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The Bench Racers Journal
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d Cool
Dave L.
Chapter 19

So for the next half hour Steve gives me the whole spew. Right to the point I spun up in the air and off the back side of that banked turn.

Man, you got some serious air when kart left the track. I didnt know it could rotate so fast. Seemed like you just kept going higher and higher as it spun around.

You notice all of the track lights on poles around the turns? Well that one turn over there, ( Steve points to the far side of track where the incident took place) well it aint there no more. Not at all.

When everyone ran over across the track to see what happened to you, well...there you were alright. No where near the kart. But almost laying on top of that light. It was still burning bright too. You were like stretched all out. It was totally weird. Your arm was extended, like you were actually trying to reach out for something.

I really freaked out at first. They turned you over on your back. Man that is awful to think about right now. There was blood covering your face. Your mouth was full of sand too. Not to mention all of it stuck on your face in the blood.

I am sorry, but I had to leave. After some yelling and others arrived, you were eventually carted back here on the stretcher. Your dad finally came over to me to say you were alright. I was still too scared to go see for myself at that moment. I really thought your were....well you know....anyway.

That kid they had barred from the race had been responsible and caused the wreck. You are in no way at fault for anything. Well except for being at the wrong place that moment. You are the victim of someone elses score to settle.

The police had to be called just to remove that kids parents from the premises. They kept yelling about their membership is paid up and had every right to be here just like all the others. They were not going to be forced to leave. I guess there was enough board members here tonight to vote them out as members. According to the bylaws they had every right to do so. Steve stopped talking for the moment to take a breather.

I see my dad coming over, relieved to have his company and security right now. I tell him how sorry I am for everything that has happened. That possibly I am not ready to start racing just yet. Maybe we could wait until next year, if he would still consider letting me start.

So you mean it? After all that has happened tonight. You almost meeting your maker. Do you realize what your mom would do to me if something happened to you? After all of this, you are still thinking about racing? My dad stares at me with a serious look on his face.

Yes sir, how stupid of me to think that. Maybe I should be glad I am still in one piece, and not any worse off than what could have been.

Yes son, it could have been worse. You could have been run over by a car walking home from school. You could have drowned when falling out of the boat a couple of summers ago the time we went fishing. You could have gotten gangrene when splitting your finger open last winter. What about when you were standing up on the bumper of the motor home? You somehow slipped off and cut a gash in your neck from the license plate. That sure was a oddball. But after any incident you found yourself in a tough situation, I have seen how that affected your judgement afterwards.

You learn from these experiences fast as anyone. This becomes ingrained in your noggin there(knocking on my head with his knuckles, and yes dad that really hurts right now) and eventually gets processed into what will eventually become common sense. If you keep repeating the same mistakes over again and not figure things out, then maybe you are right and shouldnt start racing. So if you are really thinking about quitting already, well I guess that is your choice. You have to make that decision for yourself tho.

Dad? Are you using this as a life lesson here? Or just implying I am a just an accident prone klutz? Does this mean I might be able to still start racing? My brain feels a little sluggish tonight, so it would be helpful to clarify this a little better.

Yes, I am turning this into a parental moment here. A learning experience. It is my job as your father, among other things. Another important one is keeping you alive long enough to grow up. He sort of laughs and rubs his hand thru my hair this time. Did you know there is sand and what looks like sawdust in your hair? Where did that come from?

So is everything alright then? Am I not in trouble tonight? Son, YOU are in trouble. YOU and ME both. Your mom is going to have something to say about tonight. But for right now, you are off the hook. I did call her earlier to prepare for our return home.

Dad? Do we have time to drive by the Devils Bowl on the way home and maybe watch the end of those races? Or just see the cars when they are leaving the track?

As my dad recovers from a seriously long laugh. Mostly one that sounded really fake, he informed me of the present situation. Boy, if we are lucky we might get back home before the sun rises. Do you not know what time it is?

I have no idea. It was just after 10:30 when I took the kart out on track. I wasnt out there for than a couple dozen laps before.....well thats far as I remember.

After your little spill, you took a short snooze. The paramedic took care of that. Actually you were out for about three hours. While you were napping, the rest of us had to deal with those responsible for the incident tonight. Well that was last night.

There was a lot of verbal exchanges, finger pointing. Even some near fisticuffing among some of the other board members. That whole family has been barred for life from the club.

Some on the board thought that this was a little too extreme. While others didnt think severe enough. For now everything is settled. But will be finalized and voted on by the membership at next club meeting.

Since it seems like you are feeling closer to your normal self now, we might as well get ready to head home. Or better yet, since its been a little stressful tonight, I could do with a little settling down and maybe something to eat. How about you and Steve? You guys up for some food?

Me and Steve looked at each other then both nodded our heads at the same time. Good, sounds like a plan. You guys go stretch your legs for a few minutes and then we can head over to the Circle Grill in a short. That is the only thing open this late.
It just doesn't get any better than that !!!

