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Thread: OK, Sleuths: Avanti Body Tag Mystery!

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    OK, Sleuths: Avanti Body Tag Mystery!

    Here is the legitimate body tag from an Avanti recently sold and bought:



    Yes, the tag reads 63R-Q on top and 5088 on the bottom.

    Now, since Avanti Body tags began at 101, this would mean they manufactured at least 4,988 Avantis. But Studebaker built only 4,643 Avantis, not including prototypes.

    This has a legitimate answer. I'll post it in a day or two if no one has figured it out and posted the correct answer. BP

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    Didn't I read somewhere that SASCO, Newman/Altman or such had many Avanti body tags left over from anticipated production that never happened? Could this be one of those that someone installed to replace a missing one?

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    You're first question contains elements of the actual answer, Ed.

    The answer to your second question is definitely NO. I say that because the Production Order for this specific car indicates it IS Body #5088. Hence, this tag was legitimately on the car when Studebaker originally shipped it. BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 06-02-2013 at 03:42 PM. Reason: clarified answer to second question

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    Here is the legitimate body tag from an Avanti recently sold and bought:



    Yes, the tag reads 63R-Q on top and 5088 on the bottom.

    Now, since Avanti Body tags began at 101, this would mean they manufactured at least 4,988 Avantis. But Studebaker built only 4,643 Avantis, not including prototypes.

    This has a legitimate answer. I'll post it in a day or two if no one has figured it out and posted the correct answer. BP
    It is a South Bend body. South Bend bodies started at R-Q-5001.
    Bob Langer
    Glenshaw,PA

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Langer View Post
    It is a South Bend body. South Bend bodies started at R-Q-5001.
    'Don't think so, Bob. The subject tag (5088) is on Avanti Serial Number R-3545.

    The very next Avanti built, Serial Number R-3546, has body tag #2659.

    The original (not copies) of two Avanti Production Orders are reprinted in Andy Beckman's excellent, detailed Avanti Production Analysis booklet available trhough The Studebaker National Museum. This book was carefully vetted before publication.

    In it, the P.O. for Avanti #63R-1001 shows it having Body Number 101. Another sample production order, for Serial Number R-5329, shows it having Body Number 4199. BP

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    You're first question contains elements of the actual answer, Ed.

    The answer to your second question is definitely NO. I say that because the Production Order for this specific car indicates it IS Body #5088. Hence, this tag was legitimately on the car when Studebaker originally shipped it. BP
    So I guess You're saying that I was on the right track when I mentioned anticipated production that never materialized eh?

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    As an aside, where might R-3546 be residing now?
    thx

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    Also.... R-3523 had Body #5109

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Couldn't it be that Studebaker assigned blocks of body numbers to both themselves and Molded Fiberglass to keep from having duplicate numbers? Is it known what the highest body used by MFG was? Avanti Motors used body numbers on early production when MFG was supplying complete, leftover bodies from the Studebaker contract. To know those body numbers would be a help in determining that.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    All body numbers were not used in production. Studebaker and MFG had different series of body numbers. Number 5088 does NOT mean that 4988 Avantis were assembled by Studebaker.
    The other possibility is that this is one of the Avantis that N&A rebuilt and issued a new number to.
    Gary L.
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    President Member clonelark's Avatar
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    Could it have been an Engineering Dept. car?
    101st Airborne Div. 326 Engineers Ft Campbell Ky.

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Did they have a big box of body tags, and arbitrarily slapped them on the cars as they went by?
    Corley

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    005.jpg
    A few from my collection.
    Richard Quinn
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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corley View Post
    Did they have a big box of body tags, and arbitrarily slapped them on the cars as they went by?
    That's pretty much it, Corley, so you get the "atta-boy."

    This issue came up because someone on the forum was looking at R-3545 with an eye toward buying it, but that body tag didn't make any sense. He e-mailed me and cousin George Krem, knowing George had sufficient Avanti records from previous research that he might be able to answer the question and solve the mystery.

    To save rewording George's findings, I'll just quote him verbatim from the resultant e-mails of a day or two ago:

    This Avanti caused me to do a bit of research on Avanti body numbers. I had never looked critically at Avanti body numbers before except to determine what prefix was used (such as when they dropped the "63" before the number). But when I looked up serial R-3545 (which is a 1963 Avanti), I found that the body number 5088 is on the production order, so it was built with that body number!

    So I looked at the PO of the very next Avanti made, serial 3546, and its body number was 2659. That's a spread of 2,429 between two cars built one after the other...an unheard of spread in body number sequencing (or lack of sequencing!).

