Thursday, February 15, 2007

Learning Patience

I must confess that I’ve had kind of a stress induced mental block of late and haven’t been able to cough up a blog post. The words of Jesus are amply clear about the fact that we should not worry. (Matthew 6:25) So I try to make a practice to release my human tendencies to want to control things and try to release all my cares to the Lord. After all I am merely a created being and it is He who holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Heaven is his throne and the earth is his footstool the scriptures declare. (Isaiah 66:1)

The scriptures also say that a man plans his course but it is the Lord who determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Over the last three months my personal plans have been put on hold. At the end of November our “new” garbage truck went down with transmission troubles and has been out of service ever since.

It seemed at first a godsend that we found this particular truck. The price was way below what I had been seeing for comparable machines and it seemed we could not pass up the opportunity. Though it had high mileage we felt that we could easily afford what ever repairs may come about and still be in the ball park of other trucks of similar make, type and year.

We ran the truck for 4 weeks all the while attempting to work out various kinks. Then it experienced transmission problems. We were hoping it was just something to do with some of the electrical components that I had previously been working on. But, it was not to be. The automatic transmission was found to have severe mechanical damage. Now, most folks who have been keeping up on our story have asked if there isn’t some kind of recourse with the dealer who sold the truck to us but, it was clear and in writing that it was an “as is” deal considering the mileage and age of the machine.

We found a local mechanic with a good reputation and were presented with a couple options. Get a brand new transmission or have the current one rebuilt by a place in the U.P. called Michigan Automatics. After weighing the options we concluded to do the rebuild. First of all the rebuild would be one thousand dollars cheaper than the new one and given the age of the truck that seemed a more reasonable option. Plus I thought at least with rebuilding our existing transmission we wouldn’t run into any hitches with incompatibility problems. Like finding out with a new one that things might not match up as anticipated. And further more, the rebuild would have the exact same warranty as a brand new unit.

Our mechanic was able to get right on the job and in short order the tranny was whisked up to the re-builder in the U.P. While we certainly didn’t foresee serious troubles this soon into the game we were thankful that the price of the truck was such as it was and it wouldn’t be a major set back. Then came the first of a series of disappointments.

It turned out there was more damage to the transmission than would be anticipated and they would have to order some parts. After a couple projected finish dates came and went, about two and a half weeks later the mechanic finally called to let us know the transmission was back at his shop and he expected to have it back in the truck the following day.

Right on schedule the mechanic called the next day, which I assumed would be him telling me the truck was ready for us to pickup. Ah, relief was in site and we’d be back in business. But, not just yet. There was a hesitance in the mechanics voice and he informed me that there was a problem. He told me that when they went to test drive the truck, upon putting it in reverse it stalled out the engine. Clearly there was problem with the rebuild. Upon conferring with the rebuilder they anticipated a problem with something called a “valve body“. So, we wouldn’t be getting the truck back just yet. They had to figure out the problem.

A couple days went by and I hadn’t heard from the mechanic. So I called him and found out that they towed the entire truck up to Michigan Automatics for them fix. I was a little surprised that he hadn’t notified me first but, I agreed it was the appropriate thing to do since it was the re-builders responsibility anyway.

By now I was seriously wondering if perhaps we had made a mistake with the purchase of this truck. It was turning out to be one of those things were what you hope won’t happen, does.
At this point from past experience we fully expected it to take them at least a number of days for them to get the problem fully diagnosed and repaired. I’ve actually begun to lose track of all the details but, after the expected finish day came and went we learned that yet again they had to order some parts. In fact multiple finish days have been proposed only to be met with further disappointment. I would say to date there have been at least a half dozen proposed finish dates that have yet to be met. My personal opinion is that the folks at Michigan Automatics lost money on the job right off the bat and they have done nothing but put it on the back burner ever since.

It’s really hard to say exactly what the big hold up has been, really. We’ve heard many excuses. And by now it has gotten to the point were you can either laugh or cry. I mean actually it is so absurd that we are just laughing and shaking our heads at this point. The mechanic recently told me that in the 19 years he has been in business he has never run into anything like this.

Last week we had a deep freeze with temperatures reaching 26 degrees below zero. Once again the thing you hope doesn’t happen, did, again. This time it was our “old” truck. I went out that cold Monday morning and it wouldn’t start. The battery ran down from all the cranking so I pulled our Jeep up to it to give it a jump and if I wasn’t already having a hard time keeping my composure the hood latch on the Jeep broke off in my hand due to the extreme cold. If something is going to break it will break in the cold. Nevertheless it was apparent the truck was not going to run.

So that day my Dad and I went around in his pick up truck with a trailer in tow to get all the garbage picked up. Monday is our biggest day of the week with around 90 winter time stops. In the summer it is around 115. After getting the route finished we pushed the truck into the garage, put some electric heaters under it and blocked up the sides with plywood and whatever else we could find to help hold in the heat. We hoped and prayed that it was just a frozen gas line and that the heaters would thaw things out.

That night as I lay down I was doing some serious soul searching. Lots of things go through your mind when everything falls apart around you. I was wondering what God was trying to teach us through it all. Was our plan going against His will? Or was it the enemy trying to thwart Gods plan? Was it either of those things? All you can do is just keep on trusting. There’s a reason for everything, I had to tell myself. We breathed a big sigh of relief when the next morning our old truck did start. Since then during this cold snap I’ve been making sure the gas tank is dosed up good with plenty of Heet.

Well, at this point the saga still isn’t over. Last Friday they finally had the transmission back in the garbage truck and when they tried it out an oil seal blew out. I was told that there are 3 possible reason’s for that to happen so they are going to replace all three of them to cover all the bases. And for the umpteenth time another projected completion date came and went. Very soon the truck will have been down for 3 months. On Tuesday of this week I was told that Wednesday would be the completion day. I called late this afternoon and was informed that “come hell or high water it’ll be done Friday”.

When I told Kelli she said, “does that mean there’s going to be a flood“.

To be continued……….


Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Fingers Crossed, Heads Bowed & Boots On!
- Hopen' to hear "Good News".

Brooke & I have a similar tale though the circumstances & events differ, the tragically irony remains the constant. At least we still have a roof over our heads.....{lookin' up}

7:53 PM  
Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

Hi Russ,
I tensed up just reading your story! It's so much like we've been going through with our house; no matter what we do we continue to have mold problems and there is certainly no quick fix. It's been very tough to trust the Lord in this one. Maybe some day we'll understand why things happen like they do.

9:23 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hi Scott,
Thanks for the comment and encouragement. Yes the key to overcoming all adversity is to keep on "lookin' up".

Hello Lynn,
Sorry to make you tense up! However, it is good to know we are not alone in our struggles.

Mold sure can be a problem. We live in a similar climate to you all and we have seen numerous folks struggle with that. Can be some pretty nasty stuff.

By the sound of it you have already tried alot, but a friend of ours knows of some products to attack mold with. If you want I can find out what he uses.


9:33 PM  
Blogger Tabletop Homestead said...

That thermometer picture just made me shiver. I'd better run out in the 70 degree sunshine for a bit and warm up. You northerners are tough!

11:53 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Table Top Homestead,
Believe it or not you actually get acclimated to the cold. I used to do much better in the heat than the cold but, now it is getting to be the opposite for me. Plus a little more fat on my bones as I age has helped as well! :)


10:50 AM  

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