Walking The Lanes in Dreamsville, Ohio (An Anniversary Re-Lease)

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It seems like just last month or so I posted my last anniversary honorarium to the woman I love.   It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone and that the leaves on the huge silver maple in the back yard are beginning their change to autumn’s glory.

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And, as I sit in wonder and awe over the rapid elapsing of another year, it dawns on me that, like a roller-coaster ride, or a long, slow dance to a favorite ballad, the celerity of my existence is due to the joy I partake of daily in being in and around my home.  My Jennifer,  as noted last year, has made this home that place on ‘God’s Little Acre‘ known as Dreamsville, Ohio.

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However small your plot of land, however quickly you can walk from the ‘north forty’ to the ‘south forty’, what is essential is your signature on the scenery.  Beauty, and obvious care and attention to the landscaping, can both beautify the neighborhood, and,…when striking enough to the eye of the casual passer-by, can evoke a respect for and appreciation of the tenants that no fence can afford.  The time I spend on the swing in the back yard; the reading I do on the front porch; even  the chore of mowing the grass, is a comfort and a joy because of the love she puts into this estate.

I write these annual missives for our anniversary and for her birthday for her love.  What I sometimes fail to appreciate is that her labor; time and attention to our home is done, at least in part, out of her love for me.  I pray that I can continue to merit its’ splendor.

A Lease Renewed.

 

They married one October day

Their souls united,

They began their way

The moon was honey,

And their laughter gay

Their bond was based in Love.  

 

 

Through times of trouble,

And times of bliss

Their constant strength,  a nightly kiss.

To rise each new day

To hit or miss,

Their strength was in their Love.

 

 

Life is just

A lease on God’s time

Only His Grace can renew.

And while it runs, the key’s to share

The rent; the work,….the view.

 

 

And as they go through

The blur of years  

And share their sorrows; hopes and fears

They share their laughter, and they share their tears.

They do it out of Love.

God smiles on their True Love.

 

Happy 17th Anniversary, Darling.

I will always love you.

Stephen.

 

 

Well, my work here is done.  My time this afternoon and evening before leaving for my overnight shift tonight will be walking the lanes of  our palatial estate in Dreamsville, Ohio…….where the women are strong; the men are good-looking, and the bowling scores are all above-average.

 

 

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Walking the Annals: A Brief History of Rambler

My affection for Ramblers is not so much a quirk;  an affectation or a manifestation of a desire to ‘be different’ as it is an honest admiration for the ‘mavericks’ who designed; promoted; built and marketed those vehicles referred to as “the independents”.  Cars like Packard; Studebaker; Nash; Kaiser-Fraser; Hudson and Willys all have contributed much to the development of the automobile.  Innovations by these makers did much to improve the safety; styling; performance and drivability of the family auto.   That they are no longer with us is not the result of any lack of ingenuity or quality, but rather, the result of economies of scale.  The sheer size and volume capacity of Ford; General Motors; and Chrysler enabled these makers to simply out-produce; advertise and market their wares to the public.

This sheer size enabled them to foster the habit of the post-war buying public to respond to yearly sheet-metal changes rather than to technological improvement; to buy into “longer, lower, wider!” models enabling  John Q. Public to soothe his ego with massive ‘”land yachts” larger than the one his neighbor had purchased the year before.  Indeed, in the late fifties and early sixties, the “Big Three” produced some models so massively overbearing as to be in violation of motor vehicle maximum width standards in some states.

Quality is more than mass or size.  The ‘independents’ were done in by their capital limitations, as they could not bear the expense of the tooling changes necessary to replace all of the dies in the presses stamping the body panels.   The “Big Three”, who had been financed by Uncle Sam to churn out Jeeps; B-24 and  B-17 bombers; tank transmissions and engines , etc., had a distinct advantage over the ‘independents’ simply because of their roles in contributing to “the arsenal of America”.

