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started in NY) arrived in Vladivostok, they sold their car to a Chinese businessman because their financial support was withdrawn.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.
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,