Yesterday was very busy and very productive all at the same time. We (yes, three of us in a truck meant for two grown adults) made a big loop across the northern part of Ohio and picked up a few diamonds in the rough. One is a 1974 Corvette for parts that we bought as a donor for our 1977 Corvette restoration project.
The other is a 1985 Mercury Capri. It definitely has possibilities! We have yet to dig into it, but already, people have oohed and aahed from afar. It’s one of those cars that people remember because they had one back in the day.
Special thanks to those who helped us out yesterday. As much as I’d like to be Superwoman, a Godzilla-sized cherry picker and ambition from one person only goes so far. I look forward to our new projects and will definitely be keeping everyone posted 🙂
We had, at one point, a 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD. We did our homework and this suited our needs best (at the time,) so, after scouring eBay and dealing with some, ahem, rather “interesting” car dealers in Miami, completed our purchase. It had the fuel mileage and the towing capacity we needed. Sounds easy, right?
Here’s a hint: if it were easy, I would not be discussing this in the “funny stories” category.
First of all….Diesel. The diesel Liberty was a rarity. So rare that for the first few months we had the thing, every trip to the gas station was a 3-ring circus. “SIR (or “MA’AM, depending on which one of us was outside,) you are about to put DIESEL FUEL into your Jeep.” It was cute the first two times, but every fill-up? By the time it came time to register and plate the thing, I was so sick of hearing about it that our chosen vanity tag was “GRNR DZL.” Greener Diesel in short form. Emphasis on DIESEL. To prevent well-meaning but incorrect folks from having heart attacks as I fill up with diesel fuel.
Second of all…..Towing. We did quite a few cross-country trips then, purchasing cars out of state or delivering items via rented trailer. It would have been OK if booking a trailer through Uhaul’s website actually worked correctly.
But no. The drop down boxes on the pages wouldn’t let me combine Jeep, Liberty, and diesel. To make matters worse, calling Uhaul’s 1-800 number was sometimes just as unhelpful. Let’s just say that I eat smarmy 20-something guys who think I’m STUPID about cars just because I’m female for breakfast. They taste great with barbecue sauce. (“Of COURSE my Jeep can tow, and don’t call me ‘ma’am’ out of spite. I don’t care what your computer system says, I know its specs. I didn’t buy something that wouldn’t be useful for towing cars. May I PLEASE speak to your supervisor?”) I think my personal best (or worst) was speaking to five different representatives before booking my reservation.
We now have a more “typical” ride – a Dodge Ram. A lot of large Corvette parts barely fit in the bed of the truck, so it’s more useful on that front. However, the gas mileage leaves a lot to be desired. It’s almost enough for me to track down that Liberty, kick myself in the butt for getting rid of it, buy it again, and strap Corvette parts to the roof a la Fred Flintstone and his rack of ribs. Almost.
We just got back from a road trip to Texas, where we picked up a recent purchase – a 1984 C4 Corvette. It just so happened that we came back a different way, allowing me to stop by the National Corvette Museum with the ’84 in tow.
I finally took it for a drive out in the parking lot of our garage today. Although it probably still has the original shocks (bouncy bounce bounce….) and no power steering, it was actually kind of fun! It doesn’t have a dash (in fact, it has a pile of rainbow spaghetti where the dash should be) so I used my musical training in tempo and pitch to shift gears by ear. I’m sure my piano teacher would be proud.
Still not sure if I’m going to restore it or part it out….We shall see.
While I was at the National Corvette Museum, I picked up some goodies to throw into the packages we send out 🙂
It was so bad, I almost swore I would never complain of being bored with Mickey D’s ever again. Almost.
After several days of traveling, we had BOTH had enough of McDonald’s, Burger King, and the like. We settled into our hotel in Georgia, ordered some Chinese takeout from a recommended restaurant, and made plans for the next day. The goal was to get home as fast as possible.
The food. It was underwhelming, at best. I swear, some takeout places purposely skimp on traveling customers in order to save money, and the even “better” ones pretend like nobody speaks English when you offer some constructive criticism. We both got a shrimp dish with approximately 10 broccoli pieces to each shrimp. Shrimp that weren’t deveined, even.
What’s worse than finding you have a sensitivity to shrimp? Finding it out when over 1,000 miles from home*. Our plans? Hah. The only thing happening quick and snappy were bathroom trips. We only got about 20 miles down the road before we found another hotel to crash in. Forget our usual preference for continental breakfast – the LAST thing either of us wanted to think about was food.
Moral of the story: Some kinds of food are best enjoyed close to home. Chinese, Mexican, and Cracker Barrel are the three I can think of off the top of my head. Oh, that’s right, I don’t enjoy Cracker Barrel any more, but I’ll leave that story to the imagination. It’s pretty crappy.
