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Ominous Beginnings
  So to say this was a down to the wire, last minute, thrash would be an understatement.  We were still assembling the car on Sunday June 6th, the day we were supposed to meet at the starting point hotel in Philladelphia (last minute venue change due to our usual NY hotel suddenly going out of business)

Our usuall level of preparedness for BABE is if the car makes one trip around the block its good to go.  None of this months of driving it to work and junk to shake out the bugs.  The bugs are half the fun of BABE.  However we had really hoped for a bit more shakedown time on this one but it was not to be.  Arount 9pm we took a circuit of the housing development and then packed the car to roll.

We made it about 3 miles before it shut down, fueling issue.  We were able to push it into a parking lot with a little bit of lighting and try to sort it out.  Our best guess after a bit of fiddling was the internal hose came off the in tank fuel pump, Jim W and I fought with that while Chris and Jeff went to find us some hose clamps in our 2nd car.

New clamps installed, about 11pm now, back on the road.  Made it about another mile when it shut down again.  More troubleshooting, more guesses, more time wasted.  Eventually the dreaded towel must be thrown in and I was ushered back to the house to get the truck and trailer.  We pulled her back into the drive at about 3am.  The crew went to the hotel to give the other teams an update, I went to sleep.

Up early at 7am, if we could fix her we could meet the group in Harrisonburg that night.  After some research and fiddling around a design flaw was discovered in the fuel system (see Engine section for details) and off we went.  Out on the highway she ran, tracked straight and true and rolled with ease cruising down the road at 80mph without a whimper.  Things were looking up.  Sadly about 60 miles into the trip our chase car radioed that they were getting a heavy oil mist on their windshield.  We pulled off in a rest area to investigate.   We were down 2 quarts and the back of the car was oiled down good.  It appeared to be coming out around the crank seal.  When we first installed the motor we discovered a sheared off woodruf key in the crank pulley.  I welded the pulley back up and replaced the key but our fear was all that out of round running had destroyed the seal, or worse.  Our only option was to top up the oil and limp her home.  We were all crestfallen.

Back at Casa de Misfits I emplored the rest of the team to go on in the chase car.  I would stay and swap to our backup motor to be ready for Lemons the following week.  I took a leisurely approach since I was just completely burnt by this point.  Tuesday I went shopping for supplies and did some prep work for the motor swap.  Wednesday I got the new motor cleaned up and swapped over.  At first start it sounded terrible.  Stuck lifter (I hoped) but otherwise it was running again...and a little voice in my head said...."It's 14 hours to Gadsen, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."

"Hit it"....

Actually I went inside and went to sleep.  But then,at 3am, I woke up, grabbed my stuff and eased the old girl out of the driveway.  This was stupid, this was insane.  She has not been driven more than 60 miles without a problem and here I am solo, no support car, limited tools, limited sleep, no AAA, driving 900 miles, straight.   But I just kept going, slower than before, I kept her rolling about 65-70 most of the trip just to be safe.   I remember only 2 parts of the trip, the rest is a fog in my brain at best.

Memory 1: Harrisonburg VA.  I hadn't really planned to stop in Harrisonburg, but shortly before the exit I hit the brakes and everything went wobbly, not good, not good at all.  I took the exit and parked at the first auto parts place I could find.  Need to check the wheel bearings....hmmm...no jack.  Into the store to buy a jack.  Wheel off, dustcap off, dammit, no allen keys for the retaining nut....back in the store.  Wheel bearings checked out good so I started poking around and lo and behold one of the 2 bolts holding the brake caliper on had decided to go on walkabout...sweet, this is fixable.  yeah, 12mm 1.25 thread pitch....nowhere to be found on the Autozone shelves.  Finally the nice old lady working the counter asked if she could be of help.  I explained the dilemma and she let me into the back parts room to go through their bolt bins.  They had exactly one bolt in the right size....thankfully that's all I needed.  Grabbed a tube of red loctite to keep those little buggers in check and off to reassemble.  Side note for the ralliers, everyone who saw the car stopped to ask if I was will all those "weird guys in dresses" that were there a couple of days ago.  Y'all made quite an impression.

Memory 2:  Im about 20 miles outside Gadsden in about the 5th torrential downpour of the day.  Wipers never did work on the car, rain-x was useless due to the odd aerodynamic qualities of the car and the rear tire is throwing water directly at the intake for the engine causing it to die.  Im now 17.5 hours into my 14 hour trip and I am done.  I pulled off to a gas station to get warm and dry for a minute (did I mention the car isnt very watertight and if you dont keep the window open the windshield fogs up?)  I bought a bunch of styrofoam plates to try and make some kind of sheild for the intake, more rolls of papertowels to clear the windshield and kept waiting for the rain to let up.  It just kept getting worse.  I was about to cry...I was cold, tired, and 20 miles from rest and I was stuck, nothing to to but wait.  I was tracking the rain on my phone and waiting for a break in the line of clouds.  The weather map showed the breaks were small and sporatic so my window of opportunity would not be great.  At the first glimmer of sunlight I was off, down the road as fast as I could go.

There are no amount of words to describe the feeling as I took this photo to update everyone who wondered where I was.



Around 9pm that evening with our well known Dixie horn a blazing I pulled in to the parkinglot where many of the teams stared in amazement at the little car that could and her very weary driver.


Rejoined with the team
  From here the rest of the MTR crew took over. No way I could drive the next day and I was just beat. I rode in the Wartburg for a bit, I rode in the BMW for a bit but I just rode.

Chris was enjoying the drive on the first stint and had her up and rolling fast in no time. Then we get that call on the radio again, oil on the windshield....#%^&@.

It should be noted on my entire 900 trip to join them I didnt use any oil, something was not right.

To make a long story short we finally realized that under 75mph the oil stayed where it should, but above that all bets are off. We should have figured out then that this was probably a PVC valve issue but we were all to burnt out. We just kept the speeds low(ish) and solidiered on. After the rally the crank seal and PVC valve were replaced and the issue has never resurfaced.

Everyone took a turn behind the wheel, some even getting to experience rain storms as I did and realizing how much hell the drive had been. Jeff W compared driving the car to being waterboarded. "You know it won't kill you but you still want it to be over as soon as possible"

The trip home it was decided that noone should do more than 2 hours in the car, as driver or passenger. It helped keep the sanity levels (to a small degree)

When it wasn't raining it was unbearibly hot. Even with all the windows open there was no flow in the car (I seriously want to see this thing in a wind tunnel some day) At one point we bought a 12v fan to help with circulation but that just turned the car into a large rolling convention oven.

But despite all the hardships and suffering you just could not help but smile driving the beast that we created. Its loud, its hot, its unrefined and its all ours.







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