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Who is Randy Rundle and what is his connection to this 1936 Cord?

10/4/15

First a little introduction is in order here...

My name is Randy Rundle. I am the owner and janitor on Saturday at Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts located in Clay Center Kansas. While Clay Center is not very big (4,500 happy souls) Fifth Avenue does business with customers literally all around the world. We currently have customers in all of the fifty states (lots of 'em) and customers in all of the Providences of Canada and an additional 19 foreign countries. Here is a little history of how Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts got started...

I bought, fixed up, and sold dozens of the 1948 thru 1954 Chevy and GMC trucks when I was in High School. I learned first hand about the hard starting, yellowish dim headlights, and the dead batteries. I camped out on the doorstep of all of the local mechanics asking for help with my old trucks. I got lots of ideas  from 8-volt batteries, to "just turn the regulator up..."   " to put a smaller pulley on the generator.."... and about a dozen more, none of which solved the problem just treated the symptoms. 

Then it occurred to me that if I was having problems so was everyone else and I am just the guy who should fix this problem.

When you are young nothing is impossible...at least in your mind. I assumed (you all know the meaning of that word ) that the solution was to take modern technology and apply it backwards and  build a 6-volt alternator. That should be a piece of cake and I wondered why somebody else had not already done it. I soon found out it was way more difficult and expensive than I could have imagined. When I asked for help from the electrical engineer types they all laughed at my idea..."everybody KNOWS you don't apply modern technology in reverse. Don't waste your time...and ours!! "

I admit to having a stubborn streak and so I ignored their advice and sat out to prove them wrong. Two years and a pile of destroyed parts out the back door later I had a working 6-volt alternator. I put it on my 1951 Chevy half-ton pickup (it is still there by the way) and drove it for a year.  The locals who had been tuned in to this adventure all came up to me and said, "We see you finally gave up on that stupid 6-volt alternator idea and converted your truck to 12-volts. .." We know its 12-volt 'cause your lights are bright and we heard your truck start up at the gas station..."

After a year of driving my truck around with the 6-volt alternator installed I began selling the 6-volt alternators locally mainly to farmers who had old trucks and tractors around that they did not use much, but wanted them to start when they needed them. The alternators proved themselves and I knew my hard work had paid off. The year is 1985.

I knew if I was going to make a living selling alternators I needed to sell them nationwide. But...I had spent all of my money figuring out how to build the alternators and had no money left for advertising! Got to come up with a plan, and soon!

One day I happened to read about this race in Texas where pre-1942 cars were being driven 3200 miles across the United States in three weeks time. I decided that was my new marketing campaign. If i could get one of those Great Racers to put one of my alternators on his car and enter the race. I would have proof that my alternator worked!

So I began knocking on garage doors offering a free 6-volt alternator to the first Great Race Team who would put one on their car and give me an endorsement at the end of the race as a testimonial that the alternator did indeed work and do what I claimed it would. Lots of " maybe next year" to some flat out no's. There were 100 entrants so I figured somebody should buy into the concept. Finally after a month of knocking on garage doors, I got lucky.

Bud Melby, of Seattle Washington agreed to put my alternator on his 1936 Cord. "Oh Great I say to myself, I know nothing about a Cord Automobile. Why couldn't my first Great Race car be a Ford or a Chevy something I had experience with? I soon learned that a Cord is all electric shift controlled by a series of levers on the steering column, and that Bud had added an overdrive to the transmission that was also controlled by an electric solenoid.

I also learned that the stock generator was not providing enough current to keep the battery fully charged and the lights were always dim. Bud said they had to put a fresh battery in the car at noon each day of the Great Race in order to be able to shift gears in the car. He was ready to try most anything. I could tell by the tone of his voice he had not completely bought into this 6-volt alternator idea, but was at least willing to give it a try.

So for the 1989 Great Race, Bud Melby was the first to use my 6-volt alternator. It worked perfectly, much to the amazement of the other Great Race teams who like Bud had never even heard of a 6-volt alternator till I came along. Today my 6-volt alternators are quite popular with Great Race entrants who are aware firsthand of their proven reliability.  I now offer 44 different products to make all types of antiques vehicles more reliable and fun to drive. Many of those products came about as a result of preparing cars entered into the Great Race. I have learned a lot from preparing Great Race cars for 25 plus years.

Today...I still prepare about a dozen cars for the Great Race every year and what I have learned in the past 25 plus years can be applied to all types of antique vehicles to make them more reliable and fun to drive.

I enjoy what I do, and you as a customer get the benefit of knowing what you buy from Fifth Avenue has been proven to work by being tested first on the Great Race.  Many will tell you we are not the cheapest but we are the best. You deserve to have an antique vehicle that is just as reliable as one entered in the Great Race. 

My goal is to update this blog on a weekly basis. Some weeks you may get more, some weeks less depending on my schedule. You will learn all sorts of things from this blog, some technical, some history, some nostalgia, and some just fun stuff. I do my best to keep the typos out but if you find one you can keep it...finders keepers as the saying goes. So until next time...Randy




                            Bud Melby's 1936 Cord ready for the 1989 Great Race


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Since 1987, Fifth Avenue owner, Randy Rundle, has been making antique, classic and special interest vehicles more reliable and fun to drive.