I will cite as an example my own Rambler.  As a 1962 model, it was the only car on the market, other than Cadillac, to provide as standard equipment a “dual master cylinder” for the braking system.  With a dual system, a failure or either the front or the rear brake hydraulic circuit would leave the other circuit, either front or back, to stop the car.  The 98 per cent of vehicles with a ‘single’ master cylinder would lose all braking capacity if it failed.  In fact, it was not until it was mandated by the federal government in 1968, that Ford or General Motors provided dual brake circuitry in all of their cars as standard equipment.

My Rambler has individually adjustable seat-backs for the front passengers, even though it is a “bench” seat.  Not even the Cadillac provided such a feature, even with power seats.

These are but two cases in point, demonstrating that there is more to ‘quality’ than meets the eye.  There is more, to the truly discerning buyer, to ‘appeal’ than another strip of chrome on another square yard of sheet metal.

And now, a short pictorial history of the Rambler.  I hope it proves illustrative as to the argument that, however limited its’ capacity when compared to the “Big Three”, its’ contributions to automotive design; construction and performance were integral to the safety and convenience of the cars we purchase today.

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The 1902 Rambler, introduced a year before the first Ford.  (In 1901, he had introduced the concept of a steering wheel instead of a tiller, and of the engine in front of the driver, but was talked out of these concepts conceding that they might me "too radical"

The 1902 Rambler, introduced a year before the first Ford. (In 1901, he had introduced the concept of a steering wheel instead of a tiller, and of the engine in front of the driver, but was talked out of these concepts conceding that they might me “too radical”)

Fast forward to 1941.  Nash, owned by Chas. Nash, who had left the presidency of General Motors to purchase Rambler, (renamed 'Jeffrey' after the death of Thomas Jeffrey) brought out the first 'unit-body' constructed car, The Nash 600.  The body was integral with the frame.  It was safer; rattle-free and lighter.  The '600' designation denoted the mileage range of its' economical engine on a 20 gallon fuel tank. Virtually all passenger cars today are of unit construction.

Fast forward to 1941. Nash, owned by Chas. Nash, who had left the presidency of General Motors to purchase Rambler, (renamed ‘Jeffrey’ after the death of Thomas Jeffrey) brought out the first ‘unit-body’ constructed car, The Nash 600. The body was integral with the frame. It was safer; rattle-free and lighter. The ‘600’ designation denoted the mileage range of its’ economical engine on a 20 gallon fuel tank.
Virtually all passenger cars today are of unit construction.

In 1949, Nash brought out the unit-bodied Nash Statesman and the longer eight cylinder Ambassador.  Its' inverted 'bath-tub' styling, like the 'Step-Down' Hudsons, were ahead of their time visually, and extremely roomy compared to the 'Big Three' offerings.

In 1949, Nash brought out the unit-bodied Nash Statesman and the longer eight cylinder Ambassador. Its’ inverted ‘bath-tub’ styling, like the ‘Step-Down’ Hudsons, were ahead of their time visually, and extremely roomy compared to the ‘Big Three’ offerings.

These cars performed well, both in the famous Pan-American  races in Mexico, and on the NASCAR stock-car racing circuit.

These cars performed well, both in the famous Pan-American races in Mexico, and on the NASCAR stock-car racing circuit.

1950.  George Mason President of Nash, brought out an economical small car, and revived the 'Rambler' name.  It would serve to accentuate his conviction that the public should have economy in an era when the 'horsepower' race was beginning, spurred by the overhead-valve Oldsmobile 'Rocket 88 V-8 engine.

1950. George Mason President of Nash, brought out an economical small car, and revived the ‘Rambler’ name. It would serve to accentuate his conviction that the public should have economy in an era when the ‘horsepower’ race was beginning, spurred by the overhead-valve Oldsmobile ‘Rocket 88 V-8 engine.

