As always, we’ve got a bumper crop to choose from… And some we don’t even get to choose, being “free range” turkeys that come crashing in during their fitful attempts at flight. Now you’d think the producers of this years bumper crop of turkeys would quit glutting the market with cruiser motorcycles and monster pickups, but by some strange logic CEOs figure that if it sold like hotcakes a decade ago, it will again. So gather ’round the fire, and let’s get these turkeys properly incinerated!

the ugliest turkey… Ferguson Police Department:

Now turkeys are naturally ugly critters, but this one is especially ugly. The Ferguson PD probably would have escaped the headlines if they’d stuck to their normal business plan of overzealous traffic and parking enforcement. But a few months back one of their inept officers decided to respond to an alleged shoplifting with guns blazing, and he managed to literally execute his suspect, a geeky overweight teen, for what in Ferguson is apparently the capital felony crime of suspected shoplifting. This naturally got the neighborhood, many of whom have paid all too many tickets for 2 MPH over the limit at 3 am and such, rather riled up. Tripling down on the stupid, Ferguson and every other police force and even the Guard dumb enough to answer their mutual aid call put on their armor and played army against a rag tag bunch of kids that thoroughly out maneuvered them. Now I suspect that Ferguson and their PD will escape the oven this year, but their zero tolerance parking and traffic enforcement that provides a quarter of the city’s revenue has now been exposed, and Ferguson’s armed Keystone Cops are too busy defending their city hall to write tickets nowadays. Add in the cost of replacing all those torched squads, the newly acquired “tactical gear”, and endless police overtime… And the turkey that is Ferguson and it’s police will probably get roasted and carved up in bankruptcy court to satisfy the debtors.

An old gobbler makes a comeback: GM

The more I look at the “new” GM, the more I see the old GM that just managed to dump a bunch of liabilities in bankruptcy court and go right back to their old stupid ways. Always wanting to be the biggest if not the best, GM has now managed to eclipse Toyota’s massive unintended acceleration recall with a defective ignition switch that in the usual GM manner, they bought and installed by the millions. And then as turkeys tend to do, GM multiplied the stupidity by delaying a response, even telling a vendor to take their sweet time making replacement switches. Of course, for GM, a membership club that specializes in mediocre cars and the financing thereof, it’s part of the “business plan”… Why build a competitive product when millions will buy their tasteless turkey cars and trucks just because GM gave them an “employee”, “supplier”, or “fleet”  discount and everyone else used to buy them? Granted, once in a while GM screws up and builds a decent car like the new Impala… But more often turkeys like that exercise in throttle delay, the diesel Cruze. That was fortunately a small volume screw up, but the vertically enhanced ’64 Chevy remix without a trunk lid, the new full size pickup they spent a billion to bring to market, is already having trouble competing with MoPar’s air suspended and diesel powered offering and is about to be totally eclipsed by the new aluminum F-150. GM is another turkey that will probably survive a few more thanksgivings, but with a stock trading for less than when they came out of bankruptcy, they’re probably going to get roasted in another bankruptcy.

Cruisers, again:

One would think that by now that the captains of industry, powersports sector, would figure out that the cruiser’s core market, aging boomers, isn’t going to be around forever. Like a cornfed barn raised turkey suddenly turned loose, HOG(NYSE) is standing around waiting for the customary feed and water bins to be refilled, ignoring the nearby pond and the bounty of food around it. Yup, HOG(NYSE) could have leveraged their products into a full line of powersports toys and exported them worldwide, making Milwaukee an industrial powerhouse. Instead, they clumsily triked their baggers and gave us an unridable shrunken water-cooled “revolution” twin and a battery powered PR exercise. Proving just as inept, Polaris slavishly rushed into the same shrinking market with not one but two “Indian” cruisers. While both companies will live on at least a few years and maybe even survive cruiser addiction, let’s get all these turkey “cruisers” into the oven ASAP, even if the scrap iron prices are down!

