CHAPTER TEN. THE MOHAWK VALLEY
IN THE VALLEY
On looking over the machine the next morning, Tuesday, the 27th, the large cap-screws holding the bearings of the main-shaft were found slightly loose. The wrench with the machine was altogether too light to turn these screws up as tight as they should be; it was therefore necessary to have a wrench made from tool steel; that required about half an hour, but it was time well spent.
The road from Oneida to Utica is very good; rolling but no steep grades; some sand, but not deep; some clay, but not rough; for the most part gravel.
The run of twenty miles was quickly made. We stopped only for a moment to inquire for letters and then on to Herkimer by the road on the north side of the valley. Returning some weeks later we came by the south road, through Frankford, between the canal and the railroad tracks, through Mohawk and Ilion. This is the better known and the main travelled road; but it is far inferior to the road on the north; there are more hills on the latter, some of the grades being fairly steep, but in dry weather the north road is more picturesque and more delightful in every way, while in wet weather there is less deep mud.
At Herkimer, eighteen and one-half miles from Utica and thirty-eight from Oneida, we had luncheon, then inquired for gasoline. Most astonishing! in the entire village no gasoline to be had. A town of most respectable size, hotel quite up to date, large brick blocks of stores, enterprise apparent - but no gasoline. Only one man handled it regularly, an old man who drove about the country with his tank-wagon distributing kerosene and gasoline; he had no place of business but his house, and he happened to be entirely out of gasoline. In two weeks the endurance run of the Automobile Club of America would be through there; at Herkimer those in the contest were to stop for the night, - and no gasoline.
In the entire pilgrimage of over two thousand miles through nine States and the province of Ontario, we did not find a town or village of any size where gasoline could not be obtained, and frequently we found it at cross-road stores, - but not at Herkimer.
Happily there was sufficient gasoline in the tank to carry us on; besides, we always had a gallon in reserve. At the next village we found all we needed.
When we returned through Herkimer some weeks later nearly every store had gasoline.
If hotels, stables, and drug stores, wherever automobiles are apt to come, would keep a five-gallon can of gasoline on hand, time and trouble would be saved, and drivers of automobiles would be only too glad to pay an extra price for the convenience.
The grades of gasoline sold in this country vary from the common so-called "stove gasoline," or sixty-eight, to seventy-four.
The country dealers are becoming wise in their generation, and all now insist they keep only seventy-four. As a matter of fact nearly all that is sold in both cities and country is the "stove gasoline," because it is kept on hand principally for stoves and torches, and they do not require higher than sixty-eight. In fact, one is fortunate if the gasoline tests so high as that.
American machines, as a rule, get along very well with the low grades, but many of the foreign machines require the better grades. If a machine will not use commercial stove gasoline, the only safe thing is to carry a supply of higher grade along, and that is a nuisance.
It is difficult to find a genuine seventy-four even in the cities, since it is commonly sold only in barrels. If the exhaust of a gasoline stationary engine is heard anywhere along the road-side, stop, for there will generally be found a barrel or two of the high-grade, and a supply may be laid in.
The best plan, however, is to have a carburetor and motor that will use the ordinary "stove-grade;" as a matter of fact, it contains more carbon and more explosive energy if thoroughly ignited, but it does not make gas so readily in cold weather and requires a good hot spark.
All day we rode on through the valley, now far up on the hill-sides, now down by the meadows; past Palatine Church, Palatine Bridge; through Fonda and Amsterdam to Schenectady.
It was a glorious ride. The road winds along the side of the valley, following the graceful curves and swellings of the hills. The little towns are so lost in the recesses that one comes upon them quite unexpectedly, and, whirling through their one long main street, catches glimpses of quaint churches and buildings which fairly overhang the highway, and narrow vistas of lawns, trees, shrubbery, and flowers; then all is hidden by the next bend in the road.
During the long summer afternoon we sped onward through this beautiful valley. Far down on the tracks below trains would go scurrying by; now and then a slow freight would challenge our competition; trainmen would look up curiously; occasionally an engineer would sound a note of defiance or a blast of victory with his whistle.
The distant river followed lazily along, winding hither and thither through the lowland, now skirting the base of the hills, now bending far to the other side as if resentful of such rude obstructions to its once impetuous will.