Ted?" Gus asked after the usual greetings.
"Darned if I
know," Ted answered. "My fuel gauge has gone sour. Reads empty
no matter how much gas is in the tank. Just fill 'er up, Gus, and I'll
have to watch my driving this week."
"Off on the
usual trip?" Gus Inquired as he unlimbered the gas hose.
for another weary week on the road, peddling," Ted sighed. "You know,
Gus, by the time Friday night rolls around I'm blamed tired of hauling my
sample cases in and out of that trunk that I can't even face unpacking the
car until Saturday.
Wouldn't do it then," he
added, "except Myrtle likes to use the car."
often wondered how Ted Dorman stood the week in, week out grind of traveling
for a hardware jobbing concern down in the city. He has a big
territory, which means driving at least 200 miles a day besides making at
least a half-dozen calls between breakfast and supper. After close to
20 years of doing it, Ted is so fed up with driving that he seldom touches
the car over weekends. If it needs an oil change or any repairs,
Myrtle Dorman, Ted's wife, brings it in to the Model Garage on Saturdays.
your wife stop around with it when you get back," Gus suggested. "I'll
check that gauge for you. Probably nothing more than a loose
connection, but there's no sense touring around the country not knowing how
much gas you've got.
no more about the incident until the following Monday morning when Ted made
his stop on the way out of town.
'er up again," Ted grumbled in answer to Gus' usual query.
Mrs. Dorman was going to bring the car in so I could fix that gauge for
you," Gus chided.
grunted. "Deliver me from females and cars. They'd drive them
till they fell apart. I asked her to bring it over, but she swore up
and down that the gauge was okay when she drove the car on Saturday.
I've a hunch some hen canasta party in the neighborhood was more important
to her than my car."
Ted obviously was burned up. "Here, take a look," he added when Gus
had finished filling the tank.
his head through the open window on Ted's side of the car. When Ted
switched on the ignition, the needle on the gas gauge stayed right where it
was - on the empty mark.
empty," Gus agreed. Then he opened the car door and reached in under
the dash. "I thought it might be a loose connection," he explained
after he had pulled his hand out, "but those at the back of the gauge
seem tight. I'll have to go over the whole line when you've got the
thing you can bank on," Ted growled. "Myrtle will be here with the car
next Saturday. She's not going to talk me out of it this time -
canasta or no canasta."
following Saturday morning Gus was busy with a routine ignition job when he
heard a female voice: "Gus Wilson, if you want to save a marriage
you'd better do something about the gas gauge."
up to see Myrtle Dorman standing in the doorway of the shop. Beyond
her, just outside the shop door, was Ted Dorman's blue coupe.
raising the roof because I didn't bring the car around for you to check the
gas gauge last Saturday." Mrs. Dorman explained, "but it worked for me
last Saturday and it's working now. Take a look."
second time in five days, Gus poked his head into the Dorman's car and
peered at the gas gauge. This time it showed better than half full.
be ...," but the old mechanic didn't finish the sentence. Instead he
wedged his big frame down between the seat and the pedals for a good look at
the back of the dash. A moment later, he emerged, shaking his head.
leave the car here for awhile. Mrs. Dorman?" he asked. "About
the only thing I can do is go over all the wiring as well as the gauge.
"That might take the best part of an hour."
a Traveling Salesman's Wife
no," Mrs. Dorman replied. "I can't leave it here that long right now.
I'm out to do my shopping for the week. That's the bother of having
only one car and a husband who's a traveling salesman. Saturday is the
only time I can stock up on foods and things. Besides, today I've got
to stop by the railroad station."
you spare 15 minutes?" Gus compromised.
looked at her wristwatch.
minutes then, but no more," she agreed. "The express office down at
the station closes at noon on Saturdays and I have to pick up a present we
ordered for Ted's birthday tomorrow. He's been wanting a power saw for
his workshop, so the boys and I pooled our pennies and got him one.