Borg Trucks Worldwide, AKA Volvo:

I used to admire Volvo- Back in the days when ‘Merican trucks were dumb and crude, Volvo made a real drivers truck that was easy on the fuel budget too. Then Volvo bought and killed off White and Autocar, and a few years later added Renault and Mack to their haul. And while Volvo saved White Motor from bankruptcy, they ended up killing off most everything White made and replacing it with a Volvo design, for better and oftentimes worse. So here we are a decade after Volvo took custody of the Bulldog, and while Volvo hasn’t been quite able to kill Mack, the bulldog is on life support. It is still possible to buy one of the legendary Mack trucks with the torquey Maxidyne engine, indestructible Maxitorque transmission, and the legendary Mack rear axles and suspension. But surf the Mack website or Mack’s brochures and you’ll be lucky to find any mention of those options; Instead Volvo is pimping their automated manual transmission uncreatively rebadged as “M-Drive and a Volvo “T Ride” rear suspension renamed “M ride”, Said transmission has a generous warranty, but after that runs out there’s no parts available, and the cost of a factory rebuild from Volvo may exceed the trucks value… Deeply cutting into the “value proposition” of these Volvo trucks with the legacy Mack cab and bulldog hood ornament. And it get’s worse… Rumor has it that the legacy Mack cab is soon to be replaced with a Volvo one. Yup, Volvo has bought one of the world’s most recognized and revered brands, so they can slowly kill it and replace it with their own. Meanwhile, Volvo’s own truck has become a generic product, a rapidly depreciated fleet truck interchangeable with the similar offerings from Daimler, DAF, Iveco, ad nauseum. With a stock price that’s going nowhere, the turkey that is Volvo trucks today should be expedited to the oven and replaced with real Macks.

the petroleum prohibitionists, AKA Sierra Club et al:

Now I’m no lover of big oil, and all too tired of paying a buck a gallon premium for diesel fuel when it’s cheaper to produce than gasoline. But dang, we need the stuff, and no complete replacement for dinosaur derived fuels is on the horizon. But the environmental extremists of the Sierra Club and their ilk has adopted a tactic of opposing carbon based fuels at every turn… They oppose pipelines, oil trains, oil tankers, oil drilling… There’s no pleasing them. Same with coal, though given that coal is dying a natural death of financial causes anyway, they’re wasting their time. Yup, like the prohibitionists of a century ago, these holier than though moralists are aiming to cut us off, cold turkey, just like the prohibitionists did near a century ago. And that worked so well… NOT! As we learned from the error of prohibition, reducing consumption and more safely producing, refining, and  transporting oil will accomplish more than trying to make the world go “cold turkey” without oil… So lets take this, the environmental extremist’s idealogical turkey, and boil it in oil!

the polar vortex, again:

One of the paradoxical things about global warming is that it’s uneven, and sometimes it ain’t getting’ any warmer! Thus we have arctic ice melting, hurricanes hitting New England as well as Nor’Easters, lake effect snow measured in feet instead of inches, and another polar vortex in north america bringing the ridin’ season to an early end. We may not be able to strangle and roast this frozen turkey… But damn it, throw some more logs on the fire so we can at least warm up!

Being really bored today, I made another attempt to make my ’98 Ford Ranger fire up in a repeatable manner. Having replaced the fuel pump and now the idle air control with no effect, other than on my bank account, I thought it might be time to consult the manual in hopes of figuring out how the fuel system works… Or in this case, doesn’t work. So I consult my dogeared and rapidly disassembling Haynes… And find a smattering of info, much of which doesn’t even refer to my Ranger. So I google “Ford Ranger fuel system” and check out the images of what comes up… Which was pretty much the same images as the half useless Haynes manual has and some even less useful other stuff.

So, maybe it’s time to break down and buy a for real Ford manual? Following the links to Ford’s exclusive purveyor of manuals, I find there are no more manuals available, at least in the form that we’re used to, printed books. Heck, no manuals on CDs available either. All that’s offered is “online’ access, at rates ranging from $10 for a few hours to a couple thousand a year for a commercial repair shop. OK Ford, I can take a hint… I’m supposed to lease a new F150 and pay you folks a few hundred dollars a month in perpetuity, on top of the similar financial hit at the gas pump.

