Automobiles

Goodbye to my dear dependable good friend….

Yesterday was a bit of a sad day around the old homestead but I suppose even more so today. Yesterday I finally sold my trustworthy and very dependable 1997 Geo Metro that I had purchased brand new back on June 6th of 1997. I have owned that car for just a few months shy of 20 years.

I planned on owning it a lot longer but my health and difficulty in really driving it very much or taking care of it as I should has pretty much dictated that if I cared about the car at all, I needed to get it into the hands of someone who needed a car and would put it to could use. That someone as it turns out to be is the young man who is currently taking care of my lawn care needs. He expressed an interest in it a few days ago so he and his dad came by yesterday and purchased it.

I still have the window sticker that was on the car’s window the day I purchased it. That sticker will now find itself as one of my most cherished souvenirs….

But most of all, I’ll probably feel a tinge of sadness each time I walk outside and see that lonely, empty space where before was parked without a doubt the most dependable car I had ever owned.

Invasion of the Acorn Hoarders….

It just doesn’t seem possible to me, at least at the moment, to relate the latest disconcerting and aggravating episode of life’s trials put upon me in any sort of condensed version. So I must bear the toil of ascribing this latest trial to you in some detail as it winds its seemingly never ending path while you, should you even dare, must tag along and endure what will surely seem to be a journalistic maze.

It would seem critters of all sorts, sizes and family origins have perhaps been bewitched by the wicked Mother Nature of the East and set upon me to taunt, harass and just in general make life here in the neighborhood dark and miserable. It seems to have all begun summer before last….

Cardinal MessPerhaps you’ll might remember the persistent male Cardinal that spent the summer fighting the other male Cardinal he was seeing in my side view car mirror and making a mess of both my mirror and my car door (no pun intended). Well if you forgot note click on the photo just to the left or you can refresh your memory with all the gory details ‘here’.

I eventually resolved that critter crisis when this past September, unbeknownst to me, I was about to be besieged by yet more bewitched critters. It all started innocently enough with my clothes dryer. I went to dry some washed clothes one morning and when I turned on my dryer I heard quite a disconcerting rattling sound coming from the vicinity of my dryers vent hose. The sound only lasted for a couple of seconds and then everything sounded fine. Next time I did a wash and it was time to dry the clothes, same thing, a brief rattling sound coming from the dryer then everything was fine.

Well, if you’re like me disconcerting sounds from a clothes dryer tend to send up all sorts of red flags, the most serious of course is perhaps the potential fire danger from a malfunctioning dryer. So I finally called an appliance repair company who came out and after a brief examination could not find an issue but noted several acorns on my patio around the dryer vent and suggested that it might be some small critter using my vent hose as a place to hide his acorn stash and each time I turned on my dryer it would blow them out of the vent and on to my patio.

My dryer vent seemed too small for a squirrel to enter so I assumed it must be some sort of mouse or small rat. Then only a couple of nights later I had gotten up out of bed in the middle of the night to go tinkle and while standing there heard what sounded like gnawing just below where I was standing under the floor. That was very upsetting to me because I am almost fanatical about insuring that nothing can get inside my home’s crawl space from the outside. If the sound was indeed emanating from under the house whatever it was would have surely had to burrow from outside and then under the house foundation to get under the house.

Next morning after getting up I went outside and inspected the outside of the house near where I had heard the gnawing that night but saw no evidence at all of any burrowing or possible access for a critter to get under the house. But it is fall and there are lots of leaves everywhere, perhaps I could miss something. At any rate I broke out my stash of small mouse traps. That first day I set my first one on the patio along the side of the house near the opening to the dryer vent. Next morning, Walla….

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Just to be sure there wasn’t more than one of those critters I set the mouse trap again but set this one on the other end of my patio near wear I had heard the gnawing and next morning, Walla….

P1020188a

After that second night I tallied up the score and I saw it as, Alan-2/Mice-0! And it is certainly worth noting that those results were confirmed as final. Just in case, I set a mouse trap under the house for a few days and caught nothing. Also there were no more rattling noises emanating from the dryer and that has remained so to date. So, problem resolved right? Wrong….

It was just like any other partially warm, sunny December day as I got in my car to head out for my weekly grocery shopping. As I was backing out of the drive I hit my windshield washer lever just to clean off my windshield a bit. “Uh oh, nothing but a whirring sound and no fluid coming out onto the windows. Well crap!” I thought to myself, “I’m out of washer fluid.” But that was okay because I knew I actually had a gallon or so in my storage room so I would just have to remember to refill the reservoir in the next day or two.

