I’d be a fool to assume anything

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In case anyone is wondering what I’ve been doing – I’m still STILL deployed to maintenance camp and soon SOON I’ll be breaking this rusty cage and running down the road.

2 months of my life have been dedicated nearly entirely to one thing: getting my box truck home ready to live in and running. Most recently, I had to re-wire the entire truck. That’s nearly completed; a few switches are still no op, but all the lights work now.
small victories 005This comes after a month long ordeal with the engine, and most of the problem with timing the points system, which I knew nothing about and now I know everything about. Yesterday, laying under the rig, with shit falling into my eyes (because it’s too hot to wear goggles, they’d fog up) running wires to the back, I started to lose it again. Yelling. Frustrated. In pain. Dropping things. Fingers too worn out to hold little things like zip ties. Every single bulb has been a hard won battle. Crud, rust, frozen nuts, getting the hacksaw out… many holes drilled, many fingertip searches through containerized hardware collections… it never ever ends, the date just changes. It’s almost as though I forgot how to live any other way but to get up and fight with the machine, put up with constant noise, and be alienated from any sense of ‘community’ – the sign I had by the road that says “BICYCLE REPAIR” has gotten ZERO hits.

New version of the same old scene
New version of the same old scene

This is the penance of owning a 38 year old vehicle. What I have in this rather large truck is everything I own: boxes and boxes of tools, four bicycles, a bed, a chainsaw, 50+lbs of bike components, a fridge that is off the grid (the solar system is holding steady)  It came insulated and with some cabinets.  I changed ugly green to cream.
Weather lately has been grueling. Sun – all day, every day. No hint of clouds. If I wanted this kind of weather, I’d be in California. I get my best work done after 10:00, when the continual noise of this place dies down and I can think. I get out for one break, every day, riding my bicycle two miles to get coffee and talk to someone – usually the employees of the food coop here in Mt. Vernon. I got a flat two days ago from a nail that someone threw into the bike path. I have not taken the time out to go out on the road for any long rides, as continually going in and out of the truck, being on my knees and back at times, and tripping over extension cords has worn me out more so than I think I’ve ever been. Last night, after hours and hours of stowing everything away and sorting parts/tools/hardware, I took it out for a ride, about 1/2 mile. It overheated. Smell of burning motor oil. Throttle cable came disconnected and I got it reconnected. Dog freaking out because his house is moving. I pulled back into the driveway I wish so much to leave, opened the vent cap and a massive movement of water took place, leaving a big space in the radiator for more coolant. This was 12:45 AM – and I went to sleep so exhausted after one more hellish day of this shit. Imagine your office is a car seat and you have to lean into a steering shaft as you cut,strip, crimp, pull, untangle, and zip-tie. If you’ve never re-wired a classic vehicle for which no wiring diagram is available – don’t… The phone has stayed silent, no emails for me, just one clumsy bastard, the dog, and this truck.

In a matter of 24 hours I’ll be driving this thing down the road and I hope that it doesn’t leave me stranded. The dude that sold it to me made a list of about a dozen problems that I’ve repaired, but there were about 2 dozen more problems that I found, some of them his mickey mouse bullshit that didn’t stay good. It seems that I’ll be spending my entire life inheriting mechanical nightmares – both bicycle and automotive, and eliminating mickey mouse, which keeps popping up and I need to just expect that. Now I find that most of the old wires are loomed with asbestos, which crumbles at the touch. Rotten 2 year old gasoline, diesel fumes, dust, unrelenting sun, and having to do everything 4 times before it gets right. “Welcome to the suck.” I sure would like to be watching Le Tour, going on a tour, or even working just 8 hours a day!

On the up side, I’m really happy with the living space I’ve created (it is free of flies, unlike the house I’ve been at) and prefer it over an apartment with shitty carpet that I have to cover up with plywood in order to do my thing: working on bikes. Only thing is, I’ll need a month to recover from this exercise once it is done – if it ever gets ‘done’. I haven’t been drinking… been so busy I forgot to. For heavens sake, I need to STOP WORKING. So today I’m taking a step back from this massive project, myself and Abel Clement are going to sit down and get out of the heat. It says right on the bottle: Vin Pays. (that’s a joke) When I REALLY live in this rig, and it’s not parked by a house with a kitchen, shower, washing machine, and internet; my drinking days will have to mostly end.

A wrench in the hand...
A wrench in the hand...
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About littlejar

5 - Learned to ride in paved alley behind liquor store in Lowell. 16 - Road bike riding alone while peers do soccer practice. 18 - First new road bike bought with winnings from Project Graduation. 20 - Burlington VT. Nuff said. 22 - Joined the Air Force. 23 - Joined team Fair Wheel in Tucson - rode the Shootout. 24 - Rode El Tour in under five. 26 - Toured to Quebec City 28 - Toured Oklahoma to Vermont 30 - Found my dream bike - a 1989 58cm LaBan (#22) 32 - Experienced Minneapolis and saw BIKE CULTURE. 34 - Building my first bicycle frame, with a self made jig. USA

7 Replies to “I’d be a fool to assume anything”

  1. I may have a touch of sunstroke, or a I enjoyed reading this post. LJ, have you been taking a lot of pictures of your truck through its transformation? It’s obviously an arduous project but it’d be cool to see the progression from acquisition to happy-(enough)-with-it.”

    One question: how do you keep the living area from getting swampy? Do you have an air vent+fan running off your solar panel?

  2. Jesus, I’m not even on beer one and that comment was riddled with bullshit typos. Maybe sunstroke is in play. Still, I enjoyed the post.

  3. You want poetry, here you go:

    Wine bottle empty leads me to lawnmower empty
    short walk to Abyssinia with can in hand
    The need to beat the shit out of something
    hapless lawnmower is victim to my need.
    No air filter on this thing, it needs a spray to start
    Ivy, grass, small trees, tilt the blade, annihilate.
    I took off the sandals for this.
    Sun still blazing in my drunken fit.
    Lawnmower = beer. Beer:30. Go.

  4. Fall back, recover, attack. I’ve found this works for fixing old beaters as well as climbing really big hills… Best of luck with this, I hope its the start of many successes.

  5. Good luck on your truck, you dreamt of a certain lifestyle and are doing things to attain it… Most people just complain, winge or find faults in other peoples undertakings. I say bravo old chap. Tallyho.

    Just don’t try to make a living writting poetry. Just sayin’ (but it might make good punk rock lyrics) yet keep trying, after making a sea of shit you might plop out a gem.