*It’s not an issue with peeled and deveined shrimp, just the, ahem, “intact” ones. We eat shrimp quite often at home.
…Sometimes, it’s just a mother.
About three years ago, we went to pick up a Doug Nash 4+3 Corvette transmission from Tennessee. It was actually cheaper for us to pick it up than it would have been to ship to Ohio. (They are quite a bit heavier than a normal transmission.) We thought we’d add some value to our trip by seeing what we could find in the area. Ohio cars, especially older sports cars, can be a bear to deal with because of rust.
So, on that lovely Sunday morning, we consulted the oracle in Craigslist to see what all we could find. What we found in Sunbright, Tennessee, was a first generation Mazda RX-7 in beautiful shape (minus a few bad apex seals) for $400. We called and made arrangements to look at the car, and possibly pick it up.
What we ALSO found is that no Uhaul location even remotely close to Sunbright was open on Sundays. The closest open location was in Georgia. Off to a hardware store commonly known as “Horrible Fright” to purchase a 5,000-lb capacity tow bar. We had seen quite a few people use these without any problem, so we figured it would be more than enough for this RX-7.
We traveled up winding mountain roads up to Sunbright, where we met up with a very nice family looking to sell their RX-7. It was a project they hadn’t gotten around to and were more into bikes and such, so the RX-7 was ours. It almost wasn’t.
What we do when towing is travel for a block or two, check and adjust everything, go for a few more miles, re-check our load, and then go on our merry way. It can take a few stops to get everything to seat in properly, but after a few adjustments it’s usually smooth sailing. The worst I usually have to worry about is a misbehaving ratchet strap. HOWEVER….before we could even find a place to do our first check, we heard an ominous “SCREEEEECH” and a pop while rounding a corner.. Our Horrible Fright tow bar had split at one of the mounts. To make matters worse, we were on a pretty steep slope and the car was dangling. We were not in a very populated area and the closest hardware store was the Horrible Fright we stopped at 20 miles before.
Lucky for us, the man who sold us the RX-7 had a tow dolly that belonged to his brother in law, and he was nice enough to let us borrow it. He met up with us at the gas station we’d pulled into with along with the RX-7 hanging from one side of our errant tow bar. True to our word, we brought the tow dolly back to Sunbright a week or so after that. Other people’s trust and generosity? Awesome. Horrible Fright tow bar fail? Not so awesome. Don’t worry, we’ve already learned to call UHaul *first* before anything else.
Well, for those of you who don’t know, I’m expecting.
Expecting great things…
What kind of great things, you ask? Well, it’s a 1984 Corvette from out of state and all I had to do was let my fingers do the walking on uShip. For shorter trips, it’s nice to get out of the house and out of the area for an afternoon or so. For longer trips, well…
There’s the issue of renting a UHaul trailer. Sounds easy enough, considering that we rent from our local Uhaul quite a bit without any problems. However, I have booked reservations online, only to arrive to a destination several hours (and sometimes, several states) away just to be told, “I’m sorry, but your 2wd Dodge will just NOT haul a Corvette properly. I can’t let you rent this.” The last time this happened, I spent two hours at a Michigan Uhaul convincing two separate stores that, yes, I *have* hauled Corvettes before without any problems. They then scared up a lighter (but much OLDER and previously wrecked) auto transport with a VERY bent safety latch. (Manager had the nerve to give us attitude after receiving our honest “anonymous” review, but that is another story for another day.)
Really? REALLY? Can’t haul a Corvette? That’s how I did it three times…with a pocketful of Jack’s magic beanstalk beans. *whatever*
Then, there’s the whole food and lodging thing. I can deal with fast food every once in a while. I also don’t mind spending the night out of town every so often. However, packing for several days, eating on the road, and that sort of thing get old. I also can’t ship out any packages or do most of my other work when I’m gone. It becomes a big deal when we suddenly receive a spike in sales when we are out of town. I like getting shipments out quickly; I am not so thrilled by a huge backlog of shipments. I am not super picky about hotels, but I don’t want to choose one hotel over another for its “AWESOME continental breakfast” to find only weak coffee and carrot-raisin-nut muffins and stale bagels set out. This might have happened once or twice.
