Sunday June 18, 2000... Woke
up early and Joe took me to the Flea Market where I bought a scissor jack for
$8. There was no jack and we thought it would be prudent to bring one with
on the trip. Also bought some sun glasses for $1.00 then we went back to
the house where we had to adjust the camber on the left rear wheel which seemed
to be way out of alignment. Did that and fired up the car for a spin
around the block. On the first drive we discovered that the car had barely
any brakes. Upon inspection we found brake fluid all over the right rear
tire. Turned out the caliper was leaking quite badly and had to be
We went to AutoZone and picked up a Caliper, pads, anti freeze,
Gunk carburetor cleaner, plugs, distributor cap and rotor and headed back to the
house to get things in order. Joe, besides being a Senior Investigator
with the New York City Police Department, was in a former life an auto mechanic
and owned a motorcycle dealership. He is a wiz with tools and cars and in
no time had everything installed and operating. The brakes were a bear to
bleed because the rear calipers on this Corvette have three bleeders on each
one. We got the car all together and took it for a spin around the
block. The brake pedal felt spongy and after a few miles of driving there
were barely any brakes so it was back to the house for further repairs.
One of the other things that didn't work was the
air-conditioning. We knew this though as it was not working five years ago
when the car was parked. We thought we would get a chance to get to that
also, but things were not destined to work out that way. In 1989 Joe's
uncle was sent by his wife to find a new "family car".
Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) he came home with this. His wife was not
very happy with him and refused to ride in it. Later, they were having
trouble and Joe made him an offer on the car and bought it with the intent of
taking it to his second home in Ft. Myers Florida to use when he was
there. He towed it to Florida in 1995 and parked it in the garage and
never got around to fixing the air conditioning and getting it on the
road. We all know how that is. I myself have probably bought half a
dozen "project cars" that never quite seem to get finished. This
was even better than a "project car" though as it did run and
drive. Joe is now getting ready to retire and needs to get rid of some of
his "stuff". He has, I believe, six boats, at least 9
motorcycles, and a bunch of cars and trucks at his house on Long Island in New
York, his cabin in the Catskill mountains, his house in Florida or his land in
his native Puerto Rico. He will be selling most of it and moving to the
About a year ago Joe asked me if I was interested in the
car. We know each other through NARMA (North American Russian Motorcycle
Association) and he really didn't want to sell the car, but would like it to go
to a good home if he did. He said that if I would buy it he would sell it
for a lot less money than if he sold it on the market. At that time I was
looking forward to getting my PT Cruiser so this car was out of the
question. Over the year though, the PT Cruiser kept being pushed back by
Chrysler for various "holds". First they ran out of manual
transmissions and couldn't build it, then they ran out of touring suspension
parts and it was on hold for a long time. Just when the touring suspension
parts came in they ran out of manual transmissions again. That, coupled
with the fact that Chrysler has an dealer allocation system that doesn't take
into account any car as popular as the PTC and my frustration level was starting
to rise. When they told me that it probably wouldn't arrive until
September or October I cancelled my order. Living in Duluth Minnesota the
last thing I want to do is get a new car just as winter is on the horizon.
Driving my new baby in snow, ice, slush and especially "salty" roads
is automotive abuse of the worst kind in my mind.
I was so very disappointed that I wouldn't have a
"fun" car to drive this summer. Last year when the lease on my
Ford F-150 SuperCab 4X4 ran out I had decided to drive my 1993 Ford Festiva
until I could get a fun vehicle. The Festiva has been a very good,
dependable car but it is anything but fun to drive. I guess I should
qualify that with the fact that it really can be a fun car to throw around on
the curves and performance wise it is not too bad, but image-wise, and
self-image-wise it is terrible. So it really needed to be replace, and
with 105,000 miles on it the car is reaching the point where major repairs may
When I cancelled the order for the PTC I wrote Joe and said I
might be interested in the car and what was the lowest price he could go.
He wrote back with a price that was more than fair and we started to make the
arrangements to get the car paid for, transfer the registration in Minnesota so
that I could legally drive the car home, and my flying down to get it. He
also had to drive from New York City just to get the car ready for me and get me
on my way. He really did go way beyond the call of duty on this one,
driving all the way down there with his wife, spending several days working on
it and then driving home so that he could be a witness at a drug trial on
In retrospect I should have had the car transported to
Duluth. There was a transport company that quoted me about $1500 to put it
on a car hauler and deliver it. But at the time a trip, cross-country, in
a custom 1979 Corvette seemed like the real deal and a trip of a lifetime.
