It's the Oxygen Content, Stupid!

| February/March 2003

There exists in the old engine hobby a certain phenomi ... pheenome ... fenomin ... problem that is very often encountered, but seldom understood, by even the most ardent enthusiasts. It is a serious condition that 91 percent of us will contract during the upcoming show season. Tell me if the following scenario seems familiar to you:

The restoration of your 1910 Runz Canardly is finally complete. Everything is factory correct and in perfect order. The paint is the correct shade of 'champagne gold.' The brass oilers are shined to perfection. And it starts effortlessly on the first pull, every time.

Now, it is a known fact that there are four seasons to the year. The usual spring, summer, autumn and winter are the ones everyone knows. But to the engine crowd there is another season. It falls squarely between the date your engine is finished, and the date of the first engine show of the year. This season is called 'Forever.' Some years it seems to last around 27 months. It is November as I write this, and based on current progress, Forever starts in about three weeks. Mark your calendar.

But back to the engine, which has been sitting in germ-free, environmentally stable storage since completion. Show day has finally arrived, and it is time to load it on the trailer. Being the sharp fellow that you are, you decide to run the engine a while before heading out. Nothing like discovering those minor little problems AFTER you get to the show, right?

A twist of the grease cups, a flip of the oiler and a prime of the carb later, you flick the flywheels and the Runz Canardly springs to life. You can set your watch to the rhythmic tunes emitted from the factory correct 22 percent gloss painted muffler. Nothing left to do but load.

Remembering to wear your sterile gloves for the loading process, you proceed about the task of situating the masterpiece onto the trailer. Being careful not to stain the carpet of the trailer is the hard part. All your fears are for naught, however, as the engine settles into place and is cinched down for the trip to the show.