Run, van, run!
Keep on running!
Run far, run long!
See van run!
That is the engine of our extended body ford cargo van with the interior shroud off. Below it you can see the muddy dirt road blurring by. It is a bit louder running this way, sounds like we’re in first gear when we’re in drive, but I wanted to observe it.
Several weeks ago the alternator died while Holly was on the road making deliveries of our pastured pork to stores and restaurants. She limped to a service garage using the battery, which killed the battery. They made an emergency heart transplant (a rebuilt alternator and a new battery) which got Holly back on the road in an amazing 2 hours and $250. This was most fortunate.
Unfortunately when the alternator was being replaced the radiator appears to have gotten bumped. It is 14 or 15 years old. A crack in the top is not too surprising a development. The symptom was a sudden loss of heat for the interior. Our regular mechanic fixed this with some radiator gunk which will take care of the problem for a while. Fortunately the hole was high, not low, or the entire radiator fluid would have dumped resulting in the engine not getting cooled. We were lucky.
The next issue, for the past three weeks, has been that the distributor cap has a crack so it is letting moisture in. This makes it so that the van won’t start after a rainy night. Part of the problem was the gasket in the hood above the distributor had come off. A hairdryer on the distributor for about half an hour dries it out enough that the van starts and then it is fine for the day. New wires and distributor are $250 or so. I’m holding off on this and keeping the hairdryer handy. Bonne chance.
Access for the hairdryer is why the shroud is off in the photo at the top. Unfortunately the distributor is in a very difficult to reach spot at the front of the engine behind the air intake assembly but only accessible from the back of the engine by reaching in around a lot of parts such as the spark plugs, fuel injection, etc. Bad setup. What is worse is the distributor is directly under the place where water from the windshield will leak down on it if the hood gasket fails, which is what happened. I have resealed the hood gasket with silicone – an easy fix.
Someone told me that spraying WD-40 on the distributor cap would help with water vapor getting in. Have any of you tried it? WD-40 might interfere with something. I hesitate since I know how to fix the problem with the hairdryer technique. Thoughts?
This was a cascade of mechanical failures, some of which were caused by the previous repair. That sort of thing can happen easily. Repairs under the body once wiggled and broke the brake line causing failure. New tube time.
Even with these repairs it is cheaper than a new van which runs $25,000 to $35,000. We spend about $500 to $1,000 on the van a year which includes tune ups behind what we can do. At that rate it would take 25 years to cover the purchase price and I’m sure a new vehicle would still need some amount of maintenance and repairs in that time. The monthly purchase payments alone would be more than these repairs. So far I’ve managed to avoid buying cars on credit. I would if I had to but I’ve been able to avoid it so I have. I just get used ones and bring them up to speed, keeping them repaired. This has been more economical than buying new. I seem to be averaging about 7.5 years each and this van’s still going so it could get extended. Vans seem to last a long time. They are not pretty but they’re functional and the fuel efficiency per pound transported is great. Make full trips.
I also don’t feel as bad about a ding in the paint on an old vehicle. I’ve watched people look at that first paint chip on their new cars… Emotionally it might be better to take a hammer to the fender to start with and get the whole thing over with. But since I’ve never owned a new one I can’t say for sure.
My other car is a tractor
Speaking of which, drop me an email if you have a Ford E-250 or E-350 extended body cargo van you would like to trade for CSA Pre-Buys of pork plus some Farmer’s Baskets. I would like to have a second vehicle so that when one is down for repairs we can still make deliveries or have a vehicle on the farm for emergencies when Holly is out on the road. Cosmetics is not an issue – functionality is.
Outdoors: 55째F/33째F Sunny, Spits of Rain
Tiny Cottage: 67째F/63째F
Walter: Sometimes government leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Holly: You’re not supposed to eat it.