Gettin’ Gas

It’s the end of the work day. I’m tired. I climb into Annie. I insert the key. I slip her into neutral. Depress the gas pedal. SNAP! Pedal goes to floor. Hmmmm. Crawl under Annie and find the hook attached to the gas pedal assembly has broken. I’m thinking the cable was probably original. Not bad for 43 years. No problem. I grab one of the two spare cables (yes two spares, chant the mantra, “Redundancy is good, Redundancy is good.”) from my  tool box. Easy peasy….oops….the cable won’t thread through the dog house. I pull the tube through which the cable should run and what do I find?

This.

No bueno!

No bueno!

Yes folks. That should be straight. Again, no problem. A few bucks traded at The Bug Stop for a new tube fixes all things. Now I have to address the gas pedal held down with a door hinge.

In Texas, we call this being resourceful.

In Texas, we call this being resourceful.

Yes the fix was supposed to be “temporary” and yes that was about 6 years ago. Don’t judge.

Life is Good

We love our Annie so much. However, we have been neglecting her of late. She sat in the driveway for several months due to certain needs. One being new tires.  Annie found me in 2005. The tires were all from that time and have been everywhere from Austin, Texas to Custer, South Dakota. Nine plus years on tires is not a good idea. Due to lack of bread and time, she sat silently, patiently in the driveway with balding, cracked, rotting tires, yearning for the day when she would see the road again. Well that day finally came. We aquirred new rubber from the local Discount Tires and the celebrated by going to In and Out Burger for a nice in car picnic.

Her paint is shot, peeling clear coat, rust holes in the body, interior a little shabby. But she still runs proud taking us from point A to point B with smiles and thumbs up from other drivers. The goal now is to put a new custom paint job, clean up the interior, and make her a proud bus again.  Stay tuned to see what happens to Annie. As we say in Texas, Ya’ll come back now!

Food tastes better when we eat in the bus.

Food tastes better when we eat in the bus.

New Wheels

The VW bus as a Daily Driver

I took this from another blog years ago, but it is so true. Enjoy.

Forget… forever onward what you consider the definition of transportation.

You are about to journey down the path of enlightenment, and learn the curious nature and language of a mechanical being. The Volkswagen is a peculiar beast, fed a steady diet of oil and gasoline it will move slowly from place to place.

Buses mark their spot. They pee on you when you least expect it. Like a foreign customs agent, it takes time to figure out where they want the grease. They take a little tweak here and there, when something not quite right they tell you if you listen.

When you hop behind the wheel of a bus you’ve got the best seat, as you’ll soon experience she’s a low flying slow air plane. Flying high enough off the ground to do an oil change, swap master cylinders, and cv joints without jack stands. Head and tail winds effect speed over ground, your steering wheel at speed is more for yaw, in the end she goes where she wants, or doesn’t.

Buy her quality parts, or she’ll spit them back at you. Your bus is half truck and half home; sometimes a magic carpet to distant places… other times a squatter. Wandering down the road with a smile on her face, the grins and thumbs up from those on the same path make her day. If you wish to show off your wrenching skills, she’ll humble you. Trust her, lover her… and she’ll be one happy camper.

You’ve got to love her deep down or she’ll leave you stranded, half the battle is the will to keep her on the road. If you don’t think she will, she’ll know it… scratch her rattles, lube her squeaks. Never forget she’s an aging mistress; her joints aren’t what they once were… if its cold it takes a little bit longer to get motivated. One day you will too.

You’ve had your fair warning. Spend your time cuddling and she’ll fire up when you need her, but if you’ve got other projects you’ve got to give an offering. When she humbles you, give a prayer to the gods of speed and give the bus in question a shot of oil. Mostly problems come from not driving her, buses get sad… some more than others, and if you don’t drive them they question your love. Miles are the VW anti-depressant.

Give her a pat on the dash and thank her for the trip at the end of the day.IMG_4473

Ahhh! Fire!!!

Ahhh! I left out the most exciting story of our vehicle repairs. Prior to going to the family reunion, Annie’s Generator light came on and stayed on. Belt tight ….. check, wiring ok…. check. Now we have two choices, voltage regulator or generator. As always, start with the cheapest solution first. So down to the Bug Stop to pick up a voltage regulator. The one on Annie is filthy and looks original. It is still the old regulator with moving parts.

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I pull it out and put in the modern regulator. Hold my breath, turn the key, and………dang it! Generator light still on. Dilemma, Family Reunion that we are hosting is coming up fast. We need Annie to transport five people and all the decorations, food, luggage, and other stuff to Crockett, Texas. I could replace the generator, putting myself in a real time crushing bind to get the job done. Or I can trade cash for services to The Bug Stop and have them replace it for a hassle free and quicker fix. Bug Stop it is.

So Matthew climbs in the bus with me and Cat follows in Jeep-Jeep. We crank up Annie and away we go!. We are about 3 minutes out when all of a sudden, the engine starts reeving up high. Is the accelerator pedal stuck? This has happened in the past but I thought I fixed that didn’t I? A quick tug upward on the pedal with my foot confirms the pedal is not stuck. Pop Annie into neutral and it’s still reeving fast. So I quickly pull over into a nearby shopping center parking lot and pull under a shade tree just in case I need to do some work.