Chapter 20

Thanks dad, that sounds great. A plate of chicken fried steak, heap of mash potatoes with gravy, and green beans sounds really good right now. I am starved. Good to see your appetite has not gone anywhere, dad says with a nice reassuring smile. Guess that is a good sign.

Steve asks if I am up to a short hike. He wants to take me on the other side of track where I had made my final stand earlier. Or should I say landing. I am still a little shakey, but after a few steps, loosened up a little and not so much of a problem. Just some soreness and a few bruises to deal with.

We make it across the track. He is telling me about where I was found laying face down, looking like I was reaching toward the light that was still laying there.

Steve is now walking away from me, searching all around. I ask what he is looking for. Nothing in particular, he says, just scoping out the area. I have known Steve long enough to tell when he is not being completely up front about things.

Oh wow, look here it is! Steve yells a little too excited. I drag myself over. Now starting to feel the pains a bit more. He picks up something and turns around to face me.

Does this look familiar? He asked. I look at a wheel. A front wheel after closer scrutiny. Standing next to him, I see it still has part of the front axle still attached. I then have a heavy feeling in my gut. Is that....? I asked him.

Yep, this is what is left of Mr Cates kart you so eloquently did a number on. Snapping back at Steve, I told him he sure knew how to make a guy feel good, not! He started laughing and said lets get out of here. Its should be about time to leave.

As we are walking back to the pits, all of the track lights go out. Yes its time to leave, Steve snickers. Doo-da-doo-do in the Twilight Zone theme. I will race you to the car, he said. Then takes off and leaves me behind. I continue on at my slow but comfortable pace in the darkness.

Just now realized there is no moon tonight and is really dark out here. At this slow but steady pace I limp back to the parking lot where dad is now waiting in the Ranchero with Steve already sitting inside.

I slide in and realize now my wrist is just a little sore while pulling the door closed. We head out of there on to the highway and in a few minutes exit at Buckner road then head toward the Circle Grill.

On the way I ask Steve about that wheel. Is it really from Mr Cates kart? Steve sort of ignores the question but does confirm that his mom said it was OK for him to spend the night.

My dad mentions that in another hour the sun would be getting ready to show itself, so might as well drop him off at home when we are finished eating. Steves response was more of disappointment and defeat in tone that actual intelligible verbiage.

Then dad says something about hanging around for hamburgers on the grill for lunch, if he was interested. Steve quickly brightened up and felt relieved.

As we pull in to the parking lot there is some clanking in the bed of Ranchero. It was empty earlier when we headed out to the track. I ask what is making the noise. My dad just some junk that needed to be hauled off. Oh, must be that part Steve picked up. But Steve just messing with me, or was it related to the accident earlier? I sure hope not.

We stop in front of the Circle Grill and dad tells us to hurry up, get inside and find a table. Order drinks and he will park the truck. We shuffle out and I look back in the truck bed. But there is a tarp covering a pile of whatever is there.
Chapter 21

As we walk in the Circle Grill making more noise than should be, it immediately got quiet while eyes started to focus on those noisy kids. That would be both of us. I felt like everyone was staring right at me for some reason. Then Steve said, Hey look everyone is staring right at you for some reason. He gives me the once over and says what a mess I was. No wonder everyone is being so obvious.

It is now very bright inside and the first time I can see the condition of my clothes. I look down and realize they are rubber necking at me for a reason. My tee shirt is torn, covered in grass stains.

I see my arms and realize what Steve had mentioned earlier. Under the scrapes, dirt and oil, they are bruised all over. Dried blood in scratches, and still dusted with sand. My well broken in once perfect fitting Levis are filthy and ripped at the knees. Sad these are a getting retired now. Guess they will be cut in to shorts for the summer.

Steve suggests a trip to the repair room and attempt to make my presence look more presentable. Granted there isnt much to work with, but to do what I can. No reason to cause the other customers to loose their appetites over my appearance. Otherwise he is sitting at a different table. Thanks Steve, I needed that!

So excusing myself from the waitress that was seating us, I headed away to do some damage control. The expression on her face was an obvious sign of how bad my appearance really was. For the first time tonight I got a real good look at myself in the mirror. Oh the horror!

If it were Halloween, I would have been all set. But about six months too early. Staring in the mirror for a moment, I sort of lost my appetite. This face is a nightmare. The dried blood, black eye, bruises, and butterfly bandages, really did look like a real makeup job for some costume party.

Steve didnt mention just how bad this eye was. The white of my eye was dark, nearly black crimson. Almost looking possessed, with one all black eye. Wow, if looks could hurt, I would be hospitalized right now. Glad the pain is only a light throb.

I had forgotten about the ace bandages on my wrists too. Took a few minutes, but able to remove most of the surface rust. This restroom had the revolving cloth hand towel. You pull it down wipe your hands and it rolls up in the back of metal box. I really hated these.

My hopes were to dampen a paper towel and try to wipe some of the dirt off my clothes. Ended up with a wad of toilet paper instead. This stuff sure is strong tho. Doesnt really seem to absorb much water. Not what I would care to use elsewhere. But worked well enough on knocking some of this dirt off my pants.

