Exiting from Mexico was far easier and quicker than I had ever expected. In fact I just drove straight out without getting an exit stamp in my passport or anything, I just passed straight through the customs area and over the ‘International Bridge’ to the US entry point. I am not at all sure if I was supposed to do that or if I accidentally short circuited the system but if all signs are in Spanish and you don’t understand the language what can you do?
I was also pleasantly surprised how quick and straightforward entering the States was by road. I had expected all sorts of paperwork and searches but again it was very easy with the exception of purchasing car insurance. This did present some difficulties that took me several days to resolve. Each State has its own rules regarding auto insurance and in Texas insurance is compulsory, which is pretty much universal, but to purchase it you need to have a Texas residency. The only exception to this is a ‘non residency’ temporary policy which in most cases requires your vehicle to be licensed in Mexico! When you turn up with a UK registered car and are touring the whole time then it causes difficulties. I was only able to resolve the issues by using my hotel address which is not strictly correct as that is also where the car is supposed to be garaged.
We made our way from the border to San Antonio, home to Davy Crockett, The Alamo and all that…. Bridget’s engine was still far from well and so I set about trying to resolve the problems. On inspecting the spark plugs I found them all covered with heavy carbon deposits that suggest either poor ignition or the fuel being too rich. The latter is what I thought to be the problem. I removed the air filters and as I did I noticed that they were in poor condition and looked as if they had sucked in a lot of oil. This was probably caused when the gasket failed the other day and I decided they needed replacing. These I had to source directly from K & N as the local distributors didn’t stock the correct ones for Bridget. I also adjusted the mixture control on both carburettors and will wait to see how things are driving to Dallas.
Driving conditions are now excellent with no concerns about the road surface or general driving standards.
We left at 8:00am under a cloudy sky although the temperature remained in the 90ºF’s. I discovered again that the American oil companies have little trust in the honesty of their customers; a situation I personally find disreputable. If you wish to pay by credit card it has to be an American card with an American billing address from which you have to supply the 5 digit zip code. If you have any other international card you have to take the card into the cashier and she charges your card before you fill up, but that is not practical if you do not know precisely how much fuel you are going to take. The only alternative is to use cash.
Bridget ran well as long as I kept the engine revolutions below 4,000 per minute otherwise she started missing. When she ran at the lower revolutions she was very smooth. I will now check all the fuel supply parts as this trouble was first noticed after filling up at a Mexican service station and we may well have got some dirt in with it.
We have now completed 30,000 miles and Bridget will soon require another service. I did source and fit her with new air filters and I will try to get some replacement points. Unfortunately having tried e-mailing three MG clubs in the southern states we have had no reply, so it would appear that where I had thought they would be as helpful as my friends in Australia, I was sadly mistaken. No matter we ran from England to Southern India with almost no help other than from the Maharana of Jaipur, so I am sure we can manage here.
Dallas, like most American cities, is very spread out and using a car to go anywhere is the only real option. As someone that enjoys walking I find this a little irritating particularly as they construct groups of hotels in the same area but there is little if any facilities within walking distance. It is the only country in the world that I have visited where this happens; even in Australia where things have become decentralised there are shops and restaurants around the hotels.
I have decided to up-stakes and move on a day early from Dallas. I have removed Bridget’s carburettors and there was indeed a great deal of dirt in one which I am hoping was the cause of the trouble. Certainly her engine is sounding good whilst stationary and she ticks over beautifully, but tomorrow we will find out if that has cured the problem. We will be on the road to Amarillo; I can hear the song already!