Today seemed like a good day to clean up the driveway and reposition the RETROvan over to the side so that Olivia has more room to park her new Escape.
But of course the starter battery was dead again, so I had to jump it with my little BoltPower kit. The engine finally kicked over and I moved the rig to the end of the driveway and put the parking brake back on.
I left the engine running hoping to exercise it a bit and recharge the battery. I then spent the next half hour blowing and sweeping the driveway under where the RETROvan was parked. So far, so good.
My first concern was that the oil catch pan we used while removing and re-installing the engine had a lot of fluid in it, and it was mostly red which means either blood or transmission fluid. I finally got the driveway clean and disposed of the bodily fluids properly.
The next thing I know, I hear the RETROvan’s engine stop so I look up and think, “Weird, did it run out of gas or what?” But then to my horror, the van starts rolling back down the driveway towards me!
So I dropped everything and sprinted to the open door, dove over the open battery compartment hatch and grabbed the brake pedal with all my might.
I’ve actually had recent nightmares like this, and now this is actually happening?! Premonition…
The RETROvan eased to a stop but not after bumping a concrete planter and moving it a few inches. Nothing major, but if I had not been there it would have slammed right into the corner of the garage. Or worse, it could have run over Mazy or caused me to spill a beer.
Here’s my security camera video of the Rollback. It’s quite heroic.
So now, of course, the engine won’t start again because the battery is worn out. I jump-started it again and managed to get the rig into the position I wanted and secured the rear wheels with chocks. But clearly the parking brake is not doing anything. It’s relying on the transmission to keep the RETROvan from rolling, and that’s just not safe.
Worse, I discovered that everywhere the rig had come to a rest, there was a fresh puddle of transmission fluid on the concrete. So I broke out a bag of cat litter to soak those puddles up.
My next email was to McFarland’s Mobile Mechanics to get Brett back out here under warranty service. Their reply was, “If it’s anything we caused then we can cover it under warranty.” Seeing as how I paid them around $2,000 to remove and reinstall an engine, you would expect the result to be leak-free, wouldn’t you? We’ll see how that goes…
Meanwhile, I ordered a new Duracell Ultra group 29NF starter battery (not to be confused with the house batteries in the helm) from Batteries Plus. And guess what? Yep, that’s a very non-standard battery made for old fleet trucks, and nobody stocks it locally.
So Tuesday’s the day for a fresh battery and another visit from Brett.