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Cars > tamatt79’s Garage > Blog > Dixie Firebirds in the Smokey Mtns...


tamatt79’s Profile Photo


Tupelo, Mississippi
United States


tamatt79’s Blog Posts 1 – 5 of 27

Dixie Firebirds in the Smokey Mtns...

By tamatt79

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Well, this was an adventure for sure. Started out Friday morning, left our house and met the Sullivans. Left there heading to Iuka to meet the Bishops. Along the way i develop an issue. My tranny wont seem to pull in 3 or 4... Oh no... This happens at about the same exact place where i overheated last year on the way to the Trans Am Nats. Pull off and check the fluid, all is good. Scratch my head for a while and say lets try it again. Pull out and it shifts fine. 15 miles down the road it happens again. We call the Bishops and they head our way as i limp down the road in 2nd gear at 45mph. Long story short here, we turn around and drive 75 miles back home as the Bishops and Sullivans head on as planned.

The Sullivans offer to let us take one of their other rides. If you only knew how nice his cars are, you would know how big of a deal this is. We debated all the way home while we cruised at 45 in 2nd gear for 75 miles. We decide to take him up on the offer and chose the 79 SE only because i couldnt get myself to consider the thought of having to replace his 79 10th Ann car. as most of you know i used to have one and his is waaaaay nicer then mine ever was.

More to follow. this gets very interesting and funny...

So we unload our 95, and load up his 79 SE. Haul butt up to the mountains, now only 5 hours behind schedule, but on the way no less. Harolds car drove like a dream and 7 hours later we are in Pigeon Forge checking in. HMMMMM, we beat the Sullivans and Bishops to the hotel. Well, go figure... They stopped and looked at a car. :thumbsup: anyhow, they are on their way. We meet up at TGIF for dinner.

Amongst the conversation this evening, i bring it to everyones attention that i would like to switch cars with Harold. They all laugh because they had already talked about how Harold was gunna have to replace the drivers seat cuz with my butt being so drawn up, i would have torn a hole in it. LOL. I just knew that the 81 SE was not exactly the same caliber car that the 79 was. So Saturday morning comes and i say, "wheres the keys to the 81?" they thought i was kidding, NOPE.

So we are off to a very pleasent day through the Dragon, Fontana Dam and Hell Bender. Some of the coolest roads in the SE to drive.

Sunday comes and Panny and I need to leave early. Noone else is ready yet. So we head out in Harolds 81. A few hours later i check in, and the Bishops had left seperately from the Sullivans too. But they catch up to one another down the road, but end up splitting when they get to I75. The Bishops want a scenic drive and the Sullivans just want to get home. Penny and I stopped in Chattanooga to have lunch with Ehmig, (Scot and Lisa). If it werent for this pit stop, things from hear on out could have been alot different. We were about 3 hours ahead of them, but because of this stop, it turns out that we were only 70 miles ahead.

We hit I24 and homeward bound. Phone rings, its Christy. "We are broke down!" The 79 died on them on I75. Cant reach the Bishops, hes a mechanic for those who dont know. They are in and out of the mountains, and no cell signal. So we hit the next exit and turn around. Talking on and off with the Sullivans, i come up with 2 scenarios.

1) fuel pump
2) timing chain/gear

Well, fuel pump is easy, so i stop in Chattanooga and get pump/filter and 1" adjustable wrench. This would be to easy of a fix in my world, so i had already had it in my mind that it was the timing gear. Christy finally gets in touch with the Bishops and they are turned around too.

We get to the Sullivans about the same time aaaaaaand, well, it ends up not being the fuel pump. So i had already talked to Scott Ehmig about wreckers in case we needed one. We needed 1. So i call a friend of scotts and he says "no problem, on my way." Harold isw a little upset over the car breaking down, of course, and now we are sitting and waiting. AND WAITING, AND WAITING... Harold calls the wrecker man up, hes going the wrong direction. We are 40 miles north of Chatt, hes heading 40 miles south. YEESH. He turns around and heads the right direction now.

Well, being from MS, and being in TN we got to talking and saying, "what if he gets here and he is a bubba and driving a truck like "MATER""? We had a few laughs. After 4 hours of being on the side of I75, wrecker man pulls up. In a really nice looking new rig. BUUUUUUUT, as the picture shows, he has "Mater" on the side of the rig. Harold is a good bit upset now. Wrecker man loads the car and we are to follow him. We had decided to leave the car and come get it in a day or 2 and haul it home. Scott graciously offered up his garage. THANKS SCOTT! So now we tell wrecker man, we need to follow you, we dont know where we are going. "OK" and he jumps in and hauls AZZ up the interstrate.

Now imagine 4 grown adults scurrying around trying to pile into a 2nd gen TA quickly. i am sure it was a funny sight. Especially me, i aint a little fellar...