Contrast that to the information rich environment our old BMW airheads thrive in- Factory, Haynes, and Clymer manuals on good old fashioned bound paper. Online parts look up, the airheads e-mail list, website, and Facebook page. If that ain’t enough to solve the problem, there’s the airheads forum over at ADVrider, Snowbum’s exhaustive website, and at least a handful of others. Same for my ’03 VW Golf TDI- I got the VW factory manual, Haynes, and tdiclub.com online.

But not so much sweetness and light for my ’13 Golf Sportswagon- The last factory manual covers up to ’10 or so, which is pretty much the same as a ’13, and Haynes still hasn’t come out with a manual for the car. Not much better for my ’07 BMW F800S, but at least a CD manual and a Haynes are now available. But both all too often direct you to the non OBDII factory diagnostic tester, but at least aftermarket testers are available in the $300 and up range. Ford? Same problem, it’s beyond the reach of OBDII, and there are no consumer priced aftermarket solutions.

Are there any solutions?

Well, couple years back I watched with interest as the former Ford dealers in Starbuck and Glenwood closed and their libraries of manuals were auctioned off to old Ford collectors. No point in trying to outbid them when I own but one Ford and it’s only 17 years old… But I suspect that a ’98 Ranger manual could be separated from a collector’s haul for a few bucks, had I shown a bit more foresight. So when a dealer or collector lets go of their manuals, I’m gonna be on it! And while Ford’s manuals are no longer printed and in some cases even “burned” on CDs and DVDs, we need to “stock up” on manuals while they’re still available- My Haynes are getting pretty beat up anyway. And for those who can’t acquire manuals for whatever reason, we need to share ours- I’ve got a commercial grade copier here and damn near a ream of paper left over from the campaign, and I’ll be happy to run copies for anyone that needs them.

And how to deal with manufacturers that insult our intelligence and rob our bank accounts by making their service information so proprietary as to be unavailable? Well, I’ll only buy a new vehicle if I can buy a service manual along with it!

DSC_3170Decided it was ’bout time to put the ‘lil ‘hack (Motorvation Spyder) back on the GS, given that it’s my newest and lowest mileage airhead. This was my first ‘hack “romance”, the Spyder first being mounted in late february of ’94 right at the Motorvation mother ship in northwest Iowa. The GS had only covered 28k miles then, now the odo reads 67k while the Spyder has covered well over 100k… No, I haven’t been riding with the tug wheel in the air, though the ‘hack wheel has been occasionally aloft! The GS had a whole bunch of the typical GS maladies: tranny X2, pulled cylinder studs X2, alternator, starter, and of course the dreaded paralever. Thus the Spyder got hitched to my R65LS for a while, and when the GS studs failed a 2nd time, an R80ST was seduced to handle the tug duties with a bit more torque than the R65LS had.

DSC_3173And given it’s unreachable “auto-retract” side stand, the GS cries out for a hack to hold it up. Throw in the GS’ couple more inches of ground clearance and enough power to buck our “normal” 30 MPH headwinds at faster than 50 MPH, and the GS is the better tug for my Buffalo Ridge wanderings. I’ve kept the GS close to home since I put HPD inserts in all eight stud holes, but 6k miles later the repair has held up. This summer I finally found and installed the little known 1 millimeter tighter fitting gearbox rear seal, so now the driveshaft is running dry as BMW but not god intended. After the 2nd transmission failure I subbed a pre-missing circlip tranny, so other than the paralever driveshaft, this GS’s demons have pretty much been excised. And with only about 10k on the current paralever, I can put off getting it rebuilt with greasable & replaceable U-jounts for a while.

And what of the now lonely ST?

DSC_3181It’s still got my spare set of mounts and subframe, so I’m in the market for another ‘hack… Heck, my plan is to have every ‘hackable bike I’ve got ‘hack’d by the time I turn 70! Roger, the final drive is holding up fine, though the rear main or something is still leaking, though that was my own “work”. Maybe I should haul the engine to Florida for tech daze? Naw, already got the R65LS pollutin’ the place with it’s leaky rear main seal!

