helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I suppose I should have suspected something when he never sent the pics he promised... Still -- I attributed that to being busy or an "out of sight out of mind" kind of thing. Easy to do with an ex-coworker whose only connection with you is that they sold you a car...

On Thursday I received notification of a certified letter that I was to pick up at the post office. The following day, we went to the post office to get it. It was an official looking letter from a towing company in Baltimore. The letter said that they had my car. After the first "wtf", we realized that the car they meant was Smurf.

The person I sold Smurf to never even registered the car, so I was the last registered owner, hence the letter. We called the towing place and asked what shape Smurf was in.

Totaled. It had been left to rot on some lot for the past whatever time it's been -- I'd have to check back in my LJ to see exactly when I sold it to him. He claimed to have repainted it, but now I don't believe him. I think he just said that to appease the weird person who called him 2 or 3 times to see how a worthless heap she sold him a while ago was doing. I told him to return it if he didn't want it anymore, but since he had let it rot, I suppose he decided not to go that route. As for me, the lot fees from December would cost more than I'd get for the parts, and I have no place to store an unregistered heap, so I told them to scrap it.

So it ends.

I am inordinately sad over the demise of a car. I suppose it's because it was my mom's car before she sold it to me. It occurs to me that its life ended around the same time hers did. They found it about a month ago, but it looked to have been dead for longer than that. Probably since April.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
For some reason I got a tug to call and check how Smurf is doing (the 19-year-old Chevy Cavalier that I sold to a coworker a while ago). Maybe it was because my mom owned that car before me and because it was so old when I sold it that it had developed a little personality of its own.

I talked to the new owner just now, and he said that three days ago Smurf got stolen. STOLEN??!? After 20 years of service and three owners, this car gets hot-wired and joy-ridden around town. I totally couldn't believe it. Smurf had an adventure!

The owner never expected to find it again, but after three days, the cops located it and it wasn't damaged. On the even brighter side, the owner's new job has worked out (he had been fired from my company about 2 days after I sold Smurf to him and before I had cashed the check - so I never cashed it). So... because the job has worked out he is once again solvent with money to spare, and he can write me a new check for Smurf which should get to me by Friday or Monday (yay extra money, since I just bought Stuff).

I didn't really call to collect from Smurf's owner though. That was just an excuse to call and see how Smurf was, heh.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I went to the MVA today to turn in Smurf's license plates and registration. The actual Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is closer to where I work than the MVA Express, so I decided on a whim to try there. If I saw people lined up around the building, I planned to head over to the Express. I went in, and there was nobody in line except maybe two people. There were clearly marked signs saying, "Turn in tags at blue information desk", so I didn't waste time standing at the red information desk. The lady behind the counter was a friendly, grandmotherly type who smiled at me as she rapidly and competently entered my information, cancelled the registration, and handed me a clearly legible cancellation sheet. I was out of there in five (5) minutes.

I am sure there is a reasonable, scientific explanation for this phenomenon. The Government continues to claim that I saw nothing but Swamp Gas (TM).

Smurf sold

Dec. 2nd, 2006 02:37 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Wellp, I've sold Smurf. It was very quick, and quite unexpected. Last week, a person at work told me that he had a 2-hour commute every morning from Baltimore using Amtrak and Metro and Ride-ons. I felt sorry for him since winter is coming up. Not that I thought this was a great solution, but I mentioned that I had a 19-year-old Chevy that was dormant, and which would decay and die if someone didn't start driving it soon. To my total surprise, he expressed interest. I guess any car is better than no car at all. I proceeded to try to dissuade him by telling him everything that had gone wrong with Smurf since its last visit to the vet's office auto shop, namely:
  1. Something is wrong with the distributor (or some other unknown part) that causes it to stall out all the time when stopping/starting.
  2. The steering wheel mechanism that locks it into different positions for individual driving comfort is broken. Thus, the steering wheel is permanently in the lowest possible position, and is not locked in place. The actual steering is steady as long as you don't lift up on the wheel, so it's driveable but would fail inspection.
  3. Brake lights need to be checked - I didn't see them turn on.
  4. One of the springs in the driver's seat is broken, and it has eaten one of my pairs of pants and about 5 of [livejournal.com profile] rialian's. (I guess it likes his better...)
  5. The paint job was shot and it was rusted in many places. I removed the rust, partially sanded it, and [livejournal.com profile] rialian spray painted it with bright blue Rust-Oleum (hence the name Smurf) to retard the rust. This stop-gap procedure seems to have worked, but it sorely needs a real paint job.
  6. It needs a little bodywork - there are two serious dents and a few lesser ones.
  7. It needs a new A/C. The current A/C doesn't hold a charge and all the hoses have been changed. Furthermore, it takes the old kind of freon that they don't use anymore. So... New A/C.
  8. It probably needs all the fluids flushed and changed, since it was sitting around for months. I was happily surprised that it started at all. I thought I remembered trying it and it was dead. Apparently not...
  9. It needs all its belts and hoses checked and possibly replaced.
  10. Needs to be thoroughly checked to make sure it's not a structural hazard.
  11. Anything else I don't know about that cars get from sitting around with nobody driving them.

