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Old 12-09-2018, 02:14 PM   #1
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Location: Waltham MA
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Year: 1991
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Please Talk Me Off The Ledge

I try to stay optimistic through all my recent problems, bus related and otherwise. But I am losing the battle today.

If you've read my other threads you know that I had to get the transmission rebuilt on my bus, Buster Lewis, in Des Moines during my move from CA to MA, then upon arrival my diesel engine was served a tankful of gasoline thanks to a careless Ford dealership, which kept it in and out of the shop for the better part of 2 months.

Recently the battle has been with the cold, that is, trying to start Buster up in it. It was OK for a while. Now it's not, and I'm back in the no-start zone.

It feels as if things will never be right again with this bus.

It was so easy in the beginning, back in CA. Buster started every time I turned the key. Now, it's a daily juggling act. I know it's not that reasonable to expect a 27 year old vehicle to perform flawlessly, but I've barely ever driven a vehicle newer than 20 years in my life and I have never had so many problems. People are constantly asking me why I persevere, why I don't get rid of this thing and cut my losses. But I feel like they don't even begin to understand what those losses would be, the time and energy and money I've already put in. Or what this bus stands for to me, how much of it is about having something that's completely and totally MINE after giving up everything I had.

My Mom is moving ever closer to dementia, and now even my DOG has been diagnosed with dementia. This is a lot to deal with. It's enough. I had a pretty big vintage store back in California, and the main reason I threw in the towel on it, though I acted like I was going off on some adventure, was to come back here for my mother, who is struggling since the death of my Dad, her husband of 58 years. Despite all the problems, one of my few joys right now has been having Buster the Bus.

In reality, I can't imagine giving up the bus. I feel like our journey has just begun, and yes, I'm aware how corny that sounds. We haven't even really had a chance. First it was the stress of shutting the shop down and getting ready enough to hit the road, then it was the actual trip and the problems that came up there. Then 2 months of on and off separation because of the various issues brought on by the gas problems. Now, whatever this is: I don't even know anymore what the problem is. I've been waiting 3 weeks for my mechanic to be able to take Buster. I'm past the point of anything I can realistically fix myself, and I need a professional. But it's not going to be cheap because it never is. Not having a working large vehicle (or ANY vehicle - this is all I have) has cost me money because I can't get to flea markets and vintage shows to sell my wares without transportation. I'm throwing money I don't actually have at the problem.

Am I absolutely nuts to be trying to keep this bus? I love everything about it, except that it doesn't work. But that's a big something, probably the biggest. I am just so discouraged and confused right now. I thought I was out of the woods, at least bus wise (though the other aspects of life and getting steadily worse), and now I'm right back in.

I'm not looking for mechanical advice. I guess what I'm looking for is a pep talk. I don't even know.
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Old 12-09-2018, 03:03 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
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What part of Massachusetts? I just moved into CT from Ma.
it's cold here. Your battery needs to be 100%. And you could probably use a block heater. If you don't have both already, you can pick them up for a small investment.
Also put a bottle of "heat" in the tank.
As far as the pep talk... We are humans, we can adapt to almost anything, given the time. You just need to hang on and find your new "normal. One day at a time, small victories (woke up, made the bed, etc...) It won't always be like this, and you will look back and know you did what you had to and not look back and wonder if you could have done more.
Don't give up.
Mike
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Old 12-09-2018, 05:41 PM   #3
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Brother, it sure sounds like you are in a lot of pain; I am so sorry to hear about your mom (and the dog...).

Three points for your consideration:

1) First and foremost, I suggest you spend as much time with your mom as you can.

My mom passed away in May 2018; she died of congestive heart failure, but she had pretty severe Alzheimers. For many months before she passed, she did not know who I was. The Alzheimers/dementia was really tough on the family but was a "blessing" of sorts for her in her final months.

If you asked her how she was feeling, she was always "fine", never in any pain, and never needed anything. She was oblivious to what was happening to her and around her. Regarding dogs, while mother was living with us Apr-Jul 2017, our family dog Molly (15.5 year old loyal, faithful family dog died). My mom didn't even notice the dog was gone...

