Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive - Greatest Repair Manual Ever!

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, A Manual of Step By Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot is the greatest repair manual of all time. All manuals for all equipment everywhere should be written with as much artistry, care, understanding, enthusiasm, and love as this one is.

There are many reasons why this book is so great, and I'm going to tell you about them, saving the most important one for last.
1) The art is just plain awesome.  Hand drawn semi-psychedelic illustrations by Peter Aschwanden (listed as Junipero Scopulorum in my older spiral bound version) are fantastic. Check out how a CV joint works:

2) They assume you are dirt poor, which you probably were if you were driving a VW back in the day.
3) They assume you don't know anything about anything, without being tedious when you already do.
4) They give you solutions that are "good enough", taking the pressure of being perfect off your back, unless you really do need to be perfect on something, then they tell you.
5) (This is the important one) They inspire and reinforce a connection between you and your machine that is rarely talked about. They ask you to get to know your car, to feel it and understand it's moods. Most people who live with unreliable machinery already do this out of necessity, but this book takes it to another level, and it's great.

This book fits perfectly with Volkswagens, being a clickity-clank type of vehicle. It's worth buying an older VW bug, just to get to use this book.  I'm not sure if this book would translate well to a new off-the-lot Honda, but if Honda supplied a book this good with a new Honda, I would buy one. No question.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swisher Ride King Riding Mower

When I saw this mower in an older gentlemen's yard with a for sale sign on it, I knew I had to have it.  It is clearly awesome.  It's a tricycle, and the front wheel is the powered wheel, and it has continuous rotation so it steers exactly like a bumper car.  I laugh out loud every time I mow with it, which is every chance I get.  It's a Swisher Ride King, although I don't know the year.  I'm guessing somewhere in the late 70s to early 80s, but it could be as early as the 60s.  I really don't know.

Now, is it the best mower ever?  Not by a long shot.  The tricycle action makes it tippy, which causes scalping because the deck doesn't float. Also, I'm pretty sure the tipping is going to cause it to cut part of my foot off one of these days.  The traction is poor as well, so I have to mow side to side on my hilly front yard, because it won't go up the hill without spinning the front wheel.  Sideways on a hill = tippy, btw.  Lastly, the quality of cut is pretty bad.  My yard looks much better with my push mower, but I think I'm missing a piece of metal under the deck that contours to the blades, creating an updraft and directing the grass out the side.  I'll have to make something and weld it in.

With all that being said, it's still the most awesome mower ever.  It is insanely small and maneuverable, has tons of moving parts, looks great, and most importantly it's an absolute blast to mow with.

Here's a link to the owner's manual:

As long as we're talking about awesome vintage mowers, at the steam and tractor show I saw what the dude told me was a vintage Montgomery Ward branded Peerless riding mower, with a rear engine (which was missing) and joystick steering/throttle/brake control.  The mower deck looked like gold painted aluminum.  It was beautiful, but I can't find anything about it on the internets.  I kick myself for not buying it (only $50!).

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Greetings!  I tend to get worked up about things that I find to be awesome, and there are a lot of them.  My co-workers suffer daily from me bothering them about whatever the latest thing is, and I initially thought that this blog might help divert some of that from them, but I'll probably still bother them anyway.  This blog is entirely self serving; a way for me to bother even more people than just my co-workers.