By 1952, Nash responded to a desire of the jaded buying public to restyle the 'bath-tub'.  He enlisted the Italian design house, Pininfarina, to square off the design and to introduce the visibility enhancing 'C-pillar between the rear doors and the rear window.  It added to style and minimized the drivers' "blind-spots" to the rear.  This 'design cue', or signature, would last through 1962.

By 1952, Nash responded to a desire of the jaded buying public to restyle the ‘bath-tub’. He enlisted the Italian design house, Pininfarina, to square off the design and to introduce the visibility enhancing ‘C-pillar between the rear doors and the rear window. It added to style and minimized the drivers’ “blind-spots” to the rear. This ‘design cue’, or signature, would last through 1962.

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The Nash-Healey.  Introduced a few years earlier, well ahead of the Ford Thunderbird and the Chevrolet Corvette, used Pininfarina styling, a dual-carbureted Nash engine; and a suspension designed by Donald Healey, who designed the famous Austin Healey British sports cars.

The Nash-Healey. Introduced a few years earlier, well ahead of the Ford Thunderbird and the Chevrolet Corvette, used Pininfarina styling, a dual-carbureted Nash engine; and a suspension designed by Donald Healey, who designed the famous Austin Healey British sports cars.

By 1954, the small, 100-inch wheelbase Rambler had added this two-door 'hardtop' (no pillar between the front and rear side windows), to the sedan and wagon models.  The Pininfarina styled pillar between the rear side glass and the rear window is again prominent.

By 1954, the small, 100-inch wheelbase Rambler had added this two-door ‘hardtop’ (no pillar between the front and rear side windows), to the sedan and wagon models. The Pininfarina styled pillar between the rear side glass and the rear window is again prominent.

By 1955, sales of the big Nashes were lagging.  Sales of the Ramblers were up, and production increased.  The styling and horsepower wars of the 'Big Three' had forced Nash-Kelvinator to merge with Hudson in 1954.  The merger formed "American Motors".  While Hudson and Willys had introduced their own small cars to compete with the popular Rambler, these 'Jet' and 'Aero' models, respectively, did not compete, and in fact, depleted their capital and limited their efforts in bringing out new V-8 engines and yearly styling changes.

By 1955, sales of the big Nashes were lagging. Sales of the Ramblers were up, and production increased. The styling and horsepower wars of the ‘Big Three’ had forced Nash-Kelvinator to merge with Hudson in 1954. The merger formed “American Motors”. While Hudson and Willys had introduced their own small cars to compete with the popular Rambler, these ‘Jet’ and ‘Aero’ models, respectively, did not compete, and in fact, depleted their capital and limited their efforts in bringing out new V-8 engines and yearly styling changes.

Hudsons were now rebodied Nashes.  Unit-body construction, though safe and rattle-free, required extensive retooling, as the body and frame were one.....a "unit".  The Pininfarina pillar is evidence of the Nash unibody here.  These cars were derisively referred to as "Hashes".  Sales plummeted, but the Rambler sales kept American Motors afloat.

Hudsons were now rebodied Nashes. Unit-body construction, though safe and rattle-free, required extensive retooling, as the body and frame were one…..a “unit”. The Pininfarina pillar is evidence of the Nash unibody here. These cars were derisively referred to as “Hashes”. Sales plummeted, but the Rambler sales kept American Motors afloat.

By 1955, you could by the popular Rambler as either a model of a Nash or as a model of the Hudson.  Only the emblems at the center of the hubcaps and some other badges on the body differed.  The Hudson 'Jet' was gone.

By 1955, you could by the popular Rambler as either a model of a Nash or as a model of the Hudson. Only the emblems at the center of the hubcaps and some other badges on the body differed. The Hudson ‘Jet’ was gone.

The 1955  Nash moved the headlights into the grill.  Sales of the big cars continued to fall.

The 1955 Nash moved the headlights into the grill. Sales of the big cars continued to fall.

