Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

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Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:35 am

Everybody got mauled. But I will say here that such perseverance and pluck as I witnessed does not happen all that frequently these days, you know why? Because rarely do circumstances align such that we are sorely tested in the ways that we were tested. And this is all to the good, All To The Good.

Long ago I had received a phone call from our very own Jivermo that asked if I could call JR of Idle Bus Theory fame. Apparently, a valve adjustment on their bus "Sunshine" had displayed an anomaly where the feeler blade would get trapped between the rocker arm and the valve spring retainer. This is indicative of valve recession bad news and I needed to impress upon the travelers that it was dire, even if the engine was running otherwise well.
"We want to go to the Everglades."
"OK but . . . if bad noises happen, yer out, do not try to start it or drive it."

Jivermo and I decided to enfold an emergency upper engine overhaul into the schedule of replacing ball joint boots and investigating a running issue in Valentina, the Westy of our other intrepid travelers, Marc and Eliana of Birding By Bus fame, and a ball joint boot replacement in Jivermo's dakota beige Westy before I was due to run to Panama City for an engine check appointment for jtauxe.
(do you like compound sentences? Good)

Since I had JUST ordered TWO sets of Len Hoffman cylinder heads as back-ups for the BobD and NaranjaWesty, I called Len Hoffman to up the order one more set.
"I have a set of heads ready to go right h..."
"SEND IT."
They showed up the day before I was to leave for Miami.

I arrived the evening of February 13th to meet JR and Kit, the intrepid wanderers whose Volkswagen had fallen ill. The engine was already out, poor little dusty sick engine.

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JR Switchgrass and Kit Whistler, the very picture of vital young adventurers were bright-eyed and enthusiastic to get going on disassembly. I thought to myself, they may not know of the Journey Through The Valley Of Obstacles And Despair that I have traveled so very very many times before . . . ah, they'll be all in it, soon enough, soon enough, my little pretties.

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February 14th, Valentine's Day, Valentina's namesake day,
Day One Valentina Appointment, my overarching goal was to eradicate the intermittent bucking that had plagued Marc and Eliana since somewhere back west on their way back from Alaska. This needed to be solved. Our test drive ginned up a couple of little bucky hesitations, but nothing terrible, so I helped Marc to adjust the mixture across the fuel map from lean to rich, to see if we could "poke the bear". The engine seemed to be happier with a richer mixture and it refused to buck on our way back to the McIntyre Home For Wayward Volkswagens. Nobody believed that a simple adjustment was the final cure (and it wasn't). But at least we were able to forge ahead and tear apart the front suspension to install new ball joint boots:

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Here is Eliana pensively considering our surgery, mid-operation.

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Valentina was so cooperative, it was like a Bentley procedure come-to-life. Everything came apart easily and went back together easily:

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You know, these Birders By Bus, they even feed each other like birds:

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MEANWHILE, I was surreptitiously trying to nudge the Idle Bus Theory JR n' Kit kids with pre-op notes like, "your engine mounts are broken, you need to remove the fan housing":

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Then back to Valentina's ball joint boots.

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JR and Kit were continuing on with cleaning and even sanding the tins for paint. I was concerned that any of these operations could blow the schedule to bits, but you know what? They somehow managed to scrape, wash, sand, and paint the tins and the intake manifolds all in a day:

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Meanwhile, Kit and JR were filming all of it in little bouts of narrative that I only peripherally caught:

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See how happy everybody is? Don't worry. I take my job seriously. They needed to know the Panic of Unforeseen Obstacles, and I delivered:

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First Day Idle Theory Bus Upper Engine Overhaul:
a) I panic upfront. I have to map out the operations. I have an idea of the time it takes. I know that there are pitfalls as yet unknown. I need to gather all the data as to why this engine failed, and I need to know the extent of it. Thus, I am tight and relentless. Right, JR?
b) Everybody else was enthusiastic and organizing bolts and nuts and parts in labeled bags and devoted to getting it recorded for a video story. Plus, they were enjoying each others' company while I was deep in churlish inner strategy thought. Any time they attended to the videography or tediously cleaned a relatively insignificant part super immaculate, I was panicky about time management. Here's the happy videographer before I broke his spirit:

