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Grandmothers are almost always right...

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 09:26 PM

My dear departed maternal grandmother was a great one for aphorisms. She always told me, "Be careful what you ask for, you may get it."
I wanted this trip to be an adventure and at least for the first two days, it has delivered that... in spades! LOL!
What happened today is a little complicated, but I'll try to be concise (something that is hard for me to do, as my friends know all too well...). This day's report is probably going to be the longest one so far.
As mentioned in yesterday's narrative the car had developed a fairly severe coolant leak from the water pump seal after the first day's run. Smart guy that I thought I was, I had bought along one of the special wrenches needed to tighten the water pump packing nut but for some reason didn't think also to buy a new packing (doh!). And using the wrench to tighten the packing nut had no effect on the leak.
I posted my problem over at Ford Barn and mentioned I was planning to use some graphited string from a plumbing supply as water pump packing, but was told that was a product used only on slow-turning shafts like faucets and that for a fast-spinning water pump shaft I needed a lead-impregnated packing and some grease, i.e. a bespoke Model A water pump packing.
A Ford Barn poster using the handle "Wm J" posted that he lived in Bend, OR, and had a packing for me if I needed one. I messaged "Wm J" back through Ford Barn but he didn't see it and was looking for me to post in the trip thread I made there. So this morning I tried a kludge recommended by another experienced Model A guy and it failed within a couple of miles, stranding the car in a bank parking lot.
Going to plan C, about 10:30 or so I called Ted Duke, who had earlier PM'd me at Ford Barn that as I had not received my club rosters before I left, he would carry his Model A Ford Club of America roster with him for the next month (!) and gave me his cell number. If I needed assistance, I could call and he would provide me with names and numbers of local MAFCA members to contact for help. Ted gave me four names and numbers of members in Bend, OR, and as luck would have it, the first name he gave me was Bill Barlow who was the same "Wm J" who had offered a packing if I needed one. And his home was just two miles from where the Model A was parked!
We GPS'd over to his address and knew immediately we were in the right place when we spotted the double-stacked pallet of Model A engine blocks next to a storage shed at the end of his driveway. The garage holding his Model A collection has a further 23 engine blocks lined up along a wall.

Turns out Bill was a MAFCA Technical Director in 2002-03 and is a machinist who re-babbits Model A (and T, I think) rods and main caps as a retirement business. He had 160 sets of Model A rods on the shelf awaiting orders! I saw examples of his work and it is pure jewelry.

Bill had several new packages of water pump packings as well as a small drawer of loose new packings. He gave me two new packages and refused to let me pay him or replace them, as he said he now uses the modern seal pumps on his six Models As so he didn't use the lead packings any more.

As an aside, Bill and his lovely bride Annie (IIRC) drove one of their As from Bend, OR, to Nova Scotia and back a few years ago, without a chase car! He said the only problem they experienced was with the distributor and he had a spare unit to plug in.

Took me about 30 mins to get the new packings seated in the gland nut and to get the nut started on the threads and away we went went towards Burns, OR. The water pump was leaking when we arrived at our hotel about an hour ago, but about 3/4 of a turn of the gland nut and she sealed up again. Of course, I'll be keeping an eye on it the rest of the trip.

It was about 160 miles to Burns, OR, where we have stopped for the night and the car ran pretty well, but has developed a high-speed misfire and I think I know why. The car has the original ignition points set-up, rather than the modern dist plate that uses 1970 Ford points and condenser. Reading my modern Model A shop manual, it notes that the original style points use a rubbing block that wears quickly and that they often need to be adjusted every 100 miles! I'll take care of that in the morning before we leave Burns.

The misfire must have hurt the fuel mileage, or my first tank calculation was in error, as I ran out of gas twice on the trip to Burns. We had to fill the tank with the five gallons of gas we're carrying twice and ran out again about ten miles from Burns again, so Geoff had to go into town for more fuel so I could make it in.

With all this stuff going on, I didn't think to take any pictures and for that I apologize. I'll try to do better tomorrow and hope we can get an earlier start, as the delays the last two days have put a serious crimp in the daily mileages we had hoped to be able to do.

It's still quite windy in OR but with the play removed from the steering on the first day, I can deal with it. The roads today had a lot of texture, so the car "wiggled" more than I would have liked. Hopefully better road surfaces await us as we continue on this epic journey.

The challenges we have faced were not unexpected and really, add "flavor" to the overall experience. I am, however, ready for a trouble-free day where we can make decent mileages so we can at least be home by Christmas! LOL!

Onward to the next state beyond beautiful Oregon... Idaho.

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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap

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