View Single Post
Old 01-25-2013, 06:02 PM   #6
Mors ex Tenebris
Purcell69's Avatar
Joined: May 2009
Location: Moving the speed of rust in mid-OK
Oddometer: 3,833
My father was something of a jack-of-all trades. Born in in 1928, he'd seen a lot and done a lot more than I will ever know. He didn't finish high school because he was needed to work in the coal mines in Pennsylvania. He worked in a machine shop for a while and learned how to weld and braze metals. He used to hang out at a nearby airfield and eventually learned how to fly. He joined the Army Air Corps in WWII and was a Warrant Officer, flying B-17s. After the war, he went on to fly for a major airline.

At home there was always some project he was working on, or tinkering with or trying to improve. He was a plumber and a carpenter and a mason. Through being his "go-fer", I learned a lot of what I know today. He would tinker with his motorcycle, but never really tore into the engine. I can never actually recall him ever taking an engine apart, just maybe tuning one to his liking.

As a consequence, I used to hang out with a friend from high school who, it seemed, was always working on engines. This is where I learned even more. It wasn't until years later that I realized I had surpassed my father's knowledge, at least in some respect. When I went in to the Marine Corps, I bought a used 1978 Dodge Power Wagon, my first non-motorcycle. I put a lot of miles on that truck while in the service and shortly before my last deployment to Japan, the engine developed a miss that I just could not pin down.

I drove the truck back home to Arizona just before deploying, experiencing a radiator failure (with roadside solder repair) along the way. While sitting thousands of miles away in Japan for 6 months, I managed to troubleshoot the miss in my mind, and had reached the conclusion that I had a burnt exhaust valve. This was long before the days of the internet.

I returned from Japan and explained to Dad what I believed was wrong. I pulled the truck into his garage and tore in to the motor, removing the intake manifold and the heads, only to find one bad exhaust valve, just as I had predicted. Dad was apprehensive at best, concerned that this pile of parts was now stuck in his garage. I obtained a rebuilt set of heads and put everything back togther. The Dodge engine was designed where the distributor (at this state of assembly) could only be installed with correct timing or 180 degrees out. I was about to turn the key when Dad peered in toward the carburetor and asked, "Do you think it will run?"

I knew in my heart that it would , but I toyed with him. "Well, I have a 50/50 chance it will fire. I wouldn't stand right over the carburetor...just in case I am wrong." I turned the key and the truck purred to life, nice and smooth. A faint smile crossed my father's face. I think he realized at that point that his work was done.

I try to include my daughter when I work on projects, just as my father did with me. I take the time to explain how things work and she is not afraid to get dirty when it comes to helping out. She just does not have the natural inclination to take something apart with the sole intent of seeing how it works. That is not who she is.

The Marines...When it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight.

Trust and Respect take years to earn, but can be lost in a moment.

Life's too short to hold a grudge. -Joe
Purcell69 is offline   Reply With Quote