My plan was to get the car, be on the road on Monday, go first to Sarasota
Florida to meet up with my new friend Scott from the SharkWerkes
web site. He is a Corvette fanatic and we have been e-mailing back and
forth for some time. Then I intended to stay Monday night at a friend from
NARMA's house near Lake City Florida in near the Georgia border.
Then early Tuesday morning I had planned to drive through Atlanta to Birmingham
Alabama where my brother Mitch lives. There I was going to visit the Barber
Motorcycle Museum and spend Tuesday night with he and his family.
Early Wednesday morning I was going to head out to Bowling Green Kentucky for a
tour of the Corvette assembly plant, and a visit to the National
Corvette Museum. Then to really top off the trip I was going to show
up at Bloomington Gold, which is
the largest yearly gathering of Corvette enthusiasts. They are expecting
over 2000 Vettes and it would have been the high-light of my trip.
Before I left I had been searching the internet for information
on Vettes and ran across Bloomington Gold. I got so excited that it was
the same weekend that I called them and talked to Mike in customer
service. When he asked what kind of Vette I had and I told him "a
1979 Greenwood Sportwagon" he said that when I get there I should tell the
folks at the gate that "Mike told me to have them put me in the 'Mild to
Wild' corral". He said that even though I wasn't registered that they
would like to have the car shown there. That really excited me to know
that I might have something that was unusual enough to even draw attention in a
gathering of 2000 Vettes.
This looked like the dream vacation.
On Sunday, after driving the car again and finding there was
still a problem with the brakes Joe guessed that it was probably a problem with
the master cylinder also so it was back to AutoZone
to get one. On both trips were were served by "Tonya".
She was incredible. Knew just about everything there is to know about
cars, and was beautiful besides. Talking with her was an incredible
experience and I even jokingly asked her if she wanted to go back to Minnesota
with me. The way she talked about cars and parts was almost sexual and on
the second trip there we had to take the Vette so that she could see it.
Quite impressed she was... Wish I had thought to take a photo of Tonya to
share with you folks, but my mind was in other places...
My friend Roy Goyette, from Discovery Oil Company, came by with
his wife Susan. They were a pleasure to meet. We have talked on the
phone and by e-mail for quite some time, and last year he was one of the
sponsors of the Land Speed Record
Moto Guzzi Team. We had a wonderful chat and I hope I get to spend
more time with them some day soon.
Joe removed the old master cylinder and sure enough the fluid
just drained out of the hose holes once it was disconnected. That showed
that it had a terrible leak-down problem. He installed and bled the new
cylinder and we seemed to have brakes again. They still didn't feel quite
right but they were working and that was what mattered. We were finally
done with the car about 7:00 p.m. and decided to take it to the freeway for a
real test run. Unfortunately it is about twenty miles from Joe's house
just to the freeway but we went and did 17 miles to the next exit and returned
along the same route.
After exiting the freeway we took Highway 41 to Del Prada Blvd
which takes us to Joe's neighborhood. About three blocks from 41, on Del
Prada, there was a huge pop and then a thumping from the right front. I
slowly pulled to the side of the road, partially in the traffic lane because
there were no shoulders, and parked the car. The right-front tire was no
more. It had completely blown apart. It appears that even though the
tires on the car look good they must have dry-rot or something. By this
time the sun was starting to set and the mosquitoes were making their
appearance. Of course we were both in T-shirts and shorts.
Ouch... Joe had his cell phone with and we tried to get his wife to load
up the tool box, jacks and get them to us. Unfortunately she was not able
to lift any of those things into his Dodge Ram truck. Then we spent some
time trying to find his son who lived in the area, but without success.
So, here we are on a completely black night as the moon had not
risen yet, on an unlit highway, sticking out into the traffic lane, being eaten
by mosquitoes who, with my luck, are probably loaded with malaria, with no jack,
no tools, and no hope...
