"Confound that noise," exclaimed
the elderly Dr. Pearson as he thumped the steering wheel with his fist.
His wife seated beside him touched his arm soothingly.
"Now don't get so excited, Frank," she said, "A few rattles aren't
hurting anything. Most of it's your imagination anyway."
"Imagination be hanged,"
grumbled the doctor. "Sounds
like the car is falling to pieces every time we hit a pebble, and that
eternal popping noise in this door is driving me crazy."
Just then Mrs. Pearson noticed a squat building further on down the
street. Above it hung a
large sign that read: "Model
Garage - Auto Service and Repair."
"There's a nice-looking
garage," she said. "Why don't
you stop? Maybe they can locate
the trouble. I'll do some
shopping while you wait."
A few minutes later, dr.
Pearson was telling his tale of woe to a gray-haired mechanic who had
introduced himself as Gus Wilson.
"Doesn't look like a rattle
box," remarked Gus, eyeing the car.
"But if it has 'em we'll get rid of 'em.
Start the motor for a minute."
"The motor's all right,"
protested Pearson, reaching for the ignition switch.
"It's the body that's making the noise."
When the motor settled to an even purr, Gus lifted the hood and moves
his hand from one part to another.
He seemed particularly interested in the cowl wall at the back of the
engine block and ran the palm of this hand over the flat surface several
times before he finally refastened the hood.
Now if you've no objections, suppose we go for a little ride," he
said, climbing into the seat beside the physician.
"Let's go up the street for a few blocks and drive out the old
station road. That'll be a good
As the car gained speed, a
series of sharp raps or pops occurred each time the wheels hit any
unevenness in the pavement. They
were neither rattles nor squeaks, but more like creaks.
"There's that popping
noise I told you about," the old man sputtered.
"That racket keeps up indefinitely.
Sounds as though it came from this side of the car, but I'll be
hanged if I can find it."
Without answering, Gus
moved his hand over the instrument panel, along the base of the driver's
seat, and finally over the floor boards.
"It isn't the floor
boards," said Dr. Pearson positively.
"I've got them so tight now I'll need a crowbar to pry them loose."
By this time, the car was
jouncing along the poorly paved road that led to the railroad station.
Bouncing from bump to bump, it gave forth a new assortment of
clattering noises that all but drowned out the doctor's booming voice.
"Just three things are
making an anvil chorus out of this car," explained Gus after a thorough
inspection of the car back at the Model Garage.
"A loose radiator stay rod, tight floor boards combined with loose
body bolts, and loose spring shackles.
Dr. Pearson looked at him
blankly. "Now how is the world
can a floor board make a noise when it's tight," he asked.
"Simple enough," answered
Gus. "In the first place, the
frame on any car weaves a bit when it's driven over an uneven road.
If the body bolts are loose the body twists even more, pushing the
floor boards with it. Naturally,
if the boards are fastened tightly at both ends, they can't move, so they
strain and twist. The result is
that pop you've been hearing.
Loosening one end of the floor-board section will fix it."
"But won't they rattle if
they're loose?" asked the doctor.
"I won't loosen them that
much," replied Gus. "just enough
to allow a little play at one end.
Then I'll give the ledges they rest on a good dose of heavy oil and
finish up by tightening the body bolts."
"Certainly sounded like a
door rattle," Dr. Pearson insisted.
"That just proves you can
do a sight more with touch than you can with your ears when it comes to
tracing rattles and squeaks in a car," smiled Gus.
"Car noises are funny things.
They have a way of scooting through the frame or the body till they
reach a broad surface that acts as a sounding board.
Your ears will place the noise at the sounding board but your finger
tips will trace it to the source.
Just as an example, start up your motor and listen.
Do you hear anything?"
"Yeah," the doctor
agreed. "Sort of a rapid-fire
"Where does it sound like
it's coming from," asked Gus.
The elderly physician
scratched his head.
"Sounds like the
instrument panel to me," he ventured.
Now will you step around here for a moment, Doctor," asked Gus as he
lifted one side of the hood, "and hold the palm of your hand down there at
the bottom of the cowl wall.
"You can sort of feel the
rattle, can't you?" said Dr. Pearson.
Now move your hand up toward the top and stop where it seems the
strongest," directed Gus. The
physician moved his hand cautiously over the partition, first one way and
then the other, but always toward the top.
"It seems strongest right here," he announced suddenly, his hand
resting at the point where the radiator stay rod joined the wall.
Gus reached for the rod
and shook it. A sharp metallic
rattle could be heard above the drone of the motor.
"That's it, all right," he grinned.
"And you found it by touch and not by sound.
A few turns on the nut that holds the end of that rod will take care
of that noise. Now to get down
to that clatter you hear every time you hit a bump.
That's a plain sign the spring shackles are loose."
"I'd have sworn it was
loose body bolts," put in Pearson.
"Never," replied Gus,
shaking his head as he walked around to the front of the car.
"Two entirely different noises.
Loose body bolts generally set up a thumping and drumming sound.
Loose shackles, on the other hand, give a sort of metallic clack
every time the loose parts slap together."
As Gus talked he reached
down and grasped the front bumper in his huge hands.
"Listen," he said as he started shaking the car from side to side.
Although not as loud, the same clack-clack that was heard when the
car bounced over the station road resounded from the general direction of
"Can that be fixed?"
inquired the doctor.
"Oh sure, we can take
care of that al right. We may
have to replace a few worn parts but the improvement will be more than worth
the little it costs."
"Can't they be
tightened?" suggested Dr. Pearson.
"Some shackles can be
tightened," agreed Gus, "but not the type used on this car.
The only way to get rid of that noise is to put in new pins and
"Now, there's one other
thing I wish you'd set me straight on," Pearson said as Gus started
penciling a list of the repairs needed.
"How can I get around
using oil on the door latches to stop squeaks.
It stops the noises all right but my wife gets it on her clothes and
then raises Ned."
"Try a little
ordinary hand soap," suggested Gus.
"It has plenty of body to it and it won't stain.
Just cut a good slice from a large cake of white soap and rub it on
"If the car ever develops
any bad body squeaks and you can find the two parts that are rubbing
together, soak the joint with a mixture of linseed oil and graphite.
"Speaking of squeaks,"
put in Dr. Pearson.
"I always have a job
deciding if some particular squeak is in the motor or in the body.
How do you tell one from the other?"
Just drive down the street and when you've got enough speed to roll a
few hundred feet, put the gears in neutral and shut off the engine.
If you still hear the squeak, it's in the body or the springs.
If you don't, it's a cinch it's in the motor."
"How about my car?" asked
"Will it take you long to
put it in shape?"
"Come back in about three hours," replied Gus, "and it'll be as
silent as it ever was."