Saturday, March 23, 2019

In Closing

The adventure of a lifetime isn't supposed to mean a lifetime of one, never-ending adventure. There has to be a beginning, middle, and an end. Or else the adventure and the life merge into an indistinguishable blob that is neither life nor an adventure. 

The road takes a toll on one's heart and body. The soul may ripen with age, but the skin wrinkles, the hair turns white, the beard grizzles, the organs shrivel and decay. I remember being able to type accurately and furiously as the library was closing and the librarian was kicking me and the other homeless men into the streets of Santa Monica, typing with the words firing from my fingers, with the passion and the fearlessness of a man in search of a voice, a man who may have found the voice he was searching for, but was pushing the limits. Now I have to spell check the word 'Milk'.

Speaking of Beginnings, Middles, and Ends... I will recollect my three ghosts of travel, the moments, (one could call them eras since I'm talking about a decade of time). The beginning of the Man in The Van was not the first post, nor the tenth, because I think those were attempts to discover my blogging persona. The beginning was when I morphed into the honest, unaffected asshole one sees today. That was probably on the sands of Mexico, La Paz...summer of 2009. The van's timing cover gasket blew out and required a full dis-assembly of the front of the engine in the parking space I had just rented at a house. It was embarrassing that the second day I met that family I was neck deep in grease, but such is life. I had to fix that gasket twice because there are two layers of gaskets and the deepest one was the one that failed. (Hey, 10 years later it's never needed adjustment.) The Mexican journey was always one that could collapse at any second. I planned to spend one year in Mexico, travel towards Guatemala and abandon the van when it failed me. But I felt comfortable in La Paz up until the insane summer heat arrived and, from apathy and malaise, I did not get on the ferry to mainland Mexico. The heat drove me quite mad until I only dreamt of northern climate, the coolness of trees. Also, I had planned badly for the trip as my bank card expired and I didn't have access to any money. So I drove north without ever grasping how the persona of the blog had been adopted without my being aware. I wasn't acting anymore. Life in the van had become my life, it was not a phase anymore. I had faced mechanical challenges in desperate times in harsh conditions and I had been forced to embrace the challenge, and the process shed my previous persona that treated the van as a separate, 8 cylinder, character-rich conveyance. By the time I drove north from La Paz, the van was a part of me and that marked the beginning of the journey. Our fates had become inseparable.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Beyond The Sunset

The sun sets on another year and 2019 should be the last for this blog. I'll motivate myself to write a closing essay and that is it. Y'all can kiss my ass! No, I'm kidding. The 3 readers who have followed me faithfully for the past 10 years are loyal. Demented and sad...but loyal. All good things must end but before I go I want to recapitulate my experience. The new year means nothing much to me. I'm unemployed, collecting unemployment checks for the first time in my life and should have time to reflect and ponder but I'm searching for a home where I can hang my Stetson hat and work on motorcycles without gravel in my knees. It's the kind of activity most people do in their 30s but I waited until I was 50 and it won't interest anyone since youth have disdain for home ownership and my elders have disdain for people who wait so long to be an adult. I'm looking for a house and work in a time of despair and division. Enemies, I could stab at thee from Hell's Heart, but the new year is a time to turn the page on the failures and trespasses of last year. What has happened has happened, and wisdom comes at a price greater than Dollar General's discount rack. Collect your check and take the ride.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Another Chapter

1985 Rebel 250 CMX blah blah blah
Santa brought me an old Honda Rebel to ride. It's got low mileage but a few issues that I'm going to deal with. I guess Santa has a tight wallet. This is not my dream bike but it's a worthy bike to ride locally for local business. Feeding 8 cylinders is insane when 2 cylinders is all I need. Happy Holidays to all you rebels out there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Which Direction?

Note the paper clip style tangs on the left of the cam and the contacts on the right base. You might wonder why there is a bit of black insulation on the top/left tang and it's because adjusting the tangs was a delicate process and I broke the tiny plastic 'spacer' that prevents the two tangs from touching. So I put the wire insulation over the tang to accomplish the same goal.

This should make everything clear as mud.

This pathetic silver 'push nut' is the cause of all this insanity. The two parts of the cam must be separate. The top turns on the stationary bottom base. So it can't be a tight nut that holds them in place. That push nut actually goes around the top of the turn signal arm attachment lever. As the push nut loosens the tangs no longer hit the contacts and I lose some portion of turn signals and brake lights

What I had to do is experiment with a  multi-meter and determine which tangs are hot at what times. The  tangs (when I flip the cam upside down) closest to the open 'C' are hot when the brake pedal is pushed. The Tangs furthers away from the 'C' opening are hot when the key is in the aux/run position. Ok? Then the base contacts are situated as it is installed...the right side top is the Right Tail Light contact. The Right lower is the Left Tail Light contact. The left lower contact illuminates the right dashboard indicator lamp. The top left contact illuminates the left dash indicator light. See?

So, when everything is normal and I'm not making a turn but I HIT THE BRAKE, what happens is 12v goes to the inner tang and sends 12 to both contacts on the right (right and left brake lamp). And when I'm driving and the key is in RUN then the outer tangs are also hot with 12v and when I turn left, for example, that 12v is sent to the top left contact (left dash indicator) and the lower right contact (Left tail light).,..since it also passes through a relay for the turn signals it will blink...and also cut out my brake lights. Yes, in 1969 I only had the option of indicating a turn or indicating I am stopping....I can't indicate both at once. The turn signal cuts out the brake light and blinks it instead...although the opposite brake light will come on.

I spent two days figuring out this info and although it all works right now the push nut is still going to wear out and get loose and then the contacts will not touch and I will be back to the same problem. But at least I know what the problem is and that's a positive step. Obviously, the whole assembly needs to be replaced and I promise that will happen soon. This cam is worn out, as can be seen from the amount of copper worn off the contacts. The one detail I didn't get a photo of is the custom plastic shims that I put on the handle shaft before I put the cam over it. The shim forces the cam higher so the push nut will be tighter once I hammer it on. I'm proud of that plastic shim because it had to be cut from plastic packaging with a hole the size of the turn handle shaft.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


I am aware that my blog is approaching its Tenth Year anniversary. I embarked on this journey with El Conquistador for one year exploration of The Baja Peninsula. I suspected the van would not survive the trip or maybe I wouldn't survive the trip either. To sum up my mindset at that time requires some ad lib and reliance on foggy memories but I recall my disillusionment with the status quo was very high. Nearly 5 years on the fringes of Los Angeles entertainment industry confirmed that all my idealistic hopes and starry-eyed artistic visions were obsolete. Drugs and underage sex were the main commodities in Los Angeles and I wrote a script about Henry David Thoreau's life on Walden Pond. The timing was not right. The economy collapsed along with the fraudulent housing mortgage scheme. Bush danced off into the sunset and Obama arrived with Hope that I suspected was a big scam. I knew that drugs and underage sex were all that kept Los Angeles humming and I didn't see Obama embracing that reality. Obama represented the collective delusion. Everyone I knew was stoned all the time. It was at the point that I knew no one who was ever sober and I started to question the definition of sobriety when no one is not under the influence. Doesn't the definition change? Isn't sobriety then defined as only moderately influenced by drugs? If one still knows they are human and on earth then that's sober. If they believe they are an Alien transplant whose real home is Atlantis then that is the new 'high'. If you snort cocaine, smoke pot and try to have sex with every warm body that walks in your office then you have embraced the status quo; you fit the paradigm and the paradigm rewards conformists.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.