhaps be difficult to find a story of two people that goes back as far as that of Mike and Melissa Karr.  They met in kindergarten at Walter Bracken Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, when they were five years old and are two people who obviously have had a very strong direction in life from very early on.  Additionally, Melissa had her first motorcycle at the age of four (before she met Mike), and perhaps it was her influence that found its way into Mike's life when he got his first quad at age seven.  However one wishes to put it all together, Mike raced quads in motorcross  and Melissa raced Yamaha YZ80 to 125 class motorcycles in motorcross for a good number of years.  They have been married for 17 years and have a son, Gregory, and a daughter, Christina.

As parents the Karrs have turned their energies and talents to the rigors of car restorations, and among their work to date are the 1967 Chevy Camaro in the picture, a 1966 Mustang, a 1961 Corvette, and a 1957 Chevy Stepside.  In perhaps their first family restoration effort, they recently purchased a rolling 1926 Ford Model T chassis, and they and their son Gregory are doing some preliminary body work on fenders on the car. 

Both Mike and Melissa are sure in their praise for their parents, noting their long years of work and good and strong guidance.  Mike notes that dad and Southern Nevada Model T Club member Jerry is unquestionably the patriarch of the family and that he is more than worthy in that role.  Aside from Mike's three-year stint in the U.S. Army as a crew chief for  Blackhawk helicopters at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, most of the family efforts have been under the canopy of Jerry Karr's Western Electric Motors, Inc., where Mike works with his dad.  Basically, Mike says, the company repairs and services anything electrical in-house or with field service, and he is proud of the trade that his dad has handed on to him.

In turn it is good to have the good fellowship and abilities and talents of all of the Karr family under the Southern Nevada Model T Club canopy.


 
Mike Hill and his daughter, Brittany, in the family 1915 Ford Touring car.  Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2010.

Mike Hill's grandfather restored the 1915 Ford touring car pictured here over the course of one year, completing it in 1954.  It is a highly modified car capable of speeds up to 100 MPH, and the set up of the car includes a three-speed Warford transmission and a two-speed Ruckstell transmission.  The T-Go head on the car was engineered by the late Jim Culbert in San Diego, California, and it is used in this car as it was used in the replica Ford Indy racers built by Culbert.  Mike's granddad gave him the car, and it is a perfect fit with Mike's love of high performance and speed.

Among Mike's car projects are a T-Bucket hot rod "12-pack" (the car had six deuces or two-barrel carburetors); a 1968 Corvette; a 1970 Challenger 440 Magnum RT/SE (Road and Track Special Edition); and a 1970 Nova S 396 four speed.  During his time in Sacramento County, California, Mike raced his cars on a drag strip that a friend had legitimate access to after hours.  He was always pushing for more horsepower and speed, and Mike would "wreck" an engine and rebuild it for more speed and durability and blow it again and rebuild it.  Such is the enjoyment of an unintimidated, grease-up-to-the-elbows mechanic who grew up in a family that has over 40 cars including a 1940 or 1941 12-cylinder Lincoln Convertible and a 1939 12-cyclinder Packard Limousine that got the needed mechanical and restoration attention they needed from various family members.

Brittany appears in the picture here, and she is one of three daughters that include Jacqueline and Kelly (and two grandchildren).   Mike is a Southwest Gas Customer Service technician with important responsibilities including legal-speed responses to suspected and real gas detection alarms.  Mike matter-of-factly and kindly notes that he was a professional bowler in 1975, 1976, and 1977 and that he bowled ten 300 games in his career!

He is obviously a gifted mechanic, a gifted athlete, and a welcome friend in the Southern Nevada Model T Club.

 

Bobbie and Ronnie Mazzucchi with their 1915 Ford Touring Car.  Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2010. 

We are saddened to have to say farewell to both Bobbie and Ronnie early in 2016. Bobbie died of cancer and Ronnie followed shortly after, having been in failing health for some time. We will miss their humor and good fellowship.  



Christian Kolberg stands ready with his 1914 Ford Model T Touring car to chauffeur Camille,  the Kolberg family's Brazilian foreign exchange student, and her escort .  Photograph courtesy of the Kolberg family.  Copyright the Kolberg family and SNMTC 2010.  Profile by G.A. Villa, SNMTC.

