TTR

Long distance driving/traveling with vintage cars

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In this nice weather I drive a different car every day of the week if I can.

Most of my cars are ready to drive just about anywhere.

I am stupid about flying off somewhere to buy a car sight unseen and drive it home.

I haven't had any major breakdowns doing that, but I carry tools.

I have learned that the journey is much more fun than the destination in most cases.

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11 minutes ago, mrcvs said:

Believe me, I'd love to drive both of these 300 miles and back, but what do you do if you even make it 300 miles and are that far from home and broken down?

 

Triple A.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/31/2019 at 9:36 AM, Bloo said:

 

Many states still offer paper maps, and they are usually free! Look at a rest area or welcome center when you cross a state line.

 

 

 

You can also get them from AAA, either free or paid, depending on your membership level.

 

Funny thing happened to me few years ago:

On one of my many trips with the Roadster, I got slightly lost or disoriented in City of Palmdale, CA and decided to pull over to a strip mall where there was a (national chain) Auto Parts Store. Walked in with a map in my hand and was greeted by an employee, a young man (I'm guessing) in his mid-to-late twenties, with a "How can I help you, Sir ?" soon followed by a comment "Wow, is that a real map in your hand, Sir ? I've never seen one before !" to which I replied "Yes it is, but apparently you are not able to offer much help then" and since everyone else inside that store either appeared busy or just stared at me like deers in the headlights, I pretty much just turned around and walked out. 

Edited by TTR (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

I get the same distance anxiety as mrcvs bellow with my truck and trailer. I only have my 1987 Ford 150 with near 200,000 on the clock and my wife's Ranger with about 130 ,000 on the clock as tow vehicles.  I have lost out on a couple of deals recently because they were too far to retrieve with either truck and still have piece of mind I won't be broken down in the middle of nowhere with my trailer and a load. In short up S**t creek.

 New or even newer trucks are way out of my reach and commercial hauling on the usually sub $10,000.00 range cars I am looking at makes the whole deal unfeasible.

A definite catch 22.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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13 minutes ago, mrcvs said:

I have to give y'all credit.  I have two vintage cars, 1930 and before, and, admittedly, it's with great trepidation I wander more than 5 miles from home in either of them.  For fear of breaking down or overheating, which has happened, and the inability to be able to get my car home if not running, before the weather breaks, which is of concern in an open touring car.

 

I don't know how to overcome this fear, which has actually been realized.

 

The Model A had a crack in the engine which was there but not evident when I bought it (between 2 cylinders).  Fortunately, the car was parked after a trip and wouldn't start at home.  Then after this I broke down a mile from home.  Turns out a replacement coil was defective.

 

The Maxwell had a Johnson carburetor that dumped gas due to a gas logged cork float that wouldn't float.  Replaced with an original A-D carburetor.  Success TBD as now no spark which seems to be points and condenser.  Have fear of being in the middle of nowhere with no gas as carburetor was dumping it unbeknownst to me.

 

Also a few overheating issues, increasing rpms seem to have resolved.

 

Believe me, I'd love to drive both of these 300 miles and back, but what do you do if you even make it 300 miles and are that far from home and broken down?

 

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I should state that some trepidation could (not saying would) disappear if I didn't work so much.  I think being retired and breaking down isn't as bad when you only have this problem as your concern vs breaking down far from home and having to worry about making it to work at 5:30 am the next day.

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Posted (edited)

Definitely time pressure makes a bad situation worse.

  Nearly any longer distance drive I take involves crossing a mountain range. If you are going to break down with an older truck ,trailer and load you have pretty good odds it's going to be on a long ,steep mountain slog. And usually narrow road on these stretches just for added entertainment. Less blacktop to clear snow off of, and less material to move after a rock slide.

 Living somewhere like Kansas starts to look a lot better over time.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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35 minutes ago, mrcvs said:

I have to give y'all credit.  I have two vintage cars, 1930 and before, and, admittedly, it's with great trepidation I wander more than 5 miles from home in either of them.  For fear of breaking down or overheating, which has happened, and the inability to be able to get my car home if not running, before the weather breaks, which is of concern in an open touring car.

 

I don't know how to overcome this fear, which has actually been realized.

 

The Model A had a crack in the engine which was there but not evident when I bought it (between 2 cylinders).  Fortunately, the car was parked after a trip and wouldn't start at home.  Then after this I broke down a mile from home.  Turns out a replacement coil was defective.

