Dream Team Reassembly
The Dream Team reassembled Thursday. It was me and Asher. We bounded confidently up to the concrete pad where the Shadow has sat, emasculated, for weeks now, given its absolute absence of brakeability. I rolled up my sleeves and we shared a nod of assurance. Jack it up; pull the tires; fix the brakes. No biggie. Not for guys like me and Asher.
“Alright man, what do we wanna use for jacks? I know we have those bottle jacks in the arena.”
“Sweet; that should work pretty well.”
I went for the jacks, in the spot where I’d seen them all winter. No jacks. I grabbed a large farm jack instead, while Asher scrounged a small car jack from behind the front seat of the Shadow.
“Wanna block it?” he asked, as I positioned my farm jack under the rear end of the Shadow. I kept working. Finally well-positioned, I gave the first hoist.
“What were you saying about blocks?”
A couple hoists later, my jack was buckling to the side, and I understood the necessity of the blocks. “Yeah, I think we should block it.”
“Maybe we should break the nuts loose first too?”
I positioned my blocks, and kept going. The lug nuts gave us trouble; the jacks gave us trouble; the blocks gave us trouble. Finally, though, we had her lifted, and the Shadow floated majestically in the glistening sun. I got three tires off, while Asher worked on the stubborn fourth. Having never met a problem that didn’t lend itself to the use of some sort of rope, strap, or elaborate knot, he jigged a novel strap assembly around the tire and somehow got it off, while I prodded pointlessly elsewhere.
Tires off, we poked and assessed. “Hmm… front brake pads look good… I don’t see any wearing on the rotor… how much pad you think should be left on the rear drums…?” It was deduction time. I pumped the pedal while Asher watched for signs of mechanical response. Nothing much happening in the rear driver’s side. E-brake did engage. Front brake did as well.
I hung out silently for some time while he assessed. “Well dude. I feel like we gotta get some fluid and see where we’re losing it and go from there.” He nodded, studying the spring mechanism intensively. Sensitive to my pointlessness, I wandered off to join the field-working team.
The following day, I gave Asher plenty of space as he poked, prodded, made calls and tried to locate the diagnostic report Oren had supposedly gotten from Auto Select. Hours later, he tracked me down by the hoophouses. “I wasn’t able to find anything. Think we should add some fluid and see what we can see?”
I hopped off my broadfork and we started up the long driveway when a grey truck pulled in off the road. Bob…
Sometime between season one and season three, I’ve taken a real shining to Bob. We’ve had some definite heart-to-hearts, and he’s proven himself a clutch neighbor. Plus, the guy is pretty goddamn smart, and seems to know something about everything.
“Dude, I’m gonna get Bob to help us.”
I walked up to his truck window and he handed me a bar of homemade soap, the kind of unrequited gift I’ve come to accept as commonplace.
“This the new stuff?”
“Yep, I got a new recipe, and found a bunch of scents in this old house I’m working on.”
Made from lye and pork fat, it smelled like freshness. “Hey, do you know anything about brakes?”
“Wanna take a look at our van quick?”
We coalesced around the rear, driver’s side brake – our suspected culprit. Asher pointed out the broken line, which Bob assured us was nothing. I pointed out the jiggly housing, which Bob assured us was nothing. He pointed to a piston, wedged deep within the mechanism. “See, on these systems, those tend to break on down, and then you can lose a lot of fluid through them. I’m guessing that’s your problem. You just gotta take it on out, which isn’t actually too hard to do, and put a new one in. Do you have brake line wrenches? You’ll have to take that line off, and also loosen the bleeder valve. If you try with a regular wrench, you may strip it out, and then you’re really screwed. I got some in my shop; let’s go get them, and you can just bring them on back when you’re done. Never try this with a regular wrench.”
We got the wrenches, and he gave me a ride back. We stood idly by the dented old beast. “Yeah, if you’re ever trying to sell something to people, it’s best to have a vehicle that suggests you need the money. My old foam van was such a junker… as soon as I got a new van, everybody started giving me a hard time about my prices…”
“Think this one will do the trick?”
“Ha! It should!”
He laughed and left us with his wrenches and his wisdom, heading on back to whatever it is he heads on back to. Asher added the fluid and pumped the brakes. And pumped. And pumped. Finally, the springs engaged, and the fluid leaked from the precise piston Bob had identified. Three bolts and hammer tap later, it was out. I left Asher again for the fields.
20 hours and $12 later, we were back, with Ella in tow as well. I followed her through the playground of scrap metal, boards and exposed nails, while Asher positioned the piston, replaced the bolts and maneuvered the springs. I brought up the “before” pictures I’d taken, and we made some adjustment to the springs. Otherwise it looked good. We bled the lines with Bob’s trusty wrenches, and threw the tires back on. Should be good to go.
By now, Ella’s restlessness was tangible, so I pushed her down the driveway. Minutes later, the Shadow roared out from behind the barn. She bombed down the driveway; Free Bird blasting out of the open windows, and Asher’s hair blowing majestically in the breeze. We watched nervously as he approached the end of the driveway. Either she would stop, or blow straight across the road into Bob’s driveway. I swelled with pride as she stopped effortlessly, hung a quick right and blasted off gloriously down the highway.