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    Thread: 2400 miles, 2 guys, 4 days, 6 gals of coolant, and a 54 year old Rolls

    1. Member geofftii2002's Avatar
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      09-06-2012 12:04 PM #1
      My buddy Jim is getting married soon. Very soon. And as part of my duties as best man, I accompanied him on a journey to collect his 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud (that has been in his family since 1968) from his parents house in Minneapolis and return it to Connecticut. The car is pretty special. It's only had two owners since new, and has always been in the Minneapolis Metro area since it was delivered. Its never been fully restored, the interior is original, the engine has never been opened up and it has simply been maintained, serviced and used regularly. The paint was done about 8 years ago and there was a bit of metal work that was done by Jim, just to fix a few little issues and preserve that wonderful body. Jim's work was masterful and the car is straight as an arrow and resplendent in its original black color. It displays a warm gloss that only a proper single-stage paint job can achieve. It's a honey.

      The wedding plan has always included the car. Jim's Fiancee's family is heavily into British cars and will be using their 35 Derby Bentley and their 59 Silver Cloud, so Jim's car had to be included. Heck, he was brought home from the hospital in it and it was the first car he ever drove - it only makes sense that it plays a role in his wedding. The only issue being that the wedding is in Connecticut, I'm in Pennsylvania and the car is in Minnesota. How are we going to work this out...

      ... we thought about flight options and how to get the two of us to MSP at the same time drive the car back and somehow get myself back to PA. Each option included leaving a car some place where we wouldn't be returning to. Also, airline tickets are $$$ and we are both cheap and broke. So, what the heck. Lets drive out in a one-way rental.

      We had a time crunch as Jim has only so much time off. We had to do this thing in 4 days total. Jim drove our lovely rental (a Chevy Sonic, more on that later) to my house on a Tuesday night and we arose early and set out on Wednesday morning at 6:30AM. It's been a long time since we've embarked on a journey like this, and we were excited to make tracks. The goal was to minimize stops and be in Minneapolis that night. That's more than 1200 miles from Allentown. In a Chevy Sonic.

      IMG_8670 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8669 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8672 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      Excitement quickly turned to a dismayed wonder at the fact that a car built in 2011 could still be so bad. Was this thing built in China or something? With fewer than 10K miles on the clock, it clunked and clonked over bumps, displayed handling best described as "wayward" and was cramped, uncomfortable and had poor ergonomics. The dash display couldn't be seen through polarized glasses... the seats were horrid... there's a tremendous blind spot even though the thing is tiny... it goes on. It's a sad thing, really that GM couldn't get this right. Lets hope the Cruze is better!

      But back to the task at hand. The only good thing is that the car allowed us to make only 4 stops over 1200+ miles. We achieved over 30mpg in spite of averaging right around 70mph. Only stop/go Chicago traffic kept our average below 70 at the end of the day.We each had our very first 5-Hour Energy experience (not nearly as bad as I expected), a couple of sandwiches, and we pushed through and hit Minneapolis about 17.5 hours later. Friday was a day to rest and eat normal food and spend some time with Jim's folks.

      IMG_8674 by geofftii2002, on Flickr


      Friday morning and we were up and at it early again. Quick breakfast, get packed up and load the car. A full fluid check to make sure all was well and it was time to roll.


      IMG_8693 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8690 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      Can you spot the 3 British cars in this photo?

      Nerves were a little on edge to start the journey back as we haven't given the car a run like this in about 7 years. So we were anxious about every little noise and smell as we rolled on. It didn't help that the temp gauge shorted out a few months ago, but we soon settled in to a nice rhythm and the car ran like an absolute champion.


      IMG_8699 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8701 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8705 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8709 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8711 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8714 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      The cruise through Minnesota and Wisconsin was outstanding. The car behaved so well, cruising effortlessly at 70mph and above without fault. We were getting respectable mileage out of the big-six and yes, it was most certainly more comfortable than the Sonic! Even without air conditioning, we had windows down and the air flow was just perfect. Not too noisy, not too buffeting. In short, all you'd expect a Rolls Royce to be.