    I then checked the body numbers of about 100 Avantis with serial numbers higher than R-3545 and I also checked about 100 cars below that serial number. I found that a number of Avantis made before and after serial 3545 had body numbers ranging from 5028 to 5128. But most of the 200 Avantis I checked had body numbers in the 2600 to 2700 range, with some 5000-5100 area body numbers interspersed throughout those 200 cars.

    This is certainly odd, to say the least, but it looks like body number 5088 is the original body number for the subject Avanti. My guess is that some assembly line or body line Studebaker employee grabbed a handful of body numbers that were completely out of sequence, but they just went ahead and used them, since they thought they would eventually use even higher numbers than that.

    Whew...it's amazing to see what we are finding out over 50 years later.

    There you have it. As George said, it is amazing what we are still learning. If there was ever a time to remind ourselves to, "never say never," I'd say this is one of them.

    Thanks, George...and congrats, Corley. BP

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SN-60 View Post
    So I guess You're saying that I was on the right track when I mentioned anticipated production that never materialized eh?
    That's right, Ed. See Post #14 for the answer. BP

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 64V-K7 View Post
    As an aside, where might R-3546 be residing now? thx
    A well-known forum member and frequent poster bought it. I imagine he'll be posting to this thread as soon as he sees it. BP

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    Bob,-------This thread was VERY interesting.........Thanks for posting!

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SN-60 View Post
    Bob,-------This thread was VERY interesting.........Thanks for posting!
    True, Ed; thanks.

    I believe it was the knowledgable Dick Quinn who first uttered the words, "never say never" when discussing Studebaker history...and he oughta know!

    People who find themselves back-peddling are those who insist they are the sole repository of what the company did or didn't do. BP


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    So the parts book is wrong? Under Car Model Identification it shows bodies being built in Ashtabula starting with R-Q-101 and bodies built in South Bend starting with R-Q-5001. I would think that Studebaker would try to keep track of where the bodies were built for quality reasons. If they had problems they woud know if it was their problem or MFG.
    Bob Langer
    Glenshaw,PA

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    When would body numbers be assigned...when received from MFG or from the Studebaker facility or after body drop on the frame? I'm guessing when received or there might be no way knowing where each body originated.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    The Dec '63 Avanti parts book says, as Bob pointed out, that #'s started with 101 for Ashtabula bodies, and 5001 for South Bend bodies. I don't see any reason to think it's not correct.
    A while back, minutes of board meetings from '62 & '63 were published here. Production of Avanti bodies came up a lot. Apparently bodies from Ashtabula were mixed with bodies assembled in South Bend. Both series of body #'s went down the assembly line together. Both sources were used, at least till Aug. '63; probably till the end of production. Bodies that didn't meet requirements were set aside for rework and later would have rejoined the assembly line, maybe way out of sequence. Some bodies were too far out of spec and were sent back to Ashtabula; accounting for some missing #'s.
    Mike M.
    Last edited by Mike; 06-02-2013 at 08:30 PM.

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Langer View Post
    So the parts book is wrong? Under Car Model Identification it shows bodies being built in Ashtabula starting with R-Q-101 and bodies built in South Bend starting with R-Q-5001. I would think that Studebaker would try to keep track of where the bodies were built for quality reasons. If they had problems they woud know if it was their problem or MFG.
    Your question suggests we've uncovered a transition period, Bob, where the last bodies made in Ashtabula were interspersed with the first bodies made in South Bend. If this is true, virtually all the last 800 or 900 Studebaker Avantis would have body numbers over 5000.
    Is this true? I don't know, so we'll see if anyone else does.

    Does anyone have a late Avanti, with a serial number in the last 800 or 900 made, that has a body number under 5001? BP


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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    The Dec '63 Avanti parts book says, as Bob pointed out, that #'s started with 101 for Ashtabula bodies, and 5001 for South Bend bodies. I don't see any reason to think it's not correct.
    A while back, minutes of board meetings from '62 & '63 were published here. Production of Avanti bodies came up a lot. Apparently bodies from Ashtabula were mixed with bodies assembled in South Bend. Both series of body #'s went down the assembly line together. Both sources were used, at least till Aug. '63; probably till the end of production. Bodies that didn't meet requirements were set aside for rework and later would have rejoined the assembly line, maybe way out of sequence. Some bodies were too far out of spec and were sent back to Ashtabula; accounting for some missing #'s.
    Mike M.
    So the plot might thicken at this point....were the bodies set aside for rework reassigned new body tags? BP


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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    Your question suggests we've uncovered a transition period, Bob, where the last bodies made in Ashtabula were interspersed with the first bodies made in South Bend. If this is true, virtually all the last 800 or 900 Studebaker Avantis would have body numbers over 5000.
    Is this true? I don't know, so we'll see if anyone else does.

