Tag Archives: transportation

The Opera Ticket, The Backpack and The Feline Asylum

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Elroyjones and others who’ve asked for pics,  I don’t have this miracle out here yet so I can’t provide you pics at the moment of that specific one.  But the cool thing about living in the 21s Century is a person can meet himself coming the other direction down the road he’s going on.

Someone on Craigslist is selling one so much like it I had to look twice to make sure it wasn’t the same backpack.  http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/rvs/3189851591.html

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A couple of things are different, but generally the same animal.  The Craigslist one’s 21′ and the Opera Ticket’s 18′, I’m thinking.  Same model, same engine, interior design somewhat different – this guy claims 18 mpg on the road.  The one I’m getting has a generator mounted below on this side, while this one doesn’t.

But the Feline Asylum’s got 76,000 miles on the 22R engine, sat up a decade after the man owned it was killed in a plane crash.  Then another man bought it, worked on a lot of it for five years, put a new set of tires on it, and before he was finished decided he has to move to Arkansas.  It has a few things to be done before it’s ready to head off looking at operas.

I’ll be back and forth this week getting things arranged while the cats chew their toenails and stomp around complaining.

Old Jules

Down Here Where It’s Sane

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I try not to allow myself to get too involved in the kinds of things real people trouble themselves over, but for the past several months Real Reality’s been poking me and pinching me on the rump.  Real Reality’s an ego-maniac, thinks it’s important and if a person isn’t careful it can convince him it has something to do with anything, make a considerable nuisance of itself.

All these oak trees falling, others threatening to fall on inconvenient and distracting places.  Various new roof leaks.  A number of other nagging items not worth mentioning.  They’ve been taps on the shoulder by Real Reality I’ve suspected might be followed by a round-house to the jaw if I didn’t duck and dodge.

So, a few days ago when I came across a 1983 Toyota RV I can manage to squeeze me and the cats into [out from under trees] I felt more relief than I expected of myself.  I can quit wondering where I’m going to live, at least structurally and what I’m going to drive transportationally.  Opens the doors to more palatable geographic questions.

I’ve a number of issues I’ll need to wrap up here, depending on all manner of non-ponderables, but if things required it I could be out of here in a couple of weeks.  Or, if I’m left to piddle around doing it, a couple of months.  But one-way-or-another the engine’s running and the Coincidence Coordinators are giving their approval for me to get the hell out of Dodge before the snow flies out west.

The road mightn’t be brick, mightn’t be yellow, but there’s an exit ramp coming and if I can get this thing slowed down enough I’m going to cut myself loose from all this pesky Real Reality rushing around making a nuisance of itself. 

Old Jules

Spang Blew It!

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Having a running vehicle I can just brush the cats off of, scare the chickens out from underneath and drive somewhere is surprisingly uplifting.  Not having to borrow Little Red wouldn’t seem to the disinterested observer to be that big a deal, but it is.

Got me feeling uppidy in ways I’m going to need to treat with circumspection and discipline so’s I don’t run myself dry buying gasoline for trips I wouldn’t have made in a borrowed machine.  But damn it feels good anyway.

Those trips to TimeWarpVille [Junction, Texas] trying to get something they’d accept at the courthouse as valid to transfer the title, trips to Kerrville trying to chase down the guy who sold it to me would have been frustrating teeth-grinding to me most of my life.  But they were pure joy, driving along looking at the country, looking at whatever, ignoring the 100+ F. wind blowing through the windows in favor of the freedom it represented.

So yesterday I thought of a reason to drive into Harper.  The day before I’d noticed a piece of the right front tire peeled back on the side, probably something on the driveway flipped up and cut it.  So I was being careful, occupying 30-35 MPH when it blew.  Got her stopped without ruining the rim.

Sweated blood and bullets getting the car up on the jack.  Crumpled a piece of the underbody before I found the secret, unlikely place the top of the jack has to go to lift it.  Discovered the spare is a wheelbarrow tire, which was under-inflated, but left part of an inch of inflated tire between the rim and the ground.  Inched that money-maker home at 2.5 miles per hour.

