The June Bug has reduced me to reciting Shakespeare. Someone just run over me, PLEASE!
On Saturday morning, the Bug was supposed to take a field trip out to Fox Valley Volkswagen to meet the president of the dealership who graciously agreed to add his autograph to the Bug. I was up at the crack of 8:30 a.m., dressed down to my toe warmers and ready to head out the door by 9 a.m. The Bug looked sharp after a week of cleaning her rust spots with Coke and steel wool, washing her down and completely cleaning the interior. I was confident she would start. Why wouldn’t she?
I turned the key…and no good morning groan came out of the engine. I charged the battery. Nothing. I added gas. Nothing. After some investigative work, I determined the problem was the starter.
There is the old car trick called “popping the clutch.” First, you turn the key to the “on” position. Second, you push in the clutch and put the car in gear—preferably first gear. Third, you get the car moving. This can be done by either having someone push the car or by letting it roll down an incline. Once the car is moving at a decent speed, you let out the clutch and the car should “pop start.” This might have worked if the June Bug hadn’t been in the garage and the alley covered with slick ice. My mom has been a very good sport throughout this project, but I knew asking her to ice skate down the alley while pushing the Bug would put her over the edge. And while popping the clutch is a good emergency maneuver, it is not a reliable way to start a car. Of course, using the word reliable to describe the June Bug is an oxymoron to the greatest degree. Installing a new starter was not on my already very tight, down-to-the-wire senior project to-do list.
First, I grabbed a baseball bat and made good use of it clearing the ice from the front of our garage. Next, I canceled our morning outings for the weekend (we had plans on Sunday, too), and finally I found someone who could help me install a new starter. The June Bug will have a new starter installed this weekend, and then all I need to do is install the carpet, seats, dashboard, make a video, tie up a number of loose ends and practice my 45-minute presentation.
While it might seem like I put a lot of things off until the last minute, the reality is that you work on cars when the funding and parts are available. It’s a fool’s paradise to believe you can work ahead when you restore a car—unless, of course, you happen to have lots of money and time…and ironically, those lucky ones don’t make up the bulk of the people who want to restore their own cars. The cold weather has also been a big factor this winter. Parts arrived slower, and test-driving the Bug has been tough, with over 70 inches of snow accumulating between December and the first couple of days of March.
Fortunately, working in the garage hasn’t been too bad. I was able to borrow an outdoor propane heater, which makes the well-ventilated garage warm and toasty. One unexpected benefit to restoring and driving the Bug in single-digit and below-zero weather has been learning how to dress for polar vortex cold. The learning with this project just never stops! It’s just been one curve after another.
The upcoming week will be a big one. Besides completing my project to-do list, I’ll sit in the audience and cheer for my classmates as they present their projects (click for a list of the projects), and on Friday, March 7th, I will turn 18, give a 45-minute presentation on American car culture, show off the June Bug, and at about 9:30 p.m. I will arrive at my final destination—DONE! Well, except for my plans to paint the Bug in the spring, of course. It would be fun to drive her to graduation, wouldn’t it?
Thanks for going along for the ride