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The Chicago trip impressions

Hello, fellows. Good to be back. Still have to go through 47 digests.

The red car performed flawlessly, albeit cracked it's windshield due to no
apparent reason. Yes, the one that I replaced merely one month ago. Not even a
stone chip, nothing! Must have been an internal stress or impurity.

BTW, this was my longest drive to Chicago yet. According to the computer I did
72 mph on the average (11 hrs net, 11:45 gross driving time. 10 hrs were mine, 2
hrs - the wife's).

Ohio Tpk was mostly construction and cops. Indiana Tpk was all construction and
no cops but the road pavement allowed only 45mph most of the way. I had to make
time by doing triple digits in PA (yes, in the home state. I know, it's a total
lunacy but I got lucky. Or maybe it's my trusty Valentine and the CB radio. Yep,
mostly the CB :-).

The highlights of the trip:

1. The "Quidam" show by Cirque du Soleil. Excuse the cliché, but it was nothing
short of breathtaking. For those who have not yet seen it: run, not walk.
They'll be in Chicago till the 12th of September. Then - the last leg of the
tour in Washington, DC. After which - Europe for 3 years.
A few people have asked me if it were a circus. NO! 
It's an allegorical, theatrical show. As if Lewis Carroll for the scenic version
of Alice invited Federico Fellini to write the script, Salvador Dali for
costumes and decorations and commissioned Tangerine Dream to write music. Oh,
and the whole thing was executed very tastefully in a true French fashion.

2. The meeting with Scott Justusson and Bob Dupree. Finally, after several years
of communicating with you guys I got to meet you in person.
Scott treated me to a flight in the PDQSHIP (with RS2 turbo and all :-).
Bob demonstrated the LT-1 to 5000cs grafting process, Pavlov style :-). The car
is still on the stands but the engine is already in the bay. Supported by a
wooden block in the front for the time being, but the hood clears the valve
cover in the closed position. Yep, I asked for a demonstration coz it was not
readily apparent and I doubted that Bob and Scott would opt for a
wanna-look-fast cut out and scoop Mustang style. Good luck, fellows, you work
wins admiration. Thanks for that dark micro brew, I never suspected that an
American made beer could be this good.

3. The friends that hosted us, lost one car to a semi (a Civic of all makes to
collide with a semi! Wife at the wheel, both kids [4 years and 9 mos] in the
back, automatic transmission, H-rated all-season rubber; she hit the brakes and
slid right into the semi at an intersection).
It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that those of us who took time
and effort to learn how to drive well, did so out of sheer enthusiasm and
strictly for fun. Seldom does it occur to them that the real reason is much more
prosaic: unwillingness to get killed in the accident.

Their other car (GEO, a.k.a. Corolla) died on the road shortly after.
I brought my tool box to the Amoco station where this POS come to R.I.P. and
tested for spark and fuel. All present. Tested for vacuum leaks even though it
was an EFI car. Tested for all other possible reasons that I new of. Nothing.
No start, engine backfires. Aha! The timing's off- thinks me, while removing the
timing belt cover.
It must be noted that I have no clue as to where the timing marks on a Toyota
engine must reside at TDC (nor am I willing to learn it in the foreseen future),
but once I rotated the crank to the TDC mark on the pulley, I noticed that the
cam pulley mark was positioned kinda illogically. I figured that even if it were
an interference engine I could still play a ±1 tooth game. I pulled the belt off
and turned the cam one tooth to the position that seemed logical.
SOB started right up. Long live common sence!
We made it home OK, although the car did not have any power and was pinging
under any minor load. Evidently the belt jumped 2 teeth and returning it one
tooth back was not enough. At 94kmi my friend was lucky the belt did not break
Next day a local garage did all belts and seals and the car ran fine ever since.

BTW, he's now looking to buy either an '98 A4TQ or a '99 Passat 1.8T as a
replacement for that Civic. One more convert in the Audi camp. Too bad most of
the time it takes to survive a collision in an Asian made car in order to

Igor Kessel
'89 200TQ -- 18psi (TAP)
'98 A4TQ -- mostly stock
Philadelphia, PA