And so it was a few days later that I went out to take care of that little chore. After struggling to get the hood open on my Chrysler and getting one of those lovely blood spots I posted about a few days ago, I finally got the hood open. It was at that very moments that complete shock ensued when I got a look at what was under my hood. Every little crick and cranny under that hood had acorn shells piled in them, including bunches of them on top of the engine itself.

When I saw them in the little indentations and cubby holes on and around the engine it was a bit alarming. Fortunately my driving normally consists of little jaunts here or little jaunts there, but if I had driven the car long enough to really heat up that engine I’m not sure those things might not have caught fire. They looked like fresh kindling lying around everywhere but of course those literally on the engine themselves being the most disconcerting.

I inspected the compartment as best I could quite honestly expecting to find wires or hoses having been gnawed on or damaged. Fortunately there was no visible evidence of damage or of any sort of nest building, just tons of acorn shells. Oddly enough, there were no whole acorns at all, just bits and pieces of shells and the accompanying photographs will bear out.

So I got out my leaf blower and blew all the acorn remnants out from under my hood and when I finished things looked pretty normal to me. So I put up my leaf blower, closed the hood and got into the car to test the windshield washer just to make sure it was working again. Bad news! It still wasn’t working. I could hear the pump running but now washer coming out of the window sprayers.

As you can imagine I wasn’t happy about that outcome but I was happy about finding out about my acorn hoarders thus averting which may have caused a serious engine fire at some point. So for the moment that in itself might have been better in the short term that repairing the windshield washer.

But now my attention turned to my favorite little car, my Geo Metro which is parked right next to my Chrysler. I thought that surely it had also fallen victim to the critter hoarders. As expected, opening the hood on the Geo did in fact reveal the deeds of their apparent numerous visits. Yet more acorn shells tucked here and there once again in every crick and cranny. When I found this mess under the hood of my Chrysler I failed to get any photographs of the deed but that wasn’t the case this time. Below are photos of the Geo engine compartment and as usual, be sure to click on image to enlarge….

Geo Engine Compartment - 02

Geo Engine Compartment - 04
Geo Engine Compartment - 03

My detective work to date has not produced any real satisfying results as to the origin of the acorn shells. In trying to decide whether it was squirrels or rats I thought the ‘poop’ configuration might give me a solid clue. Well as luck would have it, the poop configuration for rats and squirrels is all but identical. And it is quite evident in the above photographs since there are definite ‘poop’ samples available for viewing.

As far as how my windshield washer malfunction plays into all this, well I went to my local auto repair station shortly thereafter and after opening my hood and searching out the washer hose path the service technician almost immediately found a small severed washer hose. He trimmed the two severed ends, slipped on a small length of shrink-tubing and I was back in business. And…. it only cost me $10.

So… obviously I will have to remain vigilant and be on the lookout for any further developments regarding this matter. I could put some hope in the possibility that the two rats/mice that I did send to their demise just might be the culprits behind this deed as well, time will tell I suppose. 🙁

Fill ‘er up!

Gas Station Service 01

Yep, “fill ‘er up” is sure not a term you hear anymore. And if you are anywhere near my age surely there was a time when you often bellowed it out to a service station attendant.

Gas Station Service 02I had planned sometime back to do a post on the service stations of old that I and virtually all my peers have visited on more than one occasion I’m sure. I was reminded of that this morning when reading the morning newspaper and the adjacent picture appeared in our local paper. Can you believe that in the UK they apparently still have service stations where attendants tend to your vehicle needs? I’ll bet they really don’t. This one service station is probably on some property belonging to the Buckingham Palace gang. 🙂

Admittedly I really miss the convenience of those days. Some may just call me lazy if I object to getting out of the car and pumping my own gas. No, I don’t think its laziness, it really did have to do with the service you received, especially if it was a good service station. Not to mention not having to deal with the weather conditions. And I would think in particularly that a lot of the ladies would sure like to have seen that service continue.

Gas Station Service 03You got your tank filled, your oil checked, your windshield washed and could even request them to check the air in your tires if you were concerned about that. As far as I know, the only place to receive service like that now days here in America is in your dreams. Most service stations that I am aware of don’t even have air pumps any longer while others are like vending machines where you put in a quarter for 2 minutes of air. And then of course there is the air gauge we all have to have because if we do have to check our tire’s air pressure we have something to do it with.

Surely you remember paying the attendant and if you didn’t have the correct change they would have to go inside the station to get the change. They weren’t always happy about having to do that as I recall, especially if it was bad weather. At some point many stations began having their attendants wear coin dispensers on their belts and carrying a stash of bills so they could make change right at the car.

