Will Youth & Skill triumph over Old Age & Treachery?

June 21, 2012

Or will the adage prove true? All this and more will be revealed in a bit over a week. Don’t hedge your bets on breaking tradition, though. Nick Jones (my navigator) and I have done very little TSD work before, and what we have done has ended up in snowbanks, literally. Shouldn’t have THAT particular problem this time round, anyway.

We rolled into Traverse City an hour or so before noon today, after another wind-noisy stint up Michigan’s highways. We can either have noise or heat, and we tend to choose noise. After all the trouble with the VW’s starter yesterday, it was trouble-free in the morning (more info in my father’s blog- long story short, it simply ignores the key and requires a push-start, hurray for manuals), but when we arrived at Hagerty’s garage, it packed up again. Hagerty was nice enough to loan us one of their drive-on lifts to try to troubleshoot. We decided that the brushes simply weren’t contacting the stator. A half hour later, we had the starter out, and the brushes were just fine. Unfortunately, after some voltmeter-testing had revealed the wiring was not the cause, that left only the solenoid, which turned out to be the culprit. Even with 12V, it barely moved. We have a new one arriving tomorrow morning, but ever since we put the old one back in it’s cooperated (even with me jinxing it!). After yesterday’s post on my father’s blog, VW-guru Otmar let us know the solenoid plunger tends to vibrate so much on long trips (does 800 miles count?), it cuts a step, and refuse to move. Ding, the lights turned on! We had spun the solenoid all around, and messed with the plunger when we had it out, and I think we may have also installed it upside down from where it had sat.

So, we’ll take the new starter, and eat the core charge. It’s a small price to pay for a spare starter if (who are we kidding- when) the solenoid acts up again, but it means we don’t have to try to install the new one tomorrow morning and possibly miss the rally school.

Otherwise, the VW has been quite the trooper. It hiccups every now and then, mostly the heat we’ve been forcing it to pound through for hours, but she always runs fine once running. Idling, well, that’s another issue…

We did manage to pass inspection today (oh-oh, watch out, we’re legal now), and Nick got some instruction from Old Age’s 3-time navigator Dave Ullman, so we’ll see how it all goes tomorrow on the Trophy Run stages. With any luck we can put our previous… “experiences” firmly behind us.

We also got some great hats!
Hats of Power

Tomorrow’s another undoubtedly interesting day, and only time will tell if not changing the starter comes back to bite us. We’ll see how the Trophy Run goes, and adjust accordingly. Listen for the clatter-clack of an air-cooled VW (or the sound of Nick pushing)!

-Ethan

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