(continued from part 1, which can be found here)
Having just been given an offer to race a car I could not refuse, and remembering what happened the LAST time I drove the ZomBee all the way up to Oregon and back, I began searching for alternate modes of transportation including planes, trains and for a moment even considered taking a bus.
I had offers to be picked up from various airports or stations, and the idea of taking a train along the coast was the most appealing as it was something I’ve wanted to do just about forever. Alas, the costs and/or time involved weren’t much better than actually driving. And of course there was still a free spare motor sitting up in a Washington garage waiting for me to come get it. Plus I could always save a few bucks by camping in the trailer again… right?
Thus, overcome with excitement and temporarily losing my mind, I declared “Oh what the hell. I’ll just take the ZomBee and Dysentrailer again. It’s only a little bit further than last year’s trip. Right? RIGHT?!? NO PROBLEM!”
Whooo boy, time to get to work!
The first thing I addressed was giving the ZomBee a nice bath inside and out, which was probably the first time the interior had been cleaned since Gerald Ford left the oval office. Blasphemy mayhaps, yet it’s one thing (and kind of fun) to get dirty and greasy at the track or even in your own driveway, but quite another when you are standing outside a McDonalds in BFE, broken down with greasy hands, leaves and bark stuck in your hair asking for a milkshake. Looking crazy gets old after a while.
Lots of soap and water later and I had the car looking almost livable for the next week. It was almost disturbingly clean.
The second thing I had to address was emptying the Dysentrailer of all the extra MGB parts I’d been hauling around to various British car shows and swap meets over the summer. My attempts to sell these various bits has been largely unsuccessful. Could be the economy, could be the presentation. Either way people generally look slightly terrified when I show up.
The next issue on the list was the sudden new coolant leak which had popped up shortly after our last 24 hour race at Buttonwillow. At the track I had noticed several of the doubled-up zip-ties I use to hold the electric fan onto the radiator had broken, and I delegated replacing them to my teammates as I was busy preparing other frivolous things. BUT, I had mistakenly said “use zip-ties or safety-wire or something” absent-mindedly. The safety wire was chosen with the idea it would better resist breaking, and I did not think anything of it.
When I got home from the race I had to go searching for the source of a new water leak, which of course turned out to be from radiator tubes that were worn through by the hard safety wire. DOH!! I’m an idiot! And that was my last known good radiator, “borrowed” (yet again) from the carcass that used to be my wife’s poor MGB.
Annoyingly, my small stack of known-good spares had also been stolen out of my front yard by rogue-roving-recyclers while I was packing up for an earlier race. (which, somewhat embarrassingly resulted in a clapped-out dually pickup being chased unsuccessfully around town by a barefoot wild-haired maniac in a crazy “bug” racecar)
So the least damaged looking radiator from my remaining junk pile in the back yard was drafted into service, and I spent the afternoon back-flushing, shaking and rinsing large, seriously wicked clumps of rust out of the radiator until it ran clean, and installed it.
Then I went shopping for a length of canvas made from real cotton duck, to create a new covered wagon roof like those used on the emigrant trails a century and a half ago. My cheapie hardware store drop-cloth on version 1 last year looked good at first, but shredded at the first sign of wind. The new canvas was authentic, and would hopefully stand up to occasional long-distance freeway trips and even last a few years. Several evenings with a “button-snap” punch later and I had a snazzy new roof for my mini-camper.
The next items on the list were extra 4.80-8 trailer tires and tubes for spares. I learned early on that a flat tire on a 1-wheel trailer is “kind of a big deal” with things coming to a complete (and noisy) halt.
A few years ago the first several trips we took with these silly things were fraught with failures – tread separation from the original 65 year old tire, several failed inner tubes and a handful of destroyed replacement tires. The wheels on these vintage Allstate single-wheel trailer frames are unique 8-inch aluminum split rims that seem to chew up inner-tubes like bubblegum. I’ve learned how to put one together almost failure free by being tediously aware of little details. But I’ve also learned they will most likely fail when you don’t have spares, and will leave you on the side of the road at 3am fending off horny crank-amped cougars who find you and your crazy trailer “interesting” (sends text to teammates: “HEEELP!”).
With all the spares and supplies gathered plus the new roof installed I hitched the Dysentrailer up to the ZomBee and loaded them both with camping and racing gear, and the leanest box of spare parts I thought I could get away with. Then with much hoopla and head-shaking from the intertubes, I hit the road and set out on a 1,700 mile journey…
…in a race car I wasn’t even going to race.