High in the sky Jeep, the stooge trio
This trio of comic geniuses showed up at the shop one afternoon, the “Talker”, the “Looker”, and the “Nodder”. These three buddies have been working on a CJ for many, many years. Not one of them have any background in mechanics or electrical. But, as usual the “Talker” knew everything. The “Looker” never looked at a thing but performed his task with the greatest level of expertise. He had that 40 foot stare in a 20 foot room, always glancing at something that was not part of the conversation. The ceiling was a common theme, then there is the book rack, the disclaimers on the wall, the usual advertisements on the counter, pretty much anything but not a thing important. I think you could have asked this guy any question about the room, the people in the room, or for that matter probably his own name… I doubt if he could have answered a single question without saying “Huh” before coming up with some sort of ridiculous half wit response. Now the “Nodder”, he was in rare form. There was the quick nod, the slow responsive nod, and ever so popular nod your head so hard that your hair flips up and down, while at the same time maintaining his proper distance from the service counter. His only other function is to observe the “Looker” and “Talker” and confirm that they are doing their part in this trio of humorous delinquents. That only leaves the “Talker”; it’s the classic confrontation at the counter.
“Yes, I’m interesting in finding out if you or anyone here knows how to wire up a CJ from scratch?” he asked.
“Sure, I’ve done lots of them over the years,” I said, quite confidently.
“Well, it only needs a few things done, I just don’t have the time to finish it,” the “Talker” said with his nodding buddy in the back doing his best to stay up with the conversation. The “Looker” on the other hand was busy… you know… “Looking”… at what, I haven’t a clue. At this point I’m starting to wonder about the three of them. Two classic mistakes have already been made.
Number one, “I don’t have time to finish it”, Let me translate that for you… it really means; “I couldn’t figure it out even if the directions were tattooed to the inside of my eyelids”.
Number two, “It only needs a few things” … what that really means is… “You ain’t going to believe how screwed we got this”.
Thus, the quandary of problems that are about to unfold in front of me. The conversation went on with its usual head nods from the “Nodder” and stares into space by the “Looker”. With the never ending … Deeping… hole of unpronounceable automotive terms that the “Talker” was sinking into.
Trying to put an end to all this confusion, without falling into the hole myself, “Where’s the Jeep at?” I asked.
“Oh it’s at our garage,” the “Talker” added, “We’ll have to get it over to you. It doesn’t run right now.”
“Don’t you think you should get it running first,” I asked.
“It’s got a brand new crate motor in it,” the “Looker” jumped into the conversation with his two cents worth of information.
Confused now, I said, “A crate engine, you haven’t hooked up the wires to the engine yet? I guess that’s what you want me to do.”
“No, that’s done,” said the “Talker”, “We finished that up about a year ago. It just needs cleaned up a bit.” The “Nodder” did a hair flip about then… good job, that confirmed it… they’re all nuts.
The “Talker”, the “Nodder”, and the “Looker” all took their turns at the front counter. I use to think I’ve heard it all, and then these three stooges showed up and proved me wrong. Oh yes, this was a several year project, all of which was…. completely done backwards. From what I could piece together, the paint was finished first to a show room luster, while the body was being painted the frame was completely stripped down and powder coated. It took them over a year just to decide on which type of wheels and rims to put on it. Wiring seemed to have come in dead last … or that’s what I thought.
The next day the Jeep showed up on a trailer. Wow, what a superior paint job, all shiny and new. It was a mile high in the air with this huge lift kit installed. There were beautifully chromed engine parts everywhere, all gleaming in the sun. That was about it though. No exhaust system, no coolant, gobs and gobs of wiring strewn all through the engine compartment and undercarriage. Wires were run right through the headers and into the inside of the Jeep. There were no seats, doors, or even a windshield. All the extra wire was wrapped around the steering column or dangled into different cavities. There was no hole for the floor shifter and there was no place to mount the four wheel drive controls. Oh they had everything… in boxes, with assorted nuts and bolts, cables, and wiring. Even the headers will need reworked. The passenger side header was up against that beautifully powder coated frame and, you know, it was more than likely going to burn that pretty paint off. There were no spark plugs, no plug wires, and no throttle cable. It was without a doubt the largest expenditure into a total disaster I have ever seen in my years of business.
