The radiator seemed to be working like a charm. It even looked good because the radiator guys had spray painted it black. A couple days after reinstalling the radiator, I parked the car and looked under it. I’ve learned in the months since that this is a good habit to get into.
There was fluid dripping from the front of the car. Not a lot, but enough to notice. I reached under the car and put my finger in it fully expecting green antifreeze and already thinking of what profanity I would be using when I contacted the radiator shop. Instead the fluid was red. I knew enough to know that was transmission fluid. It still seemed to be coming from the radiator though. I popped the hood and took a good look at the radiator. There were a total of four hoses going to the radiator: Two large ones, one on top, one on bottom, for the antifreeze/water and two small ones on the bottom of the radiator near the center. These hoses had transmission fluid in them and they were leaking. A closer inspection revealed that the hoses just weren’t fitting very well after the reinstallation. I took them off and went to the auto parts store. (In another vehicle of course)
As I’ve stated before, I’m not the most mechanically inclined individual. The only time I’d ever gone to a auto parts shop alone was to pick up some antifreeze. Other than that, I just didn’t trust myself to know what the hell I was talking about. In this case, I had the hoses I needed to replace and the hose clamps. I figured I could handle it. I found the right clamps and then asked a guy named Serge to cut some hose for me. I wasn’t sure how much I’d really need given that the hoses I’d taken off weren’t working. Maybe I should have them a bit longer. In the end, I asked for two feet of hose, figuring that was more than enough for the job.
I got back home, cut the hose, put the hose on and tightened it up with the clamps. It was just replacing hose, but I’d done it by myself. My car had a problem and I went to the store, bought parts, and fixed it. I felt good about that. And it’d cost me like five bucks. I started the car and got out and watched the engine. No leaks. Awesome.
The next few weeks, I had no problems with my car and really enjoyed driving it. I’d actually had enough experience with it that I was entirely comfortable driving the big thing. I got used to the sounds of the car. The rubber in the passenger side wing window still folded a bit letting in some air. I used duct tape to fix it. Eventually I’d probably want to replace the rubber, but not now. The next thing I noticed was that the slightest moisture caused the belts to start slipping, creating this high pitched whine.
I called my brother and said I’d like to come over and have him help me switch the belts on the car. This was both so I could get his expertise and so we could work in a garage. It was not yet Spring and still plenty cold.
We got the belts off easily enough. Yet again, I can’t stress enough how much I enjoy having a car that has such a simple engine. At the auto parts store, while checking out, the girl behind the counter asked if we had a military ID for a discount. Neither my brother or I had ever been in the military.
My brother said, “I was in the Army, but I’m retired.” My brother is thirty-two and looks five years younger than that.
“Yeah, I forgot my ID though. Can you help a veteran out?”
The girl behind the counter gave us the discount and as soon as we left, I laughed my ass off. Of course the thought did occur to me that the same girl who thought my brother was a retired veteran had given us the new belts.
We got back to my brother’s place and got one belt on easily. The other one wouldn’t quite fit. It was so close though. It just needed a little more. My brother asked for the key and said he had an idea. He turned the key just enough to turn the engine over and that cranked the wheels, causing the belt to pop right on there. We tightened a few things up and all was well. My car wasn’t only cool. Now it was quiet.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a garage. So there were many mornings when I wasn’t so happy with the gigantic windows on my Galaxie as I scraped the ice off of them. The real problem though was that moisture was getting inside the car and so after scraping the outside of the windows, I had to scrape the inside. The solution to this was incredibly simple and entirely unexpected. I was complaining about it to my wife and she suggested I put some cat sand crystals in a dish under the back window. It sounded crazy, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
I haven’t had any interior moisture problems since.
To Be Continued….