An old friend heads to pasture.
the beast - past - page i
Findsomethingandburnit.com 2004-2020. Doc J.Vicious & Murph-O-Minion enterprises. Godfrey, ON.
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Last updated Jan 18, 2019.
In the summer of 2004, after two decades, 3
engines, 5 licence suspensions, $4390 in parking
tickets, and 977,392 miles of memorable
adventure together, I permanently retired the
proud old fuel sucking war whore from daily driver,
night scavenging, and scaring the shit out of
church ladies service due to advanced age,
incontinence, and a growing list of ailments that
would have required another major overhaul to
have properly remedied.

Although for the most part the old beast  
still ran like a champion, I recall that I had been
spending more than the usual amount of time
stranded on the roadside buried elbow deep in
her greasy guts.

As well, after developing embarrassing issues
with retaining 5 of her 6 required fluids and a two
year muffler absence, I noticed that she had
become somewhat less welcome in suburban
driveways, regarded by friends with tolerant
smiles not entirely unlike those politely reserved
for girlfriends with a reputation for getting too
loaded and spazzing at parties.

Regardless, I simply didn't have the heart to
send her to the crushers. Even semi-abandoned
behind work and squatting over a small lake of
transmission fluid on low tires she still had
undeniable personality.

Indeed, much like my ponytail, over the years she
had become a virtual inseparable extension of my
very identity; an avatar. "Hey, there's Jim. Jim is
the crazy postal van dude with the long hair."

At various times she hauled band gear, fire wood,
the belongings of evictees, and midnight
dumpster swag. She once transported a group of
ARA guerrillas .. as well as Gay Pride generator
sets.

She served RV getaway duty for my dog Dana
and I - backing axle deep into Lake Ontario at
night, tossing the roll-up door, and under the
stars pretending that we were the only two
creatures left in the world.

Countless groupies have shed their bras and
bloomers in her innards o'er the years, and the
residual drug and waitress goo in any given
square foot of carpet may very well have been
worthy of an organic chemistry thesis.

She outlived six "
serious" (whatever the hell that
means in hindsight) relationships, a marriage, and
twice served as home.

I had intended to preserve her. To rebuild her,
better than she was before.

But fate tends to be cruel mistress.

I brought her home to East Hamilton in the
summer of 2006 - the last 40 miles that she ever
moved under her own power - where she
unceremoniously became a storage shed in my
back yard. A sad refuge for feral neighbourhood
cats, and eventually suffering a Sumach tree
growing up into her guts.

Moved one final time under tow in 2009, one half
of a mile to the Hamilton Bat Cave, where she was
finally disassembled and sold for scrap metal in
2013.

But I could never really let her go entirely.

Too much history.

If not entirely in body, she still legally exists,
weaving in and out of traffic to this day; her VIN
plate having been transplanted to her successor.

The Beast II.
All Good Things...
Admittedly a retired Canada Post P-30 delivery truck is
typically not the dream wheels of the average virile
young bloke at twenty something and spare change, but
as anyone who has ever known me will attest to - I've
never been exactly average.

Perhaps a bit kennel ugly in hindsight, but I was in love
and had grand plans for her the day that I drove her six
hours home from Carleton Place Ontario. I've never
been particularly short of grand plans.

Fun fact obscured and indeed nearly forgotten with time:
I originally had envisioned her repurposed as a mobile
gala event laser projector, convinced that with a bit of
exterior polish, a home brew X-Y scanning turret, and
the necessary electronics - that organizers would pay
the big bucks to have me pew-pew-pew nifty laser
graphics and light shows at events. Rediculous you say?

To place things in perspective, dollar laser pointers were
still decades away. Indeed LASERS were still exotic
gee-whiz devices that most people had never seen.
Much as i would attribute entering manhood to the
ministering of a certain pretty 28 year old British nurse
so very long ago, The Grumman as well became an..
influential educator of sorts.

Diving in balls deep full steam and giving up my frame off
"restoration" cherry over a seven month period with
hand tools, rattle can products, a borrowed sand
blaster, and $1000.

My first real project as opposed to general repair.

Sadly the age of the "shoot hundreds, pick one" digital
camera had not yet come to pass.
Canada Post had removed their livery decals with a
flapper or grinding disk, leaving the large side panels
thoroughly trashed before roller coating the entire truck
white.

I purchased new aluminium panels and then spent 2
days (in a parking lot) drilling some 500 odd rivets out to
replace them, another day to drill holes in the new
panels, half a day and some head scratching replacing
the rivets with nickel quarter-twenty fasteners, and then
3 days hand roughing the rest of the body for rattle can
paint.

Looking back, it really didn't come out all that bad,
considering.
Upon reflection, I'm not always certain the origin of
where specific ideas initially materialized.

In this case an aluminium book case discovered at the
side of the road. Why not cut it to size and bolt it to the
corners of a truck?

It seemed such a natural thing to do at the time.
A decade later, still my daily - if less than practical driver,
as well as my nocturnal dumpster diving mule, means of
weekly urban escape with my late dog Dana,
Apocalypse exit plan, and improvised parking lot
chambre d'amour when the opportunity arose.

I'm not actually certain why I decided to eventually
replace the grand old big girl for a skinny little foreign
waif of a hatchback. Sure, she was getting rough - but I
had rebuilt her before. I suppose men in their thirties
just do these things.

Reliability is an odd metric. Near the end of her two lane
blacktop reign she had become decidedly persnickety -
though I could always coax her to go another thousand
miles with little more than a sheet metal screw and bits of
wire.

Had the zombie apocalypse actually befallen us, I can't
imagine another girl that I would have so wholly trusted
in the aftermath.
But alas, all good things.

Perhaps if I'd been then where I am now I may have
gently set her aside complete for some future project. I
had always wanted to give her a 4x4 Dakar style
conversion; still a boulevard queen to be certain, but  
reasonably off road capable, and in fact in the summer
of 2002 had actually purchased the rolling carcass of an
80's K-30 4x4 plow truck with deceased transmission as
a donor vehicle having exactly that project in mind.

Unfortunately, life happened. That project didn't.

Realizing in 2013 that I was unlikely to ever revisit her
remains, which had suffered significant galvanic
structural corrosion over the eight odd years that she'd
been doing storage shed duty, I finally decided that the
old gal's time had come and busted out the Sawzall.
Over the course of a summer of weekends she went to
American Iron and Metal in six hundred pound
increments, transported in the rear of my pretty new
Swedish station wagon.

Admittedly a total waste of time considering the effort
that it took to cut, sort, and transport the bits for scrap
metal, and although there was no dissimilitude as to the
final destination of the pieces - I'm still somehow grateful
that she never ended up a discarded hulk occupying
some row of a pick-it-yourself boneyard.

There are not a whole lot of useful transplantable
organs in the average octogenarian - and there wasn't
much left of the old Grumman after nearly a million miles.

Regardless, there are exactly ten pieces of her still on
the road at the time of this writing: Two motor mounts,
brake booster, carb needle and seat, exhaust manifold,
alternator bracket, harmonic balancer, rocker cover,
and .. Her VIN plate. Yes, she's still as far as the
ministry is concerned - currently registered and plated.