"Nuts," observed Joe Clark as he came
out of the office with a letter in his hand, "are the life of the auto
Wilson, his partner is the Model Garage, poked his head out from under the
car he was repairing.
kind?" he grumbled. "The ones that hold the cars together or the ones that
ride in 'em?"
ones that ride, of course," laughed Joe. "How's a letter from the worst
auto nut in this section. Can you guess who?"
Gus grunted, "That'll be Samuel P. Harbison - old "Spare Parts' Harbison!
What's eating him now?" "He's going on a long tour," Joe began, "and - "
tell me any more," interrupted Gus. "I can guess the rest, too. He's
worked up a list of spare parts as long as your arms and wants to drop in
and waste my time arguing about what else to take."
was right, for in a few minutes Harbison appeared. His list was not so long
as Gus had predicted, but it was long enough and Gus thoughtfully nodded his
head in approval as he checked over the first few items.'
plugs, sizzle patches, blow out shoes, friction tape, insulated wire,
headlights bulbs, tail light bulbs." Gus paused. "Those ought to be in the
tool box of every car that goes touring," he observed "Now let's see what
else you are going to take. 'Spark coil with condenser' - there's a spare
part nobody carries, and yet when either the condenser or coil goes bad,
there you stay until you get a new part or go hours on the end of a tow
belt, extra piston, piston rings, can of water, can of oil, can of gas,'
"Gus read. "Holy jumping spark plugs!" he gasped. "Where on earth are you
going - across the Sahara Desert?"
quite that far, Gus "replied Harbison a trifle sheepishly, "Only up around
New England and then out to Buffalo by way of Albany and Schenectady."
couldn't get more than a few miles from a gasoline station on that route if
you tried," snorted Gus. "I guess, Mr. Harbison, you're off on the wrong
foot. There's no sense trying to carry a spare for every part that might
break. You might just as well tow a spare car."
hate to take a chance," protested Harbison.
time you climb into your car, you take a chance anyway," scoffed Gus. "And
besides, what good would parts like a connecting rod and timing chain do
you? If they break while the motor is running there's going to be a lot of
other damage. Very likely the crank case and the piston will get smashed if
the connecting rod lets go, and the timing chain case plus a couple of
sprockets normally are ruined when the timing chain parts company.
you ought to do," continued Gus, pausing to glance at an ancient car that
had drawn up in front of the garage, "is to forget about the breakdown that
might happen once in a million times and concentrate on the troubles that
happen a lot oftener, particularly the ones that there's no way of fixing up
enough to get to the nearest service station."
logical enough to you, Gus," sighed Harbison. "I must be a queer case. I'm
keen on keeping the car in perfect mechanical condition and I haven't the
mechanical ability to do it. I know the theory of the thing, but my fingers
are all thumbs. I can't even change a spark plug without barking my
Harbison had been talking the owner of the ancient bus had quietly strolled
folks," he began. "any chance for a real good safe mechanic to pick up a few
dollars around here?"
depends on what you can do," said Gus as his keen eyes studied the man.
fix anything that rolls on wheels," he asserted with a confident grin.
right," Gus replied and pointed to Harbison's car. "Take the carburetor out
and close it."
Harbison started forward to protest, but Gus motioned him to watch what
wiry little mechanic opened his roll of tools on the running board of
Harbison's car and Gus noted with satisfaction that the few tools it
contained were high grade and in perfect shape. The man started the motor
and tried in every way to make the carburetor misbehave, but he did not
chief," he said. "The carburetor isn't dirty, so there's no sense cleaning
it. Got anything else?"
"Humph," grunted Gus sarcastically, "All right, let it go. The party that
owns that car is going on a long trip." Check over the tools and what spare
parts he has and see if he needs anything."
newcomer set to at once and Harbison turned to Gus, puzzled, "Why all the
funny business with my car" he asked.
your shirt on," advised Gus, "I've got an idea. This fellow is a wandering
auto mechanic, but he's as neat as a pin and his own car appears to be
mighty well kept.
"Meanwhile," Gus continued, "remember that the most frequent breakdown on
the road is a puncture or a blow-out. If your tires are in good shape the
chances are almost a million to one you won't have more than a single flat
tire at a time, and a five-minute tube vulcanizing outfit in the tool kit is
handy after the day's run to fix the puncture or blowout.
the tires, the ignition system is where you have the most trouble. Ignition
breakdowns are a cinch to fix once you find 'em - the trick is to find 'em.
Anyway you're carrying a spare end and condenser, plus wire and spark
plugs. You ought to be able to patch up most any breakdown at least enough
to get to the nearest service station."
you go again," grumbled Harbison, "something that I've got a whole lot of
mechancal ingenuity. I haven't. If I can't take along enough parts so I
can just put in whatever breaks, I'll be out of luck and that's all there is
to it." The wandering mechanic had by this time poked his nose into every
compartment of Harbison's car.
chief," he drawled, "the owner of that car don't need a thing. He's got
everything but a tow rope."
do you say to that, Mr. Harbison?" asked Gus, turning to the wealthy
motorist. "I don't see that it proves anything," Harbison replied
stubbornly. "Just because I've got enough parts and tools to suit a mechanic
is no proof I've got enough for myself, considering that I'm not a
"There," said Gus, "why not add a mechanic, store that's what you need
er - by George! I believe that's the answer," said Harbison, brightening.
"Funny I didn't think of it before."
"Governor, you've hired a mechanic!" the stranger said, his black eyes
snapping under their bushy brows, "Alex McGregor reporting for service!
When do we start?"
Harbison looked at Gus uncertainly, "I'll vouch for him," laughed the
latter. "He uses his head and he's honest. He finds out what's the matter
before he starts to fix it and he doesn't fake jobs for himself."
that bank, you're hired, Alex," agreed Harbison, "Gus, I've a notion that's
what you intended all along!"