Thursday, July 30, 2009
I Still remember that Rumblin' sound....
One of the simple joys of life for the dirty fingernail crowd is the first sound of a freshly rebuilt motor coming to life. You spend considerable time and money trying to make something of a tired old lump. After finishing the work, the fear of the unknown is palpable. It can be cut with a knife. You recognize the real possibility that despite the time and money invested to freshen up and enhance the motor it is just as likely to sputter and hammer as it throws one of the new rods that you have yet to finish paying for.
When a fresh build does start, I think it is probably about as close to the triumph of childbirth that a guy can come.
Steve Earle's tune, Copperhead Road has a line that makes me think of that process every time I hear it. It is probably a throwaway song all in all, but this verse makes the hair stand up on my neck every time I hear it.
"Now daddy ran the whiskey in a big block Dodge
Bought it at an auction at the Mason's Lodge
Johnson County Sheriff painted on the side
Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside
Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
I still remember that rumblin' sound"
If you have ever had the privilege of being involved in a big block rebuild, you know what "I still remember that rumblin' sound" means. After all the anticipation, if you actually get it to fire there is a sound and a feeling that is almost impossible to duplicate any other way. There is a subsonic rumble that tears at your gut like a bass amp in a 70's Foghat concert. The acrid wind from the fan carries the smell of fresh curing engine paint and an oil film that blows up as you listen for those clatters you hope not to hear as everything finds its seat.
As things settle into a rhythmic cadence, you reach for that room temperature half empty beer with the greasy thumbprint on the label and smile as you revel in the triumph that the fresh engine brings. The oil leak from the rear main or valve cover that you haven't seen yet will spike your blood pressure later, but right now, all that matters is that the motor that was an anemic stinky puking old weezer a few weeks ago is now idling with a staccato authority that induces a euphoria that few things in life will ever duplicate for those of us inclined to this pastime.
The Government will sell you a car if all you want is a new one. If you want to feel inclined to do a fist pump and feel like you were put on this earth to do something besides take oxygen that could have just as easily been used to keep something cool running, take a summer sometime and freshen up an old V8 and fire it up now and again when the world is getting you down.
Ain't nothin' like it, son....