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Meanwhile Valentina Day Two, the report is that the bucking was still evident. We went on a next day test drive, and I pointedly informed Marc and Eliana that my credibility is thoroughly shot. Anything I say has no weight. Explanations useless. Mixture is not the cause. We did a crazy test drive with the timing light pointing at the ceiling to watch every ignition pulse from the coil to see if it would "stutter" when the engine would buck. It did not. My intuition said, "change the air flow meter". Marc did. Bucking gone! Nobody believes it. "Drive," said I, "trust will slowly return, drive!"
With relief, I mauled the front carpet. That mauled Eliana's confidence. I would brook
no resistance. The carpet was underneath a big Wolfsburg West rubber floor mat, and it was so lovely, really, look at it:

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Would you tear it off the floor? Would you watch the carpet loops suck under the surface of the carpet as it tore free of the floor? Would you jab underneath relentlessly tearing little bits of brown fuzz of this perfect carpet that has been undisturbed for the life of the bus? Eliana was pleading.
But THIS:

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We painted the rust spots with rust-catalyzing primer and installed a new shift rod bushing and the floor is now protected and the shifter is precise and the carpet looks fine, all hidden under that black rubber mat. After a little work on the horn and turn signals, and a conversation with their engine rebuilder in Calgary regarding the odd compression readings we noted, I sent Marc and Eliana on their way. Perhaps they will give us a report here. My mind was turning quickly to the Idle Theory Bus Upper Engine Overhaul.

Second Day Idle Theory Bus Upper Engine Overhaul,
a) I now know the status of the engine, I see that parts have been cleaned (and I can rebuild an entire engine even if all the nuts and bolts are dumped willy-nilly in a bag and tossed about, but I ain't gonna tell them that), and I can better predict the Moment of Reckoning, and I am feeling more relaxed, BUT:
b) Everybody else is woozy with the chaos of parts strewn about (but I can rebuild an entire engine even if all the nuts and bolts are dumped willy-nilly in a bag and tossed about, but I ain't gonna tell them that) and they have no idea if this entropy is going to resolve and they are stressed-out at the loss of order and the march of time.

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Like Life Itself, time rears its head, and we have work to do, and our intrepid adventurers are knuckling down to work. They are beautiful, these adventurers, and they have the heart I need to infuse their engine with. Time torments when you need it, and time spreads out endlessly when you don't. We needed time, and here we are laboriously scraping carbon off the pistons so we can measure the deck height so WE CAN GET THE COMPRESSION CORRECT (< shade thrown at Calgary shop) and I have run out of time here. Ironic . . .
(to be continued)

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BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by 71whitewesty » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:36 pm

Oh this is good stuff! I follow along with both of their IG accounts and enjoy their journeys. These pics are great too. Looking forward to part 2... they have the right man in the house.

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:37 pm

We left off with JR and Kit scraping carbon off the pistons on Sunshine's engine at the end of Day Two Valentina/Day One Idle Theory Bus Upper Engine Overhaul. It is late.
"This is hard," says JR.
"The carbon deposits? Yeah they really are."
"No, the work of scraping the carbon off."
It did take us a solid hour to get down to the piston surfaces. Then we had to clean the carbon particles off and oil the cylinder walls. We bolted down the cylinders with a rag tag bunch of washers and nuts to get a good reading, and there they go checking feeler blades between a straight edge and the pistons:

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I want them to gaze upon this engine and imagine the parts working so hard in such heat under such violence as combustion at twenty five times per second hour after hour, on their behalf. I want them to marvel, as I still do, that oil keeps all of these parts from touching each other during operation. So we have .042" deck on cylinders 2 and 4 and .043" deck on cylinders 1 and 3. Then we knock off for the night. We of course need our sleep so we all can be refreshed and ready to fully apprise the specter of my stunning idiocy dragging them through a magnificent detour of ridiculous scope and imbecility.

