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Previous Next Up Topic Public / General Discussion / My 2010 Spring into Summer road trip *Now with PICTURES* (14046 hits)
By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-17 14:44 Edited 2010-05-28 05:17
Well, the time has come to set up a little thread with all the adventures I'm seeing while going cross-country this year. I did the same thing last year here, and I got a lot of feedback on my adventures.

In an effort to get everyone up to speed, I was approached by a buddy of mine who was setting up a RT-66 Rally and asked if I was going to join in the fun. It is a dual-rally with two groups leaving from two different locations and meeting in the middle. Rt-66 (known as the "Mother Road") was the original east-west route of travel before the Interstate system of roads went in. The portions of the original road that are left are not named Rt-66 any longer, so you can't just punch it in on any GPS and follow the route. There are maps you can purchase online, but any I have seen have all been hand traced or hand drawn.

Unfortunately, the dates for the rally were a little early in the buggy season, but I decided to compete in the rally anyway. Make no mistake, I have no thoughts of actually coming close to a win..... especially without a navigator, but I certainly intend to have a blast along the way with a great bunch of guys.

Since there is a fair bit of time between the rally (May 19th-21st) and this year's Mid America Motorworks car show (June 5th and 6th) it meant the world was my oyster. Lets see... I've got a dune buggy. I'll be about 1,800 miles from home as the crow flies... What to do, what to do?

I decided I would DEFINITELY climb Pike's Peak with the buggy. Call me crazy, but I found out the local tree huggers have gotten the road on the list to be paved. If you know Pike's Peak history, you know this means changing the course of motorsports. The famous Pike's Peak Race To The Clouds will be changed forever when this happens, and I hear that is slated for this summer. Currently, the road is paved for a portion which turns to dirt switchbacks with no guardrails.

I've been to the summit only once in my life with a chevy puck-up truck I used to have. That was 14 years ago!

I was talking with a co-worker about my planned excursion, and mentioned I was planning to go north to Pike's Peak after resting at the rally finish line. He started laughing and said, why don't you stay in my cabin for a few days. I had forgotten he had a "cabin in the woods" in CO. Turns out, its about an hour away from the PP!

So, at the conclusion of the rally + rest, I'm going to head up to his cabin for a few days, explore the local area, and hit the peak. There's an old mining town that will be a great place to go. There are plenty of dirt roads to discover, and from what I hear... plenty of wild life around there too. The cabin is bordered by forest preserve, so there are hiking trails and what not there also.

After that, I plan to go to Silver Lake Michigan with Paul and Deb. Maybe I'll see Jerry there as well. After that, a little more time to do whatever before Mid America Motorworks. Then it's back home.

That's all for now. I'll update later with my trip so far.

You can track my progress on this page.
By Allison Daytona Ken Date 2010-05-17 16:12
I cant wait to read what all goes on !!! Dont forget the list of things you will need. That sucks about Pikes Peak, same way here they are messing with the old mountain road outside of Gatlinburg Tenn. so that it can be flooded with people and take away the charm and originality of the old homeplaces from the past. Oh well what can we do ? Keep warm or coll whatever the case may be, Stay safe , tell Paul Ken said Hey, and have one hgell of a time !!!!              Ken....................
By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-19 05:02 Edited 2010-05-27 19:06
Well, Since I'm trailering to IL from Mass, I was set up to have an uneventful trip. Thanks Dad for letting me use the truck and trailer. So, I didn't think there would be much to update here, but alas... I get to report on the trip already.

I was scheduled to be at the pre-race hotel on the 18th (the night before we kick off the rally). I was driving the buggy in IL on the 17th and she slowly lost power in the engine. So slowly in fact that I felt something not right at lunch. It just didn't have the punch it usually does. On toward evening, now back at Paul and Deb's and she had nothing. I could barely start it up without giving it gas.

I had to rev the engine just to try to get the buggy up a slight grade! When decelerating that day, the exhaust would rumble and pop too. I looked at the exhaust gaskets to check and be sure they were intact. They were. Paul suggested it might be a plugged fuel filter. Thinking back to last year's run OUT to IL, and visions of a plugged pre-filter came flooding back to me.

