The other day I posted a version of today’s entry (the first!) on the forum of the local vintage Volkswagen club. There are far larger, more comprehensive resources on the Web, but the local forum is more personal and therefore, in my mind, more trustworthy. Usually I’m soliciting help for my latest conundrum, whatever it may be. I almost always get the answers I’m looking for (even if it’s not necessarily what I want to hear). But given that almost everyone on the forum is far more knowledgeable and experienced, I feel that I rarely have anything constructive to give back. I hope this will change over time, as I “earn my stripes.” In the meantime, I have to be content contributing tiny snippets of my own follies, peppered with plenty of self-abasement and laced with sorry attempts at humor. . .
. . . which gave me the idea for this blog. It occurred to me, as I wrote, that I enjoy the process of writing as much as I enjoy the process of rebuilding (I dare not say “restoring”) my Volkswagen. Both are amongst the few things I do where I lose track of rather alarming stretches of time. Some would say that this time is wasted. Not “productive,” you know! Yes, there are definitely more productive things I could be doing. But that’s what a “job” is for. And I’ve already (thankfully!) got one of those.
I know that my Beetle, when finished, will have plenty of faults that I’ll have to live with – just like my writing. If what I write here is entertaining or informative to someone, so much the better. But the real benefit is that, whether at my desk or in my garage, no-one could ever mistake me for being “productive.”
So away we go, in medias res, with our hero banging around in the over-stuffed closet, on such a winter’s day.
I emerged holding a box containing a pair of reproduction turn signals that I had ordered a while back from Mid-America Motorworks. It’s a long story, but although I had ordered both at the same time, they were shipped separately. I was about to find out why.
They had been in the closet for quite some time. A simple inability, I suppose, to prioritize. For example, one of the first things I ordered when I bought the car were new hubcaps, all shiny and new and with the classic round “VW” symbol in the middle. I did this before I even had the proper wheels, as my car came with cheesy five-spoke Empi-style wheels. At a show last winter, I found me a complete set of original wheels for seventy dollars, yeppers! They aught to clean up nice. I hope.
I sat down at my desk and began reacquainting myself with the turn signals I had in my stash, Styrofoam peanuts clinging to my sweater as I pulled them out of the box. The first was pretty good quality, thick plastic, with a pot-metal base. Decent fit and finish. But this must have been the last of the “good ones.” The second one was a piece of shit (not to put too fine a point upon it). It’s made of the very cheapest plastic and it fits like it might have been made for a Trabant.
Sure, when they originally arrived on my doorstep I did a cursory inspection to make sure they weren’t overtly defective. Looks good to me. Check that off the list. Into the closet you go! But when I went out to the garage and tried to test-fit them, and saw them together, I realized that they are the worst match since Sonny and Cher.
I got on the phone to plead my case with Mid-America, but the fact that it’s been over a year pretty much put the cork in my blowhole. I also noticed that the assemblies they now sell are much less expensive than the ones I bought, by about half.
Frustrated, I ordered a German lens and cover from Wolfsburg West, just to compare. Well, the quality blows both of the others away! Sure, these German repops are pricey; but the lens is Hella and the cover is actual metal, with brilliant, flawless chrome. I also noticed the style is more correct – actually, a huge difference that I didn’t appreciate until the German parts arrived. I tried to include photos just now but that big electromagnet buried deep in my skull, the one that wreaks havoc with all things electronic, is acting up.
Well, live and learn. You get what you pay for. Or not. And oh yeah — another German lens and cover are on the way.