You Want a Heater in That?

P21 Chev Pickup 03-20-1964I now know why I’m a pack rat. Mother’s attic was a time capsule, and Dad’s filing cabinets are a treasure trove of business minutia. I’ve found things going back to 1946. The one summer I worked for him, he set me to scooping up every nail, screw and bolt on the floor of the various shops, and then had me carefully put each one in its proper bin.

I thought he was just giving me busy work to do between unloading lumber and concrete forms coming back from jobs, but, no, I see that his year end inventories were down to the nut, bolt and screw level. Not by box, but by item.

Jim Kirkwood got an “economy heater”

Dad and his partners would usually trade pickup trucks every three years to get the most trade-in value out of them.

The invoice above shows that Jim Kirkwood got a new 1964 Chevrolet 1/2-ton pickup for a grand total of $2,240.70. (Click on it to make it easier to read.)

Extras included a wheel carrier for $15.10; an economy heater for $53.80; a manual radio for $47.90, and two-speed windshield wipers for $16.15.

1967’s model was spiffier

P23 1867 Chev pickupKirkwood’s 1967 truck had a few more extras. Maybe Steinhoff, Kirkwood and Joiner had had a good year. The overall cost was $2,754.20, but his old truck was worth$1,423.20 in trade.

Here were his options:

  • Heater – $68.35
  • Radio – $58.65
  • Wheel carrier – $14.00
  • Gauges – 10.80
  • Heavy-duty springs – $6.50
  • Powerglide – $199.10
  • Deluxe rear window – $43.05
  • 2-tone paint – $16.15 (White/Red)
  • Custom molding – $43.05
  • M/S tires (rear) – 6.80

My oil changing experience

Mark Steinhoff Easter 1962Dad was due for a new truck the summer I worked for him. He’d only had it a few weeks when he pulled it into the shop and told me to change the oil.

Now, I had never changed the oil in anything before, but how hard could it be? You unscrew a plug, let all the goop drain out, you put the plug back and you pour in new goop, right?

That’s exactly what I did. I was surprised that it took less oil than I expected, but a check of the dip stick showed the crankcase was full.

(That’s Brother Mark crawling over one of Dad’s trucks. He was partial to green and white, but I think a blue one slipped in from time to time.)

“Something’s wrong with the transmission”

Dad was working a job out in the Missouri Ozarks, so he didn’t get back until late the next afternoon.

“There’s something wrong with the transmission. It kept popping out of gear all the time. I hope I didn’t get a lemon,” he said over dinner.

The next day he discovered that there was zip, zero, zilch transmission fluid in the vehicle.

I got the drain plug part right, I just didn’t know that belly of the beast had TWO drain plugs – one for oil and the other for transmission fluid.

I give Dad credit. He didn’t chew me out. The truck and I both survived the experience.

 

 

Brother Mark Gets an Owie

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013

Brother Mark came down from St. Louis to help me with some domestic repair jobs. Mother has two toilets that have taken to running at odd intervals and driving up her water bill. I’ve thrown new flappers at them the last couple of visits, but that doesn’t seem to have fixed the problem.

Let’s get one thing established: I am not a friend of plumbing. Like I’ve said before, I can go to change a simple washer and before long somebody is digging up the street in front of my house. Electricity obeys simple rules: It works or it don’t work. Plumbing is insidious. It’s a plotter. It appears to be perfectly happy for years, then picks 2 a.m. the day after you leave for a two-week trip to go berserk. I always peek in the window before I open the front door to see how high the water level is if I’ve been gone more than a couple of hours.

Anyway, Mark claims not to afraid of pipes, so I ceded the task to him. He says we need to replace the Douglas valves. He says that with such certainty that I feel comfortable until he adds, “It’ll go smoothly if the screws aren’t rusted (they are) and we don’t crack the ceramic (OK, thanks for telling me the kind of disaster we’re going to confront in advance). Oh, yeah, there’s one other issue. There’s no shut-off valve on the basement toilet, so I hope you can hold it until I can put one in.”

He’s going to be touching pipes that were installed 57 years ago. See any opportunities for problems?

Plumbing had to wait

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013But, plumbing had to wait. We had something else to tackle because it’s supposed to rain Sunday. The last storm ripped some tin from the roofs of our buildings in Dutchtown. There’s not much in them that can be hurt (the floods of ’73, ’93 and 2011 have pretty much taken care of that), but we didn’t want the wooden beams to rot.

We’ve got a short extension ladder down there, but I suggested to Mark that it would be faster and safer to rent a taller ladder that would get us (I use “us” in the royal sense) to the rooftop. I played the Medicare Card, telling Mark that once you have one of those in your wallet, you’re not allowed to prance around on rooftops. To my surprise, he agreed. That worried me. That must mean he was planning to drop heavy objects on my head.

I called a rental joint at 2 minutes past 5 only to hear the phone ring and ring and ring. Then I surmised that Wife Lila’s Brother John would have a ladder we might borrow. You might remember John from when he came to Florida to help us with some repairs.

He not only had a ladder, he was willing to loan me his manly pickup truck. I’m pretty sure he weighed the amusement value of watching the two of us try to figure out how to carry a 24-foot ladder in a Honda Odyssey against how much he liked his ladder and didn’t want to find it bent and broken on the side of the road. I thought I was going to need a stepladder to get INTO this beast. Wife Lila would have been appalled to see me cruising down the road with a pair of Truck Nutz dangling from the back of the truck if she hadn’t been the one to buy them for him as a gag gift. I don’t think she thought he would not only put them ON the truck, but he paints them to go with the season. They’re still red from last summer, but that’s OK because Missouri has had a warm winter, he justified.

We made it to Dutchtown and Mark tackled the main shed first. He said only a couple of panels of tin needed to be replaced or patched over. It turned out to be pretty much a one BLEEP! job when he discovered that a thumb that is caught between the nail and the hammer causes a large blood blister. He insisted on sharing his wound with me.

“This probably isn’t good”

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013We checked out a smaller row of sheds that we knew had some damage last summer. This turned out to be a two BLEEP!!! job. When he came down off the roof, he showed me his left glove thumb which was red at the end. “This probably isn’t good,” he said.

I assured him the red was simply the manufacturer’s way of color coding the glove so it was easy to tell which one was for the left hand.

When he went on the roof to make one final touchup, he wanted me to document his owie. I would have shown him more sympathy if I had known for sure that he hadn’t secreted a packet of ketchup in his coat pocket.

I can’t wait until we (meaning him) tackles the plumbing tomorrow. My job is defined as standing by with 9-1-1 entered into my phone and my finger poised over the SEND button. If you are the lowlands of Cape Girardeau or live along the Mississippi River between Cape and New Orleans, you might want to pay close attention to your alert radio. If John can do THIS – and he’s a trained professional – you can only imagine what Mark is going to do.

Mark would like you to click on the photos to make them larger so you can appreciate his sacrifice. Just remember: packets of ketchup.

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.