Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Alex :: The time Tobbit kept dying during a quick trip to the store...

Dear Alex,

I think I spoke too soon two days ago.

Today, Tobbit gave me a few buckets of grief.

Today, I had to get six strangers to help me over three separate incidences during what was supposed to be just a 6 mile trip to the store and back for potatoes. All I wanted to buy was potatoes so we can have them for lunch.

When I turned on Tobbit at L'Abri, he gave a bit of a chug but then started just fine. Slow turnover, but not more than two attempts. I drove down the store, everything going well, and bought a sack of potatoes.

Then, it came time to leave and Tobbit would not start. I was at 192 miles since I had last filled him up, so I wasn't sure if it was the battery or lack of fuel. I assumed it was the battery as that was what it had been ever since I got here. I had plugged in Tobbit all night, but I guess I might not have it all set as I had thought I had.

Without hesitation, I popped the hood and got out my cables. Within 2 minutes, a nice woman was pulled up along side me and we had Tobbit hooked up to her SUV. There was a dead bird on top of her battery which was gross.

It took 4-6 minutes before Tobbit would start, even with her motor running. With Tobbit chugging away, I pulled out of the grocery store parking lot and headed for the island gas station.

I was nervous, but made it there just fine. The next task, though, was to figure out how to get diesel in Tobbit. If I turned him off, he wouldn't start again. The problem is, you have to turn him off to get diesel. And, beyond that, automobiles can't be jump started on gas station property. I debated what to do as Tobbit roared on. A man watching offered to push Tobbit off property once I had some diesel. From there, we could jump Tobbit.

Now this all sounded grand and worked out fine. I forked over $30 for the diesel (so 'spensive, here -- but I didn't want to worry about getting diesel again) and we got Tobbit filled up and pushed out of the station. The man was a bit suspicious of Tobbit.

"I just need to change the voltage regulator," I told him.
"You work on your truck?"
"With my friend, Alex."
"Whose Alex? A mechanic?"

Based on his tone, I didn't feel like telling him that your career wasn't an auto-mechanic.

"Yeah. But he knows I want to learn to do things and we work on it together."

He wasn't too sure. When I thanked him for the jump, he didn't make eye contact.

Tobbit started and I drove off only to stall at the next intersection (having to stop while going up a hill). I haven't stalled in a long time, but I was nervous and Tobbit seems to like to act up most when I can't afford to have him act up.

I was stoked, though, because no one was coming up behind me. It was a bit scary because I was around a corner and knew I needed to back up. If I could back up around the corner, I could pull into the elementary school parking lot. I turned on my hazards and started to back up.

What I didn't realize is that a wonderful huge truck saw me doing my thing and stopped traffic in the road so that I had lots of space. Pretty soon, I was backing up and driving in the wrong lane. I wanted to do this, though, because I knew they would easier be able to see me from there.

In time, I safely made it to the parking lot. I popped the hood and got out my cables, ready to wait, again, for my third jump. I was not thrilled. This entire time, I knew Matt needed the potatoes so we could have lunch on time.

"Do you need a jump?" asked a mom pushing her child on the swing over the fence.
"Yeah... he died," I replied.
"I'm sending my husband over," she told me.

And, within 30 seconds, there he was. He was really encouraging. Apparently, he used to have an old Volkswagen and liked to imagine the stories I'd be able to tell some day with Tobbit. He pushed Tobbit to the hill where I could now face downwards and I was able to start Tobbit by putting him in second gear. We puttered back down the road, turned around, and I made it all the way home.

But, oh Alex, I didn't like it. I didn't like having to be jumped three times. It made me second guess even owning Tobbit. I was looking through the "V-Dub Log Book" of Tobbit (the one that the original owner started) and I see so, so many things that have gone wrong. How will I know if something is going wrong? He seemed to just have a ninth-sense for knowing what different clunks and bangs were.

Luckily, people are really nice. I went to the lumber yard the other day because I needed air and they filled him up. That's where I talked to the man about painting Tobbit again. People seem to really, really like Tobbit.


I dunno. Is all the money worth it? Is he going to just keep breaking down after I get from Point A to Point B? I don't really want to expect to brake down every few days. Although, even if he does, I feel like I'm already pretty attatched to this hunk of metal that I affectionately will forever call Tobbit.

Tobbit says, "Brugghhhhhrrrrr!"
I say, "Huzzah!"



  1. Keep Tobbit :)
    Although things do break and all, you will learn how to fix them and how to improvise. The beauty of a vw diesel is that it can literally run off of no battery as long as you are going over ~30mph (to keep air going through the radiator). Tobbit will serve you well as long as you give him a little love back which it seems like you are!


Your words make me grin.

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