Truck Repair, Leiper’s Fork Style

Richard McLaurin

Well, my across-the-fence neighbor Richard McLaurin finally got his truck running again, healed in the old Leiper’s Fork way.

Richard heard about this truck he wanted to buy. It was a one ton Chevy flatbed, 1987 model, salvaged from the county government in Hamilton County.  It wasn’t clear to me why he bought it, but Richard figured he’d have a lot of uses for it.

The truck was in storage far to the southeast from here, down in Warren County in a little place called “Shake-rag.” The locals explained to Richard that the name Shake-rag came from their old custom of stuffing rags into the cracks between the wood shakes on the house to keep out the wind. 

Richard paid the man and drove it home. He loved the truck, and even though it was large, he drove it everywhere. It sometimes strained the boundaries of the parking spaces at the Country Boy, but nobody seemed to mind since Richard is so well-liked. He usually had something important-looking riding on the bed– even though it was hard to tell sometimes what it was, and he was always on the lookout for something else to carry.

This past November, about a month after he brought the truck home, Richard decided he’d take it up the hill to Kingfield to buy a load of firewood from Junior Hargrove. He took his 10-year-old son Sam Henry with him just for the adventure of it. But about halfway to Junior’s place, climbing up the steep grade, Richard felt the truck suddenly lose power, drastically. So he turned around and coasted down the hill and, at crawling speed, made it back to his house safely.

He couldn’t get the truck all the way up the lane to his house, so he left it in the pasture down by his gate. There it sat, sad and immobile, while Richard tried to figure out what to do. He was afraid he’d blown a head-gasket, which would mean an expensive repair job or maybe even a new engine. Richard cann fix damn-near anything, but this one had him stumped.

Down at the Country Boy we’d get to talking about it, like we used to do in Leiper’s Fork.  Anybody was welcome to join the conversation and add an opinion. There were lots of opinions given, but Richard didn’t like any of them.

Kendra Anderson

Finally, our darlin’ waitress, Kendra Anderson, got tired of listening to us and waded in to straighten everything out. She is a lifetime local, living a little further up Sweeney Hollow from Richard, and like any local good-ole-girl she knows a lot about mechanics and car repair. Her husband Josh has a full automotive shop out behind their house where he builds “chop” cars and fixes about anything. So Kendra knows a lot.

We still didn’t reach any conclusions, and Richard couldn’t decide what to do. So he just left the truck where it sat, silently out in the pasture by the road. Every time he drove into the lane he saw it there, and it tormented him. His brand-new 1987 one ton Chevy!

Then, after about a week, Richard’s 7 year old son Lachlan ran to him saying, “Daddy, daddy, there’s a truck in the driveway!” Richard went out and walked down the lane to see who it might be. As he approached, he saw two blue-jean clad butts sticking out over the fenders on both sides, with their legs flailing in the air, and two heads buried in the engine compartment.

Richard finally figured out that it was Kendra’s mechanic husband Josh and our longtime neighborhood genius Ricky Binkley. Josh had seen the truck sitting there as he drove in and out of Sweeney Hollow every day and he figured something must be wrong with it. And he’d probably heard about it from Kendra too. 

So one day Josh called Ricky and probably said something like, “Let’s go have some fun, Hoss!” and without consulting Richard, they went to work on the truck. That’s the old Leiper’s Fork way.

What followed was a two-week dissection of the engine and many in-depth discussions about what was wrong with it. For several days, Richard and Josh exchanged so many texts  that Richard said the thread of texts looked like somebody’s medical chart.

Finally, the problem was isolated. The diagnosis from Dr. Anderson and Dr. Binkley was that it was not a head gasket as Richard had feared, but a simple fuel injector. Richard was delighted and hied himself off for the auto parts store to buy a new injector kit.

And then– damn, will this story never end?!– he ran into some guy he knew who is a guitarist for Megadeath and Metallica, but that’s a story for another day.