2009-02-24

Car Wars Episode II – The Tripod

I said the damn wheel came off, didn't I?
The story so far:

I'm 90 miles from home.

My car has no alternator, and only the juice in the battery to make it home.

My car currently only has 3 of the 4 wheels on it. This complicates the whole getting home thing a tad.

When I say, the wheel fell off, I mean, tire, wheel, lug nuts, assembly that lug nuts connect to... GONE! Bouncing off through a DAMN field!

Luckily, with front wheel drive, the car was surprisingly easy to control, and the increased friction of dragging on the break assembly rapidly took the "dash" out of the Dasher. I quickly and safely pulled off the road.

Now what? The nearby house had two huge barking dogs, and no one in sight to check to see what the dogs were barking at. Cell phone? Where you alive in 1987? Super rich folks in LA or Chicago may have had "car phones" but you were still 200 miles from the nearest tower. Time to hitch for the second time in my life, and the second time in a week. Once again, first truck gave me a lift to town, I called my parents on a pay phone, and they started the two hour trek to get me. I tried hitching back to the car. (Note: It is MUCH easier to flag down a ride when standing by a disabled vehicle than walking along the road.)

I get back to the car and search all over that damn bean field for the wheel, with no luck. When it chose to depart, I was a little too preoccupied to track its escape. Finally, I take a break, and flop on the hood of my car. 30 seconds later, my parents show up. And blow me shit for laying there and not finding the tire. (Yeah, and I'm not dead in a fireball, either!). And I think to just piss me off even more, my dad walks through the bean field, climbs a woven wire fence, and heads out to into this pasture 100 yards further than I had ventured, in a beeline to the damn wheel.

Dad inspected the spindle like read axle bit with the remnants of a bearing welded to it, we locked the car up, and headed home, taking the wheel with us.

Over night, my dad tracked down a guy who was making a dune buggy out of VW parts, and got a replacement bearing. So, bright and early on a sunny Sunday morning, we. load the two tone grey, Olds 98 diesel with a metal file and some tools to do the work, (like a better jack, etc.) and the three of us head back south for the 2 hour drive to the car.

About an hour into the trip my father utters a line that has also now entered family lore:

You do have the keys for this thing, right?

Hey, I wasn't in charge and figured he picked them up.

Mom advocated turning around. Dad just plunged ahead. As we passed thru the town closest to the car, dad pulled into the little general store on the south side of town and asked the guy in there if he knew anyone who might be able to hotwire a Volkswagen. The shopkeeper thought for a second, and figured he knew just the fellow. Turns out, folks who know how to hotwire things aren't exactly the "Sunday Going To Church" types, so he was home, and would meet us at the car.

One problem solved. We get to the car that is locked tight as a drum. Doors? Locked. Hatch? Locked? Little side vent windows that were popular in cars that didn't have air conditioning? Winner winner chicken dinner! So much for that drum. Sticking my arm thru the wing window and reaching the lock, PRESTO!, we're in.

Second issue down. Dad starts filing off the welded on bits of the old bearing, and we jack up the car and get the wheel assembly on. We are cooking with gas. No one thinks of saying, "Wow, this is going well." They would have been beaten.

Right about then, 'Mr. Hotwire' shows up. "Volkswagen are almost made to be hotwired" he tells my dad as he points to some metal tab on the side of something. He sparks the Dasher to life. He refuse the $20 my dad offered him, just glad to use his skills, and my dad takes off in the Dasher, with a bodged on wheel, and only the juice left in the battery. He's rolling along at about 20 mph and rounds the curve and is out of sight.

Mom and I say our 'thank-yous', scoop up the tools, toss them in the Olds, and give her a crank.

DEAD!

Laughing his ass off, Mr. Hotwire gives us a quick jump and we take off in pursuit of Dad. We catch up to him down the road about 10 miles, and he's sped up to 30 miles. Ever few miles, he'd get braver being that much closer to home, and would speed up a few more mph's.

We mad it home without incident, but there were some white knuckled as we crossed the high bridge over the Illinois River @ Havana. The Dasher went to a mechanic on Monday, and got it all fixed up.

The car put in another solid 9 months for me until...

To be continued...

14 comments:

Cora said...

Ha ha! "You do have the keys for this thing, right?" Hee hee hee. I did the same thing with Fair tickets one year - left them right on the kitchen counter and drove almost the whole way there before it hit me. Why the family put ME in charge of the tickets, I don't know!

Impressive car picture. You weren't kidding, that is certainly a tripod, sir! As a photography nut, I approve. (wink)

Sassy Britches said...

Never mess with a disgruntled father! Eeeps!

Oh, to have more of the mentality of the Hotwire Guy under such stress. :)

Sass said...

I bet Mr. Hotwire used to just run around hotwiring things for fun.

Just to use his skills, as you'd say.

And regarding your quick hit...

Huh? ;)

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Ever hear the old expression, "beating a dead horse"?

Dad is a riot and I am impressed by his ingenuity-especially faced with the "no key" dillema.

Guess the apple doesn't fall far after all...

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Is the next installment where you follow the car to a lava filled industrial zone and battle one another, you screaming the whole time that the car could have been the greatest car in the world? And then when the car is lying there, imploring you to help it, asking you to save its life, you just sort of walk away non-chalantly while it burns to death?

*bates breath just to spite you*

Scope said...

Sass - Since I'd been very explicit in my geographic details, and since you mentioned taking the kids to Springpatch to do Lincoln stuff, I thought maybe you'd be familiar with that body of water.

And I realized thatI mention the Havana Bridge without throwing in a gratutious "Dixon Mounds" reference, and I feel sad in my soul. For those of you not from central IL you'll need to Google that. For those of you who know any lady named "Dixon" there a great opportunity for a gag gift T-Shirt.

I'm just saying.

And mjenks, I heard that about you. I hope I don't dissappoint.

Ellie Mae said...

So glad you were quick thinking enough to take a picture of it beside the road! Priceless.

My dad seems to be very similar to yours, but I'm not sure he would have thought about hotwiring the car instead of driving back to get the keys. Has your dad mellowed any?

You're a great story-teller. I could picture everything!

Lisa said...

OMG... that's a terrible story... in moment of course, but these are always great for retelling. When you're not standing there stranded. Or wondering if you'll ever get home again.

I had a Dodge Dart that used to get too tired to start for me all the time. I guess most of us who weren't born with silver spoons have these stories, huh?

SkylersDad said...

I just love this story, well done!

Giggle Pixie said...

By this point my dad would have brained me for buying the damn car in the first place, and he probably would have left me there stranded with it. HA!

Morgan the Muse said...

well, that is unfortunate. But you survived the first part, so I am sure the third part will still be a success. Or something.

Wilwarin said...

with the hitch hiking thing, it sounds like YOU have one of those faces!

Scope said...

Just to be clear: Legally, HE bought and owned the car, so it was HIS P.O.S. sitting on the side of the road. And he was calm through the whole thing, just stoic and pragmatic.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Too funny, my dad would have beat the crap out of me, then calmly go back to fixing the car!