Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rust: The Final Battle

Remember when I said I only had one hole left to fix in the holy hippie veggie van?
Turns out that one hole is actually about 8 holes. I'm gonna need more fiberglass.
As excited as I am about getting my interior finished, I need to get the last (front)section of plywood subfloor put down before I can continue building.
So today I pulled the front seats and removed the rest of the carpeting from the cab. I knew I had a big rust hole by the pedals, but I didn't know HOW big. At least where the seats bolt in the floor is still solid and relatively rust free.
No wonder she's noisy going down the road. The only thing between me and the engine compartment was a layer of natty old carpet.

I should mention that all my neighbors think I'm totally loopy for putting this much work into an "old POS van". But that's OK.

Maybe some of you out there are wondering as well, so let me tell you why.
This van was built before computer chips were standard issue in vehicles. It is a 350diesel, so it was built to be a work vehicle, and take lots of abuse.
It was also built by Americans with big hands, so my little hands can get to every bolt or screw. It was built with American steel alloys, not with cheap Chinese metals. One of the first things you learn when working on boats is to stay away from foreign metals, especially below the waterline. If you replace a thru hull fitting with cheap metal, you're asking for trouble. Corrosion is a bitch.

This van was built to WORK, and to be worked on.

One of my ex boyfriends had a late model Saturn that needed a starter.
"No problem," says I. "I've replaced my share of starters."
I looked at the Saturn, and it turns out you need to remove about 5 major components in the engine compartment just to GET to the starter. I couldn't even get my hand in there to see where to start. I didn't love him THAT much, so he took it to the shop, and for $220.00 got a new starter. I found that disgusting, as a starter change on my 1982 toyota cost me all of $25.00.
I've owned several newer vehicles since then (when I say newer, I mean 1990's) and my disgust has continued to increase. After the last vehicle fiasco, I swore never to buy anything with a computer in it again.

My $700.00 van was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Diesel, mechanical fuel injection, lowish mileage (anything not pushing 200K is lowish mileage to me), no serious frame damage. Two fuel tanks so I can run her on used fryer oil. Ugly enough that I won't feel bad chopping into it to customize it. I would've preferred a standard transmission, but the C-6 3 speed auto that's in it has gotten good reviews as a tough tranny.
So let the neighbors laugh when they drive by in their nifty 2000 model pieces of crap. Mine may be loud and ugly, but its cheap and easy to fix, and when the solar storms intensify, or somebody drops an EMP weapon, my baby will still be running. All those pretty Hummers and Lexi (plural of Lexus) will be dead in the water. I'll be pushing them out of the way to clear the roads for people who drive REAL vehicles.
I've wanted my old diesel "Beast" for as long as I can remember. I've always been talked out of getting what I want by friends/co-workers/dealers who say it's impractical. I should get something "reliable". Now I finally have my Beast. She gives me great joy, in all her rusted glory.
And she's more reliable than any of the '90's model pieces of crap I've owned.


  1. It makes perfect sense to me...and I agree with all the reasons you say for wanting it!

    You go, girl! You got it going on...!

  2. I'll agree on all points....
    I gotta find either a diesel engine for the jeep or find an older motor (not legal) to replace the efi one. I'm loath to just get rid of the jeep because its one of the ones they got 4wd right on in 91. ya oughta see what the floor? looks like in the jeep. I need to completely replace it this year. any ideas on what to do?
    its a 91 Comanche 4.0 ho with 300k on it.

  3. I understand perfectly well. Driving a '94 F250 truck, last of the mechanical diesels. Just bartered for some welding on it and did some glass work. Hope to pass state inspection in the morning. Been running it on WVO for two years. Not pretty. Painted it with a foam brush and that helped a lot. The truck works for a living. Rarely runs empty.


  4. Hi Sixbears, thanks for stopping by. I've read your comments on other blogs and you seem to have a very interesting perspective.
    The van will probably get a quick Rustoleum in a can paintjob to make it slightly less ugly so it doesn't draw unwanted attention.

    Dragon, I'm not sure what to do about total floor replacement. I haven't worked with metal all that much, you might be able to cut new sheet metal and rivet it on. The nice thing about fiberglass is that it doesn't rust, and it seals oxygen and moisture away from metal so the rust stops. Sheet metal would probably be cheaper though, I'm gonna have to cough up about $100 some dollars for more West systems epoxy.
    I wish the van was 4WD. There aren't many 4wd vans out there, and they all seem to be out of my price range.

  5. West System! Hoooooo boy, did you take the expensive route! But that stuff will stick like a mutha! I feel yer pain with late model vehicles. Every time I open the hood on one, the phrase "damned engineers" usually comes outta my mouth. The little worms should be forced to work on their evil creations.....

    Dragon, for your Comanche, meet Mr. Fiberglass! Quickest, cheapest, easiest remedy for body cancer....