"My name's Pond, and I'm a peculiar sort
of a cuss about noises," explained the little man who just had driven a
well-kept sedan into the Model Garage shop. "I can't stand them.
Specially noises in a car. This one's driving me nuts!"
cocked his head and listened to the hum of the idling engine. Its
smooth purr told him that it was a good engine which had been given good
care. "Sounds fine to me," he said.
sounds fine - now!" Pond agreed. "But just wait! It runs
for five or six minutes the way it's supposed to run and then I hear that
blamed noise. Listen!"
listened. For another minute the engine continues its smooth hum.
Then he heard it - tap - tick-tick" tap - tick-tick; a faint
tapping and ticking sound that few drivers would have noticed.
there's a noise - an unusual sort of noise," Gus said. "How long have
you been hearing it?"
yesterday," Pond told him. "Yesterday morning, down in the city, I
took the car into one of those fancy service stations to have a little
electrical job done on it. You know the sort of a place I mean - where
a fellow in a white coat glad-hands you when you drive in, writes down what
you tell him is the matter with your car on a form, and then hands the job
over to some guy who doesn't do anything but brakes or transmission or
something. Well, soon as I drove out, I heard that tap-ticking for the
first time. It sounded as though it was in the distributor shaft.
I drove right back in again and told the fellow in the white coat about it.
He called out the mechanic who had done my job, and after they had listened
and palavered about it they took the generator and distributor off and
checked them. They seemed to be O.K., so they put them back on, and
when they started up the motor the noise was gone. So I drove out -
and, by golly, I hadn't gone a block when the tap-ticking started again!
I didn't have the time to go back again, but I've been hearing that noise on
and off ever since then, and I want whatever's making it fixed!"
listened again. "It does sound as if it is in the distributor," he
agreed, "but I'll make certain."
He got a
two-foot length of quarter-inch steel rod from the shelf over his work
bench, bent his thumb over its upper end, pressed his ear firmly against his
thumb, and listened intently as he brought the rod lower and into contact
with various parts of the engine. "No," he decided after a minute or
so, "the noise isn't in the distributor. It's in the crankcase - but
the funny thing about it is that it moves around in the crankcase."
thinking for a couple of minutes. Then he took the breather cap off
the oil filter pipe, and spent a couple more minutes listening intently at
he called Harry, the grease monkey, and told him to drain the oil and let
down the crankcase. He went over to his bench again and struck up an
argument with his customer on the advantages of fresh-water fishing over the
deep-sea variety. It was not Gus's habit to argue with a customer, but
Joe Clark, his partner, had prevailed on Gus to take the coming week-end off
for a go at his favorite pastime - outside the Model Garage - fishing.
And, to put it mildly, Gus was feeling "set up" already. Besides, Pond
looked as if he loved an argument, and Gus knew more good than harm would
come of it.
At a word
from Harry, who had completed the task of letting down the crankcase to what
Gus figured was roughly twice the time it would have taken him to do it
himself, the two men broke off their friendly tiff and approached the
problem of the car again.
in that thing," Gus said, kneeling over the greasy pan "What's this?"
eye spotted a dark round object nestled up against a baffle plate of the
case, and he picked it up. It was a half-inch, hexagonal nut.
your tap-ticker!" Gus said. "I suppose that while that mechanic
was working on your car yesterday he accidentally dropped the nut down the
breather pipe. Since then it has been washing around in the oil, and
every once in a while the crank-shaft would hit it and knock it against the
side of the oil pan, high up - that's what made the noise that bothered you
every few minutes. No harm done - as soon as Harry replaces your
crankcase and refills it you'll be ready to roll."
some smart mechanics left!" Pond remarked. "Well, you've made me a
steady customer of yours - for a long time I've been looking for a fellow
like you and a shop like this!"
Hargrave, who is a big-money sales promotion man for More-Miles gasoline and
oil, and an old friend of Gus Wilson's drove his classy coupe into the shop
an hour or so after the highly-satisfied Pond had driven out. "Hello,
Gus," he greeted. "How good are you at keeping a secret?"
gag?" Gus wanted to know, not quite sure his friend was serious.
"No gag at
all," Hargrave assured him. "I'm on a spot. I've got to have a
job done on this bus, and I can't afford to let anyone in the business know
that I'm having it done."
stuff, hey?" Gus said, grinning. "All right, Gene - I'll keep mum
about it. What's the mystery Job?"
got out of his car, snatched a fill of Gus's tobacco, perched himself on the
end of the work bench and lighted his pipe.
layout," he explained. "Naturally, I use More-Miles gas and the best
grade of More-Miles oil in my car. Equally naturally, I do everything
that I can to get the best performance possible out of the products I sell -
keep my engine in the very best condition, change my oil every thousand
miles, and so on. That's good business for me. I can talk about
the big mileage I get out of More-Miles gas in my car, and the smooth
running of my engine is a grand advertisement for our oil.
going to tell you something that I don't want anyone else to know, Gus.
car is only a year old, the piston rings are very badly worn. I'm sure
that it isn't the fault of our oil, but lots of people would think that it
is. I want you to order a new set of rings and slip them in sometime
when there's no one around who'll ask questions about whose car it is.
got you," Gus said. "But what makes you so all-fired certain that your
rings have gone bad?"
couldn't be anything else," Hargrave asserted. "I've got too much oil
- every time I change it I take out a quart or so more than I put in the
last time I changed it. I've checked on everything. The dilution
isn't caused by water from the cooling system leaking in - I never have to
add a drop to what's in the radiator. There's nothing the matter with
the carburetor choke - it doesn't stick in the choked position. It
must be the rings - they've worn so badly that the gas leaks past them and
the pistons into the crankcase.
certain of it! "You can see why I'm on a spot. The condition of
my engine after only a year of running doesn't make More-Miles look like as
good an oil as it is, and it would hurt the sale of More-Miles products in
this district if the story about those bad rings got out - to say nothing
about the kidding and roaring I'd have to stand for!"
won't get out of this shop." Gus said. "I'll get your car fixed up as
quickly as I can. But maybe you're wrong about those rings, Gene.
Better let me check over your engine before I start tearing it apart."
and check it," Hargrave told him. "But I'm right about the rings."
Gus got his
vacuum tester out and soon reported that the manifold pressure was normal.
Then he connected the compression tester to each spark plug hole as Hargrave
stepped on the starter. "There's nothing the matter with those rings,
I tell you!" Gus said.
then," Hargrave demanded, "where does that dilution of the oil come from?"
what we've got to find out," Gus said. He took the carburetor off and
examined it. "That's O.K.," he decided. "I'll have to look at
the fuel pump." He removed it from the engine, and washed it off with
gasoline. Then he whistled. "What's this?" he asked, pointing to
a small patch of solder.
"Oh, I did
that little job myself," Hargrave said, "I noticed gasoline leaking out of a
small hole, so I soldered it shut - even a little gas leak means less
as he drove the solder out of the hole with a small punch. "You are a
wise guy, Gene," he said between chuckles. "That hole you soldered up
so carefully is a telltale - one of its purposes is to give warning, by
gasoline leaking out of it, that the pump's diaphragm is broken or leaking.
That's why your oil is diluted - gasoline has been leaking through the
diaphragm into the crankcase. Those piston rings haven't anything to
do with it."
muttered Hargrave. Then he saw the light, and did some fancy cussing.
"I am a
sap!" he confessed after a while. "Put in a new diaphragm, will you, Gus?
And, say -
if this story every gets around - "
you," Gus reminded him, "that I can keep a secret. I can - and I