Sunday, January 11, 2009
This morning, Rich came over, and he and I head out to where the Mercedes was, a little less than a two-hours drive west of my house.
Once we finally get to the address, we see a classic Firestone sign on the garage and a Cushman parked in the driveway - this is a good sign.
Parking the truck, we head towards the one open garage door to meet the seller. He was in working on his car, and the garage was filled many motorcycles, including classic Harleys and scooters. We think we like this guy already.
The Mercedes 240D was sitting right there.
We popped the hood and got the tour of it. The body is in good condition, but for one big rust hole on the drivers side, and some floor rot in the back seat. The engine looked pretty good, and the car had a new starter and a new (big!) battery.
We started the car (I still don't know how the glow plug light thing works). It is more steps than starting a gas car, but compared to what I have heard about diesels, it started right up.
This car has a pretty neat looking front end. The grill and headlights have a bit of style the way that mid 90's cars never did. I am hoping to be able to sell parts off the car to help cover some of the cost of the purchase.
Purchase? Where's my cash? Doh! I zipped the cash I picked up from the bank yesterday inside my coat pocket. My OTHER coat!
Um - sorry seller, I don't actually have any money with me.... Is there an ATM machine around somewhere?
He pointed out where in town there was a bank with an ATM. Now how much money can I take out of it?
I swiped my card and punched in a number of hundreds of dollars. The screen blinks "Processing"... and then denies my request for cash.
A receipt with "daily maximum exceeded" is all the rejection I need for the day.
I seem to recall from reading my bank's fine print that there is a limit to both the maximum you can take from an ATM, and a higher total maximum per day.
$400 seems to ring a bell.
I Request $400 from the Automated Teller. This time, I am rewarded with a stack of green crispy 20's.
Try Again? Get more cash?
I try, but get another Dear John letter. Time to stop pushing my luck.
We drive back to the seller and fork over the $400 plus another $100 we put together between the two of us. I promise to deliver the rest of the payment in check or whatever form the seller is agreeable to.
He's a nice guy and tells me that I seem to be a good character. We finish the deal by trading contact information and a handshake.
He also threw in a big jug of the original fuel he drained from the tank after he bought the car. I'm not sure if the fuel is any good or not, but a big jug will be great to have once I start collecting oil and brewing bio-diesel.
Backing out of the driveway, I have the first glimpse of how this car is a rolling....... OK - let's not call it a rolling death-trap. Let's just say that it's not my type of car.
The brakes on this thing are not good. "That's OK" I keep telling myself.. I bought it for the engine. I bought it for the engine.
However, bad brakes, a diesel engine, and an automatic transmission are not a good combination. That would be the torque of a diesel, a transmission that makes the car want to go whether or not you give it throttle, and brakes that can't hold it back!
After the second traffic light, I just started shifting into neutral before coming to the light.
According to the fuel gauge, it had a little less than half a tank. I asked the seller if this was accurate, and he had no idea. He suggested that I don't trust it and stop at a gas station right away.
We pulled into the first gas station we found, only to see NO diesel pumps. Hmm. They have diesel listed on the sign. Must have pumps in back. Sure enough, they do - ones for the big rigs to fill up at.
I pull up and swipe my debit card to pay at the pump - recalling that I may have just maxed it out for the day ten minutes earlier. However, the card does clear. The Lord's of Automation are smiling on me.
As I put the diesel hose into the car, I notice it is HUGE compared to a regular gas pump nozzle. This is a fire-hose of fuel pumps.
I jam the nozzle into my fuel tank filler as best I can, and flip the little trigger that sets the handle so it automatically kicks the pump off when the tank is full - which would be exactly ten seconds later.
Five gallons! In under ten seconds!? That's a big fuel hose! Guess that's the only way to fill a big rig. The fuel gauge still reads exactly what it does before.
The fun continues on the drive home. The defroster controls are totally unlabeled. As the windshield freezes up, I fiddle with the defroster controls, and several other mysterious black knobs that seem to have no purpose.
For a while, the defroster blower squeals away managing to clear a small view of the road. It eventually quits working all together, and I crack the window, Electro-Metro style.
On the way back home, Rich and I stop for lunch, and then fiddle with the car in the parking lot. Hmm, the odometer hasn't moved at all yet has it? We aren't able to get the heat to work. I threaten to use the restaurant men's room hot air hand drier to defrost my toes. Unfortunately, they only have paper towels.
A Delicious Cheeseburger improves my mood and we get back on the road, planning to stop in at a Community Supported Energy meeting. At the meeting, they are cooking hotdogs and heating a pole barn with a FEMA down-draft gasifier running on sustainably produced wood pellets. We take a look at their project technology and say hello to a few folks, including the two guys there who are making their own bio-diesel. I tell them my plan about the Merc-Chevy. Nobody laughs. I am obviously in the right place. We talk about the possiblilty of using the truck to drive around picking up restaurant oil.
Finally back home, Rich drops off my giant jug o' fuel and points out the fact the the MB weighs about a thousand pounds more than the truck. That's good to know. The truck pulling my camper should feel about the same as just driving the Mercedes did.
After grabbing my notebook and title from the back seat of the Benz, I close the door. Or try to. Why won't the back door close!?!?
I bought it for the engine.....I bought it for the engine.....I bought it for the engine....