Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stress, Fun, and a Modicum of Intense Frustration

It has been a week of endpoints. Highs, lows, and very little in between. It started out on a low, as we all know, as I found myself in a pitched battle with the recalcitrant fuel tank. I had a floating nutplate on order and high hopes that it would resolve the problem that I had been having with the inboard tank mounting frangible bolt. In fact, I had high hopes in a number of areas, but all were to come to nothing more but abject dejection.

Still, the early week weather was extraordinarily pleasant, even if the weather prognosticators were promising temperatures exceeding 100 degrees by mid-week. And as it turns out, they were as good as their word for better or worse. With sufficient warning having been given, I decided I'd try to get a promised RV-6 ride out of the way before the weather became prohibitively hot. There was also the risk that the plane might not be available for such things for long; I had an interested buyer that was going to come visit on Saturday - this one seemed to be a strong prospect. This was one of the high hope areas, if not the high hope area. The floating nutplate paled in comparison.

The ride was quite enjoyable - Penny has recently started working on getting her own license and seems to have been bitten pretty hard by the flying bug. She was quite enthusiastic about riding in the RV-6 and even showed a lot of interest in the RV-12 project. I picked her up over at MadCo since she lives near there, and because I wanted to buy some gas in order to have plenty available for Saturday in case the prospective buyer wanted (and who wouldn't??) a test flight.

The evening was perfect for flying and she had no trouble at all adjusting to the relatively light controls of the RV. I offered her the opportunity to ride through some more advanced air work and she was all in favor, although she did warn me that if she got a little nervous she might reach over and grab my leg. That, despite whatever her intentions may have been, was not what I would call a disincentive!

We did some chandelles, steep banks, and a few other maneuvers for awhile and only once did she show a little trepidation (despite whatever my intentions were) in the manner she had warned be about. All in all, I'd say she enjoyed the ride quite a bit.

The heat wave hit right on schedule, so any more flying or work on the plane was deferred until such time as the ambient temps get down to something more reasonable or, at least, survivable. With my confidence in selling the plane at an all-time high, I decided I might as well get serious about figuring out what I want to buy to replace my poor little Miata. You may recall that I was considering a new Mustang convertible, and I might have mentioned that I had also tempted myself with a new, retractable hard top Miata while test driving a Miata 2 with Co-pilot Egg.

On something of a whim, I decided that I'd take a look at higher-end used cars. With the kind of miles that I put on a car (20,000+ annually), I'm not sure that it makes a lot of sense to buy a brand new car and depreciate it on such an accelerated schedule. One of the first things I looked for was a BMW Z4. I drove one a few years ago and I remember liking it, so I checked around on the web and found a 2007 iteration at a dealership close by.

It was close to work, so I was able to squeeze in a quick test drive on my lunch hour. Unfortunately, it was pretty beat up. With only 54,000 miles on it, you might expect it to have a little cosmetic rash, but it should still drive okay. This one didn't. It had a shimmy in the steering, the brakes pulled to the right, and the shifting of the automatic transmission (I know, but it's required) felt awful.

As I was backing out of my parking spot at the office that very day, my eye was drawn to a fine looking roadster that said SLK 280 on the back. It looked mighty expensive, but no more so than the BMW. The internet makes it fall-down easy to find out about things like that these days and I always say, it's free to look. That's how I found this little gem at a dealership up on the north end of town.

Sold brand new in 2007 to a guy that only put 14,500 miles on it. According to the dealer, he only drove it to church on Sundays he bought it as a third car, but when his two kids got old enough to need cars of their own he traded it in on two brand new Subarus for them. He's a car salesman, of course, and I have no reason to believe that story, but nor do I have any reason to not believe it, especially since the facts of the matter were easily verified by CarFax.

I decided that it was worth a test drive and Egg, always keen on riding in something fancy and luxurious, agreed to join me.

What an amazing car! Those little slots in the headrests? Those are call 'air scarves' - they blow warm air on the back of you neck on chilly, top-down drives. The seat leather, made from the skin of pre-pubescent calves that had been given Shiatsu massage every day of their tragically short lives, was hand-stitched by destitute leprechauns who has lost their pots of gold after the dot-com bubble burst. The polished wood that made up 80% of the steering wheel was harvested by Baka Pygmies who had to stand on each others shoulders six high to reach the finest pieces of the trees, then crafted into a perfectly round circle by retired Norwegian violin designers.

Note: two out of three of the above statements are complete fabrications, and the third only sounds that way. You figure out which is which.

I think I have found my car. Not this one, more than likely, which is a shame, because I can't get the car unless 1) I sell the RV-6, or 2) I forego the pending purchase of avionics for the RV-12. The latter is out of the question, and the former was dependent on the Saturday buyer. But, like I said to the sales dude when he tried to pressure me with "this one won't last long," I'm pretty sure they made plenty more.

And as to the Saturday prospect? He stood me up. He had seemed very interested, and for all of the right reasons, so I was surprised by that.

And my high hopes? Dashed.

That, I have to confess, really wrecked my day. Yet another crushing disappointment to end a week of many. It could be worse, though. Many parts of the city, including Pete's neighborhood, are without power after a ripping big storm blew through last night. 95 degrees and no air conditioning. Ugh.

It could be even worse than that, even. I wouldn't want to be this guy either. He's standing there with his phone trying to figure who in the world you call to handle something like this:

I saw that on my way over to the airport this morning.

I was headed up there to install the new floating nut plate, which naturally required the drilling out of the nutplate rivets for what must be the fourth time.

And squeezing in the new nutplate. With high hopes, mind you.

Which were dashed. The bolt still wouldn't go it. Out came the rivets. For the fifth time.

Then I took a break to think about things. Fortunately, there is yet another B-17 selling rides at Bolton today. This is something of an annual occurrence. This particular B-17 is one of the half dozen or so that pretend to be The Memphis Belle.

Once back from watching the B-17, I did what I should have done in the first place. I decided to see whether or not a nutplate is really required in this case - any old locknut seemed like it would work just as well.

Which turned out to be quite true.

So there is that going for me anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment