Hicks, the Model Garage's current grease monkey, is Gus Wilson's one brag.
Stan is not quite eighteen, and Gus gave him a job last June, the day after
he graduated from high school. He has a born knack of making machines run
right. Gus appreciates that natural aptitude, and even more, the fact that
Stan is always trying to learn.
after taking Stan on, Gus discovered that the kid was keeping a notebook on
the job, writing down everything he told him about car work and looking up
things in it instead of asking the same questions over and over again. It
made a big hit with Gus. "That boy's going to get somewhere before he's
through," Gus keeps saying.
So it was
without misgivings that Gus agreed to go over to the Edensville war plant on
a truck job that he figured would keep him all day. He left Stan in charge
of the shop at the Model Garage with only one admonition: "Take care of the
jobs you're sure you can handle: leave the others for me."
pretty big. His first job was cleaning fouled spark plugs, and he took it in
stride. The next one, installing a fan belt, was another pushover.
later a horn honked outside, and Stan hurried to answer the summons. An
ancient green sedan had its battered radiator poked almost against the shop
door. Behind the wheel lounged a husky youngster in work pants and a plaid
shirt, and beside him sat a pretty girl wearing slacks.
ignored the driver and addressed the girl: "What cookin', good lookin'?"
giggled instead of giving an answer.
jerk," the youth with her said, "I want to talk to the man in charge, not to
the grease monkey!"
face got red. "That's me, Mac," he said. "I'm the man in charge. What's the
trouble with this crate of yours--besides old age?" "Stop trying to be
funny, you two," she told Stan. "There's something the matter with this
jalopy, and my brother--" "Oh," Stan interrupted, "this guy's your brother
giggled again, "You didn't think I'd picked him for my share-your-car club,
did you?" she asked.
behind the wheel grinned widely. "Nuts to all this shootin' the breeze," he
said. "I got to get this car fixed quick. She went sour on us going to work
last night, and she was worse coming home this morning, and we've got to
drive her back to make the graveyard shift tonight. Sis and I both work in
the war plant over in Edensville, and we ain't either of us missed an hour's
work since we've been there. Call your boss out here will you, bud?"
"The boss is away for the day, and I'm running the shop," Stan told him.
"Maybe I can fix you up. If I can't I'll tell you so, and you can take it
somewhere else. That's fair enough."
thought it over for several seconds. Then his sister nudged him. "That's
fair enough." "Well then, feller," Joe told Stan, "going to the plant last
night from home--we live out in Pleasanton--every time we'd get up to thirty
would lose its power and start to miss. I thought it was a spark plug but I
found out it wasn't any one cylinder that was missing - first one would cut
out and then another one. When I kept down to twenty-five, she ran all right
without any missing." "Coming back this morning she acted the same way, only
About halfway over here the heat began to climb, and by the time
we got to a service station the radiator was darned dry. While I was filling
her up, the feller there told me you had a whiz of a trouble shooter here at
the Model Garage. You ain't that guy are you?" "Nope," Stan said. "That's
the boss, Gus Wilson. He's tops. But he's taught me all his Stuff, so I
guess I ought to be able to fix you up." He pushed back the sliding door.
"Drive her in," he directed professionally.
Joe drove into the shop, and he and his sister got out of the car. "Never
mind about me," she said, perching on Gus's workbench and fishing a mirror,
a lipstick, and a pack of cigarettes out of a handbag.
"Get the car fixed. I want to get home and get my beauty sleep."
Stan started checking . There didn't seem to be anything wrong
with the ignition system. Both the fuel line and carburetor were all right.
He looked disappointed. The girl giggled.
find anything?" Joe demanded.