Gas is expensive, too. I know, I just heard a collective “DUH” from the audience, but hauling a trailer with a Corvette isn’t great for the gas mileage. Tolls can be pesky, too…the two extra axles from an auto transport can sometimes raise tolls by 1000%. <-- Not a typo. And if you don't believe me, cross over the George Washington Bridge with one of these in tow. I could have made a small grocery run with the money I paid for that little trip. I miss the cats when we're gone. I have three moderately spoiled cats who provide a lot of comic relief, especially when they want attention while everybody at home is busy. (Lucky for me, Spanky is asleep on a recliner as I write this post, NOT purring in my face.) Sometimes, loading and unloading cars from a trailer is not a big deal. However, the cars we pick up are not always picture perfect in somebody's garage.It's Sports Car Salvage, not OMG Shiny Perfect Sports Car Corporation. Having one with all 4 wheels pointing the same direction *and* brakes *and* runs and drives all at the same time is kinda rare. Not having to be the one primarily responsible for loading unloading these cars can be a big strain off my shoulders. Literally. Strain on the shoulders. 🙂
After a 4-state, 5-day trip earlier this year, during which we purchased another salvage car on eBay, I wasn’t in a big hurry to make the lengthy trip to pick up this Corvette in Georgia. Because the trip we had just made was as long as this trip to Georgia and back would be, I totaled up the receipts for our travel expenses. Wow….those $5 and $10 purchases start adding up after a while, around the tune of $600. So, I figured that if we could have it transported for around that amount, it would be worth it. Sure enough, a few weeks later….another Corvette in the garage without all of the travel headaches.
The cats thank me, too.
So, this past week has been extremely productive.
We started out our road trip to pick up a gas tank (can’t ship those!) and some other parts to restore this FB RX-7 with. Then we headed to load up our truck with an assortment C3 and C5 Corvette items. (Thank God for cargo nets.)
After acquiring the RX-7 and Corvette parts, we picked up a 1990 Mazda Miata. It runs! It drives! I had way too much fun driving it around our shop parking lot. This one will be parted out and the parts sold on eBay.
After burning up the miles between Akron and Rochester Hills, MI, including a lovely trip down Telegraph Road (US 24) through the western suburbs of the Big Daytwa, we’re going to take a few days to have our munchkin up from her mother’s place in Dayton.
Lil Bear helps around the shop, swings a mean broom, and thinks all cars should be Barbie Pink (she’s 8.something,) and gets emotionally attached to cars. In other words, a little car princess. 🙂
So it’s gonna be a chill-out, visit, enjoy loved ones kinda-weekend. We hope you get the chance to do the same!
After the nerve-wracking trip down to Columbus and back to get her, that is. O_O
The time I spend straightening out UHaul issues is time that I’m NOT spending earning cash toward this very admirable goal.
I enter all of the information about my truck, the car to haul, what I want to rent, and my personal data into the UHaul website. Everything works properly, so I should be fine, right?
Except there’s a problem more often than not.
The last time I was told “sorry, your truck + auto transporter + Corvette = epic brake fail” the person ringing me up had entered something wrong about the truck into the system. We fixed it after about 20 minutes of phone calls and my pointing out the correct facts about the truck. After driving to West Virginia in a surprise snowstorm, I wasn’t about to give up that easily.
Today was a totally different story. We showed up in the Detroit area to “import” a Corvette. After a 4-hour trip, booking the UHaul in advance, and even speaking to a customer service representative, I was denied again. Too much weight for the truck to handle with the auto transport and the car. Never mind that the Corvette was basically a frame on wheels (no engine, suspension, or other heavy stuff) and weighed probably less than half of its original weight. If the computer system won’t allow a certain combination, no amount of pointing out facts and logic to the local UHaul or their corporate offices will help. What is extra frustrating is that I was allowed to enter that same exact information on the online confirmation screen and didn’t get any indication that there would be problems on the other end. We got sent to another UHaul in the area with a lighter trailer that would work with our truck.
If something sounds easy enough, it probably isn’t.
The trailer in question was at the second location, but so was a host of computer system issues. It took over a hour to take care of things there, and if the manager hadn’t shown up to help, I probably would have had to swipe my credit card a third time for this rental. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, I had to scramble for a second form of ID because it was an out of state rental…which baffles me, considering we do most of our renting outside of Ohio and have never been asked for that before. It’s the first time in a long time that my George Costanza wallet with EVERYTHING helped rather than hurt.
Total time to resolve all of this: 2 hours. I wasn’t able to get any sort of refund for my troubles. Which is unfortunate, considering that those extra 2 hours will cause unloading the trailer to be delayed by a day. As much as I would like to be Superman, unloading cars is at least a three-person project and requires scheduling help – and NOT at 10:30 pm, which is when we would have gotten to our destination.
So, why is it that if I show up to my local UHaul rental store (a company store, not a franchise like the three places I mentioned earlier) and request an auto transport, I can get one without any problem?
If anybody from UHaul is reading this and thinking, “Well, I don’t know…” now you understand why a trailer of our own is such a good idea.