Wallace and Christian Kolberg inherited the 1914 Ford Model T Touring car in this picture from Wallace's dad (Christian's granddad).  The elder Mr. Kolberg bought the car at a flee market and restored it to such splendor that it became a featured part of not only the annual Southern Nevada Helldorado Day Parade, but also of William Harrah's annual antique car tour.  The cars in the Harrah's tour drove to various locations in Nevada with a semi-truck following.  The truck was outfitted with complete repair and parts support, and if a car broke down, it was loaded onto the semi where mechanics would repair it  while moving and ready it for a return to the road at the next stop!  Certainly, that is a high standard of road service.  Wallace also drove the car with Christian and wife Lara from the church following their wedding to their reception site.  Christian notes that the car also broke down during that trip but was readily repaired and delivered the couple with characteristic elegance to their waiting family and friends.

Christian decided recently that he wanted to share that elegance with the Kolberg family Brazilian foreign-exchange student, Camille, as she prepared for an important high-school formal event.  The car, however, was not working, and Christian found his way to the Southern Nevada Model T Club and the expertise of two of its master mechanics, Gary Cooper and Harold Mann.  Mr. Cooper and Mr. Mann were under the car and out in fairly short order, and the car was ready for its important appointment. 

Wally Kolberg brings a distinguished executive resume to the Southern Nevada Model T Club as a retired Southwest Gas Corporation executive with 43 years of service.  He also brings a near life-long interest and expertise in fountain pens which began simply enough as a high-school and college student who was given a gift pen and took him to the present day as a recognized expert and collector who travels extensively to share his expertise and to deal in rare pens.  Christian, in turn, was the Las Vegas Review Journal marketing director for about 15 years with his natural talent for positive public relations enfolding the additional duty of working for the Donald Reynolds charitable foundation and serving on the Board for that organization for 7 years.  A gifted speaker and a genuinely compassionate and public-service minded man, Christian's career path took him to that of a charity benefits auctioneer.  His auctioneering involves work throughout North America where he adds finesse and dignity to celebrity and public and private charitable events.

Not surprisingly, his wife of 15 years, Lara (pronounced "Laura") has served the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in an executive capacity.  They met during his travels as an auctioneer, and when Mr. Kolberg was asked to describe his wife, he said simply "beautiful" in such a way as to make clear that that adjective carried a strong spiritual significance.  Lara and Christian have two sons ages 8 and 10 who are noted for their love for old cars.




Ray Potter with his 1929 Ford Station Wagon (Woody), 6/28/2010.  Ray notes that 1929 was the first year that the station wagon was manufactured in the United States.  Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2010.

Ray Potter is a soft-spoken gentleman with a background as varied as his car collection.  Ray was born and reared in Las Vegas and has spent time working as a properly courteous young man who parked cars and as a purposefully tougher pool hustler who made his money with a working knowledge of the precise techniques and angles of winning pool.  Ray notes that his work was so diverse that at various times he held Federal liquor and gaming licenses and Federal firearms and explosives licenses.  His Cristy and Jones Dice Company produced die for the gaming industry that required intricate production phases with tolerances of one ten thousandth of an inch and equally precise weights and finishes.  He owned and operated a family liquor business and bar in the older downtown area of Las Vegas, and also supervised and ran a tire store for Fletcher Jones.  However, Ray comes alive when he talks about the downtown black powder gun shop, Ray's Beaver Bags, that he owned and ran until his retirement in 2005.  The shop sold "muzzle loading guns and supplies, flint-lock muskets, tee pees, furs, leathers, knives, and tomahawks," among other genuine items and antique reproductions.  Mr. Potter's business was unique and served customers here and around the world.  He still does provide a fire-starting kit for the Boy Scouts of America and other purchasers.

Ray and Pat Potter's beautiful home seems no place for Ray's "city junkyard" description as one walks the long driveway to Ray's warm welcome.  In the garage, his wife Pat's immaculate green 1932 Ford small-block hot rod seems every model-building youth's dream car (I was one such youngster), and Ray on this day is trying to determine where to put the fire extinguisher which is required to be in driver's compartment by the touring association rules to which Pat adheres.  She and Ray have been married 47 years and have four daughters.  Among other important jobs, Pat served as a Supervisor on the Nevada State Contractors Board in Las Vegas for 15 years, and however much she wishes to be known mainly as a woman devoted to her and Ray's six grandchildren and one great grandchild, her car makes it clear that she is a top-of-the-line hot rodder. 

