It’s always an adventure with The Bus.
So, I’m moving to a new apartment and that’s been on the forefront of my mind lately. They say that moving is one of the most stressful things a person has to go through, and lemmie tell ya’ buddy, I’ve been stressed. Life. is. boxes. Emily, who you may remember from last year’s camping adventures, agreed to come down to help with the move; she doesn’t have a car so I had to go pick her up. This is a mixed blessing because it means I need to spend all day in the car, picking her up and bringing her back to Ypsi (when I should be packing things in boxes!), but on the other hand it also means I can finally get my bus out for the summer; she’ll drive my Buick back and I’ll drive The Bus home. I get an assistant to help move, The Bus gets out for the summer (finally), so it’s really a win-win situation.
Things started off a little rough. We went over to my cousin’s (where I store The Bus for the winter) and I saw that he’d put the battery charger on it for me, unfortunately it was only showing 20% charge. I tried giving her a start and she wouldn’t even turn over. After some fiddling around we finally pulled out the old jumper cables and jumped The Bus off of my Buick. We got her started, but it was clear that if it stalled out (by the way, it still doesn’t like to idle) it wouldn’t start again. I figured it was a minor inconvenience, after all I’ve driven all over Da’ U.P. without a starter; I know how to park on hills and how to push-start myself, plus I have Emily to help me push!
Down the road we went, but things just seemed a little…. off. After a few miles I realized that there was something going on with a tire; the ride was exceptionally rough and I didn’t feel comfortable going faster than about 50 MPH. When we got in to Merrill I called Emily and asked her if my right rear tire was bouncing around, she said “no, but the left one is all over the place, and it looks like it needs air!” We stopped at the Merrill BP, the clerk loaned me a tire gauge, and I checked the air in all four tires and it was fine; that left-rear tire looked funny though. I thought it looked like the tread was starting to separate, but I decided to keep on trucking; what other choice did I have? Emily gave me a push and I popped the clutch and off we went.
Riding around without a spare tire is probably not the brightest idea, but I haven’t had a chance to replace the tire (and rim!) from last year’s camping trip adventure. Riding down the road with this tire on my mind, I started making plans to replace it once I got home. It’d just have to get me home, after all I have packing to do! So I was making plans in my head, but I never discussed them with The Bus; it had different plans.
We got about 4 miles onto M-57 when the tire blew.
I rolled off to the side of the road and got out to inspect. Yup, flat tire, no spare, middle of nowhere; this seems oddly familiar. I pulled out the jack and a stand and we got her up off the ground and got the flat off.
Behold, the Hippie in his natural habitat.
We tried the donut spare from the Buick, but although the bolt pattern lined up the holes were the wrong size, so that didn’t work. Thankfully, there was cell phone service, so I looked up tire shops in the area. There was one in Chesaning, so I called and they didn’t have a P185/75R14. I found another tire store that was 10 miles away, they didn’t have a P185/75R14 either (apparently this is a rare size), but I asked him if he knew anybody that might have one and he gave me a phone number. I tried a third place and they didn’t have the right size either, but I asked him for a recommendation and he gave me the number to Ovid Auto Parts and Bait Shop. I rang up Ovid Auto Parts (and Bait Shop) and told the guy on the other end of the phone that I had a flat tire and I was wondering if he had one with air in it. Turns out he had a P185/75R14, but only one; good thing I only needed one. Emily and I threw the flat tire in the Buick’s trunk and off we went, abandoning The Bus by the side of the road.
It was about 20 miles to Ovid Auto Parts (and Bait), and when we got there the guy was busy with some other customers. He got the tire changed out for me and while I was waiting I had a chance to look around the store. At the end of an aisle he had a rack of batteries, and on top of the rack was a lovely 800 CCA battery with both top and side posts. (You see, due to the unique structure of the electrical system on The Bus, I need a battery with both top and side posts.) He wanted $99.99 for the battery, which I thought was a good deal, and he charged me $45 for the tire including mounting, balancing, and old tire disposal. All in all, I thought it was fair.
We drove back to The Bus and hardly got lost at all. We got the tire back on. Emily dug around in the little red toolbox (the only tools I had with me!) and found an 8mm flare nut wrench (good enough for the side posts). She couldn’t find a 1/2″ for the top post terminals, but she found a 13mm which was close enough. I swapped out the battery (and almost forgot to put the air filter back on!).
It’s pretty amazing, when your battery isn’t completely dead it starts right up! The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful: we stopped and got gas, and I got into a 20 minute conversation with someone who used to know someone who owned a beetle. We stopped and had dinner at this little bar in Oakley, they only had three things on the menu: steak, brats, and hot dogs; we both had brats. Then we drove…