Sunday, October 31, 2004
I resisted temptation today
It was all about listening to that voice of caution, of avoiding the unknown hazard that I was just too tired to anticipate. Here’s what happened:
I just finished bolting the new engine into my 1967 VW beetle. Originally I had hoped to do it the first week of September but a broken shoulder changed my plans. Now, I’d carefully wrestled a 260lb engine into the car without using my right arm, a 2-hour job expanded to 12 hours. Today is a Sunday, with beautiful warm weather. Tomorrow is expected to be cold and wet. Winter is coming. It was 2:00 pm. Most of the systems were hooked up: exhaust, clutch, fuel, generator, heater controls. After months of frustrating delays I could conceivably set the timing, tighten the plugs, and beat winter with a test drive.
But, I didn’t. Why?
Just this: I’m tired and not thinking straight. It’s a 37-year-old German car with a new Brazilian engine, and external engine parts from Austria, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Germany, and the US. Many things had to be custom-fitted together. I got oil in, got the valves adjusted… but did I do everything? Is it ready?
I thought about The Kee Bird, a wrecked WWII airplane lovingly restored on a frozen lake up in the Arctic, with the plan of flying it out. There were delays, lots of problem, and finally they were under time pressure as winter approached. After a quick check, they fired up the engines and tried to take off. But they were tired, not thinking staight and overlooked one detail – an internal generator or something – and had to jump for their lives as the beautiful plane burned to aluminum cinders.
So I rolled the car back under cover, and waited. This weekend will be the next time I might be able to work on it (if it isn’t too cold.) I have all week to assemble a detailed list to make sure I don’t drive off in a car that is not safe or ready. Hopefully there will be a few more warm days to get the car ready for cold weather. With luck, I’ll enjoy driving it all winter; if not, I’ll enjoy driving it in the spring. Either way, I’m pretty sure I won’t regret waiting.
¶ 8:34 PM
Wrestling a VW engine? No way! Two words: Transmission jack! You can rent one from many automotive stores or renatl places. The jack is adjustable for height and tilt in fore and aft and side to side axes. Makes quick work. I speak from a history as the owner of two beetles and two vans in my past…
# posted by mostly cajun : 6:25 PM
Good idea – next time (hopefully a long time in the future!) I will give that a try. The tilt-axis sounds like it would help a lot.
# posted by decrepitoldfool : 8:10 PM