2) Point two: Your bus is not you, it is not your life, and it does not define you. It is a thing. Keep it, sell it, park it, burn it, whatever. One of the reasons I am building a skoolie is to get rid of all the worthless stuff I have. I buy all this stuff because I think it will make me happy, but it does not.

Needing a vehicle for work is one thing, but reread your thread. To say that you have an emotional connection to that bus is IMO an understatement. The money you've spent on that bus is gone and it's not coming back. It was not an investment; it is at best a depreciating asset. You know what you need to do with it better than anyone on this forum. Do what you need to do.

3) Last point. Talk to friends/family/someone not on skoolie.net about what you are feeling. They may say things you don't want to hear, but that's what people who care about you are supposed to do; speak the truth in love.

4) And one bonus point: Trust me, I was born and raised in Beverly, MA; please watch these videos and do your best to fit in...



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Old 12-09-2018, 05:52 PM   #4
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Hang in there. You are right you have come so far with "Buster" it seems a shame to quit now. I would think a GOOD mechanic should be able to trouble shoot and get it resolved.

I am an experianced mechanic and do get frustrated with my bus from time to time. It seems like stupid stuff keeps happening and I want to scream. However must say my bus is almost 50 years old and I rescued it out of the woods where it sat for many years. So stuff is going to need work. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe mid life crisis time for yours, hope you find someone who is real good and sympathetic to its needs.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:19 PM   #5
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Engine: 7.3l IDI
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Step away from the edge and nobody has to get hurt:-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
I try to stay optimistic through all my recent problems, bus related and otherwise.

...
I guess what I'm looking for is a pep talk. I don't even know.



Seems the real problem you have right now is its winter in New England.
Fixing cars in the winter sucks, My first car out of college would
randomly die and not start. It seemed like it was running out of gas,
It was a crack in the fuel line, a $25 fix.
The real problem was it was winter solstices time in upstate NY and I could only
work on it at night after work in a car port outdoors.

I don't know all the stuff you have done to the bus but the transmission sounds
like a big one. People lose the most when they sell right before the bottom.
But it is a balancing act between that and sinking good money after bad.

From what little I know about you, through your post, it seems that this
bus was a lifestyle choice/change type of thing. That makes it way more
than simply throwing away a thing and getting another.

Is it possible to keep the bus, use it as your warehouse for the winter,
buy a cheap car, pickup with shell, van or whatever
just to get through the winter and to get you to your selling appointments.
That gives time for a mechanic to look at it or warm weather to come,
which ever happens first is fine.

I have to believe that fuel system work is way cheaper than trans work.
I've pull fuel tanks and re-routed fuel lines, it takes time and its not real fun
but its not that hard. No special equipment is needed, unlike a trans or engine rebuild.

Didn't you say your fuel pickup or sending units or something in that area was
held together with chewing gum and good looks. That may be the area to start with.
I've heard that diesel are real finicky about their fuel lines much more so than cars.

The real question about the bus is do you feel the engine is still strong.
With a rebuilt trans and a strong engine everything else is relatively cheap and
much easier to deal with. Don't let minor things confuse you,
I know not starting is not minor but the cause may be minor. Its fog not storm clouds.

From what I've heard, and the reason that I have what I have, is from all
reports it seems that pre-1994 7.3 diesels are about the best engine for
this size vehicle. They have a great track record but all diesels are hard starting
in the cold. That is why god invented glo-plugs, block heaters and really big batteries.

The winter solstices is almost here, then the days will be getting longer and
brighter. Its amazing what a little sunshine will do, and a good block heater

I'm headed to flagstaff soon and I too am looking for tips on starting in cold weather.
I'll let you know what I learn. I have the block heater in and I'm going to test
it before I leave sunny CA. I have also heard that they make some kind of coolant heater/circulating pump thingy. I haven't be able to track that one down yet.

I'm sure your mother enjoys having you around and this time with her and your
family is priceless, even in winter in New England. I'm a cold weather refuge
myself from upstate NY and I remember that it was nice to go out when I wanted to but not when I had to.

Take care of your mother and enjoy you family, those things can not be replaced.

I'm not sure if this should be a public post or a private message. I hope I
picked right. The post is more about the bus than your mother but in life
it is more about your mother than the bus.

