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Can't keep a Stovebolter still
The Corvette Adventure

Continued, part Twelve

By Steve VandenBerg
Bolter # 6449
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII

  Vacation, Family, Deals, Thoughts, Troubles
Planning to bring her home
Seeing the sites
Getting into it, finally!
Let me tell you about Parts Chicks
Talk of marriage
Ready to hit the road home

Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Part XIV
  How hard can it be ...
Doom, despair and agony on me
Good ol' bailing wire
Surrounded by help
Lord, just get me home, pahlease!
Interesting people and places
Home Sweet Home


Part Twelve ~ Lord, just get me home, pahlease!

      When I crawled under the Corvette, I could see that the leak was antifreeze. I checked the harmonic balancer to make sure it was tight and then pulled off the torque converter cover and checked the bolts holding it in place. Everything seemed to be tight.

      I put the cover back on and checked out the antifreeze leak. The antifreeze was leaking from the bottom of the harmonic balancer. I traced it up to the bottom of the water pump. I figured that this was a likely problem, but elected not to replace it because you can usually nurse a water pump for a while. A new water pump would also set me back until morning just to get a pump.

      I checked the radiator level and topped it off. It really didn’t seem like it took a whole lot of antifreeze to fill it up.

      On the road again I went. Amps are good. Oil pressure is good. Temp is good. The clock don’t work and 65 mph.

      “God, just let me get this beautiful old classic Corvette home without wrecking it.”

      I remember seeing a big red spot on the highway and running over some deer parts. I started thinking that I sure hope I don’t run into a deer.

      “God, just let me get this beautiful old classic Corvette home without running into a deer.”

      I don’t know how long I drove, or where it was, but I pulled off the interstate and pulled into a gas station to sleep for a while. Someone up above was looking out for me. If I was still there in the morning, there was a NAPA parts store right across the street. I hope they have a parts girl. (Read Part V)

      I think I only slept for maybe a half an hour or 45 minutes. A Corvette is not my idea of a comfortable car to try to sleep in.

      On the road again I go. Oil Pressure is good. Amps is good. Temp is good. I wish that clock worked! Cruising speed …. 65mph.

       “God, just let me get this beautiful old classic Corvette home without wrecking it.”

      I filled up several times. I don’t even know where I stopped. I had to stop more frequently than I needed gas, because every time I stopped, I got another Cappuccino and had my own antifreeze leak. Everytime I stopped, I checked the engine and tranny oil and filled up the radiator. The radiator didn’t seem to leak except when I shut the car off. I suppose that the engine and coolant temperature rises after the engine is shut off and creates enough pressure to push the antifreeze past the water pump seal.

      Every time I got on the road again I prayed, “God, just let me get this beautiful old classic Corvette home without wrecking it.”

       Daylight came about somewhere and I ended up in Laramie, Wyoming. I was getting pretty tired and cranky but, another Cappuccino and I’ll keep going.

      I popped the hood and checked the oils and antifreeze. To the engine I added oil for the first time since leaving Carlsbad, California. I added one pint of oil.

      The transmission I had expected to leak much more fluid than it had because I was told that it had leaked a lot of tranny fluid before it was parked. Up until this point, I had still added less than one quart to the transmission.

      The water pump was still leaking at the same rate and I thought it just might make it all the way home. I had driven it all the way, thus far, at 65 mph.

      As I checked the oils and took a look around the engine compartment, I saw what looked like a spring behind the motor near the firewall. On closer inspection, I found that it was a bolt sitting on top of the bell housing (the bell housing is the part in between the engine and the tranny that houses the torque converter and connects the engine to the transmission).

      I was able to retrieve the bolt after several tries and burning the back of my hand a bit on the head of the engine. The top two bolts were missing from the top of the bell housing.

      I asked for directions to a hardware store and found it. I used the bolt that I had and got two new bolts and lock washers. I chose to not re-use the bolt because it was full of grease on the threads and figured it would be 1/8 turn all the way in the way it was. I didn’t want to have the clogged up threads making it harder.

      I found that that was a good choice. I bought a long needle nose pliers and a long handled 9/16 wrench. The space was so tight in between the engine and firewall, I had a hard time getting the bolts started and all the way in. The engine was hot, too.

      I think I worked on it for about 45 minutes to an hour getting the bolts back in that hot motor. I happened to look at a map and saw where I was. I had to backtrack about 13 miles or so to get to the road that would bring me through Custer and to Rapid City. Away I went.

      “God, just let me get this beautiful old classic Corvette home without wrecking it.”

      I took the car up to 85 mph and then 95 mph. It was as smooth as glass. The missing bolts had been the vibration problem all along.

      Now I felt good about the Corvette and could see the end of the rainbow. I was cruising through those windy roads and having fun driving that Corvette without worrying that something in the drive train would break. The transmission was shifting smoothly and the engine was running strong. Passing cars was great. I could punch it at 75 mph and was doing 95 by the time I was around them. This car was a dream at 80 to 95 mph. The confidence level was high in this car at those speeds compared to other cars I had driven that fast. I wanted to go faster, but decided that now was not the time.

      By the time I was approaching South Dakota, I was getting really tired. The cappuccino was barely working any more. I just wanted to make Rapid City and I would have a nice bed to crash in. I was having trouble staying awake when I was in the winding roads near Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments. It was less than 20 more miles to Rapid City, but I was too tired to continue.

      I rolled into Keystone and stopped at a friend’s house. I pulled into the driveway and climbed the gate. Stella met me half way up the driveway before she recognized me. I gave her a big hug and she started talking. I was dragging my feet and my brain was in a wha wha land. She said “Hey, you can stay the night in the guest room upstairs and I’ll grill some steaks.”

      That sounded great. What I would really like is to clean up. My cleanest pair of clothes were greasy. My arms were dirty and my fingernails were just black. I apologized because I must have smelled. I told her I hadn’t had a bath since Monday and here it was Friday already. ??? Stella said, “It’s Tuesday, not Friday.”

      I had lost all sense of time. I had left Las Vegas 38 hours earlier and had about 30 to 45 minutes of rest.

On to Part 13

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