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Bad, meet worse... [Aug. 20th, 2007|02:32 pm]
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[mood |rejectedlost...]

So, it's been a nuts day. Painter arrived first thing to deal with the damage from a leak we had a while back. However, unlike we'd been told, he wasn't going to just touch up the damaged area over the kitchen table, he was going to paint the entire ceiling of the kitchen and lounge area. So much moving of crap had to take place in a very short space of time. That knocked me around a fair bit.

Then I had to take my car down to the mechanic's for roadworthy looksee and a major service. And brain-damaged cripple-old-man had to walk an hour to get home. Think that didn't take a toll?

And I've just had a call from the mechanic... He doesn't think the car can possibly pass ACT standards to get a roadworthy. We were warned about this before we moved up here - ACT regs on cars are exceptionally strict, way harder than the regs in the various states - so even with tonnes of work done to it, it may be impossible to get it to pass a roadworthy here. The mechanic suggested I try to keep it registered in Victoria, that way I bypass the problem.

Of course, it causes other issues, and opens a can of worms if I have an accident.

I love my old car, as anyone who has read my 100 Days Post on The Belwood would know. I've been driving it... well, bits of it... on and off... for twenty years. It is a large part of my identity, my past - droving, my dad, etc.

At the same time it's just a car.

So, do we throw money at it and hope to get it to a point where the ACT would let me have it registered here? If so, how much do we spend before it's a case of diminishing returns? And what if we spend the money and it still won't pass muster? Do we simply leave it registered in Victoria? With all the potential for problems down the track? Do we get rid of it (could possibly get between $1500 and $2500 for it, depending on buyer) and purchase another car? I could look for a similar one, but unless I find one already in the ACT, and roadworthy, I'm likely to strike the same problem. We would only ever be likely to buy a second hand car of any type, old or new, and even with a roadworthy and a check-out you don't know what you're going to get. So do we buy a new car that may be reliable, would likely be more environmentally friendly, but also may not be any of these things?

I love my car, I get happy just walking out and seeing the damned thing on the street. I love that it's been driven by people who I love, admire, and who are important to me. I enjoy driving it, even if it's just down the road.

The biggest problem is, my car, rough though it is, works. It can run when it's low on oil, it's still not too hard to get parts for, and it can be fixed by any mechanic around, without the need for a computer or specialised parts. Plus, it's a tough old thing, it's literally done thousands of kilometres on dirt tracks and corrugated roads. It's been through potholes that drove my head down through my pelvis. Other cars hit it and they get dented.

It makes me feel, in some small way, like I'm still out and about droving with my dad.

But it's still just a car.

There's a point where I have to be practical, and this may well be it.

[User Picture]From: tikiwanderer
2007-08-20 06:00 am (UTC)
This may be the point where you have to be practical, but you've spent years being unpractical about that car. How many years did you wait to get it back on the road in Vic?

I vote keep the car. It's too you. Spend some of this dead time you have now learning car mechanics, take over the driveway and shed space and annoy Sharon by doing the Aussie male thing and spending every spare minute working on the car so that if she wants to find you, she has to bend down under the car and fish you out on your skateboard. Make sure she's wearing a short skirt at the time. And once you've buggerised around with the engine as much as you can, start adding Dalekanium panels to the doors.

If you need an address to keep it registered in Vic, you're always welcome to use mine (though I know you have two of your own to play with as well). That way you get to keep the Type 40 plates as well...
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:00 pm (UTC)
As I walked the hour back to the mechanic's today, I thought "My life is my art - my middle name is Danger, I jump around naked on the Nullarbor, I'm in the phonebook under Bastard, I dress as Father Christmas, I drive a Belwood..." I am a man of many parts, and the car is one of those parts. I can live without it. I can also live without my wedding tackle, but I don't wish to.

I may take you up on your offer of the address, or ask Saron's dad, or Richard. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: dcrisp
2007-08-20 06:08 am (UTC)
What Actually needs done to the car to get it Road Worthied? This is probably the important question.

We could say "Keep the car, dude" but if they say "it needs a catylitic converter and it needs airbags" then theres no way that you can do that.
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[User Picture]From: rendragon
2007-08-20 06:21 am (UTC)
Purrzactly! Before you make a decision, get a quote on what realistically needs to be done to get it through an ACT RWC - not talking concourse standards here, just roadworthy.

And it's not "just a car" - it's the Belwood! (and I suspect you'd end up heartbroken if you did part with it)

See what you need to do, and reserve any decision making until then. You've got to have a few mechanically minded LJ contacts ;)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:06 pm (UTC)
Well, it needs a new engine - there's no way to overcome the oil leak on the old one - there's rust that needs taking care of, but the thing the mechanic was most worried about was the play in the steering. Quite acceptable in most older cars, but may not pass ACT regs even if everything else is perfect.

