Saturday, December 15, 2007

Musings on the Cabindwelling Lifestyle, IX: Driving an IED

Anchorage, ALASKA: Okay, maybe Francesca the Soob is not, technically-speaking, improvised. But apparently, now, I'm driving back from Anchorage in a vehicle which has the potential to catch on fire.

You've all seen them, at least if you are fortunate enough to live in Alaska, those decrepit vintage old Soobs: the Justy's, the Brats, the DLs, GLs, and Loyales. There are a few pristine, low mileage ones driven by the silver-haired pokey safe drivers - but by and large now, Subarus of the previous era are starting to show their age.

Francesca is an example of the latter situation - beloved, high mileage, underpowered and covered in various progressive bumper stickers. So, while I'm down here in Anchorage, AGAIN, I decided to get her into my favorite shop, Alaska's Independent Subaru Service. Well, the shop had good news and bad news for me. The good: the car runs great, the head gasket is fine, the clutch is good and whoever has been taking care of it (me!) has done a good job. The bad: FIRE. Apparently, the oil leak that I noticed has begun to drip on the catalytic converter. And even engine oil will burn if it gets hot enough. Catalytic converters get very hot.

Oil + hot catalytic converter = Fire.


Right now, we're probably okay, but if it gets worse, well, the guys think it is a good thing that I already carry a fire extinguisher in the car. The problem is, the fix (taking out the motor, resealing) is quite expensive for a 17 year-old vehicle. So Francesca is living on borrowed time.

I'm hoping that I will come across that fabled situation: a elder person who wants to get rid of a low mileage old GL that has sat contentedly in a warm garage and has detailed maintenance records but little in the way of blue book value.

Anyone out there with a Soob that needs a good home? A low mileage, well-kept one?

Above: I want one of these! Photo to be posted soonish, providing the non-occurance of a vehicle fire on my drive back up north.


Ishmael said...

If the cylinders still have good compression and the clutch is good, everything else is just details. Can you fashion a shield that keeps oil off the converter? You sound handy enough to be able to crimp sheetmetal to fit and attach it with plumber's tape.... Go for it, CD!

Conversely, pull the converter out. It's not like a Soob pollutes that much and didn't Fairbanks do away with its IM tests? (okay, I know that's not very green of me to suggest....)

CabinDweller said...

Hmm. Very good idea. Sheet metal.

Ya know, I would be consumed by guilt if I removed the catalytic converter. It's bad enough there is a sort-of-running 1970 Cadillac Eldorado in the yard.