      IMG_8717 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8716 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8720 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8739 by geofftii2002, on Flickr


      Once we got through Wisconsin, we crossed into Illinois and soon hit Chicago. That's when our trouble started:


      IMG_8751 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      See all those cars? Yeah, there were a lot more of them up ahead and it was getting hot outside, inside, and under the bonnet.


      IMG_8756 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      What we didn't know at the time was that we were losing coolant. We smelled a bit of it, but it didn't seem too bad and we knew the car had a drippy heater valve so we figured that was it. The engine was running strong with no pinging or roughness so we knew it wasn't over heating. There was also no sign of steam so we pressed on. Once we got through the glut of Chicago and the scariness of Gary, Indiana, we decided it was a good time to stop and let things cool down.


      IMG_8761 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      What you see in the blurry photo above is anti-freeze. Fresh green stuff was coming from the overflow tube, hitting the fan and being sprayed out the side of the bonnet and all down the side of the car. It was like it was painted with green watercolors. Oh, Sh!T!

      What followed was a series of short drives followed by stops to top up the hemorrhaging antifreeze. There was no obvious leak in the radiator core, and we couldn't find a source for the leak other than the right hand drain tube. The car still ran brilliantly, always starting right up after a stop and displaying no signs of overheating. So we felt confident enough to press on. We made it as far as Toledo where we had a welcome bite to eat, an even more welcome pint of beer and a place to have a restless sleep.

      The second half of the journey was more of the same. There was no huge puddle under the car in the morning, so thoughts of a rad leak were out. We figured either a stuck t-stat or a blockage in the system was causing it to be pumped out when the motor was running. We topped up tanks and bellies and headed out for the second leg of the journey. We limped along through Ohio and in to Pennsylvania. Allentown felt like it was 3 states away and we kept a nervous eye and ear on the car while we climbed up and down the western PA hills. After all those hours and all that coolant (about 5 gallons to that point) we had to make a decision. We had to try and stop the problem. We decided to try and pull the thermostat in hopes of opening up the flow and to help keep things cool.


      IMG_1789 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      Forlorn


      IMG_8771 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      It could be worse, we could be doing this in an XJS.


      We stopped at a rest area on I80 (one of those without gas) and after some hemming and hawing, set to work. Thankfully it's an easy job using the paltry tool kit we had in the car. A few bolts later, we had the thermostat out. Things went back together quickly and we fired it up only to have coolant gushing from the housing. We disturbed the gasket too much. This was bad. With no spare gasket we started thinking creatively. Chap stick? No. Twizzlers? NO! We had some cardboard boxes but they were corrugated and wouldn't do the job... but Jim remembered the box of granola bars under the seat! Non-corrugated cardboard! Wooot! So with a pencil we found in the cubby box and a box cutter that somehow wound up in the tool kit, we made a couple of gaskets on the lid of a trash can. Everything went back together, I said a few prayers and Jim turned the key. I'll be damned, the sonofabitch held!


      IMG_8774 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8775 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8776 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_1790 by geofftii2002, on Flickr


      So we made it the remaining 150 miles back to Allentown where we were greeted by my very loving and patient wife with cold beers and a bucket of soapy water for the car. Suds and suds. The car got a well deserved bath and we had a few well deserved brews to calm our nerves. We decided the best thing was to trailer the car the rest of the way just to prevent any issues in New York traffic and to preserve the car for the wedding. It was a wise move. Jim's soon-to-be picked him up the next day, and the Rolls was tucked into my garage for a few days until he came back to collect it with a trailer.

      As it turns out, our suspicions proved true. The radiator had a pretty serious blockage and it was pumping coolant out of the RH overflow, onto the fan and getting sprayed like paint out of the bonnet. The amazing thing is, that car never skipped a beat. It ALWAYS started. It ALWAYS pulled strong. It NEVER smoked and it NEVER quit on us. It used less than a quart of oil and the trans didn't leak a drop. It stopped and handled like it was new. There's a reason that Rolls Royces are over engineered. Sure, we went though 6 gallons of coolant and a couple gallons of water, but in reality, that was no fault of the car. It was just a matter of it showing its age a bit. The attention to detail that went into making it the best car in the world in its day shown through on every mile of this journey. I'll never forget this trip. It was a great, stressful, amazing opportunity and I can't wait for the wedding!