The “Talker” was busy explaining his master piece to me while I was busy eyeballing this checkbook gone wild, wanna-be beast of the 4wd world. The more I looked the worst it kept getting. I finally had to put an end to the talkers’ non-stop trip to purgatory.
“Why don’t you take this over and have the exhaust taken care of,” I interrupted him with a sudden jolt back to the planet, “Once you have that done, you could fill up the coolant system, look for leaks and maybe even put some plugs in it and see if it starts.”
I was surprised at his response… he said, “That would be great, and then I’ll get it back to you to finish the wiring.” I was actually hoping he wouldn’t remember that part. But, I’ve done crazier rewires in the past… it’s just another day at the office for me.
Weeks later the Jeep showed up again. This time it had a complete exhaust system installed, however they never moved the header away from the frame. Not only was it poorly put in, but the mufflers were right on top of the fuel pump lines and the electric fuel pump. All of which now will need moved to a better location. I didn’t think this job was going to ever be finished.
My years of experience in this business made me think to keep asking questions to these guys and see how far their wallet was going to stretch. Something told me there was more to this story than… “I don’t have the time”, and “It only needs a few things done”.
I had the phone number to the “Nodder”, I’ll call him.
“How, far do you want me to go?” I asked.
“I think he just wants a rough idea as to how much it will cost, but I think they want you to get it started too.” The “Nodder” told me.
“Ok then, I’ll rough it in, get it started and then write up an estimate,” I said.
“Sounds, good to me,” our friend the “Nodder” answered. I’m sure he was up to his usual head bobbing by now and was working his way to a full hair flip.
As I rigged up some jumper wires to the fuel pump, temporally of course, it was just enough to get voltage to the right spots. Then hot wire the coil and starter. I guess, it’s time to turn it over and see if it will start. A couple of cranks on the starter and huge plumes of fire belched out of the glistening chrome carburetor. Would it start? Not a chance, they had the distributor in 180 degrees off. Pull it out, turn it around and start over again. Oops, just noticed… they forgot the coolant. I filled the chromed out radiator with coolant… it leaked all over the engine. There were gaskets that weren’t sealing and hose clamps that weren’t tight. Another delay, another mess and, more expense just to see if this thing would start. Finally, the leaks were holding… sort of, at least enough to proceed.
Back to trying to solve the actual problem for the day… will the engine run. After priming the carburetor and a couple of turns of the starter motor the gleaming 4wd beast sprang to life… spewing oil everywhere! ! What now?!?!? There was no oil pressure switch in the engine block. Holy engines of chrome! ! Shut it off and put something in the hole. One more try … vroom! It starts and it runs, hey, and it even sounds pretty good. But the water leaks started showing up again. Seems they didn’t use any sealant on any of the water gaskets. This job is never going to end. It’s starting to sound like that old saying; “Stop counting the alligators when all you’re supposed to do is drain the swamp.” Enough alligator counting, I’m stopping! Here and now, I’ll try to make some sense out of the rest of this wiring disaster.
Now this next part of this story shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Not one of the three stooges ever talked to the other one as to what I was supposed to do. The only thing they agreed on was that the “Nodder” would take the phone calls and relay the info. I think poor old “Nodder” just nodded his way into being the escape goat. He doesn’t have a clue, he never did. Well, for that matter, neither do the other two dim wits.
A week or so later with the car resting in the shop, the three dunder heads showed up with a trailer. Now it was my turn to be wrong.
Number one, It was mutually understood between the trio, that they knew it all, and I knew nothing.
Number two, I was too expensive and was going to take too long to finish the job. Geez, how much time did they think I needed? I’m sure I could have done the job within a couple of years… maybe sooner. I’m so confused.
The last word on this one was that they were going to finish it themselves. My question was… when? I’ll be old and gray before these knuckleheads ever figure it out. But I’m a sucker for an old three stooges classic; I’ll sit back and watch this episode unfold. It might be a pretty good story whenever this Jeep comes out of the upper atmosphere and back to planet earth. Ynuk, Ynuk, Ynuk.