The Land Rover Writer

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming in from the Cold

I try not to drive my Monza on the mainland in the winter because of the heavy use of salt compounds on the roads. However, the vagaries of securing a spot on the island ferry forced me to resort to alternative plans.

So when I had to be off island today to give a talk at the library in Tenants Harbor, ME, I found it necessary to bring the car off island late last week and leave it in the parking lot at the mainland ferry terminal. There it sat through last weekend's major snowstorm and temperatures of -10 F last night.


This morning, I brought along a snow shovel and boarded the ferry to get the Corvair. The island temperature was -3 F in the harbor; the "warmer" water created a layer of frozen fog, called "sea smoke," over the water the entire 90 minute trip.

Not surprisingly, the Corvair sat in piles of snow moved around by the snowplows over the weekend. A nice strong wind blew the cold through me as I unlocked the car - I was delighted to find the locks had not frozen in the cold. However, all the windows had iced up, inside and out, from the intense cold.

I turned the key and waited a few moments for the electric fuel pump to push some gas around; the car had not been driven since last Thursday. I pushed in the clutch to relieve some pressure and cranked the engine. It took several tries to get it to even cough, but it would not really fire up.

Out came the starting ether, purchased last week just in case, and a quick shot was sent through the air cleaner snout. I waited a minute or so for it to vaporize and then cranked the starter anew. This time it fired and stalled - and did so a couple of times whenever I released the clutch - but it started successfully and I let it warm up a bit.

Eventually the engine warmed up enough to get heat and defroster action and the car ran just fine over the 25 mile drive back and forth. The two lane road down the St. George Peninsula ran past woods and fields, where you found drifting snow blowing across the road in stiff winds. Nicely, the Monza did not wiggle in any of those gusts.

When I came back late this afternoon on the last ferry, the Engineer working that run gave me a "thumbs up" and tracked me down to tell me of his family's EM convertible. Another crew member asked "when are you going to get it restored?"

You have to love a 45 year old car that can still operate as entertaining, reliable transportation in the dead of winter.