Gave me time to shoot gratitude affirmations for it all out to the Universe and Old Sol.  Because that blowout’s a major blessing.

When I pulled the tire off the brake disk rotor was exposed to me, badly eaten because there was nothing much like a pad.  Bare metal just grinding pleasant rings into the rotor.  A lot of people would probably replace that rotor, but I think I’ll try just buying pads.  No reason to get extreme, over-react, do anything dramatic. 

But if that tire hadn’t blown I’d never have noticed I had problem needed immediate attention, not to put off until the next Social Security pension check arrives to provide me a something for nothing entitlement [as these Texans are fond of calling it].

So today I’m going into Kerrville and buy me a spanking new tire, buy a set of brake pads, and even let the guys who sell me the tire put the new one on the ground.

Christmas.  It just don’t get much better than this.

Old Jules

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Maybe the reason I lured myself into allowing my hopes to include that 1977 C60 school bus was just a time warp slipped in briefly.  Fond memories have a way of coming back to haunt folks as they approach the jumping off place, I reckons.

A million years ago, Back Just Before Hippies Were Invented, summer, 1964, when KoolAid was just KoolAid and acid was still just something to excite a strip of litmus paper, I had my first experience driving a school bus.

As described in the post linked above, I’d gotten out of jail in Rochester, NY, walked halfway down Ohio, been picked up by a taxicab going deadhead back to Terre Haute, Indiana, after taking a drunken businessman to Columbus, OH, to see his estranged wife and kids.  He left me on a street corner in Terre Haute, where I dodged beer bottles thrown by kids the rest of the night.

Mid-morning a yellow school bus pulled across the intersection where I was standing, a car pulling a trailer pulling in behind it.  Loma Linda Academy painted on the side.  The door popped open and the driver yelled, “Do you know how to drive this thing?”

I had a middling amount of experience driving dump trucks and such when I was younger, and I was hungry enough for a ride to lie through my teeth.  “Sure thing.  Nothing to it!”  He vacated the driver seat, I took it, and we said goodbye to Terre Haute.

Turned out he was a Baptist minister moving his family to Las Vegas, New Mexico.  He’d contracted with the manufacturer to take the bus to Loma Linda, California, figuring he’d stack the seats in back, load up his belongings in the empty space, and get the hauling expenses paid for by delivering the bus.

Rick Riehardt was his name.  Young, 30ish man with a nice family.  One of several Baptist ministers I’ve met in my life I came to respect and was able to enjoy their company.  But a menace behind the steering wheel of a school bus.

The rear of the bus was loaded with his belongings, forward of that, loose seats stacked, with about half the seats still bolted to the floor, up front.  Rick had a five-gallon jug of KoolAid and a cooler loaded with Bologna sandwiches behind the driver seat.  He was “a loaf of bread and a pound of red” sort of man when it came to eating on the road.

We struck up a salubrious acquaintance as we motored along in that bus, picking up other hitch-hikers as we came to them.  Enough, at times, to fill the intact seats in the bus.  College kids, soldiers on leave or in transit, bums, beatniks, people who didn’t care to admit where they’d been, where they were going. 

One kid who’d just been down south working with SNCC and marching with emerging civil rights movement, marching, getting beat-hell-out-of by redneck sheriffs, getting treated like a stinking step-child by a lot of the blacks he was supporting.

The hitchers rotated on and off the bus as we drove southwest, Rick and my ownself being the only constants, me being the only driver.  We hadn’t gone far before Rick began cajoling me to drive the bus on to California after he’d unloaded it in Las Vegas, re-installed the seats, and he’d leave the family behind.  But I was headed for Portales, New Mexico.  Figured on getting off and heading south at Santa Rosa, well east of Las Vegas.