1956.  The big cars did not have sales to justify the extensive tooling costs that made their once innovative styling "passe" in the eyes of the public.  Nash And Hudson were forced to try to keep alive by adding two and three-tone color schemes and outlandish chrome ornamentation. (Actually I kind of like them)

1956. The big cars did not have sales to justify the extensive tooling costs that made their once innovative styling “passe” in the eyes of the public. Nash And Hudson were forced to try to keep alive by adding two and three-tone color schemes and outlandish chrome ornamentation.
(Actually I kind of like them)

In 1956, it was decided that the big Nash and Hudson models would be dropped, and that a 108-inch wheelbase car would replace them both.        It would be slightly larger than the small Rambler, and would be introduced as a "Rambler" .   The Pininfarina styling is still evident.

In 1956, it was decided that the big Nash and Hudson models would be dropped, and that a 108-inch wheelbase car would replace them both.
It would be slightly larger than the small Rambler, and would be introduced as a “Rambler” . The Pininfarina styling is still evident.

1957 would be the last year for Nash and Hudson large cars.  Smaller economy cars became the focus of American Motors.  The new Rambler, for the next three years, would try to appeal to buyers of larger cars with the 'Ambassador' models, which was the 108 inch wheelbase new Rambler with about eight inches added to to the length of the car, between the windshield and the front fender wheel openings.

1957 would be the last year for Nash and Hudson large cars. Smaller economy cars became the focus of American Motors. The new Rambler, for the next three years, would try to appeal to buyers of larger cars with the ‘Ambassador’ models, which was the 108 inch wheelbase new Rambler with about eight inches added to to the length of the car, between the windshield and the front fender wheel openings.

Introduced late in 1956, the new Rambler 108-inch wheelbase car was introduced with a splash, featuring gold-anodized trim and a new V-8 with 255 horsepower, which included an option for fuel injection.  The major auto magazines tested it and confirmed that only the Corvette performed better in 0 to 60 mph acceleration tests.  This media attention drove traffic into the showrooms, and sales increased,though almost all of the cars were equipped with the trusty 6-cylinder of 125 horsepower....essentially the same engine as in my '62.

Introduced late in 1956, the new Rambler 108-inch wheelbase car was introduced with a splash, featuring gold-anodized trim and a new V-8 with 255 horsepower, which included an option for fuel injection. The major auto magazines tested it and confirmed that only the Corvette performed better in 0 to 60 mph acceleration tests. This media attention drove traffic into the showrooms, and sales increased,though almost all of the cars were equipped with the trusty 6-cylinder of 125 horsepower….essentially the same engine as in my ’62.

Smaller than the full-size Fords; Chevrolets and Plymouths; but with the same interior space with seating for six passengers, this is the car that carried American Motors forward through 1962.  Rambler station wagons outsold almost all other makes of station wagons.

Smaller than the full-size Fords; Chevrolets and Plymouths; but with the same interior space with seating for six passengers, this is the car that carried American Motors forward through 1962. Rambler station wagons outsold almost all other makes of station wagons.

While the basic unibody sprouted some fins in 1958, the basic structure remained the same.  This is a 1960 Ambassador, and illustrates the additional length and wheelbase between the windshield and the front wheels openings compared to the six-cylinder Ramblers.

While the basic unibody sprouted some fins in 1958, the basic structure remained the same. This is a 1960 Ambassador, and illustrates the additional length and wheelbase between the windshield and the front wheels openings compared to the six-cylinder Ramblers.

By 1960, sales were sometimes doubling year to year.  There was a recession in 1958,and Rambler was the only make of car to increase total sales for the year.  In 1960, American Motors wrested the third-place spot for total sales from Plymouth.  Only Ford and Chevrolet sold more cars than Rambler that year.

By 1960, sales were sometimes doubling year to year. There was a recession in 1958,and Rambler was the only make of car to increase total sales for the year. In 1960, American Motors wrested the third-place spot for total sales from Plymouth. Only Ford and Chevrolet sold more cars than Rambler that year.

