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The 2CV Alaska Challenge
Bulletin No.11. I JUST LOVE BEING UP TO MY ARMPITS IN GREASE AND OIL...
Terrace Bay, Ontario (250 Km east of Thunder Bay). Tuesday 10th August 1999. MILE 1097 (1782Km) of the 2CV Alaska Challenge.
Sunday 8th August was a good day. We visited Bob and Claudine McLeod and their son, Scott, at their home in Stittsville, Ontario (just west of Ottawa). Bob was planning to buy a Deaux Chevaux and the previous week they had been in Orleans, France, where Claudine hails from, and where Bob had his first experience of driving a Citroen 2CV. Well, whadayaknow, and then we turn up on their doorstep with not one, but two Deaux Chevaux's, with British number plates and the steering wheel on the wrong side and both cars plastered with the banners of our sponsors... I gave Bob the keys of the No.1 car and he and Claudine went for a spin while Scott photographed the event for posterity.
Monday was a bad day:- Jose took my mouse away, saying that I was spending too much time on the laptop computer. It was a tense moment, since I was itching to write the next Alaska Challenge bulletin, but, but... I had a very determined Dutch girl standing between me and the computer mouse, so we compromised and went to a nearby bar and got slightly drunk; and perhaps it was a good idea to relax over a drink, since it had been a rather stressful day, mechanically speaking.
Of course, on a journey like this I expected some things to go wrong with the cars, but it was a tad unlucky that we had problems with the No.1 car within 30 minutes of leaving Savannah and setting out on the long road to Alaska... ok, we made it to Toronto and the No.1 car was fixed (see Bulletin No.9), and all was hunky dory during our time in Quebec, but then, then, on the Trans-Canada Highway west the No.2 car decided to give us a hard time: the bloody thing gave up the ghost in Deep River, Ontario, and refused to start.
It was an ignition problem, we decided, after a process of eliminaton that left both of us covered in grease and oil on a dusty roadside. We needed to fiddle around with the points, but the bolts holding on the fan mesh cover had been tightened too much and the heads of the bolts wore away as we tried to undo them... Man, we needed this like a hole in the head, but violence prevailed and after much struggle with a monkey wrench we got the bolts undone: blood and oil mixed as Rob's knuckles were smashed against the raw edges of the fan casing. Well, driving a 2CV to Alaska seemed like a good idea at the time...
So, the fan cover was bloodily removed and the fan was taken off by means of a leverage bar and a big whack with a hammer. The whack caused a huge cloud of rust to fall from the No.2 car, but we tactfully ignored it and put in a new set of points and condensor; and it worked. The engine fired into life at the first attempt. Whoopee! we were on the way again, for about 100 yards, when the No.2 car's engine died again: the ignition timing needed doing, and we were doing it for another two hours before the car deemed to start again. The feeling of getting a knackered Citroen 2CV working again can be compared to childbirth... and so we continued bowling westward, chewing up the miles/kilometres across the spectacular scenary of northern Ontario.