Sunday, June 4, 2017


Outside Johnny's Automotive Repair in West Oakland Ca
Friday, June 2 began with great promise. It was a bright morning and Linda and I left Donner Lake  early to travel to San Francisco. At Lincoln Park in San Francisco we were to begin our adventure on Sunday. The plan was to drive to the city, perhaps take a few photographs on the way, stop at the
Soldiers Memorial
Pleasant Hill, Ca
Soldiers Memorial in Pleasant Hill, California before proceeding to San Francisco To See the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presidio as well as to pay a visit to my parents' grave at the cemetery at the Presidio. Then it happened. We only accomplished the visit to the Soldiers Memorial.

As we were on entry ramp to Interstate 580 and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge when, suddenly, the car lost all power. We were in the left-hand lane and I was able to maneuver the car to the right shoulder where there was barely enough room for the car and not enough room for either of us to get out. Efforts to restart the Ranchero only brought backfires and sputters. It was time to call for towing.
After an hour and ten minutes, the Highway Patrol showed up. After an hour and a half, towing showed up. Haggerty insurance asked us where we wanted to go and we really had no idea other than off the freeway to a garage.

We were taken to a garage in West Oakland. While the shop appeared adequate enough, the neighborhood looked very sketchy. I only saw imported cars inside.  The tow truck driver lowered the Ranchero off of the truck and said something about having to get to another job, bosses orders. The repair shop employees knew nothing and said we'd have to wait for Johnny, the boss. This was late on Friday afternoon and I was growing very concerned about having an unsecured car on the streets of West Oakland after dark.

Johnny's Automotive Repair, West Oakland, Ca
Finally the owner, Johnny, arrived. Johnny is Asian and I have to admit to having some difficulty understanding him at first. He talked rapidly and said that he really wasn't sure what to do with the car. He said that it would be better if we went to another shop that was familiar with classic cars that had been modified.

We called Haggerty Insurance again and they agreed to send the tow truck driver back. They also called another shop for us but when we spoke to the employees of the other shop they once again said we would have to wait and talk to the owner. The owner would not be in until Monday and they did not have a secure place to store the car. The towing company agreed to store the car in a secure location but told us that since the repair shop probably could not get to it until Tuesday and that we would have a $300.00 storage fee by then and the fee would be climbing with each passing day. It was back to Johnny.

I walked to a gas station and purchased 2 gallons of gas in the vain hope that I had run out of gas. That was not the problem.

Johnny and I then talked about the car and I familiarized him with the fuel injection system and we discussed possible remedies. Gradually, we developed a mutual respect and rapport. Johnny indicated that he could diagnose it on Monday and that he would not charge a storage for the weekend. I figured that he could do $300.00 worth of repair work before I reached the breakeven point with the other shop. Johnny and I also came up with a plan of attack on the car.

That plan involved me ordering a new carburetor, a new fuel pump (old style) and any other parts I thought Johnny might need on Monday. I ordered the parts at Summit Auto-parts and they agreed to ship the parts out Friday night but indicated they could not guarantee their arrival by Monday morning in Oakland.

This whole incident has been hard for me because I cannot do anything. If I had the car at home I would be tearing off the throttle body fuel injection and probably locating and putting a new carburetor on the car and having it ready to go or at least to find out if that was the only problem with the engine. This is also been hard for me as the reason I bought the very expensive Holley fuel injection system was to increase the reliability of the Ranchero and to improve its drivability. Now this very part appears to be the cause of my woe. Appropriately, the Holley system is called "The Terminator"  Oh well!

At this point Linda and I collected our bags and Johnny dropped us off at the BART station. We rode the train to San Francisco where Linda's friend, Jill, picked us up and took us to her house. After a fitful night I awoke on Saturday morning and decided to make the best of a bad situation. The scenarios run from best case to worst-case. Worst-case is abandoning the trip and returning to Boise with my tail between my legs. There are several options to explore before I reach that point. We have some time.
On Saturday we visited the Presidio, my parents' grave And the Palace of Fine Arts. It was a beautiful San Francisco day. Linda, Jill, Jill's husband Jerry and I had lunch in a café at lands and Lands End. All in all it turned out to be a nice day in the city.

Linda with Cannon spiked by troops under the command of 
John C Fremont during the Bear Flag Revolt

Touchhole of cannon disabled by "spiking"

Original Presidio Wall from 1700's in side Officers Club, presidio

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

Tourists in Front of Palace Of Fine Art. See l

Ruins of Sutro Baths, Lands end San Francisco

At Lunch with Jill and Jerry at Louis' San Francisco

On Sunday we will visit Van's Restaurant in Belmont and have lunch there. Van's was moved to Belmont bay barge on San Francisco Bay from the site of the 1915 Fair where it had served as the Japanese Tea  house. It is the only structure from the fair which survives without significant reconstruction.

On Monday or Tuesday the car will be repaired, or not. I will call Johnny at 8:00 Monday morning.


  1. Oh no! Fingers crossed for you and Johnny, and that you are just getting all the bad luck out of the way in the beginning--where you can at least "make the best out of the bad situation." Hoping for the best!

  2. Breakdowns in unfamiliar territory are no fun but it sounds like Johnny is cooperative and hopefully the two of you can gang up on it in the morning.

  3. Sending you two all best wishes for a carefree trip from here on out! Also, thank you for posting the beautiful pictures of your parents' monuments. I remember them from our high school years - Two impressive and high-integrity people.

  4. I said a novena and prayers to St Jude for you though I doubt whether they will be efficacious as I am not Roman Catholic. Actually, I doubt they would be efficacious if I was Roman Catholic. Anyway, I am doing what I can. Why did you buy a car part the nickname of which is 'The Terminator'? Enquiring minds want to know. carl

  5. Do not panic, use a logical troubleshooting plan. Start at source, gas tank. Is the fuel pickup plugged? Is a rubber fuel line pinched off or plugged? Does fuel get to pump? Does the pump work (simple pressure test tells you)?
    Is there fuel pumped to the carb? If so, check carb inlet fuel it plugged? Are there electrical connections to the carb? Is there power where there is supposed to be? Logical process, find problem by process of elimination. Breakdowns are part of the adventure. Laugh and remember: "things can always be a lot worse". Don't give up!

  6. I hope Johnny and the parts come through today. On the bright side, San Fran is not a bad place at all to be stranded in for the next couple of days. Good ethnic food makes for a great pick me up.

  7. biting my nails waiting for the next update! Did you call Kurt, he'll come and help.... ;-]