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1961.   The 1959-style headlights were gone, and the front end had a new look, although it still had fins.  Sales continued to boom.   The popularity of this car, and of the smaller Rambler American, (a rebody of the original small 1950 to 1955 Rambler on the 100-inch wheelbase, was the reason for Ford and General Motors coming out , from 1959 through 1962 ,the Ford Falcon; the Chevrolet Corvair; the Dodge Lancer;  and the Plymouth Valiant to compete with the Rambler American, and the Chevy II (Nova); Ford Fairlane; Mercury Meteor; Chevrolet  Chevelle and other so-called "mid-sized" cars to compete with the larger 108-inch wheelbase Rambler.

1961. The 1959-style headlights were gone, and the front end had a new look, although it still had fins. Sales continued to boom.
The popularity of this car, and of the smaller Rambler American, (a rebody of the original small 1950 to 1955 Rambler on the 100-inch wheelbase, was the reason for Ford and General Motors coming out , from 1959 through 1962 , with the Ford Falcon; the Chevrolet Corvair; the Dodge Lancer; and the Plymouth Valiant to compete with the Rambler American, and the Chevy II (Nova); Ford Fairlane; Mercury Meteor; Chevrolet
Chevelle and other so-called “mid-sized” cars to compete with the larger 108-inch wheelbase Rambler.

1962.  The rear fins were gone.  Standard equipment now included a dual master cylinder for the brakes.  This is a fine example, though I like my Sonata Blue color better.

1962. The rear fins were gone. Standard equipment now included a dual master cylinder for the brakes. This is a fine example, though I like my Sonata Blue color better.

1963.  So long, Pininfarina.  Totally new styling.  A new, longer wheelbase of 112 inches beneath an all-new unibody.  I've owned one of these and the almost identical '64. This development of this new design was George Romney's last accomplishment at American Motors before he left to run for Governor of Michigan in 1962.  With his departure, economy and sensibility became less a concern for corporate management.

1963. So long, Pininfarina. Totally new styling. A new, longer wheelbase of 112 inches beneath an all-new unibody. I’ve owned one of these and the almost identical ’64. This development of this new design was George Romney’s last accomplishment at American Motors before he left to run for Governor of Michigan in 1962. With his departure, economy and sensibility became less a concern for corporate management.

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The 1964 Rambler Classic. The 1963 model had been named ‘Motor Trend’ “Car of the Year”. Unfortunately, the management after Romney decided to take the challenge to the “Big Three”. The Rambler Classic would get bigger every year. They would re-introduce a longer wheelbase for the Ambassador. They would bring our the Javelin and the AMX to appeal to the Mustang crowd. They would, by 1969, even retire the ‘Rambler’ name. In an effort to appeal to performance and luxury and yearly styling changes, they sadly, and ultimately, lost sight of the original vision of George Mason and George Romney to provide sensible, economical and roomy cars to a buying public they felt knew better.

A harbinger of the decline...three wheelbases, with more to come.  Continuous spending on new models; performance engines; racing programs led to both declines in quality and increases in pricing. "Beep-Beep" had been replaced by "Hey, Javelin!!"

A harbinger of the decline…three wheelbases, with more to come. Continuous spending on new models; performance engines and racing programs led to both declines in quality and increases in pricing.
“Beep-Beep” had been replaced by “Hey, Javelin!!”

I'll stick with my '62 Classic Custom.  I don't have 'historical' plates on it because I drive it every day, not just to shows; cruise-ins or swap meets.      Why limit safety and convenience to just the weekends? If and when I pick up another one, I'll probably go with a model from the fifties

I’ll stick with my ’62 Classic Custom. I don’t have ‘historical’ plates on it because I drive it every day, not just to shows; cruise-ins or swap meets.
Why limit safety and convenience to just the weekends? 

Walking The Banner; “Rambling With Stefan”…(a new page)

Just a quick post to alert subscribers and other regular visitors about my new page, (accessible via a new ‘tab’ in the banner above):  A compendium of photos featuring the Rambler; it’s features; and its’ beauty.

