Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Woman of Parts--Partly

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.
Me too.

Now you talk about a fool's luck and casual, open-handed generosity . . . .


Capt. Schmoe said...

Carburetors - the precise reason mankind invented electronic direct port fuel injection. You are a braver person than I Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Captain Schmoe,
I think the word you are really looking for is 'stupider' or perhaps 'more reckless'.

This post made me laugh to write! Thanks for stopping in!
Ann T.

Slamdunk said...

Ann T.: I think we need to list the things that you have not done in life. I would have runaway from that challenge--no no carburators.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
If only I had talked to you first!!

Maybe I will post a list of things I haven't done. I still get on airplanes and wonder what I would do if I was Karen Black and had to land the thing. ROFL . .. .

Thanks for the props!

Momma Fargo said...

OMG> I spit my tea out. You are so dang funny. Never would have thought of you as a mekenic. Love the Red Man dude. You rock!

Ann T. said...

Dear Momma Fargo,
Are you suggesting that now you DO think of me as a mechanic?

Would you like to buy some land in the Louisiana bayous right now? I'm pretty sure I can set you up!!

Ann T.

Bob G. said...

I did something similar when I had my '75 Torino...the carb had a vacuum leak and was stalling, so I called a junk yard, and asked if they had any Motorcraft 2150s around.
The guy said "yeah...cost'ya $20".
(well, it WAS 1977)

I got the carb home and it STILL had fuel in the bowls...which mom hated when I placed it in the sink to drain..."NO SMOKING, MOM!"

I bought a rebuild kit for the OLD carb, and swapped it out for the used one I got from the yard...the Torino ran like a bear!

I sold the car with TWO carbs...never did find out if the rebuild worked, but I CAN say I didn't have any parts "left over"...ROFL!
(always a good thing)

Always admire a woman ready to attempt car repair...(and shooting)...LOL!
Good for you
(and for those "redman-chewing" AAA drivers)

great story.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
OMG, no smoking! And no dish-washing either! LOL! Your mom was a good sport.

Nothing like a muscle car! I bet it ran like a charm.

But the thought of doing two carbs . . . eeek! I admire your success!

I switched to carpentry, ROFL,

The Bug said...

Seems to me that you're just confident enough to get yourself into all kinds of trouble - which only benefits your readers!

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
Right on target!!! False bravado plus speedy extrication!!! And then to write it down!

Thanks for coming over and having a giggle,
Ann T.

Gia's Spot said...

Ann T., when I was newly divorced and a single twenty five year old, the truck my ex left me had a rusted out floor that I had to lift my girls over and put them on the seat (prior to child safety seats being mandatory), well the ball joints went and I didnt have the 700.00 to fix them so I too got the manual for a 1974 chevy truck and proceeded to change those ball joints myself. After two weeks (yes that says two weeks! lol) I finally managed to have changed both front ones. I was so happy! As I attempted to start it to test drive it, I blew the engine, had to have it towed to the junk yard and cried so hard as I sat getting a manicure cause I had torn every nail on those ball joints! I don't believe there was a hidden lesson or message in that experience, just a lot of bad timing and no luck at all! ( but I did change those ball joints!)

Oh I can see the word verification : foofece.. appropriate!

Ann T. said...

Dear Gia,
It sounds like you were a better mechanic but with a worse car. I am in awe that you changed those ball joints.

Good for you, going to get a manicure. That probably sounds like something crazy to the men out there, but I see it as you trying to salvage something out of this @#$%^ set of circumstances.

We lived through our tests! I think you showed much better style in yours though!

Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
OMG, you cracked me up with this! I do wish I was less timid, more bold and willing to take more chances. At least you had it together when AAA arrived. Can you imagine if the carb had still looked like the picture in your post?

Bravo to you!

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Oh, I was SO embarrassed! But yeah, I put it back together all right. I also was not crying, oh, heavens.

It is funny, at least NOW!

Ann T.