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Ode To Fixing Things And To Having Things Fixed
This article first appeared in issue 5, and was written by Tom Waggener.
Ode to fixing things
and to having things fixed
By Tom Waggener
It seems that at one point or another, in every man's life, there is a moment at which he is convinced he can fix anything. At this point, he becomes an all purpose do-it-yourself man, and generally makes a mess of things.
A few summers ago I went through this rite of passage into manhood. I burned the clutch out on my car after getting hung up in a dirt road most monster trucks wouldn't attempt to drive down.
I had the car towed back to my house. I was convinced I could fix it myself and save about eighty dollars in labor charges. My car is a Honda with front wheel drive. Few mechanics will replace the clutch on a car like that, but that did not deter me.
The first thing I had to do was enlist the help of someone who knew about cars and transmissions. I called my friend Jeff who had worked on a farm and had some mechanical aptitude. Jeff said he had replaced many clutches on tractors and a Honda couldn't be much different. It sounded logical and we began.
First, we had to find some way of supporting the car while we worked underneath it. Jeff borrowed some ramps from the farm that the car could be rolled up on. My mother being the good hearted, yet paranoid person she is, decided the ramps wouldn't work and the car would fall, crushing us underneath. After much explaining and many geometric diagrams, I proved to Mom that there was no way the car could possibly fall. Luckily mom had never taken any Geometry.
The ramps were about a foot and a half tall and ten inches wide with a flat space on top for the tires. Without a clutch the car was immobilized and couldn't be driven onto the ramps. Much planning and preparing was done before we called it a day and went to Ponderosa.
The next day we decided it would work best if we used our car jacks to lift the car up and then slide the ramps under the wheels. The jacks were not tall enough, so we had to put rocks and pieces of wood under the jack to give it height.
We got one ramp under a wheel and we were both tired and sweaty. The car had only the support of one ramp and looked awkward and dangerous with two wheels off of the ground.
We went to Subway.
After discussing car stuff, we returned to the job at hand. Before we finished supporting the car, Jeff took a look under the car to get a feel for things.
"Uhh" Jeff said.
"What's the matter?" I asked, expecting bad news.
"I can't seem to find the transmission."
"Well, I'm sure there's one in there."
After half an hour of reading the owners manual, we found that the transmission was wrapped around the front axle. This meant the front axle would have to be removed to get to the clutch. All the tools we had were a socket set, four screwdrivers, and a hammer.
I decided it was time to admit defeat. We set the car down, and I called a tow truck.
The next day the car was towed fifteen miles out of town to the only mechanic who would replace the clutch on a Honda Prelude.
He said it would take a few days and wouldn't cost much.
Two and a half weeks and four hundred dollars later I had my car back, good as new.
We went to Chi-Chi's to celebrate.
This story was posted on 1996-07-01 12:01:01
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