We managed to drive around for a few hundred miles without any major disasters with the rebuilt engine, so we decided it was time to make a run for the border.
A few notes on the engine break-in:
Compression after 50 miles: 85, 120, 110, 110 psi
Compression after 150 miles: 95, 110, 110, 105 psi
Compression after 250 miles: 105, 110, 110, 105 psi
#1 magically came up to something not terrible, while #2 dropped noticeably. I’ll assume it’s officially ‘broken-in.’ We’ll do all this fun again when we eventually replace the piston/cylinders with a new set.
My past problem of #1 and #3 always running rich, that I had observed since Mexico went away. At first, I assumed it had to do with the re-worked heads. Maybe it was the valves. However, after 250 miles, it has now returned. I searched for vacuum leaks over the past year, and have done it again, but still have no clue. The #1 and #3 plugs are getting blacker and blacker, but #2 and #4 are fine.
Anyway, we’re on the road and climbing the Andes once again. It feels good to have our independence and freedom back. We were starting to get in a rut in Mendoza and feeling a little stuck. Once we got on the road for good, our moods definitely improved.
We stopped at the little cross-roads town of Uspallata for the night. This was the location for the filming of 7 Years in Tibet. We’ll have to assume that it looks like Tibet. Apparently, they shipped bison (yaks?) here from Montana just for the film – but we didn’t see any. All I know is that they sell actual Duff beer.
Climbing up the Andes was a non-event. This particular route is an easy gradual ascent that follows a river all the way up. This has got to be the least-challenging pass we’ve driven in quite some time. It peaked at only around 3000 meters.
Once we got up to the snow, of course we had to hit the slopes. They’ve got a short season here, and it was clear from the conditions at Los Penitentes that it isn’t going to last much longer. It looked so bad that we moved on to a little bunny hill down the road where Bode and Angela could get warmed up and take some turns. Their first in over two years.