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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Preparing for the next Big Road Trip

I'm about to drive my 1972 BMW 2002tii-"Louie," with its recently rebuilt head -on a 3,000+ mile road trip to and from the MidAmerica 02Fest event from Massachusetts to in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. That's two 750-mile days each way, which essentially means pounding pavement during every waking sunlight hour (driving after dark, particularly after 14 hours on the road, doesn't really work for me anymore).
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/preparing-for-the-next-big-road-trip/
25 REPLIES 25
Snailish
Instructor

Good article.

My newly-prepped for the road after years of slumber had a long list of things done at a mechanics. The day I was to pick the car up (after months...) it wouldn't start. Much to the chagrin of the mechanic.

Turns out the new coil they had installed was a defective unit. I drove away with an old coil they pulled off one of their own vehicles in the back.

Point of the story being, in the case of something like a spare coil, alternator, etc. be sure to test that the new spare is actually a working part before you pack it.
XJ6
Intermediate Driver

A coat hanger .... that's genius. I'm adding one to my kit. I drive old Jaguars so the fire extinguisher is number 1 on my list.
miata93
Advanced Driver

Pack your spare parts and tools in a plastic bucket. I once had to refill my leaking radiator several times (including water from a ditch alongside the Ohio Turnpike) when it blew just east of Cleveland. Water hoses are not always available. An index card will not only gently file your points but also serves as a "ball park" gap gauge.
Gpopp
Pit Crew

Back in the late 60's, I limped our 61 Triumph TR3 home using my wife's pantyhose to replace the fanbelt.
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

I assume your wife wasn't still in them.
miata93
Advanced Driver

Don't forget zip-ties, duct tape and picture hanging (hay bale) wire.
jello67
Intermediate Driver

More times than I want to count (but less than I could count on one hand) I have tried to convert my points to electro-magnetic pick-up. Maybe it's the old British car Electrical problems issue, but I always packed my points as a back-up. I also always ended up using the back-up and getting rid of the electro-magnetic pick-up.
ppointer
Detailer

Any time I see article by Rob Siegel, I read it. Always worth my time.
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

Aw, thanks!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Lots of good things here. I will say sometimes it might be better to trailer the car than to go on a long drive even if the vehicle is reliable if for no other reason parts may be hard to get. But it certainly is more fun to drive the car.
miata93
Advanced Driver

I was in a cowboy bar down in Fort Worth Texas. In the restroom there was the usual graffiti on the walls plus a large number of ranch brand symbols. One item of graffiti really stood out though. "TRAILERED HARLEYS S@CK".

Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Funny.  Pretty sure the comment is directed at the poseurs who pretend to be badass biker dudes who are really not. 

miata93
Advanced Driver

Yeah, the guys that park 30 miles outside of Sturgis LOL.

Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Sturgis was exactly on my mind.  Hilarious!

Billthecat707
Instructor

I saw a funny patch on a leather vest at Daytona years ago, "I rode my bike to trailer week"
PFCDexter
Pit Crew

Great article. So very helpful, as are the comments. Thanks Rob!
Tinkerah
Engineer

Years ago I prepped a well used 1997 CR-V (Honda) to tow a motorcycle on a trailer cross-country and back. I insisted on carrying both radiator hoses and no one had them. The last resort, days before departure was the dealer. The parts guy said they don't stock them and questioned why I wanted them. After telling him he said he'd never heard of one failing and not to worry, they wouldn't. And they never did. For the entire life of the car.
JJB52
New Driver

Years ago I drove my '64 Pontiac Catalina convertible to Road Atlanta for an SCCA race. It died while I was cruising around the infield. I had some basic tools but no spare parts. Luckily I was close to the paddock. Who knew that a condenser for a Triumph Spitfire would work on a 389?!
Tinkerah
Engineer

The ignition requirements for any 4-stroke engine are refreshingly similar no matter the displacement or number of cylinders. The capacitor doesn't even have to fit under the cap; if you can wire it up it will work. Glad you tried what you had access to!

SAG
Technician

My travels are for 'hard parts' for project vehicles.
Travel prep [Truck & trailer] is extensive.
_ But there will be something, that will "bite you in the a*s", after many trips that have been
un-eventfull.
A Blown [#5] "High Pressure" delivery Line on my Cummins Turbo at the Fuel distributer head.
_ _ If you ever break down / with a Cummins / in Reno, Nv.
Good luck getting any Diesel shops that will help.
I get to home after 8 days of - Line rebuilding with Copper tubing - Solder joints.
every 150 miles. [odd number but it was constant].
Floyds Truck parts had the part the next day, after I got home.
Maestro1
Technician

Excellent, Rob.
I always prep whatever I'm going to drive on that trip two weeks before leaving and most of the time I've been trouble free. I simply assume I'm going to spend money on the thing before I leave town. Usually it's a Mid Sixties car, like a Chrysler I own and love, and beyond
the fuel expense which is heart stopping and an occasional quart of oil the Old Boy goes down the road like the soldier it is.
ozrod49
Pit Crew

This is always good info for those who take their vintage rides out. Many years ago, for some reason I decided to drive my 49 Chev p/u to a Norton rally in SW Colo., only 200 miles away with my 71 Triumph TR6 in back (as back up transport). Yeah right! Luckily I packed a spare radiator cause the 49s was suspect. And sure enough in Disappointment Valley it gave out. Had plenty of water with and got it swapped out and on to the rally where the fun began and back home in good fettle. Also in tow were about 300#s of generator, starter, tools, 24 inch bolt cutters etc. The Scouts motto served me well on this trip.
gpsuya
Advanced Driver

I call Starting Fluid the ultimate mechanics tool. There is no quicker way to diagnose either no fuel or no spark.
02-orignal-ownr
Detailer

For many years I've carried a couple of "bladders" harvested from 2 liter wine boxes in my trunk. After finishing off the contents (one of the nice parts of this exercise), you can pop the dispenser spout off, wash the bladder out thoroughly, and you'll have a water container that folded up takes no space in your trunk, but is available in case you need water on a continuing basis (like a leaky radiator or hose) while traveling--at least to the next auto parts store. That, and some duct tape has bailed me out more than once when a hose started to leak (don't forget to loosen the radiator cap to bleed off pressure).
61Rampy
Instructor

In my 52 years of driving Corvairs, I (and a few others I know of) have carried a spare cylinder head, as Corvairs are known to drop valve seats. On numerous occasions, when a valve seat popped out, it was just easier to remove the rocker arms and pushrods for the offending cylinder and continue on. Once, while towing my V8Corvair with another (6 cyl) Corvair, I had to drive from Phoenix to Denver, and then on to Chicago (about 2000 miles), all while on 5 cylinders. Talk about a long, slow trip! On the plus side, I got 3 mpg Better gas mileage (19 vs 16).
Isn't there some corollary to Murphy's law about not needing spare parts when you have them with you?