Day 1, Leg 6
Before the Stage
Linda looked at the map again, then out over the horizon, then back to the map.
“Hey, guys, we can make up time on this stage. It’s uphill, and we’ve found out this car likes going uphill. Might be a bit dangerous if we go too fast, but quick is better than slow at this point.” she said, as Scott and Amy finished wrapping more burgers to throw on top of the engine.
“Good. I’ll drive a bit faster, then, so that we can make up for the inevitable downhill section we have to take at a snail’s pace.” Luke said.
“Long as you don’t bust up the car.” Amy said, and Scott chuckled.
“This thing’s almost guaranteed not to survive this. I’ll be surprised if we make it to the second day.” Scott remarked. “That said, if we do, I’m gonna be glad. If we make it to the end at all, I’ll be surprised, though.”
“Now, see, this is why you’re not driving most of the time. You’re failing to understand that you have to think positively when driving like this.” Linda said.
The four of them got into the car and headed to the starting line, ready for the uphill battle.
Day 1, Leg 7
Luke pulled the transmission down into low, holding on the stall-speed as the engine snarled, waiting for the flag to drop. As soon as it did, Luke launched the Snail-Boat at the long, uphill pass, already banging on the rev-limiter as it wound out first gear. Luke, instead of putting it in drive, held it back, screaming up the hill in second, keeping the engine near peak power.
“Damn, this car’s loud!” Scott shouted from the back seat.
“Yeah, and just think, it has mufflers already!” Amy yelled back. Linda grabbed the MP3 player, only to put it back in the cupholder, annoyed that not even Led Zeppelin could drown out the roar of the old V8.
“Can you cut the fuckin’ noise, Luke!?”
“Sorry, Linda, but you said you wanted fast. That means I can’t let the car auto-shift or we’ll lose power in third and waste time going back to second to do this anyway. Might as well make her run hotter than the fires in the very depths of hell right now.” Luke said.
They hurtled up the hill with all the grace of a hill-climb racing car, and about as much noise as one, also. The engine roared, the old mechanical fuel injection system keeping pace with the engine’s strong thirst, with the turbos howling at full flight.
Luke kept his foot flat on the throttle as they started to level out, though saw the tell-tale signs of a voltage regulator starting to fail in the form of light, wispy blue smoke at the back of the hood. “Amy, mind looking in the glove box for another of those regulators? We’re going to lose this one.” Luke said, as he turned off the radio.
Amy grabbed one and held onto it as the smoke grew more spectacular, gave a quick puff, then went away as fast as it’d arrived, though left signs of its betrayal. The dash lights glowed brighter, and the voltage gauge was pinned at 17 volts. Luke stuffed the car in drive and backed off, choosing to preserve the battery instead of making an environmental disaster out of it.
Still, with the only failure being a very minor one, hardly noteworthy at all, and one they prepared for with dozens of replacement parts, all of them agreed it was a great trip up there.
Day 1, Leg 7 Aftermath
“That was a good run!” Luke said, replacing the burned out voltage regulator. He set the dead one on top of the valve cover, installed the replacement, then collected the expired one and dropped it in the water bucket Scott had found. As it sizzled angrily, boiling the water around it, Scott had something to say about it.
“Still think you should’ve dropped that in the crapper.” he said.
“The last thing I want, Scott, is to be known to the town of Monsen and the rest of the locals around Mount Townsend as being the guy who blew up their fire lookout and started a forest fire with some sort of bomb in their toilet.”
“It wouldn’t have exploded.”
“It might have. That was well-over the boiling point of water. The whole bucket’s boiling now.” Luke said.
Linda grabbed the burgers out from under the hood, preparing a quick meal for the team. “Hot, hot, hot, ow, these are burning my fingers! Luke, you fucking jerk! You’ve overcooked the burgers!”
“You knew we had a hill to climb and you still put burgers under the hood.”
“Well, you coulda told me you were gonna fuckin’ redline it the whole way up the hill, and I’d have put them somewhere else in there, rather than right near the turbo manifolds!”
Amy shook her head and laughed, then said, “They’d have been overcooked anyway. All that heat builds up under the hood of an old car like this.”
The three of them sat down to have another couple burgers while Luke drained the water from the intercooler and put fresh, cold water into it. “Hot boost is not good boost.” he grumbled, checking the temperature of the old water. “Well, good news is, the intercooler can keep up with the old turbos.”
“It better. That was supposed to go on the Knight Hill-Climb racer, with nearly 40 pounds of boost pressure.” Amy said. “This thing’s peaking at 10.”
“With old turbos. They get hotter.”
“Not by that much.” Amy said, ending the minor argument.
Linda got up, turned the radio on, and decided to blast some Led Zeppelin after all.
Functionally identical to the previous leg. Fluids topped up, brand new home-brew voltage regulator in place, burned out head-light replaced. Radio still functions and is still capable of being overly loud.
MRL +5 Overall. While the fluid leak is still a mild concern, good food and a great view have countered the cloudy skies this time. By making decent time on this leg, team Twin-Snail is feeling cautiously confident. Amy wishes she’d remembered to bring a book.