“Holding things together
Ain’t no easy thing to do.”
—song lyrics by Merle Haggard
As an old car tinkerer and household repair artist, employing WD-40 and duct tape to fix just about anything is a regular routine. However, I’m thinking that I may have been overlooking a third fix-it essential that performs miracles when it comes to holding things together.
Last week, one of the earpieces on my glasses felt loose. I didn’t spend time fretting knowing that I had an eye exam on Monday. “Yep,” the optician confirmed. “It’s broken and hanging by a thread.” An order for new frames came with the warning, “Better baby those until we get the new ones.”
Guess I’m out of practice when it comes to babying. Three days later, I found myself holding the ailing earpiece in one hand and the rest of my glasses in the other. Hoping for a miracle in my workshop, I became reacquainted with an old friend akin to the WD-40 and duct tape family: J-B Weld. J-B Weld and I go way back. It’s true what they say about how the unique epoxy will fix anything but a broken heart.
Our relationship started not with a broken heart, but with a broken 1946 Chevrolet panel truck that served as the emergency service vehicle for Mount Pleasant Explorer Scout Post 206 in high school. The vehicle aided our scouting organization’s effort to assist police and fire department personnel with directing traffic at wrecks and fighting grass fires. H.O. Townsend’s father was the advisor and a father with an interest in helping guide young men in a positive direction.
Taking a positive direction with the old truck, we liberally applied white paint to every inch of the interior and painted the outside “emergency orange” with the help of a local body shop after which “Explorer Post 206, Mount Pleasant, Texas, Emergency Service” was artistically added to the sides by a local sign painter donating his skills.
The wrecking yard refugee looked good and was reliable, but was not swift. At full throttle, the big orange truck rumbled along faster than a heard of turtles in a cloud of snail dust while leaking a variety of fluids along the way. And there was that thing about the transmission jumping out of high gear. We soon learned that getting to a fire before it burned out on its own required a two-man team: a driver and someone to hold the floor-mounted shift lever in gear.
Seeking more speed, we pulled the head off the stove bolt six-cylinder motor hoping to freshen up the valves. In the process, we also solved part of the fluid leak mystery, the one about where that water puddle was coming from. With the manifolds removed, a hairline crack in the block was clearly visible. Popular opinion was the busted block was not fixable: we would need a new motor.
Cash was scarce and new was not in the vocabulary, but creativity was abundant. We cleaned the area around the crack and applied a liberal dose of the magical J-B Weld epoxy. Once the engine was back together, we filled the radiator, crossed our fingers, and fired up the old Chevy letting it run long enough to get hot before we ventured off farther than we could push it if the repair failed. Our gamble paid off; at least one leak was long gone.
We continued to operate the noble steed until the majority of us graduated from high school and moved on the next phase of solving life’s problems. Last word was that Bobby Joe Spearman bought it for parts. He already had one like it that was his father’s plumbing business service vehicle for many years.
When we sold the truck, the J-B Weld repair was still doing its job, and I’m happy to report several decades removed from the Explorer Post engine experience that the fix-it compound has once again solved one of my life’s problems. As I type this missive, I’m four days into looking through salvaged spectacles. It’s not a broken heart, but JB-Weld is still holding things together.
Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche.
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