Many of the photos will have captions containing factoids and trivia regarding Nash; Rambler; American Motors; and the culture of vintage cars in general.

This post will be incorporated into the new page.  I’m not going to artificially inflate my ‘post-count’  with a new post for each addition, so check the new page frequently.

Enjoy!

This series of pictures is of the cruise-ins; car shows; and other auto related events I’ve been attending since acquiring the Rambler.  I enjoy the camaraderie of other vintage auto owners as much as I do poking around under the hoods of their rides.

Perfect posture and decorum here......."Look, but do NOT touch!!"

Perfect posture and decorum here…….”Look, but do NOT touch!!”

A 1916 Rambler at a recent show I attended on July 4th.  This car is never trailered, but always driven to any show or event it graces.

A 1916 Rambler at a recent show I attended on July 4th. This car is never trailered, but always driven to any show or event it graces.

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A 1959 Rambler American.  Basically, a reintroduction of the same body which introduced "Rambler" in 1950 as a small economy car. ( If it ain't broke....)

A 1959 Rambler American. Basically, a reintroduction of the same body which introduced “Rambler” in 1950 as a small economy car. ( If it ain’t broke….)

I think those other vehicles ar something called "Chevrolets"....(you can never account for taste, can you?)

I think those other vehicles are something called “Chevrolets”….(you can never account for taste, can you?)

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This car looks great on the grass......

This car looks great on the grass……

Next to a 1963 Rambler Classic 550.  I've owned one of these, and I loved it.....

Next to a 1963 Rambler Classic 550. I’ve owned one of these, and I loved it…..

The '63 Classic was the first Rambler to finally replace the 1957 and up uni-body found on my Rambler  The'63 brought Rambler into the 'sixties' and finally out of the 'fifties' as far as design went.

The ’63 Classic was the first Rambler to finally replace the 1957 and up uni-body found on my Rambler The’63 brought Rambler into the ‘sixties’ and finally out of the ‘fifties’ as far as design went.

Wherever I park at one of these events, I always seem to attract almost all of the other 'performance' cars.....

Wherever I park at one of these events, I always seem to attract almost all of the other ‘performance’ cars…..

Even at AMC -sponsored events, the Nashes and Ramblers are always vastly outnumbered by Javelins: Gremlins; Pacers; Matadors; Hornets, and the like.  This show was unique in that regard.....

Even at AMC -sponsored events, the Nashes and Ramblers are always vastly outnumbered by Javelins: Gremlins; Pacers; Matadors; Hornets, and the like. This show was unique in that regard…..

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A 1962 Studebaker.  Another "orpah make" of car, in today's parlance.  These two were the only ones to remain at this "cruise-in" when it began to rain.  These are daily-drivers, NOT "trailer-queens"..The Chevelles and Mustangs lit out at the first drop of rain like  roaches when you turn the lights on.....

A 1962 Studebaker. Another “orphan make” of car, in today’s parlance. These two were the only ones to remain at this “cruise-in” when it began to rain. These are daily-drivers, NOT “trailer-queens”..The Chevelles and Mustangs lit out at the first drop of rain like roaches when you turn the lights on…..

Walking the Showrooms With Stefan: (Epilogue: Casting Out the ‘Devil in the Details’)

Stefan smiled as he got into the Rambler that morning for the drive to church.  His duties as Assistant Treasurer for the congregation involved a weekly session of checking account balancing;  the vouchering  and payment of invoices to vendors; and payroll.  Like his trips to work, this task was more enjoyable lately, as it involved driving his ‘new ride’.

The Rambler had, indeed been running fairly well.  He’d been driving it to and from work almost every day, except when rain was in the forecasts.  On one day, he had taken the route which consisted mainly of interstate, and he had again experienced the abrupt and violent hesitation and bucking of the drive-train, forcing him to the berm for a ritual purging of the fuel filter under the hood.

