May 09, 2005

How to hurt yourself.

Well, first go home on Friday and decide to start things off with a rousing swing through the front yard with the lawnmower. It had gotten tall again (the back has, too, but I didn't feel like cutting it), and it's probably a good thing I went ahead and cut it when I could, otherwise all of my snooty sorts of neighbors truly would have been shocked and aghast at the veritable hoopty yard I had going on Saturday afternoon.

Got up early Saturday, full of glee at the thought of the culmination of the seconds (maybe even minutes) of planning and forethought I had given to my purchase. Rousted the kids, then hopped in Moby to drop him off at the car cleaners for a shampoo of his carpets. I tell you what--four children can be very messy. Thank heavens for floor mats, although they were nearly black themselves. I do wish that the car wash place would have hit them just a little bit harder with the dirty water sucker machine, though. When we got the van back, I had to kneel down and move or fix something inside, and came back out with two big muddy spots on my jeans. Thanks for nothing, Splish Splash on Morrow Road! They also slathered the dashboard with Armor All or some other suitably snotty stuff, and it looked ridiculous. Had to damp that down with a cloth, and thank heavens it did cut the sheen a bit.

Anyway, we got on toward Gardendale (Reba came by and picked me up at the car wash place) and we sat in the parking lot at the Shoney's for a long time. Long enough for me to take this picture of the kids in the back seat.

You will notice them all engaged in a variety of activities--none of which involve interaction with each other. Which is probably a good thing. That's my shoulder on the bottom right. Cat's watching the DVD player mounted between the two front seats, Ashley is reading a book, Rebecca is staring out the window and listening to her CD player, and Boy is somewhere behind Ashley, also watching the DVD player. Ahhh. Quiet.

Man showed up, we did some paperwork, swapped cash, and visited for a while, then his wife and Reba talked forever, and all I could think about was A) I wanna drive my new toy, and B) I wanna go pick up Moby so I can get on with cleaning him up because I don't have all day, y'know, so we need to cut the palaver and GIT!

Luckily, my internal monologue never became audible, so I stood and acted pleasant. THEN we left!


Nice ride--and I'm being serious. It's a bit buzzy at highway speed, but really no more so than Reba's Focus. It tracks straight and true, and for some reason feels much heavier and more substantial than her car, even though they have the same curb weight and about the same power. A lot sure has changed in automobiles in the past twenty years, though. The interior plastic is very hard, and has very deep graining in it, and there's no "Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear," and no computerized idle control. It does have a marvelous cupholder, however. Attached to the end of my arm. Makes you wonder how people ever did without built-in cupholders.

Home, and then back to pick up Moby, then home again, and NOW, time to set in to clean him up nice and shiny (but not snotty-slick--eww.)

This is really where I got myself started being sore, too.

First step, cleaning the seats. I had them out from when we moved the mattress, so they were pretty easy to get to. While they dried, it was time to move on to the door jambs and underhood area. I don't know what it is, but no one seems to clean their cars up anymore before they try to sell them. I don't get that. I realize it's work, but it sure does help them sell faster.

It should be noted that the work that comes later than the next paragraph would have gone by much quicker had I not taken some time to dote on the Swedish lump in the driveway. The poor guy had slaved over the thing for years, but in doing so had gotten polish all over the rubber. Nothing looks worse than gray filmy black rubber, so on an off chance that I might have a good idea, I grabbed a can of WD-40 and squirted a bit on a corner of the bumper. JUST AS I THOUGHT! Stuff cleaned the polish haze right off the rubber. SO, instead of taking time to clean Moby, I HAD to go all the way around the Volvo with the WD-40 and a rag--all the lower body rubber, the bumpers, the doors, the windows, the windshield, the rear window, the roof gutters--all of it. It looked MUCH more presentable, and ten years newer (if you ignore the faded paint). But now it was time to do what I was supposed to be doing.

I had gotten some vinyl cleaner wipes from the car parts place, and I set in to clean all around the door rubber and the jambs on Moby. Probably should have used Simple Green, but the wipes worked fine, too, although probably more pricey. Driver's door, side windows, rear hatch, side windows, sliding door, passenger door, underhood. It's good to at least knock the greasy dirt off the engine pieces and accessory bits and the filler caps--again, it doesn't have to be perfect, but just a few judicious swipes with a cloth can make it seem much cleaner and better cared for. So, I did that--battery, master cylinder, air cleaner cover, jack, A/C stuff, fan shroud, labels, junk like that. Looked very nice when finished. THEN it was time for the shiny stuff. I don't slather it on, though--just enough to do some good. Start back where I did the cleaner, and then went all the way around again. Very nice. And tiring. BUT--I wasn't done.

Because now it was time to paint the bumpers. This is where my neighbors COULD have gotten mad, because I moved the van right out to the end of the driveway, and had all my painting junk all over the place. Good thing I cut that grass, because it would have just been intolerable with that scene of automotive restoration combined with a crop of dandelions the size of sunflowers.

Anyway, I mentioned before these bumper covers are urethane skins, and the base plastic is a bile yellow color that has been progressively peeking out more and more all the way around. Looks horrible, and I would think make it much harder to sell. I had gotten a price from a local paint shop of $389 to do what I was about to set out to do. For that much, I could screw up pretty badly and still come out ahead.