I cleaned out the pre-filter and tried it again. She was still a dog. No acceleration, barely idle or run. We decided to go to the auto parts store. I bought a new after filter and replaced that while Paul worked to replace my spark plugs. Properly gapped and back in, she was tried again. STILL A DOG.

I had noticed the crank position sensor had gone from being mounted rigidly, to being somewhat movable even when the bolt was tight, so thinking that was the true fix I was looking for, I set up for some late-night welding. I fashioned and welded on a saddle that keeps the position sensor from pivoting on the mounting bolt.

Finishing close to midnight was not a good timeframe to fire it up for a test. (I figured it was the best decision and it was the least I could do. I'm not the kind of fella to drive a wedge between two perfectly good neighbors if you know what I mean).

So... I went to bed confident that I would have no issues in the AM. Guess what? ISSUES. I could barely start it.

Now... Imagine this. It is the day before the rally, but its the morning of the day I'm supposed to be driving to the start line. I've tried everything I can think of to treat the symptoms. (popping exhaust on decel, no power, and hard starting). Scratching my head and thinking I might need to "phone a friend" to put more heads together than I carry on my shoulders. For some reason I decided to follow up on the thought I had that the crank pulley was moving on the crank.... basically an impossibility. I thought I had seen that the day before, but wrote it off as my eyes playing tricks on me.

Thinking about that possibility further made sense with what symptoms I was having. Now it was clear to me. It was surely a sheared key in the keyway. I pulled that crank pulley quicker than a formula one race car changes tires and there it was: my OH SH** moment. A portion of the pulley keyway was clear missing.

Apparently, the key doesn't engage the full length of the keyway, and the part that did engage it turned from a nice machined dado if you will to something resembling a bowling lane gutter.

I didn't stare at it too long, and I had a well-rested neighbor from one side come over to offer advice. We quickly came up with a few different options between the two of us, and I was beginning the repair.

A nice weld repair to the keyway added enough material to build up the missing portion of the pulley again. I hand-machined the keyway back to an acceptable groove. I also doweled the back of the pulley to engage one of the timing belt pulley's holes just to ensure that there is more surface area holding the thing from moving.

After picking up, I took the buggy around town to see how it was running. From the minute I pressed the start button, I knew it was fixed. It fired right up and made it up the driveway under it's own power with plenty of power to spare.

I made it to Joliet, and I'm now off to bed for tomorrow's start of the race.

By Brad H 1498 Date 2010-05-19 14:20
Way to go Jay, always good to here a happy ending to n OH S|$%# moment. God's Speed brother. Have a fun time and a safe (and hoefully trouble free) journey. Keep us posted when you can.

Happy trails!!!!

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-20 05:10 Edited 2010-05-27 22:03
You asked for it, here it is: :-)

I woke up in the AM and got all the tools/bags to pack the buggy. I got her mostly all packed... Just needed to tuck my socket set behind the passenger seat, so I slid it forward and it would NOT go back. I wrestled and swore, threw my shoulder into it, kicked it, used my full tool bag as a swinging wrecking ball to get the thing back.... nothing!

I knew I would have to work fast. I pulled the seat off and found the outer seat rail was bent. How the heck I could have managed to get the seat to slide out with it like that is beyond me, unless I mangled it trying to get the seat back. I may never know. In any event, I got out the vice grips and managed to bend the track back into position one little bit at a time. I finally got it done, and the seat moved back with a little effort... Much better than the first time.

So We were all to start at the track. We had photos taken there and the start was to be video taped... turns out.. by the guy who shot Ken Block in the gymkhana video thats all over youtube.

I was staged something like 6th row back to leave out of something like 15 rows. the guy to my right Sean, was in a Dodge Charger.

So... before I go any further, I should explain what was going through my mind at this point. #1: I've never drag raced before. #2: I'm thinking it would be good to test out all the repairs once while I'm not far away from the truck... in case I break down, I would have been less than an hour away from Paul and Deb's house where the truck and trailer are parked. #3: I've never been started from a flag "anything" before let alone a scantily-clad girl standing in front and between us. (That may have been a little distracting*) *Please see attached photo for proof.

#4 I'm still trying to get used to the clutch feel and action of the dual clutch disc set up.

So back to the story... TJ, the videographer is off to our right and I'm staged in the left lane.