I loved, as much as this project, breakfast with Jivermo. I have simple satisfactions that are the key to a happy life. Each morning, Jivermo would ask me, "are you ready for a press of coffee?" We would press our coffee through a device designed for this very thing, we would sit down for a bowl of oatmeal with his friend Zeke From Seattle, and we would warily edge around the New York Times on the table like it was a bomb or something. A bomb. Ready to detonate should I accidentally spy a headline. Uh oh, here's one:
"Trump Declares Emergency At The Southern Border." Our morning conversations with Zeke were perfect, the cadence, the pauses, the dry moments of humor, the stories I just drank up, along with the art in the house. But, 9:00AM rushes up and out we go to the garage to punch in last night's deck height numbers.

I see a problem. The numbers don't add up. These are real numbers and they really don't add up. My now victims (versus pupils) are in thrall to my tight disbelief. The numbers allege that we have way too much compression, 8.7:1. I am wildly assessing what the hell am I going to do? According to the online compression calculator, we have to shim the cylinders out .150" which is pretty thick. I don't have such spacers. I consider putting in the head sealing rings, but they are just .028" and add a failure point. I am sounding less like a tutor and more like a rambling madman muttering to myself, you know, like this:
"why would Len just cater to the performance crowd and what, flycut the heads? No, these heads are not flycut, AMC, AMC, why would they deviate from the stock combustion chamber volumes, wait, is it this particular engine that has too tight a deck height? Is that why it has scorched exhaust valves and recessed seats? We don't have TIME for this! What am I going to do? Do I have to razor blade 15cc's of aluminum off these new heads?" I show all gathered the last time I attacked heads with a razor blade. They were the Road Warrior heads in 2007 in Atlanta GA, I knew exactly where the online photographs were, you bet I did. I did not tell them that it took me a solid DAY of razoring and measuring.

I array all the available heads, the old ones, Jivermo's spare Adrian heads, and these beautiful new Len Hoffman heads on the table, we level them, we fill a pour cylinder, magically provided by Jivermo (what was it, a bird feeder?) with water/green Scope mouthwash, and fill each head and measure off the amounts with Sharpie marker on the side of the cylinder. Every head arrayed on the bench is pretty much the same:

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I left a message on Len Hoffman's answering machine, noting furiously to myself that it is a Saturday, Len is probably far away from his shop. As I broach the razor blade option yet again, "I can get the compression down to 8.1, you'll need to install a Dakota Digital gauge, you'll need to use premium ... <nervous blahblahblab>," Jivermo calmly states with a dollop of carefully metered skepticism, "I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that to those new heads."

These poor travelers. My smoothie guru act is shattered. Good. Ain't no camera rolling now! Good! I can slink away like all of those other "experts" who know when they slam into the Wall Of @*&! Surprises and have to bluster their way out of the predicament with pure unadulterated bullsh*t.

Wait.

Oh yeah. I forgot to calculate the piston dish. The pistons are dished. That is 15 luscious beautiful necessary critical cc's right there. Online calculator spits out 7.2:1 compression ratio. Can you believe it? All of this for naught, but what a learning moment for our pupils:
a) mouthwash imparts a refreshing scent to cylinder heads
b) the fallible guru was unfailingly focused on flailing unflappably
So, here they are torquing the heads:

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Jivermo made a block-off plate for the EGR inlet that has every bit of the charm that permeates this entire McIntyre Hospital For Wayward Volkswagens, Gurus, and Stranded Travelers:

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The video muse re-emerges as the end becomes visible through the cascade of loose parts finding their homes:

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I was going to say, "can you see the beaten-down worn-out traumatized fatigued and overwhelmed students?" Me neither:

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No, I see pluck and steadfastness in this one:

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Here, by the way, is the #1 #2 head that smote Sunshine and her travelers with the obviously receded #2 exhaust valve:

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Do note that #1 exhaust is an odd red scorched color ... just like Chloe's original too-small valves in October 2011 that couldn't cool themselves. This #1 exhaust valve ran red hot and then some:

