Column: Road has been anything but boring

Logan Thompson went through several cars in his few months at Days Creek


Katie Doolittle

Logan Thompson sits atop his latest, and so far, most reliable vehicle, a Volkswagen Beetle.

Logan Thompson

My few months at Days Creek Charter School have been known for car trouble. 

It started before I came here, at North Valley High School in Merlin. In my junior year at North Valley, I got my first car, a black 2013 Dodge Avenger. 

I thought it was great, a black sports sedan with tinted windows and a nice sound system. It was only a four cylinder but it had some pep. 

I would take it on the backroads as much as I could. Riverbanks Road in Grants Pass was definitely one of my favorite backroads. I went through a lot with this car, including road trips, exploring the mountains and even my first date. 

Another great memory with this car was a spontaneous drive to the beach on in infamous Bear Camp route, a one lane road from Galice to Brookings. Let me tell you I was stupid with this car too. On that one lane road I hit 80 mph. This type of driving is where this poor car’s end introduces itself.

It was midnight on Sept. 1, 2021 and I was supposed to be home around 10 p.m. I was three hours away in a small town called Philomath. I started my car and headed on my way back home. 

As I reached the freeway I realized the road was empty. Suddenly my foot weighed 1,000 pounds, I cruised home for about 180 miles averaging at a speed of 120 mph, just redlining it the whole way. 

I made it home alive luckily and in the following week I continued to abuse that poor car. I think the final straw for the car was drifting it around a quarter mile dirt track we had in our backyard. 

It started to make some rattling sounds when letting off the gas. I drained the oil and it had some big flakes of metal in it. The engine was done. 

After we moved to Tiller I brought it here to the shop along with a newer engine. The process of getting a new engine in there took a long time with only school time to work. I learned a lot in that shop though and I’m glad I brought it here.

In the time of getting a new engine in the Avenger I began to drive a 1968 Ford Highboy that was diesel swapped named Barbra. This truck was amazing. It started its life as a forest fire service vehicle. This is where I learned to drive stick. 

The 4-wheel drive came in handy in the snow between here and Bend where my dad lives. I only got it stuck once and it took 2 newer chevy silverados to pull it out. This truck was a beast. It was anything but fast but it had style. 

When Christmas rolled around I put a massive tree in the back with a big star on top. I got waves and compliments wherever I went. Not long after Christmas I was driving and the hood wasn’t all the way latched down. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if the safety catch had done what it was supposed to. The most surprising thing was how loud it was. I didn’t know it but the hood was still attached by one hinge and was hanging off the side. 

The hood is now in the Days Creek shop where it will be repaired, in the meantime I got a seafoam green hood for it and it didn’t look terrible. 

When it started to heat back up around here it overheated and the engine seized. I have since gotten it to start, but the engine will likely still need a rebuild.

Perfect timing for something to go wrong I thought as the Avenger was almost finished. We got it all together, started it and it sounded fantastic, went to put it in drive and nothing happened. We hadn’t put the torque converter all the way on. I took it home in hopes to fix it faster hopefully. 

We took the engine out for the second time and pushed the torque converter not even a quarter inch into its place. Put it all back together again. The transmission was shot from fluid not being pushed through it. We ordered a new transmission and took the engine out for a third time and put it all back together again.

Everytime we took it apart more things broke than planned and delayed the whole process every time. Finally with all the new engine and transmission in it was driving but leaking terribly and because of that smoking from the oil hitting the hot exhaust.

I had avoided driving the car after it was fixed just in hopes that I could fix the leak and sell it for some decent money. 

The car was undoubtedly in worse shape than I had bought it, after sitting outside in the summer the paint had started to peel and bubbles were beginning to form in the window tint. 

I drove it once to Bend and in that trip my alternator went out and I was stranded on the side of the road over 100 miles from home in freezing temperatures for 3 hours. 

The tow truck drive was an adventure in itself, there were chicken bones on the floor he cursed like a sailor and chain smoked the entire time. 

On another trip to Grants Pass the belt shredded itself leaving me with close to 1/8th of its original width. I had to replace it in an Autozone parking lot, the belt needed two people to put on and for you to be under the car, the ground clearance was six inches and I was alone. 

Not long after that I replaced the oil pan in hopes that it would stop leaking. I discovered more glitter in the oil and hoped maybe I was seeing things. Once the oil pan had been replaced I had someone else start it while I looked at it. 

As oil squirted out the sides of a brand new pan I realized there was positive pressure in the crankcase which would have been a rebuild and a lot more money I didn’t have for this car. 

A decision had been made to sell the car for nowhere near how much had been dumped into it at an auction.

After dealing with an unreliable newer Dodge I thought it would be a good idea to try my hand at an unreliable old Volkswagen. 

Enter Das Dewey, the yellow bug you might see around here. The 1973 Beetle had 600 miles on it since a rebuild when I bought it, and a refurbished interior. 

This car is much more temperamental but I don’t care as much, parts for this are dirt cheap. I will say I got kinda annoyed in the first few weeks of having it. A valve spring broke on the freeway, one of my spark plugs kept unplugging itself, I needed to buy a new coil, points, distributor cap, fuel filter, fuel pump, carburetor, starter and five condensers. 

I bought a higher end condenser and distributor cap and I haven’t had any problems. I think I’m not so upset because I don’t expect a 50 year old car to be in perfect working order, and when it’s not, it’s not a big deal, it’s usually only a five minute fix and super cheap, it’s also famously easy to work on. I’m satisfied with my ride and soon I’ll get that truck fixed and it’ll be a perfect duo.

See you on the road.