Splashing cold water on my face really felt good. After a quick wash, then cleaning up a mess all over the sink, looked a little less for wear. Back out to find the table. My appetite was coming back too.

Steve mentioned that next time maybe doing the cleanup before making such a grand entrance. Might save an embarrassing moment. But said it was worth seeing the look on my face earlier. He said this would have made a great Kodak moment.

After downing what felt like a gallon of tea, very sweet ice tea, I am feeling back to normal more so, except for some aches and pains. We delved in small talk that didnt amount to anything. For some reason nothing harping on tonights incident. I got the feeling my dad had been much more concerned about my well being than letting on.

The food arrived and I didnt miss a beat on shoveling it down. Man was that good. Both Steve and dad just stared at me for a moment. What can I say? I am a growing boy and need my nourishment.

Driving back home was very uneventful. So much that I fell asleep on the way back. It is like someone just pulled the plug on me. I was done. Dont remember even getting back or how I made it to bed.

Normally Steve and I would stay outside in a tent. But the next morning, well actually afternoon when I woke, was in my own bed. Steve had slept in my oldest brothers room, since he was away at college.

I just about screamed when trying to get up out of bed. Every part of my body was already doing that. The pain I was feeling is not something I would want to deal with at all ever again. Did I mention how much my body ached?

Still dressed in yesterdays tattered clothes. My leg was tingling and numb from being asleep in a funky position for so long. When I tried to stand up, just gave out and I hit the floor. I hate it when that happens. You cant do anything until it gets back to normal. So hypersensitive too. It feels all swollen and numb at the same time.

Reminds me of getting Novocaine at the dentist when having a cavity filled. You cant really feel your face and trying to talk is more than awkward. Top that off with the bruises and scratches all over my body only compounded the pains.

Since only yelling out a silent scream, didnt garnish the attention of anyone. I just sat there until my leg came back to near normal, then stood up still shaky. Looking over at the dresser mirror I noticed my hair was also having a bad day.

Reminded me of my old pet Abyssinian guinea pigs natural hairdo. Sure miss that little dude. He would always start oinking when ever I came home from school. I would pet him for a while and he would just purr like a cat. Been a few years now since age got the best of him.

Made myself scarce for a while taking a very long and desperately needed hot shower. Then discovered how much road rash I had sustained the night before. Had to be careful stepping into some fresh clothes, but feeling a little more human again. Time to find out what is going on today.
Chapter 22

Outside Steve is talking with dad. He is helping out and flipping burgers on the grill. That smell is working up my appetite real good. During lunch my mom is constantly glancing over at me. Slightly shaking her head, she asks how I am feeling. Just fine mom, why?

She then looks over to my dad, with that expression only a mom can make. There is going to be a discussion, so far as I can decipher the vibes right now. Hope nothing changes due to last nights slight minor little fiasco.

After a somewhat quiet but filling lunch, Steve gets my attention and wants to show me something. He is hyped up too much about whatever it is. We walk out back to garage behind the house. There is a tarp covering something. He is quick to remove it and show me what is that he is so anxious about.

I can surely say now at that moment there was a complete loss for words. I stared at the pile of rubble and just shook my head. What had been a really fun to drive kart the night before was anything but that now. Bits and pieces were piled up over the remains of one Cates kart which had given me the most enjoyment I had for just a short amount of time the night before.

What? Why? How come? What gives? He gave it to you, dumoss. Steve then tells me what gives. It wasnt worth Mr Cates doing anything with it. I asked if he would sell, but shook his head no. Instead just gave it away. It is yours to fix. That is if you are up to the challenge. If not I guess you can just throw it away.

So how, how did you manage to talk him out of it? It even has the motor still there. That has a Bug connecting rod. It cost more than $15 bucks. The Mercury clutch has got to be worth another $10 dollars. He just gave it to you? Well yea, he did. I told him you would really like to have it. So it is yours. You want it or not?

But dont think for a minute you are the only one that is going to drive it. I figure we can both use the track time. Maybe even swap out heat races or even race nights. Does that sound good to you?

Gee Steve, I cant....I dont know what to say. You did all of this for me? Heck no, I didnt do it all for you. I was selfish and only thinking of me this time. There is no way I am able to fix this mess. Your dad has the welder, and tools. Its going to take a lot of work if even possible. Mr Cates thought it was a total loss. Not worth the effort even to remove any of the parts either.

I figured that if you can make this pretzel into a kart again, then maybe if possible, we can copy it or come up with an even better frame. We have to start somewhere. I can do a lot of the work helping out, but without the necessary tools, it wont happen at my house. So are you interested in fixing it or not?

Heck yea, Steve! Yes we are going to fix this. How hard can it be? The frame is just straight sections of square tubing butted together and welded. Well I think it is supposed to be straight pieces. Really hard to tell right now looking it over.

