Sunday, January 28, 2007

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Last week we said goodbye to our transmission.

Mechanic #1- Harry has lived behind the camp for 20-years. All this time, he’s had the same mechanic; a local shop just down the road from the historic Santa Rosa Cemetery, where his late 50’s Beetle engine was just rebuilt. We described the “squeaky” brakes and took a test drive with the mechanic. No one smelled death yet.

A couple hours later, we got the call. “Hey, have you been having any trouble shifting into reverse?” NO. An hour later, another call. “I drained some fluid. Looks like your transmission is full of metal… I don’t know where to find a new one …”

Mechanic #2- Back when we thought it was just brakes and were optimistic that we'd replace the pads and save the rotors, I searched craigslist for Volkswagen-loving mechanics, connecting with a really supportive at-home-dad/mechanic ready to help us out. Our new tranny would come from Hood River, Or, the same shop our mechanic at home uses. We got nervous. What if it's too big a job to have done by someone we don't know...

Mechanic #3- GoWesty, a resource
for every van owner I know, is about 30 miles south of our camp home. I’d heard a few nasty rumors about the management/ownership, but most of the stories are good and they have a warehouse full of every part imaginable, so we turned to the pros. On the way to the shop, we took a wrong turn off the freeway. Turning around, we confirmed Mechanic 1’s finding. Reverse was failing. In an ugly way.

They’re a big operation- shop, retail, sales, detailing… could be that the front desk is chaotic everyday. It took hours, three separate visits, to confirm the repair schedule and costs. Five days later, after the work was done, we’re told it won’t be warrantied. There was some confusion about the necessity of a working odometer as a condition of the warranty. Our frustration escalated over a series of phone calls including a “customer is never right” version of the blame game. Eventually the shop agreed to split with us the cost of replacing the odometer. Picking up the van, we made peace with the service manager, small talk of camping and Disneyland. Which eased the way when we returned an hour later with a non-functioning odometer.

Financial pain aside, we’re really grateful to the shop crew at GoWesty. They gave us a hands-on, behind-the-scenes lesson in transmissions/differentials, offering some comfort in the face of a major mechanical failure. We especially appreciate the sliding-door handle they replaced for us, making stumbling out to the bathroom in the middle of the night that much easier.

In other goodbye news, we left the acorns, science lectures, and otters of Camp Ocean Pines yesterday. After packing for Anaheim, Ukiah wondered if this past month, we might have already experienced the “happiest place on earth.” A beautiful environment topped only by the wonderful people. I’m tempted to quote the governor here, but I’ll just say we look forward to returning- sooner, rather than later.

Finally, at least some of us hope that Aslin will soon be saying farewell to her much-loved shoes.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying "GoWesty." There was a reference in another post but I was befuddled as to the meaning. Have fun at Disneyland. I hear that breakfast with the princesses is not to be missed!


Anonymous said...

Aslin--don't let any one harass you about your shoes---comfortable old shoes are best!
When I first saw your picture. I did a double take--I thought--my goodness, where did Nora get an old picture of your aunt Shane?! You look so much like her in the photo that it made my heart happy.
Please tell your family hello.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ukiah--
How is your ankle? How did you sprain it? Chasing Aslin?!
What is the story behind the sea otter on your lap?
Have a wonderful day.

nora said...

Now that you know GoWesty, it might be time for your own VW Westfalia, Melinda!

We missed breakfast, but did manage to meet a few princesses- Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Pocahontas on the "walk". Believe it or not, slower line than Space Mt. Turns out a rainy Tuesday in January is a great day to visit the park!

Aslin said...

Hi Grandma,
First these shoes were Ukiah's, then Dawn had them, then they were mine. After being at camp so long, the ripped more and more. I had other new shoes, but they hurt my feet, so I stayed with the old ones. Mom tried sewing them, but it didn't work too well. Today I got another new pair. I think they'll be comfortable.

I didn't know I look like Shane, I didn't have that compliment before. She probably wouldn't mind my shoes either.

Ukiah said...

Hi Grandma,
I was walking and I stepped in a gopher hole. It doesn't hurt much anymore. I can walk on it some, but not alot.

I don't know very much about this otter, it gets used for presentations at the camp. Supposedly they have the highest quality fur of all animals, a million hairs per inch!

Anonymous said...

I hope your GoWesty transmission holds together better than mine! I just bought a $30K van from them, with a (supposedly) 20K mile old rebuilt transmission. It failed totally before I EVEN GOT THE VAN HOME THE NEXT DAY! As far as support, Lucas is pathetic. One of his responses to my request to be take care of was 'shit happens'! Spread the word! Avoid GoWesty and save yourself the headache and lost money.

owlhouse said...

Ouch... so sorry to hear your story. Yep, I've heard that things have gone WAY downhill under Lucas's ownership- our transmission is good (knock wood) but the management seemed lacking in a few ways. You might want to see if Samba folks are reporting similar experiences.

Good luck.