They Say It’s Hard to Finish; Heck,It’s Been Hard to START!

June 21, 2014

So, early this morning, while the others made their first day’s run, we rose early back home where we dropped the wounded Speedster. We had to try and prep the Imperial (our “Back-up” car for the busted-axle speedster).  We did all the necessaries: fluids, tire change, brake clean, packing – and noted that the inspection was out of date.  No problem: off to the station (we knew it would pass) and only another 2 hours lost….


Packed, washed, and with our #61 stickers attached, we hit the road for Lowell, Mass (another 200 miles) to meet the Race at the first evening stop.  We made it smooth and easy, arriving before any of the ‘real’ racers, so we got the first spot in the parc ferme.  Except… as we rolled down the city street, we heard the most awful banging and crunching underneath!  Oh no!  What can it be – ANOTHER driveline fail?!! Can it really be????

Parked right next to us were Barry and Irene Jason, defending champs who today topped their singular back-to-back Grand Championships with the First Ever Perfect Day: 4 for 4 Aces.  Holy Super Achievement, Jasons!  CONGRATULATIONS!

With advice from all comers, we figured out that the problem was in the center carrier bearing (Imperials have two-piece drive shaft).  It looked bad, til Ethan noticed the bearing itself was OK, the housing had split!  Barry Jason suggested clamping it with a hose clamp and we did that, but no good.  Dave ran out to the local parts store with local angel Jody Brine and wife to get a new bearing and more clamps (and some strip steel in case we can use that to reinforce).    Jim Menneto in the Hemmings Special had had his clutch pedal fail, so the incomparable Hal Everett welded that back and we asked if he could weld up our carrier once he finished there.

By then, our time with the city street blocked by our show was done, and the local gendarmerie started threatening us with towing unless we left!  So we gingerly rode it three miles to the hotel where Hal was staying, followed by the Coker semi (that had the jackstands and welder.  In the parking lot, then, up she went.  A quick re-read of the Imperial factory service manual (NEVER leave home without it!) showed it would be easier to remove the whole drive shaft assembly than to attempt a repair in place.

So Hal and I went under, unbolted both ends and the dead carrier mount and out it came.  He did masterful weld repair (better than the first welds that had failed – themselves an apparent earlier rework of a non-standard carrier – there are NO Imperial mounts in the world anymore).

Welded CarrierSM

We bolted it back in, dropped it off the stands and gave it a spin in the lot: SUCCESS!  We are back in the Race!  Well, we’ll get to play tomorrow anyway – let’s not get too confident….

Now – after three days of break and fix; Plans A, B, C, and now D; over 600 miles of unplanned driving WITHOUT any Great Racing; we’re almost ready to REALLY do some Great Racin’ – But first, some sleep.  Our start time tomorrow is 8:20 AM.  Florida, Here we Come!  For now, G’nite!  jc


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