In Berlin: The pick-up (and the stall)

We left Milwaukee Wednesday at noon and finally landed in Berlin Thursday  at 10 am.  We met with our man in Berlin, Herr Torsten Volklandt who is a member of the Veteranen (classic) BMW club of Germany.  He inspected the car twice and today was kind enough to pick us up at Berlin’s Tegel airport.  We headed directly for the Meilenwerk  http://www.meilenwerk.de/Meilenwerk_Berlin_index.php , a sort of classic car “mall” built at Europe’s former largest tram depot and where Stehling Automobile has a presence. (Click on any photo to see it larger)

The Meilenwerk in Berlin


The 1800 finally in sight

Once there, we headed straight inside, doing our best to bypass all the captivating  automobilia eye candy luring us along the way: Mercedes ponton, Maserati 3500 GT, Bentley, Alvis super, Citroen DS and more.

Torsten Volklandt, classic BMW connoisseur extraordinaire

There is something about the color of this car, Turf, that does not allow it come through in pictures as it truly looks in “the metal”.  It is less blue and slightly more greenish.  The car looks quite attractive in this color.  As I continued to visually inspect the car, I realized that it was indeed a very nice car and exactly as represented by the Stehling and by Volklandt’s very thorough inspections.  The paint is top notch, the interior looks fresh, yet bearing some marks of age that feel entirely appropriate and should be embraced.

Turf green looks a bit more green and less blue than here

I was happy to see that Stehling had acquired the registration and number plates for the car which carry insurance for 5 days, which is all we need for this trip.  They expire on 4/12, which is when the car is going on the boat in Zeebrugge.  In addition, the temporary Kurzzeitkennzeichen plates allow the car to be exempt from the Umwelt zones now in effect in many of Germany’s larger cities.  These are low-pollution zones that restrict the ingress of cars with emission levels above a certain point.  Read more about it here: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/articles/green-zones-in-germany.shtml

Stehling at the wheel for the last time (are we *really* sure about that...?)

After signing some paperwork and receiving the car’s documents, Stehling drove the car out of the building, carefully skirting numerous modern Ferraris on our way out.  There is a busy Ferrari shop located at the Meilenwerk and I can confidently say I’ve never sen as many Ferrari’s actually running and motoring in and out in one location.

Once the car was out of the building, we put our luggage in the car, decided to have an al fresco lunch at the Meilenwerk restaurant.

Following that, we conducted a more thorough tour of the Meilenwerk.  This will be the subject of a future post.

Once we left the Meilenwerk we headed straight for a gas station as the tank was nearly empty.

You can’t blame them, with gas at $8/gallon.  

We then went on a driving tour of the city but it was to be short lived…About 20 minutes into our drive the car started to sputter, feeling as if it had no power.  We stalled at the pedestrian crosswalk of a busy intersection carrying rush hour traffic — pretty stressful.  Now, I must say I’m impressed with Berliner’s patience as we received not a single honk or other displays of driver’s rage.   I quickly popped the hood open and tested for spark out of the coil, which was there but upon popping the air intake hose off the carburetor, it looked bone dry.  By taking the fuel line off the carb and observing while cranking, it was clear there was no fuel coming out of the mechanical, engine mounted fuel pump.  There also appeared to be some gunk in the brand new in-line fuel filter.  Finally, by placing my hand over the carb’s opening to completely block any air coming in and force more fuel to be sucked in, we got it to start, albeit running roughly, starving for gas.

By doing this we managed to get off the intersection for a few hundred meters until the car stalled.  We pulled into a street parking spot where we could further diagnose.  The fuel line leading to the fuel tank was positively blocked.  I could not blow any air back regardless of how hard I tried.  Chris had the brilliant idea of connecting the fuel pump output to the fuel line leading to the tank in the hopes that would somewhat clear the blockage.  It worked!  I was able to start the car and be able to keep the car running by constantly accelerating to 2-3,000 RPM and never taking my foot off the gas by heel and toeing my way around Berlin traffic.

We came back to Stehling’s and left the car there for them to look at it today since it was already after 6 pm.

We headed to our hotel in cab, not what we expected but this is why I planned an additional day in the schedule.  Hopefully they can get this thing resolved quickly on Friday.


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