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Back On Track - Coast To Coast


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Finally doing my long-delayed retirement trip. Spent several years restoring an old Mercedes-Benz, then had some health "issues", but I'm now 1200 miles from home and well on the way.


Route goes from Connecticut to Utah to Washington state, then down the Pacific Coast Highway, back through Arizona to Texas to Tennessee and back home to Connecticut.


If you'd like to follow along:




Just a sample:






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Frozen custard is much better than frozen precipitation. Unfortunate that you got stuck for a few days and had to change your plans, but definitely the right choice. Those roads can start to get mighty lonely even in good weather. I wouldn't want to attempt in bad weather.

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  • 1 month later...

I did it! Yeehaa - over 7300 miles, Connecticut to California and back, just over a month.


Old car - and old driver - still in one piece and ticking like a Timex.


Here's the last blog post:




Weekly updates are along the top, Week One, Week Two, etc.


Still can't quite believe I did it. Wow.




Photo: Back home in Connecticut.



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Thanks Dave. They may be smiling ... but they're probably also thinking their son is nuts for driving that distance in a 50+ year old car!


Funny - after the first day, I had no real car worries for the rest of the trip. Car was amazingly comfortable on the long highway drives, and absorbs the bumps of country roads without a complaint. Had to borrow a wrench to tighten the fan belt in Elko, Nevada. Drove to the local Ford dealer - about a dozen young mechanics all stopped their work and came over to see the car. One guy asked "what's that round thing with all the wires on the top?"


I said - the distributor - and showed him how it works.


Anyway - definitely the trip of a lifetime.



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You were certainly a bit gutsy to do the trip at the time of year you did! And of course, you got a reminder or two!


My Aunt and Uncle had a Mercedes that looked a lot like yours. I visited my cousin in 2001 and there it was, parked in the garage, and still running. They must have been built tough.


Your distributor story struck a note. I worked in a service station when I was a kid, and changed a lot of points and rotors over the years....or filed the points and rotor / distributor contacts. Not something a modern mechanic does much! :)



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Being a volunteer at the New England Air Museum research library, I seek out those aviation connections. EAA has quite a museum in Oshkosh, and of course the Pima Arizona air and space museum.


Something I learned about points! If you reset the gap because of gap wear and/or follower wear, you've actually also reset the timing. So you have to reset the timing - or you'll soon have further ignition problems down the road. Ask me how I know!


I've attached a photo of the distributor head, showing the worn cam follower. The wear drops the points closer to the cam, changing gap as well as dwell.


But that 1960 system got me home again! Now thinking of "the next step".







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Terrific photo of that old distributor!! It looks like it has taken a few spins!


I bet most youngins don't even know why there is a piece of fiber stuffed in the middle of the shaft. And BTW, it looks like yours might be dry.


The cam follower on many cars (perhaps all) was made of a plastic sort of like fiberglass, as I recall. The rotation, as you note, wore them down and changed the point gap over time. I think that is just repeating what you said.


Beyond the points needing to be filed or replaced, the rotor where it contacted the contacts on the rotor cap wore down, and burned. The combination of burned points, rotor, and rotor cap contacts reduced performance, and made the car harder to start. If the cable connection between the rotor cap and coil corroded as well, the spark from the coil through the distributor to the spark plugs was seriously degraded.


All of which you know or the Mercedes would not be running! But I thought for a moment how much easier it was for a kid to tune up a 1958 MGA (my one time car) or a 1960 Mercedes, than any modern rig.


I really enjoyed the photo!!




Keep the Show on the Road!

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  • 9 months later...

Thought I'd share an "epilogue".


Here's my ol' Mercedes on the way to New Jersey, where it'll be repainted and rechromed. Mercedes-Benz will display the car in showrooms as an example of how reliable those wonderful 50 year old sedans are.




Lots of mixed emotions seeing it heading away, but good to know it'll be cared for by "the experts", and the story of Mac and Phyllis will be shared by many many more people across the USA.


Also, I've attached a copy of the story, published in the Mercedes-Benz Star Magazine this summer.





Morehouse 45-49 V4.pdf

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