The last 2 days driving the Catfish, Jr's car, has been an enjoyment after the tuneup. When I start the engine I sit and listen to it run smoothly. When I stop, I do the same, sit and listen to it run. I turned it over to Chuck Billings of Billings Tire and Auto for a couple days. I wanted it tuned up, flushed, new exhaust system, new tires, taillight, headlight, new brakes in front, right front wheel bearings, the works. I wanted to use the insurance money to bring it up to like new. And it took it.
This car is up and running now. One more thing yet to do Monday, Chuck has to take the gas tank out and replace something that goes inside it with the fuel pump. Big job. It will be the difference between the 15mpg it's been getting and the 25mpg it will get when this is fixed. All the way around, I feel like I came out of that burning pickup incident on level ground. I felt like the insurance co gave me a fair deal. Jr's car took all of it to bring it up to like new. It doesn't burn oil. It's a classic 3300 v6 that has the same reputation as the Chevy Nova slant-6. It will run forever. When the cars have given out, the motors can be used for all kinds of things in the developing (third) world.
The car has a sound body in good shape. Very minimal rust for something 16 years old. All running parts in good condition. After Chuck going over with new wires, plugs, filters, brakes, ol Catfish is a pleasure to drive. It was good before, but I heard every little sound, listened to it idle, skipping and jumping, anxious to get a good mechanic to tune the whole thing up from front to back. By Monday evening when I'm driving the Catfish from Chuck's shop to home, I'll be so happy with the car, secure going into winter.
Two things I have to be hyper aware of. Leaving the headlights on when I use them during the day in a rain. That's an automatic dead battery. Leave the lights on, walk away from the car, dead battery. And don't let the gas needle reach 1/4 tank. That's empty. I found out 3 times when it was Jr's. The needle stays above the F until the gas is down to about a half tank, then it slips below the F and then it's a race to the empty zone. As soon as it starts dipping below F, I fill it. Maybe this new part Chuck is putting in Monday will alter that. I'll probably never know, because I don't let it get anywhere near a quarter tank anymore. I don't like running out of gas or a dead battery. There's always somebody to help, I always make it, but don't like it anyway.
Up to now, I've been a "Toyota man." I've had 3. I've loved them all. They drive beautifully, they run forever, they handle well, the doors don't weigh half a ton, and they seem to me sensibly made. They're not opulent. But they rust. And the wiring goes bad. And when that happens, that's it. First Toyota pickup I had ran beautifully way past 200k, but the frame rusted so bad there was no repairing it. The next one, the frame rusted past repair. The van got bad wiring that could never be found and could only be cured by replacing the whole wiring system. This Buick Century, the same age as the Toyota that burned, has negligible rust. The Toyota didn't burn oil and this doesn't either. The Buick's hole in the muffler is gone and the thing runs quiet now. The engine is a smooth steady rhythm and no exhaust noise.
I want to take care of this car, treat it right, drive it right. I think of it as Jr's car and I want to honor it as such. It will always be Jr's car. I'll keep it in good shape for him. It's a living memory of Jr. Ross has the same living memory when he's in the shop. I have it in the car. I'll regard it with the same respect I have for Jr and Jr's memory. In a way, he kind of sits beside me when I'm driving it. Front wheel drive isn't tolerant of drifting eyes while driving. Rear wheel drive tends to keep the front wheels straight ahead on their own so I could gaze all about while driving and no problem with the road. With 4-wheel and front wheel drive, the front wheels go where my eyes go. I have to keep the eyes straight ahead on the road.
It's nice having a car that runs like brand new and so plain looking nobody would steal it. I've never had an American car. I've never had a car. Only Toyota trucks and van. I was very happy with them, but they don't last. I like to make a vehicle last as long as it has any life in it. The first pickup I took to Herbert Barr in good shape but for rusted frame. The van is useless. The 94 rusted out underneath then immolated itself like Quang Duc. Now I'm in a 93 American made car and it's running good. It looks like even if I live longer than I want to, this car will be running well. In the summer I want to get it painted, and keep on making improvements on it, in a sense restoring it.
It will be my old man car. Wednesday I was given my old man hat at the BROC meeting. The director from Wilkesboro was here for the meeting, Dare, and she always brings something like pens, note pads. This time she brought some hats for the men. Blue old man ball caps with the billboard on the front and the mesh in the back with the bill straight across. A good dark blue that is not Navy, just blue, and white letters BLUE RIDGE OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION. I love it. It's my Hillbilly Show hat from here on. I'll wear it driving the Catfish. Nobody will ever suspect he's a juvenile delinquent with white hair, an old man hat and an old man car. Great camouflage. Maybe I can spray can paint it desert storm cammo. No. Gray is better cammo on a car. Look out. You never know which one of those old guys you see in anonymous cars is a juvenile delinquent in disguise.