We’ve arrived in New Orleans. Off to bed.
We’ve arrived in New Orleans. Off to bed.
Yesterday’s radiator patch worked… for a day. We had patched the radiator with a thinner layer of quicksteel, dumped in a bottle of really nasty-looking radiator stop leak we borrowed from the kind folks at Automobile Magazine, and set out on a southerly route through Atlanta, bypassing the hills just west of Asheville.
Though we had no real idea what was going on, we suspected that the thermal cycles of heating and cooling the the radiator were causing our patches to fail. To keep the radiator as intact as possible, we kept the motor running all day, drove at low speeds low — between 45-60mph — and ran the heater at full blast to give the radiator as much assistance as possible. Combined with the southern heat and midday sun, this had the unfortunate side effect of turning our Dart into a rolling sauna and bathing us in our own sweat. About four hours in, Adam turned to me (I was dehydrated!! – A) and said, “Maybe next year we should get a white car so it’s not as hot.”
In my book, any car that doesn’t require us to run the heater at full blast would be just fine.
With trucks, campers and small children on tricycles whizzing by, we nursed the Dart/sauna along for a little over 400 miles, arriving tired and very sweaty, but with a leak-free radiator(!!!! – A ), to the hotel in Gadsden, Alabama in time for beers and the impromptu fireworks display.
But we weren’t quite out of the woods. This morning, after a 10-minute drive to the starting point we once again noticed a stream of defiant coolant spurting from under the area we had patched yesterday. Arrgh. So we scuffed up the patch a little bit, glommed a little more quicksteel on top, and hit the road. As of this post, we’re just south of Birmingham, the radiiator looks dry, and the engine temp is high but manageable. We’re optimistic (and sweaty! – A). See you all in New Orleans.
We’re still in Asheville, trying to make sure our radiator won’t give out on us as we head south, back over the appalachian mountains. Yesterday, we found a hairline crack just in front of the radiator cap. We put black pepper in the coolant, soldered the crack, and made it 320 miles in the cool weather in the early evening and at night.
A leak sprung through the solder, though, and this morning we applied up some fast-drying, high-temperature epoxy called Quicksteel to the crack. After driving for 15 minutes, though, the leak was still there, perhaps a bit worse.
We removed part of the quicksteel, and realized that we had probably applied too much intially; the outer part had hardened and cured, but it was still pretty soft underneath. So we removed as much of it as we could, and reapplied a thinner layer to the top.
We also picked up an important spare along with breakfast at Waffle Haus — a raw egg, which will hopefully gum up the coolant enough to prevent more of it from seeping out.
Today’s schedule for the rally begins at Deal’s Gap, a famously twisty section of mountain road that’s a favorite haunt for motorcyclists and sports car drivers. We’ve decided to pass on that part; the chance of our radiator letting go and spreading slippery coolant all over the road could pretty seriously ruin someone’s day.
So we’re going to get it into shape and head out on I-40, bound for Gadsden, Alabama.
The radiator is a little weak, but we’re going to tackle it tomorrow morning with some JB weld and hope for the best. Onward!
5+ hours later, we’re back on the road with a new distributor, wires and a few spots of JB weld. If all continues to go well, we’ll arrive in Asheville, NC late tonight.
The Rallydart has suffered a self-inflicted, but hopefully minor wound. More updates soon.
A quick update because it’s late, we’re tired, and our hotel doesn’t have an internet connection.
Adam: We left Staten Island NY this morning in the company of 50+ cars. Some teams went all out and did paint jobs, applied rubber ducks, fitted headlights from other cars…. A few teams are driving pretty nice cars – with air conditioning – but most suffer as we do on vinyl seats. Ok, we’re not suffering too much.
The Dart runs great, and even handles pretty nicely. Not the worst gas mileage, and it goes 65 without hesitation. Except on really big hills – but the extent of our tune-up was to replace the distributor cap. Wires are tomorrow. Might help!
The other teams are a pretty nice bunch – everyone cheers for everyone else. We travelled in a pack for a good bit of the day; people look out for each other. The day ended with a beautiful stretch of road called Skyline Drive. Beautiful even at the posted speed limit of 35.
Some photos from the first day:
Gather round the Gremlin:
Instead of adding paint… remove it:
See more photos on my Flickr page
Just checked the website stats for today, and was amused to find that someone found rallydart.com by searching for “dodge dart hood hinge photos.” Sure enough, we’ve talked enough about our dart’s missing hood hinges on this blog that we’re now the top result for that search. Of course, the more I post about them, the more that ranking gets reinforced. Sorry to disappoint!
Just drove the Rallydart back from Bow, NH, where the guys at Vintage Sports & Racing
saved our butts helped us out by replacing two of the balljoints, at least one of which was probably original to the car. We wear their stickers with deep gratitude.
The Dart did great on the highway, thanks in no small part to the two hood pins that are preventing the hood from violently parting company with the rest of the car. Two small issues remain to be addressed before leaving: the headliner, which has not stopped puking little crumbly bits of brown foam everywhere, and there’s a hole somewhere in the firewall that made the inside of the car a very windy and cold place to be, even in 55 degree weather.
But the major issues we know about have all been taken care of, and we’re looking forward to heading down to NYC on Wednesday! Stay tuned.
A long day, full of much action and somewhat less progress.
Adam and I went up to VSR this morning to get some Dart-related things done. We finally got the four-for-$75 tires that we found on Craigslist mounted on the Dart’s wheels; took some more detailed photos to help us ethically unload the car after our
hypothetical arrival in New Orleans; checked the oil and fluids, and spent a while ogling the rest of the cars in the shop. Most importantly, we began to apply one of the awesome vinyl Chris Langsten from AMI Graphics printed for us to help us promote Bonnie CLAC… which we screwed up so badly that we had no choice but to then stand around and watch while he put the rest of them on properly.
The day started with me snapping one of the lug bolts completely off the hub while removing one of the wheels. For some reason, Chrysler’s
engineers idiot team decided that the wheel lug bolts on the driver’s side of the car should turn in the opposite direction of the lug bolts on the other side of the same car. Since I was prepared for the fact that some of the bolts might be rusty and stuck, I used the airgun to torque it to the point that it snapped clean off the hub, nut, bolt and all.
Here’s a photo of the fruit of our efforts to apply the vinyl:
Chris rescuing us:
The flank of the Dart (lookin cop-tastic without those hubcaps!!):
The trunk (from here you can’t see how we mangled that sticker):
Finally, lest there be any doubt as to the Dart’s eligibility for inclusion in the rally, some photos of “challenges:”
The Dart, with the hood off the car, because there currently isn’t any mechanism to properly affix it:
The reason the hood can come completely off the car: a closeup of where the hinge used to attach to the hood:
The hole in the floor:
Rust on the driver’s side:
Some rust near the base of the rear window – it goes thru to the trunk:
The engine: she’s a good one
Some of our spares. We have lots of light bulbs, relays, small doodads and things.