The distraction was motioning for us to move forward. Apparently I stopped too far back, so she was motioning to move up more, which I did.

I set the line lock and let the clutch out slowly to load the driveline for a good launch. It caught a little too much and she went forward... not a lot. So I stopped and was getting ready to reverse it back when her hand arms went high in the air. (Maybe we were properly staged at this point?? Not sure. It felt like I was too far up, but she was about to drop her arms, so still in first gear, I brought the revs up. Her hands went down and all I remember is the sweet whine of the turbo, the squealing of the tires (yes those big meats were spinning) and the roar of the exhaust.

I had to lift off the throttle because I couldn't steer and I was coming right. So with a little lift of the throttle, the nose settled down and I brought it left again.

When Sean rolled up to where I had stopped, he was shaking his head and his eyes were wide. His navigator yelled over the engine noise and told me that Sean was just saying how his exhaust was going to be so loud. Then the nav continued to say that Sean admitted after the run that he couldn't even hear his own engine! Needless to say his shock finally turned to disbelief and he was shaking his head while he asked what I have in that thing. LMAO. I was shaking a little. It was the first time I had done something like that, but it was so fun!

That was the start to get everything on video. They needed TJ the video guy to go in the first car for the rally, but he also needed to get the shots of everyone leaving.

After all the cars had been filmed leaving drag race style, TJ went to the front and the staggering of the cars started. Right as I got to the front, got my time logged, and Scott wished me well, I went to roll up a little (needed to cross traffic across two oncoming lanes and a median into two other lanes). As I pressed the gas pedal, it went right to the floor. No... not Toyota style. to the floor like nothing was there. As it turned out, I broke the throttle cable. I can't believe it didn't happen during my hard launch. Maybe I stretched it a little in all the excitement.

So, 45 minutes later after shortening the sheath enough to bring the good cable where it needed to go, I was off for real. Everyone had already left... even the Mini Cooper that lost her CV joint 4 times on the way to the track. (they fixed her with a c-clip from a Honda dealership and were ahead of me)!

I needed to make up time, and do it fast. There was a strict "no ticket" rule for speeding or you are D.Q.

knowing that I was behind EVERYONE, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try and make up some ground. Besides... who would be there to see it?

Turns out, Illinois finest were keen to the event and were out in force. (Can you believe I found out over dinner tonight that one of the navigators works in the IT department of the IL Troopers? She said they knew all about it from her and talking about this rally!

Well, wouldn't you know it, at a nice comfortable speed someone was gaining on me. you know when you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? Yah.. I had that. This fella was so nice to just get beside me, look over and raise an eyebrow as he slowed down. He didn't even pull me over. His facial expression was more like, "really?" then there was this unspoken communication where he told me, "I'm going to slow down now, and you're not going to pass me or I WILL pull you over and give you a ticket". (He really did say that in my mind, LOL)

So, 40 long heartbreaking miles later, I finally decided to pull over for gas, let him go on up the road, and I would try to catch him with a full tank of gas... Never did catch him again, but I did end up making up ground over the course of the day.

Tomorrow is going to rain all day, so I'm lying in the bed at the hotel listening to the thunder and the rain spill over the gutters. The curtains light up every now and again due to lightening off in the distance. Yup, tomorrow is going to e a wet one for sure.

More tomorrow.
By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-20 05:14 Edited 2010-05-27 19:38
Oh, forgot to tell the best/worst part. I asked Tj if he could email me the clip of us launching. He said he could, but then explained that he really didn't have any video of me. It seems he was in a good spot for shooting video, but the fact that he was off to our right and I took off like a "bat out of .." he couldn't see me at all, he said I was just too fast. He said he would try to get it for me anyway, so we'll see about that.

By Jon H 1803 Date 2010-05-20 15:13
My Son...I was just reading about your Oh---- moment and had to laugh.  Thanks for mentioning me in your blog....I'm pleased to be able to make the truck/trailer available so that you could attend this Rt 66 Rallye.  You need to finish up the other buggy...maybe we can make the next one a Father - Son adventure.  Stay safe and enjoy the ride.
By Pat H 2193 Date 2010-05-20 23:19
Jay, I almost fell out of my chair with intrigue as I read your blog. You are an amazing writer; kind of makes me think God prepares all these episodes for you to write about just to humor the world. I can imagine the feeling you must have had at the start of the race - never drag raced before? In any case, I'm glad you're safe and a father-son trip in the future sounds like a great adventure for you both. Mom
By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-22 02:06 Edited 2010-05-27 21:25
Good morning. <~ That's the greeting, not the truth. I'm suffering from disappointment this morning. I'll get right to the point. I had to abort the rally. You know how sometimes things are just out of your control? That's the feeling that hits you when you crack a wheel.

