Everyone reacts the same when I tell them about the cracked intake manifold. They usually gasp and then say "That souds bad!"
Interestingly, I'm not stressed out about it much. I know exactly what's wrong, have ordered a $50 replacement manifold (exchanging that for the $70 manifold I initially ordered because the $50 manifold has removable heat risers making for easier installation) and will fix it.
I have a good idea the point of view people have when they react so strongly to the words "cracked manifold." I know most don't understand VW mechanical issues nearly as well as me, so hearing that something "cracked" and it caused the car to not run certainly sounds "bad." I'm also sure they assume such a thing will cost at least $1,000 to fix. They're also doing their best to empathize with me, assuming that I'm distressed about the situation.
I appreciate the heartfelt concern folks show when I tell them about it. But, it's a reminder to me of why I'm glad I've forced myself to do all repairs to this car myself. Had I not bothered to do that I'd be just as nervous as everyone assumes I should.
The approximate time I spent worrying about my car was five minutes. That's the time between when the car initially lost power on the highway and when I spotted the big crack in the manifold. Once the source of the problem was identified I knew exactly what was wrong, how to fix it and, within $30, how much it would cost. Much of fear and anxiety comes from the unknown.
On the opposite end, I get worried, anxious and nervous when I think about scheduling my next dentist's appointment. It's not so bad now because I've been to my current dentist's office twice before so I know where it is and what to expect. But, when I had to switch offices due changing insurance companies I called Reese for help because she deals with medical institutions all the time for work. Until I successfully made the switch from one dentist's office to the next I was anxious and nervous about it: too many unknowns.
I worry that I'll have trouble finding the new office, perhaps spend an extra five or ten minutes searching for it. I worry that the new dentist won't know my history as well as my previous and will mis-diagnose something. I worry that I'll have some really bad cavity that my previous dentist didn't see and I'll have to schedule another appointment.
I'm not worried nearly as much about having my teeth drilled or novacane shots, I'm worried about scheduling
So, from that experience, I understand why people react the way they do when I say the words "cracked manifold." I also understand I can't stop them worrying for me any easier than I can stop worrying about scheduling my next dentist appointment.
Nobody fears the known nearly as much as the unknown. I do have some apprehention about fixing the Ghia, but they're really minor: I may need to put Liquid Wrench on the generator pulley nut to break it free, I may have to get a new nut and bolt for my hacked-together distributor clamp or I may need to locate better hose clamps for new fuel lines. These are just little challenges I know I'll face but they make the experience enjoyable and I'm confident that in the end the Ghia will run at least as well as it used to; probably better.
Most people are just full of dread when their cars break down because most people don't know what's wrong with their broken cars nor how to fix them. There's a lot of anxiety also about how much money their mechanic is going to charge for the fix and then anxiety about finding the money to fix it. Of course, if given the choice between an expensive fix and a "cheap" fix that would work just as well, some people would still go for the expensive fix.
This particular phenominon was discussed in Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
. He talks about his friend with a brand new BMW motorcycle that had a loose grip. All the grip needed was a shim and the friend wondered where they'd get such a part. The narrator holds up his beer can, indicating that once it's empty it's perfect shim stock.
His friend didn't take to that lightly, feeling insulted that someone would suggest fixing a fancy, expensive BMW motorcyle with a beer can
. It's a logical fallacy: appeal to common practice
. Just because the proper
way to shim a loose hand grip is to use genuine BMW shims (if they even exist) doesn't mean that a cut up, steel (the book was written decades ago before aluminum cans) beer can won't work just as well.
I was reminded of this just a few days ago while visiting with relatives passing through town. They were staying with old friends and these old friends had neighbors over visiting as well. The husband of the neighbor couple had a '76 Alfa Romeo and once he saw my '72 Bus we got to talking vintage cars.
His Alfa has a fuel injection system that's stock and he talked about some day installing dual Webber carbs. A few times he'd chuckle as he talked about how expensive it is to do any fixes on his motor. Then he said a dual Webber carb setup would put him back at least $1,500. I wondered how that could be because you can get dual webber kits for VWs and old Porsches that run you no more than $1,000 and as cheap as $600. It's all the same carb, just needs a different manifold to mount them onto a different engine.
So, unless he's going to spend $500-$900 on small, aluminum pipes, I didn't understand from where the extra cost came. It was obvious he was falling prey to the appeal to common practice. His reaction to my question was to say that the prices in the catalogue were "probably over-inflated" but I'm guessing he's still going to overpay for parts that work just as well as their 1/2 priced cousins. It's an Alfa Romeo! You don't install $1000 carbs when you can find identical ones for $1,500! The car demands
more expensive parts and won't run right unless it knows you've overpaid for everything.
But, in his defense I had only just met him. He very well could follow my advice and look online for a better deal. I'll side with my instincts, though, and guess that won't be the case.
Perhaps that's one thing that sets old VW owners apart from the rest? Only a few people on TheSamba's forums recommended I buy a new intake manifold. The rest just said "JB Weld will fix that. You don't need to buy a new part."
And, they're right. There is no hole in the intake manifold itself. It's completely separated from the heat risers, but all I really need to do is "glue" them back together with JB Weld. Heck, I probably could have fixed it on the fly with a pair of hose clamps! The current theory is that as the upper part of the manifold had broken completely loose when I pushed on the gas it just pulled the carburetor forward, tipping it and closing the float needle valve which robbed the carburetor of gas. If I'd just use hose clamps to hold the pipe on the heat riser I could probably have driven the car another 50,000 miles that way.
But, in this case I'm not practicing what I preach. I'm appealing to common practice and installing a new part. I can do that, can't I?