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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
10/15/15 2:58 p.m.
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We crossed the Florida border at about 2:00 a.m. As we rolled within 100 miles of home, we reminded each other that with our AAA Plus membership, we get 100 miles of free towing. We were home free. Little did we know we had just jinxed ourselves.

With Georgia in our rear view mirror, and less than 100 miles to go, we decided to lean on the old truck just a little bit more. We were getting tired and wanted to get home. Our 65 mph cruise speed, turned into 70 and then just for a minute, 75 mph.

That was all it took. Within five miles of the border, all hell broke loose. We heard a terrific crash and a horrible series of banging noises. It sounded like someone had pitched a shovel into a threshing machine.

No! This was not happening. We had driven some 1200 miles with just a few minor teething pains. Was our dream of a ramp truck going to end just south of the Georgia border?

It felt as though the entire front end had just collapsed and the engine had blown. Those sounds may have been familiar to us from past road trips.

After a lifetime of driving—shall we say—substandard vehicles, co–driver Rennie knew exactly what had happened. The drive shaft had come apart.

We were in the middle of nowhere so we let it coast, hoping we would miraculously come up on an exit and glide to safety. That was not to be. We were still some five miles from an exit when the poor old ramp truck clanked and clunked to a stop with the badly broken driveshaft still flapping.

We didn’t want to look, but we had to. It was bad. The rear shaft was missing entirely. The carrier bearing was still present, but the front shaft was broken in half. Even the yoke in the back of the transmission had shattered. But the damage didn't stop there. The furious flapping shaft had also damaged the exhaust and punctured the fuel tank.

It was completely unfixable. No amount of MacGyvering was going to sneak us through this nightmare. It was time to give up. Beside ourselves, we called AAA for a ride home.

After being put on hold for a few minutes minutes, insult was added to injury. We were told that our AAA membership would not cover this type of a tow.

We called a local towing company and were told that if we waited a couple of hours, we could be towed home for $650.

With few options, we were desperate to get ourselves and our ramp truck to safety. We gave the towing company a credit card number and began to unload the Spitfire. While the truck was towed home, we would finish the trip behind the wheel of our cargo.

Of course, the Spitfire we had bought was just as untested as our ramp truck. Thankfully, we made it home safely and were in bed at 5:30 a.m. We thank the folks at Automotive Restorations for making sure that the fluids were full and that there was some gas in the tank before handing the Spitfire over to us.

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Read the rest of the story

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/15/15 3:04 p.m.

So you start the trip with a truck, add a Spitfire, then have the British car loan the truck some electrical parts. The truck fails, and you have to hope the Spit runs, so that you can finish the journey home.

Epic.

And that's what you get when take parts that have been infected with Lucas and put them on something else. No doubt that cause the mechanical failure of the driveshaft.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
10/15/15 3:06 p.m.

I assume that you swapped the headlights back over?

Why did AAA not pick up the tow?

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
10/15/15 3:16 p.m.

When you said you planned for AAA tow, I wonder if they might reject it because the design purpose of the truck along with the logo on the door make the vehicle look "commercial" and not cover by your "residential" policy.

If not that, the mention of F-350 now makes this a "medium duty truck" not a run of the mill car/truck your policy may be intended to cover.

Also, this was possibly not just the tow of one vehicle but the tow of a second vehicle as well (Spitfire) which may have been reason enough to reject.

Karl La Follette
Karl La Follette UltraDork
10/15/15 3:19 p.m.

Just one more thing I assume that you swapped the headlights back over?
Nice Tuna Nice

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
10/15/15 3:22 p.m.

Great read!!!! Thanks for sharing.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
10/15/15 3:34 p.m.

Yes, the headlights were swapped back over. And I'm not totally sure why AAA turned them away. I assumed it was because it was a tow vehicle itself. I'll ask Tim when he pops back into the office.

nocones
nocones SuperDork
10/15/15 5:02 p.m.

noddaz
noddaz Dork
10/15/15 6:53 p.m.

Very nice. It will be funny. In a few weeks...

ncjay
ncjay Dork
10/15/15 7:11 p.m.

Everyone will take something different out of this story. I'm guessing the fuel tank didn't have much fuel in it and didn't drop gasoline all over the place. That could have added a much worse twist to this story. And yeah, trucks like that don't coast very far, even downhill. Holy crap, I just realized - the crew on "How I Met Your Mother" is right. Note to self, remember this.

irish44j
irish44j PowerDork
10/15/15 9:05 p.m.

If it makes you feel better, I lost two of my three driveshaft bolts at the last rallycross and only discovered it when I left the venue only to get a massive vibration at 20mph. Had to jury-rig it and limp 60 miles through the 80mph mountain highways (going ~40mph with trucks trying to run over me) to a friend's houses where he had a couple of the bolts I needed...

kazoospec
kazoospec Dork
10/16/15 8:09 a.m.