Now, for those of you who know me and my adventures, you'll remember with fondness last year's road trip which included many many things of interest, all of which included a cracked rear wheel and all the follies that ensued due to it's premature demise. Alas, this year's casualty took out the oposite side rear wheel. For those of you who aren't familiar with my episodes that seem to, shall-we-say, "pop up" while I'm trying to accomplish something, go somewhere, or am just generally standing still.. you'll need to catch up on your required reading which I thoughtfully linked to at the beginning. That way, you will really be able to appreciate this year and all the fun.

Day one of the rally was a challenge. Who in their right mind would be carrying not one, but TWO spare clutch cables just in case of a problem, and not have a spare throttle cable with them? Apparently I was day dreaming that day in kindergarden when the teacher told you to bring more than one crayon with you when you sit down to color. Wait a second.... you  mean I should have grabbed paper too? Hmmm. Maybe that's why I can improvise so well. Day one went really well for me all things considered. I actually (somehow?) made it to Zino's hotel and steakhouse about an hour before the first car, but about 3 hours before the last car. That put me near the front (if you counted the pending D.Q.'s for exceeding the speed limit). Yes, I know math wizards, How can I be on the side of the road AT THE STINKIN STARTING LINE and get there near the front if I wasn't exceeding the speed limit just a tiny fraction? the answer lies in my super double secret teleport machine I installed under the hood. Oh yah... that and the fact that when you DO do the math, my start time to my finish time divided by miles (carry the 1) means I was in fact NOT speeding. So there!

Let me take a small segway. (I really do want one of those things for my next road trip in case I break down again. At least I could do doughnuts on the side of the road with that two wheeled gizmo while I wait for the tow truck). I headed into this thing knowing there was no way for me to take any kind of award. After hearing day one's non-official results, I was like: I may have a shot here. That was my frame of mind at the start of day two, but mostly because it wasn't raining on my head or I would have surely been thinking how absolutely wrinkled my skin was going to be at the end of the day. (I was already having visions of dripping all over the lobby floor while trying to check into the hotel). I was picturing the hotel staff getting all bent out of shape about me making a huge puddle. That and all the wet floor signs that they would have to drag out before some poor sap walked through the door and took a face plant. </end segway>

I left my last known transmission on star-date one, captain's log listening to the thunder and rain and watching the lightening. As it happened I woke up, looked out the window, and wouldn't you know it.... (no it was still raining cats and dogs). With the vision of driving rain fresh in my mind I took a nice long hot shower and went to breakfast inside the hotel. By the time I paid the check, the rain had stopped and although the ground was wet, it was drying out outside. By the time we hit the roads, they were wet just enough to fling a little road grime at you. If you consider yourself a professional buggy driver and you've been caught in the rain, you probably know the grime I speak so fondly of. I went to the first checkpoint.

At each checkpoint, you needed to get photo documentation that your car was physically at the location. Most of your professional rally teams would slow down as they approached the building in question, let out their navigator, which may or may not have included a push, and the driver would flip a U-turn while the navigator caught it on film. I'm not sure how the navigator attaches himself to the car as it speeds by because I, being navigatorless, was fumbling with my camera after my car came to a full stop. I think I've seen something on TV about how to do it though. Don't you need an orange car with an 01 painted on the side or something?

So, here I am at checkpoint one being blown away at the speed, efficiency, and lack of accuracy of these professional teams at the checkpoint. Yah, that was lack of... as in a complete and utter mess of cars all clustered on a small defunct portion of old Rt-66 trying to figure out how to turn around, get the shot, where to softly land their co-pilots, etc. I was almost afraid to step back away from the buggy to take a picture. I figured someone would three-point-turn right into me or something, but I ended up getting a clear shot once team EVO from NY got out of the way. Yes, they pulled up between me and the buggy to block my shot. Those are some clever guys and I have proof!

