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Monday, February 10, 2014


While Daughter Dearest was still in college, the wife got a mini-van and gave her the blue Civic to drive back and forth to Waleska. It was newer, and in much better shape. The old green Civic was a backup, until we loaned it to BrandX to use… for driving to college and back (but, in his case, Gainesville). He drove it—and, just as one might expect from the offspring of Mr. Sunshine, assumed that basic maintenance was something for someone else to deal with. The car overheated a lot, and we’d ask him if he checked the water. “No.” Well, duh.

So eventually, the green Civic couldn’t hold its water, and we parked it. And there it sat… until one of The Boy’s friends expressed an interest in it. We agreed on $400 for the sales price, and he brought us the money (cash) in several installments.

So he topped up the radiator fluid, took it for a brief (1/2 mile) drive, and returned with water gushing out of the cap. “Just needs a head gasket,” he said, and on Thursday he returned around 3pm with the gasket and a large collection of tools. I was working at home that day.

“Don’t we need to tow it down to the chicken house?” I asked. (The Boy has his Acura down there, undergoing its own engine transplant.)

“Nah,” he said. “It’ll only take a couple hours.”

“To pull the head?”

“Yeah. It’s no big deal.”

I checked in on him a couple times through the day, just to see how he was doing and to take a picture. “The head’s really clean, for having 300 thousand miles on it,” he said. “I expected an eighth inch of sludge all over everything.” He scraped off a very fine layer of oil-colored coating with a fingernail.

Well, of course, that “couple of hours” turned out to be closer to five hours; which meant he had to finish the job in the dark, with his friend shining the headlights of his own car at the Civic. I would have loaned him a trouble light, but The Boy already had it down at the chicken house. With all the tools he brought with him, I still loaned him a pair of pliers and a 1/4" 10mm socket. But as we were coming home from the usual supper at the inlaws, he was wrapping it up.

“Can I get a couple gallons of water?” he asked. No problem. When I did the major garage clean-out, I gathered up some gallon jugs and hung them on a pole. I also found about five gallons of radiator fluid, and offered him some to go with the water. One of the half-full containers was exactly right, he said, and was grateful to have it. (Plenty more where that came from, no problem.) So he filled up the radiator, and took it on that half-mile test run. Sure enough, the head gasket replacement fixed the problem, and he drove it home. He offered to help rebuild the red Civic, after The Boy gets his Acura going, and I’ll be happy to have it running (even if I just sell it).

So everybody’s happy. We have $400 in our pocket and one less piece of rolling stock cluttering up the manor grounds. He has a working vehicle. Now if I can just get him to stop teasing me about this rotary engine he’d be glad to drop in my Miata. (NO. :-)


  1. I love stories about things that are not working being fixed. I really do.

  2. Better that than sitting around and gathering rust and dry rot!


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