"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hello again, been awhile, hasn't it?

Oh what trouble I make for myself!

First, let's finish off some business from my last entry:

Here's some pictures of the Patullo Bridge Fix:

That's from under the bridge on the north side, south (surrey) end. Note charred and blackened concrete. Are they sure this repair is "safe"?

This is a longer view from the same spot...this "pre built" structure just happens to be the same width (more or less) as the very narrow Patullo Bridge deck. Convienient, no?

Here's a view from the south side, surrey end of the bridge...showing that the homeless are still, in fact, camping out under this bridge. Or, so it seems, they were...

Finally, a close up of the underside showing scorch damage. The sooner they replace this monster, the better...
Okay, so other than taking pictures of potentially suspicious civic eyesores...what other troubles have I been getting into?
Well, I helped out Gloria.
Gloria is setting up a DIY business with the help of her Landlady/friend/host in Merritt. She needed a few things for their home office...business cards, a network router, and a fax machine. These are all things that it is much easier to get cheap down here in the Lower Mainland than in Merritt. After all; they're just a Craigslist posting away...
So I found all what she was looking for, and for under 60$ too. But I couldn't find anyone who could deliver them to Merritt on time. Gloria needed the business cards particularily by last weekend for a local Home Show in Merritt. I didn't get the package together until thursday night and I couldn't find anyone who could get it to Merritt overnight in time for Saturday morning.
So I took it there myself.
Let us note two facts: my 1992 Eagle Summit Wagon is a beater. I've taken to referring to it as the "junk tank". It has a tendency to overheat and it cannot shift higher than third gear. Highway travel in this vehicle is not recommended. It works just fine as a commuter, but don't be doing any long road trips...
Merritt is 275kms away from Vancouver.
In light of those two facts, AND my need to keep my word and get this stuff to Gloria in time for it to be some help to her in her current endeavor...I hit upon a plan.
I would drive up at night. It was cold at night, right? Overheating shouldn't be a problem...
This plan worked...almost too well.
It began snowing lightly by the time I reached the Fraser Valley. This was at about 2AM...
By the time I reached the Coquihalla summit, the storm was in full fury and the roadway was beginning to disappear. This caused me to slow my rate of speed somewhat. By the time I got to the Nicola Valley, at about 4:20AM (no jokes, please), the snow had just started falling there. This after most of the previous winter snow had already melted a week or two before!
The engine did not overheat on the trip. But it did almost freeze. So did I.
I called Gloria at 6AM saturday and spent a couple hours napping once I reached the house. Then we went to breakfast at the local landmark hotel (whose name escapes me at the moment).
An hour later at about 11AM I was back on the highway, which had disappeared for the most part...with the snow still falling heavily. I joined a snaking line of fellow travellers plowing their way thru the ice and muck...for the most part, we followed the big trucks, there wasn't much else to navigate by. All thru the journey, I didn't worry...and I'm not really sure why. I had no assurance whatsoever except a gut feeling that I would make it back home safe.
Huh? Why yes, yes I do believe in Divine Providence...what of it?
But that's not the trouble I'm getting into now...
I need to replace the Junk Tank.
The used car market in Vancouver is realllllly strange right now. There's a very high end; consisting of listings for new or nearly new lease vehicles, with the owners wanting somebody to take over the remainder of the lease. Some owners even offer cash incentives and 1-3 months worth of lease payments thrown in to sweeten the deal! Then there's the very low end: beaters. One thousand dollars and under, frequently 500 dollars and under, with people just wanting these vehicles they don't need, and don't want to spend money fixing; gone.
And there's very little in between. With the current economic crises...most people who have a used car that is running well and still holds a little value, are keeping it.
Now, a few years back I used some "inside knowledge" about GM fleet cars to get a good deal on a "fixer upper" Cavalier. My Ex is still driving it, and even before she was my Ex, it served her and I very well. If a "fleet" vehicle has a known flaw that undercuts it's re-sale value, and you know how to repair that flaw for cheap; you may be able to find yourself a real bargain.
I was carefull, however, to limit my scheme back then to vehicles with a simple, four cylinder engine. Four cylinder engines are easy to work on. Some of them are ridiculously easy to work on. I have deliberately avoided "fixer upper" vehicles with V6 or V8 engines as I had a bad experience a number of years ago.
One week before L and I were married, I agreed to do a ring job on my friend Spencer's used ford station wagon. That's one of the few times I had to walk away from a job. Oh, we got the engine repaired and re-assembled, all right; but Spencer had to send it away to a real mechanic to get it running again. There was just too much about that big V8 I was unfamiliar with. I have avoided even looking at vehicles unless they had an inline four cylinder engine.
Until now...
I got a line on a 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan with a 3.0 litre V6. The 3.0 was an option on the 1994 model, and this one has a leaky head gasket. I've read the procedures, and I *think* I can pull it off.
Of course, it also helps that the owner is selling it for 200$
Then I got a line on a 1995 Caravan (base model) with the same engine and the same problem!
So I decided to buy both.
What's the worst that could happen?
Well...I could be stuck with two whopping towage fees, and find myself unable to effect the repair properly...and end up scrapping both for a 50$ tax credit (each). I'd still be out 300$ bucks net...plus the towing costs!
And I would still need a car to replace the Junk Tank!
Why do I do this to myself?


Karen said...

Stop. Just stop. I'm sorry, but as one with a limited income I fail to see why you would buy both when one would do. I hope you get out of them what you need,but decide on which would serve you better. That way you don't have to worry about disposing the leftovers.

brianarc said...

Well, I am contemplating giving one to Kath and Grant...SHHHHHH! It's a secret! Plus I don't know yet how well this will all work out -- or not.

Kathleen said...

Hey, I've already got one dead van sitting in my driveway, and two more vehicles limping their way into car heaven. I *almost* have Grant convinced to give Puff the magic Windstar to a charitable organization that will give us a charitable tax receipt for the value of the steel etc... once they dismantle it. They even pick it up for you. Hey, that's an idea if these don't work out. Did I mention I already have a van with a head problem? You know, the chronic smoker that the fire department comes out to investigate when it runs (I'm not kidding here, that actually happened)

I appreciate the thought bro, I really do, and if you get it running we'll talk......