"You can't always tell with a car standing in the shop," Stan
said. I'll give it a road test."
snorted. "Go ahead," he said. "Enjoy yourself. I'm going over to the diner
and have breakfast. Coming, Bee?"
rather eat when we get home."
out. Stan got into the car and looked at Bee. "Want to come?" he invited.
she said, and got in.
backed the car out and drove up the highway, trying to keep his mind on the
performance of the engine. It ran smoothly at twenty-five, but missed at
thirty. After they had gone a mile, Bee spoke for the first time. "Take a
look at the thermometer," she said. "It's over in the red."
was watching it," Stan lied. "The radiator needs water. We'll stop at that
service station up ahead and get it."
filled the radiator and they drove on. He speeded up to thirty, and held
that speed for a mile with the engine missing badly. Then he stopped, and got
out, and raised the hood. He saw that the cylinder heads were wet. But when
he checked the radiator hose connection, he shook his head--the clamps were
tight. Then he noticed something else--that water was oozing out of the hose
from a dozen small holes.
back into the car jauntily. "Well? Bee asked.
it licked," Stan told her confidently. "Your radiator hose is rotten,
and water leaks out. That doesn't make any difference--except that the
radiator runs dry and the engine overheats--when you're driving real slow.
But when you get up to thirty, the air from the fan gets strong enough to
spray water over the engine, and that makes the plugs short. Get it?"
said. "But I think you're wonderful to have found the trouble after Joe
that's nothing - all in the days work." Stan told her airily. "It all
depends on the sort of training a 'man's had.
Stan were busy in the shop a few mornings later when Gus's partner, Joe
Clark, who takes care of the office, came in.
fellow named Chisholm on the phone," he announced. "He says his car stalled
about halfway between Pleasanton and Edensville last night. He wants us to
send the wrecker. He's coming on the bus. He says Stan knows him."
know him," Stan confirmed. "He's the fellow whose radiator hose I replaced -
the one I told you about, Mr. Wilson.
maneuvered the green sedan into the Model Garage shop an hour later, he
found Joe and Bee Chisholm there.
the hood, looked at the engine, and nodded. "The cylinder head is cracked.
Didn't you know your radiator was dry?"
should I?" Joe Chisholm demanded. "Stan put in a new hose."
Gus said, "the cylinder head will have to be replaced. It'll be an expensive
job and it will take several days to get a new head."
at his sister. "What are we going to do for a car?" he said.
to get over to the plant every night," she added.
use my car," Stan offered. "It's a ramblin' wreck, but it'll get you there
and back if you treat it nice."
thanks," Joe said.
his head under the raised hood. He straightened up. "Where do you keep this
car of yours?" he asked.
stable - Pop's got a farm," Joe told him. "Any mice in there?" Gus inquired.
it's lousy with 'em, "Joe admitted. "Why"
curiosity," Gus said. "By the way - there won't be any charge for the
yelped Joe. "Say - thanks!"
you kids," Gus said. "I'm busy."
walked to the shop door with the two Chisholms, and came back grinning.
boss," he asked, "why aren't you going to charge for this job?"
forgot to tell you something important," Gus said. "It's one for the book -
so get that notebook of yours and write it down. Ready? Here it is: Just
finding trouble and fixing it isn't enough. Never let a job go out of the
shop without finding out what caused the trouble - and without trying to do
something to keep it from causing it again...Got that down?"
Stan said. But what's it all about?"
look at that radiator hose," Gus directed. Full of little holes again, isn't
it? Mice chewed those holes, same as they did in the old one - they like
rubber hose for some reason. All the water had leaked out of the cooling
system before your friend Joe drove his car out of the stable. That's why
the engine heated up so badly that the
head cracked. You should have found out that mice chewed holes in the old
hose. And put wire screens around the new one to keep them from chewing it."
looked so downhearted that Gus felt sorry for him. "It was my fault for not
telling you," he said. "Forget it - or, better, remember it for next
time...Let's see what you've put down in that book of yours."
Stan handed him the notebook. Gus looked
at it, and his eyebrows went up. "Pleasanton 234-j," he read. "What's that -
red. "Y-you're on the w-wrong p-page," he stuttered.