Eventually I agreed to it because I didn’t think there was a chance in hell he’d get the bus to California in one piece driving it himself.  That, and I was probably hallucinating on KoolAid and bologna sandwiches by that time.

We parted as friends, him offering to buy me a bus ticket back to Portales, me insisting I’d ride my thumb.  Caught a ride in Needles, CA, with four drunken US Marines in a new Mercury Station Wagon on 72 hour pass.  Headed for Colorado Springs.  All they wanted from me was for me to stay sober and awake watching for Arizona Highway Patrol airplanes.  Every time I dozed they’d catch me at it and threaten to put me back afoot.

We made it from Needles, CA, to Albuquerque alive, about 1100 miles in 12 hours.  I was ready for a rest.  Crawled into a culvert and slept until I had my head back on straight enough to stick out my thumb again.

Rick and I used to exchange post cards for a decade or so, but I lost track of him somewhere back there.  Never lost track of the KoolAid and bologna, though.  I still keep it around in my head in case I ever need it.

Old Jules

1977 C60 School Bus – Idle Musings

Morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Some of you made some good, helpful comments about the last post, and although that bus might never come into my life, my mind’s insisting on playing with the associated problems.

Insofar as the matter of cooling for summer driving, I’m thinking ram-air venturi.  A hole cut at the question-mark, flange installed with a megaphone-like air-catcher-compressor expanding inside the bus.  Water misted from a pressurized pump-up insecticide sprayer as the air expands as it’s released inside the bus.  Rear windows open to pull the cooler air backward through the length of the bus.

I’m thinking for cooling the bus as a dwelling, a thermal syphon arrangement pulling air from the shaded area under the bus, releasing it along the floor, the hole for the venturi open and the windows cracked at the top to pull the cooler air upward from the floor. 

Maybe some sort of misting device inside the bus, also.

I use those pump-up insecticide sprayers anyway for showering now, today, and that one would serve that use when the bus is parked as living quarters.  I’d cap the hole with a PVC cap when the venturi wasn’t in use, weather was cold, or it was raining.

As for heating it winters, I’ve got a number of ideas, some as strange and unlikely as these.  But the cats and I are used to living cold and hard.  What’s bare minimum for us isn’t likely to be much warmer than our ancestors spent their lives living with, uncomplaining.

For cooking meals while driving down the highway I’ll install one of those enclosed propane grilles to sit atop the engine, use waste-heat from the engine to do the cooking, pull it out when I’m ready, slow-cooker-like.  There’s plenty of room under the hood for a cooker capable of handling a banquet.

There’s an old propane refrigerator from a camper I gave Gale 30-40 years ago stored up there I posted a picture of here on an earlier entry, which I’d install.  Those AC shelves will work well, I thinks, as a means of running water lines, gas lines, and electrical wiring.  Out of sight, out of the way, but accessible.

A couple of propane burners on a platform and a Coleman stove oven might be the solution for somewhere to prepare food while camped if I don’t cook outdoors.

I’m thinking LED lighting, assuming I can find it at the right price.

Those pump-up insecticide sprayers are surprisingly useful for all manner of unlikely purposes.  Good for washing dishes, rinsing dishes, showering, all in a severely water-saving mode.  Heat the water, fill one with soapy water, another with clear water, you’re in business.

Thanks for your interest and comments.

Gracias, Jules

Thoughts on the 1977 School Bus as a Cat House

I’ve been scratching under my hat over a number of issues regarding that old school bus as a potential escape route, studying pictures taken last time in town.  Wondering how a person might get around various problems.

One that jumps out immediately is the fact there’s no way of locking the doors, either the front, or the emergency door.  So a person who didn’t fix that problem wouldn’t want to be a sound sleeper.  Or go off out-of-sight of it if he had anything inside he wanted there when he got back.

Another is that no obvious place to mount a spare tire seems to be included in the design. I suppose a person might rig a way to keep one on the roof if there’s no place underneath to hang it. 

Those wheels appear to weigh 75 pounds or more, though, so getting them up there would be a growth experience.

