Good News: The first FULL day of Great Race 2017 dawned cooler and hazy in Tifton, GA. We expected and got some great weather, not too bright (no sun in the eyes) and peaking in the 80’s not the high 90’s as in earlier days. Dale collected our missing scores from the day before and we had won our first aces (TWO of them!). Amazing, given the rough running Bender had delivered. But we had fixed the exhaust leak and added thermal insulation to the fuel line, so we were ready for real rallying.
Bad News: Almost from the get-go, Bander acted up (quietly, though, as the exhaust leak repair was pretty successful). Misfiring at speed, sometimes unable to hold 50 mph, backfiring on trailing throttle – generally unpredictable. We were as focused on figuring out that as on the course, I think. The first “fix” was to re-engage overdrive – at 0.7 ratio, it slows the engine a lot. That made 50 mph possible, so long as the hills weren’t too steep, without exceeding the 2500 rpm or so that triggered the worst misfires. But it was still there. At lunch we stopped at a NAPA for a new fuel filter, thinking it might be plugged. Nope, that made no difference. We started to think of really severe issues. Burnt valve? Debris in the carburetor jets? Evil Spirits that despise Bender? We were preparing to change plugs and wires when I re-examined the wires already there. All the boots were firmly in place! But… The WIRE to the ignition coil was NOT fully seated, even though its boot was! I pushed it in about 3/8 inch. On restart, it idled perfectly smooth and pulled as strong and high as new! Good News indeed! Of course, by then it was midway through the last stage (Bad News – for today, anyway). It’s the little things that make a difference, eh? We’re now in 50th place (of the whole 120 or so teams).
We had a brief lunch stop in Newnan, Georgia (partly due to our fuel-filter-swap stop at NAPA). Less than an hour from the plant where I was recently attached, I had invited interested colleagues to pop in. Nah, none there. Likely they were all working. Oh wait, it’s Sunday. Da Bumz! Bad News.
We travelled a lovely creekside road through a National Forest, stopped at the Vick Collection, and had dinner with music in Chattanooga in Corkyville, the Coker Museum of Cool stuff (Cars, Bikes, Planes, signs, and more – the American Pickers have got Corky’s number on speed dial). Very Good News.
Anyway, we have a capable car again, and we’re well practiced and now: really, REALLY ready to rally. Maybe there’s still time for us to score well! More aces for sure (today we had a 1-second leg, even with Bender’s little problems). Stay tuned, or come back tomorrow, same time, same place, for more exciting adventures of… Bender! With Two Studs in a Stude, right here on the Great Race 2017!