Driving in Circles

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Trenton and I drove to Chardon today to get a part for the Jeep. That’s about a 7 mile drive from Painesville but it was the only parts store that had a valve cover gasket in stock. So, despite about 12 inches of snow, we took off. Once we got past Auburn Road, the roads were very good on Rt. 44. But on the way back things became worse. North of I-90, there were several miles of backed up cars waiting to exit at Rt. 84. So, we decided not to wait and ended up taking a very circuitous route home.

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Because of the icy roads and the amount of cars on the roads, traffic moved very slowly. We crept along a few feet at a time hoping the back end of the Jag wouldn’t fish tail too much. When we finally got off the highway, the traffic light was stuck as red. That left us only one option. So, we ended up driving in circles for 2-3 hours hoping (along with everyone else in Painesville) to find a way home. Thankfully, the Lord protected us and we made it home in one piece.

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Along the way we saw two plow trucks stuck in the snow. One was on 44 North and the other was on our street earlier today. A local school teacher said she was stuck at school until 6:30 pm tonight with students. The first snow fall of the winter brought some interesting experiences for us all. But no worries — Trenton and I watched an episode of the Zorro tv show on my smart phone and sang along to several Youtube videos. So, the time was not wasted.

Trenton and the Search for the Perfect Hubcaps

Today, Trenton got to sit in the “driver’s seat” of the Postal Jeep while we drove around town. In case you didn’t know, the Postal Jeep we recently purchased is Right Hand Drive (RHD) to make delivering the mail easier. So, Trenton sat on the left side and smiled real big. It’s not every day that he gets to sit on that side.

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After finishing the title and registration of the Jeep, we drove over to Great Lakes Recycling Center on Lane Road in Perry. I’ve always enjoyed visiting junk yards and this was no exception. Our goal was to pick up a set of hub caps for the Jeep’s 14″ steel wheels but that didn’t keep us from enjoying several interesting vehicles in the collection.

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Trenton liked a lot of the cars in the lot including a motor home, a school bus, and a 90’s era Trans-Am. But his favorite seemed to be this old convertible. My favorite, on the other hand, was a 1993 SAAB 900 with a tempting pair of manually operated leather seats. Wouldn’t that be nice in the Postal Jeep? And they’re only $35 each.

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After scouring the entire lot, we found several options. Trenton liked the “Bio-hazard” design hubcaps but I thought they looked a bit tiny on the Jeep. And there were only two available so we didn’t get them. I think the best look would be some chrome beauty rings. They make the wheels look bigger than expected. But at $5 each, I may just find a new set of NEW plastic hubcaps at Wal-Mart. Which do you like better?

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1984 Jeep DJ-5

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After looking at several options, I decided to purchase a 1984 Jeep DJ-5 for my new job. In case you didn’t know, I was hired to be a rural route postal delivery driver for Rock Creek, Ohio. That necessitates having a right hand drive (RHD) vehicle or being a contortionist from the left side. I chose the former over the latter as I don’t want to visit the chiropractor at lunch every day.

There were several interesting options on the table. I was very close to purchasing a 1976 DJ-5 in Grand Rapids, Michigan but it needed a carburetor and the heater controls didn’t work (not that again!). Other options included a 90’s Subaru Legacy wagon and a 2000 Jeep Cherokee. But both of them had substantial needs that made me feel uneasy about making either purchase.

The owner lives in Cincinnati but agreed to meet me half way. That means that I’ll be able to visit relatives in Columbus but will need to drive it back to the Cleveland area that day. Being as how these postal Jeeps are made for low speed driving that may turn out to be the adventure of the week. Can you see me driving 45 mph on I-71? With a posted speed limit of 70 that should make for some exciting times.

More to come later…

QOTD #53: What Right Hand Drive options are available in northeastern Ohio?

Being that my father was stationed in England during his time in the USAF, I have always been curious about the British accent and driving on the wrong side of the road. I’ve not had the privilege of visiting Great Britain or driving from the passenger side but I may soon have that opportunity. I say that because the US Postal Service recently interviewed me for a part-time position as a rural route delivery person. If offered the job, I have decided to take it. However, there is one slight wrinkle to the plan. This position would require me to drive my own car from the passenger seat to deliver mail.

As you may recall, I currently own two vehicles. My daily driver is a 1995 Jaguar XJ6 and my wife’s is a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Both of these are Left Hand Drive (LHD) vehicles. So, using one of them would require some modifications or some clever shenanigans to reach mail boxes through the passenger side window. Someone suggested reaching my leg across the car to use the pedals. This isn’t a very good idea since the transmission/drive shaft tunnel is in the way. I think I would be visiting the chiropractor more frequently if that were a daily occurrence. So, here are the two ideas I am considering should I be offered the job.

