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[T3] Road trip, revisited

AaronC: I would love to read that ....

Ask and you shall receive ....

----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Ayres <comwest@att.net>
To: Type 34 MailList <members-type34@type34.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 21, 2001 6:12 PM
Subject: Road trip

> I'd spent about a grand getting my VW camper ready for my trip back East,
> most of it involved in getting my gas heater installed and working right.
> mechanic assured me that it was in tiptop shape and he had no reservations
> about sending me out in it cross-country. I had it loaded for bear and set
> out on December 15. But by the time I got a half hour out of town I was
> rethinking the whole adventure. The Bus just wasn't performing up to my
> needs. I enjoy driving too much to go 6,000 miles not enjoying it. So I
> turned back, unloaded the essentials and packed them into the 343.
> Salt be damned, the Ghia is a driver. That's what I built it for, and
> the prospect of disassembling half the undercarriage to clean out the crap
> afterward wasn't at all appealing, the alternative was worse. And didn't I
> just put in a new freeway-flyer tranny?
> I picked up some snow cables in Flagstaff just in case and hit the Mother
> Road. New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, it was clear sailing at 85mph until I
> crossed the Mississippi in the middle of the worst winter weather in years
> for the Midwest. Blowing, powdery snow boiling off the big trucks made it
> hard to see. When I parked at my pals' house in Elkhard IN I had to stand
> back and take a few pictures: my baby was just caked with salt and road
> grunge.
> Some of our members will recall the problem I've had with my windshield,
> which I've never been able to get quite locked in due to severe body
> tweaking by previous owners. I found the extreme cold was tightening up
> rubber, which was squeezing the glass right out. From there on I was
> thumping the glass back into place every time I got out of the car. Add to
> that my lack of a windshield washer (never got around to working out the
> leakage problems) and vintage wiper blades, and seeing where I was going
> became a theme for a while.
> I stayed a couple of days in Elkhart, got a pretty good wash, and headed
> north for Grand Rapids, where I grew up. Again, blowing snow, a strong
> crosswind and slippery conditions made this leg a little scary, but my XZX
> 165s held the road just fine when just about every other kind of vehicle
> seemed to be getting sideways.
> I stayed with my brother at the farmhouse out of town, and he lent me his
> '92 GTi while I was there. My choke-free dual carbs made starting a bit of
> an ordeal with temps in the teens, and I was happy to keep the Ghia
> up as more snow came.
> Now I'm sure you're wondering what on Earth might possess an Arizona guy
> go back to Michigan in the middle of winter. In point of fact I'd only
> that once since I'd split town for good in '79. But in May I'd discovered
> quite by chance that my high-school youth group was putting together a big
> reunion, and it was an event not to be missed -- a large number of very
> people who were very important to me in the days, and whom I'd not seen or
> heard of since we all went away to college. The event was a gas, with many
> great memories revived, ideals reinforced and relationships reestablished.
> One of those old friends invited me to visit DC, which I'd never seen, so
> after the New Year turned I headed east through another salty gauntlet.
> time the snow had turned to black, sticky slush, and a single 18-wheeler
> cruising on the other side of a two-lane could wipe out all visibility. It
> was nasty.
> The weather got a little more civilized as I approached the capital, still
> cold and wet, though. But my friend had an empty garage, and my baby slept
> warm and dry while I explored the city for a few days.
> From DC I turned south and in one day I was able to get to my sister's
> in north Georgia. I took a week with my family down there, mom, sisters,
> kids and critters. I also had the opportunity to visit one of the few
> suppliers of parts for my BMW 600, and spent a fair pile of money there as
> birthday present to myself.
> After another goood washing I noticed that my left turn signals were
> a little strange, so on a warmish day I got into the front wheel well. I'd
> rechromed and rebuilt both front signal housings, and they both had new
> boots on them. But when I got hold of the boot the whole thing, boot,
> connectors and board, came away in my hand. My brand-new connectors and
> clean contacts were all funky with heavy corrosion, the base board had
> disintegrated, and the assembly was hot from a short that was strong
> to melt the wires together but not enough to blow the fuse. The one part
> been unable to get was the seal between the lens and the base, and I
> that this allowed salty water to get into the housing, melting the
> connector base and corroding the contacts. As a temporary fix I rewired my
> side markers to the turn-signal circuit (boy, is that easy!) and bypassed
> the front signals.
> From there I took I-20 west, skimming across a wet and dreary South, where
> noticed that the rear-wndow louvers interfere with the defogger (should've
> taken 'em out before I left anyway). West Texas was all about fog, and I
> glad to have my rear foglight. Running just a little ahead of schedule, I
> took a day at Carlsbad Caverns, and blew back into Prescott on January 19.
> The score: Five weeks, about 6,000 miles at about 29 miles per gallon, two
> quarts of oil, one set of generator brushes, two wiper blades, one dead
> parking light, two chrome chips on the front overriders and a fair amount
> road rash on the front end. We'll see about the hidden salt damage. We
> successfully negotiated just about every kind of adverse road condition in
> warmth and comfort, with no surprise downtime. If you happen to be
> rebuilding your seats, I can recommend adding a little lower-back support,
> it did get to me at times.
> So if you think of your 34 as a delicate prom queen only to be rolled out
> for short drives on sunny days, you can take it from me -- these are good,
> solid grand touring cars that can take whatever you throw them into and
> still deliver the ol' fahrvergnugen. Drive 'em!
> Steven Ayres, Prescott AZ
> '66 343GT

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