Hot Commodity

 This battered old 1971 Ford F350 has been a fixture around south Fayette County since back in the 1990s, when the late Bub Carden bought it. It was passed on to his son Frank, who used it up until about a year ago when a major fire under the hood put it out of action. I thought about asking Frank about buying it, but he’s pretty partial to Ford trucks from that era and usually won’t even part with parts, so I didn’t bother.

 Imagine my surprise when I saw it sitting in Howell Fowler’s junkyard in Griffin. Howell’s a great guy and made me a good deal on it, even threw in delivery as part of the deal.

  It was a real mess under the hood. The list of parts needing replacement reminded me of the scene in the Andy Griffith Show where Gomer showed up to tell Barney what all his car needed. In my case it was every wire under the hood, heater hoses, radiator hoses, distributor cap, gas line, solenoid switch, battery and carburetor. My friend, Hall of Fame racer Roscoe Smith, fixed a carburetor for it, and last week I finally got everything together and turned the key.

 But the engine was stuck, likely from water sprayed on it by the fire department. I took out the plugs, filled the cylinders with PB Blaster and started working the flywheel back and forth with a pry bar until it finally turned freely. I replaced the plugs and squirted a little gas in the carburetor. It fired immediately, but backfired and sent flames belching from the carburetor.

 Luckily this fire was a minor one, and on the next try it cranked up and ran great. A leaky fuel line was repaired, and we’ve used this truck several times already. It’s handy because it has a dump bed, and unlike most of our other trucks it has power steering.

  Looking through the glove box, I found about 15 years worth of insurance cards, most of them in Mr. Bub’s name. He taught me most of what I know about working on trucks and tractors, so that makes me especially proud to have this one running again, and working alongside his old cow truck, which is one of our most prized vehicles, for obvious reasons.