 

The Maxwell had a Johnson carburetor that dumped gas due to a gas logged cork float that wouldn't float.  Replaced with an original A-D carburetor.  Success TBD as now no spark which seems to be points and condenser.  Have fear of being in the middle of nowhere with no gas as carburetor was dumping it unbeknownst to me.

 

Also a few overheating issues, increasing rpms seem to have resolved.

 

Believe me, I'd love to drive both of these 300 miles and back, but what do you do if you even make it 300 miles and are that far from home and broken down?

 

I have an unrestored '29 Pierce Arrow.

The engine has never been apart.

While I don't drive it more than a 100 miles from home, I do put around 300 miles on it when I attend a Pierce Arrow Society Meet and participate in the tours.

My '26 Rickenbacker has been all over the southern part of Calif, from just north of Santa Barbara to below San Diego.

They were meant to be driven.

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1 hour ago, mrcvs said:

Believe me, I'd love to drive both of these 300 miles and back, but what do you do if you even make it 300 miles and are that far from home and broken down?

 

Don't know about 300 miles, but AAA has a platinum level membership that has 200 miles of free towing.

 

Knowing you have a reasonable amount of free towing available does give you a bit of a different view on things. For example: In March while returning from a camping trip in our '33 a tube failed. Spare tire is on the back of the car inside a metal cover. But the tools are behind the rear seat back and the whole back of the car was loaded up to the windows with camping gear. Choice was between calling AAA and unloading everything by the side of the road to dig out the tools. I took the easy path and called AAA. Once the truck arrived, I again had two choices: Have the fellow change the tire (putting the filthy metal spare tire cover in the car on top of all of our gear and then making the remaining miles home with no spare). Or have the car loaded on the back and having it hauled home. I opted for the easy way out and had the car hauled home.

 

Once home I looked into things at could find nothing on or in the tire to cause the problem so I suspect it was a matter of the tube itself failing. Since all the tubes were the same brand installed at the same time I decided to play it safe and replaced all five of them.

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Posted (edited)

It's all relative, I guess. My wife and I do long road trips alone, but the only one where we actually worried was the Lincoln Highway "big trip" with the 1985—which I realize many on this thread will consider a "late model." A few paragraphs from the book I eventually wrote:

 

    In spite of the many preparations I have described, both Ivelis and I were quite aware that there were many unknowns on this trip, including whether we would even complete it successfully. This situation was something that had not been true of our two previous “Big Trips” back and forth across the United States. The possibility of a catastrophic failure of some essential system in this particular Corvette was part of an honest and realistic assessment of our plans. A few of our friends heightened this awareness: they were quite enthused by our trip—until they figured out that we were driving it on our own.

 

(basically the entire travelogue)

 

    Ivelis and I arrived home safely but quite spent at our house in Bryn Mawr on May 31, 2014, at roughly 3:40 pm. We had traveled approximately 6,314 miles, and we had (amazingly) made it in our 29 and a half-year-old car. I felt like both we and Lauren should have received some kind of medal!

    For all of my worries and concerns about our ability to successfully complete this trip in this car, we ended up having only two major issues—the passenger door and the stalls [in awful San Francisco Memorial Day weekend traffic]. For the final eight days of our journey, I remained quite concerned that the passenger door would disintegrate even further than it had in Ely, Nevada. However, Ivelis and I were able to use both the manual door lock and the inside door handle all the way back home. Despite these problems, I’m very glad that we took this excursion in Lauren—I think that this choice of vehicle made the experience more special.

 

 

    A few days after our trip was complete, Ivelis casually informed me that her request for a list of Chevrolet dealers situated along our route was not for a set of good repair locations, but rather so we could purchase a brand new C7 Corvette if Lauren suffered some catastrophic mechanical failure. “I brought my checkbook!” she stated rather forcefully. No wonder poor old Lauren managed to make it!

 

 

    In the middle of September 2015, we had a 200-mile jaunt planned in Lauren (we had been invited to show her at the lovely and historic Ephrata Cloister). Only 15 miles into the trip, Lauren completely keeled over in the town of Malvern, Pennsylvania—the fuel pump that was original to the car had failed at about 78,000 miles and 31 years. Why it made it through our entire Lincoln Highway trip, I’ll never know—but I am grateful that it did. Perhaps our somewhat astounding fuel mileage on the journey could be attributed to the fact that the fuel pump was giving the engine a little less fuel than it was designed to!

