The usually uneventful 20 mile drive home from the shop I do volunteer work at was interrupted the other day while cruising in my Ford Galaxie 500 when the 390 power house engine momentarily sputter, slowed, then returned to it’s normal deliverance. A short distant down the road it happened again, my heart raced, anxiousness reared its ugly head, is the car is possessed! I did not want to break down in industrial Portland, Oregon as there is no mall or restaurants along NE Columbia Parkway to get out of the heavy rain that is falling. Come on you can make, you can make it, you can make it I say under breathe coaxing the Galaxie on to home. Fortunately, driving the speed limit the traffic lights are with us as green light after green light is passed through until the NE Killingsworth St and Interstate 205 intersection in Portland that takes me across the mighty Columbia River via the Glenn L. Jackson Bridge to Washington State Highway 14 and to home in Camas.
Waiting, I cringe as the Galaxie sputters crying for help like the human body does by sending out a burning sensation every time the knee is bent letting you know something is wrong. Continuing to sweet talk, I keep the engine at a high RPM so it doesn’t die whilst repeating to myself, just get me on the freeway, just get me on the freeway, just get me on the freeway. The light changes, I accelerate down the on ramp to 60mph, then merge onto the freeway; so far so good and home got closer when halfway across the bridge the engine sputtered like Jack Benny’s old Maxwell car slowing the Galaxie to 50 mph. Countering with sweet talk and praise (breaking down 144 feet above the Columbia River, at night with no place to go but a cold, dark, dead car was low on the list of things wanting to experience) both car and man crest the top and breathing a sigh of relief as if I’d just blown up the Death Star, head downhill.
Existing I-205 onto the clover leaf that will put me onto Highway 14 a slowdown is necessary with most drivers waiting until they are into the sharp curve then slam on the brakes, taking the curve on two wheels, when, upon landing, lay the lead foot onto the accelerator and fly down the freeway ignoring the speed limit. This form of driving scares the ba-gevees out of me that is why I go no faster than the speed limit this way if an accident occurs I can prepare for instead of being a part of it. On this evening the habits above are repeated even though the rain was falling in buckets with many car tires sending up surface spray thick as a London fog impairing vision. Scary how most drivers in this circumstance don’t adjust their driving habits they just speed on as if the pavement is bone dry. The Galaxie is unable to maintain the speed limit so I stay in the far right lane in case she dies for a safe glide to a halt onto the shoulder. A couple of hills to climb after existing the hair-raising freeway, a slow drive home on surface streets, and I tell you all that praise paid off for within 25’ of home base the engine died! WOW! I switch off the headlights and the glowing red alternator light illuminates the dashboard as I sit and absorb what occurred and what may have been. Back in reality I did not want to leave the car in the street so one final turn of the ignition key fired up the engine, right foot heavy on the gas pedal, and a drop of the gear shifter into drive and the Galaxie lurched forward, forward, forward now sharp right turn and BAM safe in the driveway! Happy to be home I retrieve my belongings from the car, went inside, got my dog Smokey Joe harnessed, and took him for a late night work in a nearby park. There is nothing better in the world then taking a dog for a walk after a stressful day and being distracted as he sniffs and marks (well maybe seeing the Northern Lights). Before retiring I search my mechanic’s website for business hours and discover the ability of setting an appointment online which I do as a pre-warning making sleep restful.
The next morning around 530 a.m. I lay in bed with an all was right with the world feeling when reality hit and I remembered the lifeless Galaxie in the driveway. Rousting myself out of bed and after a few cups of coffee, I phone AAA arranging to have the Galaxie towed to the auto repair shop. The truck arrived promptly; the driver experienced and had car and myself to the garage in no time where the nature of the problem was explained then the shuttle driver takes me back home (the shuttle service is one of the reasons I chose this repair center). The friend with the business I volunteer at will have to find someone else to fill in as I wait at home.
And wait I did. Not until 330 p.m. did I receive a call revealing the cause of the failure: faulty ignition coil, points and condenser gone so the sputtering was due to erratic spark from the coil. The car wont be back on the road until the next day, estimated time of arrival: 3pm. Well now is a great time to get those projects backing up on the “to do” list done! So the next morning, two days on the disabled list, I restart the painting of the patio roof project thinking it complete by the time the call from my mechanic comes in however at 1026am I receive an unexpected call that the Galaxie is ready to go. YEAH! Wrapping up the paint project after a good showing I arrange to be picked up and within minutes am reunited with the Ford Galaxie and my bank account a little lower. Quickly I call to inform the small business friend I will be able to show up after all which he breathes a sigh of relief as the assistance is needed and I am glad to get back to work with reliable transportation. Arriving at the business I lockup the Galaxie and while walking to the entrance I turn and glance at the Ford, she is smiling.