Boston Driver’s Notebook 9/11/12

11 09 2012

I had obligations in Paradise, and so headed out to Concord on a hot August morning.  Rain was expected later in the day, so I left the Tunacuda under cover, and instead drove Clyde the Blue Barrow, my 1988 late model Toyota mini-truck.  The usual high-speed freaks surrounded me for no good reason, so that by the time I reached the turn-off for the Lincoln long cut, I was ready to bail from Route 2.  I felt better going slower on the back roads bounded by rock walls and big trees.  I wasn’t in a hurry.

A Blue Truck, Franconia Notch, NH
ElFin photo

Charlie Paradise was in his basement, and came up the stairs with a chicken in each hand.  He kept them inside at night to keep them from getting eaten by coyotes or neighborhood dogs.  Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Driver’s Notebook 8/1/12 Part 3

1 08 2012

Part 3: A Pair of Cudas in Paradise

Note: this post has already been published as part of an earlier post.  I have broken a long post into three parts to honor all of us with ADHD.

“Nobody likes a coward,” was a favorite saying of Power Dave.  It was with this aphorism in mind that I left for the land of Paradise in the Tunacuda on a hot Saturday in July.  The Tunacuda roared along up the Route 2 hill that is nature’s compression test.  It was running great with the clean needle valve and new float level. Over the last six or eight years, I had increased the compression, blueprinted a new cam, ported the head, and blended the bowls.  The stock exhaust is the last remaining chokepoint.  The exhaust is newish, so that will be improved in due course.


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Boston Driver’s Notebook 8/1/12 Part 2

1 08 2012

BDN 8/1/12   Part Two: The Repair of the Tuna

Note: this post has already been published as part of an earlier post.  I have broken a long post into three parts to honor all of us with ADHD.

Finally getting a day off, I went to my favorite auto website, for advice, searching for “running rough + stalling” or words to that effect.

The first thing I struck upon was the advice of “Doctor Dodge,” Doug Dutra recommending the poster clean out the needle valve in his carb, along the lines of what I had been thinking.

Rough Ridings
For all your TR informational needs, see

So like any good modern simian, I called up a youtube® video and watched a southern gentleman explain how to clean the jets in a Holley® 2300 2-barrel 350 cfm carburetor. Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Driver’s Notebook 6/9/12

8 06 2012

The Five Month Brake Job -Part 1

I was coming back from a white Christmas at nephew Aaron and Echo’s house when I first heard the noise.  Echo came from what used to be known as a “mixed marriage,” as well as what used to be called a “broken home.”  As a result, she generally entertained her black family one year and her white family the next.  The white Christmases were much more restrained than the black Christmases, which were way more entertaining.

Clyde the Barrow

Getting back to the noise, it was a little ‘thunk’ when I applied the brakes, coming from the rear passenger-side wheel.  Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Driver’s Notebook 4/1/12

29 03 2012

Wareham Harbor

It’s a good truck that will get you home before it gives out.  It was a windy October day that I went to Wareham to put up a gutter at the small beach house of the mysterious Helen of Cambridge.  I caught a radio traffic report that predicted an extremely slow drive from the entrance to Rt. 93 N at the junction of Rtes. 3 and 128 in Braintree all the way to downtown Boston, where traffic wasn’t moving at all.  The report was accurate enough.  I finally escaped at Leverett circle where I picked up Rt. 38, the McRoadRage at Lechmere just past the Science Museum.

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Boston Driver’s Notebook 9/15/11

18 09 2011

Having obtained a new inspection sticker for the white Barracuda, I drove it back to its garage @ Paradise, Concord, MA.  On the way home in Clyde the blue Toyota truck, there was a traffic snarl at the fresh pond rotary.  It was right in front of the building where some locally-famous falcons were nesting.

Falcon by Sweet Lil Bunny Photo

A couple of kids sat in a car broken down in the right lane.  I pulled in behind them and got out.  A woman on a cell phone told me that the state police were on their way.  I went up to the passenger window and asked if they wanted me to push them out of the road.  The young woman behind the wheel said the clutch wouldn’t work.