Lord knows though, with the fuss he's raising about this gas gauge I'm not
so sure he deserves it. Hasn't been fit to live with since he got home
Pixies Rear Their Heads
At the end
of a quarter hour of concentrated troubleshooting, Gus was more puzzled than
ever. There was no doubt that the gauge was working at the moment.
Yet, he knew it hadn't been working the two times Ted had stopped by.
The gauge seemed perfectly okay and what wire connections he could see were
Mrs. Dorman," Gus finally admitted. "Can you bring the car back
sometime later this afternoon and let me have a real check?"
so," Mrs. Dorman replied, "if it's absolutely necessary." Then she
added sarcastically, "Maybe some of those pixies people talk about play
tricks on Ted every time he drives the car."
As Gus got
back to work he kept wondering about the fuel gauge. Mrs. Dorman had
jokingly blamed pixies and at times, Gus wasn't always so sure there weren't
some mean little men who spent their mysterious lives plaguing garagemen.
About a half
hour later the sound of a car rolling up to the repair-shop door brought
Gus' head out from under the open hood of the car he was working on.
It was the Dorman's coupe again.
hexed too," Myrtle Dorman exchanged as she slid out from behind the wheel.
"That silly little gauge was working perfectly when I left here for the
station, but now it's not. It's acting just like Ted said."
pixies," Gus reminded her with a grin. "They probably heard you
talking about Ted and decided to play a few tricks on you for a change.
Well, at least everyone agrees that something's wrong, so maybe now we can
spend a little time and go to work."
Mrs. Dorman pleaded, "so the Dorman household can get back to normal and
enjoy the birthday party the youngsters have planned for Ted tomorrow.
Meanwhile I'll go on down
to town on foot and get some of my ordering done."
Dorman had departed, Gus wheeled the car into the shop. He rechecked
the gauge the connections to the gauge, and the wire lead. Since he
couldn't find anything wrong at those points, he decided the next step was
to check the tank unit.
As he walked
around to the rear of the car he saw Ted's crated saw protruding from the
he called to his helper, who, at the moment, was busy at the greasing rack.
"How about giving me a hand?"
latest headache, boss?" Stan Hicks asked as he walked back to the car.
that drives mechanics nuts, Gus complained. "It's the gas gauge -
sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. Right now it's in a
nonworking mood. Besides that it's become a major issue in the Dorman
they lifted the crate out of the trunk and placed it on the floor alongside
the repair bench.
Gus was just
about to begin prying the inspection plate loose from the trunk floor to get
at the tank unit when Stan, who had walked around to the front of the car,
shouted, "Whaduya mean the gas gauge doesn't work? Shows better'n half
full right now."
his screwdriver back into a coverall pocket and joined Stan. Sure
enough the gauge was past the half-way mark.
smoked them out, Stan...the pixies, I mean, "Gus added with a smile.
"I think you've hit on something. Let's have a look at that tank
they worked on the inspection plate that was badly rusted in place.
A "Weighty" Problem Solved
least one-third of our trouble," Gus pointed out, poking the tip of his
screw driver at a well-worn rubber cap that originally was intended to
insulate the electrical connection on top of the fuel tank from contact with
the body of the car.
other two-thirds?" put in Stan.
things," said Gus. "First of all, any heavy object, like that crate or
Ted's sample bags. Second, this loose metal plate in the floor of the
trunk." He pointed to the floor's center section.
talked Stan could see that the weld at the rear of the metal sheet forming a
part of the trunk floor had broken loose. Any heavy weight placed on
it would force it down until it made contact with the bare terminal on the
top of the gas tank, shorting out the line and the gauge.
It took Gus
about 35 minutes to drill holes and bolt the loose section in place and to
tape up the terminal on the top of the tank.
After he and
Stan lifted the crated power saw back into the trunk. Gus turned to
Stan and said. "I'm going to lunch. When Mrs. Dorman comes to
pick up the car, tell her to have a nice birthday party for Ted tomorrow.
And tell her I'll expect Ted to have a piece of his birthday cake for me
when he stops in for gas Monday morning."