Sunday, April 23, 2006

Car Stories # 3 (the April Fool’s day one didn’t count)

When I was between Grade 11 and 12, I acquired what was probably my coolest vehicle (at least in Alberta!), a 1968 Chevy 4x4. My brother in southern Alberta had owned this truck for a few years. He bought it from a rancher who never drove it on the roads – it was a ranch vehicle all its life. When my brother got it, it needed a new box, even though it didn’t have any rust. Why? Because horses had chewed on it and left the edge all bumpy. I didn’t know horses did that. After he replaced the box, he painted it, though the quality of the paint was the weak spot of the truck.

I ended up getting it because my brother Charlie is a really nice guy. I needed a project for my grade 12 year in Auto shop class. My dad mentioned this to my brother, and he phoned me to let me know that if I wanted the truck, I could come to his place in Raymond (near Lethbridge) to get it. I lived in Ft. McMurray at the time, so I took the bus down and drove the truck back. Sounds easy, but the motor in the truck was pretty much toast, so it took me awhile to drive it back. The front two cylinders in the old 307 let so much oil past that two spark plugs would foul up every couple of hours – no small thing on a 900 km trip. The truck also had a big old Holley carb (a 780) and 3.73 gears. If I kept it around 50 mph, it would run on the primaries (the front two barrels). If I went any faster, it would open the secondaries and use gas at an alarming rate. It was a slow trip.

I drove the truck with the old motor for a while. I was able to do this because I found a much newer 350 to rebuild. It was a good learning experience to rebuild and replace this motor. If made a few mistakes, but it worked out well.

When I got the truck back together, it had lots more power. An old truck with a 4-speed manual is not a drag racer, but it was fun to drive. It had manual steering and brakes and old-style, narrow drum brakes. It took a strong leg to get ‘er stopped. Parking lots were a workout with the “armstrong” steering, too.

This was my first and last 4x4. I was amazed at where I could go with this thing. She was a particularly good hill-climber.

After I finished grade 12, I sold the old Chevy to a 16 year-old from our church for $1800. I bought a rusty Toyota Corolla (“Measles”) for $500 and headed off for Bible School in September.

I still miss that old Chevy sometimes.

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