Thursday, November 20, 2008

A view from the time machine.

The more I drive the Magic Bus, the more I feel like I have been transported back in time.

So lets look at 1970 for a moment. Nixon was President and the Federal Debt was just over $380 billion. Inflation was at 6.5% with unemployment 3.5%. You paid $0.36 a gallon for gas and $1.15 for a gallon of milk. Venus by The Shocking Blue topped the Billboard Top Ten and Patton took home three Academy Awards.
America loved watching Marcus Welby M.D. and The Flip Wilson Show. Baltimore would see an incredible Superbowl and World Series win. Whites in the South storm a bus to prevent integration. The National Guard opens fire on protesting students at Kent State University killing four. The stock market sees a record day rise of 32.04. This is also the year that we morn the loss of Janis Joplin.

Different times. Not the best in our worlds history but somehow better, simpler.

As I look through the windshield of this time machine of mine Green-Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf plays on the oldies station and I long for simpler times.

***works posted here are copyrighted***

Monday, November 17, 2008

And the weekend became days 17 & 18

The last bit of surgery that needed to be performed on the Magic Bus (for now) happened this weekend. Tony worked hard on figuring out the way the U-joints and bearings were designed by German engineers. Some of the biggest challenges repairing the Magic Bus have come from the differences between American and German auto designs. Tony has done a fantastic job and I admire his mechanical abilities. Here are the pics he sent this weekend:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 13

November 11th was the first day that I incorporated the Magic Bus in my daily routine.

The first meeting of the day was in the Canyon office and the short journey from Amarillo to Canyon was interesting. I hadn't realized that we (the Bus and I) had yet to get on a highway. As we began to merge I noticed that getting up to 60 MPH wasn't too hard but the 70 MPH zone ahead was going to be a challenge. I felt bad for the drivers that had to pass me. I was not embarrassed, however. I have driven many cars in my life that were just in such bad shape that they couldn't keep up with traffic. No, this vehicle was made during a different time. A slower time. I felt bad because I could see that some of them were frustrated, I could see it on their faces. I wondered how we ever got things done nearly 40 years ago. How did we conduct business? I thought about my cell phone and my laptop and the PT Cruiser I just gave up (assigned to my Amarillo office). Fast. Tools that allow me to do my job faster, quicker. As I drive South on I-27 and traffic continues to pass, I start to feel some stress and pressure leaving and it dawns on me. I CAN'T go fast! I will get to Canyon, TX when I get there and there is nothing I can do to change it. Instead of becoming more stressed and feeling more pressure I am happier. As a lady blows by me in a Lexus, I look over and it's as if she is now wearing my stress as a mask. I see it in her face and eyes. I almost hear her thoughts, "I don't have time for this." She is in a hurry. Something pressing and important is pulling her South. She must be accelerating beyond the speed limit now as if to make up for the lost time I have caused her. It hits me. I have done that exact thing a thousand times. I had to get to my next meeting and maybe it was an old farm truck or a large vehicle that was in my way. I would blow by and punch the gas, my heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels increasing as my speed did. "Get off the highway!" I might say. Driving the Magic Bus is freeing. It it takes me back to simpler times. Revelation! It's a time machine. This old 1970 VW Mini-Bus is a time machine. I'm looking out at the future and steering the past. When I got to Canyon (unaware of even what time it was) and after my meeting I took a picture of the Bus. As I sit there and look at the picture, I think that the Bus even makes a modern digital picture seem to go back in time. I look at the building it sits in front of and the water tower reflected in the background and it feels nostalgic even tough it's less than a few minutes old. I feel good. I feel alive. I know it's crazy, but I feel the pressures of email and cell phones and conference calls and webinars melt away. They didn't exist in 1970 and that's where I am now.

***works posted here are copyrighted***

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 12

It has been a long journey (ok just a few days), but the Magic Bus is driving like it was 1970 again! :) After a long fight with a new but malfunctioning master cylinder and a firefight with ball joints, the results are amazing.

It is a little hard to see but anything shinny in these pics is a new part.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 8 Continued....

So here are the tools for removing the ball joints. Notice the fire extinguisher (safety first)! The first attempts at removing the ball joins using a press were unsuccessful. After Tony (my main man on this project) read a few internet posts he decided that the only way to make it work would be to super heat them and knock the crap out of them till they came out.

So then came the torch!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 8

Well I'm going through Magic Bus withdrawals. Here are a couple of pictures of the work being done.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 7

Welcome to day 7! After having the Magic Bus for a week we have had to do quite a bit of work on it. The brakes seem to be the big mystery right now. We replaced the master cylinder and thought all was well but it is still leaking brake fluid like crazy. So it's back to the drawing board on that. Tomorrow the tie rods, rocker arm and other parts come in. So I will be without the bus for a few days. Here are a couple of pics of me and the bus.

Monday, November 3, 2008


As I have been driving the bus now for a few days, I have made a few observations that I would like to share.

The first interesting thing is how other drivers react around me. There seems to be two types of people, those that I piss off and those that I make smile. The angry people swerve around be and give me dirty looks. Why? Well, the bus isn't the fastest thing on the streets. It takes a while to get up to speed and I normally drive the speed limit once I reach it. Hey, I understand being late for work or having a million places to go, but geez people the bus is 38 years old. In 1970 the other vehicles on the road didn't have fuel injection and go 0 to 60 MPH in 15 seconds. I think that I would most likely end up somehow pissing these people off in traffic no matter what I drove or how I drove it.

The second type of person gets a big grin on their face and some even wave at me. I sometimes see them before they see me and you can tell that they are involved with there day (or the planning of) and then they look over and the smile just bursts onto their face. It's a good feeling to think that somehow I bring a smile to someones face.

The more I drive the bus (we should call it the Magic Bus after the song by The Who *1968) the more I realize that the bus and I are very much alike. We were both brand new in 1970. Most of my life it seems like people have reacted to me much in the same way people react to the bus now. I seem to either piss people off or bring a smile to their face.

Another thing about the magic bus is that it has it's own unique mannerisms. It takes a bit to get going in the morning (like me), it has a few problems but is basically in good shape (like me), and I think it's cool :)

Oh, and my kids love it (like me).

As this project progresses, I kind of see it becoming a social experiment. Me and my Magic Bus.

"I said, now I've got my Magic Bus (Too much, the Magic Bus)
I said, now I've got my Magic Bus (Too much, the Magic Bus)
I drive my baby every way (Too much, the Magic Bus)
Each time I go a different way (Too much, the Magic Bus)
I want it, i want it, I want it, I want it ..."
Pete Townshend, The Who