 

Edited by j3studio (see edit history)

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Don't forget in 1946 early AACA member George Green of Lambertville NJ drove his 1904 curved dash Oldsmobile to 30 states plus Canada and Mexico. Mr. "Curved Dash Olds" as he was known drove 269 miles in one day - not bad for a vehicle that at best could do 40 MPH.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, mrcvs said:

I have to give y'all credit.  I have two vintage cars, 1930 and before, and, admittedly, it's with great trepidation I wander more than 5 miles from home in either of them.  For fear of breaking down or overheating, which has happened, and the inability to be able to get my car home if not running, before the weather breaks, which is of concern in an open touring car.

 

I don't know how to overcome this fear, which has actually been realized.

 

The Model A had a crack in the engine which was there but not evident when I bought it (between 2 cylinders).  Fortunately, the car was parked after a trip and wouldn't start at home.  Then after this I broke down a mile from home.  Turns out a replacement coil was defective.

 

The Maxwell had a Johnson carburetor that dumped gas due to a gas logged cork float that wouldn't float.  Replaced with an original A-D carburetor.  Success TBD as now no spark which seems to be points and condenser.  Have fear of being in the middle of nowhere with no gas as carburetor was dumping it unbeknownst to me.

 

Also a few overheating issues, increasing rpms seem to have resolved.

 

Believe me, I'd love to drive both of these 300 miles and back, but what do you do if you even make it 300 miles and are that far from home and broken down?

 

Welcome to my childhood. My father never owned cars that could reliably be driven any significant distance. As a result, our usage was limited to driving from the place where he stored the cars back home, then back to the storage garage. Tours? Forget it. Drives longer than 10 miles? No way. Every terrible moment of my childhood is related to one of those piece of crap cars stranding us and watching my father lose his mind. It is why even though I have reliable, fast, powerful, proven cars, I still have great concerns about traveling long distances in my old cars. I do it anyway and hope that I will be able to overcome history. To date, I have yet to be stranded save for coming back from Allentown, PA a few years ago in the Limited, which suffered a flat tire on a brand new Coker. But that was hardly the car's fault.


Anyway, that's neither here nor there. What you're asking is how do you build confidence and the answer is only this: Drive.

 

Drive the cars. You don't have to go far if you drive frequently, and as you become more confident you can go farther. It sounds like your cars still have multiple issues and that's a significant part of the problem. If it's flooding or overheating or the ignition is failing, then you still have lots of sorting to do. The sorting process is something that most restoration shops skip and many owners don't understand, but I personally find it to be the most rewarding part of owning an old car. Fix one thing and the car gets better. Fix the next thign and it gets better still. Eventually, you have a reliable car that you can trust. But as many people here will say, the sorting process is not easy. There will be temptations along the way to cut corners and say, "Well, good enough." If you want to drive your cars with confidence, "good enough" is never good enough. The car is either right or it is not, and I have learned over the years to trust the original engineers rather than trying to out-think them with modern ideas. There are upgrades that make sense (electric fuel pumps for back-up, stronger batteries, modern spark plugs, etc.) and some that do not (electronic ignitions, different carburetors, "creative" electrical systems). If you put the car back the way it was built, it will get more reliable. As you tune it and get to know the various parts and ensure they are in top condition, your confidence will grow. But it takes time. There's no magic solution. Right now, you sound like my father, who expected these ancient cars with questionable care and maintenance over the years to be reliable right out of the box. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Reliable cars only get that way through many hours of hard work and finicky tuning. It will take some dedication to learn what you have to learn. But it really matters if you want to drive. There really is no substitute.

 

I feel your pain, having spent the most miserable moments of my life sitting on a curb watching my father turn into a monster. I know the terror of a car that suddenly and unexpectedly goes silent at a red light. I know the sphincter-tightening you feel when the engine starts to stutter. I know the fear of wondering how I'll get home. Just remember that a flatbed ride isn't expensive, cell phones will bail you out, and anything can be fixed. Get started on sorting and driving the car regularly to shake out the bugs and it can only get better.

 

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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I understand one's concern about "what if car breaks down far from home", but Matt is correct, drive the car a lot and you won't be as worried.  Even if the car breaks down, my philosophy is that I've never seen a broken down car on the side of the road with a skeleton in it.  Thus, people, and the car, will make it home, one way or the other.

 

Reminds me of my '31 Pierce.  The fellow I bought it from NEVER owned a trailer.  He restored it in 1960, and over the next 20 years put well over 50,000 miles on the car, going on tours in Louisiana and the surrounding states.  I bought it in 1984, and one of the first tours we were going to (which was about 250 miles away from home), I chickened out and put it on a trailer towed behind a Ford van I had at the time.  15 miles from home, the distributor drive shaft broke on the Ford.  Getting the rig moved to a friend's place about a mile from where we broke down, my wife (and four kids) asked "what now?".  Well, hop in the Pierce, we'll just drive it there....and we did, and back!  

