McPherson College team builds a car in minutes

Shaking off the rust of summer break, McPherson College's Rapid Build Model T Team was in midseason form Friday.

The six students assembled a fully functioning 1926 Model T from a pile of parts in 10 minutes, 52 seconds in its first show at the BlackTop Nationals at Century II.

The crew's record is 8 minutes, 32 seconds, set in March at a car show in Kansas City.

But members of the team were pleased.

"I think we did great for not doing anything all summer long and coming back and still doing it in 10 minutes," said Bill Kleines, a junior from Akron, Ohio. "Prior to the team we have now, the record was 30 minutes."

Oh, sure, there were a few glitches.

The ignition didn't immediately fire after the car was assembled, forcing Kleines to crank the hand crank a number of times before the ancient engine started.

A build isn't complete until the engine starts.

But Kleines wasn't fazed.

"It's happened before, but we always get it to fire," he said. "We have to retrace our steps to figure out where we slipped. Lots of times when everything's smooth it'll fire in one shot."

And it took a little extra time to connect the drive shaft to the back of the engine. That's always the trickiest part of the build because it requires fitting two square shapes together.

"It's kind of a delicate thing you have to do, otherwise your fingers get smashed," said Casey Maxon, a junior from Lawrence.

The Rapid Build Model T team is part of McPherson's auto restoration program. The team was put together a few years ago to have some fun and maybe bring attention to the college. Now it performs at car shows around the region.

Someday, they would like to build a Model T on "The Tonight Show," team members said. Host Jay Leno is a supporter of the program.

The current team has done 25 to 30 builds together. The other members are Joey Staskowski, a junior from Waterfield, N.Y.; Jared Coho, a sophomore from Bellwood, Pa.; Jared Buckert, a sophomore from Warsaw, Ill.; and Brandon Pecinovsky, a junior from Pleasant Hill, Mo.

There were some pre-build jitters about whether they'd stumble over one another after spending months apart, Maxon said. And some little details were forgotten.

"Like, I forgot I had to put the radiator shell on before I put the nuts on. Just little things like that," Maxon said.

But overall, the team appeared to function with the speed and efficiency of an Indy pit crew.

"Awesome, man," one member of a crowd that had gathered during the performance said to the team when it was over. "That was great."

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