Having recently returned to the tundra from sunny and drenched Florida, As usual I fell into my usual questioning… Why did I come back? Granted, my end of Florida is a poorly disguised swamp, with just a few days heavy rain leaving water lapping at the industrial strength air conditioner my mom laid out the big bucks for. The place smelled of swamped sewer system for a bit, and thought the bought and paid for by the developers Naples News won’t fess up to it, there was flooding.

So I drove home on dry roads to this:

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Actually, that’s an improvement! Thanks to the 500 feet of snow fence I’d scattered about the periphery of my acre or so, the snowdrift tall as me had assembled itself a hundred feet upwind rather than across my driveway. This picture was taken during monday’s blizzard, and the barely visible trees are 200 feet away… That’s a mild blizzard, I’ve got pictures where you can barely make out the mailbox 50 feet away! And to deal with what the snow fence couldn’t, a bit of redneck snow control:

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Noting that snowdrifts tend to give parked vehicles a bit of space, I simply hooked up the pickup and 6 by 12 trailer and parked them where the drift was usually deepest. So I start up the pickup and almost pull right out and leave 35 feet of clear driveway in a minute. But the trailer wheels stick out a foot or so on each side thus adding a lot of snow drag, so had to unhook from the trailer, make some ruts with the 4 by 4 Ranger, then hook back up and drag the whole mess with a couple feet of snow atop over to the drainfield mound, where it’s insulating qualities may be needed.

Now the Ranger’s underside neatly trims the snow depth down to a foot or so, and a bit of back and forth rut making neatly breaks up the compacted snow. This still leaves me the work of shoveling a Golf wide swath that foot deep and a hundred feet long to the street. Now I left Florida with a sore knee from getting out of bed wrong or something, I don’t know, I did my business and fell back to sleep. After shoveling out that driveway a time and a half (had a couple inches more snow and blizzard winds), damn near every joint I own aches.

This brings me to my annual reckoning… Should I stay in Florida all winter? I look at the FEMA flood maps again, remember that the “campground” I abode in uses a series of “kited” equity loans for operating capital and to pay for the late owners wife’s condo on the beach, and then the Naples News runs an article on how the county wants to “encourage” development in the surrounding swamp. “Development” means hauling in several feet of fill to get the new town homes and strip malls and attendant parking lots and roads above the FEMA hundred year flood plain, which means deeper water in my little trailer park that sits a couple feet lower.

But you can ride all year… With the exception of summer days when heat stroke is a real threat. And where to… Florida now having passed New York in population, it’s like one big long suburb from Key West north. There’s some beautiful places and great cultures like the Everglades and Caribbean food and music… But the road into the Everglades is lightly traveled and the locals warn me to stay out of Miami, probably because they listen to Faux News instead of slowly tuning the dial for music from the Caribbean.

So having again decided to “brave” a few more Minnesnowtah winters, my aching body told me it was time to acquire some snow moving power tools. Adding a plow to the Ranger sounded easy, but it won’t handle deep compacted drifts, and do I want to bet $3000 that a 19 year old pickup in the rustbelt has many years of structural integrity left? It won’t mow either, and neither will a “throwaway” snowblower. So I decided it was time to call the Kubota dealer and a tell them I’m ready for that tractor we talked about last fall.

That was two days and another inch of snow ago, and I still haven’t called the Kubota dealer. Got the Ranger insured so I can go drift busting on the streets again, this snow is too much fun! Even had visions of snowmobiling for a minute, but ATVs are more versatile, and don’t Arctic Cat sell a three point hitch for theirs? Supposed to warm up next week, maybe I should move the hack’d Super Tenere up by the door?

But if I see a marked down snow blower at Costco tomorrow, I’ll probably bring it home…

 

 

Meanwhile, Apple’s managing to wipe the hard drive on my computer while trying to install a mere OS upgrade has me wondering if VW can really muster the tech talent needed to give 400,000 TDI diesels a DEF system transplant and OS “upgrade”. Apple’s problem seemed to be a network install system that wasn’t properly idiot proofed and poorly trained Apple Store “geniuses”. Heard similar stories of more botched repairs of motorcycles lately, including the Harley wrench who managed to fill the oil sump of an airhead right up to the airbox!