 

Nothing builds confidence in a car like using it, sorting out any issues, and being able to hop in it and drive with little worry.  Will you always have trouble free touring?  No, but that's all part of the adventure of old cars.....

pierce - Copy.jpg

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Love the big slots in the hood on that car.

 

Plenty of good stories, but there’s nothing worse than having doubt in your equipment. 

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12 minutes ago, Licespray said:

Love the big slots in the hood on that car.

 

Plenty of good stories, but there’s nothing worse than having doubt in your equipment. 

 

Agreed.

 

Those "slots" are actually doors, open for summer and closed for winter driving.....if you look closely you can see the little handles which operate a locking rod to hold closed....

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Drive the cars. You don't have to go far if you drive frequently, and as you become more confident you can go farther. It sounds like your cars still have multiple issues and that's a significant part of the problem. If it's flooding or overheating or the ignition is failing, then you still have lots of sorting to do. The sorting process is something that most restoration shops skip and many owners don't understand, but I personally find it to be the most rewarding part of owning an old car. Fix one thing and the car gets better. Fix the next thign and it gets better still. Eventually, you have a reliable car that you can trust. But as many people here will say, the sorting process is not easy. There will be temptations along the way to cut corners and say, "Well, good enough." If you want to drive your cars with confidence, "good enough" is never good enough. The car is either right or it is not, and I have learned over the years to trust the original engineers rather than trying to out-think them with modern ideas. There are upgrades that make sense (electric fuel pumps for back-up, stronger batteries, modern spark plugs, etc.) and some that do not (electronic ignitions, different carburetors, "creative" electrical systems). If you put the car back the way it was built, it will get more reliable. As you tune it and get to know the various parts and ensure they are in top condition, your confidence will grow. But it takes time. There's no magic solution. Right now, you sound like my father, who expected these ancient cars with questionable care and maintenance over the years to be reliable right out of the box. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Reliable cars only get that way through many hours of hard work and finicky tuning. It will take some dedication to learn what you have to learn. But it really matters if you want to drive. There really is no substitute.

 

Agreed with everything you say.

 

Folks in the Corvette restoration hobby say I have one of the very few C4 Corvettes that has actually been brought back from the edge. I'm not always sure as to whether they mean that as a compliment or a questioning of my sanity.

 

My "secret" has been never to accept anything as unfixable and never view the car as done. Also, I don't defer mechanical things—they get fixed as soon as possible, while things like upholstery and paint wait. I have an abject fear of letting the car go into any kind of decline.

Edited by j3studio (see edit history)
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Well...

 

I'll admit I'm rather frustrated.  I have 2 antique cars that I have driven maybe 300 miles total for both in the nearly 8 years since I bought the first one.

 

I can't drive them if they don't run.  I remember first getting the Maxwell and running it 20 miles and had a blast.  Then several shorter runs.  Then threw a fan blade.  Fixed that.  Then the awful gas we now have not enabling the carburetor float to work.  Dumping gas...and now I think the points.  Not much fun...probably will run another 10 miles and it will be something else.

 

I kind of am thinking of just selling both and be done with a hobby that's really no fun.  I can't even do that.  Easier to sell a car when it actually works.

 

Believe me, I'd love to say what a fun, rewarding hobby.  I'm to the point where I think it really sucks.  I guess old cars are just unreliable.  Or, how do I make mine reliable?

 

I kind of want to just send them to someone and say take this pile of junk and fix it so it actually works.

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As Matt said, and others have said, the only way to make a car reliable is to drive it and when something breaks fix it. And pretty soon you will be able to just hop into it and  go anywhere without a second thought. Two things that are a prerequisite - patience and faith. Any older vehicle that hasn't been run in a while needs to be sorted out - if you truly don''t enjoy working on cars you need to own a  car that has been sorted - a car that has been on a lot of tours perhaps.

 

If you do enjoy working on cars than all you need is a little faith. I can think of no greater example than the story of the Zapp family: I posted this awhile back - please excuse the duplication. Lots to read andd view if you use google.

 

11 years and 145,000 miles in a 1928 Graham Paige - having 4 kids along the way. A must read for anyone who is not sure that they should actually drive their old car on anything longer than a day trip !!!!

