Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mud Flaps, and Puppy-Sitting

I realized, as I woke to the wailing of an ambulance combined with the steroid pumped hornet buzz of a street racer’s bike, that while having access to big city comforts was nice, empty wilderness had its perks.  I rolled over on Chuck’s lower bed, grabbed some pants, and headed for a midnight snack in the well-stocked fridge not 20 feet from where I slept; perks indeed.

When we left Alaska (more like chased from, by snow) we decided that we needed to take care of a few of the most important issues that were hindering van life.  While none of these issues were major enough to require a substantial layover on their own; combined they presented a substantial block of work.  This presented a unique challenge due to the numerous concerns of doing work while under way, particularly with winter on its way.

After some discussion (which lasted several days and about half the length of Canada) we decided to return to Tulsa to knock some stuff off of my Honey-Do list.  Now, a few interesting things were occurring at this time. First, my Mother had taken a job in Tulsa (moving from Iowa of all places) and would be starting soon.  Second, my elder brother Josh has just closed a deal to sell is old home and purchase/move into a new one. (Something about a dance floor, or a hot tub…)   Anyways, due to a variety of happenings, weather etcetera, we arrived the day after he moved into his new home.  (Cough cough, totally a coincidence….)  Thankfully his new pad has a decent driveway and power outlets on the outside, so we had everything needed to get cracking at Chuck. 

Now I bet by this point you are wondering about the post title, and when I am going to explain it.  Well, deal with it, I feel like rambling, and there is nothing you can do about it, except maybe skip down a few paragraphs…. OK, you got me there.

Now down to business; our initial list of fixes and tweaks is as follows.

Sway bar down-link and bushings (see post The Adventure in the “Last Frontier”)
Window seal leaks (30mph cross winds will show you where they are….)
Transmission oil seep (face->palm, must of messed it up during assembly)
Floor tiles (going from 110 to 30 degrees did something to the adhesive)
Exhaust hanger (see post Transmission Mission)
Additional LED lights (hard to read up front at night)
Mud Flaps (so…much…gravel….)
Water Pump belt (Always better to be proactive)
Horn contact ring (sometimes you just need to lay into it)
Drives side window regulator (had the glass slip down and get stuck once, bad mojo in Alaska)
Replace the hubs on our Harbor Freight trailer (cheap junk, ‘nuff said)
Valve cover leaking onto the exhaust (Fog them skeeters baby!)

Now, bearing in mind that this was our intended list not everything on here got done.  Also it may seem like an epic list, but none of these things are safety related, or seriously degrade the performance of Chuck.


Whenever I stay with family, I somehow get roped into helping with just about anything (a side effect of being a freeloader I guess).  This stay was no exception.  Here were a few of my responsibilities.

Director of Hot Tub Maintenance
Master Electrician
Lead puppy sitter (brother and wife have 2 Great Danes, both under a year old, Can you say big?)
240lbs of pure furry terror.

Despite all these added responsibilities I was just glad that to not need to tear apart anyone else’s car.  Also nothing caught on fire, at least not for too long…  It was a pretty good visit in that respect.

After we had helped my brother settle in, we got down to business on chuck.  Here is a breakdown of what actually happened.

Sway bar down-link and bushings
Replaced: Had to hack up some generic bushings to fit. (30 year old cars, GRRRRR)

Window seal leaks
Repaired: $3 of weather stripping from ACE

Transmission oil seep
Patched: The Right Stuff gasket maker (pretty much the shiz)

Floor tiles 
Glued: Headliner adhesive.

Exhaust hanger 
Repaired and reinforced:  Some mill time and a few bolts. Remember, there is always a bigger hammer.

Additional LED lights
Delayed: Amazon delayed the LEDs…

Mud Flaps
Installed: Also had to repaint half the fender flares due to rock chips.

Water Pump belt
Replaced: Had to try 3 belts, a GM alternator swap, and a hacksaw.  Ended up needing to cut a chunk out of the alternator to make everything fit. GIT-ER-DONE!

Horn contact ring
Fixed: Machined new ring, tried half a dozen adhesives. Grrrr.

Drives side window regulator
Delayed: Don’t want to pay $100 for a used part…

Replace the hubs on our Harbor Freight trailer
Fixed, Kinda of: New hubs in the mail for free, not much better than the old ones.

Valve cover leaking onto the exhaust
Fixed: Magic in a can The Right Stuff instant gasket maker. Ended up fixing a couple of vacuum leaks.  30 year old rubber, meh.

There were also a few unplanned fixes.  Something to be said about VWs making owners into mechanics.

Fridge developed a propane leak 
Fixed: took longer than I would care to admit.  Had to remove the fridge 4 times.  

If anyone else out there feels like donating (or funding)
a modern fridge like a Truckfridge CF49…

PCV Grommet tore 

Mud jammed in front right suspension (see post The Adventure in the “Last Frontier”)
Replaced/fixed: repacked wheel bearings as well.

Steering Rack wear: 
Replaced: should make windy passes more enjoyable.

After everything was accomplished; it had been almost 3 weeks. We are long since due to hit the road again.  Preliminary sketches put us visiting some friends and relatives for a few weeks, and then it’s off to Baja! 

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