Need to feel better—about the mileage your rig is getting?

Each and every dollar that I can come across
Goes into my gas tank and out my exhaust

"We Need Some Money"
by Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers

      The above plot, was made with xcel—which I found–THUNDEROUSLY–tedious and unwieldly.  So, I wrote a short python/pandas script—and produced the following. . . .

      Now, all I do is, update the csv (comma separated values) data file, run the script, and (re-)upload the file.  Freedom from microsquish.  Yaayyyy!!.

       :) :)

Some Notes. . . .

      (Note: Between tanks 6 and 7, I lost some data.  I ran out of gas, in the parking lot of this ginormous old folks' home; added gas from a can—and then did an incomplete fill-up, at what I presumed to be, the nearest gas station.)

      Cougar in a Northern Clime

      And here is a "blast from the past."  This is YouTube's #1 hit, when searching for "Tijuana tune-up."  If you can believe this, I had forgotten, about this one. . . .

      Cleaning Carbon in the Far North

       :) ;)

      "Herr Cougar" (Mr. Cougar), is an extraordinary vehicle.  As of November 2020, it is 43 years old, has the original paint, and–although a bit "cold-blooded"–purrs like a kitten.

      And Herr Cougar has the most extraordinary history—it was run back and forth to Church, by an old woman–garage-kept–for . . . 28 years. . . .

      Then, an articulated lorry driver, drove it up to Fairbanks, Alaska.  Apparently, he was not treated so well (nonunion)—and had to sell it, for quick cash.  That's where I come in.  I bought it.

      Now, Herr Cougar, is cursed.  I spent over $9,100, in just over six months, mechanically restoring it—only to have it quit SOO many times, that when I mentioned my name to a woman who answered the phones, for the towing service, at the garage I had it worked on (I saw the company name, on the back of the jacket), she called out, "FER 421!!".  She knew the plate, by my name—it had been towed so many times. . . .

      True story.

      The car became SOO problematical–and yet, still valuable–that I had it shipped down to Pennsylvania.  There, a trusted local mechanic–over the course of some months, I believe it was–got it into (at least reasonable) shape.

      Then, it sat in my parents' driveway, for at least 3 years. . . .

      Then. . . .

First Cold Start—in Three Years (!!)

      Followed by. . . .

Go West, Young Man!

      On the above trip, it flipped over 70,000 (and probably more like 170,000) miles.  (. . .)

      The thing about Herr Cougar–and I have known this, from day one–is that that rig, has really "good bones."  A 43 year old car, that had been sitting for 3 years, driven for over 1,400 miles—and yet I didn't have to add a drop of oil.  (And it was still pretty "clean," too.)

      The most extraordinary combination, of strength and aggravation, well . . . imaginable; and yet. . . .

      I've been able, to put thousands of miles on it—without (anything but minor) issues. . . .

      That said, it's already been to the local garage (Schmidtt's—can't recommend them highly enough)—the gas tank, started leakin'.

11/3/2020 Tuesday

      Herr Cougar flipped over 71,000 (and probably more like 171,000—the Montana title was "uncertain mileage," and that "filtered down," through the Alaska one, followed by the Pennsylvania one. . . .), on Federal Route 14 westbound (on the way to Owatonna).  And I saw it.

       :) :)

11/6/2020 Friday

      Herr Cougar had been sucking air, somewhere—into the fuel system.  At a gas station, I had to rev it (carburetor "vacuum"), to keep it from vapor locking—[this is] NOT a good sign. . . .

      Well, when I started horking on the rear line . . . the gas tank, started to leak. . . .  I had broken Herr Cougar.  Now, this should NOT have happened.  I may–in fact–have found the source of the air leak. . . .

      I went to the desk, and the lady there (at Extended Stay America), was INCREDIBLY helpful.

      Before all the gas leaked out, I took it to the garage.

      Then–and you're going to love this–there are free shuttles, from the Mayo Clinic (I've looked for the Ketchup Clinic, and the Mustard Clinic—all to no avail.) to Extended Stay America.  "All things work to the good, of those called to His good purpose. . . ."  In fact, had I not stopped for coffee, I wouldn't've have missed the shuttle.  So I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting. . . .  And then one for wal-(f)art (I could WALK back to my place, from wal-(f)art.) shows up—complete with a bevy of teddy bears, all wearing masks.  (I can't make this stuff up.)

      So . . . LONG story short: the garage (Schmidtt's) did remarkable work (o-rings and general cleaning, in the gas tank), at a . . . quite nice price—and Herr Cougar, (started and) ran, like a different car.

       :) ;)

11/27/2020 Friday

      Just interesting:

      And just today (11/29/2020 Sunday), I was buying replacement dash[board] lights.  I got to thinking—they'd been in there 43 years, before they failed.

      Keeps me busy.

