B van


Ah. This is always the awkward part where a simple “thank you” seems so woefully inadequate. Yes, I realize you’re not donating labor for the praise, but it’s always comforting to see kindness appreciated. Kindness is becoming almost extinct it seems so we aren’t sure how to respond to it when we do encounter it.

Of course, I will probably still have to pay off the parts bill in installments, but that will be a far smaller mountain to summit. Labor is always at least half of the cost when it comes to tearing down something as complicated as an automatic transmission (I still don’t really understand how they worked long before electronics). Hopefully, I will be able to pay off the parts bill without having to suspend training for my service dog as I would have to to pay off the full bill. Believe me, Leia, my dog, was not going to appreciate that at all!

One other thing, while you have Bessy up on the rack to drop the transmission, would you please check the differential for signs of wear? No, I’m unaware of any issues there, but that’s an area I suspect your techs don’t even think about during the semi-annuals. Let’s face it, my van is nearly as old as some of your techs, and comments are occasionally made that suggest to me that a few haven’t been totally comfortable examining a vehicle that doesn’t have a CAMBus port they can simply plug into. Put another way, it’s comforting knowing my transportation is currently in hands experienced enough to remember life before the mad proliferation of the CAMBus and ECUs with dubious software. J


From: Caleb Greissman [mailto:caleb.greissman@helfmandodge.com]
Sent: Monday, December 26, 2016 11:05
To: ‘Scott Royall’ <royall@conchbbs.com>
Subject: RE: B van


Tim has the job approved and you will only pay for parts (Helfman will donate the labor) and we will overhaul it. I will let you know more as soon as we get the trans torn down. This is excellent news.

Kind Regards,

Caleb Greissman

Helfman DCJR Service Advisor

7720 Katy Freeway

Houston, TX 77024

From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall]
Sent: Sunday, December 25, 2016 2:51 PM
To: ‘Tim McLean’
Cc: caleb.greissman
Subject: RE: B van


First, a couple of questions and a request. Does this particular transmission have a PCM? If so, what diagnostic codes is it giving? Also, would Caleb please prepare two estimates, one for replacing the transmission, and one for its overhaul. The final numbers will probably be what determines which course is more feasible.

On one hand, you have a right to know why my payment options are so limited at this point. Yet, one the other, I refuse to use the emotionally manipulative tactics employed by organizations like the ASPCA use in their minute-long commercials featuring animals freezing in the snow. Such blatant manipulation just galls me. Helfman is a business, and businesses have to be paid for services provided. I understand that, but my payment options are going to be severely limited from here on out. There was a time when I could count on financial assistance from the maternal side of my family, but nowadays they struggle to pay for their own caregivers and bills. In a way, I am more fortunate than they are, because my caregivers are paid for from a long-term care insurance policy I was able to enroll in a few years before Shell Oil decided to shift the bulk of its information technology operations to Malaysia. However, that LTC policy runs out of funds in mid-2019 (which tells you why I won’t be needing my van after that point).

The only personal income I have left is Social Security Disability, and that’s under $2K a month. So I can forget the possibility of a bank loan. The van has no resale value left, and I don’t have any other unencumbered collateral. The IRS has a lien on my house because I owe them around $100K in employer taxes (the LTC policy pays for my caregivers, but not the associated employer taxes). About the best I can do is pay Helfman in installments of $400-500 a month, and neither one of us probably has any influence over whether or not they will accept that. Even if they do, it will take me about a year to pay off the bill and interest. We will have to pray that nothing else major breaks in the meantime.

The only other option Helfman has is probably to scrap the van, and I couldn’t really blame them for doing it. I would only ask that the junkyard grant it a quick end in the crusher rather than make it endure a slow demise rusting in a stack of vehicles. Machines aren’t alive, but they sometimes do take on certain traits. This one has served me to the best of its ability for over two decades, enduring far more than you know, so I can’t help the sense that it has earned a quick death.

Hopefully, things won’t come to that for a while, because I really need the van back ASAP. There aren’t any other reasonable options around Houston for a somewhat active disabled person who still needs transportation on short notice.

It is what it is.


From: Tim McLean [mailto:tmclean]
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2016 13:58
To: ‘Scott Royall’ <royall>
Cc: caleb.greissman
Subject: RE: B van

Yes of course .

It looks like KD band material delaminated. There is also a metallic slurry in the fluid.

From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall]
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2016 1:00 PM
To: ‘Tim McLean’ <tmclean>
Cc: caleb.greissman
Subject: RE: B van

Yes, I see the debris. I hope you don’t mind if I use the images to get a second opinion.

I assume the cost of an overhaul is comparable to replacement, right?

From: Tim McLean [mailto:tmclean]
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2016 12:14
To: Scott Royall <royall>
Subject: Fwd: B van

Scott I’m sorry for the bad news it’s worse than I expected there’s nothing we can do either has to be overhauled or replaced


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