Mark’s Town Adventure

By , July 21, 2012

With Michelle working in town many days each week, I’ve managed to avoid going to Haines very often. With my recent bout of flu, it had been about two weeks since my last trip when I took Aly in to her work on Thursday. During that short trip I had my share of little experiences that, by our standards these days, add up to a bit of of an adventure.

Aly continues to practice driving in hopes of earning a driver’s license later this summer. I turned the car over to her at the spring near Letnikof, and she took it in toward town. All went well until we stopped at the corner of Mud Bay Road and Small Tracts. The poor kid faces the double whammy of learning to drive and operate a manual transmission. When she tried to leave the stop sign, she jack-rabbited and killed the engine. In Haines that’s not a problem; yes, there were two cars waiting behind us, but no one honked or yelled. She didn’t realize the engine had died, so it took her a bit to figure that out, get the car restarted, and make her turn. After that, she’d had enough for a while, and we switched places.

That could have been worse. Our starter is slowly going out. We’re limping along by whacking the thing with a hammer whenever the car doesn’t start. That shakes the grit up inside, and allows it to start one more time. This will become important shortly.

I ran Aly up to her work place, then took did some grocery shopping while I waited for the library to open. When it did, I went in for about a half an hour. When I came back to the car, I noticed something on top of it: Michelle’s keys. They were probably there since Michelle came home Wednesday evening, and had ridden around in the open all the way to town, around town, and sat in plain sight for anyone to take or use at their leisure!

When I started for home, I stopped at the intersection near Mountain Market. The car died at the light, and when I tried to restart it, it wouldn’t; the starter had acted up again.

Since I hardly ever use the car lately, Michelle has borne the brunt of this mechanical difficulty. She learned from a shade tree mechanic friend how to whack the starter. She showed me where it was, but the one time the car didn’t start for me, Michelle was there, and did the honors. This time, I was dead at one of the town’s busier intersections, aware of the theory, but not experienced in the practice.

But, as I said, it’s Haines. There were no cars lined up behind me, waiting for me to move. I grabbed the hammer, got out, and looked for the starter, intantly realizing I’d need to lay on the ground to reach it. Instead, I started to push the car backward, aiming for the market’s parking lot. A young guy passing by on his bike offered to help, and together we pushed it out of the way of any traffic, should it develop.

After that, I crawled underneath the car, whacked at the starter, and got it going again. I had no further trouble, and made it safely back to the bay, where I was considerably relieved to return to the homestead, where I intend to stay put till the next trip to town, and the next “adventure.”

2 Responses to “Mark’s Town Adventure”

  1. Brian says:

    Had a Fiat 128 in college. The starter went out and it turns out that they had to ship a new one from Italy, plus I had to get two more jobs to pay for it. I push started that car for a couple of months!

    Push starting is much faster and cleaner than whacking the starter with a hammer.

    You may have to bypass a clutch safety switch that prevents the car from starting unless the clutch is depressed.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:


    Thankfully, our situation is much less problematic. In fact, the new (rebuilt) starter is riding around in the car, waiting to be installed. I can’t really do it myself on the side of the road, or it would have been switched out a long time ago. Push starting is my preferred method, if the conditions are right, which they weren’t at that stop sign. Nor is Michelle able to push start it on her own. In a quiet town like ours, the hammer method works well enough. Hopefully, our mechanic friend can get us into his shop next week.

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