Jensen Across America


Well #132/5577 is now at her new home here in So. Calif.  (since moved to No. Nevada).

My friend Dan and I flew back to New Jersey, arriving around noon on the 7th of June. Mike Lotwis picked us up at La Guardia airport in new York City in the SP and we drove off to a NJ Motor Vehicle Commission office to get a temporary licence to move the vehicle to its new home. All went well.

Following this, a short drive brought us to Chez Lotwis where we were advised of the special features of 132/5577 and we then proceeded to remove the existing Blaupunkt radio and install a new JVC KD-NX5000 MP3 Stereo/DVD/CD/Navigation unit and its related Bluetooth module. No problems were noted and I had the pleasure of learning about how the Jensen's interior is attached.

We filled the fuel tank (first of many times!) and started out. First stop to be Nazareth, PA to see the Martin guitar museum and factory. All was going well until I was raising the driver's-side window and it just stopped moving. OK, we can deal with that later --- probably just a blown fuse.

A little later on we discovered that the instrument lights were not working. Hmm --- probably that fuse that stopped the window --- better check on it pretty soon. A quick look at the fuse box showed no failed fuses. Curiouser and curiouser.

At our next stop we purchased a Phillips screwdriver and a packet of assorted fuses. We then carefully removed the switch panel and tried to determine if something was disconnected. A couple of wires seemed to fit that description, but nothing in the way of correcting the problem(s) presented itself to our befuddled minds. We proceeded to begin replacing the switch panel and were rewarded with a dainty zzzt! Oops, looks like there is a hot wire around the right end of the panel. Now our radio and A/C don't work any more, nor does our fuel flap solenoid. Let's just set the panel in place gently and store the screws in the cubby. We can replace it properly when we get home.

Around midnight somewhere near Weston, West Virginia as Dan was cruising along and I was dozing in the co-pilot's seat The Prince of Darkness struck. All the lights went out! Dan manages to pull off the road safely and then it was time to go into troubleshooting mode. I fetched the multimeter (that I had brought along to facilitate installing the JVC unit) from the boot and checked for voltages. Hmm, there's voltage going into the "park light" switch, but none going out of it. The "Park Light" switch is well and truly knackered. Adding a "piggy-back" terminal to one of the lugs on the "lights" switch and moving the hot wire and the parking light wire to the headlight switch created a functional lighting system once again.

We made it to Nazareth, PA late that night and checked into a motel in the next town, as there seemed to be only one motel in Nazareth and there was no room at that inn (how appropriate). Next morning we headed back to Nazareth and spent a few enjoyable hours at the Martin factory. OK, time to hit the road and find a shop to sort out our electrics --- oh, and to install our Vehicle Speed Sensor which our GPS unit needs to operate. I had cleverly brought one along.

The first shop we tried sent us to another shop which was a great place. They repair and restore European cars, mostly Jaguars and Volvos. The fellow there, Jesse, found that we had somehow unplugged a few wires from the switch panel (probably when we pushed the JVC unit into the dash opening). He reconnected those and the instrument lights and the fan came back on. Jesse installed the VSS unit nicely and showed us where the wires were, since he had no clue as to the polarity required or if that was important at all (it is). He then opened up the door panel and looked into the window problem. Oops, the motor is running, but the regulator gear doesn't move. Probably a bad gear on the motor shaft. Put that on the list of things to fix when we get home. Last thing was to locate the fuse we blew when trying to replace the switch panel. I finally remembered where Mike Lotwis told me the radio fuse was and Jesse replaced it.
With everything except the driver's window working again we set off for western PA.

At this point of the journey things are going well --- except that the GPS is not really operating all that well. OK, time to change the polarity. That worked wonders. The GPS can actually find our location now!

Westward Ho! We make it to Collinsville, Illinois (right across the Mississippi River from St. Louis Missouri) which is our next stop and spend the night in a nice hotel room.

A continuing succession of restaurants and fuel stations finds us in western Nebraska, about 15 miles from Pine Bluffs, Wyoming when the engine suddenly stops. It won't restart. We use the database in the GPS unit to locate automotive help and call a place in Pine Bluffs. They send a fellow out to tow us in to town. Fuel pump is not working. They can get a new one in the morning. OK, walk on over to Gator's motel and spend the night. Next morning, head on over to the shop where the deeper diagnosis is that it is the fuel pump pushrod that is bad. They try to locate one without success, so they get an electric fuel pump and install it up front near the mechanical pump. It's the wrong place to put an electric fuel pump, but it seems to work, so we pay them and set out once again.

Heading across Utah I notice that we are losing fuel extremely rapidly. I pull into a truck stop at the exit to Bonneville and inspect the fuel pump. There is a broken hose and fuel is gushing out whenever the pump is on. No help is available where we are, so we fuel up and head on to Wendover, UT where we spend the night. The next morning we find a garage that fixes the broken hose and we continue down the road.

At this point the car is not running well, and seems to be suffering from vapour-lock. We stop every few minutes and let her cool down and she runs "OK" for a while longer. We make it to Reno, NV that way. Now Reno is Dan's stomping grounds and he knows shops there. We spend the night and head out for repair shops in the morning. Everybody agrees that the electric fuel pump ought to be mounted further to the rear of the car (something I was going to do once we got home) but no one has time to do it. We try to get a smog check, but the car fails. Finally we locate a carburetor and tune shop that can do the work tomorrow.

OK, another night in a motel and rise and head out for the shop. We go walking off for a while and I win $100 playing Blackjack at a nearby casino. We return to the shop and find out that the major problem is the alternator. I authorise Dodger (the mechanic) to install a better type of internally-regulated self-energising alternator as well as to relocate the fuel pump. It takes all day, but Dodger gets it done and the car runs better now.

Now we have noticed that the car has been using a lot of oil and that the oil pressure is not as high as these engines usually run. So we still don't feel very confident, but the trip from Reno to So. Calif. is made without any problems and incurs no oil usage.

Over all we put 3000 miles on the SP and achieved an average of about 17 miles per US gallon (not counting the period when the fuel line was gushing). She will be getting a check-up from my local shop on Monday to determine if there is a serious problem with the engine or not [They said that the gauge just reads low]. She'll be getting dirt from across the breadth of the USA removed tomorrow [Done].

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