Saturday, August 27, 2016


Where to begin? This week proves I'm not on vacation. I'm not productive in a socially acceptable sense, but I'm also not unproductive. The side view mirror saga came to a head and required I replace it with a cheap plastic piece of crap from Autozone. At least this one does not rattle and vibrate so bad I can't look at it. And the old one was so big that when I wanted to see if any vehicles were coming from the left I had to lean forward to look around the mirror. It was a hazard. This one is low enough that I can actually see to my left.
Side View Mirror

Then I decided to use some metallic pearl leather paint to put a Jim Morrison quote on my boots. I don't know why. I was sober. I have no excuse. Jim Morrison once asked, "Where is your will to be weird?" And I guess my answer is my side zip cowboy boots with these custom tooled concho boot straps and a tribute to Jim.

Jim Morrison Lives

Leather crafts keep me busy, so I bought a sheep skin rug and made an urnrelated coin purse....

coin purse on a sheep
Then I had a vision to put a painted gold Thunderbird hieroglyph on my leather pants. I don't have an explanation for this either. I was going to paint on the pants but decided I should cut the Thunderbird outline out and paint it and then glue it to the pants. Flexible contact cement was what worked. These pants are ridiculous but I put so much time into having them made I feel obligated to wear them. They are much closer to body armor than to a casual garment.
FYI: metal zippers on pants pockets are secure, but cut your fingers every time you use them. Consider plastic zippers.

hat band.
Then I made a braided leather hat band from the leather from my Mayan temple shirt.
Jade Temple of the Leather Jaguar

Then I wanted a bracelet to make a statement with extra leather from my pants project and sheep skin. Only when I was done did I realize I had made Santa Claus bondage cuffs. Not the effect I was aiming for. I see sexy elf costumes all the time but what about a bondage Santa Claus outfit? Yeah, I'll open a workshop and design sexy S&M Santa costumes. That's a good way to spend my time. (Speaking of time, don't suggest I open some Etsy craft store. Those craftspeople have way too much talent to compete with and I simply want some custom items for me to use or give away.)

S&M Santa?

But the ultimate project had many dimensions and I hope has been resolved. I drove to replace the sun polarization on 11 windows of the van. The old polarization was not only rose colored it was also flaking off inside and brittle and bubbling. I was reluctant because I figured the guy I paid to do the job would do a worse job than the original. But the man and his kids and I tackled it one afternoon and it came out good. But on the way to the Polarization shop I went to get gas and the van completely died in the gas station. And then it came back to life and sputtered and died and struggled and stalled. Man, what a problem that is when driving on these narrow streets. I caused so much grief by blocking the roads. Everyone honking at the crazy long haired hippie gringo, honking and cursing at El Conquistador, and there was nothing I could do but suffer and crank the engine and beg for help pushing it to the gutter. But I made it to the polarization shop, did the job, got back on the road and it ran good for about 5 blocks and then stalled and died again and it took 1 hour to get the last mile to my apartment. It ran bad in Guatemala but this was the worst it's ever run. I thought the damn gas was killing the engine again or some fuel delivery problem after all my days of work to fix that problem like dropping the tank and changing filters and the complete tune up. Man, hours of work to prevent more fuel problems and the first tank of gas I get causes me more problems? Fuck! So I dive into the engine again and clean the carb and check the points and the wires and even changed the high tension coil and the engine would not start at all. I ran out of light and gave up for the night, frustrated, cursed. 

This morning* I go to dive into the carb again because I was sure something was clogging the idle circuit with all the crappy gas I've had. My gas experienced has been horrible. I open the side van doors and four crazed stray cats fly out the door like screaming terrified bats. What the hell? Can I have one day where something insane doesn't happen?
This cat didn't wake up in time to escape, or it didn't care. Looks like it is sleeping in my helmet. He probably appreciated the new sun block film on the windows.
Because I didn't put the engine cover back on the engine the night before there was plenty of room for a cat, or 5 cats, to climb over the radiator and set up camp on my bed. Man! Reminds me of the time a huge squirrel woke me up by chewing on my toe nails in Costa Rica as I slept in my hammock inside the van. And I'm allergic to cats and had about 5 of them sleeping on my bed! This parking lot is crazy with stray cats. God knows the sand fleas and ants and spiders are bad enough in the carpet without whatever diseases the cats have. They spend all day digging in the dirty diapers and piles of diseased used toilet paper in the trash, and then go sleep in Oggy's bed. Ponderous.