       :p :P

12/1/2020 Tuesday

      I replaced some ~rotted fuel lines, around the first fuel filter.  In so doing, I met the first of my new neighbors.

       :) :)

12/3/2020 Thursday

      Going down Main Street [in Owatonna], Herr Cougar faltered.  Fortunately, there was an auto (f)arts store, at the corner of Hoffman and State.  I bought two fuel filters—and installed one of them.  Gasoline sizzling on the exhaust manifold—reminded me, rather forcefully, that one does NOT replace fuel filters, on a hot engine. . . .

*John chuckling heartily*.

       ;) :)

      After this, we had a period of time—where it ran like a r**** a**.

12/5/2020 Saturday

      I replaced a headlight.  It was a little more involved of a job, than I was expecting.  I removed the two wasp nests, at no extra charge.

       :p ;)

12/7/2020 Monday

      I took a look at swapping out those dashlights.  'T'is not going to be easy. . . .

      Herr Cougar flipped over 72,000 (more likely 172,000) miles, on Federal Route 14 eastbound, outside of Rochester, Minnesota.  And I saw it.

       :) :)

12/8/2020 Tuesday

      This is interesting—the rental manager, expressed no small interest, in buying Herr Cougar.  I told him, I'd keep him in mind. . . .

      It was time to change the oil.  I let it idle for . . . some time. . . .

      The filter was a no go.  (With everything I had, I could just get it to turn, about a quarter of an inch—before springing back again.)

      Knowing it was "close," I pounded a screwdriver through the filter, and got it to turn.  However–whilst the oil pan had been dutifully placed, beneath the filter–oil dribbled down the handle of the screwdriver, missing the pan—and soaking my hair, clothes, and the floor. . . .

      Sigh. . . .

      I just kept washing my hair, over and over—until the suds were white.  Strangely enough, I didn't need any conditioner.  (. . .)

      I got the oil changed (The oil from/in the filter seemed . . . thick; the oil from the engine, surprised me, with how dark it was. . . .)—however, I needed a little more (I thought that thing of Rotella, was 5 quarts.  It turned out to be 4. . . .)—so I headed off to wal-(f)art.  When I got back, the clear plastic filter, was DRY.

      Herr Cougar is out of commission.

12/9/2020 Wed-nes-day :) :)

      I found that I had overtightened, one of the clamps, on the last bit of line, before the fuel pump.  The line had "split"—possibly causing the pump to draw air.  I trimmed this bit off, and reconnected things.

      I also. . . .

      After all this, I took it for a spin around a couple of blocks.  It ran like a dream.

12/24/2020 Thursday (Christmas Eve)

      It was 5 below—and I was honestly not sure, if Herr Cougar was going to start.

      I followed the extreme cold starting procedure for a Chrysler—and it didn't seem to like that.  However, that new, powerful, cold-cranking battery, kept turning, and turning, and turning (taking breaks, so as not to overheat the starter, of course (!)) . . . and it eventually fired.  A little flooded, it eventually evened out—and I was en route to AutoZone, to pick up an ordered thermostat.  (. . .)

1/4/2021 Monday

      I waited until the temperature went above freezing (The climate here in Minnesota is . . . interesting.   :p :| ).  It was now time, to change the thermostat.

      This was a kind of . . . redemption for me—as, shortly before I left Alaska, I tried to–quickly–changed the thermostat, before work.  I got the gasket cockeyed—and by the time I got to work, the top of the engine was hissing like a teakettle.   :p :P I had to have the car towed to the garage, for repairs.  This wouldn't have been so bad—but this . . . "incident," took me just over the end of a six month period, where I had spent over $9,100 on this turd.

      So—it was time to take my time, and get it right.

      The garage must've put that gasket on with superglue.  It only seemed to respond, to violence.  Eventually, I just horked the old thermostat out with a pair of pliers.  Three goodly-sized chunks of gasket came out with it.  I was very glad to get them.

      Then, I just [tightened] the bolts down, 'til nothing leaked.  I made a run to wal-(f)art, for more coolant.  Herr Cougar is now no longer "cold-blooded," in the slightest.  :) ;) And on the way back, someone going the other way, screamed, "Sweet!"

:) :) :) :)

1/28/2021 Thursday

      So, I'm at a local bank, getting a local bank account ( :) ;) )—when the bank president (!) bursts in, hastily introduces himself—and then asks, "Is that your Cougar, parked out front?!"

      Apparently, he had a '79, at one point.  So, Herr Cougar–always an attention getter–is now drawing bank presidents, out of their offices.

       :) ;)

2/6/2021 Saturday

      I thought of the PERFECT personalized plates for Herr Cougar:


       :) :) ;) ;)

2/7/2021 Sunday

      It was 5 below—and Herr Cougar hadn't been plugged in.  I honestly didn't know if it would start. . . .  Herr Cougar did ( :) )—didn't LIKE it, but it did.

