US Road Trip Epilog: 5th July 2005

In the morning Festerlings Auto Service diagnose a worn fan clutch, which is what I suspected. You may well wonder how I would know that, and it's a good question. The reason is that Jim Cannon from Texas, who's been in email and phone contact since the beginning of the road trip back in February, had diagnosed from these pages that the car was running too hot and that the fan clutch would be at fault. He worked this out two weeks ago, back in Charleston, and how he did it I'll never know.

What I should have done, of course, is to have followed Jim's advice and have it replaced at the time. As it is, the fan clutch (which hasn't been cooling the engine properly for some miles) is now in terminal decline and is seizing. This causes it to actually work, for a change, and make a sound like a small hovercraft as it cools the radiator - the noise we'd heard yesterday on the way into town. Somebody ought to go out and drag his forehead along a concrete wall until it hurts, and I've a strong feeling it's me.

Jim had also given me the part number for the replacement, which I'd written down on a bit of paper and kept with me along the way. Festerlings can get the part, but can't fit it til later that afternoon. Time, then, to find a motel in Petoskey that's a bit nearer to to the town centre. The Perry Hotel, an older place in the middle of town, looks far too expensive for the likes of us. As it is the rooms are only $80 a night, and they're claiming wireless internet access. That'll do.

The waterfront at Petoskey
A boat leaves the marina at Petoskey.

With some hours to kill, it's time for a closer look at Petoskey. The town centre still looks like a film set of a typical US small town, complete with smiling pedestrians and kids on bikes. The marina area includes a museum, which we visit for the want of anything else to do. Did you know that Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time around here - his family still have a property - and that Petoskey is famous as the place where so many of the Passenger Pigeon population, once quite common, were made extinct as a species? No, nor me.

New fan clutch
The new fan clutch is the bit on the bottom of the photo, with the fins, under the newish water pump. Just to the left, and unfortunately out of shot, is the still-fairly-new alternator. By the end of the road trip the car will be like Lincoln's axe, completely original apart from five new handles and two new heads.

I leave Alex drowning whatever he wants to drown in a bar- I think he's still annoyed by the French Canadians at that hotel in Montreal - and take the car to be fixed. Half an hour, and $156, later there's a new shiny bit under the hood. The traffic around Petoskey is congested but one thing is obvious - the car is noisier (with a working fan clutch) but much healthier.

Since we couldn't celebrate the 4th properly, we do so on the 5th. I'd like to think that Petoskey will forever look favourably on the English following our visit, but it may not be so.

US Road Trip Epilog: 6th July 2005 >