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Monday, June 01, 2009

Parts Chasin'

My dad's a pro Parts Chaser.  He can find rare and necessary machinery just about anywhere.  He can drive a vintage Ford pickup down the highway while rubberneckin' to see what priceless treasures might be hiding behind barns and trees and old school buses.  

This is a skill, folks.  Anybody here ever driven an old Ford truck?  Anybody?  Especially the pre-70s vintage?  

Does the term "twin I-beam" strike fear into your arms?  Did you ever have to wrestle a big steering wheel just to go down a straight line?  Do you know what I'm talking about here?

Now, while you were sawing away at the wheel, were you able to spot interesting discarded pieces of things stashed inaccessibly with a split second glance?  If so, my friend, you either are or have the makings of a slick parts chaser. 

Dad's pretty much perfected it over the years.  He's also got an undiagnosed A.D.D. which in my opinion makes for great parts chasin.  Just a quick turn of the head, just enough time to decide if a second look is needed, and flick back to the road ahead. He cruises along, swiveling his head side to straight ahead to side and back, making sure he sees all the sights and still keep the truck between the yellow line and the white line.

When I was a kid, I used to love heading out to wherever with my dad.  Maybe it was just a trip into the next biggest town to the hardware store, but a scenic route could always be found.  Also it was almost guaranteed that there'd be a snack involved.  Sweetie and I would argue about whose turn it was to go get a bag of chips I mean go to town.  

I'd just gawk at everything with my little-kid-eyes, because I did not yet have those finely tuned parts chasin skills.  If we were lucky, he'd put on the brakes and take a turn into a gravel lane.  I'd sit in the truck and scan for small furry critters to either pet or avoid, depending on their attitude, while he poked around the house deciding what door to knock on.  Sometimes he'd reach the person responsible for that perfect piece of whatever it was he wanted out behind the lilac bushes.  Sometimes an angry looking old lady would tell him to go away and she don't care about so-and-so's junk.  Sometimes nobody was home, so he'd leave and plan to come back another day when he had time for the scenic route.  

And usually, I'd have to take a wiz because I begged him to buy me a root beer when he got his coke.  He'd find a quiet stretch of road with a deep ditch.  The ability to use the outdoors as your, ehem, facilities... that's another valuable skill when you're parts chasin.

Last year, Dad happened to drive by a place with a stock trailer parked out by a fence line beside the barn hidden behind a rock pile or something.  He offered $200 and went back there the next day with an air pig to pump up the flat tires so he could haul it home.

He really did score.  It won't take much to fix it up.  The floor's been removed, and it's waiting for some metal work before we get busy greasing up the axles and suspension.  Jethro got to use a chainsaw to take the old plank floor out.  Oh what fun- he just doesn't get to use a chainsaw very often in his recording studio!

I hope to be pulling that trailer behind my truck by the end of the summer, with two speckled horses inside.  

I've got a long way to go before I am near my ol' man's skill level in parts chasin, mostly because I'm deterred from it by my mechanical ineptitude.  You know, once you chase down the parts, you have to use them to fix up the thing you already have at home, or else fix up the new thing you just got.  Get it?  I can use a hammer and a screwdriver and that's about it.  It's sad but I'm coming to terms with it.  I really did inherit a love for old things from both my parents.  It's obvious in the way I scan the curbs in the subdivision the night before garbage day.  

Huh.  Looks like maybe I've been developing my parts chasin skills after all.  

11 comments:

Heidi the Hick said...

pffft. full detail my ass. Like I don't get enough telemarketers harassing me on the phone, eh?

Paul Tee said...

Very well written. I sense a deep longing, which puts it on the pro side of your list, doesn't it?

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah, that'd be on the pro side.

It's amazing how a drive in the old truck can make me feel like I'm 9 years old again. It's just that now I can see out the windshield better. And I can hold it until we get home again!

Olly said...

Haha. Loved this post. We are both seasoned and somewhat retired parts chasers. Before moving here my husband and a few of his friends used to redo old cars, so any trip could be a treasure hunt. I won't drive the antiques any more, but I miss seeing them in my driveway. He sold his '62 chev 4x4 last year, too. So now we just look for retro stuff for our house.

Heidi said...

your dad totally needs to be a character in one of your books.

Totally!

coffeypot said...

Back in the 60's I had a '53 Ford pickup, V-8, three speed with the shifter on the column and the headlight dimmer switch on the floorboard. The sound system was an AM radio with one speaker and static when it stormed. I would love to have that think back again.

lopinon4 said...

Just love your blog, Heidi...I'm glad I got the chance to read this post! It sure did spark some nostalgia for me. When I was a kid on the dairy farm, my mom drove a truck like you described. It was booger green, and we all called it the "Green Machine". She would let me ride in the bed of that thing...I distinctly remember sitting on the rear wheel-well-dealie and bouncing on those old gravel roads til my butt was numb. A heart-tugging memory that I had almost let get away from me. I miss that truck, but I miss my mom more. Give your dad a big ole hug!

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh geez Coffeypot, you have just basically described his truck when he got it, when I was a wee tiny kid. I love that series of trucks - the original F-100 is my favourite ever! He's had it for almost 40 years now and plans to keep it going. I think he's replaced almost all the parts by now... he's let a lot of cool cars go over the years but he's determined to hang onto this one.

Heidi, he's a character alright, and I haven't even started describing him here. Actually, people who meet him long after meeting me often say it all makes sense, all my eccentricities. I inherited it!

Olly, no more cool machines in the driveway? Aww. I had a feeling you guys were all star parts chasers. I think going out and hunting down antiques and cool things for the house is a form of parts chasin so you can still use your skills!

Heidi the Hick said...

Lopin- oh the good ol days when we got to ride in the box of the truck!!! And booger green. Classic. I will give my ol man a hug when I see him again. We're a huggy bunch in our family. I'm so glad this brought up some happy memories for you!

marsh to the fore said...

This is classic stuff--really really loved this post!

It brought back memories of my Dad--not chasing parts but going forty miles an hour over a country road that rocked and rolled and got me and my sister and brother to squeal with delight.

BMGallop said...

Heidi, you are totally a parts chaser. When I started reading this post I immediately thought of all your interesting/awesome furniture. :)

I love cool little stock trailers!! I have one myself. Some of my family members have been making fun of me about it because it's not showy enough and I've got a dressage pony but I know he enjoys having his big white mane flying in the breeze. I bet your pretty ponies will love it too. Good luck!