The Truth About Cars » Winter Tales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Winter Tales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com MEMOIRS OF AN INDEPENDENT REPAIR SHOP OWNER: Tall Winter Tales – Extreme Weekend Banzai Road Test / Rally—Part Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/memoirs-of-an-independent-repair-shop-owner-tall-winter-tales-extreme-weekend-banzai-road-test-rally-part-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/memoirs-of-an-independent-repair-shop-owner-tall-winter-tales-extreme-weekend-banzai-road-test-rally-part-two/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 12:11:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475202 We rejoin our tale of high adventure—en route to Golden, CO, for the purpose of taking delivery of a slightly used superbike—aboard a newly acquired and undertested first-gen Toyota Van; in the process of plowing headlong into the high country in southwestern Utah in a driving snowstorm, through the zero-dark hour leg of our non-stop round trip run.

From my point of view behind the wheel, it seems like a fair fight, all things considered.

“The Mint”, my friend and co-conspirator, sitting quietly—and with not an unnoticeable amount of tension, I might add—in the passenger’s seat, was seeing the odds much less in our favor.

It took some miles of the wheel-spinning, opposite-lock, damn-the-torpedoes-and-full-speed-ahead snowplowing constancy involved in our I-70 ascent for him to relax and see things from my perspective.

It wasn’t that I was in any way overconfident—the potential dangers involved in what we were doing being as much in my field of vision as the windshield in front of me. It was more like experiencing the natural progression of a plan based on a sound judgment of our prevailing assets and liabilities at the outset, and at the moment.

I find such opportunities to be a source of some road going visceral entertainment. That—on such occasions—local Law Enforcement is not even on the palette of consideration, just adds to the entertainment factor. In such cases, “Law Enforcement” comes in the form of natural laws governing the process being experienced. If you go outside THOSE laws, well, the penalties are imposed rather immediately, and they certainly can’t be argued with.

Motoring in it’s purest form, this is!

As it turned out, through the entire mid-blizzard thrash symphony we experienced on that fuel stint, there was only one p-factor moment I can recall. We were just cresting a rise with integrated gentle right hand sweeper at the very beginning of our descent to the eastern Utah plain and southwestern CO border, just at dawn. It wasn’t snowing at that moment, and the road, while wet, was snow-free. Just as I was considering the fact that this was a rather exposed section of road, and that the surface was difficult to read—owing to, among other factors, that it was concrete—that our cable chains probably weren’t enhancing road grip at that precise moment, and that we were now on an increasingly downhill incline, it happened. While most desirable to experience on a dry road, in some kind of performance vehicle, a four wheel drift outside of the desired cornering line, in a an unladed rear-drive utility van, moving a little too fast for conditions, downhill, on black ice, is, well, UNDESIRABLE!

All I could do was to get completely off throttle, and maintain as tight a line as I could, without risking a spin. As we inched toward the concrete dividing wall, I felt an improvement in grip on the “shoulder marbles”, and reacquired the little Van with about a foot to spare.

Had that not happened, we’d have had us a nice little brush with the wall, but probably wouldn’t have sustained any serious damage.

No sooner had our own immediate drama resolved, than we spotted a Ford Ranger on its roof—presumably going the opposite direction just moments before—on the other side of the road, with Highway Patrol unit in attendance!

We definitely had pause to count our blessings, and continued on, our unscathed journey still intact.

We were not out of the proverbial “woods”, by any stretch of the imagination, however. That Ford Ranger turned out to be just the beginning of the vehicular carnage to come.

Stay tuned for Part Three, next week.

Phil ran a successful independent repair shop on the West Coast for close to 20 years, working over a decade before that at both dealer and independent repair shops. He is presently semi-retired from the business of auto repair, but still keeps his hand in things as a consultant and in his personal garage.`

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Memoirs Of An Independent Repair Shop Owner: Tall Winter Tales – Extreme Weekend Banzai Road Test / Rally http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/memoirs-of-an-independent-repair-shop-owner-tall-winter-tales-extreme-weekend-banzai-road-test-rally/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/memoirs-of-an-independent-repair-shop-owner-tall-winter-tales-extreme-weekend-banzai-road-test-rally/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 14:40:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474408

Since we out here on the Left Coast have been getting hit with nigh-on record setting low temperatures—especially where I’m situated, in the Central Eastern Sierra—it seems only fitting that I should launch another new subtopic here, on hallowed “Memoirs” ground: “Tall Winter Tales”.

These will be stories involving automobiles, cold weather, and wrenching—not necessarily in that order, or to the same degree (pardon the pun).

The first involves my good friend, who I’ll refer to from this point forward as “The Mint”. The Mint and I have a lot of car history between us, both before we became friends, and since. Hopefully, I’ll get to make numerous entries outlining our escapades together—many of these describing scenarios where we do a whole lot with very little.

Our subject for the day involves a weekend round trip run from Los Angeles to Golden, CO, in a Bodaciously Beaten first-generation Toyota Van—just purchased from Impound Auction—at the beginning of a January, several years back.

The Mint stops by the shop to show me the new purchase, and enlist my aid in giving it a checkout and in performing the needed repairs. He had done this on many occasions before, but this time he seemed to have a sense of urgency about the whole process. He had, maybe a week or so previously, informed me of an online purchase he had made of one used supersport motorcycle, that it was located out-of-state, and that he was pondering how to get it to LA. He hadn’t yet directly asked me to help him with this logistical dilemma, but as we got ourselves vested in the Van-Project, I was beginning to see the “bigger picture”.

(I often tease The Mint about his minimalist “Need-To-Know” Filter Settings—and the fact that they rarely coincide with mine—questioning whether he may have a substantial amount of Brazilian in his background; as I have found that my camaras from down there have elevated this dynamic into a what is truly an Art Form. He claims to have none—but it may be that I just don’t need to know that at present.)

Finally, true understanding was achieved, and, agreeing to help in this endeavor—caper is probably a more apt description—we now had our “coordinates locked”, and began considering when we’d actually be able to hit the road northeastward.

Surprisingly, the Van didn’t need major work, and I deemed it good-to-go in time for us to get our gear together and join the Friday evening rush-hour “party” out of town—already in progress.

The weather had been stormy, and our calculations, factoring the forecast, had us hitting a snowstorm right about when we reached the I-15 / I-70 split. This turned out to be one of the more accurate weather predictions I’ve ever been party to on a road trip. We were dead on! With the snow accumulating rapidly, we just barely made it off the Interstate for our scheduled gas stop and cable-chain purchase.

Fortunately, we snagged the last set in our size—owing this to the fact that we were among the first on the now rapidly changing scene. We’d have certainly been among the “stranded motorists” that were soon to follow.

So, with straight-through, non-stop plans still intact, we readied ourselves for what would be the critical stage of our journey: through the mountain wilderness of Southern Utah, in the wee hours of the AM, in what would have to be defined as truly hazardous weather—in an unloaded rear-drive twenty-year-old Toyota Van, of somewhat untested mettle!

With all of my foul-weather driving experience, I got the nod for wheeling duties. I live for such opportunities…

Stay tuned for Part Two, next week.

Phil ran a successful independent repair shop on the West Coast for close to 20 years, working over a decade before that at both dealer and independent repair shops. He is presently semi-retired from the business of auto repair, but still keeps his hand in things as a consultant and in his personal garage.

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