Cruise News

I neglected to update this blog during the fun months of spring and summer. Mostly that was because of work pressures, but on the weekends Bridget did her share of miles, from Carlisle to Chambersburg, PA and Manassas, VA and out nearly to Delaware for a day of apple picking.

Here, then, is a short photo essay covering this ground. Promise to do better next year with the timeliness.

Carlisle, PA (May 20, 2011)

The 2011 Import and Kit Car Nationals saw a bumper crop of TD replicas–as many as six on the field at one time!

From left: Rich Wobby’s Allie, Dale Schumacher, Greg Schauber, Mark (TexChopper, actually from Maryland, I think), and Bridget’s nose. More TDs that I could fit in the frame, and I think one guy had already left.

And this was despite the fact that Paul, our Dear Leader over at the TD Replica site, has been without his car since last year on account of a nasty divorce. Here’s hoping he gets his TD back in time for next outing.

As always, the TD contingent joined forces with the Speedster/Spyder group, which was the largest on the field. There were several cruises (including two “covered bridge” runs), the annual awards dinner, and this rainbow that appeared on the Friday Night dinner run:

Karen and I met Greg and Deboragh, who drove their BCW from Delaware. Greg is a retired clock maker, the pair are newlyweds (they were just engaged when we had dinner with them in May), and the car is a front-engine, Chevette-powered model.

The Great Race (June 13)

Alan Merklin, Speedster builder and good guy, mustered up a group to head out to Chambersburg, PA to watch the old cars in the Great Race parade in and out of the town square. Quite a spectacle it was, too–particularly with Corky Coker of Coker Tire (the event’s main co-sponsor) hamming it up in his Marmon Wasp, an exact replica of the car that one the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

Bridget and I took the Monday off to make the ride, and I shot video for a piece I was doing on the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, which is distantly related to the Indianapolis 500. Here’s a link to the story (and video) I and some colleagues shot, with Bridget prominently featured.

Coming home via Rt. PA 97 Bridget felt strong and confident. The new (old) speedo seems to read very close to right, and the de-sprung beam and new tires give her a much steadier feel at speed.

Lowes Cruise (various dates)

Even with our busy work schedule (you try shooting what turned out to be, in effect, a 22-minute documentary with no budget and only a few hours of volunteer help some time) we managed to make it to the Lowes Cruise a few Friday Nights. This is a local cruise that usually attracts between 200 and 350 cars, mostly ’60s muscle but with some surprises. There amid the many Chevelles we found a real life Sunbeam Tiger, this turbo Corvair (a regular attendant)

and this magazine-worthy Olde Skool rod:


One night I returned to my car after walking around and overheard a chap tell his son that Bridget, being an MG TD, came equipped from the factory with plywood floors. I felt a little sheepish correcting him (fiberglassed rust! And nothing less!) but we were able to coax his son into Bridget’s driver’s seat, which seemed to please both the man and the boy.

The guy also said he used to work for a dentist who had two TDs, and one of his jobs (this was apparently decades ago) was to wash them. So I guess Bridget’s a pretty fair likeness.

Bug Out! (Sept. 4)

I missed last year and lately there’s been a yearly rumor that this year is the last year it will be held at the drag strip, where there is also a small road course. So I got on the road around 6:45 a.m. for the two hour run to Manassas for Bug Out. Beautiful morning, cool and no sign of rain. I was very psyched to check out the show and get Bridget judged for the first time, and to see Dale Schumacher, Greg and some of the other Speedster peeps.

The ride was easy and fun, with little traffic, several horn honker-smile-wavers, and I was cruising along at 65 on 66 about a quarter mile from the last highway exit when the car died.

At first I thought I sucked a valve like Mossberg did two years ago on the way to Carlisle. When I had started off I noticed the volt meter was reading lower than normal (usually it’s 11, today it was 10. Also, the oil pressure was just a bit low. But I’d topped her up with half a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil the day before, so I chalked it up to thinner lubricants).