He listened to all of the above, and then said that he still wanted it, and would like to try to restore it. He offered $300, and I agreed.

Sold. Smurf gets a new lease on life. Somehow. Not sure how. This morning the guy metroed out from Baltimore and met me at my place, whereupon I signed over the title to him, and he drove Smurf to a place in Poolesville where he and a friend are going to work on it today. Hopefully they'll be able to get it in good enough shape for him to actually get tags for it and start driving it on Monday, but if not, then a week or so max. I followed him up to the lot in Lyra. At the lot we removed the tags and I said goodbye. Dude must have thought it was a little odd, as there I was, talking away to this car - "Good bye old buddy. This isn't good bye, this is fare thee well. This is going to be great for you." Dude chimed in at that point and said, "He's just going to the doctor's!" I ended by saying that if he ever intended to junk it, to let me know. He said he wasn't going to junk it. He was going to restore it.

So... I haven't driven that car (except to the shop) since I bought Lyra, but it's always been out front, waiting patiently. A couple of times we used it when cars were in the shop, but eventually we stopped that in favor of just carpooling on those days - no A/C is kind of rough in August... [livejournal.com profile] aekiy had used it for about a year but then he bought a newer car too and Smurf lay rusting. Still, it was hard to let it go.

Good luck to you, Smurf-Ra the Immortal. May this be the beginning of a long and prosperous journey for you...

b flat

May. 30th, 2006 11:22 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Wellp, this morning [livejournal.com profile] aekiy, who has been temporarily using Smurf in order to keep the car running and until he can get himself a better car, discovered that Smurf's left front tire, which had been fine the day before, was flat. We proceeded to put the donut on it whereupon he was able to drive off to his eye doctor appointment.

Already slightly delayed by the unexpected flat, I tried to go to work - but after driving a few feet, I realized that one of my tires was flat too. So for the second time this morning, I changed a tire. I drove to the corner gas station to see if the tire was ok - I hadn't driven on it, and didn't see any noticeable tears so I was hoping some jerk just let the air out of it. But No, when they looked at it at the gas station, they determined that the tire had been stabbed with a small knife.

Luckily [livejournal.com profile] rialian's car was parked in the driveway, so his tires were ok. This on top of the mushroom allergy event would have been a bit... much.

I'm thinking that next time they might be planning to stab multiple tires on each car instead of just one on each (unless they get caught and mangled first - I filed a police report so I can fantasize a bit). I'll be parking in the driveway from now on.

[livejournal.com profile] aekiy, the Getty station a block away from us will order a new tire for you if you leave the tire (not the car) with them. Then when the tire arrives and they're ready to put it on, it'll only take a few minutes.

helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Lyra needed an oil change and checkup/servicing before Road Trip, but I had planned to take it in next week after I got paid. However, on the way to work the usually whisper-quiet sound of Lyra gliding along suddenly became an ominous whirring sound. At first I thought there might be something wrong with the engine, but soon realized that no, I had a flat. I immediately turned off into a sidestreet where there was a conveniently located church parking lot. I don't remember the denomination, but do remember the feeling of "ah, sanctuary while I change my tire". After hauling myriad objects out of the trunk and sorting out the various jack parts to see if I owned at least one complete, functional jack, I popped off the hubcap and began relearning how to use the jack and where to position it so the car was stable (it had been quite a while since I last had a flat but it all came back)... Finally about 45 minutes and a lot of black smudges later, I got the donut on. Of course, at that moment a nice lady arrived at the parking lot and asked if I needed any help... A few minutes later I drove Lyra to the even more conveniently located repair shop a block away from where I work to get a new tire and get the oil changed. They tested the tire, and there was a small nick on the side of it which was not repairable, and the tire has to be replaced. I remember scraping against a curb a month or so ago - Maybe it got nicked then, and the stress on the tire finally tore it through. Or maybe Lyra didn't want this to happen when I was on Road Trip...

