Sunday, June 25, 2006


Though people would argue otherwise, I am not a collector. No deep specific knowledge, no complete collections, no gaps I am trying to fill. I am not a completist or a condition snob. Sure, I collect all sorts of stuff but more like a magpie than an aesthete. Rather than condition or rarity, I am more likely swayed by low cost and quiet charm.

Those Circus Peanuts make me want to jump through a flaming hoop!

People don't believe that I buy cans of hardened paint. But I have. I don't collect cans of hardened paint, but I buy things that look like I wish the whole world looked. I didn't realize I had such a collection until corralled them to a single shelf. It's inspiring to see it all in one place.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hooptyrides Rocks It with the Highest of Bias

Hooptyrides is going back to mixed tapes! C30 C60 C90! We will be selecting Dolby B, we will be selecting Dolby C! Metal and chrome tapes! Heads will be cleaned and DEMAGNETIZED. Careful planning to be assured for complete 45 minute sides. Expert control of the pause button will be required for gapless edits between songs.

Only 1% of the used Mercedes available are actually worth purchasing at any price. The vast majority of used Mercedes are valueless as the immediate deferred maintenence required costs are more than the blue book value. Mercedes have always been complicated cars and were designed by fastidious individuals to be owned by fastidious individuals. The expectation of Mercedes engineers is that the cars will be religiously maintained by qualified professionals.

Perhaps this happens in Hockenheim, but in the United States the cars are just not carefully considered. They are treated as an appliance rather than an asset. There are a few questions you can ask to quickly weed out the 99% of worthless cars:

- Is it a one family car?

"Sure, I bought it from my old boss!" - That doesn't count. Handed down from a grandfather, ok. Old boss, nope.

- Does the automatic antenna still work?

"No, those always break." - Did you maintain it according to Mercedes specification including using the special Mercedes-brand antenna mast lubricant?

- Does the air conditioning blow ice cold?

"Just needs freon!" - Nope. Mercedes air conditioning is notoriously complex, fragile and expensive to repair.

- Are the toolkit and medical kit complete and accounted for?

"The what?" - All these questions add up to a story.

- Is the maintenance book correctly stamped for all services?

"Yes! Up until the warranty ran out, then the guy at the corner shop maintained it." - The guy at the corner shop might be better than the dealer service department. Or might not.

- Is the Becker stereo still in the car?

"No! We replaced it with a NEW PANASONIC CD!" - It is a rare individual who will maintain the Becker cassette deck and that is who you want to buy a Mercedes from.

So, how did my 1987 300TD stack up? One family, handed down from Dad. Auto antenna worked. AC blew cold, but the vacuum pods were not working for some of the vents which means cold air was coming out the defroster windshield vents. Toolkit and medical kit were present. Stamped by dealer through warranty period and I talked to the independent Mercedes mechanic who had maintained since the warranty. Hint: his shop was immaculate. Becker was gone. I still bought it as I had been looking for 2 years.

Chances are you have never heard of Becker stereos unless you have owned a German car. It's not that it is the greatest stereo ever made, but Mercedes should have Beckers. It's just the way it is. The design, operation, aesthetics and quality of manufacture mesh very well with Mercedes. So, up there on my bench, is an 80's Becker Mexico that will go back in my 300TD. It is hooked up to a GW Laboratory DC Power Supply and appears to be pulling about .5 amps. I bought that power supply at a garage sale from a nascent tattoo artist. She wanted to sell the tattoo gun, the power supply, some rusty needles and crappy looking flash for $100. I gave her $5 for the power supply and left her with the other stuff. Funny how stuff moves around. Engineered and built for labs then makes its way to a tattoo artist and now is powering my car stereo. Nutty.
I am disappointed to learn that Casey Kasem is no longer hosting the America's Top 40 radio show as I thought I was going to have a throw down home taping weekend here at Hooptyrides, Inc. Perhaps I will still tape the entire show on my new Uher Royal tape recorder and then edit the best songs and any entertaining anecdotes down to a "Best of America's Top 40 for June 11, 2006" cassette tape. To listen to in my Mercedes Benz.

So how did all this happen? Well, I accidently went to an auction and accidently bought 5 pallets worth of refurbished Becker and Blaupunkt stereos, Isophon replacement Mercedes speakers, vintage Uher tape recorder parts, an entire Blaupunkt service department, 100's of Hirschmann antennas, 100 lbs. of MAF MAK Hirschmann connectors, 20 cases of the legendary Zum 5000 diesel fuel additive and a pair of brand new Sencore SG165 AM/FM Stereo Analyzers.

I can not tell you how relieved I am that TDK SA90 High Bias tapes are still available at Amazon.