Cavallino 08: Heading Home
We had a short six hour drive north to Savannah before stopping at my sister’s house for the night. The plan was to leave Savannah at about 6 am to get Mark back to Maryland, and for me to drive the last 5 hours home to Upstate New York in one day.
We weren’t on the road for more than 5 minutes heading northbound on I95 when we were jolted by a loud bang. I looked out the rear of the car and saw a trail of sparks shooting out the back of the Ferrari. Mark immediately pulled over onto the soft shoulder. My mind raced in those 15 seconds trying to diagnose what could have made the noise.
After finding nothing obvious, and no leaks from under the car, Mark started walking back down the highway towards something large on the side of the road. Following a scrape mark behind the car, we found this three ball class three trailer hitch in the soft dirt! Pulling off the road must have dislodged the hitch from whatever it was caught on under the car. The picture shows how Mark felt about our collecting some new parts with his Ferrari.
Since there was no apparent damage, and the car seemed to running O.K., we drove the car out of the danger of being parked on the side of a major interstate. About 20 minutes of driving, the sun came up, so we pulled over into a rest stop for a better look at the damage. It didn’t take long for me to find the point of impact with our trailer hitch. The right side exhaust was all but completely collapsed like a tin can! I went to the rear of the car and found about 10% flow out of one of the pipes, and a little more out of the other one. My first thought was to get a drill and cut holes in the pipe before the crushed sections to limp home, but I decided to consult some of my fellow Ferrari mechanics.
My first call was to Sean, a co-worker at Sport Auto in Connecticut. I told him about our predicament, and he suggested looking at the header pipes to see if they were overheating from the restriction, He agreed that drilling holes was probably a good idea, and suggested to even try opening up the crushed sections with a pair of large vice grips. We pulled over a third time to inspect the headers, but didn’t see anything glowing. I even spit on the header pipes to see if any of the restricted pipes sizzled any more than the adjacent cylinders. All things checked out O.K., so we headed down the road some more.
It was now late enough in the morning to call François, and after I told him the story, her replied simply, “No. You have to pull over!” He explained that we stood the chance of blowing a head gasket if there was enough restriction on the exhaust!
I motioned to Mark to cut the revs back, and to pull over, because often times when François gives a stern warning like that, it’s not just theoretical, but he’s probably seen it happen!
Our first stop was at a truck stop to look for a drill. The owner was late for work and when one of his mechanics relayed the story to him, he was not amused or helpful. His thinly veiled resistance to help two guys with a “ferrin car,” had us heading back down the interstate looking for a muffler shop.
I remember reading once that the two most useful tools to keep in your vintage car was a cell phone and an Auto Club card, but I would have to add third item. I turned on my GPS box and found a muffler shop 10 miles away, and had it direct us to their door.
Bob’s Masterbend Muffler in Walterboro, South Carolina had Mark’s Ferrari on their four post lift in a matter of minutes, with clear view of the damage. I was glad we stopped to make this repair.
The owner assessed the situation, and was fine with drilling holes in the pipes to get us down the road, but offered to section new pipe in place of the damaged pipe for a more permanent repair. Mark, incredulously asked if he could do such a repair, and in a-matter-of-fact deep southern accent, replied, “It is what I do for a livin’!
He showed me where he planned to cut the pipe, and we talked about rewelding some of the old hangers on the new sections of pipe, and we left the owner to his work.
Within an hour he had new pipes bent and welded in place. The bends were not mandrel bends like the original Ansa system, but with the some grinding of the welds, and some black paint, it’ll be hard to spot the new pipe without a sharp eye.
It only cost Mark $120 bucks for the repair and we were only delayed 2-1/2 hours since our incident. I shudder to think how much worse the consequences could have been, but instead we made out easy, got a great story to tell, and Mark got a free three ball trailer hitch in the deal!
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