      IMG_8792 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8799 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8763 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8760 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8735 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_8725 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_1786 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      IMG_1779 by geofftii2002, on Flickr



      IMG_1781 by geofftii2002, on Flickr

      Classicmotoringllc.com - my new brokerage and consulting business based out of a lavishly converted first floor bedroom in Allentown, PA. I am always looking for quality enthusiast cars to consign, research projects or consultation opportunities. Keep an eye on my page as you can see my blabberings about cars and other such junk in the blog section!

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      09-06-2012 12:14 PM #2
      Awesome story! You should have just switched to DI water the minute you saw it spraying on the paint...water actually does a better job of dissipating heat than coolant...coolant is just good for anti-corrosion + cold temps.

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      09-06-2012 12:19 PM #3
      AWESOME road trip!

      I have family friends with a 1931 PII that originally was delivered to Egypt and later bought by a US Serviceman and brought back to the States. It's been in their family since the early 1960's.

      I've had a couple of similarly interesting road trips in that car, both before and after the engine rebuild. But it's always memorable!

      RE: The rad blockage--I had the same thing happen on my old '86 Quantum Syncro wagon. I did overheat it on the freeway in 95 degree weather...thought I'd blown the head gasket at first. Escaped that fate and then spent my weekend replacing the expansion tank, fan switch, t-stat, etc thinking that had to be the problem. Nope. Had the same fate as you, but with one crucial difference--the plastic expansion tank cap stripped out, which meant it would barf out a majority of the coolant within a few miles. I went through 20+ gallons of water trying to limp it the 225 miles home...and finally gave up about 60 miles South.

    4. Member geofftii2002's Avatar
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      09-06-2012 12:23 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by Mike VR6 View Post
      Awesome story! You should have just switched to DI water the minute you saw it spraying on the paint...water actually does a better job of dissipating heat than coolant...coolant is just good for anti-corrosion + cold temps.
      All we could realistically get was spring water and antifreeze on the road. We were using spring water and tap water knowing that the whole damn thing would get flushed and refilled soon. Thankfully the paint survived the abuse.
      Classicmotoringllc.com - my new brokerage and consulting business based out of a lavishly converted first floor bedroom in Allentown, PA. I am always looking for quality enthusiast cars to consign, research projects or consultation opportunities. Keep an eye on my page as you can see my blabberings about cars and other such junk in the blog section!

    5. Member abingdon's Avatar
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      09-06-2012 12:23 PM #5
      Great story (thanks for sharing) and beautiful car.

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      09-06-2012 12:30 PM #6
      Amazing story, great pics, and most of all BEAUTIFUL car. Thanks!

    7. 09-06-2012 12:30 PM #7
      Pretty cool trip! I've always someday wanted an old Rolls. My gf goes to school in Allentown and from always doing the trip between there through New York I can definitely say towing it with the issues was a good idea.
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      09-06-2012 12:48 PM #8
      Great read and awesome gasket

    9. 09-06-2012 12:49 PM #9
      Now that's the way I'd want to go if I was a bug.

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      09-06-2012 12:52 PM #10
      Holy Roller!

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      09-06-2012 01:09 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by geofftii2002 View Post
      All we could realistically get was spring water and antifreeze on the road. We were using spring water and tap water knowing that the whole damn thing would get flushed and refilled soon. Thankfully the paint survived the abuse.
      Right on, good thing the paint quality on that RR is probably 1000x better than anything we get on today's cars.

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      09-06-2012 01:16 PM #12
      Awesome story, and a drop dead gorgeous car.
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      09-06-2012 01:16 PM #13
      Nice story--thanks for sharing the experience. That car looks fantastic for the age. The interior looks brand new. In a way, it almost looks like a new car with an interior that was designed to look like an old one.