Since then, he had opted for the more direct and ‘scenic’ route, which took him through the Cuyahoga Valley and along side of the old Ohio Canal.  This picturesque and historic route wound lazily south from his home and, at no more than 40 m.p.h., was, except for an occasional ‘hiccup’ from the engine, free of mechanical drama.  He had begun to avoid the highways, and to spend his time in the technical threads of Ramble forums and conversing with mechanically minded acquaintances about the possible sources of  the problem.

This research had continued through both Pentecost and Trinity Sundays, and it was now almost a full two weeks since he had made his odyssey home.  Between drives to work and to local car shows and ‘cruise-ins’, he had adjusted and cleaned the carburetorand replaced the distributor cap.   He had run a modest amount of additives and cleaners through the fuel system, in the hope that the problem was moisture or corrosion related.   The car ran “well enough for government work”, but the occasional hesitations were troublesome.

As he arrived at the church, he was hailed by the janitor, a man Stefan’s age or a little older, and they both talked and smiled as he told him about the originality of the car, its’ mileage, and…..the ordeal of the 440-mile trip home from Syracuse.  It was early morning, and the rays of the sun beamed down on them like the ‘tongues of fire’ manifesting the Holy Spirits’ descending upon the Apostles.

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They talked for a while, and then each proceeded to his duties.  As Stefan cut checks; ran posting reports and ran envelopes through the postage machine, he felt a tinge of guilt.  The Rambler was basically sound.  His research; correspondence on technical forums; and, even his discussions with his more mechanically inclined brothers, all pointed to either a corroded fuel line allowing air to enter the fuel, or, a failing fuel pump.  He had priced the fuel pump, which was about a hundred and sixty dollars, as it was both a fuel and a vacuum pump, supplying not only fuel to the carburetor, but vacuum to both the wiper motor and the advance mechanism on the distributor.   His cheap Ukrainian heart recoiled in horror at such an expenditure.   He had yet to crawl underneath to check the condition of the fuel lines.   He had been lazy, rationalizing that his faith in the Holy Spirit would remove the Rambler’s ‘affliction’.  His laziness was based on the fact that the car actually did run “well enough”.

And then, as he left for the post office with the Church’s mail, tooting the horn at the smiling, waving janitor, he proceeded to the end of the driveway.

The car died.  ‘Affliction’ had reared it’s gruesome head, yet again.  He restarted the car, and limped on to the post office, and then home.  A sense of affliction spurred him out of his laziness.  Within minutes, the floor-jack was out, and the trouble-light glowed:

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His first examination was of the less expensive of the two probable sources of his problem….the fuel line.  Crawling beneath the car, he was surprised to find that the line, from a point only nine inches from the fuel tank, all the way to a point some nine inches from the fuel pump, was shiny and, ……new.

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His heart sank to the concrete slab beneath him, as he realized he would soon be one hundred-sixty dollars less affluent; at the mercy of  UPS; and, possibly at the mercy of the quality-control habits of vendors dealing in parts a half-century old.    And he remembered some quotes that had struck him in Pirsig’s ‘Zen’

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.” — (Robt. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  An Inquiry into Values“)

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.” — (Robt. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  An Inquiry into Values”)

And, he also remembered some readings on Pentecost and Trinity Sunday; how the Spirit is not an insurance policy against affliction, fostering confidence and calm, but rather is that part of the Holy Trinity which faithfully responds when those of faith are afflicted, giving wings to our hearts, removing them from our afflictions, instead of indemnifying us for our losses by removing the affliction.

He held up the trouble-light once more, searching the recesses around and beyond the perimeter of the fuel tank.   And then he noticed…..almost out of sight, mere inches from the outlet of the tank, was a second ‘in-line’ fuel filter.  He squinted through his bifocals and noted that, while it did not appear ‘new’, neither did it appear clogged or overly dirty.  He decided to remove it for inspection anyway.

