Home Mechanic – South Platte Sentinel

Susan Davis

When Ben and I got married, he was working as a mechanic. The money was no good, but the side benefit was that he could do all the repairs on our vehicles which saved us some money.

Later, Ben changed careers and became a machinist, and he earned a much better income. Now that he is retired, he rarely uses his machinist skills at home.

However, Ben’s mechanical experience working on vehicles still comes in handy. Throughout our married life, we only had to take our vehicles to a car dealership or a mechanic shop very few times.

Ben was happy to buy dad’s 1981 Chevy pickup truck. He likes older vehicles because he says they have personality unlike newer models. Plus, Ben knew that whatever mechanical problems the truck had, he would be able to fix them himself.

When the camshaft and tappets needed replacing, Ben tackled this major job in our large workshop. It also fixed many other mechanical issues the pickup had.

Ben also put new seals on the doors and took the door panels apart and painted them. We polished the dull yellow paint and waxed it. The pickup no longer showed its age, as it was now shiny and shiny.

Ben has always changed the oil and filter in all of our vehicles. He does this regularly, knowing that good maintenance is crucial for the life of the vehicle.

Many years ago, Ben, I and our youngest son, Nick, went to Sterling to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with the family. We were near Colby, Kansas, about half the distance we needed to travel.

Ben noticed the smell of antifreeze. He quickly diagnosed the problem. The heating radiator was going out.

We stopped in Colby for lunch. While we were there we debated whether to travel and have the heater core repaired in sterling or not. Ben eventually came to the conclusion that the smartest thing to do was to go home and fix it there.

We stopped at a convenience store and bought jugs of water. Sometimes Ben had to fill the radiator with water. The inside of the front windshield started to have a film on it. We were happy to come home.

After buying a new heater core, Ben started to tackle the job. He soon realized that the heater core was buried behind the dashboard. It had to take the whole dash to get there. He wasn’t happy with the engineers who designed him that way. It could have been a simple job, but they made it a very hard job.

Several times Ben was disgusted and came into the house complaining, “I quit. I’m giving up. I’m just going to call a wrecker on Monday and have them pick up the car and let the dealer fix it.

“You can do it,” I encouraged him. “You solved a lot of other mechanical issues that were bothering you before.”

Then Ben would go back to work. While progress was slow, he had four days to complete the job. Come Monday morning, we would need the vehicle to go to work.

Ben finished work on Sunday and was tired and relieved. “I knew you could do it!”

He smiled and said, “You trusted me more than I trusted myself. I would have quit if it wasn’t for you.

It’s good to have a “mechanic at home” even if he needs a helping hand from time to time.

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