Somehow I made it back to the buggy. Most of the super efficient teams were already a few miles ahead of me at this point, and I was OK with that. I sat safely in the buggy and punched what I thought was going to be my next town into the GPS so I could begin in that direction.

Just to set the pace here: While I was 1/2 mile away from checkpoint one, I saw team MINI from Maine driving away from the checkpoint back toward the main road. they flashed their lights and I hit the horn. It was then that I knew they had already gotten their photo at the checkpoint. once I left the checkpoint, good old Tom Tom brought me out a different way than I came in. Usually I don't trust the GPS so much, but in this rally, with no navigator, I had my hands full trying to figure out where the next stop was, let alone try to figure out if TT was lying to me or not. Turns out he did me proud. I was back out to the main road through a little Z pattern of roads that probably looked too difficult to maneuver on a map, or perhaps not even connected, which explains why most people too a right while I took a left at the access rd. My favorite was the car just ahead of me at that turn. They slammed on the brakes when the old red buggy took a left there. I saw in the mirror, they must have been arguing or discussing the fact that I went one way and they went another. Did I know something they didn't? If they followed me would we both be turning around? I'm sure the conversation went something to that effect.

As it turned out, I hit the main rd just in front of team Mini. I don't know how that was possible. Maybe they had to gas up or something. I had to laugh when I looked in my rearview and saw the only other car smaller than mine rolling up beside me. I got a good laugh out of that one. I'm not sure they shared my humor on that one though. So we drove in tandem for a few miles when the buggy's tail wanted to wag the dog. I knew that feeling all too well. Sure enough... flat right rear tire.
Last time was driver's side rear tire. (Photo of last year's cracked wheel for comparison. Notice the difference in the exhaust too):
By Brad H 1498 Date 2010-05-22 13:45
Jay, So sorry to hear you had to stop the rally, I can only imagine your disappointment and frustration. Change wheels and go get 'em next year!!!!!

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-22 20:07
Thanks Brad. Looking into different wheel options now. Atill trying to make a trip to silver lake mi, and make it to MAM. Worst case scenario I'll put the steel wheels and tiny tires back on.

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-27 21:26
(Had to split my last picture post. When editing to put in pictures an error message said too many words).

Everyone in the rally was great. What a great group of people. One team, team Raptor (named after their new Ford Raptor truck) really went out of their way.
On day one of the rally, they saw my buggy getting filled as I was packing, and they offered to haul something it I wanted any extra room. Since I wasn't overly keen on how high my red bag in the passenger seat sat, I decided to take them up on their offer. As day two began, I asked them if the offer was still open. It was, so my red bag went back into the bed of the truck. By now, you've got to be putting two and two together. Imagine being one of those passengers on an airline flight when they find out their luggage is on a different plane and headed for another part of the country. That's what I was thinking about on the side of the road. (I wonder where all my clothes are at this very minute)?

I pulled out  the AAA card and dialed the number, spoke with the woman, and said thank you. Now, mind you, I made it perfectly clear that I require a flat-bed wrecker. (Yes, we went through this last year). Imagine my surprise when again, a hooker truck showed up. I was furious! I especially told the old hag on the phone what they were to send me. Now I would be waiting another 40 minutes or so for the guy to drive back to the station and get the right equipment. He said he was told I was a guy with a flat tire, and I have a spare.

WHAT? A SPARE! I told the woman who should be sweeping floors at McD's that I do not have any room for a spare tire WHATSOEVER, and I do NOT carry a spare. (I do have a plug kit under the seat, but that doesn't work on aluminum.

At this point, waiting for the flatbed, I'm really reflecting on how comical this must be to someone, what with all the deja-vu I'm having. Oh... I'm sure someone was getting a charge out of my experience AGAIN. Alas, the flatbed arrived and we loaded the buggy.