Just then another guy crossed the road to help.  I told him that the driver couldn’t put it in neutral, but the sceptical Samaritan wanted to try to push anyway.  We tried, as a couple of young skateboarders rolled up and wanted to help.  We had a good team, and I was considering pushing it against the resistance of the motor with our mighty four.

The pragmatic gentleman was leaning in the window past the driver’s immobile boyfriend.  He spun around, “Let’s try it now!” he said.

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Boston Driver’s Notebook 8/30/11

30 08 2011

This summer almost past, I have been working hard to gain a couple of weeks in August for a vacation.  I had largely finished rebuilding a two-story porch on the front of a house in Jamaica Plain.  The owners, old friends of mine, were so construction-weary that they had stopped talking to me, and only cast irritable looks in my direction.  They owed me a lot of money.

Handmade Dentil Mouldings: Old World

As a result, I had left the final clean-up and punchlist for later, and moved on to a job working for the golden-haired Helen of Cambridge.  She had an appreciation for high-quality work performed by a trustworthy skilled professional, and was pleasant and easy to deal with; a Glenda the Good Witch dream customer.  I could drive to her house in 10 minutes, in contrast to the vicious slog to JP, either by way of the unpredictable Big Dig Expressway, or through the bowels of Central Square Cambridge, across the occluded BU bridge and then through the alimentary canal of Brookline Village.  That, or a suicidal plunge into the gnashing steel jaws of the Jamaicaway.

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Boston Driver’s Notebook 6/15/11

8 07 2011

BDN 6/1/11
My days of Paradise:
Saturday morning I set off for the House of Paradise, off Route 2 in Concord, MA, the birthplace of liberty, or the Enlightenment, or what have you.  I had a list of items to bring with me.  The problem with having a list was that some essential items were not on it, and so I didn’t have the usual moment of contemplation, deciding what to bring.  It is a Slavic custom to sit and think before walking out the front door, on any luggage if luggage there is.  I once heard my friend Arkady claim that he wouldn’t have missed his plane if they had only sat.

I was driving the Clyde the Blue Truck, for no particular reason.   It was running well enough and the brakes worked.  It was burning a lot of oil and wouldn’t subside all the way to idle speed unless you revved it a couple of times and let the RPMs drop back down.
It was a MoPar day, nevertheless, so I had brought front end tools for Charlie Paradise’s 1966 Valiant and general tools my 1967 fastback Barracuda.


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Boston Driver’s Notebook 5/1/11 and 5/15/11

14 05 2011

Once again, having no major problems with Clyde the Blue Truck, I decided to fix what was not yet broken.

The metal hydraulic line between the clutch master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder was dangerously corroded.  Flakes of rust were spalling off the steel line.  It would fail and leave me clutchless at the worst possible moment.

Sketchy Metal

To get from the Somerville Assembly Square Home Depot to Rt. 93 is very easy and direct.  One leaves the parking lot, turns left, bears right, keeps left, and makes a left turn at the light onto the on-ramp.  This inconveniences no one, endangers no one, is simple easy and direct.  Perhaps that is why it is illegal to make a left turn at the light. Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Driver’s Notebook 4/1/11

4 04 2011

I was driving home from Jamaica Plain, listening to my new speakers.  They came in a nice box, Sony ‘X-plod’ speakers,  but didn’t sound as good as the old, blown speakers.  In retrospect, I should have replaced the woofer component of the ones that came with the truck.

Beyond Redemption

They were Pyle Drivers, and had a really nice high end, unlike the ones I was listening to now.  There was no going back, though, because I had cannibalized the old enclosures, carving a standard oval 3X5 opening in the old speaker mounting plate.  The old speakers had a separate tweeter and woofer, which meant I also had to make a bigger hole in the interior sheet metal of the truck to make room for the bigger, combination speaker cone.

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