Steve, dont you think these sections here are supposed to be straight? That sure looks like a machine bend, hmm. I didnt really look the kart over that well last night. It was fairly dark and I got sort of lost with everything going on. Yes that has to be straight. Look there would be no ground clearance any other way. OK this kart is going to get fixed. I can do this. I think.....

Even exciting as it was to know that I now have a kart, my body did not share in the exuberance of that moment. Steve had already thanked my parents for everything and gone on home. I for some reason lost all physical interest in the new project today. That didnt mean I wasnt thinking about working on the frame in my mind. It is just this body was not being cooperative at all.

I stayed inside for the rest of Sunday. The grand parents, only a month before grand dad had passed away, gave the family our first color television for Christmas. Later that evening I watched "War of the Worlds" starring Gene Berry. It was playing as a world premier showing on "Sunday Night at the Movies" on NBC. I was way too young to see it at the movie theater originally, but now to watch at home in color seemed like something that could actually happen for real.

This is one movie I really had been looking forward to watching, even tho still seemed just a little bit scary. I knew it was just science fiction. But over the years, realized that most science fiction eventually becomes science fact. That sure doesnt set my mind as ease tho. Must process this more. What if....
Chapter 23

Monday morning came soon enough. For some reason I felt just a little more motivated. Ok really a lot more. So getting up fairly early even tho it was spring break and Easter at end of the week.

No sooner had I finished with the usual chores and was heading out the door, mom calls be back. She informs me I have a doctors appointment. Ah mom...What for? She said get cleaned up and be ready by 11:00. That didnt really leave much time to do anything but wait it out.

Sitting there twiddling my thumbs for a few minutes waiting for mom, the door bell rings. Its already after 11:00, so maybe this is something that can postpone my doctors appointment. I open the door and Dr Ingram is standing there is his big glasses with a goofy smile on his face.

I see you dont believe in turning the other cheek, he says in a mocked laugh. You have quite the shiner there too. Hope this doesnt become a habit. No sir, I was sort of in a small mishap at the kart track Saturday night. So I see, he responds. Lets take a look at that and made sure you will live.

I sit down and doc gives me the once over. He stretched me up down and sideways. Pulled and yanked till I was getting sore. You will live was his professional evaluation. Now about that eye, as he squeezes around my head. Any dizziness or loss of appetite. No sir. Any pain or ongoing headache. No sir, not if you quit squeezing my head. I see you still have a sense of humor. Thats a good sign, he mumbles. Yes I have to, with a quack for a doctor.....sir.

My doc has known me shortly after a severe case of chicken pox when I was five. Since then we have been able to communicate very well. He has a way of making me comfortable and talk about anything relevant. He can cut up with me and doesnt hold anything back. So naturally neither do I.

Doctors dont make house calls so much any more. But his office is just a few blocks away. He decided to stop by on his way out to make rounds at the hospital. Besides we have been going to him since he first opened his practice. How can I get any luckier?

Is your vision very blurry? No sir, not too much. I can feel a slight throb in my eye with every heart beat, but vision is mostly clear. Again with the pressing and squeezing. He asked who did the botch job with the butterfly bandages. I said it was a temporary track side repair. No one had a welder. He didnt get this or was just more focused on my eye.

Well you could use a couple of stitches here. Do you think your mom would mind if I borrowed a needle and...Is pink thread ok with you? Doc! Thats not funny! His chuckling was getting annoying. Oh wait, I might have some sutures in my bag. Sorry, forgot I brought them. Sit tight while I apply a local here. Then sew you back together.

While dong his fancy needle work on my cut, he suggests leaving the doctoring work to a professional. He really left the door open with this remark. I was all ready with a very snarky comeback. Except he had the palm of his hand across my face to steady those fingers while tending my cut. So I was not able to speak without disrupting his efforts.

Your grandfather was one hard headed man. I dont know how many times he chose to stitch himself up instead of making a trip to see me. Trying to explain the dangers of an infection didnt sink in with him. Granted he was fortunate not to have any issues. But some of those incidents ended up with very deep cuts. It would have been bad if he let an infection go unattended and more serious damage resulted.

Finally, the doc is done. It was only about 15 minutes of torture. He used two stitches where I had that cut above my eye. I didnt think it would be a problem, but the doctor knows best. I had kept new butterfly bandages on it yesterday and this morning, but now there are two small knots of string. Doc said to leave it exposed and instructed me to apply some salve he left a few times daily. Otherwise keep my hands off.

Mom thanked doc for the visit and then showed him out. She then said how glad it was to see me and him get along so well. I could have responded with something, but kept it to myself.

Didnt seem like any time had passed, but Steve dropped by late in the afternoon. I had worked non stop since the quack doc had left. Completely missed out on lunch.

Steve just stood there and whistled in surprise. What happened to the frame? He didnt even comment about my temporary eye piercings. Maybe without the bright white butterflies, it isnt so noticeable now.

After taking all of the salvageable measurements, I cut each frame section apart. Now laying here was just a pile of short hollow sticks. A few of the pieces were still straight, but the others bent beyond useful.