Joe's wife was willing to come out and find us so we told her to
leave, then Joe would have to drive back to the house, get the tools and come
back to get me, leaving me on a dark highway, alone, with $1,000 cash in my
pocket. Not to mention my credit cards, travelers checks and the blood in
my veins. Everything I ever hear about South Florida is not always
good. I had visions of bad people stopping to offer me
Luckily Irma showed up around 9:15 so we could at least sit in
the air-conditioned, mosquitoes free truck, and Joe's son, John Wayne, called
Joe's cell phone to tell us he got our message and would go by the house and get
the tools, compressor, and jacks. Oh, did I mention that the spare was
He finally arrived on the scene about 10:15, we filled and
changed the tire and made it home around 11:00 p.m. after our three hour
ordeal. We sat around and talked for a while and then watched an old
western movie. Jose' (Joe) is a huge fan of old western movies and
obviously his son, John Wayne, is named after one of his heroes. Finally
got to bed around 1:00 a.m. and we were up and moving again about 7:30 Monday
Monday June 19, 2000...
Awakened to another hot south Florida day. I have never been so miserable
as I was on this trip. Spent a lot of time outside working on the car in
100 degree temps with humidity in the 90's.
We took the car to Sam's club where I bought a set of four B. F.
Goodrich Advantage GT tires. The car had 225R60-15 Goodyear Eagles on it
but I think these were really the wrong tires for it. Especially because I
had not been intending to buy tires and they would be way more money than I
could afford. Plus Son #1, who runs an automotive service center, used to
run a parts counter, and also worked at a tire company told me that those were
way too wide for the front of this Corvette. The speedometer was also off
by 10mph. So according to the specs this car probably came with the
225R70-15 tires and that is what I got for $55 each plus mounting and balancing.
Then it was off to Wal-Mart where we let them change the oil,
putting in Castrol GTX 10-40, and they did the full service thing, vacuuming the
car, checking and filling all the fluids, washing windows and more. Then
it was back to the house to do some more adjustment on the rear suspension and
re-bleed the brakes.
On our final drive of the day I moved the directional light
stalk and either the screw came loose inside or the stalk broke but I no longer
had directional lights. We tried taking the steering wheel apart but the
cruise control and directional light area would not come apart. I suspect
we were missing something but by this time it was just too late and I decided
that wasn't the end of the world and I could drive it home like that.
I went to bed around 10:30 in anticipation of getting on the
road about 1:00 a.m. Joe and Irma were to be leaving at that time to get
them both back to work on Wednesday.
Tuesday, June 20, 2000... We
actually got on the road about 3:00 a.m. and headed north. They lead the
way and I followed with the intention of following them until Ocala where they
would have to head northeast. About 30 miles north of Ft. Myers the dash
lights went out. A real problem in a car that I didn't trust. Not
being able to see the gauges lowered my confidence level more and then I also
remembered that I would have no bright lights because the directional light
stalk was broken. So, no dash lights, no air conditioning, no door locks,
nor high beams, no parking brake, but at least the radio worked and I have
brought lots of tapes. I flagged Joe down and he lent me his flashlight
and I felt much better.
Just before Ocala, about 200 miles north of Ft. Myers, Joe
decided to exit to check things out. As they rolled down the exit ramp I
hit the brakes, and nothing. I was so glad that when they got to the
bottom of the ramp they turned right without stopping as I was able to bring the
thing to a halt as they pulled into a gas station.
I had a very hard time stopping the car, and just before it ran
into a fence I put it in reverse at about two miles per hour. No problem
and the car stopped immediately. It was actually a pretty gentle thud as
the car was barely moving at the time, but without an emergency brake that was
the best I could do.
We sat there for about an hour while Joe ran and got vacuum
check valves and hose. It was about all he could think about that could
have something to do with it. We thought about the booster, but as I
understood it if your booster is out then your pedal will just be hard and
require lots of effort. We finally realized that it must be the brakes
needed to be fled again. A souped up Chevy truck pulled in so I asked if
there was some place around that worked on cars. He pointed to the Citgo
station across the street. Joe and I walked over there and the owner told
me they could look at it immediately so I went back to the car and pumped the
heck out of the brakes and actually had a bit of brake, then drove it across the
busy street and into the garage. Here I'd like to mention one of my good
Aria Communications. They do fundraising and sales mostly for
non-profit organizations, renewing members and selling services,
membership and product, including
hand-written direct mail. If you are looking for that kind of service
please do contact them.