First thing on my list would be a new engine. A secondhand 186 will probably cost $500, a reconditioned $2000-$2500... So lots of thought to go into it. Currently considering ringing Automasters in Perth, the best mechanics I know, and asking them what they could source before I come over. Assuming I make it.
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[User Picture]From: rendragon
2007-08-20 11:15 pm (UTC)
I've just gone through the "fix the play in the steering" saga with my Renault. If you have a Haynes Manual (or equivalent) and someone (or a few people) mechanically minded, it's not too hard to change steering/suspension parts over and replace bushes. And I'm guessing you'll have a much easier time finding parts than I did :)

The rust is harder - perhaps someone knows a friend of a friend who might do it for you for a slab? I got the Renault done by a guy working out of his backyard (on recommendation from a professional) - took longer than a pro, but the job was just as good, and cost me less.

As for the engine, I rebuilt the one I had (and was without a car for 2 weeks) but it was well worth it. Go with a reconditioned one if you can make ends meet, it'll save you money in the long run.

All up I've spent about $10k over 5 years on a car that I paid $400 for and would get $400 for if I sold it (nobody knows what they are). It's a "love job". I love my car, so in the end the money doesn't matter (though it always hurts when the bill comes =P )
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[User Picture]From: paul_ewins
2007-08-21 01:27 am (UTC)
Pretty much everything you need can be sourced from Rare Spares: http://www.rarespares.net.au, so there shouldn't be anything that *can't* be done. A reconditioned engine is the right way to go, but buying it in Perth may make a warranty claim difficult if the car is back in Canberra when the problem occurs.

If the steering is the show-stopper then get that done first. Rare Spares had change-over steering boxes for $400+ so it doesn't look cheap but the rebuild kits were around $60 so a local specialist could still do the job. There are a couple of Australian magazines that cater to older cars and they usually have lots of ads for specialist mechanics.

Once you have a change over motor there won't be much left to go wrong given the simplicity of a 60's Holden. In my experience the big killer for older cars is blown head gaskets due to faulty cooling systems. A broken diff or a stuffed gearbox just gets unbolted and replaced for not much money. Worn out parts are just a fact of life, you would still need to replace brakes pads and discs, bushes and shocks, water pumps and fan belts etc. etc. etc. on a newer car at some point anyway.

I can't see the point in replacing the Belwood with another HK as it won't be the car that figures in your memories. In any case you would just be starting from scratch with another car full or nearly worn parts that will need replacing. Better to fix the one you have (and love).

As for buying a newer secondhand car, well I wouldn't recommend anything much older than 10 years. Anything from the 80's will be a complete lottery and I wouldn't recommend a small four cylinder if you drive on bad roads. The mid 90's are where the useful stuff like ABS became common and the bigger cars are now only worth $5000 - $6000 and if you can get one with LPG they will be cheaper to run than a mid size four cylinder car. If you want a bench seat in the front the Ford Falcon will be your only chance.

So, you might spend $4000 fixing the Belwood, or you could spend $5000 getting a secondhand car that would be nicer to drive but will be starting to wear out. The Belwood may still be the cheaper option and given the sentiment involved probably the better option.
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From: bigevilogre
2007-08-20 06:40 am (UTC)
What is it that's making it tough to pass?
They tried to make a law out here where if there had been any modifications done to a car's suspension it would be considered unroadworthy and not allowed to be driven. It doesn't matter if it was a safety upgrade. The big problem I face is exhaust emissions. My Camaro is highly modified. The thing is when it's hooked up to the emissions tester it does fine. But that doesn't matter. It will fail because it doesn't have this, or that, or whatever. I am required to have a smog pump and those are expensive little buggars.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:08 pm (UTC)
See above for quick and dirty details.

Regarding the engine, I'd be happy with any good engine in there. Hell, if they had decent electric engines that could do 600 miles a day, I throw one of those in. I'm not a purist :)
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From: bigevilogre
2007-08-21 01:31 am (UTC)
Is the ATC an emissions type of thing?
Out here I have two of my cars registered under a different type of license. My 1929 Dodge is a Street Rod, which is exempt from a lot of safety and emissions regulations, and the Camaro is a classic which means no emissions.
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From: bigevilogre
2007-08-20 06:43 am (UTC)
Also believe me when I say I understand your love for your car. It's not just a car. There is an old saying that you leave an imprint on things like that. It becomes part of you. When I drive the Camaro it's an extension of my body. If a rocker comes loose I can tell you what side and sometimes what piston. I know where the wheels are at all times. I know if I'm going to slide or slip. I think if you had to sell your car it would be very hard on you. It isn't just a car, it's part of you. The memories can never be replaced.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:10 pm (UTC)
I knew you, of all people, would get this post. Though everyone else seems to get it too!