That rear section of frame with welded motor mounts was still solid. The rest of frame didnt exist anymore. For my first day, I managed to do the easy stuff. That is tearing everything apart. Now some time figuring out how to assemble these pieces to some facsimile of a frame again.

From a side view the front main frame rails looked like they are parallel with rear section. Keeping that in mind it should be easy to build a jig and start setting pieces in place to weld. If rails are supposed to be this way then angles would be easy to figure out.

Using an old machinists square my grandfather on dads side of family had given me last year, I was able to measure angles close enough to average out and make work. Everything else would be fitted around these dimensions. I always called him grandpa. He previously worked as a machinist right after the war at Temco Aircraft. It had recently become part of a big conglomerate known as LTV. He had since retired and seemed to be enjoying his new found free time.

My dad knows how to weld. He has shown me the basics. But I have not actually gotten a chance to build anything yet. He offered me any help if I needed it welding the frame. I practiced what dad had showed me previously that evening. But my welds were not up to par. Especially relying on them to hold this frame together.

Dad agreed to do the more difficult welds. But I should still keep practicing to better myself. I found out after a couple of days that gas welding this thinner wall square tubing was fairly easy.

The Cates frame was originally arc welded. My first attempts were disastrous on this small tubing. I managed to keep from burning holes on thicker material. But frame rails were a no go right now.

Some patio furniture that I had salvaged in the past was just right to replace the broken and twisted pieces. So after some trial and error, I had enough sections to weld a frame back together.

This front axle was odd. I didnt realize how it was supposed to be made at first. But already decided to go with my gut on this.

Mom hollered for me after the phone rang. I asked her if she could take a message. That wasnt the right thing to say. She raised her voice and then I knew immediately to drop everything and get my butt in there to answer the phone.

Since our only phone was hanging on the kitchen wall, I had to run from garage, across yard, thru the back door, wash my hands then reach for the phone. Out of breath, a quick Hello? This is Lynn Cates, am I addressing Terry? Immediately I straighten up like he is talking directly to me in person. Yes sir, it is nice to hear from you.

I was just following up on your condition from the weekend. Sounds like you are feeling a lot better than when I left the track on Saturday. Yes sir I am much better. Thank you for asking. Was there any serious injury that you were not aware of? No sir, I was lucky. Well not lucky, but fortunate not to have any serious injuries.

After some more small talk, I wanted to ask him about the kart. Then told him everything Steve and I have done so far. After a very long pause....Well I am impressed. Didnt expect that frame to see much if any future. I am really glad that you ended up with it now.

Mr Cates, I am somewhat in the dark about certain things. Do you mind explaining how the front axle is made? Right now I am cutting the short axle pieces and not sure how the center section is attached. The frame was really twisted and doesnt make sense to me.

I had previously found the front end geometry in a Kart Handbook. But not exactly sure how the short stubs are supposed to be located. He asks me some specifics to figure out what I was at a loss about. Then after some clarification he then told me what had my grey matter didnt register so well.

He says if anything else I am cant figure out to be sure and call. He would be more than happy to help out any way he could. Mr Cates, there is one more thing I am at a loss about. Can you explain what a Reverse Elliott cleivs is? I know what a clevis is. Like used on the gas and brake linkage, but this one has got me stumped.

He asked if I had paid any attention to the different styles of spindles on other karts. Yes sir, I have seen the C bracket welded to frame that spindle attaches with the large thru bolt. But your kart uses the reverse of this type........Never mind I think I just figured that one out. Wow! I thanked him and hung up.

It was time to take a late lunch break. Hollered at Steve and we made some Black Forest ham sandwiches. I couldnt find a bottle opener. After grabbing a Dr Pepper, I hang the cap on edge of table and pop it off with the palm of my hand. Steve goes for a Coke and does the same. Now something good and cold to choke down the sandwiches with. Then spent this short lunch break going over everything Mr Cates had explained to me with him. Time to make some more progress today.
Chapter 24

Back outside to the garage. Now working with some confidence that I didnt have just thirty minutes earlier. Originally the front center section of axle was welded flat and square to main frame rails.

Mr Cates had actually built a fixture for welding the short angled outer axle stubs rotated on center line of spindle back to achieve the right amount of caster. This seemed to me a more difficult way of fabricating the front axle than the way I had decided to go with.

After discussing things with Mr Cates, he told me this other way was just as good and not worry about it being different. He also suggested to weld small tabs on bottom of frame and just bolt in a piece of aluminum for floor pan. He said that is one of the improvements that is planned for the next batch of karts that are going to be built.

I went ahead and layed out the axle sections flat on work table and tack welded them together. Then measured from bottom of rail to center line of spindle. Set the spindle tubes in location and also tack welded them in place.

Since the axle was now made flat I had to cut both main frame rails at the caster angle instead of fitting square like before. It was much easier for me to do this way than how the Cates frame was originally made. I didnt ask him why he did it that way. Curious why tho? I need to ask him that next time we talk.