The young mechanic at Cash's Citgo worked on it for an hour and
a half, bleeding it over and over again, with Joe sitting in the car pumping the
brakes while I did everything I could to avoid heat stroke. I did find
myself getting dizzy a couple of times. The charge for bleeding was $85.00 and
with the $25 worth of gas it was a costly stop. Finally got rolling again and at
the next exit Joe and Irma headed northeast and I continued north, across the
The car was running great but I tested the brakes a few times
and they seemed to be getting softer and softer. I thought maybe I should
stop and have the brakes bled again. I was about ready for another fill up
on gas also so I pulled in at Alda Georgia, found a truck repair center where
the folks seemed to know what they were doing. At Cash's they had a lift
and had to keep taking the car up and down to bleed and fill the cylinder, here
they had a pit and that made things much faster. They also bled the brakes
a lot more vigorously than the other place. When they were done the pedal
was almost to the top. I asked them what the charge was and they said
$10. They had worked on it for about 20 minutes and after having paid $85
for the same service 200 miles earlier I though $10 was way too cheap and I gave
them $20 cash and forgot to get a receipt. I then stopped next door and
filled up the gas tank and I was once again on my way.
Fifty miles later I went through Tifton Georgia and smelled
something burning, but at the time there were trucks all around me and I thought
it might be one of them. A couple more miles down the road I was just
passing a slow moving truck that was in the right lane when smoke started coming
from the dashboard. I cut back in front of the truck, rolled to the
shoulder and started to brake, but of course, no brakes. I pumped them and
pumped them but there were no brakes at all. The car just seemed to roll
and roll forever and I finally moved it to the grass to try to get it to stop.
When it was just about at a stop I shut off the key to cut the
electric, and as it stopped I was out the door, around the car to the passenger
side and started pulling my bags and the few tools I had out and throwing them
away from the car. Took maybe 15 seconds to do that, then I ran back
around the car and popped the hood. As I lifted it flames shot about six
feet in the air. I then ran around the other side again and grabbed my
bottled water. Because I had been sweating so much I brought about a
gallon of water along in small plastic water bottles. I ran back around
and started to empty them on the fire. It seemed to be all coming from the
left side of the engine compartment and I was able to beat the flames back
fairly well with just the water so I knew it wasn't a gas fire.
I wasn't able to put it out completely though because the fender
was burning from underneath. Just then a trucker pulled over and ran up
with a fire extinguisher and we were able to get the fire out completely.
A pick-up truck with a man and his son also pulled up to see what they could do.
As we finally had the flames down the Tifton Fire department and
the Tifton county Sheriff showed up. At first we thought it was an
electrical fire, but then one of the firemen, with a gloved hand, reached into
the engine compartment, down near the headers and pulled out what appeared to be
the remains of a shop rag. It looks like one of the places that worked on
the car must have left a shop rag under the hood and it must have worked to the
headers and caught fire. If I were to guess I would guess the last place I
stopped but that is not for sure, really could have been any one of them.
The Tifton Fire Department wrote up a report and left. The
Sheriff told me he would call for a wrecker and have it towed to his
"friend's" shop. The other guy and his son were standing there
when he said this and took me aside and told me that for a living he hauled
cars, campers and boats, and he could haul it to his yard in Dallas Georgia,
near Atlanta, and hold the car for me until I could figure out what to do with
it. He didn't have a trailer with him but said he could get one if
needed. Then the Sheriff insisted that the car be moved "within the
hour". He again said that his friend would come and get it.
Something about what he was saying did not ring right with me. On the
other hand the other guy seemed very generous and honest. I wasn't sure
what to do.
The Sheriff offered to call around and see if he could find a
trailer that the other guy could rent. He went back to his car and made
some calls, and came back to us and said there were no trailers available for
rent in the area. Said he called U-haul and Ryder. But then he said
that another friend of his could sell us a trailer. He called him and said
he had a trailer for $800. Then he gave the other guy, Thomas, directions
to get to it, but said he only had 45 minutes left in the hour before he called
his buddy's wrecker.
Thomas headed out and the Sheriff went back to his car leaving
me standing in the scorching heat. By this time I was getting a bit
overcome by the heat again and had to go to his car and ask him if I could join
him there. He seemed a bit put-off by that but he did clean off the seat
and let me in. We chatted a bit and he did seem like a pretty decent
fellow, but I got the distinct impression that I was just dollar signs to his
friends and community.