The large, walled backyard opens out from the back of the garage and bears out Ray's description of his city junkyard.
Here are 1920's and 1930's and earlier and later years' car shells and wheels and parts of all kinds.  Ray has several early Dodge automobiles, and he notes as we walk through his somewhat neatly arranged collection, that Henry Ford had a falling out with the Dodge Brothers who built coaches for him early in his ascent and that that is linked by some to Henry Ford's well-known anti-semitism.  Ray points to the emblems on the radiators on the cars in his backyard that the Dodge brothers built independent of Ford and notes that they are an image of "the Star of David." 

There is a large storage shed at the back of the yard, and in it is a 1911 Ford Model T Touring car that was part of the Harrah's touring collection mentioned in the Kolberg family profile.  There is a also a 1913 Pope-Hartford car manufactured by the Pope Manufacturing Company beginning in 1903 and 1904 in Toledo, Ohio.  These four- and six-cyclinder car engine entrepreneurs also began the Columbia Bicycle Company.  Ray is seen with his 1929 Model A Ford Station Wagon in the picture, and his 1930-1931 Model A Deluxe Phaeton two-door touring convertible is seen in the Members' Automobiles section of this website.  Ray also has a 1931 Model A 400 Convertible Sedan which is one of only 5,500 made. Again, however, Ray demonstrates his favorite among his cars with his talk about the 1915 Cadillac Coupe that is squeezed into the far right slot of his very full shed.  The body is hand-formed aluminum, and the engine is a magnificent mix of aluminum and steel and polished parts that demonstrate remarkable engineering and aesthetic design.  The hood for the car is on the floor about ten feet away, and Ray keeps it off the car so that the engine can be seen.  It may be the only such car still in existence (this one was originally owned by a physician in San Francisco).

Hanging from the roof of the shed are more parts than can be described, and almost as a final punctuation to his fascinating collection and historical archive, Ray took a part that mounted to the floor of a car and that could be reached and pulled up to the driver or passenger.  "What's that, Ray?"  "It's a cigar lighter."  What fun there is in the details of his astounding collection.

A tip of the hat from the Southern Nevada Model T Club for members Ray and Pat Potter.




Sharon and Bob Larson, November 6, 2010, with their 1918 Model T Ford.  Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2011. 

Bob and Sharon
 Larson represent a kind of self-determination that is always admirable and that, in the world of today, is increasingly rare. 

Sharon made a career for herself as a paralegal who works as a legal reader and respected legal office jack-of-all trades for attorneys in the area of probate law and estate planning.  Work of this sort requires not only people skills and office skills but also knowledge of the law and its practical applications in the responsibility-heavy world of the attorneys she serves, and Sharon has honed her talents in this field over the many years of her work.  Sharon is at the pleasant juncture in her career where she works part-time as a paralegal, and she now spends more time tending to her one-half acre of gardens and her interests in Queen Anne/Victorian artifacts and her collections of toys and violins.  Bob would probably say that her greater role has been as his wife of 45 years during which he shared his wisdom with hers.

Bob attended the University of Utah and graduated in 1969 with a degree in Art.  He later served as a draftsman and as an architectural apprentice for 13 years before sitting for a two-day, nine-part examination to qualify as a licensed commercial architect.  He succeeded, and his business card for his respected work can be found on the Southern Nevada Model T Club Members' Business Cards page.

Our good fortune of having Bob and Sharon as members of the Southern Nevada Model T Club is based on a similarly patterned step-at-a-time, intriguing story in which the remarkable founding member Gary Cooper again plays a part.

Bob began collecting Model T parts throughout Utah when he was 16 years old:  he bought a Model A Ford with the intention of scouring the desert roadside for parts.  He found mostly Model T parts, and he actually built the car pictured here from the parts he found in the desert or purchased.  He found an old sheep wagon which was a kind of covered wagon built on a Model T frame, and the wheels came with that frame.  A journey to Pine Valley, Utah, turned up an old five-foot diameter sawmill blade that was powered by a Model T engine and transmission, and Bob bought those integral parts for $50.  The radiator came with that find, and there is a touch of nature in the fact that it was had been used by squirrels for storage, and it was full of nuts.  Other searches turned up fenders, etc., and the body of the Larson's car was found alongside the road, too, full of bullet holes.  Bob met founding member Marvin Ray from whom he bought the seat springs, and he and the late member Marvin Robinson worked with wood plans to rebuild the frames of their respective Model T's.

Gary Cooper, a piano tuner by occupation, had come by to tune the Larson piano, and Bob found him out in the yard with his head and hands under the hood of his 1918 Model T adjusting the carburetor.  Bob Larson says that unquestionably the car ran better after Gary's unexpected work on the car.

