Watching a neighbor work with a backhoe in our field trying to find an old well (that’s a completely different story), I was talking to one of my dad’s friends about my dad. All the things I know about fixing cars comes from my dad…. though none of it is conventional…. I’ll never forget my dad replacing the brakes on an old truck my husband and I had. Coming back to get it we found a large pile of parts next to the truck. My dad said simply, Ford includes a lot of extra parts. The brakes seemed to work fine – but I wouldn’t want to depend on having antilock brakes ever again in that truck. He had originally got that truck running by putting diesel fuel in the engine to clean it out after the motor had started to lock up with dirty oil.
The discussion turned to my father turning a car onto it’s side to replace the transmission. On another instance he had scared his friend Rick, who had found him with a bulldozer on it’s side and was working on the underside of the bulldozer. My dad thought the easiest way to work on the underneath of a vehicle was to flip it on it’s side. Rick thought my dad had flipped it and gotten pinned, an actual danger when working with machinery on a farm. I’m not really sure I know anyone else that thinks that’s the way to fix any vehicle, but I also know stories about people that vehicles have fallen on when a jack has collapsed.
As I was growing up my parents wanted to get us a stick shift to practice….the chance came up to get a Datsun that had the clutch destroyed. My dad’s solution was to teach us how to change the clutch. First you flip the car on it’s side. Everything I know about how a clutch works comes from that experience, with the two plates that spin and catch and when you push on the petal it pushes them apart. My dad’s description somehow worked for me to picture it in my mine, and flipping the car on it’s side and letting us see it was so easy to work on the car. I don’t remember when happened to that car after that, but how a clutch works and my dad flipping that car were all fond memories.
My dad had made sure that my brother and I started steering and driving at a very early age. Everything from sitting on his lap to drive a tractor to driving a go cart around the yard. My first go cart had a drill for a motor with an extension cord that could be unplugged when I got too far away. As I got older I was trusted with larger and larger vehicles – though the go cart that I started with was probably at two years old. We moved up to driving the pickup truck down the lane and through the fields while my dad was working on the farm.