Thomas returned with a wonderful inline-duel wheeled
trailer. He said that he had stopped at "Aubery Holly's place"
and rented it for $100. Later, in the truck on the way to Atlanta, he told
me that he had stopped by the Ryder and U-haul places and they had plenty of
trailers around and said there would be no problem renting one. If that is
in fact true then the Sheriff was not telling us the exact truth. When he
got back he told us that Aubrey Holly is an old time NASCAR racer who is
building a new racing center for Bill Elliot. He said that he knew of
Aubrey and decided to stop there because they had a lot of friends in
common. At first Aubery was going to sell him the trailer for $1,400 but
then decided to just rent it to him. Seemed like a good deal to me so I
went with it.
On reflection of all that went on at the site, I believe that if
I had let the Sheriff call for a tow my car would be in someone's lot being
charged $15.00/day storage. I would have been charged a $75.00
"connection fee" for hooking up the wrecker, and probably another $150
for hauling it back to Tifton. Then, there is no telling what I would have
been soaked for fixing the car and have you ever seen those little signs at
impound yards that say "not responsible for contents of
vehicle"? Even though I have insurance on it I don't know that
I want the car being fixed in a small Georgia town where the Sheriff is friends
with everyone. Factor into that the fact that if it were fixed in Tifton I
would have to find a way to get there from Atlanta if I flew to there, and I
would have had to find a way to get from Tifton to Atlanta to fly out
Wednesday. After 30 days I am sure there would be a lean on the car.
And, I would have to have another one-way ticket to get it.
Instead we hauled it the 250 miles to Atlanta for the $100
trailer rental and $150 for Thomas. Seems like a very good deal to
me. And then I would only have to get to Atlanta to get it if it were
fixed there. Thomas even drove me into the airport, a 45 minute ride late
that night. He and his son Kevin were absolute gentlemen and I even got to
meet his wife and other son, and they let me take a shower before taking me to
the airport. We actually became friends during the course of the day and
The car is in his fenced in yard, under the car cover, on the
trailer waiting to find what will happen. He dropped me at the airport in
Atlanta at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. I sat in a chair the rest of the
night and tried to get some sleep, but with the loudspeakers blasting every
couple minutes there was no way to really sleep.
Wednesday, June 21, 2000... I was able to change my
flight and get out of Atlanta a couple hours early and had an uneventful flight
home, arriving at 10:10 a.m. The best thing about the flight was that I
managed to get at least 1.5 hours sleep.
When I arrived home there was a message on my answering machine
from State Farm Insurance. They were working on my claim already as I had
notified my agent from my cell phone at the fire site. That is pretty good
service. All this time I had been thinking that I had $1,000 deductible
insurance, but the lady at State Farm told me that on my "comp" I had
$250 deductible and because the fire started from a rag it would fall under
that. That was good news. They also suggested that I move the car to
Duluth to have it repaired so that I would have input into how it was fixed,
where, and what parts are used. They said they would wait to send out an
adjuster until I decided what to do.
I got on the phone with Thomas and he said that he should be
able to get the car to me in the next few days. I may have it by the end
of the weekend. Son #1's best friend owns a body shop that does lots of
Corvette work and that is who will probably be doing the work.
Unfortunately State Farm cannot pay for all of the towing, and it will be
expensive to have the car towed almost 1200 miles at $1.50/mile.
Ouch... But with Thomas hauling it I believe it will get here in one piece
and very quickly. If I have a commercial transport company haul it this
could take up to a month, and would not be a whole lot cheaper. Besides, I
am a bit paranoid and suspect things like the T-tops and the Blaupunkt Stereo
might not be there when it arrives.
Where I am right now is just waiting to hear from Thomas as to
when he can get it here. I will have it dropped at my house where we can
store it in the garage until the body shop and the electrical shop can get to
Thursday, June 22, 2000... Spent the
day trying to round up the money to pay for the shipping of the car to
Duluth. I just don't have $1,800 cash laying around. The total
transportation bill, including the trip to Atlanta from Tifton is $2,050.
Ouch. But still better than the aggravation of trying to go get it
myself. Son #1, (yes he does have a name, Aaron) volunteered to go get it,
but he would have to take days off work, without pay, and with gas, wear and
tear on a vehicle, not to mention the pain in the neck it would be, this doesn't
seem so bad to me.
Thomas called at 9:30 p.m., and said he was getting ready to
leave. I am going out of town for the night tomorrow, and he may get here
before I get back, but the car is by now on its way to Duluth. I will take
lots of photos when it arrives.