Bob is also a painter and watercolorist who has also handcrafted five violins as if a further demonstration of his considerable skills were needed after assembling a 1918 Model T Touring car essentially from catch-as-catch-can parts.

Both Bob and Sharon are kind, good people to talk to, and the Southern Nevada Model T Club is grateful for their skills, their friendship, and their devotion to their storied Model T Ford.



Jim Vandall with his 1923, one-of-a-kind Model T truck, November 6, 2010.  Jim built the body out of cherry wood.  Photograph and profile by G.A. Villa.  Copyright G.A. Villa and SNMTC 2011.

Jim Vandall is an unpresupposing man who talks quietly about his graduation from Palo Verde High School in Tucson, Arizona, and when he mentions having graduated from an architectural drafting school and later attending college for one year with architecture as his goal, he seems honestly surprised himself.  He notes with humility that he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966 and that he served one combat tour in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 with the 199th Light Infantry Division.  Jim left the service proudly with the Specialist 4/Corporal rank.

His life path was set and was quietly functional and distinguished.  From 1968 to 1971, Jim began drawing plans for Jim Walter Homes in Beaumont, Texas, and eventually ran the entire office.  Mr. Vandall then returned home to Tucson, Arizona, became active in the Carpenters' Union, and began his own contracting business that specialized in building Safeway and Lucky shopping centers.  He also installed the catwalks for the Phoenix City Plaza.  These ten years of work also saw Jim remodeling the Historical Society Buildings at Fort Huahaucua in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  Difficult times for the Carpenters' Union conspired to end his contracting work in 1981, and two years later he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where as a Local 1977 Carpenter he ran a finish trim business for a contractor and later worked for R3M Contracting Company where he managed all trim work from 1983 to
 1995Mr. Vandall retired in 2008 after working on the finished trim at the Wynn Encore resort.

In perhaps a quiet acknowledgement of his stint as a good father and role model, each of Jim's three sons became carpenters, and he speaks with equal pride about his two daughters, one of whom became a manager and the other a housewife.  He matter-of-factly noted that he has 14 grandchildren.

Jim bought a 1923 Model T Coupe from Southern Nevada Model T Club member John Blythe, and he let events fall into place with his enjoyment of working on and restoring cars.  He found his way to a garage sale, and he bought a die-cast model of a 1913 Model T Christmas Truck for a bargain at $20.  He decided to build a one-of-a-kind 1923 Model T Truck based on the model, and he drew the plans and build the body from cherry wood.  It was a simple matter for him, but it is a matter of some significance and import for those without his woodworking and mechanical skills.  Jim is seen with his truck in the picture above.  Note the beautifully detailed panels on the side of the truck bed.

Jim says simply that he enjoys the truck a great deal and that he considers driving his Model T to be great, great fun.  The Model T Club monthly meetings are often enriched by his presence and his honest and helpful comments.  The Club treasures Jim's friendship and his beautifully crafted Model T.



Photograph by Diana V. Villa.  Copyright 2012 by Diana V. Villa and SNMTC.  Profile copyright 2012 by John Craft, SNMTC. 

Gerald "Jerry" Villa served as a writer and editor and photographer of this Website which he originated in 2009 until 2012.  We are grateful for Jerry's careful and enduring work for the club on this website.

Jerry was in the process of restoring a 1925 Model T Ford Huckster (a small truck and farm vehicle), and he acknowledges that his lack of expertise in this field meant some difficulties.  Hoping that he could find someone that could help in the restoration of his Huckster, Jerry searched out The Vintage Ford magazine which eventually led him to the Southern Nevada Model T Club.

It has been Jerry's dream to restore a Model T Ford in the memory of the good times he had with his dad going to car shows and talking about old cars, particularly the Model T.  He also wants it to be an icon for his studio, The Villa Studio.  He hopes eventually to take it into schools as a "talking car" teaching aid to make entertaining presentations for students to learn about the importance of language and writing and reading.

Jerry has worked as a technical editor and writer and as a medical transcriptionist.  Most of his championed professional time has been as an English Teacher at the middle school, high school, and community college levels.

Jerry was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and gained his undergraduate degree from Canisius College in Buffalo; he later earned a Master of Education in English Education at the University of Florida.  A distinguished graduate student, Jerry was inducted into Pi Lambda Theta, an International Honor and Professional Association in Education upon graduation.  While teaching in the Palm
 Beach County, Florida, School District, he received a summer scholarship in 1996 to study English Literature at Exeter College, University of Oxford, England.  Mr. Villa is the author of two books and has begun a respected study of the U.S. Constitution. 







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