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Posts Tagged ‘classic cars’

1962 TR3B

There have been times in my life–and I bet in yours, too–when I’ve found myself in a While-You’re-Up death spiral.

You know…you rise from the sofa during a commercial break and before you’ve had a chance to lock your knees your Significant Other says, “While you’re up, would you mind…?” That dot-dot-dot is always a small thing, like getting a can of soda, something you can’t legitimately refuse, not in polite society, and so you agree, except when you get to the kitchen, you find that there isn’t any soda in the fridge. You go to the pantry and find another pack of soda, only it’s warm. A quick peek in the freezer shows that you’re also out of ice. So you go down to the garage and get a bag of ice from the deep-freeze. Then, back upstairs, you bring back a can of soda and a glass of ice, only to be met with a smile and a “And maybe some chips? While you’re up?”

These are the moments that test marriages.

An example: one Thanksgiving, not too long ago, I got While-You’re-Upped from simply attending the feast to acting as sous chef to doing most of the cooking to actually setting the entire menu and creating the shopping list. While-You’re-Up-ism is a combination of slippery slopes and thin-edged wedges, often difficult to identify until you’re already hip-deep in trouble.

Such has been our experience with Pepper, the classic 1962 Triumph TR3-B we purchased a little over a year ago.

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1962 TR3B

I miss Erector Sets. I blame my car.

Pepper (or Peppah-Girl as my Hawaiian friends call her) came home last week and since then I’ve been somewhat…preoccupied. She was in the shop for a loooong, long time, but it was necessary. I let the pros fix all the critical issues (like steering and brakes and such) and left the small, non-crucial items for myself.

There are many things I like about this car, but one thing that pleases me most is her simplicity. Pepper is a decidedly low-tech vehicle. She has a tractor’s engine (seriously…the engine Triumph used was designed for tractors) and simple hydraulics for brake and clutch. The steering is unpowered, requiring a good deal of brute force to turn the wheels (especially when stopped). One part of the engine is actually made of glass, and parts of the body are supported by pieces of wood.

All this pleases me greatly.

It’s been a long time since I worked on a car. I never really got into the serious gear-head stuff like pistons and differentials and transmissions, but the things I was doing this weekend were well within my capabilities. I fixed some wiring, replaced dashboard knobs, installed a grab bar and lap belts, swapped the old locks for new ones I have keys for, and trouble-shot a tail light problem. These were all–even drilling holes for the lap belt anchors–pretty straightforward tasks and while I was working on these fixes, I felt like a kid again.

Growing up, one of my favorite toys was my Erector Set. The set I had wasn’t anything like today’s versions. Almost everything in it was made of metal, not plastic. It had actual nuts and bolts, not thumbscrews and snap-together pieces. The metal beams and angle brackets were somewhat sharp at the edges, the set had no specialized parts, and the instructions were basically just pictures of what you might want to build instead of step by step Ikea-esque pictograms. The biggest difference, though, was that you could build anything, not just the one or two things for which the set was designed.

And build anything, I did.

I built the cranes and helicopters pictured in the booklet. I built skyscraper superstructures with playing card walls. I built things that weren’t anything at all, but that pleased my eye or used every piece in the set (or both). The Erector Set of my youth taught me about load strength, cross- and angle-bracing, lock-nuts, pulleys, and a hundred other practical attributes of construction. Mostly, though, the set taught me not to be afraid of working with my hands. Later, with this grounding in the basics, I taught myself household repair, woodworking, cabinetry, watch repair, and yes, car maintenance.

So, this afternoon, as I disassemble Pepper’s door panels to gain access to the door locks, it will be like I’m back in the old house on Briarwood Drive, sitting cross-legged on the linoleum, playing.

k

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Sergeant Pepper, our 1962 TR3BIt’s been an interesting ten days…and while this isn’t strictly “writing-related,” give me a minute and I’ll try to wrap it back around to the topic.

During the past week or so, while I was working on “Antelope Hunting with Sir John,” I was also going around looking at cars.

Cars? you say.

Yes. Cars. Remember back when my wife asked me that “unexpected question?” Like that, cars. (more…)

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