MODIFICATION

Using the steering wheel from the passenger seat shouldn’t be too big of a deal. But the pedals would be almost impossible to operate from that position. So, the best idea would be to have some pedals installed on the passenger side flooring. A Google search revealed that driver training cars have a brake pedal installed for the trainer to use when necessary. But can you have duplicate gas and braked pedals added for postal work?

kit1DualBrake.com offers a FAT dual control kit. From what I can tell, this kit could be installed in my vehicle and allow me to accelerate and brake from the passenger seat. The cost is fairly reasonable at $378.24 plus shipping. I’m not sure how much installation would cost but would expect about that much to get it done right. I’ll be asking my mechanic and the local upfitter for ideas later this week.

USED RHD VEHICLES

With my reputation for purchasing a car every other month, you already know that I have been investigating what Right Hand Drive (RHD) cars are available in the area. At the present there are several possibilities.

  • 1960 Jaguar Mark II
  • 1960-jagNow wouldn’t that be a sight to see every day when your mail was delivered? Obviously, this is not a reasonable possibility for the job or my bank account. The starting bid of $2000 will probably reach a much higher price and I am sure that the weekly repairs would eventually double the purchase price. But it is a fun car to think about.

  • 1983 AM General Postal Jeep
  • 83-jeepThis vehicle might be a short term solution. The price is definitely attractive but would a 2WD Jeep work in Ohio winters. And would the lack of power steering and power brakes get older fast? I don’t know. If it were located in Ohio, I think I would take it for a test drive. But it’s not. It’s for sale on a lot in Missouri which is about 10 driving hours away from where I live.

  • 1999 Jeep Cherokee
  • 99-jeepThis vehicle has 4WD, factory RHD, and a good description. I like that it has working AC and runs well. I don’t like the rust and the price seems a but high. But it might be a good vehicle to consider if the other options don’t pan out.

  • 1989 Nissan S-Cargo Van
  • nissan panel van 2Now if this one ends up with a decent price, I may have to take a drive back from the West Coast in it. This would definitely be a fun one to own and drive. According to the description, it is a legally imported unit. And it is 25 years old so would probably pass as a Classic car. I wonder how small it actually is and if I would fit in it. In any case, this one makes me smile.

At this point, I don’t know whether this job will be offered to me. So, this is all conjecture. The Post Master who interviewed me told me that she would let me know Wednesday or Thursday of this week whether I am chosen for the job. Until then, I am going to see what options are available to me so that I am ready to make a well educated decision. If you have any ideas or know of any postal jeeps available in northeastern Ohio, feel free to let me know.

Redneck or Resourceful? — Broken Door Handles

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As we drove back from the Ohio Bible Fellowship conference last weekend, we stopped at McDonald’s for a bite to eat. When we returned to the van, I asked our pastor to wait a moment while I took this picture. The owner wasn’t present to explain things, but I noticed that both driver’s side doors were rigged this way. Apparently, the door handles had broken off and this was his method for opening either door.

Hmm… if you find yourself locked out of your car due to broken door handles, would this solution work for you? Tell me what you think. Is this redneck or resourceful?

Cat in a Coil Spring

Cats are known for hiding in a car’s warm engine bay but I’ve never seen something like this before.

Redneck or Resourceful? — Home Made Car Ramps

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While perusing the latest X300 articles at the JaguarForums.com, I came across this link to a clever set of home made car ramps for working under your car. They are made of 2x10s and seem to be well supported. My only concern would be that they might flip over once weight is put on them. But with proper bracing, this might be a good thing to have if you (like me and most other people) don’t have your own hydraulic lift in the garage.

Redneck or Resourceful? I vote for the latter.

What’s the Scoop? — Motorcycle Edition

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Today, I was given the opportunity to drive this Ford F250 Dually Flatbed to deliver seed to four different farmers. Driving that truck reminds me of maneuvering a full size school bus through a construction zone. It was wide enough to make you check both mirrors quite often. Thankfully, God gave me a safe trip with no problems whatsoever. However, something interesting did happen.

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After dropping the last load in Ashville, Ohio, I drove as far as I could before refueling. I took this picture in Lodi after filling the tank and washing the windshield. Then it happened. A motorcycle rider walked up to me with his helmet on and the clear plastic visor down. “Hey, buddy, give me a few scrubs!” In other words, he wanted me to clean his visor. So, I smiled real big and did it. I scrubbed up and down while he moved his helmet from right to left. One of the female riders said, “That was so cool!”

I’m still smiling just thinking about that. It’s not every day (actually it’s never happened before) that someone asks you to wash their helmet visor. You just never know what will happen when you drive through Ohio.