    Does anyone have a late Avanti, with a serial number in the last 800 or 900 made, that has a body number under 5001? BP

    From Avanti, The Complete Story by John Hull.

    "The decision was made to open a second assembly line in South Bend in December of 1962."

    "Studebaker Avanti production peaked in January of 1963 with both body production lines (Ashtabula and South Bend) running and then began to decline."
    Bob Langer
    Glenshaw,PA

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    Your question suggests we've uncovered a transition period, Bob, where the last bodies made in Ashtabula were interspersed with the first bodies made in South Bend. If this is true, virtually all the last 800 or 900 Studebaker Avantis would have body numbers over 5000.
    Is this true? I don't know, so we'll see if anyone else does.

    Does anyone have a late Avanti, with a serial number in the last 800 or 900 made, that has a body number under 5001? BP

    I have R5051 with body number #3916 and also , R5487 with body number #4326. Does this add to the mystery?

    Bob Caser
    mrbobinc

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    I am doing this from memory, which is dangerous...didn't early Avanti II's have Studebaker body tags on them? I pretty sure I saw this on some early II's but then again I could be wrong. I always assumed(!) that these early Avanti II's had Studebaker-styled tags either because they were bodies which were already in production when Studebaker shut down or they were made by Molded Fiberglass, and still got tags. I don't think I am dreaming this, but maybe somebody with knowledge off early Avanti II's could chime in here.
    Eric DeRosa

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2R2 View Post
    I am doing this from memory, which is dangerous...didn't early Avanti II's have Studebaker body tags on them? I pretty sure I saw this on some early II's but then again I could be wrong. I always assumed(!) that these early Avanti II's had Studebaker-styled tags either because they were bodies which were already in production when Studebaker shut down or they were made by Molded Fiberglass, and still got tags. I don't think I am dreaming this, but maybe somebody with knowledge off early Avanti II's could chime in here.
    2R2.....I used to own a really nice '68....and I'm quite sure that it didn't have a Studebaker body tag on the right inner fender skirt.

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Caser View Post
    I have R5051 with body number #3916 and also , R5487 with body number #4326. Does this add to the mystery? Bob Caser
    Yes and no, Bob, but it does indicate one thing: If South-Bend built bodies really were numbered 5001 and up, your almost-the-end of production serial number 5487 Avanti was built using what would have had to be a comparatively "old" Astabula body (4326) that had been sitting around many months at the point! "Never say never," of course.

    (And besides, we know Astabula didn't make 4,226 Avanti bodies, which that number would indicate.)

    Thanks for the contribution. BP


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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    The information I have states Avanti II production discontinued use of the body number tag beginning with RQB1516. All RQA and very early RQB cars would have come with a body tag. Since all bodies Avanti Motors used would have been from MFG, either it made no sense to continue using body tags or they simply ran out of tags and they saw no further need for them.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    President Member WCP's Avatar
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    Certainly with Astabula bodies, they were "tagged" before primer and paint, and the number also hand written somewhere on the body before the interiors were installed. One of my Avantis had the number scrawled on the deck above the fuel tank area under the vinyl and the other on the inner right panel above the rear arm rest.
    Last edited by WCP; 06-02-2013 at 09:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    A well-known forum member and frequent poster bought it. I imagine he'll be posting to this thread as soon as he sees it. BP
    BP, you are right I just now saw the post and I did buy the car yesterday, will be bringing it home on Tue. to start cleaning and figuring it out, the owner I just bought it from got it in 1976 and never transferred it into his name and when I saw who he got it from in 1976 I said I know this past owner so it is a small world when it comes to Avantis.
    Candbstudebakers
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    My 1970 had body # RQ-4921

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    Speedster Member Jackson's Avatar
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    I have 1964 Avanti R5388, body RQ4307, PO written 9/23/1963.

    34 Studebaker Street Rod (completed)
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    64 Daytona CNV (completed, 63K miles)
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    I have R 5636 with body # RQ 4370. Rob in PA.

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    Golden Hawk Member 8E45E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    Your question suggests we've uncovered a transition period, Bob, where the last bodies made in Ashtabula were interspersed with the first bodies made in South Bend. If this is true, virtually all the last 800 or 900 Studebaker Avantis would have body numbers over 5000.
    Is this true? I don't know, so we'll see if anyone else does.