 

https://stuckattheairport.com/2011/04/06/radical-road-trip-one-familys-11-year-adventure/

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I want to drive them, and I actually enjoy working on them.  Trouble is, I feel like my cars are lemons.  Need to be worked on all the time, rarely run flawlessly.  Others seem not to have such problematic cars.

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Is the author of "Chasing Grandpa" on this forum?  I'd love to discuss this with him.  He drove a 1917 Maxwell a few years ago from New Jersey to California.  I'm lucky if mine can make it 4 miles to Das Auwscht Fecht!

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17 hours ago, trimacar said:

Nothing builds confidence in a car like using it, sorting out any issues, and being able to hop in it and drive with little worry. 

 

That's the best plan.

 

My Wife's family lives 90 miles from us. Driving back, one 85 degree summer day, my Wife said "I just realized we get in this 50 year old car and go wherever we want without thinking about it being 50 years old. That was ten years ago.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks again for all replies so far, but more than anything, I was and am hoping to read more about (recent ? ) adventures/experiences of long distance, multi-day/-week/-month leisure/vacation road trips in 60+ year old, preferably pre-war cars. Photos featuring the car in  some beautiful, cool, interesting or unusual moments/places along the route would also be greatly appreciated. 

Here’s couple of examples, although they may not all be from “long distance” trips:

 

Carmel Valley, Aug. '15. Roadside repairing fatigued rear shock mounts:

1904928479_Carmel8-12-15.jpg.2f8691aa34151ed2a337fe41d8d81d6d.jpg

 

June Lake (at +/- 8000 ft, 9am), Nov. '15. Ready for the 2nd day adventures of a 4-day trip to California Sierras:

383502590_JuneLake211-12-15.jpg.cf18505d45e68e55b0193ccaa3ad2484.jpg

 

 

Joshua Tree, New Years Day '16. Returning from a sunrise nature hike

(40+ mile round trip just on that dirt road):

397726811_JoshuaTree1-1-16.jpg.ecf92c70c3c2bbf2ac5a876bd56d9ddc.jpg

 

CA-2, a.k.a. "A.C.H.", (at 6000 ft., 7am) Xmas morning '16. Just out for a day drive.

El Mirage in the background horizon:

4496419_A.C.H.12-25-16.jpg.0a7d0d54e3a4a19cd0a4827b423e93ac.jpg

Edited by TTR
Added details & pictures (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, TTR said:

 Photos featuring the car in  some beautiful, cool, interesting or unusual moments/places along the route would also be greatly appreciated. 

 

This is from a year ago, taken in Indiana about 800 miles from my home in North Carolina. The trip to Indiana for the tour was spread over 2 days. We then toured for 3 days. Later this month, I will be driving it to Ohio for this year's 36-38 Buick Club tour.

DSC_0592.JPG

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Posted (edited)

I bought this in Tucson. Its been a couple of years now I guess.

I flew in armed with some basic tools and a fuel gauge sender.

Three days at 55 mph home to Oregon.

When I got to Oregon the drivers wiper blade fell off. Thanks to some help at O'Rielys got those replaced.

I put some taller gears in it the very next day and still drive it regularly.

 

Anybody have a better tail gate ??

s-l200.jpg

20915351_505504383130175_8121831993714875192_n.jpg

20914558_505504373130176_6875447029162229407_n.jpg

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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There is a lot to be said about the simplicity of older vehicles. 20 years ago my "rough around the edges" MGA was my 8 months a year daily driver. I hid it from the salt each winter.

 Two trips from Vancouver BC to California, one just down to the Monterey Historics and back. The other all over central California and Nevada. The long trip resulted in the failure of a coil. A few $ and a 20 minute hitchhike into the nearest town. The Monterey dash resulted in a blown headgasket. 100 + mph for a few hours out in central California was a bit too much for my trusty MG. We were being paced by a cute girl in a VW Rabbit convertible and didn't want German engineering to triumph over British. But the obvious age difference finally was our undoing.

Pull over and luckily enough the roadside ditch had a trickle of water flowing. We filled up the rad with water, plus a couple of empty containers for insurance. Very slowly limped into the next town and bought a head gasket. I was sure thrilled they had one in stock. Took our chances and limped on to Laguna Seca and set up camp. Only about 40 miles so just doable. 

 The next campsite over had a fellow Canadian racing a MGTD who was kind enough to lend me a torque wrench, the one tool I had not brought with me. A few hours later the job was done and we spent the next 3 days immersed in vintage racing nirvana.

Drive home was trouble free however for safety sake I kept things below 65 MPH.

 

Greg in Canada

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