Friday, July 27, 2012

Enter Summer, exit posting

Yes, I'm alive. Like so many folks in the Pacific NorthWest, once Summer weather arrived, I stopped using the computer when I wasn't working, and got to playing. I do have some personal and bus updates, though, so I'll bang that out before pouring myself a welcome-to-weekend mojito.

just making a point...
As much as the news folks talk about how "bad" the real estate market is value-wise for sellers, it is very hard to find a good deal as a buyer. When I moved out of my townhouse apartment in mid-March, I started looking for a house, agent and mortgage lender and all. Within a month, I had an offer on a house, but between the banks holding the mortgages getting in the way, that house is still unsold. My offer expired, and I restarted it, but in the few days between, someone else got into the bank's radar system and they're in first position now. Apparently banks think serially, and can only address one offer at a time.  Fun. It's a good thing other businesses don't operate that way.  So, I offered on another house. And another. And another. All told, I've laid offers on 5 or 6 houses now. Most of them still haven't been sold and my offers just expired along the way. I think I just may get this last one, though. I put an offer on it in late May. Yes, that's right, late May. I have been extending and re-extending on this one.  I've been told that I might expect an acceptance of my offer by the end of next week, or early August.  I'll post a picture when that happens, so until then, here's a generic "Bank Owned" sign.  Yeah, like that's gonna get you to place an offer on it.  Prepare for weeks of no contact from the selling bank, and make your offer expiration date something you can live with, yet recognizing that the bank will not get it together within 60 days of you popping an offer on it.

So, how much of the real estate market / housing problem is being created banks who can't get it together? Had this been a normal deal, I would have gotten an accept, decline or counter-offer within a few days. By the bank adding in the 10 extra weeks, it looks like the houses are staying on the market an extra 70 days. That makes the market look falsely bad, like you can't sell a house because it's still dropping in value. The truth is, the market is coming back, based on what I'm seeing in terms of buyer traffic, but with the banks extending the process by literally months, it paints a different picture. One the news folks continue to hawk on the nightly's.

Microbus slightly too micro
note the overhang
I've been trying to figure out a way to fit 6 passengers into the bus, so we can take the whole family in one car. Boo and I toyed with the idea of buying something just for this reason, but cars are just too dang expensive. I said, "with a small fraction that money, we could get the bus to do it."  So, while Boo drove my TDI Jetta to Montana with her 2 boys, I drove her car to Eugene to get a free (yes, $0) middle-row Vanagon bench seat. When I got it home, I did what anyone would do: try to fit it. Fail. From the edge of the Westfalia sink/stove unit to the edge of the sliding door is 39". The width of the benchseat with the cushions scrunched is closer to 42" (see overhang picture on the right). Add on 3-4 inches for the arms, and it totally won't fit.... with the sink/stove unit in place. I intend to pull the sink/stove to fit the bench seat, and build a new cabinet that's just 16" deep (or 7" less deep than the Westy one). Then, the seat will fit, and when removed at a campsite (or ski resort parking lot), the cabinet can be usable. I will probably forgo the stove, and only do a splash sink with a wide counter where we could use a Coleman portable stove instead.

Microbus to get macro-speed
upper frame width pushes
lower frame away from cabinet
Last, I finally have arranged for a new transaxle from AA Tansaxle in Seattle. Daryl and I have figured out the details, and he will be starting the construction on Monday. If all goes well, it will be crated for shipping by the following Friday. Then, I'll just need to find a spot to drop the existing engine/transaxle, remove the old tranny, attached the new one and re-install. (note to self: get a new throw-out bearing just in case) Dropping the engine/transaxle isn't hard, but mating a new transaxle while leaving the engine under the bus may be. Remember how far over to the side I needed to tilt the undressed, un-oiled, no coolant engine to get it under the rear valence? I wouldn't want to try that with the fluids in, nor with all the other parts attached. Better to just separate and mate under the belly of the bus. Lots of muscling ahead, I'm sure. I'll post pictures, etc.

That's it for now. With Summer in full swing, I doubt I'll be online too much. I'll try to get better about it. I have a big road trip to Ashland planned, if all goes well, maybe the bus will go too....