Harley Survives. Will the Honda Lawnmower?

When we last saw the Harley Davidson in August 2012, it was being loaded onto the back of a truck. Bent and broken like it’s owner, the bike was no longer The Car Guy’s concern. The Harley’s destiny was in the hands of the insurance company.

Then – we got a phone call from our Son-in-law a few months ago. “I’ve found your Harley,” he said. “Not only that, it is repaired, and is being sold by the same guy here in Alberta that I bought my Harley from. If that isn’t coincidence enough, the guy who is selling the bike is the guy who repaired the bike, and he did the work this past winter in Phoenix Arizona!”

Phoenix – that meant the Harley had spent the winter in the same general area where The Car Guy had spent the winter recovering from his damages. But there is even more to the story. The guy who repaired the bike has a son who lives right next door to The Car Guy’s dad. It really is a small, small world!

The Harley survived, but will our Honda? This Honda lawn mower is 30 years old. It spent the last 3 years out at the cabin, and was one of the items The Car Guy salvaged from our flooded cabin last weekend. So far all he has done is pressure washed it, but starting this week, he and his Dad will start to dismantle it and see if they can bring it back to life.

“Why bother?” you might ask. Indeed, why.

Maybe it is because it has faithfully mowed our lawns for 30 years, and it deserves another chance.

Maybe it is because we were raised to reuse, recycle, fix and make do – long before it was the popular thing to do.

Or maybe it is because there was so little we could salvage from the flood, that anything is better than nothing, and something is a nice reminder of all the happy days we spent there. Mowing the lawn. We didn’t have much, so it wasn’t really a big job. But it smelled so nice when it was being done, and it looked so nice when it was finished. And every time we fire up this mower again, we will be reminded of all our neighbours, and the sounds of their mowers on those happy sunny days when all the mowers on the street came out for a quick run around the yard.

Consider the many special delights a lawn affords: soft mattress for a creeping baby; worm hatchery for a robin; croquet or badminton court; baseball diamond; restful green perspectives leading the eye to a background of flower beds, shrubs, or hedge; green shadows – “This lawn, a carpet all alive/With shadows flung from leaves’ – as changing and as spellbinding as the waves of the sea, whether flecked with sunlight under trees of light foliage, like elm and locust, or deep, dark, solid shade, moving slowly as the tide, under maple and oak.  This carpet!
–   Katharine S. White, Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979

PT Cruiser Gets a Short Block Transplant

For the past ten years I have been driving a 2003 PT Cruiser – the Dream Cruiser Series 2. It has a turbo engine, is tangerine in colour and has very low mileage. I call my car Pete. Up until a week ago, PT Cruiser collectors would have said it was one of the more rare and valuable PT Cruisers in existence. According to a guy who has researched these cars, there were only 2200 made.

Several weeks ago ‘Pete’s engine light came on, so we took Pete to the local Chrysler Car Hospital. We expected some minor malfunction, an hour or so of labour, a few small parts and then Pete would be back on the road again.

engine

This is a photo of Pete’s engine compartment. It is only slightly larger than the glove compartment of a big truck – at least, that is how The Car Guy describes the cramped quarters of the place where Pete’s stomach, heart, lungs and circulatory system are. Wedged somewhere under the upper bits is the Short Block.  It contains the pistons, the crank shaft and the connecting rods.

To make a long story short, Pete’s ailment was not minor. Pete was going to need a Short Block transplant. The Car Guy questioned Pete’s surgeon about this diagnosis. Surely the condition could be cured by rebuilding the block. The surgeon looked at The Car Guy, as only a Young Car Guy can look at an Old Car Guy, and said, “No one rebuilds these things anymore.”

When The Car Guy explained the situation to me, I asked him if he could rebuild it. He told me he certainly could, but if I wanted to have Pete back on the road in less than a year or two, then the transplant was probably the best way to go. (The Car Guy and his dad are good mechanics, but they aren’t fast.)

A short block was ordered and Pete was pushed out into the parking lot behind the Car Hospital. On about the sixth day of Pete’s absence from the safety of our garage, large dark clouds rolled into town. They were packing pellets and weren’t afraid to use them. As I watched the hail beat down, I wondered about Pete. What were the chances that the hail was big enough and hard enough to beat holes into Pete’s tangerine skin?

Would the Fickle Finger of Fate (the Insurance Company) then decide that Pete, (with no engine block and a pock marked body), was a complete write off? Fortunately, the hail did no damage and I brought Pete home a few days ago. Pete’s Hospital stay cost about as much as what Pete would be worth if I sold him, which doesn’t make much sense, but that is how things are with used vehicles.

No, no, no. There’s no such thing as cheap and cheerful. It’s cheap and nasty & expensive and cheerful.
– Jeremy Clarkson –

I’d show you a photo of Pete’s engine now, but it really doesn’t look any different than it did before.

From Pumpkins to Tangerines – Colourful Orange Vehicles

Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.
– Wassily Kandinsky –

Orange – it can be the color of a carrot, orange peel, pumpkin or persimmon, to name just a few shades. It was never my favourite colour until I walked into a car dealership and saw a Tangerine PT Cruiser. It was love at first sight.

The colour continues to appeal to me, as you can see from this set of photos I have taken at various car shows and auctions.
Irricana Pioneer Truck Museum Ron Carey Collection

A 1926 Mack, Riggers Truck – Ron Carey Collection, Irricana Pioneer Truck Museum, Alberta, Canada. These trucks were used primarily for bridge and subway construction.

Tangalo Pearl Orange

A 1932 Ford 5 window custom 2 door coupe in Tangalo Pearl Orange.

orange with suicide doors

A 1933 Dodge truck with suicide doors.

Two views of a 1935 or 1936 Plymouth.
orange, chrome wings on sides of the grill

A 1948 or 1949 International truck, chrome “wings” on the sides of the grill.

orange

A 1950 Ford Thames E83W. This was built by Ford of Britain at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant (home of Fordson tractors).

2001 or 2002 Prowlers, one original, one modified, in Prowler Orange Metallic.

Tangerine Pearl Coat paint

Last, but not least, my 2003 PT Dream Cruiser Series 2, in Tangerine Pearl Coat paint. Production was limited to 7,500 units for North American markets including 750 for Canada and 2,000 units for international markets.

Old Car Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.
– Doug Larson –

7-fargo2

The Car Guy has a 1950 Fargo half ton. It has been in his family since the early ’60’s. It isn’t all that comfortable to ride in, and it no longer does any particular job around here since a newer truck was purchased. But I expect the Fargo will stay in the family for many more years because it is a link to a place and time that is now only a memory.

The Car Guy has been thinking about adding a Hot Rod to his fleet, so this summer we attended a few car shows. What we discovered was – we have very different opinions as to what would be the perfect Hot Rod.

I took pictures of some of my favourites and when I looked at them after the show I realized that they all had two googly eyes (headlights) – old Fords, I think.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
– Henry Ford –

People can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black.
– Henry Ford –

I see no advantage in these new clocks. They run no faster than the ones made 100 years ago.
– Henry Ford –

It has been a month and a half since the last car show. Much has changed since then. The Harley has been written off, six inches of snow covers the ground, and the stores are already playing Christmas Music. Time to hunker down and think fondly of better days – both in the past and to come.

If you could go back to the “Good Old Days”, when would that be?