Friday, July 8, 2011

Chapter 17- Why is there Blue Kool Aid under my Ferrari?

On Thursday, September 11 2008 someone searching for “mistress, walla walla, washington” found my site and stayed for some time. While I doubt I was much assistance with their research I hope they enjoyed the blog.

Why is there Blue Kool Aid under my Ferrari?

Several weeks after the track day, I noticed a few drops of what appeared to be blue Kool-aid on the floor of the garage. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I hoped the drips were Kool-aid they were more likely coolant dripping from the radiator just behind the driver’s door. There are times when I miss the dirty, dark concrete floor. A few drops of blue liquid would disappear. On the white tiles the drops were like a neon blue sign signaling that something was wrong.

Strangely, after a couple days the car stopped leaking coolant. Either it healed itself, was completely out of coolant, or was waiting to surprise me with a flood of coolant at the least appropriate time.

For many years Barb and I had wanted to visit Walla Walla and the surrounding wine country so when the Ferrari Club offered a trip to Walla Walla I decided it would be a great chance to see some great cars, drive some great roads, and visit some great wineries. If I spent the summer driving around Portland it will be the same thing over and over. How many times can I write about a trip to New Seasons to get ice cream or beer? A road trip of over 600 miles, with a chance to mingle with a bunch of other Ferrari owners in the middle should give me a Ferrari experience which will be substantially different from my hermit like existence. I thought the only hitch would be arranging for someone to watch the kids for the weekend so I called the host hotel.

“Hi I’d like to make a reservation for the 27th and 28th for the Ferrari Club event.”

“Let’s see. Their block of rooms are sold out and there are no other rooms available. Sorry, good bye.”

Ouch. Nothing like getting put in your place. The other hotel recommended by the club was the Holiday Inn Express. I have nothing against Holiday Inn Expresses but it seems an inappropriate place to stay for a Ferrari Club weekend let alone the first weekend Barb and I have had together sans children in eleven years.

Maybe there was a bed and breakfast available. A B&B would be nice, smaller, romantic, and give us a bit of breathing room from the other Ferrari Clubbers. Every B&B in Walla Walla I called was full. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to go on this trip. Barb wanted to go on this trip. Holiday Inn here we come. Sold out! The Holiday Inn in Walla Walla was sold out. What was going on in Walla Walla that made it so popular?

Eventually I found a place with rooms, a yoga spa about seven miles outside of town. I hesitated a moment and when the screen refreshed one of the few remaining rooms had been booked. I grabbed my credit card and booked a room. When I told Barb she thought it was perfect. So, our summer road trip was planned. We were going to drive the Ferrari about 300 miles into the middle of Washington, visit wineries, drive on beautiful country roads, and enjoy ourselves.

A few days before Barb and I were to leave for Walla Walla, I decided to have Tonkin give the car a check up, especially the cooling system, as we were going to be putting upwards of 600 miles on it in one weekend.

There was one complication.

It was self inflicted.

On Sunday June 22, 2008 a few days after the RTGT Ferrari track day and a few days before the Walla Walla trip I decided to tackle the lower plastic piece that covers the steering column. It had some scratches near the keyhole. I was expecting this piece to be pretty easy to refinish. It is large but without many dents or complex surface features. The car was going in for service the following day but I figured I could refinish this piece and have it back in the car in an hour or two.

Not all the interior pieces of the 355 wanted to be refinished. As I was removing the sticky stuff covering the plastic I thought “too bad was careless when starting the car, rest of it is in nice shape.” Then it started to melt. It must have been made from a formulation of plastic which was different from the air vent. It melted. Not all the way, just partially. It looked like a Martian landscape with tiny river valleys revealing the presence of water.

The Ferrari went in for service looking like I stole it. Tonkin did not have the steering column surround in stock so I ordered one from Ricambi. I ordered it on-line and added a note begging them to ship it soon as possible. About two minutes later I received a call from one of the guys at Ricambi letting me know he received the order and was processing it as we spoke.