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      09-06-2012 01:18 PM #14
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      09-06-2012 01:29 PM #15
      Great story, that's one hell of a road trip that you'll never forget. Congrats on the impromptu fix! I too would have been concerned with coolant all over the paint, but it sounds like it survived just fine.
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      09-06-2012 01:29 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by geofftii2002 View Post
      All we could realistically get was spring water and antifreeze on the road. We were using spring water and tap water knowing that the whole damn thing would get flushed and refilled soon. Thankfully the paint survived the abuse.
      Distilled water is available at any grocery.

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      09-06-2012 01:31 PM #17
      Great looking car and congrats to your friend on the upcoming wedding.
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    18. 09-06-2012 01:31 PM #18
      Very cool story! Curious, was the car in Rosemount? The only reason I ask is I recognize some of the roads when you started to hit the road in the RR. Very nice use of the cardboard box! That's a story you'll carry with you guys for the rest of your lives. Bravo!

    19. Member geofftii2002's Avatar
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      09-06-2012 01:32 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by lojasmo View Post
      Distilled water is available at any grocery.
      When you're on the Ohio turnpike at a rest area and you are already a gallon low, you use whatever you can get your hands on at the time.
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    20. Member geofftii2002's Avatar
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      09-06-2012 01:34 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by VikingVR6GTI View Post
      Very cool story! Curious, was the car in Rosemount? The only reason I ask is I recognize some of the roads when you started to hit the road in the RR. Very nice use of the cardboard box! That's a story you'll carry with you guys for the rest of your lives. Bravo!
      The car lives in Burnsville, so basically just next door. Good spot!
      Classicmotoringllc.com - my new brokerage and consulting business based out of a lavishly converted first floor bedroom in Allentown, PA. I am always looking for quality enthusiast cars to consign, research projects or consultation opportunities. Keep an eye on my page as you can see my blabberings about cars and other such junk in the blog section!

    21. 09-06-2012 01:38 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by geofftii2002 View Post
      The car lives in Burnsville, so basically just next door. Good spot!
      I figured it had to be B'ville, Apple Valley, or Rosemount. Epic story. Thanks for sharing!

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      09-06-2012 01:40 PM #22
      I love road trip stories like this and that car is beautiful.


      I do have to say that I did first read it as "2 guys, 6 gals" and (for a split second) expected something else to be happening in the Rolls .
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      09-06-2012 01:42 PM #23
      Nice story. Nice interstate driving with a Rolls Royce minus all the hassle.

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      09-06-2012 01:48 PM #24
      sounds like a hell of an adventure great looking car as well. if i ever get another RR itll definitely be a cloud

      do those cars have the steam valve as well? if so at least you know its still working
      also... thats a crazy looking tstat!

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      09-06-2012 01:57 PM #25
      Cool story. I like the Macgyver gasket engineering

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      09-06-2012 02:01 PM #26
      Fantastic read, must have been an absolute blast!!!


      What kind of MPGs were you getting before all of the problems came up?
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      09-06-2012 02:03 PM #27
      Cool story, nice car and genius work making that gasket
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      09-06-2012 02:17 PM #28
      wow very cool!

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      09-06-2012 02:25 PM #29
      Wow, the RR is stylish. Would love to roll in such car

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      09-06-2012 02:31 PM #30
      Very cool. Subd

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      09-06-2012 02:37 PM #31
      What kind of MPG did the Rolls get on the highway?
      :gift:

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      09-06-2012 02:40 PM #32
      I think we were turning high teens to around 20 in terms of mpg. Pretty damn good considering the size of that big six and the weight it was moving around. That's not a light car!
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    33. 09-06-2012 02:52 PM #33
      great story and beautiful car. At that age things like hoses, wires, gasket, clamps, etc are probably starting to become brittle. It'll probably be a good idea to start replacing as many of those as possible and your kids and grand-kids might be able to tell a similar story 25, 50 years in the future with the same car.

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      09-06-2012 02:55 PM #34
      lol @ pics of McDonald's

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      09-06-2012 02:56 PM #35
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