    Does anyone have a late Avanti, with a serial number in the last 800 or 900 made, that has a body number under 5001? BP

    Don't overlook the re-serialized (very) early '63's that were sold late in the production run.

    Craig

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    Quote from G. Krem note: "My guess is that some assembly line or body line Studebaker employee grabbed a handful of body numbers that were completely out of sequence, but they just went ahead and used them, since they thought they would eventually use even higher numbers than that." and Bob Pa. supported it.

    This shows that even you two do not have all of the answers, even with a little "research".

    Please refer to my unedited post number 10 and some posts of others that support the two series of body numbers for Studebaker assembled Avantis (101 start for MFG bodies and 5001 start for Studebaker bodies).
    Gary L.
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    I was able to purchase Nate Altmans Molded Fiber Glass Company correspondence file last year at South Bend last year. YES IT IS OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE FILE.
    It has many interesting tidbits which I hope to share in Avanti Magazine starting with issue #163. One piece is extremely intriguing its titled Molded Fiber Glass Body Company Bodies Received - Processing Paid.
    It lists the Date Rec'd - Invoice Number - Amount and most importantly Body Number.

    The first transaction is Dated March 1, 1965 MFG Invoice 3620 for $200.00 covered Body RQ #4423 which became RQA 0003, Body RQ#4588 which became RQA 0002. Two bodies $100.00 a piece not a bad deal. There are 74 bodies listed purchased form March 1, 1965 -November 23, 1965. I have taken the list one step further and using factory build sheets translated which body became which production car. For the record MFG body RQ 4572 became RQA 0001.

    There is on rhyme or reason as the body numbers assigned (as evidenced by RQA 0001 thru RQA 0003) are not sequential and no body numbers assigned were over RQ 5000.

    More to come.
    John Hull

  38. #38
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    Quote from G. Krem note: "My guess is that some assembly line or body line Studebaker employee grabbed a handful of body numbers that were completely out of sequence, but they just went ahead and used them, since they thought they would eventually use even higher numbers than that." and Bob Pa. supported it.

    This shows that even you two do not have all of the answers, even with a little "research".

    Please refer to my unedited post number 10 and some posts of others that support the two series of body numbers for Studebaker assembled Avantis (101 start for MFG bodies and 5001 start for Studebaker bodies).
    Gary, I have no idea what you are talking about. Nothing in your Post #10 contradicts what we had posted. If you have further documentation on this discussion (not just more conjecture), please post it. George said he GUESSED what happened is the conclusion he drew, not that he "had all the answers."

    Further, as for this illustrating that neither cousin George nor I have all the answers, I'd ask you to cite somewhere where we say we DO have all the answers! Neither of us have ever made that claim to the best of my knowledge...I certainly never will, and I will speak for George and say that I doubt he ever will, either.

    George has a wealth of knowledge he could share with the forum, but he participates infrequently at best, as do several other people with an enormous amount of material they could share. The tone of your Post #36 might help explain why their contributions are sparse in proportion to what they could contribute; who would intentionally expose themself to such unwarranted wrath? BP
    Last edited by BobPalma; 06-03-2013 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Added last paragraph; it needed to be said!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    Gary, I have no idea what you are talking about. Nothing in your Post #10 contradicts what we had posted.

    Further, as for this illustrating that neither cousin George nor I have all the answers, I'd ask you to cite somewhere where we say we DO have all the answers! Neither of us have ever made that claim to the best of my knowledge...I certainly never will, and I will speak for George and say that I doubt he ever will, either.

    [/B]
    My post states that there were a different series of body numbers for MFG and Studebaker Avanti bodies. George guessed that the body numbers were just randomly pulled for usage, across a very large spread of numbers. I see this as two very different things.

    I think that you read the other part with a different meaning than what I intended. I was simply stating that you and George fall in with the rest of us in making mistakes and being human and not knowing everything. I know that George has a lot more Studebaker Avanti information than I have. I MAY have more post-Studebaker Avanti information, but far from all and nowhere near what John H. has.
    Gary L.
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    SDC member since 1968
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  40. #40
    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post

    I think that you read the other part with a different meaning than what I intended. I was simply stating that you and George fall in with the rest of us in making mistakes and being human and not knowing everything.
    And that's probably as close to a public apology as we'll ever see, too, even though it really isn't one.

    Your statement, "This shows that even you two do not have all of the answers, even with a little "research" sure doesn't come off the way you "explained" it, Gary, especially with quotation marks around the word research. BP

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