Friday, August 19th, a few of us gathered for the cruise to Ashland, VA. Dale, Fred and the Princess & I left WAWA and picked up Bill & Linda on Rt. 2 in Fredericksburg then proceeded to Bowling Green and Rt.207. The weatherguessers had forecasted that we might get some rain..And the sky looked ominous but we were still dry after traveling about 25 miles. When we were on Rt. 207, running toward Rt. 1, we ran into some minor sprinkles, nothing to get excited about but by the time we reached Rt. 1 and turned south for Ashland it started to rain….a lot! Dale drives a MG/VW and is topless....so when it rains he gets very wet. He turned around and headed back north, we slowed down….tried to come to a decision about the rain but pressed on for a mile or so. Then the rain started coming down like the monsoons in Arizona! We made a hasty U turn and when we got about 2 miles north the rain stopped….and we met Dale coming south, looking for us! We all decided that to venture south that night would be a really dumb thing to do….so….we decided to do what any self respecting hot rodder would do….we started looking for somewhere to eat! Food always makes the soggy shoes feel a little better…I read that on the internet so it must be true! So we found a really nice Mexican restaurant called The Mexican Restaurant in Cosner’s Corner, VA and ate enough Mexican food to last all weekend….yeah I feel drier now….burp.
So after dinner we all said our goodbyes and each headed home in a little different direction. Fred was following us all the way up I 95. I decelerated for the Rt. 610 off ramp and when I got back on the throttle I heard a loud explosion…really loud, and we were going under an overpass and it seemed to get lighter outside? As we went around the off ramp the car was constantly shuddering and popping? I nursed it around on Rt 610 then to the Target parking lot, popping out the exhaust and shuddering all the way. Each time it popped fire would shoot out the side pipes! Fred, who was following us, said the fire shot out a few feet each side….that must have been something to see! I remember a long, long time ago in a place far far away (Newport Beach, Ca) I would be driving a little English Ford with the near stock 4cyl motor. I had a ‘special’ exhaust system with four zoomies out the passenger side in front of the rear wheels. And if I got over 25-30 mph and turned off the ignition key, coasted a little, then turned the key back on….KABOOM. And fire would shoot out the pipes about 2-3 feet….sometimes setting fire to the acuminated debris by the curb! That sturdy little motor accepted the abuse for a while but eventually it would cost me many quarts of oil to make the trip to the beach and back!
Back to the Target parking lot….Fred and I were trying to determine what was going wrong with the Princessmobile but nothing looked out of place. I had trouble with the HEI module before and thought that might be the problem, but there were a few miles between the parts, my tools and where we were now. And I was still wet, full of Mexican food that was rapidly aerosolizing and tired…So for the first time in 7 years and 35,000 miles I called AAA. Yeah we were going home on a roll back tonight. This is why I like to run with friends, Fred stayed with us through the ordeal and let the Princess ride with him to our home as I rode in the Eddie’s Repair roll back.
I worked on the car for a week, changing the module, cap, rotor, plugs, cleaned the carb, fuel filter, tested the ignition switch and the problem still persisted. A few years ago the Princess had won an MSD billet distributor at the Richmond NSRA event but I didn’t want to use it since the stock HEI unit was working just fine. But now, after all the troubleshooting I had done proved to be hopeless, I decided to change out the old unit with the new unit. So after I changed the unit Dan came over to help me index the distributor and the car now runs better than it did before! A side note that the “new” unit had a bad vacuum can and we had to use the ‘old’ can on the ‘new’ unit….it works just fine!
The next few weeks were tedious for us….The RedRat was taken to Canada, we had an earthquake, hurricane Irene paid us a visit and is seemed to rain almost every weekend but we did venture out a couple times to the Burger King in N. Stafford. We have decided to support the cruise every Friday night we are in town. It is a lot closer to us and the traffic is a breeze to get there. We have about 10-12 cars showing up and we have taken a page out of the PWC Glory Days Friday cruise in that we are setting up our chairs in a circle in one of the parking places. If/when the cruise gets bigger we may have to do something else but for now this works.