TLDR: Bought 600$ van. It broke. I slept under a bridge. I fixed it. I saw fast cars on dirt roads.

I had decided that what I needed in my life was a tow vehicle, for future... adventures. I realized that the perfect vehicle would be a Chevrolet Astro. One with the AWD. So it was off to Craigslist I went! Found one for $800! Went to go look at it, looked alright. A little northeastern rust, but not that bad, manageable “surface” rust. More importantly, it ran. Was a little squeaky. First problem, owner said the power steering leaked out and would just pour out. Cool thing about these vans is that they have hydroboost, so the power brakes run off the power steering. Offer the guy $600, he takes it immediately. Second problem. (I could have probably offered him 5!)

Take it home, fix the power steering with a 50$ part from Amazon. Decide to take it that weekend to the New England Forest Rally, probably about 5 hours on a good day. Start late because you know time management isn’t a thing. Get about 3.5 hours into the drive. Van has been going great. Its running great, but what is that? The squeaking is getting louder? Just turn the music up. It’s probably fine. Stop at a gas station to fill up tires, go to pull out squeak gets really loud. Open up the hood and what am I greeted by but embers going around the engine bay. Which was pretty new for me. I’m used to the fire being outside the engine bay. Belt snapped and it all got really quiet, and there was quite a cool scorch mark on one of the pulleys. AC compressor seized. Well crap. I push the car back into a spot (No easy task with winter tires and an AWD 6800 lb vehicle.)

Its like 2300 at this point, so I decide that my best bet is to go to the parts store, 2 miles away and see if anyone is there. No joy. Figure my best bet is to sleep under a bridge and wait for it to open. Find wifi and plan the attack. Buy a smaller belt and a bypass pulley. Easy peasy. Get up 0500, buy the stuff, walk the miles back to the van, start work. Takes about two hours, 3 different sized belts, a slightly janky solution and I’m on the road. Manage to see one stage that day. Janky solution has held up for 12,000 miles. Not bad for $600.