I shut off the engine and hop out to go back and take a look. As I’m getting out, Cat has pulled up behind me, is getting out of the car and is saying, ” Is there supposed to be smoke coming out of the side vents.?” I rush back and see smoke. Thinking the engine has overheated due to the high reeving, I reach down and lift the engine door, just as Cat is saying, “Careful, it might be on fire.” Too late now as I am already pulling the door up. Now I’m hoping my eye brows and mustache don’t get burned off.

Holy Back Draft Batman! There is a small fire on the top and back of the carburetor near all the wiring! I rush to retrieve the fire extinguisher that I keep under the back bench seat. Cat yells, “You want me to put water on it?” I reply, “NO! It might be a fuel fire!” I sling open the side door, flip up the seat and proceed to toss all the junk that had been accumulating over the years on to the floor. AHHHH!!! WHERE’S THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER??!!! Oh! It must be in the closet! More Junk tossing. NO FIRE EXTINGUISHER! Cat asks, “What do you want me to do?” I say, “Get Matthew out of the car!” Matt hears this and immediately exits as Cat assists. He quickly goes back to Jeep-Jeep and gets in as per Cat’s instructions. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I tear off the jump seat cushion to check there, but still no fire extinguisher!!!! All I can think is, “Where the heck is that extinguisher that I know I have carried since I got Annie back in 2005?” then I’m thinking, “OK. Gotta call 911 but she’s gonna burn before they can get here. Poor Annie’s gonna burn. Crap!!!”

Then I hear this sweet voice from Cat, “Fire’s out”

I walked to the back and sure enough, it’s out. “How’d you do that baby?” Cat replies, “Well, I had a bottle of water. You couldn’t find the extinguisher, the fire was still relatively small, and I didn’t want Annie to burn. So I figured, what the heck. So I tossed a small amount on the fire to see what it would do. The fire got smaller so I dumped the rest of the water bottle on it and it went out.”

Oh Honey! You are fantastic!!! My wife the heroic fire fighter!

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Upon examination, the fire had left some crispy wires and the accelerator return spring was stretched out. Now I’m thinking, where the heck is that extinguisher? We called for a tow truck and pulled Jeep-Jeep in the shade to wait. Cat told me that while I was examining the damage, she went back to Matthew and praised him for his quick response and obedience. Matthew was like, well Ok, what’s the big deal? Cat then explained the bus had caught fire. Matt immediately said, “FIRE?!!!” Turns out he had no idea what was going on, he was just doing what he was told. LOL…

As we were waiting for the tow truck, I went back to the bus to roll up the windows and secure everything for the tow. As I was rolling up the driver’s door window, I just happened to glance to the storage area behind the driver’s seat. What did I happen to see? The dadgum fire extinguisher!!!!! GEEEEZZZZ!!

Now I remember! A while back I was digging through all the junk under the back seat looking for a tool or something and I saw the extinguisher. I thought, “Ya know. I need to move that someplace where I can get to it quickly. Because if the bus ever caught fire, I would have to dig through all this junk just to find it and by that time, it might be too late. It needs to be somewhere close so I can get to it quickly from the driver’s seat.” So I moved it to the little storage slot behind the driver’s seat. DUHHHH!! A lot of good that did.

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So Annie was loaded up and taken to the Bug Stop. As it turns out, the fire was caused by a small crack in the fuel line. Although it sounded bad, it wasn’t that bad. All they had to do was replace some wires, the condenser, a slightly melted fuel filter, fuel line, and the return spring. As for the original problem? The Generator was fine, it just needed some new brushes.

Now for the fire extinguisher issue. The one I had was a small kitchen fire extinguisher and probably really wouldn’t help that much in a real fire situation. So when Annie came home, she was outfitted with a real fire extinguisher.

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As you can see, there will be no more mad searching for the extinguisher in the future. However, let’s hope it will never need to be used.

See, I told you this was the best story of our vehicle repairs! Thanks Cat and Michael for reminding me to include it.

Catching Up

Well, there has been a lot going on in the last year. I started with good intentions of blogging on a regular basis, but as you can see, that has not been the case. Well, let’s catch up. Then we will see if I can be more faithful in our adventure updates.

Let’s start with our repair adventures. First came our Jeep which is named Jeep-Jeep after the monkey like character from the old Popeye cartoons that would hop around saying, “Jeep-Jeep!!”. As typical with Jeeps, It has terrible overheating problems. We tried changing out the thermostat, fan relay, and coolant sensor to no avail. We struggled through one of the hottest, driest summers in Texas in 30 years. Often times relying on Annie as our main form of transportation. Now I have lived in Texas all my life and have driven cars without AC since 1983. However, no AC in 116 to 118 degrees stinks. Even when you are moving, it feels like a blow dryer on high heat is blowing in your face.

