Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pushing Forward

Right on schedule, my old Dart has had a break down. There must be some sort of magic in these cars that give you a taste of the open road just long enough to keep you hooked. I had just taken her into shop class and replaced the points & condenser Tuesday night. Yesterday I drove to work, to lunch and right when I left work.....vahhhhhroooommm...sputter...llllvvvmmm....plbbbt. Stopped. In the middle of the street.

I was only about 30 feet from work, barely away from my parking lot. I tried to start her but no dice. Its this carburetor problem that we were aware of --I think--I hope. Luckily, John my heroic BF was right around the corner he had stopped into the shop to bring me my swim suit ( I had water aerobics after work). I called him, Turn around! I'm dead in the water! I pushed her outta the path of direct smashing by oncoming traffic. John pulled up behind me and turned on his hazards, something I lack in the old car. I don't think they had thought of that yet in 1963. Either that or hazards were an option along with such things as seat belts & back up lights. We rolled her into a parking lot and went through the routine of amateurs trying to figure out what was wrong. After nothing brought her back to life, we rolled her down to a shop called "My Mechanic". Surprisingly they were open after 5pm so I went in and discussed my problem with the owner of the shop. Never before have I met such an unsympathetic mechanic. He was nice enough but reminded me that carburetors are a dead technology (no pun intended) and that he grew up in the "fuel injection age". Then he and his off-roading cronies deftly ignored John & I while we gave her a few more tries at starting. Never did he once cast an eye over at the immobile A-body parked cockeyed in front of his shop.

We called our pal, Fred a genuine mobile mechanic. He is such an awesome dude and so down-to-earth he makes any mechanical hopeful feel like they actually have hope. He gave us some suggestions and sympathetically told us that he doesn't really work on carbs either. Earlier in the week re recommended a couple of ways to skirt around our carb problem, just to keep her on the road till we could take it to a shop. Now that those magic tricks stopped working, we needed professional help. There is only one carburetor shop in all of Ventura and luckily it was only a few miles away. We called AAA and arranged a tow. Then we called Pacific Carburetors to check out their business hours. It was now 6:00 and I was certain I would be getting the answering machine. I dialed out and when the machine finished its canned response I began to leave a message. Hi, my name is Amber and I have a 63 Dodge Dart that we are towing.... Right then a human voice is on the line...Hello? Oh, sure I'm still at the shop. We are closed but I'm still here bring it on in. Wow.

We had the tow driver deliver her to Pacific Carburetors. My car looked relieved to be up on the flatbed, getting a free ride. I told her not to get used to it. The guy at PC was there alright, sitting at his desk waiting for us. He received us with the utmost kindness, not perturbed that we had brought a last minute problem to his door. We chatted a bit about the car and about how I'm taking a beginning automotive class. What a cool guy. No wonder Fred recommended him! John and I left the keys with him and looked around the automotive center we were in. Tires, Body work, Upholstery. We considered just leaving the car here for a month and having her tricked out all in one stop. That would cost thousands though so we trained our eye on the tire shop. I do need new tires. We went into their shop, which was also surprisingly still open. We talked to the guy in there, also surprisingly nice. Turns out he and the PC guy are working on each others cars that night. He told us he would find some tires for me. Sweet.

John and I then jumped in his trusty Ford Ranger and went out to dinner to celebrate my car breaking down. Well not really, but we were hungry. Maybe we were celebrating the good guys out there. The ones willing to greet you with a warm handshake, a kind word and welcome you in, even if it is after hours.

Coming soon: the diagnosis!

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