Memories surface of cars past

It didn?t feel like summer when we arrived in Yakima, Wash., last weekend to visit Dan and Katie. In fact, it was downright cool. But the weather warmed later in the week. When our plane landed in Seattle it was overcast and raining. What a surprise.

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This is the first trip when I didn?t take my computer along, and I felt a bit lost. But with a smart phone a computer wasn?t necessary. I?m borrowing a computer to write my column in Word, which I haven?t done before. I hope I can figure out when to quit. Don will edit it and make it fit?like he always does.

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We were sitting around one night talking about the experiences Dan and I shared with his lawn mowing business, and all of the cars and trucks we worked on together during his years growing up in Hillsboro.

I hadn?t remembered all of the travails we went through, but Dan?s memory is crystal clear. Thought I?d mention a few of those experiences. I wouldn?t trade them for anything.

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We started the lawn mowing business when Dan was about 12 years old. I had forgotten that I made a mower trailer that he could pull behind his bike to get to the job site. He said I made it out of old doors, which I remember vaguely now. I didn?t remember making the hitch for his bike, but the memory returned as we talked.

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Without mowing, we probably wouldn?t have had all of the vehicles that followed. I had told him he could buy a car as soon as he had earned the money to do it. Well, it didn?t take long. He asked me to take him to Marion to look at a ?78 white Firebird. I thought it was kind of rough, but he said we could rebuild the engine, etc. What could I say? He had the money.

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The Firebird had a 400-cubic-inch engine, which he took to Bruce Serene for rebuilding. When it was done, we had a garage full of friends ready for the debut. It fired up but something wasn?t right and the manifold started to get red hot. The garage door probably still has two black spots where the smoke hit it when it first fired. The problem was that the engine was running way too lean. Once corrected, it was all good.

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Next came the late ?70s white Malibu, with a rebuilt engine, that we fixed up for Amy. That was followed by a 1963 F-100 pickup that we jazzed up with a Corvette 350 engine that brother Mark wasn?t using. We hauled the engine from Tulsa in our van, right on top of the carpet. Seems like some of the fluids leaked on the way back. Follow?ing that came the ?78 Firebird Dan bought from Uncle Mark.?It also required an engine rebuild.

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Dropping a Chevy engine into a Ford truck took some doing. We bought a special motor mount and a drive shaft that would work with a Chevy transmission and a Ford rear end. Sonny Bartel welded one for us.

That old truck wasn?t up to the task of a big V8 where a straight 6 used to be. When we finally had it road ready, we loaded the old engine into the bed and took it for a test drive. Of course, Dan?s friends were on hand for the moment. One of them said, ?Hit it.? When I goosed it, the other engine slid out of the bed and onto the street. We used a chain to drag it back into the driveway.

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We have many more stories to tell about car trouble after the initial work was done.

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