The Glass is Half Full…Really

A guy, Jeff Davidson, from Chapel Hill has written a book called “1500 Tips for Simpler Living.”  Jeff, listen, doing 1500 more things does not make life less complicated!

I can tell you what makes life more complicated; getting suddenly obsessed with rehabilitating a 58-year-old tractor.  You know, I had stuff I was doing before I began this idiotic venture, like the Speedy Duck venture.  This week The Princess and I completed another of the many “Speedy Ducks” we’ve made and occasionally sell (see photo).  At the same time I’m learning how to overhaul an engine.  I can be gluing wheels on a duck in the morning and refurbishing a piston in the afternoon.  By the way, it’s the Princess that does the fabulous painting.  Some day I’ll tell you all about the Speedies and how that got started, but right now we’ve got to talk tractors and engines and stuff like that. 

After Gene and I popped out the four pistons last week, I brought them home and started working on them in the garage.  I think this will probably be my area of greatest worth to The Pony project, cleaning stuff.  I don’t know anything, but I’m an “ace” cleaner-upper.  So far after about 6 hours in the garage, I’ve got one piston almost done.  I’ll wait until they’re all done to take a picture, but they’re going to look great.  Oh, you say they have to work too?

The first of this week, the valve spring compressor that Gene had mail-ordered still had not arrived, so we decided to take a little side trip down to Pittsboro to visit his automotive project.  Since it was my bike-ride day, I rode the bike down, and met Gene at my breakfast stop. 

I saw something funny coming into town.  A crane was lowering something into the old courthouse that had burned.  When I looked-up at first it did not register, but then it struck me that the thing being lowered looked just like a “critter.”  Clyde Jones is kind of famous around these parts for his chain saw-carved critters.  Clyde lives along my bike route actually, in a little town about 5 miles outside of Pittsboro called Bynum.  His critters are all over Bynum (they light ’em up at Christmas) and spread throughout Chatham county as well.  I’ve included a photo of some of Clyde’s critters near his home in Bynum, and below that is the photo I took of the thing going into the courthouse.  Either Clyde is pulling a fast one on the citizens of Pittsboro, or my imagination is way out of control. 

After the critter sighting I met Gene and we went to see his project.  Gene’s love is Jaguars (the cars not the animals) and he’s restoring a 1953, so one year newer than The Pony.  He’s done a fabulous job so far, but says he still has a lot to do.  I’ve inserted a photo here that shows Gene behind the straight six, dual overhead cam Jaguar engine that he has restored and will soon be putting into the ’53.  It makes The Pony’s engine look like a tin can doesn’t it?

Gene called Wednesday and said the valve spring compressor had arrived.  He was itching to field test it, so I headed over.  It took a little fiddling to get the hang of it, but it wasn’t long before Gene had one of the springs off and the associated valve removed.  But as seems to be the norm with The Pony project, all the springs/valves did not come out so neatly.  I’ve inserted a photo here of the valve spring compressor with the spring squished, and I am removing a pin from the valve with the needlenose.  “Nurse, scalpel, suction please!”  So, the score at the end of two hours was:  two valves just dropped right out, two had to be coaxed out, and four are still in there and giving us fits.  But, hey, an optimist would say we’re half-way there. 

Gene took a look at the engine diagram and feels it best at this point to see if we can remove the camshaft.  That’s that other neat hunk of steel that’s still in there.  It’s function is to move the valves up and down, but right now it’s just in our way as we try to get those remaining four valves out.  So, Thursday I’ll keep working on my piston rehab project and plans are to get together again on Friday to work on camshaft removal.  “Nurse, give the author more anesthetic!”

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