UnCommon Sense

UnCommon Sense-1

As I wrote my blog post a few weeks ago memories of past engine startups can rushing back, and the trials and tribulations involved with each were nearly as vivid today as they were years ago. One such instance has stuck with me and remains etched in my memories.

The whine of the starter was a painful reminder of the fact the old Flathead just didn’t want to return to life. The engine was a fresh rebuild and no detail was overlooked during its construction, so we were confused by its reluctance. We worked for hours checking spark, timing, wires, plugs and fuel; yet nothing seemed to breathe fire into the old beast. Our patience grew thin, but we weren’t about to give up even though the temperature and humidity both quickly approached the century mark on this mid-July afternoon. The box fan in the corner of the garage offered little comfort as we leaned over the fat fenders of the ’46 Ford.

We decided to prime the carburetor one more time, but this time Tom felt he could better control the amount of fuel added if he was to put it in a smaller container. After scanning the garage, he selected an empty beer bottle to do the job. Tom proceeded to fill the bottle with gasoline, then administer a small sip to the old Flatty.

The starter turned over slowly, again reminding us of how often we had tried unsuccessfully before. Suddenly a “pop” renewed our hopes. Another sip from the bottle brought success when the Flathead roared back to life.

We double checked the timing, set the idle speed, and checked for leaks as the engine purred coming slowly up to temperature. Overjoyed and ready to celebrate the engine’s new life, Tom took a big swallow from the bottle at the corner of the bench, before realizing he had grabbed the wrong bottle. Our celebration was soon cut short by a panicked call to poison control hotline and a visit to the emergency room.

Accidents in the shop can often be avoided if we simply “paused for a moment and thought about how our actions might play out” then good judgment would prevail.

Using proper safety equipment is an important first step. Eye and ear protection, work gloves, dust masks and respirators are obvious protection, but hop safety extends beyond our personal protective equipment. Using tools in the manner and purpose they were designed, storing chemicals in properly and in clearly labeled containers, and keeping flammable materials away from ignition sources are good common sense practices that will ensure your time in the shop is as enjoyable as the time you spend behind the wheel.

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8 Responses to “UnCommon Sense”

  1. Bill Gooch

    Great story!😃

  2. Trevor Flock

    I'm from the UK, when I was in may twenties I had so many near accidents, now I look back and thank my lucky stars and learnt many lessons not to cut corners.

  3. DAVID

    In my younger years I met a fellow that was pouring gasoline in a carburetor from a tin can, he pulled back from the engine holding the can with gasoline remaining in it. His buddy cranked the engine over and it popped back and flames out the carburetor as this happened the flame followed the fumes back the the can. The can flared up catching the guy on fire burning his hair and ears off as well extensive damage to his face and other parts of his body. This was in the late sixties, they guy was lucky to be alive. My point is that it is a bad idea to pour gasoline in a carburetor. Think about this, I couldn’t imagine what this guy went through.

  4. Frederick Genest

    My misused container story goes like this. 69 Roadrunner 440 rebuild first start. Fired up running nice we needed to top off the radiator. We were using empty lacquer thinner cans to carry water from the hose spigot. I grabbed what I thought was a can of water it was actually a full can of lacquer thinner. We spent the next day replacing hoses and flushing the entire system. lesson learned the hard way.

  5. Butch Hurt

    You could have embellished the memory by your friend firing up a Marlboro first! (I think old James has had a few bottles if he can't follow the "response" train of thought)



  7. James

    how do I talk to you about a 1970 dodge charger that I want to get the pans replaced

  8. Mike

    My favorite Beer Bottle memory is in the movie Dumb and Dumber -)