Sunday, June 27, 2010

Down To Reality

"R&D" has come to a close, and I feel as if I just said goodbye to an old friend.  I must put the "Roving Home" fantasy to rest and sharpen my home improvement skills for the next stage.  The time has come for me to start this build. 

If you haven't figured it out by now,  I made the purchase.  I am the proud owner of a very orange 1997 International Utilimaster.  And it is quite the vessel.

I met Frank at the "Department of Motor Vehicles" office of my choice, explaining to him that the only way I would perform the transaction would be to do it under the direct blessing of the State of California.  And, really, what could he say?  He had a stack of paperwork including three bills of sale between three unique parties, yet he possessed no pink slip.  I told him I was ready with cash in hand and he desperately needed to sell -- something about his daughter's wedding and the embarrassment of having to move in with your parents at the age of forty-seven.  I felt kind of bad for him.

Normally, I schedule appointments at the DMV ahead of time, and I don't think I've ever stepped foot inside a branch office other than for my first driving test and subsequent renewals of my driver's license.  Transfers of ownership I have always done through the mail, so I really can't fathom what all of those people were doing in front of the DMV an hour before opening.  But, the earliest appointment was weeks away.  So, we decided to go for it.  The line rivaled those at amusement parks for the newest attraction on opening day.

Honestly, I was sort of dreading the whole experience.  I mean, who wants to stand for forty-five minutes beside your adversary in a business transaction?  Awkwarrrrrrrrrrd!

I also wasn't thrilled about the wad of cash I had in my bag.  What if someone followed me from the bank?  You never know. 

When I walked up and met him in line I asked him where the van was.  " I left it at home, because I didn't have a ride back."  The perspiration on my upper lip was building.

Finally, we zig-zagged our way through the doors and up the steps to window "A."  Taking two front row seats, we settled in until our number was called.  During that time, the ice began to melt, and Frank confided in me that he shouldered a tremendous amount of stress right now in his life.  He hasn't seen his children in three months since having come down to southern California for the express purpose of selling the vehicle.  He's been trying for several years to climb out of the hole left by an ugly divorce, and he said that he's tired of all of the back-stabbers and opportunists that make up Los Angeles.  I said it's the nature of the big city and I'll bet that people in Chicago lock their doors at night, also.  But I didn't want to add salt in the wound.

While at the counter, we fielded a handful of questions from the moderately enthusiastic customer care representative.  I love "customer care."  It's one of my all time favorite corporate terms.  But I digress.

She asked why the "release of liability" form was dated for tomorrow...

Start over.  New form. 

She then asked why there were two VIN's in all of the paperwork.  "Well, the truck has one and the motor has another."  She asked me what my weight capacities were going to be and then tallied up our answers.  The registration wound up being over a thousand dollars in fees and surcharges -- almost double what Frank had assured me it would be.  Nonetheless, the van was now mine. 

On the way back to his house, he missed a freeway turn off while fiddling nervously with his GPS.  "I'm all tore up about the cost of that registration.  I can't even drive right.  Let's take off a couple hundred bucks.  I'm really sorry."

We arrived at his house, and I flopped down two envelopes.  I counted out the total, minus two hundred.  He walked into the next room, looking for the manuals.  I remarked to myself how easily I could have peeled two bills from the stack he left in plain view, and he probably would have never known it.  He really was a trustworthy guy from a small northern town.

Upon his return to the kitchen, he reached for the stack of bills and slid out a crisp hundred.  "Here.  You already gave me a deposit."  Yep, a good guy, indeed.  I had forgotten about that.

I climbed in and roared off under the hot summer sun. 

At work, I either say it or hear it nearly every day, "...the right tool, for the right job."  I've been missing a couple of key components for the Roving Home laboratory, and those are a table saw and drill press.  I kick myself every time I think about giving away my last table saw upon completion of my home remodel.  But it was sitting around collecting dust because I had nowhere to put it.  I literally gave it away on craigslist. Not one person wanted it for even a paltry fifty bucks.  Finally, someone came by to get it...for free!  And after the guy loaded it into his truck he handed me two twenties.  "I can't just take this for nothing, man.  Go buy yourself a case of beer."  It was a Delta contractor's saw, belt drive, with an iron table top.  I bought it for $160.00, and it was probably $400.00 new.  So, I guess it wasn't so bad.

But, the real treat is that I picked up my new tools and set them up in the garage. 

Look at these beauties!

3hp -- Psyched! 

And, I completed my Iport mounting box. 

I framed the black plastic port with wood and then cut out a larger frame that will be hung flush with the studs. 

And, that's what it will look like from inside the electrical closet.  The front will just look like a standard wall outlet pressed into a wall opening.

I also picked up my stereo.  It has an auxiliary "in" from behind, so the iport cables will be run seamlessly through the walls right to the back of the stereo.  And, it's got a remote.  I can turn on my music from the comfort of my very own bed.  How excellent is that? 

Just waiting on speakers.  They're due to arrive any day, now. 



  1. WOW. Congratulations!! I can only imagine your reaction to hearing that the van wasn't there!

    The great thing about this project is that you'll know your roving home inside and out.

    Looking forward to tagging along the outfitting.

  2. I don't know what he was thinking, leaving the van at home. And, he signed it over to me before my giving him a penny. So, I guess we were even, at that point.

    Stay tuned! :)

  3. Your stories,
    your experiences,
    they are so well written.
    Thank you for the AMAZING comment, you are the greatest. Keep in touch, you lovely creature.

  4. Yay! You got it! I'm so happy to hear the good news.

  5. This is going to be a great read as you put this dream together!

    Thanks for taking time to post it.

    Maybe there is a book in it some day.

  6. Anne -- Cheers!

    Merikay -- I was just talking with my girl, yesterday, about putting together a coffee table book for the house, when it's done. We'll see if it's worthy.

  7. Hey Rob, Congrats on getting the Van and moving to the next stage of the project! Looks like it will be the perfect rig for what you have in mind! Looking forward to reading all the details as you go!

    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"