Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Latest Edition To The Fleet: Meet MAX

Gary loves old vans almost as much as he loves old travel trailers. Now it's beginning to look like he's attempting to even up the score, so to speak, and to have an old van for each of the eight old travel trailers he owns. He's up to five vans now, and he constantly looks at others on Craigslist and eBay. Will this thing for vans be his newest obsession? That remains to be seen. He collected all of the travel trailers within a six year period. The van collecting has been much more spread out over time. The 1965 Dodge A100 van was purchased in 2002. After all these years, it still doesn't have an engine in it. Oddly, it also never got a name like all of the other vehicles and trailers here. My buddy "Dodge", the only tow vehicle that I've ever been hitched up to since I've been here, is a 1992 model. He became part of Gary's life in 2006. "Connie" the 1995 conversion van was purchased in 2014 as a non-running project. Like the nameless 1965 van, there hasn't been enough spare time in Gary's busy schedule to work on her. Also in 2014, "Casper" arrived. He's a 2003 cargo van. He is Gary's main ride in summer months since his air conditioning makes the Florida heat bearable. No vans were purchased in 2015, but the year didn't pass by without at least one "new" toy. My sister "Bernadette", a 1961 Serro Scotty 15ft. front kitchen model arrived here in July. After realizing how much hauling capacity the older hi-top extended wheelbase vans have after seeing a vendor with one at an antique show in January, Gary began the search for one. He found several in other states on eBay, but he was looking for one close to home. A couple of weeks ago, a Craigslist posting for a 1999 hi-top long wheelbase van appeared. The van needed work, so Gary hesitated for a few days before going to see it. Obviously, he doesn't need to bring home any more projects with all of the unfinished ones he has here now. But the price was right, and the van was equipped for towing, so now it's here with all the other vans and a family of travel trailers to keep it company. Gary named him "MAX", since he's the maximum size van that Chrysler Corporation ever made. On the good side: the body is in decent condition, the air conditioning works, it has air bag suspension in the rear with a working onboard pump controllable from the driver's seat, it has a huge capacity trailer hitch, an electric trailer brake controller, and a recently installed battery and alternator. On the bad side: it idles roughly, which could be a simple fix or a major repair, it has high mileage (204,000), a few dents and faded paint, and old mismatched tires. It was filthy dirty, and for the most part, still is. The smell of flavored cigars and dogs are in the upholstery. Gary has been working on the clean-up though. He removed all of the stickers and Velcro patches that were attached to the ceiling and sides of the raised top, removed the seats and their bases for better access to the heavily stained carpet, and removed over eighty pounds of unneeded weight from the days when the van was a wheelchair transport vehicle in Franklin Tennessee. Just by preliminary cleaning, the van is already smelling better according to what Gary has been telling me. The previous owner was a peanut seller at shows and fairs across the country, and pulled a nearly 10,000 pound concession trailer with it. There will be no problem with this van pulling me or any of my lightweight siblings if the need ever arises. "MAX" isn't the only thing that Gary has been working on around here. There has been LOTS of activity. More about that in future postings. Thanks for stopping by!

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