Not that I believe in luck/karma/jinxing/etc., but, in my experience, celebrating "we're almost home" generally =

mazdeuce
mazdeuce PowerDork
10/16/15 8:21 a.m.

I'm pretty sure the Spitfire transferred some sort of karmic debt to the truck when you did the headlight swap. The good news is that you've thrown off the demons that were present in the Spitfire (as evidenced by it's trouble free drive the rest of the way) so now it should fine for years. It's the price you pay.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
10/16/15 9:03 a.m.
noddaz wrote: Very nice. It will be funny. In a few weeks...

Nope, I just laughed out loud at several of these posts. It's funny now.

And about those headlights... Rennie tipped the toolbox over in the dead-tired, dead-of-night fumbling that followed the driveshaft explosion, and some of the headlight mounting hardware went into the pitch-black, gasoline-soaked scrub on the roadside (because OF COURSE the tank was full--gas is cheaper in Georgia!).

So they duct-taped one of the headlamps back into the Spit.

Margie

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
10/16/15 9:07 a.m.

Oh, and I think the official reason stated for not giving the ramp truck a tow was "no". Bolstered by the fact that they did, indeed, send a ramp truck to tow the ramp truck. Apparently "ramp truck" is not an industry recognized term. Or middle-of-the-night dispatchers just don't listen.

Margie

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/16/15 9:07 a.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: So they duct-taped one of the headlamps back into the Spit. Margie

No wonder they worked when re-paired with Lucas.

Or the car was rewarding the lights for the job they did on the truck.

BTW, next time, remember bailing twine or wire. That way you can do an engine rebuild on the side of the road.

NOHOME
NOHOME UberDork
10/16/15 9:27 a.m.

Real men would have at least thought about pulling the ramp truck with the spit. Or died trying. Just saying. No Truck Left Behind.

And by the way, hope that no one send you a bill for the EPA clean-up on the gas spill.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
10/16/15 9:36 a.m.
NOHOME wrote: Real men would have at least thought about pulling the ramp truck with the spit. Or died trying. Just saying. No Truck Left Behind.

Been there, done that. Sorry, Volkswagen Rabbit and four-puck race clutch. You didn't deserve to tow a motorhome.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
10/16/15 9:42 a.m.

Actually, Tim wanted to tow the truck to the next exit with the Spit. Rennie said no.

They're good friends because they take turns being the rational one.

Margie

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/16/15 9:49 a.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: Actually, Tim wanted to tow the truck to the next exit with the Spit. Rennie said no. They're good friends because they take turns being the rational one. Margie

I'm sitting in my office laughing out loud at that idea.

Buying a 40 year old ramp truck that has not moved in 20, and expecting to drive it home- yea, ok, one of the two is rational. But adding a SBC to carry back in said risky truck? No- there are no rational people in this decision anymore. Especially when you consider that someone had the bright idea to DRIVE the SBC that has not moved for how long? Just to finish the crazy journey.

If it were a restored SBC, maybe there was some rational thoughts going on.

But not the package that these to goofballs put together.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
10/16/15 9:51 a.m.

This just in: I've been poking around the Spitfire, and there's absolutely no chance that the tailights were working for their drive home. The taillight harness is burned up and the fuse is blown.

The headlights work fine, though. They didn't even notice the lack of taillights–4:30 a.m. will do that to you.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
10/16/15 9:52 a.m.

Hmm, okay, I will give you that, Alfadriver. Let me amend that to "they take turns being the more rational one." Because, yeah, I'm not sure full rationality is ever achieved when Tim and Rennie are together.

Margie

kazoospec
kazoospec Dork
10/16/15 9:52 a.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: Actually, Tim wanted to tow the truck to the next exit with the Spit. Rennie said no. They're good friends because they take turns being the rational one. Margie

This cracked me up. I have a friend like that. Unfortunately there are, um, gaps in coverage.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/16/15 9:54 a.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: This just in: I've been poking around the Spitfire, and there's absolutely no chance that the tailights were working for their drive home. The taillight harness is burned up and the fuse is blown. The headlights work fine, though. They didn't even notice the lack of taillights–4:30 a.m. will do that to you.

Hard to claim they were driving so fast that nobody caught up to them. It is a Spitfire, afterall.

(and thankfully, it did not turn into an accident with someone approaching that didn't see them, whew. Easy to overlook, as one expects the lights to work more reliably than the front)

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
10/16/15 9:56 a.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: Hmm, okay, I will give you that, Alfadriver. Let me amend that to "they take turns being the more rational one." Because, yeah, I'm not sure full rationality is ever achieved when Tim and Rennie are together. Margie

Really, this is one of the best stories.

IMHO, David and JG should sit down with Rennie and Tim to translate the story. While I really like Tim's writing, the thought of those two putting together this epic story is very inviting. Like I'm laughing at what they will write already.

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