(She probably was getting so used to this operation at this point, that if I had said, "Comon Speed Buggy, pull yourself up here and hold on tight", I'm pretty sure the buggy would have known just what to do. In any event, with the buggy on the proper wrecker, the driver and I formulated a plan of attack. FIrst we would go to their garage and jack the thing up and try and reseat the bead. I was hopeful, but I'm not stupid. I had that sinking feeling and for a good reason. the tire didn't hold air so we went on to step two. We would pull the wheel off the buggy and see where it was leaking. (High-tech plan of ours huh?) Secretly I was researching aluminum tig welders while waiting for the flatbed. I brased that topic in conversation with the truck driver, just to bounce something off of him. Turns out he knows a welder that can tig aluminum. He's right in the center of town too.

Now, I'm not sure what kind of hours a guy who welds in a town of 2,000 would keep, but at about high-noon on a weekday, you don't expect to find the building locked up tight. Unless you find yourself in Richland, Mo!

I happened to take a picture of the sign that this apparent part-time comedian hung above his shop door. In read: "Parker Welding" and just below that read the following: "If we can't fix it".... "It ain't broke" I took this picture to show the wheel, just in case the wheel had any other ideas in its mind.

Now, I suppose it depends on where you grew up or reside now, but I was always under the assumption that things don't just fix themselves. I could be wrong. Stranger things have happened, but I was pretty sure this fella's sign was not going to be of any particular assistance in my plight in his absence.

Thankfully, this town held not one, but two master welders! If Mr. Parker was perhaps out working his field or something, we were going to head on over the the local boat repairman. Keep in mind, we're surrounded by the Lake Of The Ozarks in this state, and many a fisherman's choice for weaponry resides in the tried and true aluminum johnboat, what with it's minimal draft and all, you can sneak right up on your prey.

Off we go in the wrecker to the boat repairman's place. Now... I'm not sure what kind of invoice is submitted to AAA when you use a flatbed wrecker to haul a single wheel, and to be honest, I don't care, but it was a comical sight, so I snapped a picture in case you don't believe me.

Now my wheel and I were safely at the boat repair place (with the sound of dueling banjos ringing in my ears). We had made the journey across town, over the railroad tracks, over the pot-hole infested dirt trail which led through the trailer park, and rolled up to the building.

So this other guy, who's name escapes me at the moment. (Yes, I actually got to see this guy because he decided it would be good to go to work that morning or some cockamamie thing like that) I'll call him Fella#2. So Fella#2 had a look at the damage, decided he would most certainly help me out and finished discussing boat modifications with what I believe to be a return customer. After a short time, they parted ways. They being Fella#2 and the customer, that is.

Fella#2 went to work on the wheel and did a real nice job.

After settling with F#2, back to the shop I went with F#2's employee or cousin or something. He was a nice guy too. (They all were) and we talked hot rods and modifications on the trip back. I was really surprised to see only two pinholes after the air and soap was applied. The weld I had done last year must have had 10 or more pinholes, but I digress.

Back the wheel goes in the bed of the truck and the employee or cousin drives back to the boat garage. This time, we talked engine internal modifications, turbos, and blowers. Once back at F#2's boat garage, he was surprised, but happy to grind out the weld and re-do it.

(air it turns out will flow through a smaller orifice than a water molecule will, so in his defense, I think if it was a boat, it would have easily floated... I'm sure of it.

Once again to the garage. Now we talked about F#2's cars. Since I was no expert on that subject having just met the guy, I pretty much let him do all the talking. The wheel went back on without a hitch, that is as long as you don't want the wheel balanced! The tow-garage would not be able to balance it, so away I drove. I was going so slow, that I was able to make phone calls to Springfield asking different places if they could do it. I finally found a place that could do it, which was a good thing. I only had 20 more miles to shake at a blistering speed of 55. I believe I've driven faster in parking lots than I could stand to drive to Firestone, but not wanting the windshield to fracture from the violent spasm the buggy was exhibiting, I kept my cool and took a nice leisurely pace. you know the one... the one where EVERY STUPID DRIVER can't see you are in front of their vehicle until they are just in the knick of time to slam on the breaks? Yah... the one who can't see far enough ahead of them to actually move over a lane so they don't trap themselves behind the slow driver while waiting for a hole between cars to open up so they can get around you. That's the same one who loses 15 car positions waiting behind you. Isn't it written somewhere that the stupid shall be punished or something?

Yup, only 20 more miles of fearing for your life and the wheel would be balanced, and I'd be on the road only a few short hours behind the rest of the gang.

