The tintable bed liner that will soon shield the van's exterior from all but kryptonite is now on order, but that will take a week or so to arrive, so attention has shifted back to planning the interior. This means lots of time spent with the side door wide open, and me standing there visualizing various possibilities, taking measurements, researching the dimensions of various components, sketching different layouts, and most importantly, starting to make some firm decisions.
Then there is the big engine swap that looms, as engine swaps are inclined to do.
This will require my finding an actual engine to use (really!), so I began the search last week, and being new to that sort of thing, the experience was not without some trepidation. After consulting with the guys at Bostig, I was assured that while it may seem wise to splurge on a brand new or remanufactured engine, the huge number of reasonably priced, low mileage Ford Zetec engines out there makes going that route the best option. And given the number of times these guys have been through this process over the past several years, in addition to the well-documented system that has resulted, I decided to follow their advice.
Never having dealt with a single salvage yard in my life, however, a slightly intimidating learning curve had to be climbed, but then, you don't take on a project of this scope without expecting to climb a few curves along the way, right?
As luck would have it, there are at least a dozen salvage yards within a few miles of Q's compound, but after making the rounds over a couple of days late last week, I wasn't too thrilled with what I had found. To the interwebs then, where I have since come to know and love www.car-part.com – a truly massive database linking thousands of auto recyclers throughout the country. This site is a gold mine for finding seemingly any used auto part, and I quickly discovered somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 Zetec engines out there that are compatible with my soon-to-arrive Bostig conversion kit.
Only a week ago, I was completely green on the matter of dealing with salvage yards, but thanks to the very clear instructions that Bostig provides (i.e. written precisely for newbies like me), I became comfortable with the process after just a few tentative tries. It's pretty cool stuff, actually. Call after call to yards far and wide, I was met with such a refreshing level of directness – nothing hurried or salesy at all, and instead, just the facts, the price, and helpful answers to all of my questions.
I'm still not sure why this was a surprise, but I suppose my total unfamiliarity with salvage yards naturally led me to assume there must be some secret code in that world, and that they'd quickly see me as an outsider and treat me as such. Totally not the case though, and I'm happy to report that late yesterday afternoon, I pulled the proverbial trigger on a sweet '03 Zetec with a scant 15,000 miles on it.
Because you don't just lick a few stamps, sashay down to the corner, and drop 288 pounds of engine into a mailbox, an entirely different learning curve now presented itself. Namely, the subject of freight shipping – just one more part of this whole process with which I had zero experience, but hey, why let a little thing like that deter me at this point?
More interweb research and a few phone calls ensued this afternoon, including a pretty terrifying $1400 quote from UPS Freight (there had to be something lost in translation with the phone rep in India, but I'll be damned if I could figure it out). Fortunately, the good folks at engineshipping.com came through, and for less than a buck a pound, my future engine has now begun its long journey home. I'll refrain from claiming total victory until she arrives safe and sound in a week or so, but it feels good to have gotten this particular ball in motion.
Plenty more learning curves await I'm sure, but a quiet confidence builds as each one fades in my rearview mirror. It bears repeating to those who might still question my sanity in taking on this project – you may prove to be spot on, but as is true of anyone who boldly opts for new challenges over the easy comforts of a well-worn routine, key among reasons for doing so (though not the only one) is the very sense of fulfillment and empowerment that comes from learning to do what you previously could not.