Friday, January 25, 2008

The Ongoing Saga of the '86 740 Volvo Turbo Diesel Wagon

So the old car was left behind in Asheville, North Carolina at Elijah's house, and I traveled home with mom and Bev. Now here I am a few weeks later back in Asheville, thanks to really cheap airfare on Skybus, and I have been trying to find out what was wrong with the old beast.

I posted on Craig's List asking for a diesel mechanic in Asheville. Gerald wasn't returning my calls, or perhaps I had the wrong number, which was quite possible. I received an e-mail from a guy whose e-mail address was volvoist@.... Well that was promising, but he turned out to be from New Jersey, and just loved these old cars. He once had an old Volvo Diesel, and wrote like someone who knew these well. We wrote back and forth, and he suggested that the head gasket was blown as one of his first thoughts.

Then Charlie called, "I'm not a mechanic, but I've got a Volkswagon Rabbit Diesel truck, and over the last four years I've gotten to know these engines pretty well." You see, the old Volvo has a Volkswagon engine. He offered to check it out for $10 an hour - $15 for repairing.

Charlie came over. He looked at the car, and was totally excited, "This is a really rare car. Not many of these were made, and it's a wagon!"

He tried all kinds of ways to get it going - but no go. We wrote back and forth to Mike the Volvoist Dude a few times, and he kept saying "Sounds like a head gasket to me. These cars are finicky, and often will not start if the head gasket is blown."

This was a few days ago. Well now, a blown head gasket might not be much in parts, but it is much in either time or money. Since I live in Massachusetts time in North Carolina fixing a car is the same as money. So I reluctantly put the old beast on Craig's List one more time - for sale. This did not make me happy. I had been troubled by what looks like a loose-loose situation.

Sell the car and need another vehicle to pull the trailer in the next few months, or spend money fixing something that I really don't have the money or time to fix. So Craig's list it was. This morning the car went on the list at about 9:30am.

Around 10am Charlie called. He saw the car on Craig's List.

"So, you're gonna sell it, huh?"

"Yeah. I hate to, but I don't have the time r money to fix it."

"That's too bad, but I'm excited. I'll buy it from you." Charlie said.

It kinda takes the sting out of selling it. I like Charlie. He loves the car, and will keep the old beast going, and it will definitely become what it was destined to be - a grease car. Charlie hasn't paid for gas in a few years. He and his buddies make bio-diesel, and he runs completely off that.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

HERETIC OR HEALER? - I sure hope Spencer Burke is correct

So, I never really finished the book by Spencer Burke called "The Heretics Guide to Eternity," but I guess it's time. The Salem Gazette came out with bold creepy looking letters in extra large font on the front page yesterday asking people to consider whether I was a "HERETIC OR HEALER". They posted the question above this nice, but dark mysterious photo.
Of course, I am being contrasted with one of the Halloween sign wielding, bullhorn preachers from Repent America, but it still is a little a strange to be placed in the heretic category by people who do not know what I believe, or whose doctrine is further from historic orthodoxy than my own.

So what's a guy to do. Turn the page and read the whole article I guess, then look at the milder photos. Actually they are all great photos - good job David!
I guess I'll finish reading Spencer's book, and see how to get to heaven. All tnhis because I have friends who are Witches.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day Five to Asheville - Sunday, December 30th - 28 miles to go!

Five days to Asheville - this is getting ridiculous. It shoul dhave been two, but driving between 40 and 60 MPH had slowed us down. Worse yet, having to drive only by day, because the alternator was charging too little, and hitting the New York, New Jersey traffic made it slower still.

(When I wrote this sentence originally I mistyped alternator as "laternator." Seems so appropriate now.)

After stopping the night before, I let the engine run for a few minutes, and hoped to recharge the battery once again. During the evening I was able to watch the Patriots conclude their regular season with the perfect 16-0 record with the come from behind win against the Giants. Even my mom enjoyed that game.

It was raining. I put on my trademark Gortex hat and went out to the start the car. The battery was low, and so I found a guy with a pickup truck to help me jump the car. He pulled up to help me out, and we let the battery charge a bit while we stood and talked in the drizzling cold rain. He was headed to California for a 3 month long job as a boiler repair guy at a refinery in LA.

Once I went to the start the car I would not start up. I had no sense of engine problems upon letting it idle the night before, but no matter how much I tried the car would not start. It had lots of charge, and even sounded like it had fuel getting to it each time I initially turned the key, but it would not start.

My new found friend from Florida who was headed to California stayed to help. We stood in the slowly increasing rain, and tried several times. A diesel emergency repair truck came into the parking lot. The shop happened to be right in front of my car, and they were working on this Sunday morning. The owner of the shop was in the truck, and I thought that this was exactly what I needed. He pulled out the ether to work his magic, but the car still would not start. He stood and looked at it and said, "It got spark. It sounds like its getting fuel. I been doin' this fer 22 years, and I can't say I ever seen somethin' like this. It won't even take the ether."