Interestingly, there appears to be an old Volkswagen living underneath there.

Evidently it was retrofitted to power a huge refrigeration air conditioning complex above the rows of seats, both sides.  My thought is that the shelves are nice, but the refrigerator is gonna have to come out.  Maybe the VW engine, too, so’s to make room for a spare tire.

Meanwhile, the windows don’t lock shut and some screens would have to be rigged to keep insects out and provide a disincentive for cats jumping out open windows to explore the highway.

I’ve always wanted something with a lot of switches to try to figure out as I drive along.

Nothing about it, I reckons, that can’t be overcome, but a challenge or two if the thing decides to jump into my life.

[I was watching for a place in here to use the word ‘footfeet’ because it’s such a novel piece of language history involving automobiles.  For the unaware, people used to call the brake, clutch and throttle pedals ‘footfeet’.  But there’s not a lot I can think of to say about the footfeet of this bus.  Hmmm, except,]

The footfeet appear to be intact, adequate and functional.

Old Jules

Talking Our Way Into Oblivion – Hydrogen and Hot Air

A few years ago my friend Rich asked me if I’d be interested in talking with an older guy in his late 70s who was experimenting with hydrogen generators for retrofitting onto his vehicle.   I wasn’t looking into hydrogen generating, but I’m a curious sort of fellow.  I didn’t require any persuading.  I just told Rich to give Bryce my phone number.  About a week later he called me.

Turned out Bryce had spent his career as chief mechanic for the Ford and General Motors Speed Teams, or Racing Teams, some such thing.  He was part of the group that put together the hydrogen powered vehicle that established a record for the highest speed ever recorded for an internal combustion engine driven automobile.

Using what he learned from all that, Bryce had created a series of hydrogen generators for his own vehicle, trying to maximize efficiency and deal with other shortcomings with the system.  He did it all from salvaged materials.  Heck of an interesting guy the first few times we talked.  I wish I’d taken notes and drawn sketches of what he told me.

At first during our acquaintance Bryce and I had conversations.  Two people brainstorming things he was doing, and I was doing.  But gradually the hydrogen generating conversational possibilities ran down.  Bryce was calling me every day or so, telling me all manner of things I didn’t want to hear, such as what the waitress in the cafe where he took coffee and meals said to him, what he said back, what she said back.  Or what other customers said to him and what he said back.  Or his brother.

Bryce would call, ask how I was, not wait for an answer, and talk non-stop for an hour, two hours.  I could put the phone down, go feed the chickens or make a cup of coffee and come back to the phone without him noticing.  Sometimes I’d tie a bandanna around my head attaching the phone to my ear and read a book waiting for him to wind down.

This went on for months.  I didn’t know what to do about it, except straight-on explaining to him that this wasn’t conversation and wasn’t a source of joy to me.  I mentioned it to Rich, and it turned out Bryce was doing the same thing to him.

Finally, as gently as I could manage, I interrupted one of his monologues and explained the problem, as I viewed it.  I told him I liked him, that I’d enjoy conversations with him, but that I didn’t want to hear the same stories over and over about people at the restaurant, his brother, etc.  That if we were going to continue having communications there’d need to be exchanges and some level of concern as to the amount of interest the other person had in hearing it.

Despite my attempt to soften the words, Bryce got his feelers hurt badly by this.  He never called again, which I preferred to the alternative of things continuing as they were.

Sometime a few months later Rich finally got his fill of it and tried the same tactic on Bryce, with the same result.  He was more reluctant to do it than I’d been, because he felt sorrier for Bryce than I was willing to allow myself to indulge.

Bryce came up in conversation between us a couple of days ago.  Turns out it’s been almost exactly a year since Rich has heard from him, and a few months more than that for me.  We wondered aloud how he was doing.

But neither of us is willing to bite the bullet and call him to find out, on pain of maybe starting the whole mess again.

