Prescribing for the Family Car

THE family car developed a ‘buck’ or a ‘chuck’ the other day. It was unnoticeable on the road so long as I kept at a fair speed, but, as soon as I slowed down, buck, chuck, buck, chuck, somewhere underneath — I could n’t say where.

There are two garages across our Hillville green from us, and I divide my attentions between them, getting my ‘gas’ from one and my minor repairs from the other. For variety’s sake, I determined this time to give the mechanic at my ‘gas’ garage first chance at the diagnosis. He crawled under the car, wriggled around there, shook the driving shaft, and emerged with his verdict. ‘Guess what you need is a new universal,’ he remarked. ‘I can’t see it, but it feels loose to me.’

‘How much will it cost?’ I inquired.

‘Oh, five or six dollars, plus the labor.’

I decided not to commit myself, and drove presently down the street to the other garage for another opinion. Here another grease-stained expert crawled under the car. ‘AH kinds of play in the shaft,’ he called up, cheerfully. ‘Leave your car here for a couple of hours, and I’ll tighten things up a little.’ I left the car, and went home to luncheon.

About two o’clock my telephone rang persistently. ‘Sorry, can’t give you your car,’ said a voice I recognized. ‘There’s a bearing broke in the rear end, and we’ll have to send for it.’

‘How much will it cost?’ I repeated plaintively.

‘Oh, five or six dollars, plus the labor. You can have your car to-morrow.'

This time I thought it best to go over to the garage and inspect the damage. Sure enough, there was the bearing — a big one — ‘all to pieces’ (someone has since told me that some bearings are made to fall apart when out of their proper position). ‘Good luck we discovered it,’ observed my mechanical friend, ‘or you’d have busted out the whole rear end, likely as not.’

To-morrow came, and I was off again in the mended car, rejoicing in the possession of a tight driving shaft. The gears were ‘all right’ — yes, they were ‘perfect’! But again, as I slowed down, buck, chuck, buck,chuck, in familiar sequence. I drove back to the garage.

‘See here,’ I exclaimed with some heat, ‘you have n’t got rid of that bucking yet. Get in and I’ll show you.’

‘Yep, you do get some o’ that backlash yet,’ said the diagnostician. ‘You’ve got a skip in your motor, that’s it. Better have the valves ground, if you have n’t had it done this year.’

‘How much will it cost?’ I murmured.

‘Well, I ain’t busy, and I’ll make you a special rate of twelve dollars for the job. Leave the car now, and you can have it to-morrow.’

I left the car and went home to supper.

Late the next day I called for my car, took it out on the road, and observed the usual manifestations. I gave up my local doctors and made all speed to the dealer, ten miles distant, who sold me my car in 1929. Arriving, I hailed his master mechanic. ‘Jack,’ said I, ‘come out on the road with me and tell me what’s the matter with my car.’ He climbed in and we started off.

‘Hear that chuck, Jack.’

’It sure is a chuck,’ said Jack sententiously. ‘Is the rear end all right?’

‘They looked at it in Hillville, and said it was perfect.’

Jack bent his head and listened intently to the chuck-chuck under the car. ‘Them sounds runs along the shaft so’s it’s awful hard to tell where they come from.’ He listened some more, and finally ejaculated, ‘It’s in the clutch. We’ve had that same identical trouble with half a dozen of these models. It’ll be a four hours’ job, and you c’n have your car to-morrow.’

To-morrow, and to-morrow, arid tomorrow! Next morning I had a telephone call.

‘This is Jack speakin’. Can’t give you your car to-day after all. We took a look in the rear end, and found your spider gears worn, and the carrier, too. We’ll have to send to Detroit for the parts.’

‘How much will they cost?’ This form of words was by now becoming mechanical with me.

‘Well, we’ve just been looking ’em up and they’ll come to about thirty dollars. We’ll treat you right on the labor.’

I whistled. ‘Guess I’d better run down myself, Jack, so you can show me the damage.’

I borrowed a car, drove the ten miles to South Monroe, and inspected my car. Jack had its rear end uncovered, all the grease taken out, and started the engine. The worn gears clanked like an ice wagon.

‘Must have been that time I ran out of grease two years ago,’ I surmised. ‘How long will it take to get my car?’

‘You can have it the first of next week, and we’ll send it over.’

Next Monday evening my doorbell rang, and there was the car.

‘Is it all right now?’ There was a new note of assurance in my voice.

‘ Yessir, our part’s all right, but there’s a gallop in the motor. Guess your local man that ground the valves did n’t get ’em quite right.’

To-night the family car is back in my home-town garage, the one where I get my ‘minor repairs’ attended to — and the proprietor has sworn ‘to hev that car fixed so’s she’ll throttle down as smooth as silk, and it won’t cost you another penny!’