Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Auto shop 101

While having dinner with some friends last Friday evening the woman-sided conversation somehow turned to "why did these guys marry us?"

First some back story. All of all of these baby boomer folks are streetrod-related friends and we've known them for ages. The guys work on their own cars; my beloved being one of the greasiest. I knew he was greasy when I married him and sometimes it's caused frustration but maybe it's the grease that has lubricated our troubles because we've hung together for some 37 odd years. We've also made some very close friends; that's the balance. Lots of memories attached to those cars, some good, some evil but there's nothing like getting stuck on the side of the freeway and having a "car-guy" help you out.

Looking for a common thread I ask the group, the four couples sitting at our table were about the same age, if they'd ever helped in "bleeding the brakes"? Four hands shot up. The term is for a process of removing the air from brake lines after you've done something to the brakes. It seems to coincides with my beloved asking about my life insurance, I can't be sure.

I figure there is a big old greasy book in high school auto shop classes that is required reading for fifteen to eighteen-year-olds and here are a few passages:

  • If you plan to change your brakes the use of a spouse/girlfriend is of up most importance. It is better to find one who can take orders without too much complaining.

  • When you are in the middle of a particularly greasy under the car project there is nothing like a spouse/girlfriend to find that tool, that invariably rolls out of your reach, and retrieve it for you. Side note: Women have smaller hands and fingers for getting into small spaces or retrieve bolts that have fallen through. Related reading: chapters three and seven-What you can't say in mixed company or with small children when things fall out of your reach.

  • Auto repair can be expensive, remember two incomes are much better than one.

  • Paint job not what it should be? There is nothing like a pretty woman to distract from some minor imperfections.
Let me try to explain this procedure. It's a two person maneuver and only one needs any knowledge of auto mechanics. The mechanic lies somewhere out of view but not out of earshot. It must be uncomfortable because the patience level becomes strained if this job doesn't go smoothly. The other person sits in the driver's seat at the ready to depress the brake pedal when the mechanic says "ok." Sounds easy, right?

Him: Start pumping the pedal until it gets harder to push.
Me: How long do I pump it?
Him: UNTIL IT GETS HARDER TO PUSH. Then keep your foot on the pedal until I say to pump again.
Me: Ok, now?
Him: Yes.
Me: Pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, ok.

Now the mechanic does something to make the pedal go to the floor. I have to admit the first time this happened I thought I'd done something wrong but he just said "ok, do it again." And again, and again and so on and this is just for the first wheel. You've four, you see, do pay attention. You can get into a rhythm of pumping and holding and then pumping again. Where you get into trouble, is in that rhythm, you forget to wait until the mechanic says, "ok."

Him, doing something with the brake line: ok, do it again.
Me: Pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, ok.
Him: You let your foot off the pedal, didn't you?
Me, in an almost imperceivalbe voice: yes?
Him, with a sigh that speaks volumes: Ok, let's start again.

If you'd like to save your marriage/relationship don't what ever you do, don't lift your foot before the ok. In all fairness, this isn't fun laying on the ground in an awkward position trying to get the air out of the brake lines with a lunatic behind the wheel of your special car.

There was talk of a tool the mechanic could use instead of the spouse/girl friend and that would explain why I've not done this in a while. That and the fact I had a difficult time with waiting for the "ok."

1 comment:

  1. there is also apparently a chapter entitled "having children: breeding your own auto shop assistants," as i remember being pressed into brake line service as soon as i was big enough to reach the pedals.