Now back in the forties and fifties when I was growing up dad would drive the car up to the local service station almost every Sunday to get it washed and serviced. Now the service stations hand washed cars in those days. Normally you would go to your local neighborhood Gas Station Service 04station, they would drive you back home in your car then return to the station with your car and after the car was washed and greased, they would return to pick you up and you would then drive them back to the station and pay for your services. I don’t remember but I bet that was all for a lot less than five bucks! In those days cars needed more frequent oil changes and lubrication or grease jobs as we use to call them. Most service stations were extremely busy on Sundays with car washing, oil changes and grease jobs.

Found this photo of a service station attendant on the Internet. Wow… I never had a service station attendant that looked like that for sure. Must be one of those California girl attendants. If we had had lady attendants here in Arkansas they would have probably been able to beat the crap out of two men at the same time… know what I mean!

Gas Station Service 05

Well once again I find myself traveling down the old reminiscent trail of days gone by. I suppose if I face the reality of still having all those great drive-thru services the cost of gasoline would be even higher. And with all the cars on the road I doubt service stations need to provide such services to aid in increasing their bottom line. Well… at least we got to enjoy the good life for a while. 🙂

Status Symbol Extraordinaire – The White Sidewall

Fifties Cars - 109

In many cultures automobiles, as well as being a means of transportation of course, have also enjoyed being status symbols for the most part. And in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in particular one of the primary accessories for those automobiles that was foremost in contributing to their standing as a status symbol were white sidewall tires. And if you were unfortunate enough to not have white sidewall tires, well you could be assured that you were for the most part completely ignored by your fellow automobile owners.

Just about everyone was smitten with the white sidewall tire status symbol. You wanted them on your car, you wanted them on your motorcycle, your bicycle, your tricycle or if you were fortunate enough, even your pedal car.

White Sidewall Combo(Click to Enlarge)

It was easy to absorb the cost of such tires when purchasing a car but when it came time to replace those worn out tires, that was a whole different story. They didn’t come cheap because the tire manufacturers knew what the consumer preferred. Black sidewall tires were considerably cheaper but humiliating to have to put on your automobile, but in the end you had to go with what you could afford.

Walla, enters the “Port-A-Wall”….

Port-A-Wall-Example(Click to Enlarge)

The Port-A-Wall was a stand-alone white sidewall that could actually be installed onto a black sidewall tire replicating white sidewalls. They were an immediate hit. Especially with those of us who were teenagers and were fortunate to even own a car. Nothing worse than being dumped by a girlfriend because your car didn’t have white sidewall tires! Whatever one chose to call them… portawalls, slap-ons, flappers, Mickies or just plain old fake white walls they saved our young collective teenage asses when it came to the women.

They did take some effort and a little work to install properly. You had to deflate each tire and slip the inside edge of the white wall under the wheel rim, then re-inflate the tire thereby securing the inside edge of the white sidewall under the rim of the tire which held the sidewall in place. Here is a short video for those who have any interest as to how it is exactly done.

In closing it should be noted that those subject Port-A-Walls are still available to this day. Last time I checked they were running on average anywhere from $50 to $75 for a set of four. White sidewall tires are no longer the status symbol they once were. Now days everyone wants black sidewalls and lots of ‘tire shine’. Go figure… 😕

The Cars of A Lifetime….

1949 Dodge(1949 Dodge – My First Car)

As we reach our senior years and find ourselves in one of those reminiscent moments, there are times for some of us when the cars, trucks and perhaps other types of vehicles we have owned through the years start touring through our minds. The only motorized vehicles I have owned during my life have been cars with the exception of one used Cushman Eagle motor scooter I owned in the 11th grade for a time. Never owned a truck and for a southern boy that pretty much borders on blasphemy I suppose.

I have owned large cars and small cars but the small cars, for what ever reason, have always been my favorites. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties I was a sports car enthusiast. I loved the camaraderie that existed among sports car owners. I expect that sort of thing went out of style years ago however.

Some time back I put together a collage of all the cars I owned over the years – came to a total of nineteen cars all together. So, if I got my first car at age nineteen and my last car seven years ago at age 65, that averages out to about one new or different car every three years of my life. Actually of the nineteen cars, eight of them were used cars and eleven of them were purchased new. I purchased my current car some seven years ago and it will definitely be my last – no if’s, and’s or but’s about it! The photo at the top of this post was my very first car which was purchased when I was almost nineteen for $125 from my aunt and uncle. My current and last car pictured below was purchased in June of 2007.

