Beetle for Sale or Rent

From our hotel window

June 18: In 1908, When the remaining French team (out of the original 3 that started in NY) arrived in Vladivostok, they sold their car to a Chinese businessman because their financial support was withdrawn. They continued to Paris by train.

Today, I stayed behind because of “personal travel problems” and did not go on the camel ride in the Gobi. (More from Jan on that later. Just let me say from the pictures, she looks good on a camel).

But this is my blog. I was in front of our elegant hotel (it is laid out to replicate the architecture of the Tang Dynasty-mud walls enclose a courtyard and our room has a view of the Gobi Desert) checking the oil in Stewball when a Chinese man approach me who said this was his hotel.  He said he wanted to ask a personal question. “How much would you sell the Beetle for? It must be very valuable and I want it for a museum. You can fly on to Paris.” I told him that it really wasn’t valuable, that there were many of them still in the U.S. He paused, then added,” you must be very wealthy, perhaps a billionaire.” I assured him I was not, but that I really wanted to drive this car around the world, not fly to Paris. If he had approached me yesterday, history might have repeated itself!

You know from earlier blogs that I THOUGHT I had a serious problem with low compression on the #3 cylinder. I even looked into having the car trailered to Dunhuang, but the price of $800, was half what it cost to ship across the Pacific.  Stewball limped into the hotel with everyone’s opinion (remember we have a group of gear heads ) pointing to  burned valves. My thoughts were, could I get replacement cylinder heads shipped, and how quickly, or were we out for the duration.

I have learned Jack Crabtree driving his Model A, doesn’t take “Out” seriously. So, after checking in, Jack, Peter, our Chinese guide and I went searching for an engine repair shop in this mainly tourist city, one cylinder misfiring as we went. Almost at the same time, Peter and I spotted a hole-in-the-wall VW service place! Peter explained our problem. They were fascinated by Stewball, most likely having never seen an air-cooled one, and went to work immediately. (Peter told me afterward he had explained to them that if they didn’t think they could work on this engine, to not even touch it!) There was no inside work space, this was done outdoors. (Too bad Jan wasn’t along to take photos.) It wasn’t compression after all. The new distributor that the San Francisco shop put on (without consulting me) was bad. I had a spare along-so much for NOT having the one part that you will surely need. They put it  on. Stewball is healthy again. Total bill for two hours labor, and Castrol 20W-50 oil for an oil change, $50.00 US.  

So, no sale or rent for Stewball, we continue to Paris,


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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7 Responses to Beetle for Sale or Rent

  1. TBC says:

    Bravo for Stewball. Now, if your internals sort themselves out soon, that will be perfect!

    We are enjoying your blog, as always.

    Hugs, from sunny Toscana,

    TBC and Arnie

  2. joanie Alexander says:

    Yea for being wrong, and for VW repair in tourist town in China!

  3. Laurie Horn says:

    Glad to hear Stewball is well again and you didn’t sell her. Hope you are feeling better soon!!!

  4. Cathy Howle says:

    Hurrah! That is a miracle – a hole-in-the-wall VW repair shop in city where you were staying. Wow! Soooo glad it was resolved that quickly. Looking forward to your next post. Take care. Love from all of us.

    • ejhowle23 says:

      Yes, a surprise for us too. The next blog will describe our newest adventure. It keeps on going. I can’t possible describe all that is happening, there just isn’t time to write it all and by the time I have interent connection, more yet has happened. What an adventure. Not of the faint of heart!
      Love to all,
      Jan and Ed

  5. dan pierce says:

    Hmmmm distributor issue? Sure it just was not the cap. I mean if it was just one cylinder that was missfiring that would be a crack in the cap (not uncommon with the bad quality caps out there). If it was the actual distributor then all the cylinders would be dead. Just saying, hold on to that old distributor as its probably ok. Glad to here you are running good though! Travel well and be safe!


    • ejhowle23 says:

      I agree it was probably the cap but the distributor that was put on in San Francisco didn’t fit any of the spare parts I havewith me, rotor or cap so all I could do was repace the entire distributor with the spare I had along. thanks for your input. Kazakhstan next.

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