Time for a laugh and a happy ending. Therefore I am going to tell you about the day I rebuilt my carburetor.
I had a friend whose husband had retired from a garage in LaDucque Texas, a suburb of a major city. We flushed out my car's radiator and changed all of its filters, re-seated the front headlight that I had replaced six months before. (Have you ever seen a cross-eyed Honda Civic? I had one.) I learned how to change oil and underwent a new lesson on how to change a flat.
When you are a twenty-year old woman, the best way to change a flat is to Try to change your tire. Usually somebody male will pop right up and help you. If not, you have lost nothing, because you are already started. This is sort of the Stoic Meets Opportunity Method. But I digress.
Despite these numerous procedures to clear out my car's fuel lines, adjust the air going in and the quality of the radiator cooling, the darn thing still stalled from time to time.
I had purchased the Repair Manual for Honda Civics. I know, I know--the idea of me actually having a book is a big shock. At that time, I used to keep it in the car, along with a toolbox, a blanket, an airjack, a jacket, and a box of provisions should the World As We Know It suddenly end. I had three jobs--probably why I had this Doomsday Attitude--and sometimes an extra hour between them. So I would sit in the car and read it while waiting for the next gig. I finally decided that the carburetor was at fault, studied the exploded diagram, and made the fatal decision.
"Piece of cake." Was the foremost thought. In the back of my mind, very far back, was a doubt that had to do with my skill pertaining to screwdrivers. I banished it. How hard could it be? Was the next thought.
So that Sunday, when miraculously I had no job to go to, I parked my trusty Civic in the grass parking lot between the office of job number 2 and the car wash. I opened the hood, took out the spanking new air filter, unscrewed the filter pan, tossing all onto the roof of the car. I then opened the book to the exploded diagram and did my level best to explode my carburetor.
Did you know that left-handed people are at a distinct disadvantage with a screwdriver? Something about the direction of torque and the muscle mass of the forearm. I think I stripped the head of every screw I could get at, but the carburetor was not exploding according to diagram. Plus I suddenly realized I was in the grass, and if I lost something, I was in big trouble. I took the hubcaps off the front tires and used them to set carburetor parts in.
Hours later, I had reached every screw possible with my trusty screwdrivers, I became frustrated. There were two large shiny screws showing, and I went for them. Maybe THEY were holding the next level of the carburetor down where I could not get to it. I unscrewed them and gas started leaking out.
Needless to say, I popped those suckers right back in. I put everything back the way I found it and called Triple A. Because even though I had put it all back EXACTLY the way it was supposed to go, the Honda naturally would not start at all.
The Triple-A representative was doing Red Man, so his face was a little lopsided. Maybe that was what kept him from laughing in my face.
"Looks like it's floodin'," he said, after a quick listen.
"Well, I did take my carburetor apart," I told him. He spat, reached in, and took the carburetor pan off in exactly one minute. A screwdriver came out of his back pants pocket. He tightened everything back down.
"Your valves is loose," he told me. "Those big screws? You don't want to mess with those."
"Okay." I probably nodded for a solid minute.
A couple of quick turns, a little more spit. "Hand me that pan."
I handed it over. Slam, bam, all together in less than thirty minutes. How hard could it be, right? Of course it does help to know what you're doing.
"Try it," he advised. The engine turned over and caught. I was good to go.
"What do I owe you?" I asked him. He shrugged. "Triple A." He got back in his wrecker and drove off.
Now you talk about a fool's luck and casual, open-handed generosity . . . .