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Thursday, November 10, 2011


      autumn sky

Took the car for an oil change today. I told Chuck the mechanic about the smell of burning anti-freeze coming from the motor for a period of about 10 days, then it was over. It came on a little at a time and went away a little at a time. No traces on the engine block of any trickles. Inexplicable. I'm wondering if it might have been a connection with the heater I hadn't turned on in a long time. Maybe the connection dried, a pinhole opening occurred maybe, and it dripped until the connection became wet and hot again, swelling it to seal the tiny space. It seemed to be connected with the heater as it came on after I'd started using the heater. I like a self-healing car. I'm thinking a car is something like a cat or a dog or a person in many ways. I treat this car like it's as precious as a million dollar BMW sports car that runs like a motorcycle. I love it and treat it with love, keep its parts in good shape, keep the oil fresh, anti-freeze current. That's about all it takes, until a water pump bearing goes out.

I'd like to take about 3 thousand dollars and turn it over to a body shop, take all the chrome off except grille and around windows, fix rust spots and paint it a nice gun metal blue. The car has beautiful lines. The design of the car itself without ornaments, the look of the original model made in the designer's studio is what I want it to look like. This 93 Buick Century is a beautiful car in its design. I like the taillight all the way across the back. It's expensive and a big bother to replace bulbs, but I like it. It looks like a design I might have come up with as a car designer. In my teen years putting together model cars, customizing them, imagining designs for cars, drawing my designs, looking at custom car magazines, I thought a career designing cars would be good work. Engineering degrees. Not me. Like wanting to be an Air Force fighter pilot. Engineering degrees. Not me. I've enjoyed a beautifully designed car all my adult life, appreciating its designer same as I'd appreciate an artist like maybe Robert Rauschenberg. I've no idea what his/her/their names would be or anything about them, same as I know nothing about Rauschenberg.

     93 buick century new

I have a good mechanic, Chuck Billings, in Glade Valley. He's like the guys on Cartalk. I can tell him a symptom and he tells me exactly what it is or a list of possibilities. He likes what he does and he's good at it. I tell him every little change I notice. Today I told him about how it will idle a little bit rough sometimes. I had to add it's not a problem yet, I just want him to know. I'm hyper-sensitive to any changes in its behavior. I pay such close attention to the sound of the motor that the least little change catches my attention. If I'd been of the mind to support a family, have a house and a garage, I'd be one of the guys that keeps a car in the garage that's being taken apart down to the frame and rebuilt to go into custom car shows. People fixing up old cars or customizing them are doing it less these days. There was a period of time, like the last 30 years when having a new car was necessary for everybody. Now that we're going back to having used cars, I'd like to see customizing start up again.

Chuck plays rhythm guitar with a gospel band, Covered By The Blood. He's a fan of the Stanley Brothers and Ralph Stanley. He plays WPAQ on the radio in his shop all day. I never fail to hear good music when I go in there where he's working. I don't like to bother him. Sometimes I'll go back there and watch, staying out of the way, not bothering him with conversation unless he's doing something like waiting for the oil to drain. I like having a mechanic I can count on to know what he's doing. Chuck knows a 93 Buick v6 inside out. The only problem is parts are not so easy to find anymore. It's almost 20 years old. We have half a dozen in the county like it. I think there are 2 exactly like it. One looks almost new, probably kept in a garage. One looks about as bad as mine. Mine is one or two of the worst looking ones. The clear-coat peeled off the hood, trunk and roof. I've never driven anything new looking anyway. I've never played the status by appearance game. 

It's my old man car, probably my last car. It was what came to me from Jr Maxwell after taking care of him in his vulnerable time. It was his old man car. He bought it for $500 from his friend Jerry Edwards, whose brother found him a deal he couldn't refuse on an almost new Buick. Jerry drove it mostly on the highway between here and Winston-Salem taking his wife up and down the mountain for hospital trips and chemo treatments. It was his highway car. When it was becoming mine, Jerry advised me not to take it on a long trip. I didn't know what he meant until the right front wheel bearing went out. Later, when I told Jerry about it, he said that was the problem. It's a good car on the highway. It loves the road and handles beautifully. I'd had nothing but Toyotas for so long, I'd forgotten how good American cars are. My only objection is the heavy doors. American car doors have serious weight. Parked on a slant, pushing one uphill, holding it open and squeezing out is serious exercise. But that's a very small matter. Happens maybe once a year.

The title has been in my name two years. Still, it's Jr's car. He's letting me use it. I want to keep it running well, keep the interior clean like he would do. The arm rest between the front seats is the perfect size to hold a fire extinguisher. It's like the compartment was made for the particular one I found at Farmer's Hardware. It's for the extinguisher and nothing else. I watched my previous friend, the Toyota pickup, Swift Round Feet, burn and die. It was rusted so bad underneath, like the frame, I could have only sold it for the running parts. The burning meant I didn't have to sell it, and insurance gave me enough to bring Jr's car up to running like new, so I just switched from the pickup to the car without missing a beat. One of the firemen gave me a ride to Jr's house, and the next day I drove his car. A day or two after I told him what happened and that I'll be looking for something. He told me during a time between long periods of sleep, Don't be in a hurry to find something. The right one will come along. And it did. I call it the Catfish.  


1 comment:

  1. Asking advice from the experts is something a car owner shouldn't forget whenever his or her car encounters any problem. Good thing you knew someone like Chuck back then! Is he still your car mechanic?