I think the car and I are inseparable in people's minds *grin*
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[User Picture]From: sjkasabi
2007-08-20 09:51 am (UTC)
omg. Keep. The. Car. Don't be fooled by the bullshit artists who tell you that caring about symbols and thinking symbolically isn't practical.

And if you keep it registered in Victoria, you get to keep the type 40 plates, yes? That's a reason in itself, never mind the rest of it.

And *hugs* for your bad day.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:17 pm (UTC)
I really have to go on a long drive with you one day.

I don't mind admitting, losing Dingo, Tracy, the ability to easily write fiction, my balance, the Type 40 plates and possibly the Belwood itself makes me feel a little like the Year of Hell has decided on a sequel!

Thank you for hugs. Much needed. When I woke up this morning, I wanted to curl into a ball with my head on somebody's lap... then the day really got going!

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[User Picture]From: mondyboy
2007-08-20 10:16 am (UTC)
Putting my VicRoads cap on, I say keep the car. You may decide to leave the ACT tomorrow... and you'd be without the car and that would be a shame.

It is always better to transfer registration and license to the place your living. And you're right, it would be a pain in the arse. But somehow, I think it would be a very worthy pain in the arse.

Keep the car.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dude. Not to sound dismissive of other folks on here, but I always value your counsel because you often have a knack of going to the heart of things in a straight-forward and practical manner. And you're quick to yell about people ignoring reality. But here you are saying keep the car.

Ta mate.

Good honeymoon?

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[User Picture]From: mireille21
2007-08-20 11:23 am (UTC)
As someone (who out of laziness admittedly) kept her car registered to her old address (where her parents lived) for 6 years whilst moving about and interstate a lot, leave the rego as is and keep the car. I presume you're the owner of the address where the rego papers would go?

The only trouble I had was with a couple of car accidents. At the first one the cops kind of asked me why I had Vic plates, and I said I'd just moved to Brisbane and hadn't got around to changing them over yet (which was pretty much true), the second accident my car was written off anyway so it didn't really matter.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-20 01:23 pm (UTC)
I've had a cop ask me if I still lived at Noble Park, half asleep I said yes, then he turned the card over to where it said I was in South Oakleigh and said "You sure?"

Fortunately he didn't push it, and just took it as me answering on auto-pilot, which I was.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-08-20 01:29 pm (UTC)
I only know you on livejournal but you without that car is like Doctor Who without his police box. Keep it.

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[User Picture]From: transcendancing
2007-08-20 04:22 pm (UTC)
The Belwood!!!! I'm also for keeping it - i liked Tiki's idea :P
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-08-21 01:22 am (UTC)

Re: What do you want? and how much do you want to spend?

Could you get another car for that money?

Yep, no doubt about that. That's one of the issues I have, we could just buy another car and forego any of the hassles. Of course with many a secondhand car you're buying potentially a whole new bunch of hassles :)

As much as I am a revhead I know that a car is not much more than a financial arrangement.

I'm pretty much the same. If something is not working, can't be easily saved, and is going to cost more than a new(-ish) one, then piff the old one. And with any other car, I'd have no reluctance at all in doing it. But 20 odd years of driving it around, the links it has with my droving past and my dad, make it much harder for me to want to let go of it.

Which is partially why on this score I'm tending to give 75% of the decision over to Sharon. Not because I want her to take the blame, but because while she likes the car also, she doesn't have the undying love that I have so she can view things a little more rationally.

I have decided that, well, if we decide to keep it, I'd just better kick the business into overdrive and start bringing in as much extra cash as possible.

The annoying thing is that if I'd been able to start the job I was going to start last year (the stroke stopped me), most of this would have been dealt with well before now because I was wanting to get work done to the car anyway, I just couldn't justify the cash when I couldn't earn any.
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[User Picture]From: battblush
2007-08-21 03:32 pm (UTC)
Sweetheart, you've lost enough in the past few months. Don't do this to yourself. Keep your car, make the situation work for you.
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[User Picture]From: thinarthur
2007-08-22 02:28 am (UTC)
Re painting, it's very difficult to match an old paint job. Even if you can get the same official shade (and they channge them every few years) manufacturing variation and/or wear & tear on the original finish (interior or exterior) will show. As a result trying to fix up the slightly cruddy bit turns into a major project.

Re the car, for many years I drove 2nd hand ones until the repair costs exceeded the value but our last one was shiny and new. If you can afford it get a new one, it's like going from biplanes to jets, remember you're driving an old bomb, not the Cutty Sark. An old car is only worth having if it's a restored classic (and I'd kill for a '57 Chevrolet or the Holden knock off of it) that you can look after and maintain yourself, otherwise it's a money pit.

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