Gallup to Albuquerque: More of a limp than a Gallup

Sorry about the late posting, but it’s been a complicated week. We left Gallup on Monday at an early 7:30 hour to connect with the Hays family in Albuquerque, N.M. About an hour or so along the way, while driving the Z, there was a terrible squeal and the car slowed. 

I switched it off and coasted to a stop. From the smell of burning rubber, I expected a torn or thrown belt. Instead the belts were intact. That meant that one of the belt-driven appliances had seized. I hoped for the air conditioning compressor. By the time the Jensen and the chase car came back, I was looking through the manual hoping to figure out if anything else would be affected if I removed the air conditioning belt. Rory waded in and cut the belt and sure enough, the car fired up. By this time we were very low on fuel and were looking for gas, but stops were few and far between.

(Click here for Autoweek’s Rory Carroll’s account of the day.)

About a mile short of the exit, the engine just cut out and I took it out of gear. I managed to coast to the top of the ramp. Photographer Ignacio and Rory pushed me to the crest and I was able to coast a quarter-mile into the only gas station. The same building was a Dairy Queen, and as I was to find out, we were in Bluewater, N.M. The only water was of the plumbed and bottled variety.

After putting in 11.5 gallons, the Datsun wouldn’t fire. With a little starting fluid it would run on a couple of cylinders, but Rory noticed a leaking injector, which meant it was blocked. He managed to pull several injectors, which we cleaned, and with some trouble everything went back together. After two hours, we finally called for Hagerty Plus Roadside Assistance. But, we were out in the middle of nowhere and it took three hours to arrive. After it was loaded, the hydraulic lift on the trailer failed and couldn’t be lowered. Once again Rory jumped at the challenge. After about 45 minutes the trailer was down and neither he nor Luke the tow operator had lost any digits or limbs.

By the time we hit Albuquerque, it was well after 4:00 p.m. and Joe and Duke City Automotive said there was no chance of the car that night and that we’d be lucky to roll by noon the next day. Back at Starbucks, where our team had camped out waiting for us, we were settling into work waiting for the Jensen, which had experienced three blocked fuel filters which had to be changed and later, replaced.

A little after 5:00 p.m., Joe called and said, “Be here in a half hour.” I was and the Datsun was running again thanks to a new coil trigger wire and a piece of fuel hose. Less than $90 later, we were all together again at Starbucks and ready for a great dinner at the Owl Café, which one of our Facebook friends had suggested.

All hopes of Amarillo and Claire’s 72-ounce steak were dashed, but we decided to make for Tucumcari, where Claire redeemed herself by booking us into the amazing Motel Safari. But that’s another story and a very, very good one.

Although it sounds like a bad day, it really had a silver lining. The DQ in Bluewater was by far the best place we’d broken down. It had all the amenities, a shaded portico to work under and plumbing. What’s more, we found a terrific shop and we were able to get back on the road when we thought all was lost for the Z.

Read next Up next: Tucumcari to Weatherford: All of the elements – rubber, oil and gas

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