Close to the end of our spring break, there was most of a frame back together. A near major screw up came when building a one time use wood fixture to hold frame sections. At first I thought the wood was warped, since nothing seemed to line up at all. I tried over and over but still couldnt figure it out.

After disassembling everything again, the rear frame section had fallen off the table when I removed a C-clamp. I picked it up and layed it top side down. For some reason it rocked back and forth instead of flat. Wow! That must be the problem. Didnt really look twisted, but it had to be.

Before straightening, I looked down across those four tubes making up main frame rails and motor mounts. By lining up the outer rail on one side of frame to the other, you could definitely see they were not flat at all. Just a little tweak starts out small but that angle just keeps getting bigger farther away from the the beginning of where its bent.

To fix this I ended up clamping a large piece of rectangular tubing across right side motor mount facing forward. Another piece clamped on left mount facing back. Later when Steve was over we both grabbed one end of the long tubing and worked together to straighten the frame section. It took a few tries, but went back really easily.

This fiberglass seat had suffered substantial damage in the wreck. Mr Cates had thrown in a extra seat with some other parts. But it had been patched up all over. I wanted to reuse the existing seat if at all possible. Then I would have an extra if needed at the track.

It was split and splintered down the spine and gaping holes from being yanked out where bolted to frame. Seemed a lost cause at first, but determined to make it good again. Hey those ripped out bolt holes match places on my back where there were bruises.

My first attempts to fiberglass was less than stellar. The resin set up way too fast. It seemed even before I had finished mixing, it was already turning to jelly then rock hard.

I kept mixing in less drops until there was decent work time. Now the seat repairs was making some headway. Even tho I had to grind off most of the repair and lay down more glass each time, it finally got fixed. After sanding the inside, this seat almost looked like normal again.

With all of the grinding I had to do there was a layer of white fiberglass dust covering me. I was starting to itch up a storm. This stuff will make you miserable. I did know that fiberglass is what itching power was actually made of. Maybe sweep it up off the floor and sell it. Naw, not worth the headache. This stuff is terrible. I cant stop scratching my arms right now.

Last year dad built a small hydroplane from 1/4" 4x8 plywood sheets. There were plans in a Popular Mechanics or some boating mag. He thought it would be a fun project. Looked like a lot of effort to me. That was my only time to work with fiberglass. I was mixing small amounts while dad would lay the mat down and apply resin with a brush.

It is very frustrating at first. But now I could see where my deficiencies were in those previous attempts. It made more sense why dad worked in such small spots each time a batch was mixed. Learning curve I guess. The weekend came, me and Steve had managed to nearly assemble the kart on Saturday. I arc welded the seat tabs. Dad looked over the welds and gave me a much needed positive nod.

Sunday was Easter and both of us had our own church duties. Then the big family get togethers for lunch. It wasnt until Monday when I met up with Steve to talk karts again. For some reason, there was a lot of guys giving me odd looks and some laughing. Others slapped me on the back and made some snyde comments.

Most of my road rash had disappeared or was not visible now. The very black eye, even dark as it was finally faded out. So didnt know what they were making a big deal about.

I found Steve at lunch. He asked who I had been talking to? I asked him about what? Seemed everyone that made their mark today had heard about the incident last week at the track. Steve swore he didnt mention it to anyone. Then how?

Karla Mullins sat down next to me at the lunch table. She asked if I was interested in the schools acrobatics team. She was at the track with her cousin Jessica last week. I really didnt know her other than being in Science class. But guess now that explains a few things.

She told us her other cousin had raced that night. He is only a year older, so would still be in the junior class. Knowing her, it would not surprise me if he was the kid that caused all of the commotion that night after the races.

She said if I was able to achieve that much air in gymnastics would be very competitive. Then started laughing very loud. Several others around our table joined in. With nothing else to do, I just joined in on the laughs shaking my head up and down.

I do know she is usually the person everyone relies on for the latest gossip going around. Up until now that never included me. I had preferred it this way too. But now I just went along.

In the past it seemed to take the wind out of her sail if she didnt ruffle the rumored persons feathers somewhat. I was hoping for that reaction from her now. Then might be less likely next time to spread gossip on me. I never cared to be the center of attention for whatever reason. This time would be no exception.

For the next few weeks, very little work got done on the new but not necessarily improved Cates kart frame. I had a lot of school work to keep grades up at an expected and acceptable level. Unfortunately that meant all good numbers and no excuses.

This is my last year in elementary. I had never thought about or questioned the grade scale. Didnt really know any different. I know my brothers in high school now were graded with letters. But in elementary they used numbers. Number 1 was an A. Then go down to a 4 which would be D. Really made no sense, why one or the other. In high school an F was failure. I guess you cant actually fail with just a D in elementary.

Well the school work wasnt hard at all. Just got to be so boring. If I could apply some of it to anything I liked to actually do, then maybe stay focused a little better. But my focus was way better on a lot of other things. Just never seemed to be necessarily school work.