Friday, June 23, 2000... One
thing that I have to address: Several people have asked me if there is a
"Lemon Law" in Florida, or how come I am not angry at Joe for selling
me this car. First I have to tell you that I went into this with both eyes
open. Joe told me that the car had been sitting for quite some time and
that the only thing that didn't work when he put it away was the
air-conditioning, but we both knew there might be other things after sitting
that long. The extent of those things really surprised both of us.
And Joe spent most of two days working on the car, getting it ready for the
trip. He also drove all the way from Long Island New York to get the car
ready for me. That goes way beyond what a seller would normally do.
He did this because we are Friends, with a capital F. I wish this guy were
my brother. He is more than honest, and above board.
I knew there would be problems, but Joe did everything he could
to correct them. The car is not a "Lemon". It is a car
that sat for a total of 13 years with only being driven a few times. It
needed work and I really should have had the car transported here, and it was MY
decision to try to drive it home. Transporting it would certainly have
been the prudent thing to do, but the lure of the open road, and the stops I had
planned along the way overrode my objectivity. Again, my decision.
Get mad at Joe???? Rather, I thank God that he has blessed
me with a friend like this. And the car? I still think it is one of
the most attractive, seductive, powerful, sexy, monsters on the road, and I
cannot wait to actually drive it once it is fixed.
I am having it dropped at my son Aaron's
house, (my old house) and he will put it in the garage there until the adjuster
can come look at it, then it will be off to various shops to get it fixed.
10:40 a.m. Just got a call from Thomas. He is back
in Georgia. Turned out that his Significant Other's mother died last night
and he was an hour towards Duluth when he had to turn around and head
back. Probably won't be able to get out of there until Sunday now, so I
might see the car on Tuesday or so. He was so very apologetic, but I told
him to not worry about it and just get here when he can.
Saturday, June 24, 2000... Had
a quiet day at home. Took the Ural
Sportsman for a nice long ride, which brought my spirits up a
bit. Then in the evening my friend Lisa and I were planning on going
to a movie and dinner. Somewhere along the line we decided that there must
be something going on it town that would be better than a movie so I checked the
on-line version of our local newspaper and in the entertainment section under
weekend activities it listed a performance of the Minnesota
Ballet. I tried and tried to get trough on Tickemaster but was unable,
so I hopped on the motorcycle and ran down to the Duluth Entertainment and
Conventions Center ticket window. No Minnesota Ballet performance tonight,
but there was a Broadway show, Stomp. Tickets were double the price of the
ballet but after my disastrous week I felt I needed a treat, and dinner and a Broadway
show with a beautiful woman was just the ticket. When I got home I looked
at the date on the Duluth News Tribune entertainment section on the web and it
was from March 24th. I certainly should pay better attention but you would
think a newspaper would update their web site once in a while.
We ate at Sir Benedict's on the Lake, went for a walk in the
Rose Garden, saw the show, then did a walk along the waterfront and to the end
of the lighthouse pier. It was a beautiful summer's evening with the
lights of the city shining across the waters of Lake Superior. Just what I
Sunday, June 25, 2000... Received a
call from the state representatives of the Libertarian
Party. They are in town at a gun show at the DECC and they invited me
down to meet their candidate for the House of Representatives. I will be
running for Mayor of Duluth in three years and schmoozing is something I have to
do once in a while. I don't own guns, but I thought it would be a great
place to show off the Ural. So, off I went, parked the bike in front of
the door and watched the people flock around it. This thing always draws a
crowd. Can one imagine what kind of attention I will draw with the
Corvette Sportwagon with a trailer behind it carrying the Ural? How many
politicians have people come to them? Not that I am a politician, rather
just a guy who sees the mayors job as the only way he can effect change in his
city on a major scale. But what a dog and pony show that rig would be...
9:30 p.m. Received a call from Thomas. His
girlfriend decided to go with him and they are headed out the door for
Duluth. Should be here sometime Tuesday morning.
Monday, June 26, 2000... My first
day back at work. Argh...