I began this post figuring on saying some things about hydrogen generators but drifted off into Bryce and his problems.  Maybe some other time, the hydrogen generators.

Old Jules

The New Truck Resurrection

Got me a new truck!

Now that Gale and Kay have finished up their last craft shows for the year and the marathon of preparing for the next ones is over for a couple of months I talked to Gale about this again.  The critical path to me getting transportation appears to involve dragging this one in where a real mechanic can work on it, or dragging  The Communist Toyota 4-Runner in for that purpose.  I’m completely stumped with moving forward repairing either of them.  Time to bring in the heavy artillery.

It’s been a year now, and I’ve been hoarding and pinching pennies and dollars all of 2011 to be certain I’d have the money to get one or the other a license tag, safety inspection sticker, and when I eventually decided I didn’t have the skill to fix either of them, a real mechanic.  I’m more-or-less there now, or close to it.

It’s a toss-up and gives me a case of the fantods choosing one as the better bet, but I’ve settled on the New Truck over the Toyota.  It has the potential capability of pulling some sort of dwelling on wheels, which the Toyota doesn’t.  [Unrequited Love – I Coveted This, Fiddle-Footed Naggings and Songs of the Highway, Cat houses and such, Thursday morning meanderings]

So Gale and I agreed sometime during the week after Christmas we’ll figure out how to get that New Truck on a trailer and haul it to a place where people know what the hell they’re talking about, truck-wise.

Makes my hard pound louder just thinking of having transportation again. 

Old Jules

Got me a new truck!

My old Toyota 4Runner went Communist on me in December, had to be parked facing downhill to allow it to be started next time.  A Catch 22 involving if-replacing-the-starter-doesn’t-fix-it has left me having to borrow a vehicle anytime I need to go into town, or have someone pick up what I need has existed from then until now.

Meanwhile this old ranch truck has been sitting up there for the last five years unused after he twisted off a fuel line.  Gale, my old bud who owns this place and the F350, has had a long run of guilt-not-bad-enough-to-cause-him-to-fix-it, but too bad to just free him up, solved both our problems in one fell swoop:

“You can have that old F350 if you’ll fix it.”


It’s an ’83 and hasn’t been registered for public roads since the early ‘90s, but he says it ran fine until he broke the gas line.  Unfortunately, over the years other people tried to fix it, coons lived under the hood, the wiring is chicken noodle soup.

I bought a vintage Chilton Manual from Amazon dirt cheap, but it didn’t have anything much about the wiring.

The coil appears to be made of scrap iron, the electronic ignition might be a retrofit.  Not even going to tell you what the inside of the distributor looked like when I popped it.

It’s not getting fire and I’m about out of fancy ideas.  If I don’t figure something out soon I’m going to have him tow me into town and let a real mechanic work on it, put an inspection sticker on it, and register it for the highway.

I think it’s going to make a pretty good old truck.

Robert Earl Keen – The Road Goes On Forever

About 11:30 AM Saturday

Reading the Terlingua or Bust blog  http://terlinguabound.blogspot.com/ I see he’s blowing out tires something awful out there even when they aren’t on the ground.  Some of the comments suggested it’s the heat, which makes sense. 

I don’t think the roads here are much better than his are likely to be, so maybe I ought to be glad I haven’t gotten that truck on the road yet.  Getting up to Gale’s is the worst of it… about half-mile of badly eroded 2-track rotten limestone trying to tear up tires at the best of times.  But his house to the pavement is another half-mile, better maintained but still rough.  Then the three miles of pavement to the mailbox has several lousily maintained cattleguards a person can never predict whether they’ll have a loose somethingorother pop up and take a whack at something.

From the mailbox to the main highway is a lot better, state road with no more than the usual fry-an-egg-on-it hotter-than-a-$2 pistol   asphalt.

Once again I owe the Coincidence Coordinators a debt of gratitude for sparing me stuff I didn’t even think about might happen.

Thankee Coincidence Coordinators.  I tips my hat to you.

Old Jules