Pulled to the shoulder & popped the hood. Dipstick is cool, plenny oil, no signs of trauma. Tried the key. She turns over and, above the roar of the highway I can just about hear and “feel” there’s normal compression happening.

Tried my phone. Too much ambient noise to get anyone I could actually hear. Three tries before I got Cory Drake, one of the best Speedster guys, to alert Schu and Greg to my predicament. They’re at the show, 10 miles away. It’s 9:30 and there are VW mechanics and parts venders all around. And they offer to rustle up a tow bar and come get me, if necessary. Just call if it’s needed.

(A nice lady in a Honda Accord had also stopped. She was awesome. She says, “We have a Morgan; they’re the same thing.” I was like: A Morgan is the same as this car?)

So I re-crimp my wire and Hah! she starts right up. I pack up my mess, hop in and merge back onto the road for the last quarter mile to the exit. Hit the exit and she dies again.

Now I’m stranded in a better spot at least–inside part of a curve, wider shoulder, slower, quieter traffic and blessed shade. Figured the same wire. But no.

Then I looked at my rotor. The silver dot in the middle is gone.

So I swap in a new(er) rotor and cap. NG

Now I’m scratching my head. I also notice that my air filter rig has failed–the silvery pipe I have between the K&N and the carb has torn in half. But that’s not the problem.

I proceed with the points reinstallation. What was the gap again?

Get that done and remember that, when I put in the Pertronix, I had to turn the distributer about 30 degrees to get the timing set. So I’m futzing with that, turning it just a little, trying it, turing the dizzy another two degrees, back to the key switch, as several VW people stop. First guy says he knows not much about the mechanics, but helps. With him cranking and me turning the diz we still get no love.

So I call back Greg, tell him I think I maybe got a bad coil, and he agrees to come get me.

While I’m waiting a guy pulls up in a diesel VW bus on big tires, with a huge bunch of equipment strapped to the front of it (bolt cutters, a winch, etc.)

I’m telling the van guy I’ve got a tow arranged. He’s like–yeah, but what’s wrong? So I tell him. He dives into the job. Wants to know if I got spark. I say I think not, but not perfectly sure. (Don’t bother telling him I’d forgotten to check that first when the last guy came to help). Van guy insists on holding the wire while I crank her over, instead of vice versa. And verdict: no spark.

Takes Greg two hours to get to me. But that’s because he had to go home, get a different hitch, get a second tow bar–the one he custom-made for his Speedie–and figure out where I was. He also brought me a new coil which, if I’d had the gumption to install when he showed, would have saved us the tow.

Turns out it was a good thing Greg brought his custom tow bar. The stock one he’d borrowed did not quite fit on my bone-stock beam. I’m sure we could have persuaded it, but it was much easier with Greg’s.

Massive traffic jam for the last two miles into Bug Out. Not sure if the 24th annual Bolivian Fest across the street at the fairgrounds was the main reason.

So we pull in about 12:30. Too late for judging (and with Schu’s MG and Syl’s Porsche there I could’ve hoped only for a 3rd place anyway). Good crowd, though I’m told it was a bit smaller than in year’s past.

Kit car competition. That Porsche–assembled some time ago by Merklin–won several awards.

Greg: truly a heroic effort. Thanks, man!

Schu gives me a much needed bottle of water plus some socket wrenches–very helpful in changing the coil.

And Greg’s crusty old coil works. Bridget starts and Schu and Greg show me to a mechanic on the field they said would help us get her timed. The dude listens to the car and says “that’s pretty close.” Then he proceeds to take a screwdriver to my carb!

I didn’t have the energy to stop him. And he did her no harm. He tells me my points are too worn to gap so I buy another set and gap them at 016 as per spec. Tighten the diz, and look for a new pipe to try to re-rig my air cleaner back for the ride home.

Schu, with water, approaching his clean machine

There were some wild Bugs there. Guys were running 6-seconds on the eighth mile drags, and hey were starting up the road course (apparently anyone can race?) around 4 p.m.–just about my scheduled departure time. With Syl’s help I got an air filter setup I hoped would last 150 miles, and set out for home.

