Monday morning, and off to the Egg Doctor. His face as the engine sputtered and choked told me more than I needed to know…..Houston, we have a problem. With enough understatement to qualify for English status, he stared accusingly at the offending sparkplug and reassured an update as soon as possible. Meanwhile, somewhere in Northern California; my mechanical cousin remained blissfully unaware of the current state of our pre-rally preparation….a situation I did not relish having to change!
Monday turned to Tuesday, and my usual wake-up alarm was replaced with a call from the doctor. Good news, the machinist had been available, and was already working on…something. Not so good news, when your automotive GP is using terms that resemble a mechanical surgeon, things are looking down, way down. He asked when the car was scheduled for collection, and I couldn’t help noticing the slightly longer than hoped for pause when I answered, “Thursday”. Another reassurance of an update when he had one…and all I could do was head off to the office, and consider at least a Plan B, if not a Plan C.
By lunchtime, I’d worked out that if more time was needed to eggmend, we could resort to an alternative option – drive out to Palm Springs on Friday evening, find a Motel 6 and then head onto AZ early the next morning. Not a completely awful plan; it just meant ensuring everything important (Maximus to Cat Camp) was sorted out a day ahead of schedule. From there, my Plan C became a little more vague, as vintage cars do not grow on trees, and I really wasn’t sure how easy it would be to disguise my SpaceCar as a ’64 Porsche without anyone noticing. Adding to the air of general concern was my cousin’s now imminent arrival at Burbank airport later in the afternoon.
Just as the clock struck 12:30, the Egg Doctor called. His patient had not only left the operating table, she was completely cured and ready for pick-up!! Once I arrived, he showed me a few offending articles – snapped o-rings, valves imitating a trumpet judging by the differences in their locations, rubber seals clearly past their prime – it was one big unhappy family of parts. All of which made me realise, the one extremely bright light at the end of this particular tunnel was the situation occurring BEFORE I left CA, rather than AFTER arriving in AZ. Doc then handed me the keys and kindly told me not to call again any time soon! A request, I had every intention of keeping.
Into the driver’s seat, turn the key….and she sounds AH-MAY-ZING. Doc had assured me the Egg was now bulletproof, and listening to her idling, I absolutely believe him. The level of the engine lower, but the overall sound sweeter. Pick-up noticeably improved, revs better…..it may be an oxymoron for something almost 50 years old, but she seemed to be a brand new car!
Mechanical cousin arrived on schedule, and I shared the excitement with him over an obligatory cup of tea. The panic already replaced with a sense of real Copperstate Adventure, he seconded my enthusiasm that the situation was really nothing more than making both of us feel a little more rally-ready!