I fixed the car today. All by myself. But that comes at the end of the story.
This weekend, I caught a ride up to Chicago with Goth Dan and Brijeet, with the object of picking up the car. Well, we came around to this garage in Evanston, and there, waiting quietly in the alley, was my pretty blue Beetle. I exchanged keys and a bill for a check for some five hundred and fifty dollars.
I see I haven’t typed of this previously, so let’s rewind a few weeks, as the blizzard was clearing up and my hopes were for commuting back and forth between Urbana and Chicago a few times before classes started. Well, the first time I tried this, the car stalled out at an Amoco on the north side. Would not start, and I nearly killed the battery with my wishful thinking.
So Uncle picked me up, and we left the keys with the station attendant for the mechanic to take care of. The mechanic found that, as I had believed, there was an oil leak problem. Well, this mechanic is wiser, I think, than my young, naive recklessness, and wrote on his bill that the car should not be driven until the oil leak was fixed.
Well, I was down at school by this part, and it was left to Uncle and his friend Bill the Mover to retrieve the car from the Amoco. Bill the Mover had some insight, and recommended a place in Evanston, called Rolf’s. Well, turns out Rolf’s was not interested, but recommended this other guy, who apparently works quietly out of his house, and whom we’ve never seen, which lends an attractive mystique to the whole affair.
Well, this guy Dave had to pull the engine and the transmission to clean a whole bunch of stuff out that had become fouled by the whole thing. Parts and labor added up to $550, but it was well worth it. When we came to pick it up, I turned the key, and realized I was in a different car.
As with the brakes earlier, and the steering, previously, I had no idea that an old Beetle was supposed to ride so well. Well, it helps when all the cylinders are firing, and I’ve learned a good lesson – if you buy a Bug, find a Bug guy, and have him go over it completely. And Dave is a bug guy, because when we got the bill, it was printed in the corner the words Dave’s Old Bugs.
So, anyway, it sounded different, louder, there’s a lot more power now, so much so that I’m re-learning how to drive it. Well, me and mom and Uncle were so impressed we each took a few turns test driving it around the neighborhood Friday night. This was after I’d astounded them by folding down the back seat, which I figured out how to do after spotting another Beetle with the seat folded down. They both swore they didn’t know it was possible, and it took some experimenting to guess out the mechanics of it. My hunch is that this is a late model / Super feature.
So, Saturday morning, I reconnected the fresh air box, packed the car, and off I headed. Only I lost my ability to idle while still in Chicago. It’s a bitch to stall out when you wanna stop, so when I did have to stop, I was pumping the gas and the brake alternately. I also several times managed to restart the engine by engaging the clutch, which has made me more confident in my ability to drive stick. I was worried that things had gone so bad, but was determined to push on to Urbana. Again, this was a reckless thing to do, but dammit …
Idle aint so important on the highway anyway, except for a traffic jam on 94. That was almost fun to deal with … slowing down as much as possible without stopping, and restarting the engine. Ahhh … hell, it was kind of fun, except for the worry of ending up in a stranded car. See, another problem is that it dont start so well when it’s warmed up.
Anyways, so I got to Champaign, and got off at Market Street, not wanting to stall out at the busier, yet closer, Lincoln Street exit. I was also plotting the best route in terms of avoiding getting stuck in the middle of a busy street. This was wise, because I was stuck on many a side-street, pushing her down a hill a little ways and reassuring every other person who stopped by that I didn’t need help. That’s the nice thing about the country – people like to help out. At one point I was getting kind of frustrated, when a bunch of people popped out of nowhere and cheerfully pushed me down the street ’til the engine started.
Part of it too, I think, is that it is a Beetle, and so people tend to have even more positive reactions. Something about a bunch of older college students giving my VW a push arose in me some ancient sense of nostalgia that this had been done before, but more likely in the seventies or early eighties. I may be funny, but I swear we all might have felt something like that.
Anyway, a phone call (message) to Dave, and two rather helpful emails from a post I made to the air-cooled VW newsgroup later, and this morning I wandered out in the rain, inspected the ignition coil, and noted that the wire to the idle solenoid had slipped off. A little prestidigitation and the car was new again.
So I drove over to Allen Hall, found some kids who wanted to go to Meier, and after letting Dave Hayashida buy me a butter dish and some raisins, we managed to pack four people, six or more cases of soda, and a lot more stuff into the Beetle for the ride home. One of the guys, who I can’t say I know or even remember too well any more, was even good enough to give a little wisdom for my shifting – I’m pretty nasty going into first and second still – I’m used to driving a crappier car.
I’m also thinking of a name for the car. I’ve selected one to review, but I’m going to sit on it for awhile and decide if it really is something I’d want to Christen her with.
You know, I’ve other things I wanted to talk about, I’m sure, but I just couldn’t recall them any more.