Old Man Trouble himself!" he said. Gus Wilson looked up. The driver was
just getting out of an old but well-kept sedan he'd stopped in the center of
the Model Garage shop floor. His thin face was creased with chronic
Vern," Gus greeted him cheerfully. "Haven't seen you for a dog's age.
you been keeping yourself?"
Hopkins almost shouted. "There never was a time when a man got as little
for his money as he does today. Look at my car. I've had it in three shops
- and there's still something wrong with it."
left the engine running. Gus noticed black smoke drifting out of the
exhaust pipe, and his nose detected unburned gasoline. "I don't know what
else is wrong with your bus," he said, "but your carburetor is certainly out
ain't you smart!" Vern's voice dripped mock admiration. "All three of
those boneheads who worked on my car figured out there was something screwy
about the carburetor - but not one of them had any idea what the trouble
is. And I'll bet you can't find out either."
you bet?" Gus challenged.
"Anything you want," Vern growled.
Gus said. "Tonight's supper."
all right" Vern agreed. "Now what are you waiting for? Find out what's
wrong - and fix it. I'm in a hurry."
not our only customer - thanks be!" Gus replied. "Three other jobs came in
ahead of yours - and will have to go out ahead of it. Come back at four
your bus ready."
o'clock!" Vern howled. "What am I supposed to do until then - walk?"
do you good," Gus said.
Gus got to Vern's car it was nearly two o'clock. Then he took it out for a
road test. After driving slowly for a few blocks he suddenly stepped hard
on the accelerator. The engine choked and missed.
the accelerator pedal down, he threw out the clutch. Instead of speeding
up, the engine continued to miss and sputter. "Carburetor out of whack, all
right," he thought, as he turned back toward the Model Garage. Before he
got there the engine was beginning to overheat. "Just what I thought - too
rich a mixture," he told himself.
into the shop and sat for a few minutes listening to the engine's noticeably
rough idling. Then he switched off the ignition, removed the carburetor,
carried it over to his bench, and opened it.
one of those carburetor that have the float, hinge mechanism, and needle
valve all mounted on the upper body, the latter in turn being mounted, over
a gasket, on the bowl.
Disassembling the carburetor, Gus set to work to clean all the parts. As he
did so, he checked each carefully, giving the float particularly close
scrutiny, but found nothing either damaged or badly worn. So, after blowing
out the passages and jets with compressed air, he reassembled the carburetor
and put it back on the car.
he finished, his partner Joe Clark called from the office door. "Hey, Gus!
Mr. Morgan is here about that motor-rebuilding job. Come in, will you?"
looked at the shop clock. It was almost three. He wanted to have Vern's
car ready by four, and the chances were that Mr. Morgan would take a half
he said. "Take out this Hopkins job and road-test it. I've cleaned and
checked the carburetor, and it should be all right - but make sure."
back in the shop when Stan drove in, shaking his head. "Somethin' still
wrong," he reported. "The engine doesn't run like it ought to, and it
add nothing to that report. Now thoroughly puzzled, Gus jumped into the car
and drove out.
engine acted just as it had before. He hurried back to the shop and quickly
checked the ignition and fuel line, but there was a good hot spark at each
plug and the gasoline flowed normally. "Must have missed something," he
muttered, and again removed the carburetor, disassembled it, and began
way through the job he was interrupted by a feminine voice that asked
crisply; "Is my car ready?"
looked up. The young woman's costume nicely set off an effectively
streamlined chassis, and her pert face expressed determination to have what
car?" Gus asked. "Do we have it?"
father's," she snapped. "I'm Miss Hopkins."
raised his head from the car on which he was working. "You don't mean
you've grown up from that little Susie Hopkins who tried out for cheerleader
in her freshman year-and didn't make it!"
turned and leaned against the car. Smiling acidly, she looked Stan over
with the expression of a scientist who has just discovered a new, but
uninteresting, species of insect.
back at that horrible high school," she said coldly, "I seem to recall you -
vaguely. Hicks, I think the name is. You were on the football team, and
it was your fumble that let Millbridge High beat us for the first time in 13
ears got red. "The wind - "
wind - " she mocked, making a derisive gesture with both hands. Then she
turned back to Gus. "What I want to know is - is my car ready?"
said you'd promised to have it ready by four!"
nodded toward the clock. "It's only twenty to four."
wait, then," she said, perching herself on the end of the bench. "What's
the matter with the old wreck?"
"Carburetor," Gus said.
she asked. "I haven't heard anything but 'carburetor' ever since Dad put
that new gasket on it."
looked thoughtful. "So your father did that job himself?" He examined the
soft fiber gasket carefully. Then he placed it on the bowl and fitted the
upper body of the carburetor over it, bringing the drop light closer so he
could see better.
nothing wrong with the gasket or its fit," he said after a moment. He
lifted off the upper part of the body. "It's all - "Gus abruptly stooped
over and whistled softly. Then he removed the gasket and took the bowl to
the window. After examining it carefully, he took a penknife from his
pocket, scraped the top of the bowl, brought it back to the bench, quickly
put the carburetor together, and reinstalled it on the car. Then he stepped
on the starter. The engine ran smoothly.
one minute to four. "There's your car, Miss," Gus said. "Tell your father
I had it ready on time."
tell him yourself," Miss Hopkins said. "He'll be here soon. I was going to
drive him home, but I'm overdue for tea at the Van Name's and can't wait."
got into the car, she turned to Stan. "You might drop in some evening.
be quaint hearing about what happened at that old high school after I left."
grinned. "Well," he said, "I've got Friday evening open."
in the clutch. "Call me first - I might be busy."
as grouchy as usual Vern Hopkins charged in a little later. "Where's my
car?" he demanded.
daughter took it," Gus said.
Vern howled. "Now I'll have to walk some more."
what she said," Gus replied.
face softened. "Well," he said, "You have to let the kids have their way.
By the way
you didn't find out what's the matter, did you?"
found it - and fixed it," Gus grinned. "You caused the trouble yourself
when you put on that new gasket."
right," Gus said, "But when you put on the new one you didn't take off the
old one. You didn't notice the old one because it was bonded to the
carburetor bowl by pressure and heat and because it had become so discolored
that it looked just like the bowl. I didn't spot it until I happened to
shine a light on it."
Vern objected, "how could an extra gasket cause all that trouble?"
carburetor," Gus explained, "both the float and the needle valve are mounted
on the upper body - lid to you.
gasket raised the float and valve seat, and so raised the gas level in the
bowl - just enough to make the fuel mixture too rich. That, of course,
caused choking and missing and overheating of the engine.
about that supper?"