Maybe you’ve noticed some backsliding on our blog as of late. That’s because we had a major breakdown. I’ll spare you all the technical stuff and just say this: a part broke in the engine that will be a major and not-easy repair. For those of you playing along at home, this is the second major repair we’ve had to make. Sam, our engine builder from Minnesota, is a standup guy and will take care of the issue. Here’s the full story:
We were driving into Apalachicola, just south of Tallahassee when the engine suddenly became very loud. Like I-can’t-hear-the-radio loud. We drove for a couple miles until there was a gas station where we could pull over and start diagnosing the issue. I called Norm, our trusty mechanic back in the Dayton. He guided me through some diagnostics. We also called Collin Kellogg, of Itinerant Air-cooled fame, and he took me through some more tests. We all reached the same conclusion: the #2 cylinder failed. Hard.
At this point, I had been working on the bus for about three hours in this gas station parking lot. A man in a white truck pulled up and told Miracle that if we needed a place to stay for the night, he was also a VW guy and would be willing to let us crash at his place. His name is Blacky. As it got dark and cold, we decided that might be best. We called Blacky and he drove over. Then his mechanic, Nick, arrived to give the engine a look. Nick also reached the conclusion that cylinder #2 was a goner and then offered to let us store the bus in his yard until we could get it taken care of. (His yard was across the street.)
We talked to Sam, who, without an ounce of hesitation, said he could look at the bus if we could bring it to him, no problem. So we called our friend Neil. Neil said he would trailer us all over the damned country, sure, no problem, but he wouldn’t be able to leave until next week. I talked to Blacky and said it looks like it’ll be a week and I would look at getting a room over at the Best Western. Then Blacky said, “You’re more than welcome to say here, man. You’re about to spend a lot of money getting the bus all the way up to Minnesota. Here you’ve got lodging.”
Folks, I almost cried. At this point, everything was on the table: Calling off this crazy venture, selling the bus, fixing or not fixing the bus, trailering home. You name it—we considered it. Then Blacky said we could borrow his 1965 13-window Bus to cruise around for the week while we waited for Neil. “I mean, you don’t even know us,” I said. Blacky laughed and said, “We know each other now.”
So for the last week, we have been cruising around the Forgotten Coast of Florida, taking in the sights. In terms of catastrophic breakdowns, it has been phenomenal, thanks to the kindness of others—old friends and new friends alike.