Travels & Tribulations | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings


I paid my last respects to the old brick today and signed the title over. It’s laying in state at Alton’s Auto in Congers, NY.

If anyone is interested, these parts are worth salvaging:
– Bilstein TC shocks and struts, less than a year old
– IPD Sport Springs
– IPD Anti-Sway bars
– 4 Virgo rims, only one of which is not bent.

Most interior plastic is cracked or chipped. Rear brake lights are decent, as is the rear hatch.

Alton’s Auto
146 North Route 9W
Congers, NY
(845) 268-4748


R.I.P. My Black Brick

This looks like the end of an era for me. I got into an accident on a roadway in New York and smashed the front of my car in. It was a short stop at a traffic light and luckily everyone was fine. My daughter had a little scratch on her neck from her seat belt but other than that our only trauma was psychological. The compact SUV in front of me suffered a busted bumper and some damage to the rear hatch door.

The radiator is shoved into the engine and coolant was spilled all over the road. In light of that fact I’m not going to bother trying to save it. If it were just body damage it would be different but considering the situation it’s not worth it to me getting it fixed. I have no place to store and work on it so tomorrow I’m heading back to the garage, pulling out some valuables and saying good bye.

This has been a fun ride and I’ve enjoyed keeping this blog. This car was been a mixed blessing; I’ve learned a lot from working on it but always felt there was something else I needed to fix. It rode pretty well and maintenance was cheap. There’s been a great community of fellow enthusiasts and I’ve always loved checking out the Brick Board to figure out how to do things myself, with the help of a passionate group of shade-tree mechanics.

I bought the car when my second daughter was born and we’ve enjoyed some great trips as they were growing up over the past 9 years. We had fun seeing how much stuff we could fit into the trunk on trips camping and to the beach. They treated it like another member of the family and I think the worst pain for them is knowing that the car will be gone.

As we were talking about what’s next my daughter asked me if, when I was a kid, I ever thought that objects were alive like people. I told her that I had, that I remember thinking that my stuffed animals had feelings. “That’s how I feel about the car,” she said. “It’s like it even has a face, and it’s sad to say goodbye.” Yes, yes it is.


April Foolish


It looks like the April Fool is thinking that it’s April when we’re actually still stuck in February.

I didn’t understand this tweet when I woke up this morning:

But then I walked outside and saw people scraping snow off their cars. Huh? My brick had a glaze of ice across the windshield from a brief snow shower last night. And to think, I was walking around in a t-shirt on Sunday.

Speaking of t-shirts, I posted a t-shirt design the other day that wound up being pulled by Zazzle. It seems that using the word “Volvo” in the title of the product triggered their intellectual property alarm and they removed the shirt from their site. I apologize for any confusion. I’ve posted the shirt again under the name “Turtle Engine” and Zazzle has approved it for sale. You can purchase from the link below and it’s available on many different shirt styles and colors for men, women and kids.

Turtle Engine Tee Shirt
Turtle Engine Tee Shirt by strippednuts
Create a unique custom t-shirt design online at Zazzle.

Frosty & Frozen

We had a little bit of snow last week in Jersey City. Luckily it wasn’t nearly as bad as 2010 or 2011. I guess we’ll see what January brings.


CONTEST: Write a caption for this traffic jam FAIL

suv motorcycle fail
This beautifully balanced incident happened in Hoboken this week. Write your creative captions in the comments section. The best caption will win the title of “Best Caption”!


Out of gas in Potomac, Maryland

Out of gas in Potomac, MarylandThursday I drove the brick from Hoboken, NJ to Springfield, VA. My tank ran dry on the Capital Beltway and I had to pull off in Potomac, MD. I’d gone exactly 300 miles since the last fill up and I hadn’t been paying attention to my mileage. Since my fuel gauge doesn’t work I rely on the trip odometer and usually fill the tank at 200 miles.

There weren’t any gas stations off the exit and I sputtered over the hills of River Road looking for precious fuel. I eventually stalled and called AAA for a couple gallons. I drew this picture while waiting, painting it in watercolor later in the studio.


Labor Day Car Wash

Living in the city there aren’t any opportunities to hand wash my car. I couldn’t even tell you where I’d be able to get to a water spigot. So I deal with the muck by going to overpriced, brushy car washes in Hoboken.

Luckily my daughters jumped at the chance to wash the brick while we were visiting my parents. I applied a little Scratch X to the hood to smooth out the paint before waxing. Claire managed to wash all the window glass, which is no small feat with a car that looks like a rolling greenhouse. Now we’re slick and Rain-Xed.


Sofa King Spacious

When a friend called with a freecycle couch I jumped at it. Perfect for my newly expanded studio. No need to rent a truck. The 6 foot sectional piece fit right in the back, without having to remove the legs. No problem closing the tail gate. Speedy delivery!


Bent Honda

Saw this wile driving in front of Neuman Leather in Hoboken. Oops.


Dark Lights

I came to a stop in traffic Saturday and noticed the guy behind me swerve to avoid hitting my rear. Idiot tailgater, I thought. It was only later that I realized my brake lights were out. Argh! I checked the fuses and they seemed fine, but I replaced the brake light one anyway. Voila! Hopefully now I can avoid getting rear ended… and arrested.