Winter has at least made it’s appearance, with a couple inches of snow recirculated by our usual 30+ MPH winds, but thankfully none of last winters nightmarish visions of snow canyons leading to the garage. Been cool though, in fact hasn’t been above freezing for a week. So with a couple inches of the aforementioned snow forecast for the weekend followed by a couple days of said near blizzard winds… Clearly it was time to retire to the garage and officially kick off the winter rebuild season!

Debated whether I should start with assessing the “scope of work” the ’66 Cooper S will require and swapping the small hack from the ST to the GS. Not having done any serious work on the Cooper S in a while, it won out… Time to steel myself to survey the tinworm’s carnage and put together a brief bill of materials…

DSC_3146This is one of the better views, fading paint revealing bodywork repairs from a pervious owner, or maybe another one that required a lot of “rectification’ at the Longbridge factory?

DSC_3148Right rear quarter, complete with rust through on both the quarter panel AND the drip rail.

DSC_3156Don’t forget to add a rear subframe to the bill of materials too. Funny, the front ones never seem to rust out on Brit cars…

DSC_3160Looks like my 70s vintage bondo patch is holding up fairly well… Unfortunately everything around it has rusted out!

DSC_3162Interior is kinda rough too… And did you notice that most all the glass is missing? Both the result of rats, the glass breakage the work of a two legged one… A landlord from the 70s who got even in the 90s for the lawsuit he lost against his tenants. Even left a note, parts of which are unprintable, but Minneapolis police were uninterested. I’d done the usual rocker panel etc. replacement back in the 70s, but now it pretty much needs a hole new floor, as well as fenders, quarter panels, front bulkhead, trunk floor, and there’s even a rust hole or three in the roof!

Fortunately most all the parts are available from an outfit called M-Machine in Britain, added up just the major body parts and the total came to near three thousand pounds, or around $5000. Essentially, I’d be building a new body shell from parts, not an easy job without a jig. The other option is a whole new body shell, and thanks to British Motor Heritage, Ltd., they’re still available, for going on $10,000. Not that bad a deal, given that the 60s Mustang and Camaro body shells are around $15k, and they don’t even include the hood and fenders! So I abandoned the garage to drown my sorrows, which was tough ’cause I quit drinking and I didn’t have any chocolate in the house… I had to muddle through with instant hot cocoa.

Having thus confined my depression to sub clinical levels, I started off this morning verifying that the engine would still turn over. Haven’t had a Mini radiator out since the 70s, and found that my much upgraded tools more than made up for what I’ve lost in dexterity since then. Yup, their is a flicker of hope if not fire yet… The 1275 cc. lump still turns over! So now come the tough decisions- Do I spend over $10k and probably twice that doing a proper restoration, purists be damned by the hidden hinges and wind up windows on the 70s pattern repop body shells? Or then again, other than that big hole, the bondo patches I put on in the 70s held up pretty well, and none of my pop riveted on rocker panels came loose…

Social media Facebook response to GM’s “new” minivan, a badge engineered Nissan that’s also sold by Nissan’s partner Renault:
“Chevrolet
Sponsored ·
The Chevrolet City Express has the space you need to grow your business. With 122.7 cu. ft. of cargo volume, there’s room to fit what you need to start and finish the job.

