Thursday, February 18, 2016

Run Away 1955 Chevy

Run Away Chevy

Alexander Arnell

     Alban rolled up the two car wide garage door on a fine wet spring morning to be hit in the face with the offending smell of dead worms.  Wrinkling his nose Alban thought, “I’m glad it's through raining.  This worm smell is gross!”  Stepping over the dead worms on the floor of the garage to take a look at the now clear blue early morning spring sky Alban said aloud, “Not a cloud in the sky.”

     With the happiness of the blue sky improving his mood, Alban turned on his heel and bound off to his jade-green 1969 Chevy Chevelle.  With a flip of the wrist he opened the door to set on the cool-green vinyl seats.  After three pumps of the accelerator, Alban turned the key to produce a throaty roar of the car's V-eight engine.  After the black and blue exhaust smoke had cleared away for the car's start up, Alban slipped the Hurst shifter to the left then up into reverse.  With an arm over the bench seat, looking through the rear glass, Alban backed out of the garage like a stunt driver.

     After a grinding halt on the black asphalt in front of Alban's house, he slammed the gear shift in first and popped the clutch to just chirp the rear tires.  Alban smiled as he new he was pushing the envelope of getting in trouble with his father for displaying excessive speed in front of the house.  He would not be smiling when he got home and would get a taking to for leaving the garage door open.  

     While first gear wined, Alban double clutched and shifted into second gear to cruise at leisurely 25 mile per hour up his street on the way to school.  With the weather finally warm, Alban rolled down his driver’s side window to place his elbow partially out the window on the door, leaning back in the seat he did his best to look cool driving his hot rod 1969 Chevy Chevelle.

     Not looking at the passing scenery, it suddenly occurred to Alban that he had only 4 weeks left of high school before graduation.  Alban thought, “Wow, time sure goes fast.  Before you know it I’ll be 50 years old.”

     Still only 18, Alban who was a senior in the class of 1976 was happy that the last semester of his high school year was mostly just blow-off classes.  The morning consisted of first period off, then second and third period were Auto Mechanics.  His fourth period was his favorite period, which was lunch followed by Speech and English Classes.

     The Auto Mechanics classroom was a 3 bay detached garage out past the football stadium made of WPA gray cinder blocks with a flat roof.  The building had once been a maintenance facility for the district’s busses.  The district had contracted the busses to a private company and no longer needed the facility.  Not wanting the garage or the tools inside to go to waste the district made the facility into an Auto Mechanic's classroom shop.

     Alban slid his car into a parking spot in front of the Auto Shop’s on a gray granite gravel driveway, 2 minutes after the tardy bell.  The teacher Mr. Rapp who loosely ruled over the classroom was still in his office on the phone.   Alban sat in his assigned seat, a gray folding chair with a bent seat and a backrest marred with greasy fingerprints.

     Inhaling the shop’s grease and oil smell Alban noticed a newly mixed in forbidden smell.  A gust of wind blew the familiar smell towards Mr. Rapp’s office prompting him to stumble out  to proclaimed loudly, “Who’s smoking?”  A chorus of not me met his plea.  After scanning the room Mr. Rapp walked out of the open garage door looking for the illegal smoker outside the garage.  As he stepped outside Alban listened to his best friend Von sing, “Everybody knows that smokin' ain’t allowed in school.”

     Mr. Rapp for once had the whole class's’ attention as he walked outside to only find Fred the janitor finishing a smoke before he came in the shop to empty the trash that was supposed to have been empty last night.  The class slowly turned around to face the podium, disappointed, that they did not get to see a fellow student get in trouble.

     After asking how Fred’s family was Mr. Rapp walked to the front of the class to call out names for roll call.  All 14 students were in attendance that day, even Cliff who was absent most of the time after enlisting in the Marines.
Finished with the roll Mr. Rapp said, “Now class, today we are going to discuss the basic fuel system.  The fuel system is really critical to the engine's operation.”  For the next 20 minutes Mr. Rapp droned on lecturing to the class about the purpose and parts of a fuel system to finish with, “Do you have any questions?  None?  Then let’s go to work.”

     With those words the class woke up out of their stupor to walk out to their cars parked in the driveway.  Mr. Rapp took his 2 favorite students with him over to work on a World War II era 6x6 truck the district bought surplus to use to haul desks from the present high school to the new high school building that was scheduled to open the next year.  Placing his attention on the truck Mr. Rapp left the remainder of the class to their own devices.
     Gradually students checked their car’s oil and looked at their car engine for a while to gradually meander over to John's jacked up-straight-axeled red '55 Chevy.  He had the car’s tilt front end open revealing a freshly rebuilt bored .60 over 454 Chevy Rat engine.

     Alban  standing next to John’s car asked, “What are you doing?”  John replied, “I put this Tunnel Ram intake on last night and the linkage to the 2 Holley 650 Carbs keeps sticking.”  As John worked the throttle linkage back and forth Alban said, “Should the main rod be as such an angle?  John replied, “It has to be to not hit the distributer.”  After a pause of concentration Alban said, “I’m sure that angled throttle rod is your problem.”  Without looking at Alban John said, “I don’t think so.  I think if I just oil the carb levers it will be OK.”  
     John took a black oil can tipped upside down and depressed the bottom to put a drop of oil on each lever connector.  Finished with the oil can, John placed the it on the tire of his car to begin to work the throttle linkage back and forth several times. Satisfied, he shouted to his friend Marty, who was sitting in the driver’s seat listening to WLS on the car's AM radio, “Start her up Marty!  Let’s see how she runs now.”

     Marty cranked over the engine to produce only a backfire cough through the twin carburetors.  John yelled, “Pump it.”  Marty pumped the throttle 3 times before once again engaging the starter.

     While most of the class looked in on the starting effort of the 55's orange engine made a violent growl to life.  To everyone’s horror the throttle was stuck wide open allowing the engine to scream with an ear piercing roar.  Franticly, John tried to close the throttle by hand but it would not move.  While John yanked at the linkage Mr. Rapp appeared to pull the coil wire off the distributor to kill the rampaging engine.

     Everyone stared at the 55’s engine as it sat smoking in silence.

     Breaking the silence, Mr. Rapp said, “What the hell did you do?”
     As John explained his debacle, Alban and the class heard the ending bell ring releasing them to lunch.
Alban and Von walked to the main campus.  Just passing the football field they could hear John start up his car.  Von said, “Do you hear that knocking?”  Alban replied, “Yea, I bet John threw a rod.  What a shame, that motor being new and all.”  “Yea, a shame,” Von ventured.The two walked a few steps shaking their heads..  Von said, “I hope they have hamburgers today for lunch. “  Alban said, “I hate that mystery meat they make the patties with.


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