Great. So I have the unique situation with my '86 740 Volvo Diesel wagon. Unique cars - unique problems I guess.

We said goodbye to our friend from Florida, and called Elijah and Rhonda. They drove up to Waynesville from Asheville to pick us up.

We left the Volvo and the trailer at Midway Motel in Waynesville, NC on Sunday, December 3, and 28 miles later we were at Elijah and Rhonda's house in Asheville, NC - but their house is another tale. The tale of the 1986 740 Volvo diesel wagon will continue tomorrow. Tomorrow would be Monday and we could deal with it then.

Fourth Day to Asheville - Saturday, December 29th - Over the Great Smoky Mountains

Sorry for posting this late. I did not have internet access on the final part of the trip, and was busy working on Elijah's place once we got to Asheville. We are home now, but here is the continuing story - in a couple posts

The Ramada Inn in Harrisonburg, VA has a breakfast as part of the deal. They also require that someone with a pet sign a paper saying that they will not leave the pet in the room alone. Bev and mom had some breakfast. I stayed with Crash the Hound in the room. They brought me some biscuits and gravy, even though I had hoped to go to the breakfast room myself, but I ate quickly and started the the old 740.

This morning "the beast" started up immediately. I have become pretty good at backing the Volvo up to the trailer hitch, and don't need someone to stand there and line me up. I had backed the ball under the trailer hitch the night before in the rain, and was able to simply drop the hitch down an the ball, hook up the lights, and make sure everything was ready to go.

We packed our few bags and Crash the Hound, and were headed for the Great Smoky Mountains.

The day before Highway 81 took us along the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the old Volvo 740 diesel beast took some of the hills easily at 60 MPH, and others dragged on long at 40-45 MPH. At one point I had to pass someone on a hill, because they were going so slow, and I remarked that this was probably the third vehicle I had passed in three days. Even the big rigs were passing me on the hills.

The day looked something like this: Drive for an hour. Pull over and add some water. Drive an hour. Get some gas, and check the coolant again. Drive an hour. Get some lunch. Check the coolant. Drive again. Always I watched the temperature as I drove up the hills.

I had previously been warned by Elijah not to take route 26 from the 81 down to Asheville, because it is a steep difficult climb into the mountains. Instead we opted to take a longer route. We would travel into Tennessee, and take the 40 east back into Asheville. According to a few friends who knew the area somewhat, and an online discussion about the routes in and out of Asheville, it appeared that this route would be winding, but less steep than others, and so we headed toward Tennessee, and the 40 east.

Upon entering Tennessee we came to the top of long hill, and the car was registering hot so we stopped at a rest stop at the top of the hill to check and fill the levels. I thought it was getting hotter than it should have and discovered that i forgot to replace the oil cap on the previous stop. Fortunately it was still sitting in the top of the engine, and I did not loose it on the drive.

I had been running the heater to keep the temperature down, and the running lights on the trailer, so I was not able to restart the engine, I had to get a jump. Across the highway was a guitar store shaped like a monster guitar. Any other time I would have had to visit the place.

It was late afternoon and we started what would be our last leg to Asheville - west on the 81 to 40 east and over the Great Smoky Mountains.

The car ran well all through the rest of the trip until we reach the windy section of the Great Smokies. The roads were steep, and had switchbacks almost like hair pin turns at times. This was the most difficult climb we had made on the whole journey, and it was getting late. If it got too dark I would have to stop, because we still could not turn on our headlights without draining our battery too low. So I had until about 5:30pm until it was too dark.

The hill got steeper, and the car was only able to pull the trailer at about 40 MPH. The big trucks behind me weren't doing any better it turned out. After a number of miles I pulled over at a rest stop to allow the car to cool down, and added some coolant. After unscrewing the cap slowly to allow the pressure to release, I waited a moment to add the coolant. Suddenly coolant came bubbling up into the overflow tank, and out over the top. I released why I had been loosing coolant along the trip. My thermostat had suddenly released and the water was flowing out all over. The cap had pressure release valves, and apparently thy had been letting the fluid and steam out when the thermostat released. Perhaps this had not been working properly the entire trip - then again perhaps I was just pulling too much weight for this poor little old 740 diesel wagon.

I now was getting too dark, and I did not have much distance to go, but it was still too far to Asheville to travel. I would need to use m y lights any moment. I got back on the road, and made it to the last exit to Waynesville, NC. We stopped at the Midway Motel. The name should have given me a clue about where we were, but I was too tired to think about it. I back the trailer into a slot next to the big rigs, and we got a room for the night, knowing we only had 20-30 miles left to get to Elijah's house in Asheville.