So the 2015 Hot Rod Power Tour had officially ended, but there was still the Long Haul celebration. It’s just a little get together at the final stop the day after the final show, where Hot Rod and some of the sponsors say thanks for participating and do a few drawings if they choose.
For completion of the long haul you receive a certificate, and a tin poster to hang on your wall. Also: cool pictures and bragging rights.
You are also invited to drive past the Hot Rod Power Tour bus and have your picture taken as you roll past if you’d like. We waited for the line to thin out some before driving over to have ours taken. They haven’t posted them online yet, but I’ll throw our picture in here when they do.
After we rolled past the bus, we all met at a nearby WalMart to grab anything we needed for the trip back. Basically sandwich meat, water, and oil. At this point, Nate decided to go his own way and headed to the highway for the trip back. He drove almost straight back except for a rest stop to grab some sleep before getting back home around 8AM the following day.
The rest of us moved on to a gas station that sold local shellfish, mom wasn’t going to be happy if we came back without some of the good shrimp. I missed our turn but caught someones drive way instead. There was traffic, so I just drove through the lawn, sorry!
Then it was on to the highway, after stopping for some gas and an oil check. We made pretty good time, but Winston took to one of his moods (I like to keep him above half tank, otherwise he gets finicky) so we had to stop at a pretty sketchy station. We caught up to the tour bus though!
I wish I didn’t have to use that bathroom. Anyway, since it was about lunch time we made some sandwiches and messed with some nearby bugs. They had a funny way of scattering as a controlled group.
This was our first hint of rain for the day, just a light sprinkling, but we really didn’t want to end up in a thunderstorm on the highway. So we followed the beetles cue, and moved out.
We made most of the ride with only light, periodic rain. We even found Ali a Baskin Robins when we stopped for gas once again. We’d been on the lookout for one the entire trip, but had to pass on them as we were trying to keep moving. We ate some dessert, and then some dinner, and got back on the road. It was just starting to rain a bit when we left, but we quickly outran it. Once it started to got dark though, all bets were off.
As soon as we got through Arkansas and into Missouri, we got hit with some pretty hard rain. It was the kind of rain that kept you down to about 30mph and had you following what you hoped were the taillights of someone you knew.
When it got bad enough that we couldn’t take it anymore, we stopped at the first hotel we could find. There was an interesting character behind the counter and she demanded $80 for 2 single beds, how about no. We passed, and despite her swearing there weren’t other places to stay for another 30 miles, we found a room right across the highway. Like I said, interesting. That hotel also had something of a structural issue. Place is totally up to standard, I’m sure.
After some rest, we cooked a quick breakfast in the room (using a camping stove on a bed, safety first!) and headed back out onto the highway for the 8 hour ride home. Unfortunately, we only made it about 2 hours before I noticed a lot of smoke coming from my dad’s rear passenger tire. It didn’t smell quite like oil, but did smell familiar. It turned out to be gear lube from the differential.
The passenger rear wheel bearing had decided it was done. We pulled in to a parking lot off the highway to take a look and found a tire that was over pressurized from the heat. We let some air out and got the wheel off to get a better look. Dad cracked open the differential and pulled the pin that holds the axle in. Once the axle was out we could see what the real damage was.
Once it was clear the bearing was done, we used a magnet to begin pulling out what metal we could. You definitely don’t want large metal chunks swimming around with your differential gears and axles.
Next, we had to get the seal off and the bearing out of the wheel hub. Sam and Ashley had gone to a nearby O’Rielly Autoparts (the only parts store open on Sunday in Mt. Vernon, Missouri) to get new wheel bearings and seals, plus a new gasket for the differential. I thought now would be a good time to change my wipers, since we’d already had loads of rain and the old rubber wasn’t quite up to the task.
Since the differential fluid was leaking, it was spraying up into the wheel well. That might also explain some of the road grime I had leaving streaks all over the front of my car.
Sam and Ashley arrived with the parts and we got to work putting things back together. First on the passenger side and then, since we were already stopped and had the differential apart, on the drivers side as well.
Once we had the Chevelle all buttoned up and ready to rock, Sam and Ashley found that they couldn’t get their car to start. We looked at the condenser and thought that may be the issue, another trip to the parts store for one of those. Upon returning though, Sam had made the discovery that the points were not positioned quite right. It was a fairly easy and quick fix compared to the differential surgery we had just done. A few more minutes and we hit the road hard, hoping to get home before 10pm.
The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, Winston had a few more spats of fuel starvation and there was some on and off rain, but otherwise we made good time. Just as we crossed into Wisconsin, I used up the last of my 3rd oil jug. That’s right ladies and gents, I went through approximately 15 and a half quarts (nearly 4 gallons!) of oil from Wisconsin to Louisiana and back. Yea, I’ve got a small leak. Thankfully, we got back to Wisconsin around 8, another hour got us to Madison, and another hour from there was home.
We got back just before 10, and fired up the grill for some celebratory hamburgers.
Also, for bragging rights, here’s a picture of my odometer while we were leaving Louisiana and then another from when we arrived home. All of those miles, in just two days.
I also made a nice little video to sum up our return trip, enjoy!