Well, that was only the start of my day, as I dug into the carb looking for problems. I cleaned everything and inspected and blew out all the passages with carb cleaner. Then I went on a hunt, always a treat, for new filters and a new pcv valve and RCA Y splitters for my new 50 watt dual subwoofer speaker system so I have 8 speakers now (that rocks The Police and Bob Marley like they deserve to be rocked!). And let me tell you that riding my moped in workman's overalls, hunting in multiple Mexican parts stores is an adventure, always involving a stop at an outdoor Carnitas booth for Surtida tacos and some fried empanadas. Autozone is pretty generic. Yes, I know more than the workers at Autozone but generally we are on the same page. But once I enter the labyrinth of independent small parts stores then I'm really on a quest, like, 
"Go right here, go to the Y, then go to the bridge." 
"Yes, the bridge. Electronica Dominguez." 
"But, where is that bridge?" 
"Right there." 
"I don't see it." 
"Go around the corner." 

Hopeless directions that lead me in crazy circles near the plaza del toros where I watched the toreadors slay 5 bulls with sharp swords.
I traveled all over the city on the reliable 1974 Vespa Ciao moped, which is running the same gas that I put in the van and needs to have the front axle tightened. All I was able to track down are a new metal filter and a new clear plastic filter and some carnitas tacos. No one had the PCV valve or a spare wheel bearing. And I come back and button all the carb back together and the engine will not start except for 5 struggling seconds. Fuck! Completely a mess. I double check all the gaskets and vacuum lines and linkages and wires. It even backfires violently from the carb cleaner I'm spraying in the throat and scares a little girl into crying, traumatizing her. Sorry, I say. Lo Siento. Perdon! Man, all that work and it's worse than before. Puta Madre, Changada Puchica a La Gran Verga! I sneeze from the cat hair everywhere in my van. Damn. I thought maybe the motor was simply trying to get fuel again since I had drained the carb but I could see the filter was full and fuel was squirting from the jets. It's got fuel, but maybe...So I tried and tried to get it to start and it would barely fire, just draining the battery in futile foolishness. I checked the spark with a plug tester and it was erratic but I couldn't get a good reading since it was not idling. I could not get it to start again. It only cranked and cranked. 

So what is left? Maybe take the carb apart again? Change the intake manifold gasket? Do a compression check? Sell the van? Hitchhike to Tunisia? Then someone on my forum mentions the points and condenser. Most wise owners of antique vehicles upgrade to electronic ignition, but Oggy is stubborn and he has also had no problem for 8 years and 8 countries with points and condensers. They work and he can see them working. He likes that. And it's only because I recently tuned up everything with a new dizzy cap and rotor and points and condenser that I didn't change them first. I mean, these units have about 40 miles on them. They can't be toast already. I put them in and have not driven anywhere. maybe 2 hours on them and they were brand new, good for 10,000 miles, and the symptoms were so obviously fuel related. I was running on empty and it stalls at the gas station. What could be more obvious? But there was a time when I was driving my first car, a VW Super beetle. It looked something like this.

Well, that super beetle was pretty rough and I didn't do anything to make it better except paint a big arrow on it pointing to me with the name "Oggy" and screw a piece of sheet metal in the back to keep the battery up after it rotted through the rusting floor and fell on the street in Boston. The VW was running bad one day on my way to work in Rochester where I was an asphalt pavement technician. And it was acting like it was running out of gas but it had plenty of gas. Very similar struggling and stalling like El Conquistador. That's why I tried swapping out the HT coil because the VW turned out to have a bad Coil and the symptoms were exactly like it was starved for gas. Well, the only easy thing left was the points and condenser. So I put in a spare old condenser and the engine fired right up. Runs great. Man. What a relief.

I examined the old condenser a little closer and the wire pulled right out of the hole. I took the condenser apart and it crumbled in my hand. All the solder points were loose before I took it apart. So, this is the first condenser that failed on me with what looks like a defect because I had put it in recently. Or maybe one of the cats got under the dizzy cap and sabotaged my condenser. The symptoms were very similar to an engine starving for fuel or air. And the one that is in it now has the van running again. This is critical because I have 1 month to literally "get out of Mexico" before Los Federales seize my van for expired paperwork. And I have some other places to visit between now and then. It will be a miracle if I get back to the United States.

*about 2pm
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.