2015 Chevy City Express
When business calls, City Express answers. You’ll be prepared, even on the go.
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WWW.CHEVROLET.COM/CITY_EXPRSS
Dyna Sluyter
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Dyna Sluyter

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Dyna Sluyter Also available at Nissan and Renault dealers…
Like · Reply · 6 hrs

Colin Crowel Oh hey look a Nissan…oh wait
Like · Reply · 5 · November 10 at 8:34pm

Larry Keniley You should buy a Ford.
Like · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs

Duane Tamura Not sure who in their right mind would buy a Chevrolet now days. Tax Payers give them a bailout of $62 billion to save Union thugery and the industry’s worst senior management team in 20 years and then G.M. thanks the tax payer with killing their loyal customers with faulty ignition switches that turn the car off while on the road resulting in the biggest recall in automotive history. And covering it up for over 10 years. Obama said while he handed over the check that G.M. is the future of automotive industry. Obama has a knack for picking winners.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 11 at 3:38pm

Roger Sedell WOW a updated astro van!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 11 at 3:07am

Philip Millward its a nissan euro spec!
Like · 1 · 11 hrs
Dyna Sluyter

Write a reply…
John Junnie Gumbs I was just about to say… but the expectation of any chevy product lack luster all around. #imitation #notoriginal well at least it isn’t as bad as the Ford line up. with extreme cheap plastics and abundance of recalls. Oh way they do as well #smh
Like · Reply · 6 hrs

ODy Mic Kc Marszalek
Like · Reply · 7 hrs

Joe Sackett Get ready for another Obama Motors Recall! Businesses on welfare are stupid!
Like · Reply · 8 hrs

Carl Davis aa rabbit shows
Like · Reply · 10 hrs

Gerardo Credes Maybe they paid the designers with People’s money of 2008
Like · Reply · 11 hrs

Gary Macguyver how is the ignition switch?
Like · Reply · 12 hrs

Bishop Bethany 2012 Chevy Express for sale excellent condition bbishoptkb@aol.com
Like · Reply · 1 · 16 hrs

George Smith Be sure to pack an extra fire extinguisher!!
Like · Reply · 19 hrs

Jerry Fountain Good looking van.
Like · Reply · 21 hrs

Larry Browning does it come with all the normal G. M. defects that the standard models come with.
Like · Reply · 21 hrs

Wendell Adams Anything Chevrolet is the best!!
Like · Reply · November 11 at 9:29pm

William James Burliss Gonna trade in the TAHOE?
Like · Reply · November 11 at 8:48pm

Marilyn Challender Webert Love my 2014 Equinox
Like · Reply · November 11 at 5:30pm

Dave Camisa Only 131 hp. ?? Not enough for the hills and mountains in central PA. Guess it’s alright for city only use.
Like · Reply · November 11 at 2:54pm

Chuck Evans Will the paint totally peal off the hood of this van. I bought a Chevy express van. poor quality . the paint on the hood is totally pealing off and if you notice thousands of other Chevy vans hoods are doing the same thing. It took a week in the shoe to get a it to pass smog because electronics, the interior door handle are are broken just from normal use. I am very disappointed, this was my first Chevy.
Like · Reply · November 11 at 2:20am

Tom Frank what do,s it cost
Like · Reply · November 11 at 2:15am

Nick Wilcox poor badge engineering….
Like · Reply · November 11 at 12:47am

Anthony Richards NO THANKS!
Like · Reply · November 11 at 12:11am

William Dziekanowski Very communist looking, Like a LADA van.
Like · Reply · November 11 at 12:02am

Gary Shreve too small @—@
Like · Reply · November 10 at 11:48pm

David Stone GM too many electrical problems!
Like · Reply · November 10 at 8:03pm

Frances Zvonek Looks like our first Van, except it was Blue.
Like · Reply · November 10 at 8:02pm

Art Sullivan so ??
Like · Reply · 11 hrs

Chris Hammer Don Martinez IV
Like · Reply · November 11 at 1:56pm

Gerald Yowell Wow…Chevrolet invents the Panel Truck!
Like · Reply · November 10 at 11:47pm

Dennis Burk FORD came out with almost the exact one Last Year. Chevy is playing catch up.
Like · Reply · November 11 at 4:38pm

Brad Martin they suck buy TOYOTA
Like · Reply · November 10 at 10:06pm

Harold J Renninger SPAM!
Like · Reply · 11 hrs

Berdina Luyken Burns like
Like · Reply · 22 hrs
Write a comment… “

Seems like half the respondents still believe that this rebadged Nissan was the spawn of the GM bailout that wasn’t even Obama’s doing, the bankruptcy having been filed before he took office. The other half clearly gets their news from sources besides Faux News, and can spot a rebadged Nissan a mile away.

