Monday, November 3, 2008

Beater Logic

I put some oil in my car this morning, thus blowing my entire auto repair budget for the year.

When it comes to vehicular maintenance I have to surrender my man-card and admit I’m pretty useless. As my dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree I know some belt has torn or a vital fluid needs replenishment, but that’s about it.

Incidentally, if you put a vital fluid in the wrong hole, the vehicle will cease to function.

Beer in the radiator may be amusing, but it is apparently not good for the engines’ continued or long term operation.

It makes the beer taste dreadful too.

I have also discovered that warning lights are pretty much meaningless unless all of them come on at once when you stall at intersections. This can be embarrassing if you are taking your wife to the hospital, or if the vehicle is a police bait car, or both.

If mine doesn’t run then it probably means I’ll have to spend some money on it – how much being directly proportional to how little funding I have currently available, or how big a hurry I am in at the time.

Because I own it outright, I do not care if it gets dings in doors or anywhere else for that matter, and I haven’t washed it in many months.

This is all known as Beater Logic, a subject with which I am intimately familiar.

In the old days, before I got so clever, I used to actually pay to have the problems associated with warning lights fixed by a mechanic. Now I know better, so I just put large wads of chewing gum over the offending lights on my dashboard so as not to distract me or spoil my night vision.

My car was recently broken into but not really – I never lock it. The would be thieves actually re-arranged the rubbish to look neater. Toss out a few Tim cups next time would ya fellas? Thanks.

My first beater was a 1968 Dodge Cornet. Bugle. Something like that. Dodge Strumpet maybe.

Purchased for $900 at Prairie Shyster Motors in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, it was a real trooper with 4 doors, about 3 out of 9 cylinders actually functioning, and an awesome AM radio that changed stations by simply bashing the top of the dashboard, or turning a corner.

Corners were rendered even more interesting by manual steering that required about 27 turns lock to lock – helpful for my developing teenage musculature. It was like a massive ship where you’d start cranking the wheel over, and about 10 minutes of furious cranking later the bow would slowly start to change course.

The winterization process was straight forward though. I had to sweep out accumulated leaves, wire the passenger window shut, and place a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator. Henry Ford would have admired such simplicity.

I recall trying to change a flat tire on this beast and learning that, idiotically, Dodge lug nuts were threaded backwards until about 1972. When I thought I was loosening the bolts I was in fact tightening them – one of the more ludicrous automotive arrangements I have ever discovered (the other being the butt-ugly Pontiac Aztec of course).

I still remember the shrieking sound the lug nuts made as I torqued on them. It was almost as loud as the sound of the enormous rupture appearing in my groin as my pressurized innards tried to rapidly escape from my straining, taut young body.

This episode also taught me that WD40 could be used on something other than frying pans.

So if you ever buy a used car with bits of gum all over the warning lights, buy a selection of fluids at the gas station and relax. It is a fine cruising automobile and you got a screaming deal.

Oh, and gum loses its flavour after a few days so don’t even go there when you get stuff fixed. Trust me.

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