There are around 650 VW dealers in the U.S., that works out to about 600 cars per dealer to perform an all day (at least) recall job on. How many dealers have three spare mechanics and stalls just sittin’ around to do those 600 recalls in a year? Makes a buy out for some of the older cars more likely, ‘specially with a 2009 Jetta TDI having a KBB “book value” of under $4k. Give the customer $6k, export the TDI outside the US and do the easier software flash that’ll make it legal anywhere but north america… And with the strong demand for VW diesels around the world, it’ll damn near be a wash…

Course, they can’t have mine ’til I wear it out!

Too Much Material… So I head off to the Rally Done Right, AKA the Florida Winter Rally a day early to miss the deluge forecast for friday and thus miss the courtroom battle of the liquidators for the bones of EBR/Buell. No big loss to moto-journalism, as the winning liquidator brags that they want to sell to someone that will restart EBR, on the very off chance that someone with a million or more more than said liquidator paid for the company somehow missed the three auctions and now wants to buy EBR and build EBRs. I’ll give that liquidator a little time to hang themselves with an announcement of sale of the bits of EBR before condemning much further.

I swear the Buell did misfire for a combustion cycle at about the time a Wisconsin Court consigned EBR to liquidation and history, but it does that often anyways when slowed to Florida traffic speeds. Wore my Buell regalia to the rally and parked the Buell prominently at the rally, just to remind the assembled BMW fanatics that a 15 year old american sports bike is still alive, kicking, and has no fuel pump nor final drive to fire up or not when expected to do the opposite. And despite the deluges and sunday morn windstorm, had a great time thanks to the Northeast Florida BMW Riders and Camp Bland. Heck, even the usually overpriced garage sales became suddenly reasonable and I came home with a couple new manuals, and would have brought home more stuff if I had room on the bike! Good seminars too, ranging from a couple who had traveled the world on an R80GS airhead they bought used to the laughable attempts by the local BMW dealer to convince us that our engines would immolate if we didn’t buy their $100 “injector cleanings” at regular intervals!

So today I’m debating which of these events to chronicle first, when the “first drives” of the new Focus RS start to pop in the Euro motoring press. Complementing the LeMans bound Ford GT with this 350 HP all wheel drive ultimate hot hatch looks to be the second coming of Ford’s “Total Performance” opus of the 60s, and may very well eclipse the Golf R, Subie WRX, and Mitsu Evos in one fell swoop. Too bad my Ford stock is down and I can’t cash it in on a Focus RS, but if VW wants to buy back my TDI I’ll accept a Golf R as an even up trade… LOL!

Finally, I’m getting peeved enough to write an MLK day article on the whitewashed inventor Fred Jones. Just google his name… He’s the african american inventor of transport refrigeration, and without him we’d still be keeping livestock in the backyard and eating potatoes all winter instead of fresh vegies and seafood. On MLK day Fred should be on the website front page of the company, Thermo King, his invention created… But you’ll have to dig deep in their website to find any mention of him, and there’s no acknowledgement that he was a black man. I can think of a whole bunch of frozen food businesses near my home in Minnesota and here in the salad bowl of Florida that wouldn’t exist without Fred’s invention, but fat chance any of those companies will even give Fred a mention on the break room bulletin board on MLK day.

And they wonder why minorities and women don’t go into science and technology…

 

The world auto population is about a billion, and less than one percent of that fleet are VW’s alleged “dirty diesels”. Of the errant TDIs, less than ten percent are in the U.S and less than one percent are in California. amounting to around 75,000 in total. For most of the world this whole “scandal” is over, VW having admitted fault and come up with an acceptable fix… Except for the U.S. and state of California!