Here in the grain belt, it’s the talk of every coffee shop: The grain elevators are full, they’re even dumping the bumper crop on the ground, with little rail relief in sight. Massive elevators that are required by contract to load a hundred plus car grain train in 24 hours wait weeks for said grain train to arrive. So some coffee fueled creative thinking has been happening in those coffee shops. Last spring some Farmers Union members I know were talking about trucking their grain 250 miles northeast to the Port of Duluth on the St.Lawrence Seaway. This summer I heard Farm Bureau members hinting that as a potential state legislator I should support allowing them to use double trailers to haul their grain across the state to barge ports like Winona on the Mississippi… I said “maybe”. And today, South Dakota blogger Cory Heidelberger ( http://www.madvilletimes.com ) discussed the potential of shipping grain via the Missouri. Makes sense… isn’t the Missouri, at least theoretically, a navigable waterway as far upriver as Sioux City, a good hundred miles closer to my local mega-elevator than Duluth or Winona?

A bit of research revealed that the last barge tow left Sioux Falls over a decade ago… The “navigable river” status has mostly been a tool to get more favorable rates out of the railroads serving the Missouri River ports, so there’s been little need to actually run a barge “tow” on the river. And given the lack of traffic, floods, and fluctuating water levels that fed a running battle between downstream shipping interests and upstream tourism interests whose reservoirs were drained to flood the downriver channel to the nine foot minimum, there was little motivation to test the viability of barge tows all the way up to Sioux Falls…

Until this summer, when a plant just downriver from Sioux City needed new equipment too big and heavy to move by road or rail, and a barge and towboat came to the rescue. As I write, a closed “riverboat casino” is being towed downriver to be scrapped… So the Missouri is still relatively navigable from Sioux City downriver to the Mississippi and the Port of New Orleans. The river will be freezing soon, but if someone’s really desperate next spring they can probably get their grain out via New Orleans. But given that most of the grain we export is headed west to Asia, a water route the long way round rather than a rail haul to west coast ports is a more attractive shipping route. Until the new Panama Canal locks open…

Canal and lock dimensions tend to determine the size of ships, to the point where a whole class of “Panamax” ships exists- ships built as big as the canal’s century old locks can handle. With the new locks soon to be completed, a whole new class of “New Panamax” ships with over twice the capacity of the old “Panamax” ships will be able to take the Panama Canal shortcut to Asia. And ready they are, with several Gulf ports already upgraded to handle the bigger ships, and the bigger ships now comprising over half the available capacity… Heck, I don’t think they built a single “(old) Panamax” ship last year!

As they say, “This changes everything”… There’s a reason the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands of western Canada ends at the “New Panamax” ready Port of Houston! And while much of the container freight from Asia to the midwest will still follow the faster rail routes inland, grain is in no such hurry. Given that barge transport is usually a bit cheaper than rail (towboats use one locomotive sized engine to move a 15 barge “tow” that would require two trains and six locomotives to move by rail), the slightly longer river route to Port of New Orleans is in no way a deal killer… Especially if the railroads routes out of the grain belt continue to be congested.

Anybody wanna bet on when the first barge “tow” leaves Sioux City?

Just a regular irregular Public Service Announcement from Gearhead Grrrl:

DSC_3143Ahhhh, this is the way to do it… Engine hoist used to lazily lift and roll the offending pickup bed out of the anticipated snow and to the back of the shop. Bought it at Northern Tool a few months back, $160 plus local sales tax with a 20% off coupon. This is the smaller of the two models they sell, rated capacity is around a quarter ton/meter, more than enough to handle any engine I own. The pickup bed wasn’t even a challenge, picked it off the truck, rolled it aside, put a hobby horse under the back, let it down, then picked up the front so it was vertical and rolled it into place.

So invest in the right tools for the job… This one probably cost me less than the co-pay on an office visit with a back specialist!

 

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