It's too bad Firestone didn't have Mr.Parker's sign above their shop door, because I would have asked to see a manager. Turns out the tire was going down as the buggy sat at Firestone. F#2's weld cracked. I wouldn't have expected a repair to last much longer than that. That 20 miles of shaking was the equivalent of a 24 hrs at Lamons endurance race I'm sure.

At this point, it was time to throw in the towel. I really wanted to do a little something else that has the word "throw" in it that some people do it on airplanes (into a bag). My stomach was in knots. A stinkin wheel took me out of the rally.

That's a hard one to swallow, especially since I conquered a road-fix with a broken throttle cable. I field-repaired the passenger seat track with common hand tools while climbing over my own luggage, and the crank pulley issue before the thing even started. I really thought there might be something I could do, but this wheel really stumped me.

Once the severity of the situation set in, and I formulated yet another brilliant plan (I'll term BP2) I made the necessary phone calls, text messages, and hotel cancellations.

And, THAT is where I will leave you for the night. There's more to the story, but my fingers need to rest.

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-27 22:01 Edited 2010-05-27 22:07
OK, so "BP2" called for a whole bunch of responsibility before the irresponsibility that ensued. I ended up hitching a ride with the manager of Firestone to the U-Guessed-it... U-Haul dealership.... the old standby self-towing service at your service. At the front desk I was greeted with the most uncaring, un-animated, unfriendly counter person I have ever met in my life period. (He wasn't rude, he just didn't care to be there. I'm pretty sure he didn't care if any of the 7 customers waiting for various types of assistance were there or not either. After that long drawn out procedure of paperwork once I FINALLY muscled up to the counter, I was off. I drove back to Firestone to retrieve the buggy. Sure enough, the tire at this point was flat as a pancake. The wheel was sitting on the sidewall of the tire. Thankfully, Firestone had a portable air tank that got me enough air in the tire to load the buggy onto the trailer.

I drove to Wal-Mart to buy some clothes which I would now need. I also wanted to get a 3-pack of keyed-alike Master locks to lock the buggy to the trailer, the trailer to the truck, and the back of the truck itself. I also wanted lunch even though it was dinner time. On the 4 mile jaunt to the Wal Mart, the skies started to look a little nasty. While inside and looking at clothes, the heavens opened fire, and Wal mart, the parking lot, and the buggy were all targets. The only time I've ever really heard the rain hit a roof like this was when I was younger and I was listening to the rain hit the tin roof of the garage. This brought back memories. The difference being, this roof was insulated! People who had been through the checkouts began to clog the entranceway. NOONE was going out in this mess. It was coming DOWN let me tell ya. A short stop at the little subway counter inside killed two birds with one stone.

By this time the rain had stopped. I walked out to the truck/buggy combo and proceeded to lock the things up when all of the sudden God spoke to me. (No he really did.. right through the radio on the buggy). That's a strange feeling when someone all the sudden tells a fella he's got to get saved at the top of his lungs... all coming from a radio that didn't have a face plate installed! In fact... the key wasn't even in the buggy!

Well, it didn't take me long to realize that the radio had gotten soaked and was obviously shorting out, thus producing the sermon I was listening to while trying to lock everything up. I jumped up on the trailer and swiped my finger across the face plate terminals, which stopped the fire and brimstone at once.

I climbed into the truck to eat and use my smart phone (who was a whole lot smarter than I was at finding places to stay the night). All of the sudden, there was a knock at the window. It was a short fella who looked a little weathered, but not like ha had missed a meal. He was explaining to me that he had his friend stop their truck so he could take pictures and that my radio was on. Not surprised that the divine message was being piped to yet another recipient, I went back to do the finger swipe again, but the radio was not on.

Not wanting to let the opportunity slip by, I started asking him if he was sure it was on. His buddy was sure I had a remote in the truck, so we had a good time going back and forth on that one.

After finding a place to spend the night and getting settled inside, all I could think about was all my new buddies heading toward Texas. That's when I decided to be irresponsible and hit the local watering hole. I wasn't too irresponsible, but I did tip a few back and watch the big screen in order to forget about the whole ordeal.