The little drips of blue Kool Aid turned out to be from the radiator. Not from a leaking hose. It had a tiny crack in it. My first impulse was to ask Tonkin to smear some JB Weld on it or send it to a radiator shop to have it brazed. I resisted this impulse and Tonkin over nighted a new radiator from somewhere. I had just spent a bundle of money on Ferrari stuff. The service, including the radiator was $1,462 and the new steering wheel column was $300. I suppose it was lucky I had already missed my goal of not spending money on maintenance.


Aggie said...

Very cool blog... I was actually looking into possibly going for a Bentley / Ferrari / Maserati test drive eventually. Your info helped me a lot!


Daniel said...

The dates on blogs are just crazy. For some reason your "one year" blog came up in a Google search and I saw your reference to my company, Ricambi America ( -- but couldn't remember selling a steering cover surround recently for a F355. So, while your blog entry post is July 2011, the narration is about events from 2008. Crazy internet thing. Anyway, thanks again for the great blog!

That steering column surround (like all Ferrari parts) has gone up a bit since you got yours. :(

Anonymous said...

Will you be posting any more entries? I've really enjoyed reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

David, I have just finished your blog in it's entirety and it was absolutely wonderful to read. I have not read any of the entries from 2011 just yet but I have one question that has plagued me since I started reading. There are two entries from february 2008 named "picking up the Ferrari" and "Surreal Ferrari experience". Were these entries placed in that section by mistake? Is there more to the story that I am missing?

David said...

Yes, thanks for the kind words. I have been spending too much time doing working. I should have a chapter or two to post soon.



David said...

I reread those entries and understand how they would not make sense. Those entries are part of a story I made up about what I thought it would be like to buy a Ferrari before I had actually bought one. I think (hope) it will make more sense when read in final from.



AVolkov said...

Thank you for the blog!

I enjoy the writing manner and your attitude to everything around Ferrari.

Looking forward for a new chapter.

Alexander Volkov
Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Josh Dollins said...

where's the book man!

David said...


It is almost done. No kidding. It is being edited, not by me, right now and should be ready within a week.

Thanks for the encouragement.



Anonymous said...

Great read. I have been contemplating the same thing - "purchase" a 360 spider and keep for a year. I am not a tinkerer though but otherwise many parallels. Would you do it over again knowing what you know now? My thought is to be out of pocket about $20k for the year and I am ok with that (hopefully it will not amount to more).

What is the status of the book. Best of luck!

David said...

Thank you,

I would do it again and I suspect you will not regret spending a year with a 360 spider. Your timing is better than mine.

Working on putting the book into Amazon Kindle format now. Will have it done by end of week.



Anonymous said...

I am looking to get a 355 and had the same fears/concerns as you did - almost as if I was reading about myself. great work. I have decided however, that everything in life has a cost and might as well live it up and be able to say "been there/had one" and so on. So yes, I think I will move ahead with my purchase. But unless I missed it, whatever happened to the 355? Did you actually (gasp) sell it?

David said...

Good choice and congratulations. I don't think you will reget it. Yes, I did sell the car. I am looking forward to the next one.



Joe said...

Well Done David.Just purchased your book.I work in a factory and make 50k yr.
I want a 355 spider but feel buying the car is the cheap part of owning a 355..I hear the stories of up to 40k just do get valves and ect. fixed and it is scary.
But sure hope those stories like that are not the common of owning a Ferrari.
I saw in a chapter that not knowing the long term of 360 vs 355 with all its electronics and how they will hold up may make the 355 a better purchase.
Are you sorry you let the 355 go and that if your car was of good quality that maybe it was a keeper or do you get tired of it.
Or do you worry the odds are stacked against you that in time the Ferrari problems will catch up to you in cost..
Would like to hear from you..Joe

David said...

Hi Joe,

Hope you enjoy the book. I think 40K to get the valves done is probably excessive. The valve job on my car was in the 8K range, still a lot buy not 40. I think the 355 is the last Ferrari on which an inquisitive owner has a chance of performing many repairs. There are certinaly ample resource on the web which detail most steps.
The 360s seem to be aging well. There was a recent article in Forza which went over the cars strengths and weaknesses. As the prices are getting close I would consider the 360 as well.
Ultimately I am OK with the car going. I will buy another one sometime and look forward to it.

Goodl luck