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NATC Tour, Lodi
May 28-31, 2009

Bugsby with Stutz and Marmon
Bugsby (right) is parked with a Marmon Roadster (center) and a Stutz Bearcat (left) at the tour hotel.

The NATC (Nickel Age Touring Club) is the San Francisco Bay chapter of the VMCCA (Veteran Motor Car Club of America). This club specializes in touring with old cars. The 2009 NATC Spring Tour is being hosted by Jim and Marie Willette out of Lodi, California.

This will be Bugsby's first multi-day tour and Lynn wonders if he will be up to the task. Lynn has been gaining increased confidence in the car, but in spite of his efforts at cleaning the radiator and rebuilding the water pump, Bugsby still appears to have an unresolved overheating problem. A further worry has been a light "tick" that has developed in the engine following the drive over Mount Tamalpais on the drive associated with the Marin-Sonoma Concours d'Elegance a couple of weeks ago.

May has been a busy month for Lynn and Bugsby. This is the fourth event for them this month. If Bugsby makes it through this tour, Lynn has resolved to look more closely at the causes of the overheating and the new engine tick.

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Several views of Tom Batchelor's 1922 Stutz Bearcat.
Annie, 1914 KisselKar Annie, 1914 KisselKar Annie, 1914 KisselKar Annie, 1914 KisselKar
Vincent Bakrich's big and beautiful 1921 Marmon roadster.

The first day of the tour, Friday, is a shorter 50-mile tour to Stockton. We stop to view an extensive Pierce-Arrow collection and have a barbeque dinner at Willette residence. During this first half day Bugsby performs well but get hot toward the end. Lynn discovers that the car has thrown its fan belt and this seems to explain the hot engine.

on tour parked in Stockton
The Nickel Age Touring Club on the road (left) and parked at our visit to the Pierce-Arrow collection (right).

On Saturday it is a full day drive to Angle's Camp and the tour will cover a total of about 130 miles by days end. Midmorning and about 30 miles into the tour the car seems to be running well and Lynn, tempting fate, turns to Jeanne as says something like "Bugsby is really running sweet today!"

Apparently the car gods heard him and about another two miles down the road something important breaks in the car's engine. On a long sweeping uphill curve, Bugsby looses power and the engine suddenly changes its tone. They quickly pull to the side of the road to investigate.

After a few minutes, others from the tour stop and try to help with the roadside diagnostics. The engine still runs but it has a definite loss of power. By shorting out spark plugs, Lynn isolates the problem to cylinder #3. He cannot determine what the issue is with the cylinder with the items he has at the side of the road.

Bugsby disabled
Bugsby is disabled and awaiting his trailer in Angles Camp.

Clearly the car is out of the tour, but what to do about getting Bugsby back in his trailer which is parked about 30 miles away. After conferencing with other members of the tour, Lynn decides to drive the car to their next stop at the garage of Firman Brown in Angles Camp. Leaving the car at Firman's, Lynn gets a ride in the tour's trouble truck back to his truck and trailer. Another round trip between Lodi and Angles Camp and Bugsby is secure in his trailer where he will spend the rest of the tour.

Day 3 ride
Paula and Dana Morgan (left) share the ride in their Pierce-Arrow with Jeanne and Lynn (right) for the last day of the tour.

On Sunday, the final day of the tour, Jeanne and Lynn ride in the back seat of Dana and Paula Morgan's Pierce Arrow touring car. The tour takes them to the Ryde Hotel in Walnut Grove on Grand Island in the Sacramento River Delta. There they enjoy a delightful champaign brunch in the company of friends.

canted valve seat
Looking carefully one sees that the valve seat has lifted and become wedged under the valve. This view is through the exhaust port after removal of the exhaust manifold.

When Lynn gets Bugsby home on Sunday evening, he sets out to discover what happened to the engine. It doesn't take long to discover that the exhaust valve seat in cylinder #3 has lifted and turned sideward, preventing the exhaust valve from closing. The loose valve seat was apparently to source of the light "tinking" sound that started on the Marin Sonoma Tour two weeks earlier.

The damaged valve seat explains the noise but doesn't explain the overheating problems. It appears that Bugsby's engine needs to be removed from the car and taken to a machine shop for inspection.

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Last updated: Sep. 30, 2012