For those of you who have been riding along with us these past few weeks, you are undoubtedly aware of the loud, sudden knocking the crew of the ’11 heard coming from their engine compartment earlier this afternoon. There was no preface, no unusual requests being made of the engine, just a long, straight, paved road with slight rolling hills on which we were humming along when it let go.
But we can’t say this was unexpected. All antique automobile hobbyists learn to expect what’s possible, no matter the provenance of the mechanical device in question. We’ve all heard about failures that others have experienced but which we hope never happen to us. But to ensure it never happens to us means to never drive our cars, instead consigning them to a life of car shows, garages and car covers. We think we, and the general public, are better served by keeping this rolling history alive and, to be quite frank, it’s a blast to do so.
Are we disappointed? Of course. But the unspoken truth is that we knew back in Bakersfield that there was a real possibility that something, anything, could have ended our journey just miles out of the starting gate. Things always go wrong, but then again, and more frequently, things always go right.
So what’s next? The simplest solution would be to have an engine and transmission assembly on-hand and just pull the old one out and put the new one in. Done in a day. It’s actually a little more work to swap out just the engine, keeping the original transmission in place. And, of course, if we had a new crankshaft on-hand we could swap that out, but there’s no telling what other damage may be lurking in the engine despite our initial evaluation that we were lucky the engine appears to have preserved it’s functional space instead of trying to put a section of the crankshaft in the same space as a connecting rod at the same time.
But reality is settling back down on some of us, in that we think we still have jobs we’re supposed to get back to before the middle of July. (We’re not sure, though, as we haven’t been checking in much. If any of our co-workers are reading this we’d appreciate if you could discreetly ask around). So we figure the best path forward is to ship the ’11 back home where it can get the proper care and attention it needs. That in itself will require a couple days to coordinate, but the friendly people of All-Pro Towing in Murdo, SD have generously offered us a spot in their garage in the meantime.
And, of course, there’s the question of the ’10. Do we continue on with just one car? It’s running fine, why not? Or is there safety in numbers? We haven’t answered that question yet, but will do so in the morning.
We’ve been asked by more than a few people how much it will cost to repair the ’11’s engine, and the answer is it doesn’t matter. In fact, we think it’s reasonable to believe many people would gladly exchange a broken crankshaft for the opportunity to spend two weeks together with with a parent, brothers, grandparent, sons and grandsons. We visited Yosemite, Mono Lake, the Nevada desert, the border of the Great Salt Lake, mountains, lakes, Yellowstone, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and even bull riding. We made new friends, saw the things that make America such an amazing place, watched the tractors tending fields, yelled “moo!” to more cows than we can count, learned to play the harmonica and use a Yo-Yo, and even learned how to drive, sort of.
And after everything that happened today, with all the emotional highs and lows, it’s really just another day. Venus was just as beautiful this evening shining in the twilight as it was last night and last year. We still had laundry to do. And we still look forward to the next day we’re on the road with our T again.