I keep thinking about the car, on the trailer and still covered
with fire extinguisher foam. I know that stuff is quite corrosive and I am
wondering if I should wash it all off right away when the car gets there or if I
should wait until after the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to look at
9:00 p.m. Thomas called and he was in Trego Wisconsin,
only 1.5 hours from here. Gave him directions to the gas station on the
Thomson/Esko exit near the house and at 10:30 I was waiting there for him to
show up. Only had to wait about five minutes before I saw his Black Chevy
truck with the beautiful red car on the trailer behind it. It looked absolutely
gorgeous! We chatted for a couple of minutes then we headed out for the
house. Aaron came out as we arrived, fired up his souped up V8 Chevy S-10
pickup and brought the neighbors out from their house to see what was going
on. Jeff and his son Steven came just in time to help unload the car from
the trailer. No brakes so we had to ease it off. Once unloaded we
moved it into the garage and popped the hood.
Aaron was like a kid in a candy store. You have to realize
that in my racing days I raced mostly big-block Mopars and I have been mostly a
Mopar guy most of my life. I've probably owned ten Chevys but they have
never been my first love. On the other hand, Son #1 learned to drive in my
1967 Chevy small-window pick up, and he has been a Chevy nut ever since.
He is known in these parts as "Nova Boy" because of the series of
small and big-block Novas that he has built. He has tons of speed parts
for small block Chevys just laying around and you could see the wheels turning
in his mind about modifications he could do to this thing.
I really would like to keep it very streetable, so wild
modifications are out, but I'm sure he will come up with things that meet my
Aaron and Thomas
Once the insurance company makes their determination then we can
clean the fire extinguisher foam off, fix the wiring enough to get it to his
shop, and then to the body shop. He is the manager of Curtis Oil Tire and
Auto and they will probably do the mechanical work, then it will be off to
Custom Concepts Body Shop to get the body work done. In a month or so this
thing should be on the street.
Tuesday, June 27, 2000... Called the
insurance company this morning. They told me that I needed to get it to a
shop so they could have the adjuster come out. I told them it was at the
house and wasn't going anywhere until we get things settled and decided just
what it needed, because it will probably have to visit several places to get
everything done. The guy finally relented and said he would get in touch
with their, State Farm, Duluth office and have someone contact me. Now I
am just waiting for them to call so I can schedule to meet them at the house.
Met the adjuster at the car at 1:30 p.m., guy from State Farm
named Bill. He seemed very pleasant and efficient. He went over the
car, told me to now clean it up, getting the foam off, so the body shop can come
give an estimate. Rob from Kustom Concepts body shop is supposed to come
over Wednesday evening to take a look at it. He and Aaron grew up together
and Rob does very good work and I would be very comfortable if it were in his
hands. If he can't do the wiring then Aaron will do it at his shop, but
there is a chance this thing could be on the road in a few weeks.
Wednesday, June 28, 2000... Another
beautiful day in Duluth. High expected to be 73, which to me is perfect
weather. Perfect T-Top weather if one had a Corvette to drive.
I probably won't write here as often now until something happens
on the car.
Wednesday, July 5, 2000... Big
news: Aaron put in enough wiring to get the car started. Running
very rough as most of the hoses on the engine are burned but it does run.
And... on the Fourth of July I found an auto parts store that was open
which had a front brake caliper and Aaron switched that out also and we now have
brakes! Once we had the brakes working he fired it up and actually drove
it around the block. Today a roll-back wrecker will be coming for the car
to take it to Uncle Dunbar's Auto
Body. I have known Rick Dunbar for quite a few years and he has done
work for me several times. He does very good work and in the same building
is N.A. Auto Electric who will be doing the re-wiring.
Sunday, July 16, 2000... Still no
word on the Vette. It is at Dunbar's and late last week N.A. Auto Electric
and the insurance adjuster met and looked at the car, but I have not yet heard
the report. I'm just patiently waiting, but I sure want something to
Wednesday, August 9, 2000... Still
waiting! The wiring harness and all the parts that were needed could only
be found at ZIP parts, and the harness is on backorder. They are telling
me two more weeks for parts, then ??? to get things together. I am
beginning to wonder if I will get to drive this car again before winter sets in
here in Northern Minnesota. I've been awfully busy though. Last
weekend went camping at a friend's cabin. The cabin was full of women with
their kids so I camped out in the woods. Had a relaxing weekend, away from
"it all", sitting around a campfire chatting with friends for three
The week before I put on the second annual NARMA rally (North
American Russian Motorcycle Association) in Cloquet. Had a total of about
60 bikes, with 31 of them being club qualified. It was a great time and if
you are interested in seeing the photos check out: http://www.narma.org/narma/rally_y2k/2000photos1.htm
The weather cooperated, the food was great, ride went off without a hitch, and a
good time was had by all.
