Green, But Not With Envy

I had to drive to town the other day to pick up a few things. I normally take my car, but not today. I strolled right past it, and jumped in the wife’s van. I’m not a van kinda guy, but I just felt the urge to drive a larger vehicle.

As I started the engine, I heard the wife yelling from the front porch. “If your gonna take it, you had better fill it up! It’s almost empty!”

Fuck. Might as well have taken my own vehicle. Oh well, off I go.

I make it to town, do what I need to do, and head to the gas station. There are new signs at the gas station that alert me that I need to pre-pay. No, not me. They can’t be talking to me. I’ve been getting gas at this little station for umpteen years now.

They won’t turn on the pump.

I walk in, and calmly ask, let’s just call her Big’Un, to turn on the pump. Big’Un says that she can’t turn it on if I don’t pay for it first, and proceeds to ask me how much gasoline I am getting.

“A tankful. It’s almost on empty, and it’s about a 20 gallon tank. If you can figure out exactly how much I am going to get, then by all means, punch those buttons. If not, please turn on the pump so I can fill up.”

“Okay sir, but this is the last time we can do that. Pre-pay only from now on.”


I fill the bottomless pit up, walk back in, grab a paper, and pay the lady.

I start the van, and notice that the temperature gauge is now pegged on “H.” Great, just fucking great.

I pull out of the gas station, hoping that some airflow will cool the bitch down. It cools down enough to make the red light go off, and for the gauge to fall 2 ticks below “H.” As I arrive at the house, I wonder what in the hell could be wrong. Fan stop working? Thermostat fail? Low coolant?

It was the last one, sort of. Not only was the coolant low, it was gone. Nothing left in the radiator, or the reservoir. Zip, Zilch, Zero, Nada, Naught, Null….empty. I’ve seen ’em low before, but never empty. That’s. Not. Good.

I took my vehicle back into town and bought some anti-freeze. Drove back home, dumped the anti-freeze in the radiator, and dumped the required amount of water in there also.

I looked underneath, and didn’t see any leaks. I started the van, took another look underneath, and saw a river of green flowing underneath the van. Uh-Oh.

The leaky pipe was one than ran to the heater core in the back of the van. It was a steel pipe located just to the side of the passenger side wheel, and in the winter it gets bombarded with salty water. Water + Salt + Steel = RUST

I called around to find a new set of pipes, and found that they have to be ordered through Chrysler. I called Chrysler, and they wanted 400 fucking dollars for the set of pipes (which are now made out of aluminum due to the obvious over site when the van was originally designed.) Not only no, but HELL NO. I, being a manly man, a jack of all trades, if you will, can fix it  alternatively.

I went back into town (the third time) to the local part store, bought two pieces of 18″ heater hose, and six pipe clamps. Total bill was $8.49. That, I can handle.

I crawled underneath the van, amongst the green river, and proceeded to cut the leaky section of pipe out with a hacksaw. I replaced the leaky section with the heater hose I bought, and clamped it on. I refilled the radiator and the reservoir and started her up.

Look ma! No leaks!

I took if for a test drive, and then drove it to work the following day. So far, so good.

Hopefully, my skin will stop glowing green soon…

10 thoughts on “Green, But Not With Envy”

  1. Just be glad it wasn’t made in Germany, otherwise you would’ve had to purchase about $500 dollars worth of tools to take off the special newtron megaforce fasteners.

    A couple of years ago I changed the timing belt and water pump on that red VW we had, and while I had the engine apart I decided it would be a good idea to flush the cooling system–wrong! I got an air bubble in the cooling system and about once a day it would get caught somewhere and cause the car to get hot. It took me a week to get that little bastard worked out.

    There is nothing like WV ingenuity. We once rebuilt the tying mechanism on a hay baler with a milk jug and dry wall screws.

  2. I remember you telling me about some of your VW experiences. I don’t think I want one of those. I like to at least think I can fix it if it breaks.

    I bet you used some duct tape on that tying mechanism also didn’t you? C’Mon, admit it!

  3. Things such as the cooling system you described amaze me because I know they where designed by some guy with a PHD in mechanical engineering who makes $200,000 a year. I always wonder if they purposely design things to fail, or if the powers that be take their designs and then use the cheapest parts possible so as to wring thirty more cents out of each car.

    The Germans are famous for what is known as over engineering. Nothing ever satisfies them, so they keep trying to make it better. A lady I know over here tells me that because the German language is boring people have to express their creativeness in other ways. Our oven, for instance, is made by a German company called Siemens, and so far I have determined that it has at least forty five different combinations of settings. You can bake without air, with air, with and without convection, with or without a grill function, with air pulses, radio waves, controlled thermonuclear explosion, etc……..

    No I didn’t use any duct tape on the baler. We were to poor to have duct tape, we only ever had baler twine.

  4. To an extent, I believe that they do make things that will fail. That means more money per vehicle for each part that fails, not to mention labor to fix such things. Unless it’s a safety concern, then it obviously has to be recalled.

    I know what you mean about German over engineering. Most of the machinery we use at work is imported from Germany and Switzerland, and there are hundreds of ways to do things with the machines. The unfortunate part is that when they fail, and they sometimes do, it takes usually a minimum of 3 days to get the part here. Then, we have to spend another day or so trying to translate the germglish language that the book is written in. Add in another day to install the part, and that is a full week down.

  5. It is kind of interesting that virtually every piece of equipment used in the wood and furniture making industry is made in Germany.

    When I worked in the veneer industry every machine we had was made in Germany, and we had exactly the same problems. We had a bunch of high school drop outs in the maintanance department trying to work on ten million dollar dryers with computer banks and control panels the size of single wide house trailer.

    I think the last veneer dryer we installed before I left had four miles of wire, 1/2 a mile of hydralic hoses, and twenty different computers.

    When one of those went down we just added another shift to the machines that were working and called Germany.

  6. Nice job, Bucky (BTW…I feel your pain about gettin in either my wife’s car or my daughter’s SUV….fuckin things are always near empty)!
    I get a great feeling of accomplishment and personal satisfaction when I can fix shit…..unfortunately, this is a feeling that doesn’t come around very often. I know my Dad thinks “Who’s fuckin kid IS this?”

  7. Too funny Bucky….

    Between you and me…the first house I ever owned? Had copper plumbing and boy did I suck at torching copper. I bought some heater hose, sectioned it, left it that way for 3 years and when I sold the house…it was still working fine.

    Great minds think alike πŸ˜‰

  8. Efen – I am pretty handy, most of the time. And the feelings of accomplishment are great when a plan comes together. πŸ™‚

    Slick – HAHA! Why don’t we just use heater hose for everything? That thick-walled shit should last forever.

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