Monday, August 21, 2006

Rerouted for Day 8

Torrential rains in the Denali and southern Alaska area around Anchorage closed the Denali highway so we had to make some route changes for Day 8. Teams turned east again, to Delta Junction and then south to Glenallen. After working the morning TSD section Dan and I did our usual worker task of chasing the rally all day so we didn't have many opportunities for photos of rally people.

As an additional day 8 option, some teams chose to take a side trip up the Denali highway from the Glenallen side, exploring the road that we had to reroute around. Reports are that they made it 80 miles through the scenic drive, up to the first road washout. Everybody said it was a beautiful drive.

Other teams took the Valdez option and continued past Glenallen to the coastal town of Valdez. After crossing the summit and passing through the rain clouds, the weather cleared and made this a sunny and relaxing side trip.

Dan and I intended to make the Valdez trip but had some trouble. About 60 miles from Glenallen, with Eric behind the wheel, the Saab made a loud bang and started running as if the exhaust pipe had fallen off at the engine. Stopping to look we found that the #3 spark plug had ejected itself from the cylinder head. This plug had been trouble before and a few weeks before the rally Dan had done a repair. The repair proved insufficient. We disconnected the #3 fuel injector and puttered along with three cylinders to Glenallen. Passing was impossible, hill climbing was very slow and the car was noisy but we made it. (Thanks to John in the gear van for sticking behind us.) Luckily this was a short day so we arrived well before the NAPA store closed. And doubly lucky, they had one remaining helicoil spark plug repair kit. An hour of labor rethreading the head and installing the repair insert and we were back to full power.

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