2007 Chrysler 300 - Last Car Ever(2007 Chrysler – Last Car Ever – Click to Enlarge)

And that collage I spoke of a moment ago, well it is shown below and contains photos or pictures of all the cars I have ever owned to include a set of keys I still have from the orange 1972 MGB-GT you’ll see featured in the collage. Am clueless as to why I still have them. Obviously it was an extra set….

A-Lifetime-of-Cars-2(A Lifetime of Cars – Click to Enlarge)

I still have several of the window stickers from vehicles that I purchased over the years which are always interesting to look at after all these years. I suspect we all had love affairs with our cars, if not all at least one or two surely…. 🙂

Making Sense of “Turn Signals”….

A good friend and fellow blogger, Gabby Geezer, just published a post on the subject of ‘respect’ in our classrooms these days as relates to teachers. Now respect has many tentacles and the one that most riles me I suppose is respect as relates to the highways and byways where we drive our automobiles and constantly interact with our fellow man.

In one sense most traffic laws are, at least in my opinion, nothing more than society’s way of enforcing ‘courtesy’ and ‘respect’. Simply put, traffic laws require us to respect and show a measure of courtesy to those who share the road with us and in addition many of those laws are instrumental in saving some lives along the way.

But let’s get specific for an example. Take “turn signals”, certainly not something necessary whatsoever in getting us from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in our automobiles. But they are a simple way of letting our fellow drivers know what our intentions are when it’s time for us to change lanes or directions. This in turn allows them to make any necessary adjustments to their driving and keeps both parties informed of each other’s intent.

Turn Signals 1(Click to Enlarge)

Now most of you who are my age can remember when, come rain, shine, sleet, or snow, we rolled down our windows, stuck our arms out the window and gave a predetermined hand signal to indicate to others we were about to change direction or even stop. Here’s a little reminder about those good old days and those manual turn signals.…

Turn Signals 2(Click to Enlarge)

Now that was taking courtesy and respect to a whole other level. These days all we have to do is simply move a lever a few inches away from our hand or finger either up or down to accomplish the same respectful and courteous act. I don’t think they can make it any simpler or less intrusive into our operation of a vehicle than that!

Turn Signals 3(Click to Enlarge)

I am reminded of an incident last year when I was driving into my supermarkets large parking lot. Of course as you know there are lots of parking lanes along with the main access lane. I was going to have to cross from right to left across the access lane to get into the parking lane of my choice. Now even in parking lots I use my turn signals to alert other drivers as to my intent. I encountered an oncoming car in the access lane and the driver of that vehicle used their turn signal before I had actually used mine to signal their intent. Well I was shocked! While in the store I actually passed by the lady in one of the shopping aisles who was driving the car, stopped and told her how much I appreciated her courtesy in the use of the turn signal. She agreed that use of the turn signal was pretty much a lost art.

Some of us use turn signals because it is just the right thing to do. Others use turn signals because the law requires that you use them. And then finally… there are those who will not be told what to do and in addition have no sense of respect or desire to be courteous to their fellow drivers whatsoever. That does seem to be what it all pretty much boils down to from my viewpoint.

Food for thought if you will…. Given what you know about drivers on the road today, how many of you really think that if we took down all speed limit signs associated with an indicated “school zone”, drivers would slow down “on their own” to an applicable safe speed (that would typically be 20 mph or less) for protecting the welfare of children in or possibly in the area while driving through that designated school zone? I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount of money it would be a shocking very “few”! ?(

A Man and His Cars….

Recently I began thinking about my history with cars over my lifetime. As best memory serves me, I can remember owning nineteen different cars during my lifetime. Of those, seven of them were purchased as used cars and twelve of them were purchased as new cars. I dug up either the window price sticker or contract on eight of them, not to mention finding a set of spare keys to a 1972 MGB-GT I had owned. And seven of the cars were small sport cars or sub-compacts which leads me to the very beginning of this ‘man and his cars’ saga.

Now unlike a large majority of my male counter parts, when it came to cars I never had the least bit of interest in all that mechanical gibberish that so many men seem to dwell on when discussing cars. All this talk about horsepower, carburetion systems, acceleration, suspensions, transmissions, engine sizes…. No, that just never was my cup of tea. It has always been about looks, class and style for the most part for me.

