Thank God “I” Wasn’t Driving

Several weeks back, it was the night before Gene and I tried to start the Pony’s engine for the first time, I had a nightmare.  The Princess and I were out in California.  We were driving some place, in a convertible, and she was at the wheel.  We got to a point where there was a steep hill.  It was so steep that as we approached the crest you couldn’t see what awaited on the other side.  As we crested the hill I thought, Holy Moses, the other side descends almost straight down…and then suddenly, it was straight down… and the car just began plummeting through the sky toward the earth far below.  That’s where the nightmare ended.

Alright, lets analyze this.  First, was it significant that The Princess was driving?  Well sure, although she’s a great back seat driver, come on, we all know she can’t handle the real thing.  Then too, it probably says that deep down she scares the crap out of me, and I need to be wary.  What if, some night while I’m sleeping in my lovely NEW bed, and driving my convertible safely through the mountains, she sneaks up, gives me a good hard shake and says, “Wake up, that damn teenage girl next door is playing music so loud I can’t sleep.”  Thanks Princess, now we’re both awake, and you’ve ruined a perfectly good dream.

Is it significant that the dream took place in California?  Well, lets see, the Idiotic Brother lives out there…ok…that is significant.  There was a trip we took, with our lovely wives, along the Pacific Coast Highway many years ago.  Knowing my fear of heights he intentionally drove very near the edge for the entire trip, often pointing out the relatively insignificant guard rails, the potential for falling rock and the sheer 500 foot drops.  MOM, Jim’s picking on me!

Did it make a difference that the car was a convertible?  I like convertibles, so all I can think of is that God, or somebody (the devil?) wanted me to get the most out of the nightmare, and to be free-falling in convertible is  definitely scarier than just free-falling in a hard-top.  And anyway, we were buckled in, so, hey, no worries.

Finally, should I have taken this nightmare as a forecaster of doom?  Should I not have gone out to Gene’s the next day?  If I hadn’t gone out that day might the timing gear magically have been set properly rather than 100% wrong?  Naturally these are all good questions for the good doctor, so I called Doc Fullofit and asked him.  “Nah,” he said, “that was a dang good nightmare, but you’re just going to have to live with the fact that to err is human, and you are probably the most human person I know.  What a “quack!”

On to tractor news.  As the last post went to press, the team was looking at the possibility that the timing gears had been installed incorrectly.  Dr. Fullofit, our left coast advisor, went out on a limb and said that we had the crankshaft gear one revolution off as respects the camshaft gear.  This did seem to fit, as when we had the No. 1 piston at TDC, both its valves were not closed as they should have been, and we were only getting modest compression.  Neither could we see the D/C (indicating Top Dead Center) on the flywheel when those valves were closed.  Gene did some figgerin and declared (I hate to say this) that Jim was right, so last Saturday we drained and removed the radiator, drained the oil, pulled the timing gear cover off the front of the engine and made the necessary adjustment.  Here’s a shot Gene took with the timing gear exposed.

We turned the crankshaft gear one turn, again lining up the two dots incised on the camshaft gear with the single dot on the crankshaft gear.  The gasket around the cover was all torn up when we pulled the cover off, but to test whether we had fixed the problem we temporarily tightened everything back down and tried a couple of things.  First, we turned the engine over, found what we thought was top dead center on No.1 piston, with both valves closed, then peaked in the porthole to the flywheel.  Voila!  There was the D/C mark.  As a second test, using the battery to turn the engine over, we checked the compression.  Sure enough, now all cylinders were showing some decent compression.

So, we’re back on track, and barring another frightening nightmare, another try at starting the engine isn’t far away.  Once again, as I say to the Pony’s engine, stay tuned.

Do you ever think about your mortality?  I think about it all the time.  It hits me at the strangest times.  This week I was sitting on the throne.  You know what else do you have to do, so I was just letting my mind go.  I was staring at the bathroom scale.  It’s one of the kind that magically comes to life when you turn on the light in the room.  I thought, how nuts is that?  Long after I’m dead that stupid thing is going to just keep winking on every time some other fool turns on the bathroom light.  It’s not only going to keep working, but it’s going to keep telling some other poor shlunk exactly what he doesn’t want to know, and on top of that it’ll out live him too.  Sheesh, how long can that go on?”  I think I’m going to have to kill it.
Have a lovely week everyone, and thanks for reading.


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