       :) :)

2/10/2021 Wed-nes-day :) :)

      Herr Cougar flipped over 73,000 (and probably more like 173,000. . . .) miles, on the way to Rochester (MN), on federal route 14 (eastbound—of course), and I got to see it.  (!!)

       :) :)

      And although Herr Cougar purred like a kitten, it got an astonishing 7.98 miles to the gallon.


2/18/2021 Thursday

      I checked the transmission fluid.  I came to realize—that was the first time I had checked it, since I had had it shipped from Alaska . . . 9 years ago.  (!!) It was–of course–fine.  You couldn't kill these Ford transmissions, if you tried.

      Again, though purring like a kitten, Herr Cougar is getting a–truly astonishing–6.44 miles to the gallon.  (I'm beginning to suspect, my mileage problem, may have more to do, with not having a locking gas cap—if you know what I mean. . . .)

3/26/2021 Friday

      I found out, why Herr Cougar, is getting 6.44 miles to the gallon—the tank is leakin'.  Again.

       :p :P

4/26-27/2021 Monday/Tuesday

      On Monday, I got a call from Schmidtt's—a "new" tank had come in.

      On Tuesday, I made the drive to Rochester, to have it put in.  It ran a lot better—far more solidly.

      (I also got to see "Godzilla vs. Kong.")

       :) ;)

5/4 and 6/2021 Tuesday, Thursday

      I made a video, of some work I did on Herr Cougar:

Herr Cougar Various Work

      The video, is hilarious.

       :) ;)

5/10/2021 Monday

      I was able to set the mixture—followed by a short test drive:

Herr Cougar The Mixture

5/18/21 Tuesday

      Herr Cougar flipped over 74,000 (more likely, 174,000) on the way back from Rochester (and I saw it :) ).  That's Federal Route 14 westbound.

7/10/21 Saturday

      Herr Cougar won a prize!!

7/14/21 Wednesday

      Not long before this, Herr Cougar's front passenger-side power window quit working.  It's not a "classic" wire (I can still hear a (slight) power draw, in the charging system.)—it just quit working.  After 44 years, it just suddenly–and without warning–quit working.

      Sighhhh. . . .

      During the trip, mentioned below, Herr Cougar flipped over 75,000 (and probably more like 175,000) miles.  I didn't get to see it, because it was dark—and I don't have dashlights.

      Sighhhh. . . .

      VERY early in the morning, like 12:15 AM, Herr Cougar sputtered, and coughed, and–eventually–quit.  Great, I thought—finally managed to plug that fuel filter.

      I made surprisingly good use of Herr Cougar's remaining momentum—and managed to get under a streetlight, in a parking lot.  This was "Village of Yesteryear"—which I had been meaning to "explore" (or, at least—figure out what it was) at some point, anyway.  Turns out, it's this GINORMOUS cluster of old folk's homes.

      I went to the door, to ask for express permission, to work on the premises.  Not surprisingly, there's no one at the desk, at 12:30 in the morning—at an old folk's home.  :p ;)

      So, I set to work.  The fuel filter looked okay—turns out I just ran Herr Cougar out of gas (the fuel gauge doesn't work—and I had an extra trip, this week (New Richland)).  So, I had a two gallon fuel can, for such exigencies.  But it turns out, it's one of those "safe" fuel cans.  It takes unimaginable work and ingenuity—to even get them to pour.  So, I ended up, with toxic gasoline ALL over my hands and forearms, on the pavement (which it'll disolve, by the way).  Until finally, the fuel started to flow. . . .

      Herr Cougar, still wouldn't start.  I realized, it was "vapor locked."  So, I poured the remaing fuel (not much) directly into the carburetor.  I got Herr Cougar going—and was able to gas up, at Hy-Vee's.

7/16/21 Friday – 7/17/21 Saturday

      Herr Cougar is cursed.

      When I went to the do the oil change—everything was going well.  I got the old filter off; I got the plug out; I got the oil drained; I got everything back in—and added the oil, then. . . .

      A little tab, broke off of the PCV valve holder—and fell into the engine.  You've got to be kidding me.  (!!) This is very serious—were I to start the engine, odds are it would blow.

      So, the next day (Saturday), I set out on a roughly five mile round trip walk, to the auto (f)arts (sic) store.  It was HOT—and I was major "Minnesota mosquito food."  :p :P

      I was able to pick up the plugs I had ordered—and get one of those "magnetic probes," in an attempt to fish it out.  On the way back, my neighbor stopped and offered me a ride.  The air conditioning felt NICCCCE. . . .

      Unbelievably, on the second try, I was able to fish it out:

      Herr Cougar is cursed.  (!!)

7/18/21 Sunday

      I was able to. . . .