Weeks went by, then the scholastic placement tests finally came and went. These are so boring and could put me to sleep way to easily. But made the best of it by just thinking of botching them. You always hear about everything going on your permanent record. Didnt want a bunch of bad scores there. Thats one thing for sure. This at least got me thru the week. Blah!

It took the whole school year but summer was finally closing in. I was hoping to get the kart finished soon as summer started. Friday was it. The last day. The one and only thing left was a school party for all of the 7th grade graduating class. Next year was Jr High at a different school.

Even tho I attended a normal public elementary school this event was coordinated with a private Christian Church school. Nothing fancy, just cake, cookies, ice cream, cokes and being dressed up a little more than school. Finally about 9pm, party was over and summer was here. Yeahaa!
Chapter 25

I did not sleep in late Saturday like normal, so finally jumped back on the Cates kart project. Saved up a little money mowing some lawns the last few weeks. Got a pocket full of coin from collecting coke bottles from a nearby car wash. After a quick walk thru everyday those 3 cent deposits started to add up.

Sure glad most people are lazy and not think much of a meazily 3 cents. For one bottle, I see how someone might not care. But occasionally I would haul in a few dozen bottles at a time. Free money for next to no work at all. The few dollars do make it worth while since I need to buy a handful of bolts for the kart from Lindops Ace Hardware.

On the first assembly of kart frame, it was obvious some tweaks were needed. No big deal. That was expected. Another issue was finding out the axle was bent really bad.

I knew an elder from church who owned a machine shop close by. He specialized in grinding automotive crankshafts. Floyd Bailey owner of Bailey Crankshaft. If anybody knew a good way to straighten this axle I thought it had to be him.

At first he looked at the axle and just shook his head. Then asked if I was very patient when working on things. I nodded my head yes. Didnt know exactly what he meant by that yet. But going with it right now.

He told me to come back later. Today was a heavy work load but he would think about a way to help out. Shortly after lunch, I dropped back by the shop. There was a big grin on his face. He then motioned me to follow him in the back room.

Sitting in there was the biggest arbor press I have ever seen. Atop the table was my axle sitting in vee blocks. On a magnetic base was a travel dial indicator. He gave me a quick tutorial and said the shop was closing up in an hour. So I better get busy.

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After several attempts at trying my luck at straightening, I now realize why he asked me about being patient. I guess he heard me grumbling a few times. He came walking back in there and was chuckling somewhat. I was irritated enough to make a smartaleck remark, but probably smarter to just keep my mouth shut. Since he was helping me with something I was not able to do myself.

After watching my awkward attempts at straightening, he then explained the problem I was causing myself. Now it was time for the advanced training course he says. Then gave me some more instruction about what I should try.

He said I needed to spend some time working the press to get a feel for it in order for this new instruction to now be useful. I was really irritated, but after trying what he explained this time made so much sense. I completely understand now why he made me work the press first. Then to change and do it this way.

I am starting to realize what experience really is. Anybody can sit here and fumble like I had been doing. They might get the job done if following all of the required steps. If I had kept trying to straighten this axle as I was first told, then might eventually stumble on how to improve that way a bit.

So any numbnuts can sit in front of a machine and do nothing more than what he is instructed. Put X part in there, then pull lever Y. Hold down until the red light above turns green. Remove part X and set it in basket Z. Repeat over and over again. Do this until you hear the buzzer. Stop, then take a lunch break until the buzzer sounds again.

Back to the machine. Put X part here and pull lever Y. Red light turns green. Set part X in box Z. Keep this up until you run out of parts or the buzzer sounds. Then work day is over. Come back tomorrow to repeat this for the rest of your life. How awful to think this is how the rest of my life could turn out.

Did any of them ask what to do if the light doesnt turn green? What happens if the part gets stuck? How do I shut the machine down if there is a problem? No they just do as told until pay day. Yikes, that sounds bleak. Hope my future has some options better that this.

Maybe there is something to getting a proper education. I have met some people working now they are finished with school. A few of them decided to drop out and just get a job instead. They are bragging about the money being made. Able to buy their first car or take trips out of town. Of course these same people are still living at home.

None of them really struck me with being very smart. They came across as clueless on just about everything. One person made a big deal about being employed at a professional welding and manufacturing shop. Also bragging about his pay. I asked him for a recommendation for any certain type of welding rod that might work best for repairing my ongoing project. The answer was typical of what I had heard from others like him.

Instead of just saying he didnt know, I would get a some arrogant jerk response. He said, Like you would even have a clue what I was talking about. That it was too complicated for me to understand and way above my pay grade. My pay? I am still a lowly student, remember? Then later found out that big job was emptying the trash baskets and sweeping floors after hours. His grandfather owned the company, and this was his bright future for right now.

It took every bit of the last 30 minutes, but that axle was running true for the whole length now. I was strutting myself out to front of Mr Baileys shop and had a big smile. He asked how things were going. Yes sir, I got it done. It is all good now.

A really big thank you for all of the help while he was ushering me out the front door. It was his anniversary and he had an engagement with his wife that evening. Otherwise we could have sat there for the rest of the afternoon and talk shop.