One would think that CARB and the EPA would thus evaluate their bargaining position and realize that VW could follow the lead of Scania, MAN, Peugeot/Citroen, and Suzuki et al and bid goodbye to the unappreciative U.S. market and it’s non-world standard regulations. And given how they let GM, the whole heavy truck making industry, and more recently Navistar off easy with vague promises of “we’ll fix it (someday)” for similar cheating, CARB and EPA’s sudden “zero tolerance” approach to VW does look rather nationalistic.

But EPA and CARB even more so are a on mission from the gods of environmental purity, though they’re still trying to figure out just what environmental purity is.  Thus these environmental high priests of California and the U.S., despite having .5% and 5% of the world’s population respectively, expect to be honored and obeyed despite their oftentimes stupidity. The domestic manufacturers and a few world manufacturers have learned how to play their game and even game them- “We’ll happily meet that emissions standard, and thanks for that billion dollar grant to help us do so”.

But VW plays by Euro rules, where they long ago figured out that pm2.5 and NOX are fixed problems, and global warming is a more pressing one. Thus Euro regulation favors diesel as the most achievable way to cut greenhouse gasses, and most of the rest of the world has adopted the Euro standards, except that oddball market known as the U.S with Canada along for the ride, and California with a vengeance. And VW is so Euro that they only recently got into the pickup market, and the compact segment only at that. And while the big three and asian transplants crank out SUVs by the millions, VW is finally tooling up to build one in Chattanooga. Meanwhile VW has added Scania and MAN to their holdings, and they’re doing just fine despite choosing to ignore the U.S. market. That suggests VW wouldn’t really miss the less than a tenth of their cars that get sold here.

Thusly VW’s new chief exec bumbled through the Detroit Auto Show media feeding frenzy and meetings with CARB yesterday and EPA today, through it all showing that he’d totally skipped the usual “media relations” executive training. Rebuffed, CARB and EPA thus rejected VW’s plan to get the “dirty diesels” legal, forgetting that the law only requires that VW bring their cars into compliance, not curtsy and kiss their pinkies too.

I think I like this new VW CEO!

DSC_5072The pace slowed a fair bit today, though we had wheelbuilder Trigg from Illinois in attendance and he gave us a much needed demonstration of wire wheel rebuilding and trueing. We also took on a laundry list of repairs on a late arriving GSPD that even after we cut some nonessentials from the list kept us busy all day and into the night. That GSPD threw us some curves with too short choke cables and a few other gremlins, but we knocked off a bit after dark and retired to watch Green Bay triumph. But the GSPD and rider were still there when I left, so tech daze may not be over after all…

But what the heck, most of us are retired and would just as soon drag out the wrenchin’ and fellowship, ‘specially since this is the last Naples Tach Daze that Roger Bush is hosting. Yup, after a decade of creating one of the best tech daze anywhere, Roger is retiring and passing the baton to a new host. So Roger, thanks for everything… And we’ll try to get your shop presentable again tomorrow!

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DSC_5058Yes, we’ve become so disoriented that were putting gears in the fridge with the refreshments. That disorientation extends to time as well as space, as those gears that be chillin’ are for a six decade old BMW.

DSC_5046Even had someone set up a GoPro to record their wrenchin…

DSC_5060So we industriously edited in “crawler” PSAs!

DSC_5067The usual group photo.

DSC_5068As the wrenchin’, bench and otherwise, carries on into the night…

The R68/3’s gears got liberated today!DSC_5045With a bit of persuasion from dueling torches and a shop made impact screwdriver bit… But that’s SOP for working with old BMWs, where I suspect component fits were calibrated in degrees centigrade of heat for how long to install or release them. That’s a monument to what BMW once was, more an engineering tour de force than a corporation.

But enough serious wrenchin’…DSC_5021This is all about having a good time with good friends and ridin’ and wrenchin’ and BSin’.

DSC_5022And celebrating the rebuild of another transmission, this one a mere four decades old.Or just celebrating another momentous day of Airhead Tech Daze…

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