      I was able to (finally (!!)) finish the oil change—that is, start Herr Cougar up.  To give some extra time cranking the engine (running at zero oil pressure is . . . not good), I changed the fuel filter, beforehand (orange city!!).  I was then able to change the [spark] plugs:

      A VERY important skill, as a shade tree mechanic, is being able to "read" plugs.  These had no signs of oil fouling, burning coolant—or the wrong mixture (further evidence, that Herr Cougar's engine is in fine shape :) :) ).  They were bright orange, though—I believe that's a sign of additives, and I've been pouring Berryman's down it's gullet, like it's been goin' outta' style.

       ~;) :)

      Herr Cougar did idle better—particularly at low RPM.  This–actually–surprised me—but then I thought: Those plugs had been in there for 11 years—since before I shipped the rig, out of Alaska. . . .

      I then changed the air filter, and pumped up the tires (one of them, was at 24 lbs. ;) :p ).  I had to do that in two "shifts"—owing to the heat.   :p :P

      The following two videos, mark the birthplace of "Rhino Ramps International Garage."  This may well be how we'll be posting updates on Herr Cougar in the future—via videos:

8/15/2021 Sunday

      Rhino Ramps International #1

8/22/2021 Sunday

      Rhino Ramps International #2

9/7/21 Tuesday

      Herr Cougar flipped over 76,000 (and more problably, like 176,000) miles—just a bit east of the junction of (Interstate) 35 and 14, heading towards Rochester.

       :) :)

9/18/21 Saturday

      Herr Cougar competed . . . er, um . . . participated in the 2021 Owatonna Car Show, at Cornerstone Church.

      The above link [Car Show] has proven surprisingly poplular. . . .

10/17/2021 Sunday

      I knew it had to happen sooner or later (I mean, this this Minnesota. . . .)—but this surprised me, this morning. Ice, on Herr Cougar's windshield:

      (It was a beggar, getting/keeping the windshield, clear enough for me to see. . . .)

10/18/2021 Monday

      I spoke again, with the bank president, of the local bank. He asked–pointedly–about Herr Cougar.

       :) :)

10/31/2021 Sunday Halloween

      Herr Cougar was quite hard-starting, this morning. (It was like he was only hitting on one cylinder. . . .) I wasn't sure, if I was even going to get to Church. I let him sit for a minute—and then he fired right up, and ran like a champ.

      Go figure.

      Then, on the way back–on [Interstate] 35 N–Herr Cougar flipped over 77,000 (or 177,000, or even 277,000—we don't honestly know)—and I saw it!

       :) :)

11/14/2021 Sunday

      This ranks, as one of the more bizarre things—that has ever happened to me.

      Herr Cougar wouldn't start—causing me to miss Church. :( :( I realized, there was a problem with the fuel—and poured some into the carburetor, and some into the tank, to the tune of two gallons. Lesson for ya'. When you have a situation like that, concentrate on the carburetor—not the tank. I ended up having to walk, up to the Qwik Trip, and back (all in a (de facto) Minnesota winter).

      Well, I got him going—and then he did this:

      (I've never, in all me' puff, seen a car do just that. (And if one loads the two pics, into an image processing program, and alternates quickly between the two—it looks like a "sprite," is taking form, in the exhaust. ( :) ;) ))

      Now, queue the weirdness. When I first tried to turn the key, I realized that the ingnition was busted—It turns an extra something like 25 degrees, and it's really funky, on the return. Someone, had left tools, in my toolbox. (!!) And I saw a drip, from the fuel line—just before the filter. So, when I got him running, I checked again, and it was dripping freely. (I thought . . . maybe it had been like that, for a while—but when I checked the mileage ("Tank 17," second graph, above)—it had been (surprisingly) stable. So . . . no.)

      Then, later, at the movie theatre (Having missed Church, I experienced a change of plans, for the day.), I noticed, that someone, had defaced Herr Cougar:

      It took me, a distressingly long time (days), to realize. . . .

      Rhino Ramps International, Episode 4—Someone tried to STEAL Herr Cougar!

      What a MASOCHIST!!

      Don't hesistate, to contact the Owatonna Police Department (They're VERY friendly—a nice change, indeed, from Upstate New York.) with any relevant details about the incident, at:

1 (507) 444-3800

12/19/2021 Sunday

      Not significant, but still pretty cool:

       :) :)

      It was interesting—I was in Rochester (Minnesota), and really close. I kept driving back and forth–between the movie theater, and a place I used to live–until I hit the mileage mark.

      I ended up taking the picture, in the parking lot, of the place I used to live. . . .

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 10 (Long and "arty")

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 11 (Did you see it?!)

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 12 TORNADO!!

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 13 The Mixture

6/12/2022 Sunday

      Not signigicant—just cool:


Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 15

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 16

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 17

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 18

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 19

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 21

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 22

Rhino Ramps International -- Episode 23