It was really a very small shop. Those two Sturm Vulcan crankshaft grinding machines mostly filled up the whole front room. They were huge. It is amazing to watch him set up a crankshaft to grind the journals. I had never given thought how to actually do this.

I can see how to grind the mains. They are all concentric and easy to setup on centers. So I assumed after seeing these big machines. But the four offset journals on a V8 engine crank seemed to be a little more difficult. Watching him tho it was like setting the crank on that machine and just start grinding. Except it wasnt anywhere that simple.

He is well known by most of the better engine builders. Especially in the racing community. Anyone that built engines for cars at the Devlis Bowl would have him do the work on those cranks. He was the go to guy around here.

Mr Bailey is also a local celebrity with the kids. He lives right across the street from my school. Each year the school puts on a parade. He makes a dedicated effort to participate every time. In his garage there is a miniature Ford Model T car that is powered by a 3 hp Briggs and Stratton engine.

It is so cool to see this little car cruising down the street. Some days I would take the long way around the school grounds just to look over at his house on the way home. Occasionally if the garage door is up and I get to see this little Model T sitting there all alone.

That car gets to lead our school parade around the neighborhood. This is always one day regular school duties are put on hold. I thought it would be really neat to drive that to school every day. Yea right. Dont see it happening tho.

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Chapter 26

So tonight Steve is hanging out and we get the rear axle installed. Everything looked good until we realize the sprocket hub goes on in between the bearings. So it comes apart again. Now the nod of success. But short lived.

When the motor goes on, realize the chain is also needed. There was no master link and I didnt have a chain breaker. So the axle comes off again. One step closer to the finish line. Or is that the checker flag?

After the axle is assembled again, I spin it over and realize just how bad the sprocket and hub are bent. First I use a rawhide mallet and beat the hub. It starts to straighten out. But the sprocket is having no part of going back. Again everything comes off the frame. Starting to see a familiar pattern developing here.

This is the only sprocket I have, so making the best of what is here. It is a one piece Hands. This is getting fairly easy to disassemble and reassemble the rear end. Not such a big deal now. Patience is not something you are born with or given..You have to earn every bit of it. At this moment it is getting easier and easier to attain.

While Steve is attacking the bent sprocket, I try my patience with that hub. This rawhide mallet really does a decent job on it. The cast material that closely resembles aluminum doesnt put up much of a fight. Seemed to know just how much to bend back without any argument. One less thing to fix now before kart is finished.

Assembling the rear axle this time is really straight forward and takes no time at all. Me and Steve give each other a high 5 and content with all the work done. Later dad comes in to the garage and asks how things are going. Harboring a big smile I tell him we had it finally licked. He looks over everything and seems impressed. Most of it seems good. But.....

Oh no, not the "but"..... I asked what he thought wasnt quite right yet. He grabs the rear tire and spins it over. Then starts explaining rolling resistance and makes a big deal on how much there is in this rear axle. Naturally it would have to be something to do with the axle. He then goes over how those bearing lock collars work.

The eccentric mounting of collar to bearing was designed to lock them solid to a shaft. But puts them in a slight bind and this axle tends to have some resistance when spinning it over. It is more common especially if shaft or axle is very undersized. Then demonstrated what he was talking about.

I asked what needed to be done. He says nothing complicated. Just disassemble the axle assembly and flip those lock collars around to push against bearings instead of rotating and locking together. Make certain the set screws are tight tho.

It would be very helpful to put a collar on both sides of bearings. These are common. There should be some collars around here somewhere if you need a couple.

So why not take the axle out again? Today I have done it enough to do blind folded. One more time should be no problem....argh! Dad decided to stick around and assist. He made some recommendations that helped out a lot on reassembly too.

Before bolting everything together, dad decides to take those bearing lock collars and cut them down on the lathe. Sitting off in the corner is a very small 6" Craftsman lathe. It only had a four jaw chuck, but for these, would not be an issue.

Dad just chucked to the inside of collars and didnt bother trying to make them run true. He explained this to me so I would have a better understanding of the the basics when something needed to be cut.

Since these collars only need the face machined off, it doesnt necessarily matter if they are running concentric. Do you understand? As he started cutting the first one I then realized what he was trying to beat in my head. Makes total sense dad. Dont you see it too, Steve? Sure do. Knew exactly what he was talking about before even cutting. Yea right Steve! You dont make a very good liar either.

One more thing dad decided to go ahead and tackle. Using the drill press, an additional hole was drilled in each collar. This hole is located about 90 degrees to the existing one. Actually just drilled thru the dimple already on collar where you would normally put the punch to lock or remove it from bearing. Dad hands me a tap and says not to break this or else. I had already been versed on how use one. So was able to get two done without any issue. Then Steve did the other two.

Now the rear axle assembly is back together again. Dont know for how long. Definitely no promises from me. Those lock collars are placed on both sides of bearings, just as dad recommended. With that step cut off now they dont stick out any farther than when using the eccentric lock like before. Really way cool.

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