So This Happened…!

This is something completely different. I just want to tell you the story of what happened and the outcome so far. I don’t intend to get preachy here!

A few days ago, maybe even about the time you were reading my blog post from last week, my Subaru Outback and a Honda Accord tried to both occupy the same space at the same time! If you know anything much about physics, you know that won’t work and so the attempt changed the shape of each of the vehicles a little.

I was driving south and the driver of the Honda was entering the street I was driving on from a driveway on my right, to cross my lane and turn left (north) on the street I was on. The other driver’s view and my view were blocked by a large truck-mounted camper and as the other driver cleared the camper and entered my lane, we both saw each other at the same moment – sort of a “deer-in-the-headlights moment”! I braked and she accelerated (the very best thing for each of us to do in that situation) and the left front of my car hit the left rear door of her car. The impact spun her car across the other lane and she stopped near the curb facing in the appropriate direction of travel. I stopped at the point of impact.

The laws of physics were still in effect, so about a third of the front of my car was torn off and sent skittering over to the curb. The actual impact was slight. Seat belts were worn by all participants. Air bags were available but did not deploy. No one was even slightly injured. Both cars were still drivable, but my Subie was not as pretty anymore! Altogether through, not a bad outcome!

After all the necessary reporting to police, Oregon DMV, and insurance companies, I took my car to an auto body shop and got a repair estimate that seemed reasonable to me. When I made an appointment to get the repairs done, I was given a date in February, almost three months away! Staffing shortages, supply chain problems, that sort of thing. As you may know, I’m preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant in Portland, 150 miles away, on the other side of the Cascades Pass, at the beginning of February, and I need to be able to make that drive in my all-wheel drive Subaru with snow tires and not some random rental car with original equipment tires on it!

My car was drivable, but not in rain or snowy conditions. Too much of the engine and electronics and various operating systems were exposed by the missing front trim. So, I hatched this idea of trying to fix my Subaru temporarily so I could make the drive over the pass and back in rain, snow, or whatever the current conditions might be when I need to go over to OHSU in Portland for tests and treatment. I figured:

    • There’s no point having a drivable car if I can’t drive it.
    • All the remaining front parts: grille, bumper, light assemblies, are going to be scrapped when the repair is done (eventually), because it’s all plastic and all the plastic has cracks and scratches in it.
    • It’s my car and I can do what I want with it!

So I looked at the damaged part of the front, identified some places I could drill holes in the car’s support structure and the broken trim pieces, and made a plan. Friday evening Jean and I went to a hardware store (Jake stayed in the car) and I bought 14 dollars worth of bolts, nuts, washers, threaded rod, and plumber’s tape, and Saturday after our walk in the desert, I set to work.

The plan was only a sketch in my brain at first and it gradually took shape as I worked. I drilled and measured and adjusted. I put the pieces on and off time after time, adjusting the threaded rod mountings a little each time. I cut strips of metal plumbers tape and drilled holes in the fender and bumper to bolt the broken parts to the still-attached parts. Then I quit for the night because I needed more hands to finish up. Sunday after church and lunch, Colin and Jude and Zane came out to the garage with me and we determined to finish it up.

Jude, age 14, actually did quite a lot of the crawling about on the garage floor to put bolts through holes and washers and nuts on bolts. He came up with a couple of really good ideas on getting the bolts through the plumbers tape, fastening the damaged inner fender in place and plugging in the rewired fog light. 12-year-old Zane helped where he could and asked roughly 143 curiosity-questions about cars, tools, and various things he spotted in the garage. Colin and I tried our best to stay out of the way while Jude fixed the car. Also, I made sure that the boys knew the difference between fixing the car (what we were doing) and repairing the car (what the body shop will eventually do).

Then Jean and Jake and I took the car for a test drive at highway speed to listen for unpleasant noises. None. So there you have it.


I’m still determined not to get preachy here, but here’s a few things that occurred to me in this process:

    • It’s a lot better if you can approach an incident like this accident without having to spend a lot of time and emotional energy assigning fault and blame.
    • It’s surprising what you can do when you set yourself to figure something out and just have a go at it. Maybe you need to just let the plan take shape as you go along.
    • It’s good to have help. Sometimes two hands aren’t enough, but three or more are just right.
    • If you’re trying to figure out how to do something, it’s good to get someone else’s ideas and input. They may see something you’re missing.
    • It’s really satisfying when it all comes together! My car is actually drivable for distance, at speed, in winter weather conditions. Two days ago it wasn’t.

As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.

2 Replies to “So This Happened…!”

  1. Jim…I always enjoy reading your posts! They are encouraging and uplifting. You have a way with words that make me smile!
    Give your wife a hug for me and to Jake…a bone.
    Faithfully yours…Jeanie

  2. Dear Jim,necessity being the mother of in- vention…I think you and the boys were inspired with a great plan! Hope everything holds together for you! Merry Christmas to you and yours! Diana Doolittle

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