Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Antics

Today, I installed a steering column in the race rabbit. Do not be alarmed, the race rabbit has always had a steering column. It's just that the bushings in the original column - after more than 168,xxx miles - are, well, shot.

As fortune would have it, I happen to have a parts-car standing by for just such an occasion. By-the-way, my wife cringes every time I say the words "parts-car." Sometimes, when I'm feeling malevolent, I whisper the phrase into her ear while she's sleeping. Invariably, she awakes with a jerk, her protuberant eyes searching the bedroom as if the pariah, derelict-of-a-vehicle might actually be present in the house, stocking her.

Aside from inducing psycho-motor agitation, parts-cars are a veritable treasure trove capable of yielding rare or expensive components that might be otherwise unobtainable. It's like finding a little Spanish gold in your backyard - well, sort of. Please, check your local zoning regulations before acquiring your own parts-car.

Now, let me quickly tell you the story of how I acquired my parts-car. It was about seven-years-ago when I happened to be driving along the main road in North Springfield, Vt when I glanced to my left and beheld a mystifying vision. There, parked on a grassy side-lot, was a heavily oxidized, dun-colored '83 Volkswagen Jetta. On its windshield, tucked under a wiper blade was a scrap of cardboard emblazoned in black Sharpy with the words "4 Sale." If I recall correctly the "S" was written backwards. With great aplomb I halted my vehicle. In fact, the only thing I might have stopped faster for would be a bungee cord lying in the middle of the road. I love free bungee cords and it distresses me to see them so carelessly abandoned. Ask me someday, and I'll show you my collection.

Anyway, back to the story. Upon inquiring with the property owner I discovered that this gem-of-a-Volkswagen could be had on the cheap.

"50 bucks and it's yours, heck, if you can get it started I'll let it go for free," was the owner's offer. It seemed I would not need to barter.

"What's wrong with it?" I inquired.

"It doesn't have a battery and the mechanic says it needs a fuel pump," was the reply.

It just so happened that I had such a battery stowed in the trunk of my trusty Saturn. As for the fuel pump, turns out that the mechanic was mistaken. After installing the battery, I slipped behind the steering wheel and discovered that the fuel-pump relay had slid out of the fuse block. This malady was easily remedied and after two tries that little Jetta fired up. Did I mention it was free.

Back to the present. After installing the steering column from the parts-car into the race Rabbit, I decided that I would switch over all the lock cylinders from the parts-car so that I would only need one key for the Rabbit. See, due to a repair by the previous owner, the Rabbit has always had separate keys for each door.

Considering that I had swapped over the ignition block with key cylinder intact, I figured the rest would be easy. In fact, it was with little trouble that I was able to swap the door handles from the parts-car to the race Rabbit, however - and this is where things get a little, well, miraculous - the Rabbit is a hatch-back and the Jetta a notch-back. The locking mechanism for the hatch on the Rabbit is, of course, different from the Jetta's arrangements. Sure, I figured, I could swap the actual lock cylinders, but I was getting tired and the cold was starting to seep into my internal organs.

What the heck, I thought, let's see if the Jetta key will work in the Rabbit's hatch lock. After all, we've all heard those urban legends about people leaving the grocery store in a stranger's Chevy because the car was an exact match to there own-right down to the key. It's not until later, when they discover a kilo of cocaine or a dead Jimmy Hoffa in the trunk that they realize their blunder. But, that was the 70s. Still, you never know. So, with this in mind, I slipped the Jetta key into the Rabbit's hatch lock and, behold, it turned.

Of course, I proclaimed this a miracle. The fact that it was Easter, only lent credence to my claim. My wife, upon hearing my inspiring re-telling of the divinely-touched tale of Volkswagen repair, was nonplussed. She smiled broadly but said nothing.

"Are you smiling because you're happy that I've had such good fortune?" I asked.

"Oh no, " she explained, "I'm smiling because a few more parts have left the junk Jetta(what she calls the parts-car) and this is a sign that it may be going away someday."