The next morning I woke up to the smell of cigarrettes. (thin walls in this hotel? I'd say) And I was off, back to IL. That's where the rally saga ends. The vacation still goes on though, so I may update if anything significant happens. :-)

After it was all said and done, All I could think about was all the plays on the license plate. UWISH the wheels wouldn't crack, UWISH you would have made it to Texas, and a million more I probably haven't thought of yet. One thing is for sure, Driving your buggy will bring a smile to your face. It will turn a head or two, but most certainly will ALWAYS be an adventure.

Here's to all the ride-along mechanics who pilot their own buggies! Until next time.

By Jeff GS Date 2010-05-28 00:47
What a saga Jay!  Sounds like it got a bit "soggy" too!
Bummer about the wheel.  I'd say its time to step up to a set of Centerlines, something a bit beefier and a bit more reliable!  To think - with all the electronics and gee-whiz stuff on your buggy - it's the frigg'in wheels causing the most problems!

Good luck on your continued adventures.  You also give us guys with "heavier" wheels something to be happy about, maybe ours won't be so prone to easy breakage.

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-28 05:16 Edited 2010-05-28 05:32
Jeff, Paul was mentioning Jerry of the south side bugistas swears by Centerlines. I was thinking about them. I even went to their web site... the only thing is, I started sweating when under the price column for ALL their wheels, they listed the price as "call".

That's never a good sign. Then... get a load of this! Paul has had Douglas 190 ga wheels on his buggy for something like 10 years now. The vary same day Paul, Deb, and myself drove Rt-66 here in Il to go to the White Fence Inn for chicken, HIS wheel cracked. (Found his IMP almost sitting on the rim the following morning).

That did it for me. I ordered chromed STEEL wheels. If they crack I can fix them myself. Its not going to look as pretty, but it will look better rolling down the road than sitting on the shoulder. (I couldn't justify spending "call for price" X2 on wheels in order to try them out and see if they may last longer). Once bitten twice shy they say.
I'd like to see what the Centerline wheel look like anyway as far as thickness and so on, even though I'm going steel.

Hopefully, I'll just squeak by getting them mounted and balanced before the MAM show. Keep your fingers crossed. Otherwise I'll either be sitting on my pizza cutters or a borrowed set of wheels, just for show... will see.

It really wasn't too soggy. I mentioned the first day before we left that I hoped it was just starting to rain when we got to the hotel and it poured all night and got it out of its system so the next day was nice. That turned out to be exactly what happened although it started out gloomy on day 2.

Had I not stayed in MO, and traveled through like the rest of the group, it would have been dry almost the entire way. I hit about 20 miles of rain coming into the hotel on the end of day one is all. That and Wal Mart in Springfield, mo. But by then, but buggy was being towed and I had a dry place to drive.

By Jeff GS Date 2010-05-28 11:49
I did a quick google - found them ranging around $300-350/wheel.  That's pretty expensive for some, but I personally don't think it's all that bad.  If you want cheap wheels, better make the switch to an American bolt pattern!

By Jeff GS Date 2010-05-28 11:54
A little better pricing here!

By Alden A 305 Date 2010-05-29 00:20
Wow, its always an adventure with you Jay!!!  Sorry to hear about the bad luck, I just did read this for the first time today.  Maybe we can catch up in Effingham.  If everything goes right, I hope to roll thru and maybe say hi Sat night and be back on Sunday morning...

Keep us posted and hopefully you will get the new rims in time!!

Good Luck,

Mattoon Illinois
By John S 2 Date 2010-05-31 03:27
Sorry I have missed all the fun.
Steph and Joey have been out of town and I have been working long hours.
Not been online much.

Did you guys get hooked up for MAM with Lori Workman, I copy an email to her and you.
We will not be able to go to MAM this year. Money is just total not available for any trips.
This was the worst month I have ever seen in the car business in the last 10 years.
Hope you guys have a great time at Silver Lake I dream of someday being able to make that trip too.

As for wheels, If your running disc brakes it might be worth it go to a Ford pattern brake rotor and direct bolt
some DOT approved wheels like Torque Thrusts or something. It you go that way you have warranty replacement and the wheels are meant for highway use. Just a thought.

Too bad we couldn't have put together a pit truck to chase the rally and help you out.
We need to do that someday, maybe for Baja one day when we are all rich and famous......yah....:-)
John Shepard the DBA
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