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And for the record, here is Valentina's #2 intake. Unbelievably lucky, as the seat fell out, it expertly hooked the valve, and stopped the valve from moving any more, it was too far open to get hit by the rocker arm but also not enough to get hit by the piston, and that prevented the seat from getting banged to pieces and it prevented the valve from getting snapped and that prevented the engine from grenading! Wow:

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Is this post too long? Is it? Well, so was our four-day marathon! We stuck it out! You can too! We got the engine in. Kit did it. We just looked and guided the lower studs:

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The engine started right up after we diagnosed a failed diode in the double relay and replaced it with another save by Jivermo:

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You can see the test drive video snippet on the Itinerant Air-Cooled Facebook page. These people all were troupers and we traversed the Valley Of Obstacles and Despair and we did what I hope was good work. If love has anything to do with these wonderful cars and their hard-working engines, Sunshine is in very good hands.

Well, I was dead-beat, and I had an engine to look at in Panama City, so I had to move along. As I was driving up Interstate 75 in NaranjaWesty at 62 mph, pondering the amazingness of pistons traveling up and down the cylinder bores at about 60 times a second with no metal-to-metal contact, the phone rings. Against my own rules, I answered it.
"Hey Colin, this is Len Hoffman returning your call. I was out for the weekend. What's up?"
"Hi Len, look, just ignore that message I left you about the compression being too high."
"Oh, I know."
"You know what?"
"I know you forgot to calculate the piston dish."
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Jivermo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:07 am

Great write up of an incredible event! This is one for the books. I will not forget this Itinerant visit, and I am happy to finally get some sleep!

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by asiab3 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:51 am

If the rest of the 2019 Itinerary is this well-documented, then I think the readership is in for a great summer. :)

Robbie

(Hot damn that Valentinia valve seat……)
1969 bus, "Buddy."
145k miles with me.
322k miles on Earth.

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zabo
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by zabo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:04 am

asiab3 wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:51 am
If the rest of the 2019 Itinerary is this well-documented, then I think the readership is in for a great summer. :)

Robbie

(Hot damn that Valentinia valve seat……)

agreed. - hopefully the instagram fame will garner you a few more customers :)

https://www.instagram.com/idletheorybus ... elg84rz4cb
60 beetle
78 bus

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Deanaha » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:19 am

What an exciting read! I am impressed that all of this took place in a few days. Very glad to know they are in for safe travels now. Thank you for the exquisite recounting of adventures

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by THall » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:28 am

Yes, great write-up Colin. Thank you for sharing, love these posts!
'78 Westy 2.0 FI

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BusBassist
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by BusBassist » Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:09 am

Wonderful write up Colin. You’ve given us a great cast of characters and a plot that keeps us on the edge of our respective seats.

Plus, having this vicarious bird’s-eye view provides needed rays of hope and sunshine to us VW folk whose VW’s are cacooned in their frozen nests - awaiting the thaw that brings them back to life.

Sorry to be so verbose but what else can one do when it’s 10* and our world is covered in ice and salt?
Late 73 Bay w/a transplanted 914 Engine.

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:26 am

asiab3 wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:51 am
If the rest of the 2019 Itinerary is this well-documented, then I think the readership is in for a great summer. :)

Robbie

(Hot damn that Valentinia valve seat……)

Hello Robbie, you need to be a mechanic to fully grasp the dumbfounding miracle of Valentina's engine.
The loose valve seat somehow held the locked-open valve exactly within the millimeter required to avoid getting tapped by the rocker arm or mashed by the piston.
Seriously, we just did deck height in Miami. It had just 1.8 mm between the quench area and the piston.

It's like being the pilot who just landed the 747 with failed reverse thrusters and six feet to spare at the end of the runway. The pilot can see out the front. "halleluja holy cats that was close!" The passengers are just wondering why they are not taxiing to the gate . . .
ColinOrSumpin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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SlowLane
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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by SlowLane » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:26 am

Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:26 am
Robbie wrote: (Hot damn that Valentinia valve seat……)
Hello Robbie, you need to be a mechanic to fully grasp the dumbfounding miracle of Valentina's engine.
The loose valve seat somehow held the valve exactly within the millimeter required to avoid getting tapped by the rocker arm or mashed by the piston.
That is exactly the sight that greeted me when I took the heads off of my first engine failure. I wasn't as lucky, however. The sight which preceded that one was of the snapped-in-two rocker arm that had gotten caught between the rock of piston-kissing valve and the hard place of unsupported pushrod. The solid lifters and high-overlap cam installed by the PO probably didn't help much.

