Sal and I left the islands early yesterday and went south to Comox where I bought a car. I purchased a 1990 Toyota 4×4 for $400.00. It’s dirty. It needs some work. But it only had 180,000 kms on the running gear and it is definitely ‘recoverable’. I will never try to ‘restore’ it because it is more than good enough for the time I have left and the use I intend. This vehicle will be a ‘used-once-a-month’ vehicle and I doubt that I could put ten thousand more kms on it before I run out of life-time, myself. This may never see 200,000 kms. But this model is renowned for longevity and figures of 500,000 kms are usually cited by owners and reviewers. It should see me out.
The frame is good, the tires are good, the running gear took me up to a top speed of 100 kms/hr on an 80 km-speed limit road without any problem and the heater/AC even blew hot and cool (not cold but definitely cool). All the windows work. In fact, everything works except……
…I have to replace the CV joints. The unit has two axles up front that need to be somewhat precise to transfer power to the wheels (they worked well for that in a straight line) but they need to perform that task even if the car is turning (and they can still do that but there is a lot of chatter and clunking when turning sharply so they won’t be able to do that for much longer). And it needs a muffler. God! Does it need a muffler! I am sure that I will find a few more things to fix when I get to it. One thing is for sure – there is a whole day of two people going at it just to get it half-clean.
Usually when people say, “I have repairs to do”, they mean: I am going to pay a mechanic to fix it it up. But not this time. This time, I am going to do it with a mechanic friend standing over my shoulder with gentle words of wisdom spiced up with the occasional rude rebuke (always deserved) when I screw up. He figures he could do it in a couple of hours but that means I better plan on staying overnight in town for two days. “Why not just get him to do it?” My pal is willing, I am sure, but currently he long retired and is a smidge under the weather and sliding him under the car just isn’t right. In fact, boring and frustrating him for two days isn’t right either but he’ll likely find it fun heaping abuse on me so it’s a trade-off of sorts.
And anyone can replace a muffler (not the whole system – just the muffler and CC). So that’s easy. The CV joints, on the other hand will likely draw blood, cause some pain and frustration and make me crazy but that means I at least understand it all better when I am done.
“Why do you need a car on the island?”
I don’t. NOT really. But, but, but….when friends and family, guests and visitors come, they want to see the whole enchilada that we call our island. And that requires a vehicle. The island is somewhere around 25 kms long and five kms wide. We have friends and neighbours we rarely see. Plus the bookclub needs rides now and again. So does the doctor. And on and on and on…..in effect, this is a cross between an ATV, an ambulance and a limo (it seats 7 skinny people, 6 normal-sized people or five plus a dog). It will be useful for many things – just not too frequently.
I tell you all this because, as you know, we claim to be less inclined to comforts and luxuries and living OTG kind of implies being hardy and practical. I often refer to ol’ Sal as Cougar Sally. (Or even Tyrannosaurus Sally if she is angry.) I claim to be a bit mushy myself but it is Sal’s reputation that keeps the bears away. Still, the truth is we do stuff and doing stuff often means fixing and improving things. This is an intended ‘improvement’ and – let us be honest – it is a comfort, a treat, a fun-thing, something that will make life a bit easier (until the car breaks down) and we may even be able to do some community good now and then.
With the purchase, the repairs and the barge delivery, we will be into it for approximately $1500. Since I am always wrong about the cost of things, let’s budget $2,000. That is a reasonable sum for ‘fun and comfort’ and, to be blunt, I cannot buy a good ATV for that. This could be good. Stay tuned.