One of my nephews likes to challenge his vehicles’ ability to go farther than reasonably possible on a tank of gas.


Most car guys have engaged in this kind of risky behavior, largely due to blind trust in old gas gauges, but my nephew just likes to push the envelope when it comes to gas consumption.


My Generation X nephew drives new vehicles but he has owned his share of older vehicles over the years, including four-wheeled survivors from the Swinging 60s and Sensational 70s.





That explains why he has also been stranded by car problems over the years; some situations are his fault and others are the result of mechanical failure.


My nephew likes the idea of a car adventure and embraces the kind of philosophy found in most car guys where uncertainty is part of the program. Every car guy will experience moments when they will be forced to think on their feet when mechanical issues put them on the side of the road.


My brother recently put his Generation Y son through a car guy rite of passage where he got involved in a rope tow adventure.


My Gen Y nephew hopped behind the wheel of a car towed by a rope behind my brother’s truck down a hill to a repair shop a mile or two down the road from their acreage and became the brake system for the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle.




Every car guy on the planet has been involved in these rope tow situations, but they are not common in today’s world because the process has some risks if the guy behind the wheel of the towed vehicle does not coordinate his braking rhythm with the tow vehicle.


The towed vehicle may require some serious brake pedal stomp to slow down both vehicles-but just not enough to break the tow rope.


My nephew watched my brother’s hand signals and applied the brake just enough to control the two vehicles. He passed the test with flying colors and they arrived safely at the repair shop.


Another rite of passage for car guys is how to start an old vehicle. Older car guys have an advantage because they have driven many carb-powered engines and know how to use a manual choke-or a wonky automatic choke.




Carburetors are a source of mystery once things start to go sideways in them. Car guys adapt to changing circumstances where chokes start to provide too much, too little, or no help in the fuel ignition process.


The trick for car guys is to figure out how to find the right conditions to get the ideal combustion in internal combustion engines.


Does it need a massive amount of gas pedal pumping, one pump, or does it need the pedal to the metal to start the engine? Or does it need a stick in the carb to hold open the choke?




All bets are off when a float sticks and the internal combustion concept becomes an external combustion bonfire on top of the intake manifold.


Bottom line is adventures in old cars are not a new concept for older car guys and are a rite of passage for younger car guys.




They are a fundamental part of the hobby that needs to be experienced and embraced by every car guy.


Jim  Sutherland

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