Driving to Dallas with No Brakes
This is a story about the cross country trip I made to Pennsylvania in my MGB. It all started after I painted the old MG in Dallas Texas during June of 2003.
I packed up the MG including tools and a spare alternator in case I had any problems during the trip. I left Dallas on July 2, 2003 and headed northeast to Pennsylvania. The drive up north went smoothly without any problems. I rolled into Richmond, Virginia for my nephew’s wedding in no time.
I took off for Pennsylvania after a three day stop in Virginia. During the drive I took some great pictures of the beautiful mountains of Virginia.
I then spent some quality time with my father and joined him at the church for lunch every day during my stay in Pennsylvania.
I also visited my brother, Jonathan, and his family. It was nice to see and visit with his new grandson, Mason.
The old MGB was running like a champ and looked great with the new paint job, but it was time to head back to Dallas! A-OK for the return trip.
I took off from Pennsylvania on Wednesday at 8pm for a long night-time drive across Virginia and got into Bristol, Tennessee about 7am Thursday morning. Everything seemed perfect until after I stopped for breakfast in Bristol.
After getting back on the road the car didn’t seem to have the power it had up until now. I didn’t understand what the problem was, so I pulled over at a rest stop and checked the engine.
I removed the distributor to check the points and advanced the timing. Then I pulled a spark plug to check the gap, everything looked great. After looking at the fuel filter I realized somewhere along the way I had gotten a bad tank of gas. So I removed the fuel filter and blew the dirt out of it. After replacing it, the car seemed to have power again.
After getting back on the road the car still didn’t feel right. The MG just wasn’t freewheeling like it usually does, so I stopped at a fuel station about 50 miles on the east side of Knoxville, Tennessee. It was lucky I stopped when I did, the right front wheel was red hot and smoking.
I grabbed a gallon jug of water I keep in the truck and cooled off the wheel and hub assembly. For the first time during the trip I was worried, I hope I didn’t lose a wheel bearing! I jacked up the right side of the car and removed the wheel and tire. Then proceeded to bleed the brake caliper and released the pressure on the brake rotor.
After removing the brake pads, I spun the rotor and it was free! Thank God it wasn’t a wheel bearing, I just repacked them before leaving Dallas. The brake caliper had locked the pads onto the rotor and caused the fiction that heated up the wheel.
Now what do I do with no help or parts for miles? Well I decided to drive the rest of the way back to Dallas without using the foot brake pedal. I only used the emergency hand brake when needed.
Good thing it is all downhill coming back to Dallas! I coasted all of the way back to Dallas just barely touching the gas pedal. The longer I drove the easier it got so I decided not to make any stops except for gas in Nashville and Memphis.
Everything looked great until I got to Little Rock Arkansas and the alternator light started to flash on and off. One last problem before getting back to Dallas. I tried to make it without stopping but when I got to the Texas border, the alternator light stayed on. It was about 8pm and starting to get dark outside. After turning the head lights on, I realized I was going to have to stop and change the alternator if I wanted to make it home safely.
I pulled off the same fuel station in Hooks, Texas that I stopped at on the way up to Pennsylvania (167 miles from Dallas). I’m glad I just happened to have a spare alternator in the trunk! The MGB has an electric fuel pump, without power the car would have stopped in the middle of nowhere. Right after replacing the alternator it started to rain, perfect timing! I got back on the road, turned on the electric overdrive and glided across Texas to Dallas.
And that’s my story, Pennsylvania to Texas in 27!