But I didn't screw up. It helped that my dad and I used to dabble in car painting, so I have at least an idea about the proper way to mask and prep the surfaces. That doesn't mean it's particularly easy--lots of twisting and hunching over and getting up and sitting down. I guess I made it worse by only doing a section at a time rather than the whole thing at once, but that turned out to be a good thing.

SO, masked off the front bumper first--base mask first of a tape line around the grille, lights, side markers, fog lamps; then some added protection for the upper parts and tires with some newspaper. (By the way, always use autobody masking tape--keeps from pulling the paint off.) Degrease the surface, shake up the cheapo can of bumper paint, and have at it.

Few minutes and WOW! That looks darned good! I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out looked very nice. And probably just as good as what the paint shop would have done. Cool.

Next, the rear bumper--open hatch, base mask on lamps and body, then some newspaper on the sides, and the addition of a piece of stiff poster board to use as a movable mask. This is easier on certain areas because of the difficulty in papering the hatch area. Scraped off the dried flecks of traffic striping paint from where I ran through a wet line several years back (grrr), degreased, paint, PRESTO. Man, this stuff does good!

Unmask, then start on the driver's side. By now, with all the bending and squatting and hunkering and sitting and scooting and trying to do it all at a madman's pace, I was starting to feel some twinges. And it was getting dark. It was pretty obvious I wasn't going to get the whole thing done on Saturday. ::sigh:: Masked off the molding on the driver's side, again, piece by piece. Back, middle, door, and the bit behind the front wheel. Finished up at a bone-weary 8 p.m., and only because I couldn't see anymore, even with the streetlight. One of the young ladies around the street came by on a jog with her dog and asked how I was doing all that in the dark. "Very carefully." I told her I actually couldn't see anything, and was calling it quits for the night. As if she cared.

Next day, errrrphgr. Hmmmmph. ::creak::POP:: Hungh. And that was just me rolling over to turn off the alarm clock. Got everyone up and to church, taught my class, Jonathan learned from me that you can't go dipping your toe in Satan's pond and still be okay with God, good sermon on Eve (who made some bad decisions) and then on to meet my mom at the Golden Toilet. Ate heartily of germ-encrusted things, and then we drove around looking at some new subdivisions. She's ready to move, and wants less house. I keep trying to get her to move closer to us, but she's still reluctant.

Took her back and dropped her off, and then back to home. Hmm. Two hours before church. TIME TO PAINT! URPH!

I changed back into some work duds and got my masking tape and paint out again. This time I had the sliding door, which actually worked out just fine. Rear molding, sliding door, passenger door, and the bit behind the front wheel. Ta-DAHHHH! And finished with time to spare. As well as a soreness that lingers to this very moment. But also much pride of satisfaction at not spending $400 to have someone else paint the bumpers.

It all turned out looking very nice, and I finally felt good about selling him. He's not perfect, but he looks much sharper now than he did.

So, anyone wanna buy a '94 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE Sport Wagon? $3,250 and he's yours! (Comes with remainder of can of paint for the bumper.) You've seen the outside, so here's the inside--

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2005 03:46 PM

How is it mechanically? How many miles?

It looks to be in great shape. Might be a nice bargain car for someone.

Posted by: Janis at May 9, 2005 04:08 PM

Good condition all around. Never wrecked, never smoked in. New tires on the front (newish on the rear), A/C just serviced, oil just changed. 160,XXX miles. Has some small door dings and such, but overall a good van. Gets better gas mileage than Reba's Honda--around 19 or so combined, 25 or so out on the highway. Tilt, gauges, rear air, towing package, handling package, AM/FM cassette.

It really is a good vehicle.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2005 04:21 PM

Is that you sitting in the far back seat of the van???

She is a spitting image of you!

Posted by: sugarmama at May 9, 2005 04:28 PM

Except girlishly cute. She's unmistakably mine, though.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2005 04:31 PM

I remember scrubbing out my Nissan before the buyer came to get it. They were very suprised and told me I shouldn't have bothered. Though the wife was much happier about the purchase when she saw how clean it was.

Posted by: Sarah G. at May 9, 2005 07:08 PM

I just don't understand the reasoning behind NOT cleaning it out. It just seems like the right thing to do. I even cleaned up Reba's old Camaro (as best as it could be cleaned) before we unloaded it on some kid.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 08:11 AM

If it weren't a Chrysler product, I'd be tempted. Hubby's from Detroit, though, and has heard stories about the Third taking rejects from the Big Two, if you know what I mean. I'm not exactly sure what sort of parts could be used in a car regardless of make unless we're talking brake lines and such, though. *Shrug*

Posted by: Lenise at May 10, 2005 09:06 AM

I think that's probably just competitiveness talking, Lenise. They've all got their own suppliers, with not a lot of overlap. And the way the lemon laws are written now, it would pretty much be corporate suicide to engange in that. That's not to say all of them don't have their problems--man-made stuff is going to break, no matter what.

It's been pretty good for us. We did get a new tranny around 80,000 miles, and there was the whole deal with the idler pulley breaking off a year or so ago. But, overall, very good service.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 09:23 AM