My love affair with cars was somewhat of strange one I suppose. I have always suspected that I may have incurred some sort of serious psychological damage as a young child that would directly affect my relationship with cars for my entire life. As a young child, I like most male children, desired to be the proud owner of a “pedal car”. The small, tiny little cars captured my childish imagination and dominated my dreams but alas, it was never to be for n those days it was just not a purchase my family was in a position financially to make.

My mother’s sister, economically speaking, had fared at that point much better in life so her two sons, my cousins, were lucky enough to get their pedal car. I always idolized my two cousins while growing up but unfortunately from their viewpoint, that admiration was not reciprocated when it came to sharing their pedal car. The moment in time when I am sure I was traumatized pretty much for life was actually documented by my mother through some personal photos.

Me & Cousins 1(Me, the two cousins, & the pedal car – Photo 1)

Me & Cousins 2(Me, the two cousins, & the pedal car – Photo 2)

Although I don’t remember the incident, probably because it was just too much for my little brain to process, we had apparently gone over to my cousin’s house for a visit. My mother had obviously taken her camera in anticipation of getting a picture of her darling little boy at least sitting in the pedal car. Well, as you can see from the photographs above, it would appear I wasn’t even allowed to touch the magnificent beast. I’m the one in the dark, corduroy jump suit who unlike his two beloved cousins, have been afforded absolutely no transportation whatsoever. In fact, it would appear that in that second photo my older cousin, who is sitting in the pedal car, seems to be quite displeased with even my proximity to his vehicle.

Well, I have had to relate all of the above because as previously stated, that childhood event coupled with the fact that I never got my own pedal car apparently had a life-long effect on my personal relationship with cars and subsequent choices of personal vehicles over the years – in particularly with the smaller cars which as previously noted I owned seven of them at last count.

Of the Rich & Famous….

From time to time there are car shows put on around the world that command the attention of us who have love affairs to some degree or another with automobiles. I have always loved the classics I suppose. There exist such beauty and craftsmanship in those vintage classics that just doesn’t seem to exist on the same level with the automobiles of today.

This post is one which I think goes a long way in justifying such ramblings. A couple of weeks ago in Rochester, Michigan such a car show was held. It was the 28th annual “Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance”. One event certainly held in esteem by the rich and famous I would think. The show was held at Oakland University on the grounds of the famed Meadowbrook Hall. The event was held from July 30th through August 6th.

I noted several of these automobiles actually appearing recently on e-bay selling anywhere from $250,000 up to around $500,000. Not priced in an affordable range for those of us faint of heart. But hey, one is never to old to dream. Right?

Mouse-over for vehicle name & click to enlarge image.

1927 Mercedes-Benz S George Gangloff Roadster
1930 Cadillac V 16 Cabriolet Sedan

1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Erdmann 8C Rossi Roadster
1930 Pierce Arrow Rumble Seat Roadster

1931 duPont H Merrimac Sport Phaeton
1931 Packard 845 Waterhouse Convertible Victor

1933 Auburn 8-105 Salon Phaeton
1934 Buick Convertible Coupe

1935 Chrvsler C-L Airflow
1935 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet

1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet
1938 Packard Coupe Roadster

1938 Talbot Figoni & Falaschi 7-23 Faux Cabriolet
1941 Lincoln Convertible Coupe

If you care to view still more of the many automobiles displayed at this event you may go to the SuperCars.Net website my clicking here. Then click on the “Meadow Concours” link. Photographs were taken by Mike Laney.

Memories of an old friend….

I have been thinking a lot about old cars lately. A fellow blogger recently posted a photo of their car at a car rally where they were attending a sports car rally and those good old days came bubbling to the surface like a surfacing submarine on a mission. Especially the sports car part but that is a story for another day.

The old friend I refer to in the title of my post is that ‘first’ car. We all probably had one. I am still fortunate enough to still have a very old photo of mine, believe it or not. Not the greatest of photos but better than nothing, considering the subject matter. Yep, twas a 1949 Dodge that had belonged to an aunt and uncle. The year was 1960 so guess that made the car around eleven years old. Remember us paying $125 (mom and dad helped out a bit) for the car. My best friend at the time nicknamed my car “chigger” because he said the color of it reminded him of a “chigger”. Not sure I ever got that correlation but hey – everybody likes a nickname. Huge car by today’s standards – almost like driving a tank but I loved it.

My 1949 Dodge

And check out the ever-famous “Moon” wheel covers. Quite the rage in their day although they were perhaps intended for a bit more flashy car. But hey, I was nineteen and working on being a Kool Kat!

How ‘bout you? Can you remember your first car? I really don’t know how anyone could forget such a momentous occasion. 🙂