Thursday, January 07, 2016

5038 Brush fire 1 - van

January 7, 2016

There's a fine line between genius and insanity, 
but the line between beautiful and ugly is really, really thick.
– Mil Millington --


I haven't been keeping up with this blog because I've been stomping brush fires.  It's been one thing after another, and I don't know if it's age or just the way things go these days, but it seems like everything takes forever.  So much energy.

The battery in my van died a long time ago. Like more than a year ago.  Hercules gave me a jump one spring day, and I drove it around for a while to charge the battery, but then the next day it wouldn't start again (not even a rrr-rrr-rrr), so I let it sit.  I didn't do anything about it because I knew that the vehicle needed a lot of work to be dependable, and it was easier to think about buying oh, maybe a commercial van, or something, than to actually do anything.  So, in November I called my local garage folks, and they came and got it. They came out with some kind of electric pack, and they drove it to the garage.  They will also deliver, which is nice.  

So, they had the van for weeks.  The alternator was ok, but it needed a new battery.  And oil change.  And this and that from being left sitting for so long.  And brake lines.  Oh, and there's a gas leak somewhere, so they have to drop the tank to find that.  Then replace the fuel pump (gaskets leaking).   Every time they called with something new, they gave me an estimate.  Now, there was a definite communication problem there.  The numbers kept going up, so I assumed that was the total.  Nope, every call was just THAT problem.  In addition.  So at the end I was expecting a bill of about $1400, and was shocked when he wanted almost $3000!  (Something like $2994.)

I can't complain too much.  I told Mike I wanted the van to be dependable, so do whatever it needs to put it in very good shape.  I'm comfortable with what they did, I'm not so worried about the trip upriver now, but it was a scramble to pay that bill.

Then, the rest of the story.

The van had been sitting in the driveway for more than a year, driver's side about six inches from the edge of the lawn.  When the mechanic delivered the van, he parked it in the same spot, and I gave him a ride back to the garage in my car.  Big mistake.  I should have used the van to take him back.  Then I'd have seen this before he got away:

A surprise:

The fender:

The door:

The garage was closed by then, so I immediately called and left a phone message so there would be no mistake about when it had happened (or more accurately, NOT happened).   And then I took the van over the next morning so he could see it. 

Naturally, he claimed it looked like that when they picked it up.  Uh, no, it had been parked next to the lawn for more than a year.  There's no way it got hit there.  My neighbors can all verify that.  This happened when it was in your care. 

The scrapes went right down to the base coat, so he claimed that door had already been repainted once.  Uh, no, I bought the thing new, have been the only owner, and except for a scratch near the door handle, there hasn't been a single solitary mark on this vehicle in fifteen years.  I'm rather proud of that. 

He seemed to think he could get out of it some way until I said that it looked to me like someone parked too closely had turned into me trying to get out, scraping me, probably a large SUV or truck, and that the policeman had agreed that's what it looked like.  He looked shocked.  "You called the police?!"  "Uh, yeah.  If I have to go to my insurance company for a hit and run, they'll want a police report from as close to the accident time as possible."

So, they had it for another two weeks.  It now has a new door panel (supposed to be the same color, but it's slightly off because it's not as faded), and the dent in the fender is pulled out and the scrapes polished out.

This was all emotionally exhausting.

I don't want to dirty that pond, because with the van's dropped floor and 4 inch clearance, it can't go up on any old rack, so it's hard to find a good mechanic who has the right lift or pit to work on it.

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