The reader will remember that Barry was on a quest to give Evan the chance to start and drive Ole Blue as a Christmas present. Santa’s elf was running a little behind (darn those pesky gas tanks!)
If the Fates allow
It came to pass that the first time Evan was at the farm and thus able to receive his present was also the occasion of the Lawson Family Christmas party. This turned out be perfect as it allowed Santa’s elf time to finish up some last minute items and it also allowed us to involve the entire jeep family. But we are getting ahead of the story.
Among the elf’s remaining tasks were the installation of the steering wheel and the driver’s seat. Those would seem essential to a successful driving experience. The old steering wheel was cracked and, we think, held together with electrical tape, neatly wrapped around the wheel. As much for safety and comfort as for looks, we had opted to purchase a reproduction steering wheel. The new wheel went on with the aid of a socket and hammer. It will stay in place for a long time. As an added bonus, the elf screwed on the horn button. It works too!
The driver’s seat was put in place and bolted to the floor. The new seat cushion was placed on the pan. It can be installed later. We are ready to roll – almost.
No gas, no glory
When last we left the gas tank, Barry had crawled out from underneath the jeep and walked away. If Evan was going to start and drive the jeep, he needed a supply of gas. Plan A was to install the gas tank and hook the gas line to the engine. There was no plan B.
On the day before the party, Barry finally got up the nerve to test the connection. He careful poured about a quart of gas in to the tank. With somewhat less than perfect confidence, he looked down at the garage floor. No wet spots. He poured another quart. Still no wet spots. There are no security cameras in the garage (they are all on the outside), so the little elf victory dance went unrecorded.
Let’s have a party!
In true Lawson fashion, we enjoyed a wonderful meal and lots of stories of Christmases present and past. In the late afternoon, Barry invited everyone out to the garage to watch Evan try out his ride. The weather was cloudy and cold, so coats, hats and gloves were donned. The party wandered outside and the garage doors were thrown open (OK we used the openers).
Evan climbed behind the wheel, turned the key and - well it just cranked. We hadn’t started the engine for over a year. But a few more seconds of cranking and a shot of starting fluid and the engine roared to life. Evan let the engine idle for a few seconds, shifted the transfer case and transmission in gear and slowly let the untested clutch out. He pulled smoothly out onto the driveway!
A Farm Jeep moment
Shouts of joy and amazement! After almost 6 years, Ole Blue is alive. Other than the idle being too fast and the clutch pedal hanging up on the body (just a scraping noise), it seems to be in great shape.
The first ride (down the drive and back) honors went to Paula and Sally, with Barry driving. Barry parked Ole Blue and invited everyone back in the house of a celebration toast.
It was a good day.
Next up – These little things
Barry’s notes – Without a doubt, this was a special day. I’m really glad that it turned out to be a family event. That is what this whole project is really about.
Evan’s notes – Best present ever. Ever!