If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

1st Car for My Son update: Shit's on Fire Edition

So some days back I oppoposted about a '55 Ford Fairlane that I found as a potential first set of wheels for my son. To recap, the guy hadn't driven it since '08 and had the valve covers off to cure some valve knocking and get it running again so he could sell it. Long story short, he injured his leg and wasn't able to finish the job so he called me with a reduced price to take it as-is. 

"Not a chance," I told him, "but how about I bring a buddy to help me do the adjustment and we'll go from there?" I wanted to make sure the motor was solid first; he was cool with that. So on Saturday my friend had free time in the afternoon and we met at the seller's house to try to get the beast running.

The valve adjustment itself was fairly uneventful. Despite having a service book on Y-blocks, we could not find the actual valve adjustment order ... everything in the book was wrong when the crank was in position. Luckily I happened across a Y-block forum on my phone with an order that reflected what we were seeing and got the jerb done. The compression test was next and all cylinders were rock-solid and consistent. Then the hilarity started.

The fuel filter is one of those old school glass jar-y thingamajigs with a replaceable foam filter that had completely disintegrated. Our assumption was the fuel in the tank was likely varnish and decided against allowing anything that may be in the fuel line from going into the carb. The seller, something of a wrench judging by the other car projects he had going on, brought over a plastic Folgers coffee container with a fuel line grafted on to feed directly into the carb. I got into the car to crank while my buddy fiddled under the hood. Finally, the old mill came to life and actually sounded very good.  My buddy gave it more juice from the throttle arm but when he backed off of it and big fireball comes out of the carb and sets the Folgers container alight. 

Spots of spilled fuel are burning in the engine bay that were easily extinguished by our panic-induced flailing with shop rags. The I noticed that the seller had set the still burning plastic Folgers container down on the ground between the car and the wooden shed next to the car. Since this did not look like it would end well, I picked the container up and started walking it past the car to set it down in the middle of his driveway. Stupid, stupid me.


Half way through my journey, my hand felt like it was on fire and the intrepid Folgers container's plastic finally had enough and buckled. I've never seen burning fuel spill out of a container. In any other circumstance, it would have been neat but it only served to add to the drama. His garden hose coil was on fire so the first thing I did was turn it on so I could douse that. I figured we might need the water if this got further out of hand. As I looked around, I saw that it had. The side of his house had a burning patch so that was next, then onto the small lakes of burning fuel along my path of misadventure.

At the end of the day, no harm no foul. A good laugh was had by all; the seller was just very grateful his wife was not home to witness our shenanigans. We settled on the price and I told him we'd tow it to my place sometime this week (we still have more work to do before I want it driven).


Moral of the story: If you're working with anything to do with fuel, HAVE A FUCKING EXTINGUISHER HANDY. I know this rule well but let my guard down. Never again.

I'll add to this story as we go along. Hopefully it somewhat less of an exciting journey from here on out.


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