Take care, PM if you want
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:23 PM   #6
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Location: Waltham MA
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Chassis: Ford E350
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
What part of Massachusetts? I just moved into CT from Ma.
it's cold here. Your battery needs to be 100%. And you could probably use a block heater. If you don't have both already, you can pick them up for a small investment.
I'm in Waltham. I grew up with this and lived here for the first 30-something years of my life but I never had a diesel truck so this whole aspect of NE life is new to me.

The block heater is going to be installed by the mechanic I've been waiting 3 weeks for. Hopefully this week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
Also put a bottle of "heat" in the tank.
Not sure I know what you mean about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
As far as the pep talk... We are humans, we can adapt to almost anything, given the time. You just need to hang on and find your new "normal. One day at a time, small victories (woke up, made the bed, etc...) It won't always be like this, and you will look back and know you did what you had to and not look back and wonder if you could have done more.

Don't give up.
Mike
Thanks so much for this. I have a friend who said almost the same thing to me - used the phrase "new normal" - and I guess that's what I'm having a hard time adjusting to.

I won't give up, on any of these things. Thanks again.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:34 PM   #7
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Heat is a diesel fuel winter additive. It is supposed to make the fuel less likely to gel, and more easily combustible. Walmart sells it. I have added it to mine. Without a block heater plugged in, it fires over on the first crank down to 20f (haven't had the opportunity to check lower)
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComfortEagle View Post
1) First and foremost, I suggest you spend as much time with your mom as you can.
Thank you, that's what I'm trying to do. We haven't always had the smoothest relationship in the past but I feel like I understand her on a whole new level now. The dementia is undiagnosed so far but very, very obvious, although sporadic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ComfortEagle View Post
2) Point two: Your bus is not you, it is not your life, and it does not define you. It is a thing. Keep it, sell it, park it, burn it, whatever. One of the reasons I am building a skoolie is to get rid of all the worthless stuff I have. I buy all this stuff because I think it will make me happy, but it does not.
Another great point. I'm not really a person who hangs onto things, though... I own almost nothing. I do believe in the power of "stuff" - I have been known to weep over a great antique chair and my great joy is finding amazing things - but it's about aesthetics, not possession for me. I can say goodbye to objects easily. I lived before I came back here in a tiny loft above my store, and my personal possessions (as opposed to my merchandise) filled one suitcase when I left.

But this bus... It isn't me, it doesn't define me, I'm clear on those points. What it DOES is remind me of who I am, because its aesthetics are MY aesthetics, and this is the only place they live right now. It's the last piece of my old life, a life I really loved. I love my mother, and I'm glad I'm here for her. But California was more "home" to me than MA ever was, despite having grown up here, and I wish I'd never had to leave. I have to disagree that it is not an investment. There are things to invest in besides money, and this IS an investment. I can't exactly pin point exactly what it's an investment in, but, in terms of knowing what I need to do...

I kept trying, and I got Buster started once again. Drove him to Beverly, in fact, where I went to meet a guy who is going to help me install my solar panel. Funny coincidence!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ComfortEagle View Post
4) And one bonus point: Trust me, I was born and raised in Beverly, MA; please watch these videos and do your best to fit in...



LOL, Thanks, I needed a laugh.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:53 PM   #9
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Location: Waltham MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
Hang in there. You are right you have come so far with "Buster" it seems a shame to quit now. I would think a GOOD mechanic should be able to trouble shoot and get it resolved.

I am an experianced mechanic and do get frustrated with my bus from time to time. It seems like stupid stuff keeps happening and I want to scream. However must say my bus is almost 50 years old and I rescued it out of the woods where it sat for many years. So stuff is going to need work. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe mid life crisis time for yours, hope you find someone who is real good and sympathetic to its needs.
I found a good mechanic, but the wait times to get in to him are ridiculous. I need to figure that part out. And thank you, I am not quitting on Buster. It was a temporary loss of confidence. But I'm back, especially because after trying for 4 hours today (and an hour yesterday too) I DID get him started up after all.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinekid View Post
The post is more about the bus than your mother but in life
it is more about your mother than the bus.
Thanks, you all are reminding what really matters and I appreciate it.
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