Selecting two pairs of vice-grips from the peg-board on the wall of the garage, he returned beneath the tank and used them, with wadded paper as cushions to protect the soft fuel line from being torn by the teeth of the grips, to crimp the line on either end of this superfluous and redundant filter.  Using the screwdriver to loosen the clamps, it was soon off.

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Emptied of fuel:  blown through with his lips in the ritual repeatedly practiced on the trip home mere weeks before, it seemed to function properly.  Just as he was about to return beneath the car, he experienced a “Eureka!” moment.  He scarcely believed his eyes, but…yes,   it was true!   The white ‘cap’ on the filter had been toward the tank.  The ‘arrow’ (noted in picture above)  on the casing of the filter, he knew from decades of experience with old VW’s; Fords; Chevys and….Ramblers, was in place to instruct the mechanic on the proper orientation of the filter.  This filter, however prudently added, (perhaps out of concern for the age of  the car and how little it had been driven per year) , had been put on backwards !!

The physics of the situation ran through his head at lightening speed.  This mistake had required the fuel pump to over-exert itself;  i.e., to suction the fuel from the tank through the paper element before it could collect in the canister around the element and continue on its’ way to the engine compartment. It was as if one had to suck a soda out of a sponge, instead of out of a can.

Within minutes he had replaced it with the spare he had purchased a few days after driving the car home and placed in the trunk of the Rambler.  The white ‘cap’ was now toward the front of the car, and the embossed arrow on its canister was aligned with the proper flow of fuel.  The canister would now will fill directly from the tank, unimpeded by the paper element, and would from there be drawn as needed through the check-valve at the core of the filter.

The vice-grips were removed, and skidded across the floor.  The rear of the car came down with an urgency matched only by Richard Petty’s pit crew.

No one was home, but he did not even stop to close the garage as he backed down the driveway to test-drive the modification.  As he drove around the block, then onto the main street of his town, and then, to the highway entrance ramp, he was as giddy with joy as he remembered being when he had raced home to tell his dad that he no longer needed training wheels affixed to his bike. (He had finally noticed that they had loosened, and were, unbeknownst to him, no longer functioning to keep him upright in the corner at the bottom of the hill  which his boyhood home sat atop).

As he motored happily down the fast-lane, tooting his horn and waving to startled Prius and Caravan drivers, he realized that, had he not found this hidden demon in the Rambler’s tank, he would eventually have burned out not only the current fuel pump; but most probably, would have burned out any replacement fuel pump as well.   The engine felt powerful, as its’ ‘heart’ had been removed from the affliction of the demon filter.  Its’ evil configuration had been cast out, and the Rambler was now well-behaved; more civil;  less intimidating to drive, and….. ‘happy‘.

He knew that the change in fuel pressure would warrant a readjustment of the carburetor mixture screw, and he resolved to finally remove, clean and re-gap the spark plugs,  as he must have been running ‘lean’ for lack of adequate fuel to the combustion chambers.  He realized that this must have been the source of the temperature issues he had had to cope with on the trip home, as he had learned in ‘Transportation I” in high school, a ‘lean’ mixture will run hot.

So many issues, so simple a cause.

The original phone-book sized ‘Technical Service Manual’  he had gotten with the car could never have addressed the true affliction the Rambler had experienced.  (In fact, the chapter on testing the fuel pump might very well have resulted in a passing grade for this robust, if overworked component of the fuel system.)  No internet forum had any threads related to “locating improperly installed equipment”.   It was, Stefan mused, the Holy Spirit at work, responding to affliction by addressing the heart.

Both the Rambler’s heart, and,……his.

He decided to work on the carburetor and the plugs another day.  Today, he would wash the Rambler.

He looked up at the sun.  It was still morning.  He had cast out the demons in the heart of the Rambler, and had succeeded in using his heart to do so.

He felt blessed.  In fact, he felt full of ‘blessings’.

 

He decided to call his blessings:  “Legion”

 

 

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