Anyone can do this sh*t if you spend money

Let’s recap the trials and tribulations of the rally van tow vehicle for a moment before we discuss the current state…

– We had to leave the trailer at Ross’s after Pines because of towing problems with the van. We got the van home, borrowed a truck (thanks Brian!) and got the car and trailer, and then parked everything until Feb.

– In Feb we got the van transmission checked. No codes for that but some for catalytic and engine and the transmission shop thought it was down on power. We decided to start with plugs and wires.

– While leaving the transmission shop the water pump went so we decided to do that too.

– With all of that done the new fully functional new water pump caused the rear heater lines to leak.

– We short-circuited those and drove it from Alliston to Schomberg for the clean air test it needed in March.

– Somewhere on the way the fan, which we removed to do the water pump, came off and put a hole in the radiator. Because of that and the (now definitely) non-functional catalytic it didn’t pass the clean air.

– We got a catalytic and had it welded in by Zoltan, then drove the van – still sans fan and with a rad with a hole in it – back to Alliston.

If you are thinking ‘gee, this seems like a bit of a nightmare’ then you have a pretty clear picture of the situation. Everything that we’ve done is feasible to do with hand tools, a warm/dry location, and time, but none of it is fun or easy; it’s just easy enough to make one say “well, we should do it rather than pay someone”. And trust us, we’re glad we’re not paying someone. Anyhow, back to the story.

This weekend we installed a replacement radiator ($50 from a wrecker), changed the transmission fluid and filter (in rough shape from being overheated), installed a transmission cooler, and put everything back together. We had a bit of a worry about the transmission return line where it comes out of the replacement rad, but we started it and everything was leak-free.

That lasted about 1 km of driving, when with a huge puff of smoke we started leaving a visible trail of fluid, so we stopped and confirmed that line had let go. Then we had had a coffee at a chain named after a hockey player while we waited for CAA and let $25 worth of transmission fluid decorate their parking lot.

Yeah, like that. Finally CAA came and took it away and we went home.

Think that’s the end of the saga? Hells no! This morning I went to the shop where it was towed to explain what the issues were – since we are now intimately familiar with them and didn’t want to pay someone else to troubleshoot it – only to find the van wasn’t there. Sigh. Some back-tracking located it at the side of the road at another repair shop, so explanations were made, calls were placed, and eventually it should make its way to the shop it is SUPPOSED to be at so they can confirm the issue with the line and the fan clutch. And then they can do the clean air.

(Did I mention that the fan clutch didn’t thread on and needs replacing? Well, that is the case. It’s about $50 and we thought it was failing anyhow, but at this point driving around with no fan constitutes not just acceptable but normal).

If/when all of the above is rectified then maybe – MAYBE – we can go get the damn rally car that is still on the damn trailer in the damn barn and take it to the shop so we can actually fix the damn thing.

So one thing we realized is that if we could afford to go out and lease a Raptor as a tow/recce vehicle life would be much easier. As would buying ACP’s Evo while we’re at it.

Not that we’re against easy or anything, but having a tow vehicle that cost 15x more than the race car seems kind of odd, so as long as we can still get to the races we will continue on the discount path, save for a faster car, and maybe we’ll be able to get a van from this millennium someday too.

(However, if someone has a spare Raptor they’d like to lend us – or is interested in a straight trade for an Astro van with some awesome stickers – then we should talk).


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