Tonight I am going, with a friend, to investigate an old
abandoned railroad tunnel. I'm told it goes through the hill for quite a
ways but I never knew it existed. The lady I am going with was through it
last weekend and says it is quite interesting. Should be another great
adventure the way things go for me...
This coming weekend is the Minnesota Moto Guzzi Rally here in
Cloquet. Should be great fun, except for the fact that my 1971 Ambassador
starter is once again torn apart on the workbench. Looks like I will be
riding my Ural to it for the second year in a row. Pretty embarrassing...
If you are interested check out: http://www.narma.org/guzzi
I'm not sitting still waiting for the Corvette but I sure would
like to have it up and running. I keep telling myself to just be patient,
and so far I have been able to be, but as winter approaches it gets harder to be
patient. I know it is only August, but around here we see Winter on the
horizon around the beginning of September.
Tuesday August 29, 2000, Day 74...
Just before I left work last night I called Uncle Dunbar's. Rick wasn't in
but the receptionist, Jody said, "I think it may be done. N.A. got
all the final billing yesterday for the insurance company (State
Farm)." I said, "I'll call Rick first thing in the
It is now 7:30 a.m. and I can hardly wait until 8:00 to call
him. I'm hoping that they will let me come and get it today. This
might be the day that the beast is unleashed on poor unsuspecting Duluth
Minnesota. The OOHs and AHs should be heard throught the land. Small
children will run and hide, women will close their doors and men will reach for
their swords. Priests and holy men will hold up their relics to defend
against the second coming of the SPORTWAGON CORVETTE.
Sorry, getting a bit carried away again, but as you can see I am
a bit excited.
While I wait to call them I suppose I could fill you in on what
has been going on in my life. Moto Guzzi rally went very well with about
100 bikes. A bit less than last year but this year we were competing with
the National rally which was the next weekend and lots of folks made their
vacation plans for that week. We did have a great time with perfect
weather, great rides, and phenomenal food. My friend Les Caswell from
Caswell's Cycles in Mora Minnesota sponsored a pig roast Saturday evening and we
all certainly got our fill of good food. The bikes were awesome and I even
got to ride Les's Moto Guzzi Bassa demo bike. It was incredible and
cracking the throttle at thirty mile an hour made the speedo hit 110mph in about
the blink of an eye. It was an awesome ride and I am sure glad there were
no local constabulary on the road or I might have had a wee problem.
The rally inspired me so the next weekend Son #1 dropped my 1971
Moto Guzzi Ambassador at Caswell's. Les is going to finish up the few
things left to be done to get the thing on the road. Starter is out,
transmission is locked in neutral, but that is about all that it needs other
than adjustments and having a few missing bolts put back in.
Been spending as much time as possible with my new
girlfriend. I actually have one again, and she is a sweetheart. One
year younger than I and she lives 90 miles away in Rice Lake Wisconsin.
Wish she lived closer but now I will have an excuse to do a lot of road trips in
the Vette. Heck, 90 miles is only an hour and 45 minutes and I can do that
after work and still get back home in time for bed. I could probably drive
down there every night... Why, I could maybe even commute. Then I would
have to force myself to be in the Vette almost all the time... Not a bad
thought, but maybe a bit impractical, especially with gas prices the way they
It is now 7:55 a.m. and I can't wait any longer... Ring...
ring... ring... Jody answered, but Rick is in "morning
meeting". Drat, darn... Left my number, now I have to wait till
he calls me. What is one to do. Kind of like waiting for a baby to
be born. Which does remind me that my office partner was experiencing
labor yesterday and went home. Kirsten is ready to have her second child
any day and they thought it might have been yesterday afternoon. I do
wonder how she is doing. Might have to call her house later and see if
there is any answer. Won't call now though as I do have my priorities
straight and I must keep my line open in case Rick calls.... Don't tell
Kirsten that though. I do care about how she is doing, but dang it, she
has only been waiting 9 months, it seems like I have been waiting all my life
for this Corvette. She will just have to deal with it...
Oh, my, it is now 8:00 and I suppose I should get to work.
After all the company is paying me to work for them, not to sit here
typing. I will drop back a bit later. (Continued on page 2)