Confused I am, however, by the narrative above. None of the tale told about the birder's bus Valentina suggests a teardown for head replacement. Just ball joint boots, some hopeful AFM adjustment followed by an AFM replacement, followed by a fond farewell. What did I miss?
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance."
- Terry Pratchett

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Amskeptic » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:51 am

SlowLane wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:26 am
Amskeptic wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:26 am
Robbie wrote: (Hot damn that Valentinia valve seat……)
Hello Robbie, you need to be a mechanic to fully grasp the dumbfounding miracle of Valentina's engine.
The loose valve seat somehow held the valve exactly within the millimeter required to avoid getting tapped by the rocker arm or mashed by the piston.
That is exactly the sight that greeted me when I took the heads off of my first engine failure. I wasn't as lucky, however. The sight which preceded that one was of the snapped-in-two rocker arm that had gotten caught between the rock of piston-kissing valve and the hard place of unsupported pushrod. The solid lifters and high-overlap cam installed by the PO probably didn't help much.

I am confused by the narrative above, however. None of the tale told about the birder's bus Valentina suggests a teardown for head replacement. Just ball joint boots, some hopeful AFM adjustment followed by an AFM replacement, followed by a fond farewell. What did I miss?

Perhaps a Facebook/Itinerant Air-Cooled ships-passing-in-the-night moment.

Marc and Eliana drove from Miami to Alaska (to get married!) and back (preparations post here) ...

https://itinerant-air-cooled.com/viewto ... 65#p228421

... but their engine went sick outside of Calgary Canada in late July and got progressively more balky. Marc had me on the phone as he was trying to start it after an odd valve adjustment anomaly where he said the #2 intake valve adjusting screw was so far in that he couldn't get a lock nut on it! When he described the dancing AFM wiper, I told him they were out. They got new heads from a shop in Calgary.
Bullet dodged! Amazingly little damage and the engine set them down gently just feet away from a friend's house.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by SlowLane » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:57 pm

Amskeptic wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:51 am
SlowLane wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:26 am
I am confused ...
What did I miss?
Perhaps a Facebook/Itinerant Air-Cooled ships-passing-in-the-night moment.
Ah, I see. As one of the seven remaining people on the planet who don't do Facebook, I'm quite used to being out of touch with current trends, fashions and tropes. Guess I'll just have to get used to it infecting places like IAC and appreciate "that warm thrill of confusion".
Thanks for taking the time to explain to the dinosaur.
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance."
- Terry Pratchett

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by Amskeptic » Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:53 pm

SlowLane wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:57 pm
Amskeptic wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:51 am
SlowLane wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:26 am
I am confused ...
What did I miss?
Perhaps a Facebook/Itinerant Air-Cooled ships-passing-in-the-night moment.
Ah, I see. As one of the seven remaining people on the planet who don't do Facebook, I'm quite used to being out of touch with current trends, fashions and tropes. Guess I'll just have to get used to it infecting places like IAC and appreciate "that warm thrill of confusion".
Thanks for taking the time to explain to the dinosaur.

As a newly cool cat happenin dood, I should tell you that I see defections occurring from that scrum, friends! here, deciding that Facebook is ruining their sense of life. I shall corral all back to this desktop viewable site where things are organized! where conversations can happen! where archived gems are locatable! where diagrams can be viewed in the spacious luxury of a full-size monitor! Currently, the average human checks their phone some couple of hundred times a day (eighty times a day while on vacation). Me? I check my fliptop Motorola once every eighty days.
DinosaursAreUs
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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Re: Itinerant Air-Cooled Mauled In Miami

Post by sgkent » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:52 pm

good job, good save.
Thank You -

Merlin The Wrench

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