The View from Faraway Farm: Sometimes when it rains

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My fiancee decided to surprise me with an unexpected outing today. She said I'd probably figure out where we were going after a few miles following the GPS. She also allowed me a few guesses, and I got it narrowed down in about four. Lake George, N.Y. A huge car show with 1,500 vehicles. Mostly street rods and muscle cars. I had planned to drive my pristine Mustang GT over, but when I saw the rain forecast I chose the old Mercedes diesel. I never drive that Mustang in bad weather, and it gets stored all winter. Plus, driving it lately has been a real eye opener.

It was having some driveability problems, presumably based on electronics. I have my own OBDII code reader and we tried a few fixes that just didn't pan out in the long-term; something about the cam position sensors. I'd get them replaced and the problem would come back every time. Some perusing of the inter-web posed a solution I hadn't heard of. A simple but not exactly cheap fix is to replace the alternator. Evidently, there's a diode on the stock alternator that puts out some interference, or RF. The proximity of the diode to the cam position sensor messes it up and the car just doesn't put out the horsepower that it was designed to generate. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new alternator, had it installed, and I haven't been able to keep my foot out of the gas ever since. It's as if the car has woken up from a hazy sleep. I just touch the accelerator and it lights up the tires. What fun! What a risk to my driver's license! Anyway, the tires have gotten noisy in the past few months and I'm pretty sure they are flat spotted from sitting. The rears are getting low on tread, so I decided not to take the muscle car to the big car show. I think I made the right decision.

By the time we got into Fort Ann, N.Y. it was raining hard and traffic was backed up for blocks approaching Lake George. A simple rotary or two would clear that up, but they catch on kind of slow in the north country. While sitting in traffic we got to see a guy in a Mustang similar to mine light up the tires and do a huge smoke show, in traffic. I had to admit, it was entertaining. After about twenty more minutes of barely moving, I asked my fiancee if she cared if we skipped the car show and she said "no" and we pulled a U-turn. So much for crazy traffic.

I've never been to Glens Falls, N.Y. I've been all around it, but never through it, so we decided to have a look. Other than the lovely big homes on route nine coming into town from the north, it was pretty typical of that part of the state. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch and the same guy with the Mustang in Lake George put on another smoke show outside on route nine. There were so many great looking cars out on the road that I figured that we saved some money by not going attending, stayed dry, and still got to see a good number of very nice automobiles.

Little did I realize that we would be a part of the show, as well. With every town we passed through the old black Mercedes coupe got a lot of admiring looks. It reminded me just how rare these are, with only 8,000 examples produced worldwide. Here we were, a hundred plus miles from home in a 34-year-old car getting smiles from onlookers, 28 miles per gallon, and feeling no particular concerns about the cars reliability. The relatively new and modern Mustang is a comfortable car, but the Mercedes made the miles just melt away with zero discomforts. The engineers from Stuttgart really knew what they were doing back then.

In retrospect, we had a delightful day. The countryside was beautiful, and our leisurely pace made the trip enjoyable regardless of the rain. Was I upset about missing a huge car show? Not really. Traffic jams and big crowds are not my thing, and very few events in this world are worth it to me to brave those conditions. I just don't care for big crowds and all the bulling and jamming that takes place. I got to spend the entire day in a unique car with my best friend, and that was by far the most rewarding and enjoyable part.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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