Recently, Nick Caruso, an Associate Editor at Gear Patrol in NY, published an article about the bespoke cars produced by the English company, Aston Martin. Titled Visual Proof That Aston Martin Makes “The Most Beautiful Cars In The World,” the article supports that position, in part, by citing that of the 80,000 or so cars the company has built in the last 104 years, roughly 95% of them can still be accounted for. Also, interesting is that 80,000 cars is about what Toyota produces in 2 days.
I think that time has proven that there will, likely, always be a market for the “most” something of everything, regardless of cost or difficulty obtaining one. Also likely, is that we (you and I) will not typically be in that market, but rather bystanders, agape at the excesses of speed, cost, beauty, elegance, etc., but appreciative, which is more than you can say about most of the rest of the great unwashed.
My very first vehicle was a Vespa 90 that I bought from a school chum without my parents’ permission and triumphantly rode down the driveway back when the ink on my driver’s license was still wet. It got me back and forth to my job at the bicycle store, took me and my brother down to the pizzeria on Dodd Street to get a “za,” and provided a newfound freedom that let me explore a much larger circle of the world than my 10-speed did.
After that, I bought a Yamaha DT1-B, a very capable street legal Enduro, that I practically wore out as it took me to all those places I just had to go. I remember riding it to my new job at the VW dealer in mid-winter, bundled in my Passaic Leather Coat Company 7-layer police motorcycle jacket and knee high boots. My hands were so stiff when I got to work, I’d wrap them around a drop light to thaw them out before I could grab a wrench.
Later, after a short dalliance with a Yamaha 500cc twin that had a frame too small to ride two-up, I bought my first “big bike,” a red Yamaha XS750 Triple, with backrest and a factory fairing. Oh God, power, power, power! Many miles were gleefully covered, and it followed us on a trailer when we moved here to Arizona. It took us to Havasu, Grand Canyon, Montezuma’s Well and Castle, and many more weekend destinations. But, in 1986, I sold it because with a new job and a new house and bigger and more expensive responsibilities, I just didn’t have much time to ride.
In 2005, I met a guy who would become a great and long time friend. Don and I shared a love for motorcycles, and in 2008, he convinced me to fly up to Denver, rent a big Harley, and ride to Sturgis with him. I hadn’t ridden in over 20 years, and needless to say, I was nervous.
The John Deere has found a new home in the garage of an old time farmer, who used all John Deere equipment on his farm for 50+ years. He recently retired, and needed a good reliable mower that would double as a fun activity for the grand kids (smart old man, eh?). So, since we had almost all of the grass that was left in the yard covered over with beautiful rustic pavers, the John Deere went on Craigslist, and sold in 20 minutes to the first person who called.
That made me have to bring the 43 year old Toro Whirlwind mower out of mothballs and restore it so I could mow that last remaining 16′ X 16′ patch of grass in the back yard. I bought that mower for my parents’ house back in New Jersey, when I was just a kid, and it came with them when they moved here in 1989 and has been in the shed ever since.
I tore it apart, ordered all of the rubber and fuel system parts from Briggs & Stratton directly, (one of the “O” rings was listed on their site for FIVE CENTS) and had it start on the second pull of the “Easy Spin” starter. It didn’t even need a blade sharpening as my dad used to keep it finely tuned all those years ago.
ORIGINAL JOHN DEERE ARTICLE:
When I moved into this house 20+ years ago, the entire front yard was grass. About 6000 sq. ft. of deep thick Bermuda grass that, in the peak of the summer, needed mowing twice a week.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that my old push mower was going to need a major upgrade. I started looking in the local paper for a riding mower, and soon spotted an ad for a 1983 John Deere Model 111 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor with a twin blade mower deck. Just the ticket!
It was in very nice condition, well used, but pretty clean and it started right up and ran smoothly. When I asked the owner why he was selling it, he explained that for his rather large back yard, this little single cylinder, 11 horsepower engine just didn’t have enough power to deal with the tall grass and weeds. He intended for the money from the sale of the Deere to go to a twin cylinder Craftsman. Who was I to argue? I loaded it up and brought it home.
The other day I was washing my truck, I decided to do a really thorough job and pull the big rubber mat out of the bed and clean all the mung out from underneath. As I pulled it out, I noticed that it was somewhat “stiffer” than I remembered it being, and it was a little bit hard to peel out of the bed.
I got an interesting call for help this last week that turned out to be very educational and a little humbling. A friend of mine called with what sounded like a simple electrical problem on a 1951 (yes, older than I am) Chevrolet Pickup truck. He said that he had installed a retro-fit turn signal system on it, complete with a nice chromed turn signal switch that mounts to the steering column with a stainless steel hose clamp, and replacement sockets for the lights on all four corners of the car to accommodate the new 1157 double filament bulbs .
So far it sounded simple and straight forward. Further, he said the system utilizes a typical “old school” 3 terminal flasher, which was wired in series with the battery and the “new” turn signal switch. He described the problem in a few simple words; “If you run the turn signals with the engine off, they work perfectly. But, as soon as you start the engine, they stop blinking, and stay on continuously.”
Well, I have diagnosed and fixed electrical problems in Cadillacs and Corvettes with a dozen computers in them, and built wiring harnesses from scratch for burn jobs, so I really figured, “How hard could it be to fix a simple 3 wire flasher circuit on a ’51 Chevy?” That’s when the fight started. Continue reading “Schooled by a Flasher”
Hidden in plain sight, on the I-17N access road just North of Bell Road in Phoenix, is a fabulous way to while away an afternoon if you like really beautiful old cars. Continue reading “Clean Little Secret”