Smoke in the Wires Jan 2016

mcherry

Here is the long-anticipated January Smoke in the Wires in snazzy e-magazine format. Enjoy!

After finishing engine replacement

and getting the Stromberg

carburetor rebuilt, Dad taught me

how to drive a manual-shift. After

school I would take small trips

around the neighborhood to

practice the shifting technique.

Naturally I stalled it a few times or

forgot to put it back in first gear

after a stop. Don’t we all when we

first learn?

For the next six years I drove the

car to high school and college, to

Mississippi beaches on weekends,

and even delivered pizzas. During

high school I drove it from my

hometown of Slidell, LA to Cape Canaveral, FL to watch the second space shuttle launch. On that

trip the water pump blew there and had to be replaced before I could drive back. I did not know

how to do that yet, so we paid a mechanic for the job that I later learned how to do myself. A year

later I did replace the rear leaf spring myself when it lost tension and also later the differential. That

was a tough job!

It was impressed upon me forever to never sell the Spitfire when I was 20-years old and working

part-time at a gas station. During a year’s time, over 20 different "older men" would notice my

Spitfire on the side of the building and ask about it. They would say that they had one when they

were my age or that they had an Austin Healey, or an MGB, or TR6 or a Jaguar, etc. But they

always ended their story with this: “... but I sold it when I was in my 20's and I have regretted it ever

since.” If it had been only one or two men that said this to me, no big deal. But it was about 20

different men who told me that they had “regretted it ever since.” I did not want that regret so I

vowed to always keep my Spitfire no matter what.

In 1987 I decided to join the US Navy and stored my Spitfire in Mom’s garage for a year during

boot camp and training school. When permanently stationed in Jacksonville, FL, I used a Toyota

Corolla to tow the Spitfire 500 miles to Jacksonville and used a storage unit as my garage because

I was living in the barracks.

On free weekends, I would repair, improve, and drive the car around Jacksonville. One side of the

front hubs began sweaking badly, so I ordered new wheel bearings and replaced them on both

sides following the instructions in the Haynes manual. After new spark plugs and a carb rebuild,

my barracks roommate used to love the time that I let him drive the flashy yellow convertible and

he said it was a blast.

The next year I moved into sharing a house with two other Navy guys and they let me use the

garage for my Spitfire. There I decided to replace the carpet. As we know, classic British

convertibles are never completely waterproof with the top up. Mine is no exception. When I

removed the seats and pulled up the carpet, I discovered the floor pans were quite rusted on the

Smoke in the Wires January 2016 Page 19

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