We get rolling and can just barely see the wrecker man. We are doing 85 and he is pulling away, Harold has steam rolling out from under his collar, and decides he is gunna call the wrecker man. "Hey, you mind slowing that thing downa bit so we can catch ya?" I guess he didnt take Harold serious cuz within 10 minutes, hes outta sight. Now it was a warm afternoon, but the temp inside the car was getting hotter, i know that TA's are notorious for having engine compartment heat transfer into the cabin of the car, but this was a different heat. Harold was boiling and it was hot in that car. About 5 miles down the road, i had already called Scott and told him what was going on and got his address into the Garmin.

Then all of a sudden, we see the Tn Blue Light Special... Harold says, in a growling manner, "is that my car sitting on side of the road?"

YIP, you got it, TN Highway Patrol had "Mater" pulled over. I think we are in a sauna now i am sweating so bad. We all pull over in front of the wrecker. (this isnt a good feeling) Harold gets out and starts back to the wrecker, and Mr Highway Patrolman sticks his head out of the passengers side of the truck and yells "you need to go on!!!" Harold stops and just stares at the kind officer. Now, Mr Patrolman, gets out of the truck and points up the highway, "YOU NEED TO GO ON, NOW!" Harold gets in and we, well he decides to go up to the next exit and wait. Now we are sitting in the TA, hot, sweatty and quiet as a mouse. Harold is really upset. And BTW, Harold is one of the easiest going guys i know.

Thankfully, here comes "Mater" We can get some of that 2-60 AC going. well make that 2-85 AC, hes hauling AZZ again. Not much talking going on in the car, Sonya calls. "Is Harold mad?" Nope i say, he passed mad 20 minutes ago. LMAO. We lose sight of this guy again.

The rest of the story gets to graphic to post! We finally get to Scotts house and drop off the car and shove it into the garage. Again, Thanks Scott, that was awesome of you. Just goes to show how good the Motortopia folks are and how nice it is to have friends like that.

The rest of the trip, approximately 5 hours worth were very solmber and uneventful. And eventually the temp inside the car came down to a normal and tolerable 85 degrees or so.

On Monday, Penny and I went back to retrieve the 79 and bring it home. It ended up being the timing gear. For any of you who own 78-79 TA's with the 403, please take warning, REPLACE THE TIMING GEARS AND CHAIN AT 100,00 MILES. That is all they are good for. And to any mechanic that wants to say they dont strip out while going down the road, you are so WRONG. this is the second time i have seen it happen, the first was me in my 10th and i was 500 miles from home with not many options on Saturday at 6pm.

Thanks for reading and i hope yall find the humor in this as we do, well as we do now. It wasnt funny as it was happening.

BTW, we have pulled the tranny from my 95, and put in a new one, and still the same issues. Ordered a new puter and waiting on the programming now to see if that fixes it. I hope so as we are trying to go on the Bandit Run. Not likely, but we are trying.

Have a great day!

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 10 of 18

CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
May 16, 2010 at 12:51 am
I love a good road trip with friends! Too bad this one turned out the way it did. That wrecker driver must have had some sort of problem. You do NOT treat paying customers that way! I would put the word out on that guy.
oldjoe’s Profile Photo
May 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Sometimes the Journey is better than the trip! But other than the inconvience of breaking down and delays the trip sounds quite ah interesting! LOL As an owner of an Oldsmobile or two I can sure attest to the timing chain and gear issues! Sometimes if oil changes wern't done on schedule it happens at a lot less than 100,000 I've seen em let go at 60,000!
red’s Profile Photo
May 9, 2010 at 10:35 am
Man mater got what he deserved
donnalove’s Profile Photo
May 6, 2010 at 11:51 am
That's some real bad luck therefrown image
gbennett002’s Profile Photo
May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm
My white 79 TA with a 403 has also had timing chain trouble. Just going down the road and the engine just died. No noise, no warning, nothing. The chain came off, broke a tooth on the crank gear, the chain slapped and broke 2 pistons, warped a connecting rod and scarred the crank and the piston scarred the #2 cylinder wall. And the engine was running fine. So yes, be sure and change the chain and gears.
Carolina_29053’s Profile Photo
May 5, 2010 at 3:24 am
Sounds like the trooper had a bad day! On the least you didn't slap a valve into a piston when the timing chain went south.
Silver_Shark83’s Profile Photo
May 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Holy Yackers man! The tow dude is comedy though! Sucks on the rides taking a dump...that can set the easiest going folks right off!
Glad all turned out as good as possible!
dragon_chick_99’s Profile Photo
May 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm
you wasn't very far from me and mike, we only live like an hour and a half east from pigeon forge. the 1st weekend in june you should come to the pontiacs in pigeon forge car show. and if your car is not runnin right, trailer it biggrin image
tamatt79’s Profile Photo
May 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm
Thanks Marcia/Mike, maybe it wont happen again, but we will certainly include you guys in any future plans up that way.
mmfryar’s Profile Photo
May 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm
Matt...that is too much!!! I can't believe that all happened. Wish I would have know about the problems in Chatt...we could have tried to help!

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