I don't advise it, but I once got a rebuilt engine (by me) in my bug running at 2 am, got to bed at 4 and we were on the road to LA and Bug In 20 by 10 or 11 the next morning. Drove from Vancouver to Eugene? Oregon down I5, varying the rpms all the way. That night we found a gas station off the highway still open at 6 or 7 pm, convinced the owner to let us use the hoist and performed the 300(?) mile oil change, got to bed about midnight and slept in sleeping bags under trees in a rest area (again, right off the highway, even ran into friends doing the same thing, so we had to stay up for a beer!), got up early (7:30?) adjusted valves, woke my brother up and off we went, driving non stop and arriving at Orange County International Raceway for Bug In at 5:30 am Sunday morning. That was 1978?
The point is- you just have to have a plan.(oh, we were young and we were idiots!)
MAN, do I miss trips like that.
In the summer of 1981, two friends and I drove a 1963 Galaxy 500 from central Illinois to Rocky Mountain National Park. The car had 228,000 miles on it when the speedometer cable broke, years before we left. All the glass was intact, but the back seat had been removed and replaced with a lawn-chaise and the top half of a Craftsman tool stack. In the trunk we had a Yamaha RD400 with the front wheel hanging out, lid of the trunk bungeed down. We left at 1:45 AM on a Friday night/Saturday morning, after watching the midnight screening of Heavy Metal at the Madison Theater in downtown Peoria.
The first hint of trouble was just about sunup, somewhere around Iowa City. The axles in a Ford 8" are a press fit into the pumpkin of the differential. 250,000+ miles, and the weight of a street motorcycle in the trunk, a tool stack in the back seat, and 3 corn-fed grease monkeys sprawled across the car conspired to liberate the passenger side axle from the shackles of the press-fit. The entire axle, brake drum, and wheel started migrating outward before being halted by the rear fender (which covered the top 1/3 or more of the tire). As you might expect, this shredded the sidewall of the tire.
But this problem was no hill for flat-land hillbillies-- so we lifted the car up with the floor-jack we'd brought (also in the trunk), beat the entire assembly back in place with the sledgehammer we'd brought (front seat), and changed the tire with one of the 2 extras we had along (under the lawn-chair). We continued on our way, undeterred.
We gassed up and picked out a serviceable used tire in Des Moines, before continuing on our way. The axle did the jail-break trick twice more before we got to Lincoln, NE about mid-afternoon on Saturday. We were out of spare tires by that point.
I do not know how many of you have ever been to Lincoln, but there are only two reasons to go. The first is that it is the state capitol of Nebraska. The second is because that is where the University of Nebraska plays football. The 'huskers play in Memorial Stadium, which holds 90,000 people. At the time, Lincoln's population was about 171,000. They were playing that late Saturday afternoon. It was about 100* in the shade-- and there was not a soul in sight anywhere. Aside from Memorial Stadium, the city was a ghost-town. It looked like a neutron bomb had exploded, wiping out all traces of humanity, but leaving every building intact.
Denver was about 18 hrs from Peoria, back in the double-nickle days. We had been traveling for about 16 hrs at that point, but were not yet halfway. We jacked the car up on the sidewalk, and assessed the situation. The axles were no longer even pretending to be a press fit-- they moved in and out of the pumpkin freely with almost no resistance.
So, there we were-- 17, 19, and 22, shod in flip-flops, cut-offs, and greasy tee-shirts, all hair and sweat and testosterone. We had maybe $400 between us. This was gas and beer money, and no more. We weren't buying parts for a 17 year old car with significantly more than 250k miles on it.
We pulled the axles, found a rock, lay the splines on the rock, and wailed on them with the sledge hammer to beat them up. We slid them back in (gravel and all), lined up the splines, and beat them home with the hammer. We also made the decision to take the bike out of the trunk and ride it the rest of the way. We would take shifts, each of us riding between gas stops, which was averaging about 250- 350 miles. Keep in mind that an RD400 was a 2-stroke, and was not exactly Gold Wing comfortable. We rolled out of Lincoln at about 6:00 or 7:00 PM after finding a place that sold us two more used tires.
If you've ever traveled across Nebraska on I80, you know that there isn't much there. Lincoln to York, York to Grand Island, Grand Island to... Ogallala eventually, but not before you've covered a fair bit of real estate. The elevation keeps climbing, and a cold front was moving in. Stints on the motorcycle went from sunburned to frigid as the sun set. Sometime after dark, the front finally rolled in and it started to rain. None of us had slept for 40+ hours. I got off the bike somewhere around the Colorado border, soaking wet and wishing I could die. I was afraid I might not. I walked directly to the Galaxy's back seat, and crashed on the lawn-chair.
Some indeterminate time afterward, I woke. I lifted one eye (as only a 17 y/o can do), and noticed NOBODY DRIVING THE CAR!!!
It was only after I grabbed the wheel to wrestle the car off the shoulder that I realized... we weren't moving. Somewhere in the small hours of the night, my compadres, my partners in crime, had decided to call it quits and pull over. Dave was asleep, curled up by the passenger's door, Steve was in the trunk. The bike was laying in the ditch.
It was sunup, and the mist was already starting to burn off. I got out of the car and took a pee as cars whizzed by, honking. We were all awake, and silently took our stations to continue on our way.
There was so much more about that trip I'll never forget (including having a St. Louis city cop standing on my back with a service revolver pointed at my head), but that 24 hrs may be the most memorable single-day road trip I've ever taken.
We only live once. But I've always thought that if a man does it right-- once is enough.