So after eking out a summer of heat and no problems of overheating driving in the fall and first part of winter we saved money and planned on addressing the overheating problem by replacing the radiator and cooling fan prior to the next summer. As we were preparing to replace the radiator, I discovered that the transmission fluid line running through the radiator had developed a leak. This means I had coolant in my tranny and tranny fluid in my radiator. NOT GOOD. Fortunately we had the new radiator, but now we had to buy a new water pump as well because it was beginning to squeal. So, at the end of January, we tore the front end of the Jeep apart and this is what it looks without the front grill, bumper, and radiator. 

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In addition, we had to flush the engine block and drain and replace the tranny fluid and filter. Cat is such a wonderful woman. She was with me every step of the way, covered in grease from head to toe just like me.

Yeah! We had Jeep-Jeep running, now Annie had some relief and we had two reliable daily drivers. Well that is until February 2nd, when some @#&*%#! moron decided to put a brick through the front windshield of Annie. 

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I had been working on Jeep-Jeep which required me to move Cindy Lu out and put Annie on the street. When I was done, I went in for supper, and I forgot to put Annie back in the driveway. I never leave any car in the street overnight because there are too many idiot teens roaming the streets with nothing better to do than to be dumb asses and damage property. Well, sure enough, around 9:30, Glen heard a loud bang and we went rushing out to find poor Annie with a destroyed front windshield. If I could only find the hooligan(s) and be left alone in a room with them for about 5 minutes. I don’t think they would return to a life of crime when I was done. 

$300 and two months (to save the $$$) later and Annie had a new windshield and a happy smile.

Meanwhile, I decided to see if I could solve Cindy Lu’s overheating issue. After consulting with Kelly, the owner of The Bug Stop, I changed the oil to Shell Rotella-T 15W-40 and adjust the valves. Ta-Da! It worked. Now she runs just fine with no overheating issues.

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When it rains, it pours. Around March 28, the tensioner pulley on Jeep-Jeep decided to disintegrate on the way home from work. We abandoned her in a nearby parking lot, got a ride from a friend, and took the next day off and returned with Maggie, our 1993 Nissan Maxima, to conduct the repairs. In about an hour, Jeep-Jeep was back up and running.

Oh, about Maggie. It’s a long story but Maggie was my daughter’s car. She was using it to get to school in Lubbock about 6 hours away. However, Maggie’s timing chain is about to go out and she is no longer reliable for such a long drive. It’s going to cost about $2500 to have the chain replaced as the engine has to be completely removed. Oiy! The car is only worth about $800. So my mother-in-law bought the car and uses it for local driving. On the day I used her to get to Jeep-Jeep, she was road worthy but could not pass inspection due to a faulty high beam switch, which required the removal of the airbag and steering wheel to replace. That has been done and now she tootles around town quiet nicely. 

We finally had all the cars up and running that is until about two weeks ago. We took Annie for a 3 1/2 hour road trip to Crockett, Texas for a family reunion. She made it fine, but once we got there, the solenoid decided to go belly up. This required us to push start her to get home. Not so bad tho. We only had to push her once when we got gas on the way home and where we stopped for lunch. Now Annie sits patiently in the driveway until I can save up the $165 to get a new starter motor and solenoid. I figure if I’m going to be crawling under the bus, I might as well replace the whole assembly. It looks like the starter is original anyway. Not bad for 41 years old.

Whewww!! Well, that should do it for now. (Well, there’s still a little pesky tranny fluid leak I have to resolve and the replacing of a bolt in a torsion bar to stop a wobbling in the steering that has cropped up in Jeep-Jeep)  Some people ask why I drive old cars. Well, VW’s are easy to work on as is Jeep-Jeep. But most importantly, I don’t have any car payments. Sure, I have to spend some dough on repairs to keep them running, but it’s still far less than a monthly car payment would be. They are pretty reliable and get us from point A to point B in style. We just love when we are stopped a  red light in Annie and people are pointing, smiling, and taking pics. 

Cheers for now and keep on Dubbin’

 

 

VolksCruzers VW Show

October 2nd. It was a beautiful day. We were originally planning on spending the night in an old hotel in downtown Granbury then enjoying our day at the VolksCruzers VW show in Glen Rose. The economy being what it is, and our finances being what they are, we decided to just drive to the Vdub show for the day. We originally intended on just parking nearby, enjoy the cars and then head home. As we pulled up to the town square, we drove up to some barricades, at which point this man swung the barricade open and eagerly waved us in. Guess what honey? We are part of the show. We were guided into our parking space and a friendly club member who then told us we could register at the blue tent for five dollars. Good thing I cleaned the bus up before we left home.

So we popped the top, opened the doors, made sure Sock Monkey Joe had a great place to enjoy the view, then we went to register. We wandered around and saw lots of cool buses.We also saw lots of other fun cars. Including one from my wonderful wife’s home state.

We finished off our day by going to the Glen Rose State Park. There is a riverbed that has preserved dinosaur tracks (yeah I know! Cool huh?!) There are even more tracks exposed due to the recent drought and the river being almost dry. Don’t ask me how they were preserved in the mud millions of years ago, but they are there set in stone.

We then rounded out our day at The Green Pickle where we had delicious cheese burgers and fried pickles..( It’s a Texas thing). We had a wonderful day. I love spending time with my wife. She loves VWs and indulges me in my passion for them.  Cheers darling!!

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