Saturday, September 02, 2006

Free Transportation 3

...The story continues again
(see Free Transportation & Free Transportation 2)

A few years ago I was commuting to the UofU in Salt Lake City from Provo via UTA. The bus schedule was bad and I had to wait an hour after class to go home. I tried to run downtown once but barely missed the bus and had to wait for the next one in the cold wind after getting sweaty from the run. I thought of building an adult sized scooter to solve my problem, but never did it. Then about a year after that I saw a Xootr scooter at Lunar Design in Palo Alto, CA when I was on a college trip. I fell in love with it. It was perfect, but I wasn't commuting the same way any more. Xootr scooters are adult sized fold up scooters. They are the best built scooters you can buy. They are built in Scranton, Pennsylvania by people who ride them. Sounds like a plug, sorry, but I love these scooters.

I was walking down York Avenue today and passed by Nycewheels, a bike shop. But not just any bike shop, they specialize in urban transportation. Electric and fold up, bicycles and electric and kick adult sized scooters. If you think this is a plug, it is, they are awesome!

I love bike shops, always have, always will. Only the mom and pop kind are good, the big chains(cute wording) are awful. Big chains have a staff of people that only know mountain bikes, or at least pretend to. Their mantra is buy the expensive one, it is the best. That must give them a better commission. I have always liked to repair my bikes and keep them going for as long as I can. The big chains are no help with repairing, they only know new. I have also gotten into beach cruisers, again no help at the big chains. The mom and pop kind has a staff of people who ride and repair the product. They know their stuff. They help get you the product that meets your task and fits your body, not their paycheck. They also don't pressure you, they let you think about your money. They must live on a budget too. It think they make a profit by earning customers loyalty. These kind of sales people are also happy and laid back. Probably from riding bicycles to work. It makes for a great atmosphere. A place where people are cool. I love bike shops

Nycewheels is a perfect example of a small bike shop that beats the big store by having a staff of urban commuters that use the store's products. I had questions about several different products, bikes and scooters, and Bert knew everything. He even knew exactly how to turn my beach cruiser into an electric bicycle. He has done it several times. I love bike shops. You might think I am raving about something simple. I am not. The big bike stores are not a pleasant place to shop. And the sales staff are just that, sales staff. That is all they know, they could be put in the gap and their script wouldn't change. Bert at Nycewheels knows that his products sell themselves so he doesn't push. While I was there he even assisted someone who bought her bike from a big store and did not know how to use it, or knew if it was even the correct size for her. Bert showed here the correct fit and taught her how to remove the front wheel to put the bike in her car. She didn't know. The big box sent her out the door without making sure she know how to use the product. That single incident makes my point exactly.

I have to get to the title of this post. While talking to me about a Xootr scooter, Bert realized that I might possibly be the 20,000 customer. He checked his computer and yeah!!! Free scooter!!!!! It is even the new MG model as well. I can't believe it. I rode away laughing with glee and smiling like a 7 year old with a new pair of shoes, or a new scooter I guess. This story just keeps getting better. I am going to fly home for Christmas in my free jet. Bert, you are a good man.

Free Transportation 2

...The story continues
(see Free Transportation)

After enjoying the wonders of a free vehicle for a few months I decided it was time to register it. I had a big problem. The windshield had a big crack right in the drivers view. No way to fudge that one. I called a friend, Bryant Jones - no relation, for some recommendations for a mechanic to put in a used windshield I found at I also mentioned to him that I had found a cap at craigslist to go on the bed of the truck so I would be ready to move to NYC. I have been talking about moving for months now. I am a little scared so I have been dragging my feet. Anyway, back to the subject of this post. Bryant told me that he had a cap in his backyard that I could have if I came and got it. Sweet, more free stuff to add to the free truck!

The cap does not match, it is white. I am told it makes me look like an old man. I wish I had a picture to post. I will have to find a camera. It also doesn't fit exactly, but close enough, and hey it is free.

I checked for a new windshield and found that after installation costs for the old one a new one was only about $50 more. Maybe it isn't worth the hassle of driving out 20 miles and then figuring a way to carry the windshield and dispose of the old one. I made another phone call to check prices. The guy tried to scheduled me and when I told me I was just shopping he beat my best price by $5 dollars tax included. That made the difference from the used one to within $10, definitely going with the new one that won't have pit marks and comes with a warranty. The windshield is a pretty important safety part, I won't take the risk. They also found a time to install it that met my schedule, the next morning instead of a week. So when shopping on the phone tell them you can beat their price, they might move for you.

Thanks Bryant, you are also a good man.

Free Transportation

You gotta love free stuff. Who doesn't?

Back in December I was given a red 1996 Ford Ranger for free. Yes, free! The picture is a black truck imagine a red one.

A friend of mine, Jeff Talkington, had his college truck stolen and recovered. When it came back it had a broken side glass and the locking cylinder was broken so that it no longer required a key to operate. Jeff was planning on replacing this truck for his dream car, a Volvo Wagon now that he had good permanent employment as a patent attorney. Jeff called me and offered the truck to me for $200, I was interested and agreed on the deal without a test drive. How can you go wrong with a $200 truck that runs. The next day Jeff called and informed me that he could no longer sell the truck because the locking mechanism was so broken that it just spun and the truck did not do anything else. He did say that if I could get it started it was mine, for nothing. Worth a try.

I rode my bike down the next day with a few tools and got a manual from the library. I started by trying to disassemble the steering column and remove the locking cylinder only to discover that you have to have the lock in the "ON" position and then you push a pin and the cylinder slides right out. Well if I could turn the lock to "ON", then I wouldn't have a problem. So out came the big screwdriver and the hammer and I got to beating the lock to death. The picture is a similar cylinder. If you look at the tab on the far left, that is the part that interacts with the internal switches and parts to make your car turn on and start. When the lock is not in the on position this part is stuck inside the steering column and you can't get the lock out. After a few hundred whacks and wiggles this part broke. Probably from cyclical metal fatigue. The lock then popped right out.

I inserted a screwdriver turned it, the truck started immediately and I laughed with glee. Yippee, free truck! I went to the store to buy a steering wheel lock and on the way passed Pep Boys. I thought I might as well check on the price of a new locking cylinder instead of just using the "club". The cylinder cost $20 and was in stock. It slid right in easily.

I then went online to and located a side glass window for $75 shipped. Locking cylinder, window and some adhesive comes to a final cost to repair the truck at under $100.
Incidentally, is a cool website. It gives you hits from cataloged cars from wrecking yard across the country. Sort by cost, location, etc. The yard I got my window from disassembles every car, drains and correctly disposes of the fluids, tests and catalogs the parts. I loved it. You no longer have to climb around a bunch of cars precariously stacked 3 or 4 high.

I send a thousand happy wishes to Jeff Talkington an his new Volvo wagon. Thanks man, you are a good person.