Having successfully tackled the 2010 Peking To Paris in a Rolls Royce PhantomIII we decided to try our luck again in the upcoming 2016 Peking To Paris. By now we knew that we wanted a 1930’s open tourer /roadster probably of American extraction, their British counterparts being either to expensive or in sufficiently rugged. Nash appeared to be a good fit. It’s 6 cylinder engine was considered advanced for 1927 having overhead valves and a 7 main bearing crank. A 1927 Advanced 6 was located in California. The car looked in immaculate condition having won several local concours. The suggestion that we drive it back to Canada was met with shock and a refusal to countenance such a proposal! Having obtained the car the rally preparation began. A roll bar and seat belts would have to be fitted, a sump guard to protect the oil pan would be needed and the existing 6 volt electrical system upgraded to 12 volt. We removed the rear rumble seat for extra storage and stripped all extraneous trim to make Ruby as light as possible. The original auto vac was replaced by a pair of electrical fuel pumps and other systems such as the coil were duplicated. We would need to enlarge the fuel tank and have a reserve tank fitted.The fuel filters would need upgrading and the car would have to be rock solid.
From the outset the car was driven as much as possible and it was soon determined that the Marvel carb.was inadequate for the job and a down draft Rochester and later a Carter were installed on the inlet manifold.A sticky throttle cable was replaced with a simple mechanical rod after rotating the carb. 90 degrees.
We decided to take a trip to Edmonton some 1200 Kms across the Rockies. En route to the ferry we ran out of gas, an inauspicious start .A mental note to install an accurate fuel gauge was made! Over the Rockies the car overheated prompting the installation of an overflow tank. The car generally seemed to be running well apart from a worrisome “knock”under load.
The fettling continued . We made plans for a trip to Colorado to tackle Pikes Peak but in Idaho the knocking sound rapidly escalated into a loud expensive mechanical clatter. Ruby was ignominiously hauled home .The engine was removed and it was discovered that one of the main bearings had blown. A complete engine rebuild was undertaken with new bearings and the correct Pistons installed and balanced. A new rear seal and improved oil supply to the rocker arm were included.In view of the engine condition we decided to check over all the mechanical systems. Some spare parts were obtained in California and the gear box and rear differential were rebuilt. Having reassembled the car the retuning commenced.
An electronic ignition was experimented with. The carburetor was adjusted to the correct air to fuel ratio. Still Ruby had a major “flat spot” on climbing hills. We changed to a point system and adjusted the timing but no improvement . Finally we tried new plugs and not the fancy high performance platinum tipped ones installed. bingo the engine performed as it should. The brakes were refined and after much squealing bedded in. Much thought was given to the 3 speed gear box which has a large “gap” between second and third gear. An overdrive was considered as was retro fitting a 4 speed synchromesh unit. In the end we decided to live with the gear box we had.
We took a trip to San Fransisco to meet the E.R.A’s Trans America rally. On the way down the radiator drain fell out causing us to lose our coolant. The local Sheriff was very helpful and we were glad we had a collapsible bucket to gather water from a nearby stream. In Oregon the drain was fixed by an old school mechanic from his box of bits!The California the car coped with 35C weather and we managed to climb to the summit of Crater Lake at approx. 8000ft.alt. We fared less well as the temperature in the cockpit climbed to 50C . A note to install insulation was made.
We subsequently drove to Alaska and back . In Whitehorse we changed the two front wheels for the spares,as we noted the front tires were bald.
We noted that the front wheel was wobbling dangerously and learnt that the spare rim we had purchased in California was warped. In Victoria the rims were pressed back into alignment and new set of tires purchased and the rims rebalanced. On a final trip over potholed roads the temperature sensor failed and a simple thermal switch located in the top hose prove a much more elegant solution. With a final oil change and check over we felt that everything possible to prepare Ruby for her marathon had been done.