Syl and Maggie own the white Porsche. They also gave me soda. I owe them.

I got to say, after all that, the ride home was not as delightful as the first 95 percent of the ride down. It was a lot hotter, and more traffic. But the main thing was: what if this happens again? What if she dies in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel?

She didn’t, of course. And I’m ashamed to say I was worried about it. The only real morals of his story are: change out your coil when it’s 20 years old, whether it needs it or not; and Carry an extra coil.

Milburn Orchard (Sept. 17)

One of the reasons I got Bridget was to go on picnics and wine tastings and fruit-picking excursions with my lovely wife, to whom I am married. Yet this trip marked our first picking run in several years–certainly our first in this car.

The day dawned cool and cloudy and didn’t improve much. But we made nice time along Rt 1 and got a thrill going over the Conawingo Dam, which had been all but flooded out a week before in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee.

Once at the orchard, we followed a sweet looking MGB into the grassy field and waited for Karen’s co-worker and her daughter. The co-worker brought a friend with two sons, and the older children, after picking their share of excellent apples, were coaxed into Bridget’s cockpit.

The ride home was a bit rainy, but well worth it for the Honeycrisps and Jonagolds.

Pie is delicious

MGs On the Rocks (Sept 24)

This is billed as one of the premier MG shows on the east coast, hosted by MGs of Baltimore. I’ve not yet introduced myself to these fine folks, but from the looks of their club newsletter and the vibe at this show, they’re fine and mellow people who’d laugh with me more than at me. That’s all I ask.

The day threatened rain (forcing cancellation of a long-planned run to Stoney’s in Wilmington–hope to post on that when it happens). But the MG faithful showed up at Rocks State Park in good numbers.

Bridget and I arrived a bit before noon and the gate man asked if we’d like to be on the main field for judging. “She doesn’t rate,” I mumbled, pulling into the parking field near a nice B, more than one TR6 and a whole lot of other iron I judged worthy of the main rows.

There were a few fine T cars lined up near the front. My fave was this ’53 club racer with patina to spare:Beer was served. Or smuggled. Not sure:You can tell this one is raced by the remote cutoff switch. I dig this rig, and not just because he has the same grab handle as me:The cowl:There was lots of other great stuff there, including some better-preserved TDs. This one was hands-down the cleanest–another ’53:But there were more like the TD above–well-thrashed, truncated TF-like hood opening, its owner not afraid to drill sheet metal for the New England T Register badge.

Looking for signs that a VW might sneak in here unnoticed, I spied these exhausts–very correct–on a TR6:More indication that Bridget might have made the grade: There was this air-cooled beast:I think it’s a Berkeley SE-328 “Deluxe.” The owner wasn’t near it when I passed so when I got home I spent a half hour on the Google: Air-cooled, two-cylinders, 18-horses, and a fiberglass body. . . .  Maybe I should’ve said “yes” when the guy at the gate asked me if I wanted to put Bridget on the show field.This guy drove from York PA. Morris Minor has 38 ground-pounding horsepower! He says it’ll do 65 mph as long as there are no hills.He even had the original “The Club” anti-theft device: . . .turns out “The Club” originates in the ’50s. And it was called the “Krookloc.”There were also several gorgeous E-Types in attendanceAmong the many sweet MGBs was this hellacious V-8 racer. Very business-like:But there was a lot more subtlety to be seen as well. Have a look at this Midget’s head:

Let’s see, there’s two SUs, as usual, intake runners, spark plugs–wait! Spark plugs? And where’s the exhaust manifold??

This would be an aluminum cross-flow head; the exhausts go out on the other side. Pretty trick, according to the non-stop talker I picked up wandering the B aisle. But my favorite part of the car was stuck to the firewall.That is a sentiment I can get behind 100 percent.

About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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One Response to Cruise News

  1. Pingback: Lime Rock Vintage Festival | bridgetmgtd

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