Wrong Perspective

This is not a ‘feel good’ photo. It’s taken from underneath my 1928 Model A pickup, through a hole where the transmission and bell housing should be.

On the shop floor is a sizable pile of re-engineered parts, modified by the fast mixing of those parts in an unintended blending of metal.

Over the last 50 years, I’ve done a lot of wrenching on old cars, but I’m not very good at it, and have a deeper affinity for shovel work. I get mad when things don’t come apart as I expect them to. In this case, the ‘come apart’ process was developed nearly 100 years ago, but I still get mad.

I swear angrily when, through no fault of the designers, a mechanical sub-system on this truck argues with the way my linear brain thinks it should be disassembled.

My brother-in-law Larry has more fun working on my Model A than I do. He’s a quality control engineer, with experience on cruise missile guidance systems and such. He respects the engineering innovations found on a Model A, rather than resenting the antique complexity. Larry is a kid in a candy shop when he comes across a process he’s not seen before, and mutters to himself, “I wonder why they did it that way?” And then all progress on repair comes to a stop while he reverse-engineers the process.

But while I occasionally enjoy hanging with engineers, I have little interest in engineering. I want my truck to shift when I push in the clutch and move the shifter. I don’t care much about how it happens.

Back when I was renovating houses, my son Dan bought a home that he and I rebuilt. Located on a stunning 5 acre lot, we tore the shack down to it’s framing, and started over: new roof, siding, insulation, wiring, plumbing, sheetrock, windows, furnace, and fixtures. It took a year, but the end result was a really cool place, with a new master suite in the attic, and a new 6-car garage.

That Christmas, Dan gave me this ‘28 pickup, which he’d found in Colorado. (He made me cry.) It was, and remains, an unrestored and excellent driver. I show off by using it as a work truck, hauling lumber, logs, appliances, and anything else that will make people give a thumbs up, or shake their heads.

But today, and for the near future, my truck is definitely not a driver. Until we source all the parts, and I convince Larry to come up to Stillwater for a visit, my Model A will be relegated to performing as a piece of non-mobile automotive art.