HISTORIC CUSTOMS USA Road Trip Part 2
By Ronnie Lindblom & Micke Hedberg.
After 11 days of hard work Ronnie and Micke got their Historic Customs on the road and ready to go.
In early July 2016 Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg left Sweden for their dream road trip in the USA. Both guys had bought an historic custom in the month prior to this trip, and along the way the idea had grown to fix up their cars and make a road trip of a life-time. After 11 long days and nights working on their cars, they finally had them ready to hit the road. You can read about the first 11 days of their journey in Part One of this series.
With the cars now finished, all the tools, supplies and others things needed for the trip was loaded into the trunks of the cars. They said goodbye to everybody who had helped them in Bakersfield and they were ready to hit the road. Yeah!
The next, exciting phase of their trip was to drive the cars to Gene Winfield’s shop in the Mojave desert. This less than 100 mile trip from Bakersfield, to Gene’s place was going to be a smooth test-drive, so they thought. They planned it would take them around two hours that Tuesday afternoon to get to Gene. Perhaps a little more to take some nice pictures along the way…
What not the guys had realized was the steep mountain-pass right outside Bakersfield. Afterwards they remember Squeak telling them all about this, but who had time to listen to these “small” details when they were too excited and focused to get the cars ready to drive? It was really going uphill here, and both cars were really struggling.
Half an hour from Bakersfield the temp gauges were hitting maximum. Pretty soon Micke´s radiator started to steam and the winshield started to fog when the steam came thru the louvered hood. It was definitly time for the first stop. Both cars was boiling.
The cars had to cool down a bit and it was time for the radiators to get filled with fresh water. It could have happened on a worse place though. While waiting Micke and Ronnie enjoyed the view, and probably dreamt of making this drive in the early 1950’s
When the cars had cooled down enough they took off, desperately in need of flat roads or even better downhill… But the only way to find a downhill was to look in the rearmirror, so not before long the cars got hot again. While the cars were cooling down again Micke was trying to get some work done on the car, perhaps to solve a bit of the cooling problem. After a while he started the ’36 and it sounded really crappy.
At first they thought the floatlevel was wrong as the hill was so steep, but adjusting it did not make the old flatty run any better. After some contemplating they figured out it must be the condenser… mmm could be worse, they had brought an old spare condenser. They packed it in the trunk… but which trunk?! and where?? Finally they found the spare condenser and while Micke was installing it he lost a screw in the gravel.. Great! Eventually they found another screw they could use and fix this problem.
To drive those historical customs on those old roads is an adventure, but to do it without gps and with partly hand-drawn map is something else! It really took them back in the days. Here´s the guys sitting in a crossroad trying to figure out the right way to Mr Winfield.
Arriving at Gene Winfield
Even after the guys had left the steep mountain pass behind them the Merc maintain to have overheating problems. After many stops with boiling engine and some minor problem to find the right road it was a real relieve when they finally saw Gene’s huge shop space in the distance. They arrived at Gene Winfields shop shortly before it started to get dark. Gene knew the guys were coming as Squeak had called him 5 hours earlier and told him they had just left Bakersfield. So he was getting a bit worried about the guys.
The gate was open and they drove right up to the shop area. Excited to meet Gene, and also knowing they could hopefully figure out the engine problems and solve it for the remainder of the trip.
Micke and Ronnie talked to Gene about the trip, and how they had spend the last 11 days in Squeaks shop. Then told him the trip from Bakersfield had taken so long due to the heating problems.
The guys hoped for a blown headgasket, they had already tried to get a pair at a local car supplies along the road, but most of the stores had sold their last flathead parts 50 years ago.
Gene told the guys that he might have a pair that was ment for a -49 merc project he had in the shop, Gene went into the shop and searched for the new pair of head-gaskets while Micke and Ronnie drained the water and prepared for pulling the heads off the engine.
Sadly the old head gaskets looked good, but under the right head of Ronnie’s ’39 Merc engine the guys found the reason of overheating. Big cracks between cylinder and valves in two cylinders. They only had one spare engine, and that was already mounted in Micke’s ’36… there was no other choise than to put the heads back on and hope that the engine would make the trip till the end! And so they did… and then finally it was time to get some sleep. [divider]
Go back to Part One or ahead to Part Three of the Historic Customs USA Road-Trip.
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