Notes to self:

Do not pile 8 tarps, a pile of East Coast maps, a road atlas, 5 plastic thermal blankets, two toolboxes, a box of drinks, two rolls of toilet paper, an outdated catalog, a can of paint, two window scrapers, a pair of snow treads, 5 rain ponchos, and assorted jacks and jack parts on top of the spare tire.

Do take all the extra huge truck jack parts out of the trunk and put them in the van. The nice little jack that Lyra came with is more than adequate for the job, is easy to use, and is lightweight.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Here are some pictures of my baby mice, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, when they were just changing from fuzzies to hoppers:


They're just about grown now.

Here are some pictures of the Smurf Car. It was supposed to be a much darker, metallic blue with more green in it. Not smurf blue. Computer color being what it is does not pick up cobalt blue very well - and turns it into smurf blue - but that's not all the computer's fault in this case...


I think a third (and maybe a fourth) coat of something darker is definitely in its future...

Here are some pictures of Lyra:


Bad puns

Jun. 20th, 2004 02:22 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Him (after she spent a day sanding Car down to primer, and he spent two days primering and painting it a deep, sparkling metallic blue): Well, how's it look??

Her (contemplating the unevenness of the paint due to the fact that we attempted to do this with cheapo spray cans): Uh, it's a *beautiful* color... but it's really uneven. It definitely looks like, um, a Handjob!

Him: Well, it's nice to know your car is into auto-erotica...

So, does anyone know the best way to inexpensively paint a car? I will have to go over it again using an alternate method.

So, Car.

Jun. 18th, 2004 09:55 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Wellp, I guess it had to happen eventually. Seventeen years is a long, long time, even for a superior piece of machinery like Car. Not that I got rid of it. I couldn't bring myself to trade it in for the (maybe) $50 they'd give me for it. Instead I bought it a new radiator, kept its insurance, and parked it out front - I intend to take it for drives to the park and maybe to 4QF and other rough places. Maybe I'll give it an odd paint job, have fun with it...

And I bought This Saturn S-series. Lyra is two years old, 25K miles on her... Maiden voyage to work today. Accelleration good, gas mileage unbeatable except by a hybrid . Back seats collapse for hauling bikes and assorted Camping Junk.

I did consider a couple of hybrids, but I was deterred by the following very tactful warning by the dealer's reviewer: "Some cars make you feel like a champion - this car makes you feel like a hero"... Um, not ready for that. I'll wait until the technology is a bit more advanced (sort of like when newer cell phones got batteries that don't drain as quickly as the old ones...)
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
As I was driving about 5mph through the main strip of a parking lot, a very young, fresh-off-the-boat, confused Asian guy in a nice, shiny, black car came out of the side strip without stopping and coasted slowly into Car. Confused, I got out of the car to assess the damage - another little dent in yet another fender. I noticed the small impact had somewhat shattered the rust in the area and it was coming off in large flakes. He walked over to me looking sheepish and confused. I laughed and said, "Why'd you hit me?" That seemed to confuse him even more and he kind of smiled a very sheepish smile and said, "Ung". I told him not to worry about it (worrying about such a small dent on Car is like worrying about a little sand on the beach). I'll tap it out and touch it up later tonight. We walked over to his car - his nice shiny paint was all scratched up on the bumper that hit Car. I told him he could paint that with gloss car paint pretty easily. Then I asked again, "But... why'd you *hit* me??" and laughed to make it less threatening. He laughed sheepishly, and went "ung." Satisfied that I'd received the only correct answer to my question, I drove on to work.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
At lunch today I saw a little honey that caused me to go 'want'. It was a VW Bug (recent edition), painted purple/black (shimmered back and forth, depending on the light). As I was gawking at it, I stepped on some black ice and almost went flying (righted myself just in time).

Now if I was a dragon, I would surely think this little mite was nothing more than a piece of candy (the gasoline would help the fire belching process). Hence my name for these cars - Dragon Lifesavers. Every time I see one I usually point and laugh and say "lookit the Dragon Lifesaver!" But secretly I want one.

I wouldn't want to give up Car though. There's just something about the old heaplet... maybe it's the fact that it's so easy to locate - it's the only one on the lot that's got a rust job instead of a paint job. Or maybe it's the fact that I've treated it well, and it probably has a good 200,000 miles to go in addition to its existing 150,000, whereas Bugs have never been high on my list of well-made cars. Nope, I still want Car, if for no other reason than to see how long I can keep it running. But I also want a Dragon Lifesaver, just for fun.

I can dream anyway. I really don't want a car payment when I don't have to have one.

April 2010



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