Thursday 26 June 2014


I have mentioned before that there is not much that I don’t know about the internal combustion engine.

No...wait! I don’t know much about the internal combustion engine. Yeah, that sounds right. I assume that somewhere inside an engine, gasoline catches fire and whether by design or by magic that makes the car go down the road. I know there are pistons and cam shafts, alternators, starters, a carburetor, a fan and I found out the hard way that it needs a minimum amount of oil to keep running. That’s pretty much it.

I do know that if I hear a sound like metal grinding on metal, a flapping sound or a rhythmic tapping, it is time to take the car to see a mechanic. There were many years when I would just turn the radio up if I heard those sounds. FYI, that doesn’t solve the problem, it simply puts it off until later.

I can change tires, add oil and put gas in the tank. I am real comfortable with that kind of thing. Just recently, I replaced an in cabin air filter which was very, very easy. I should check the air filter in the engine the next time I hear a metallic scraping from under the hood. Once I did a brake job. That’s right, I DID A BRAKE JOB! It turns out that I did a good job too. I didn’t know it at the time of course, I was hoping I had done a good job, but I just didn’t have the knowledge to know for sure.

Not knowing if you did a bad job on the brakes or not, is kind of terrifying. Every time I got behind the wheel, I was worried that somewhere between home and Walmart, there is a very good chance I was going to die in a fiery crash. I would have my body cut out of the car with the Jaws of Life and declared DOA. The news would report that “A forty three year old man crashed into Walmart when the brakes on his car failed. It is suspected that he was too cheap to have a mechanic repair his brakes and did them himself. How Sad! The weather tomorrow will be clear and cool.”

I felt even worse when Louise and the kids were driving the car. Worse because at least in the first scenario, I would be dead and not have to listen to the criticism. Oh and that Louise and or the kids were gone.

I know nothing about cars!

Having said that, I know infinitely more than the Korean guy that lives across the alley. He is constantly tinkering with his car, a Mercedes. It is a really old Mercedes. He painted it using those cans of spray paint. He didn’t just do touch ups, but he painted the whole car. My other two neighbours both do body work in their garages and offered to paint it for him, but he told them that he was almost done anyways. It looks pretty good from a distance. Anything under 30 yards, and it looks like shit.

Tonight he was working on his engine. He works on his engine a couple of times a week; I guess there is a recurring problem. The way he works on it is by propping the hood up and revving the engine by hand with a choke or some doo-dad on the motor. He will rev that engine for about an hour or so, go inside for a coffee break and then come out and rev for another hour. I have never asked him what the hell he was doing, because there is a possibility that he would think I actually cared or was even slightly interested. I do know that what ever he is doing under the hood, it just isn’t working.

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