Biography of a Madman (The Saga Continues!)Date: 2003, Nov 25
Author: J.R. Smiley
I truly had no intention of it being so long before sharing the second installment of this story... My sincerest apologies to all those who have been patiently awaiting the update that follows.
"It's alive... It's A-L-I-V-E!"
It's been quite a while now since I received that fateful telephone call from Rubo... the one where he excitedly exclaimed that he once again had a functioning vehicle (well, sort of functioning, anyway). --- "Listen to this" he said, and then held his cell phone at arm's length for me to hear the sweet clattering syncopation of a SOHC 3.2 liter Isuzu engine. --- "…Ahhh? - What'd ya think?" --- I swear that I could actually hear him grinning as he asked.
All of the difficulties involved in the long and arduous journey that had led up to that moment fell away in an instant. --- The animated enthusiasm that I heard on the other end of the line told me all that I needed to know. --- The Franken`Zu had finally gone from being a collection of ambitious and highly questionable ideas to a bona fide reality… and its creator had somehow managed to maintain a short supply of the sanity he had to begin with! --- Simply amazing!
Along the way, while Rubo was busy tilting at this windmill (so to speak), I received a number of telephone calls from him… each one filled with more frustration and doubt than the last. --- More than once the innumerable aggravations that he was encountering had him threatening to give-up… and why not? --- Take a look at what he was dealing with:
All totaled, after cutting the frame of the Rodeo, Rubo ended-up using seven-and-a-half-pounds of welding rods to put the shortened sections back together! --- However, being a novice first-time welder, wherein no one had ever informed him of the difference between goggles and a welding mask, unfortunately Rubo suffered a major case of flash burn in the bargain. --- Now, added to his list of frequently used personal remarks, such as “I hate mud!” & “I hate Jersey!”, is the phrase “I hate welding!”
Fortunately for Rubo, he did find the time to have a little fun while he was making his mark within the annals of Isuzu modification history… Here we see his impromptu reenactment of the chariot race scene from the PBS miniseries ‘I Claudius’…
…But what I really want to know is how in the hell he convinced his father to use that Mercedes ML to play the part of the of horses! ( : - P )
After getting the engine running, Rubo called me several more times in the weeks that followed; my personal favorite occasion being the time that he informed me that he had just completed the Spring-Over Conversion, and that for whatever reason, the rear of his Amigo was sitting about nine-inches higher than the front (despite the fact that he had the T-bars cranked-up all of the way).
“It looks like a friggin’cat in heat!”
Apparently, the rear leaf springs on the Rodeo frame couldn’t get used to the absence of their former load… The Amigo simply didn’t have enough weight in the back to settle things down to normal. --- As a result, the rear bumper of this hybrid beast was all of the way up to the middle of his chest.
Solution? --- Remove one of the leaf springs.
Result? --- Well, for a time, it seemed to do the trick… However, there’s a bit more to this part of the story (and I promise that I’ll get back to it… in THIS chapter).
I’m sorry to report that up-to-now Rubo has been unable to provide me with any more photos of the actual build-up process. --- When he visited me here in WV a couple of months ago, it turned-out that he had brought the wrong disks. --- But the good news is that I do have a few action shots of the trail-run that we went on while he was here…
If you want to know how well those seven-and-a-half-pounds worth of welding rods held-up, just ask Rubo’s passenger, Joe (Bigpoppax2), what his trip up that hill was like. --- From the outside, watching that Amigo shoot up that grade, reach the top and bound completely off of the ground, and then smack back to earth upon an outcropping of solid bedrock… Well, that alone was testament enough for me, particularly given the knot on Joe’s head afterward.
The true testament to the quality of work involved in this project is the fact that right after getting it running, Rubo drove from New Jersey to southern West Virginia to visit Joe and me… then continued-on to Richmond, VA and Washington D.C. to visit several other members of our online Isuzu family, before then heading back home again. --- The damned thing made the whole trip without as much as a whimper!
Ahhh… but how have things been going since, you ask?
Well, until last week, I would have said things were OK… However, guess who called a couple of days ago to report of the latest fly in the ointment…
It seems that removing one of the leaf springs might not have been the best solution to that elevated rear end after all. --- Right now, as I write this, the Franken`Zu is sitting at approximately its original height. --- This unfortunate situation is a result of spring fatigue... and I’m not talking about your average-everyday spring fatigue, like the slight sag that I’ve noticed on my Rodeo lately… Noooooooooo; much like the vehicle that bears it, this is something completely unique and different.
Rubo’s leaf packs (or what’s left of them, anyway) have taken it upon themselves to completely reverse! --- Their arch is no longer downward… Instead, the curvature is now suddenly rounded UPWARDS! --- As a result, Rubo had to crank the torsion bars back down to match the loss… and believe me; he’s not happy about it.
In addition to this latest development, the 45-day extension on his state inspection has reached its end, and it’s now do-or-die time with those wonderful and accommodating folks at the New Jersey DMV.
Tune-in again for the next installment in this continuing tale of Man versus Machine…
Will the next chapter’s title be:
"Naturalized Citizen Goes Postal at DMV"
"Suspicious Car Fire in Suburban Jersey Neighborhood"
"Isuzu Long-Arm IFS Finally a Reality"
Only time will tell.