I was asked how much of a rush I am in to get the Hudson running. Of course the sooner the better to be able to enjoy it but really, I’m only in a rush because that’s just my nature and I can’t not think about something that needs to be done. My shovelhead flh is running a bit rich so i lie awake at night dreaming about jet combinations/timing/etc. The Hudson only magnifies this trait. I’m one of those people who even at 42 years old still has to touch the plate when a waitress serves me a fajita and warns about the platter being hot. It’s the only way my mind can resolve the temptation.
Part of the problem is that I thought I was doing a “good” thing in walking the line between keeping the car original and doing some hot rod stuff to it. For some that’s not an issue. For me it presents a whole host of challenges – including decision upon decision – that can and do paralyze me. I suck at making decisions. And coffee. I can’t make a good pot of coffee. Ever. I forget to put the strainer (the Better Half (BH) was not happy as the grounds poured out onto the table) in or add too much/too little water. Also I can’t take a good picture. I could use the same gear as someone else and my photos will always be of the ground or someone’s left ear. It’s just who I am. And so I know this about me but I tempt fate anyway. One day the fajita plate WILL burn my fingers. Much as the Hudson – or more appropriately my inability to decide between hot rod and restoration – is burning me.
Without choosing a path I am left to contemplate decision after decision. Because I have neither unlimited funds or time and my mechanic-ing level is only slightly above my coffee making skills all I seem to do is waffle between parts choices based on some garbled always-changing ratio of “price” to “cost” to “can i do it” to “resale” to “why would i sell it” to “why would anyone ever buy it” to “shit I just want this to run damnit”. I wind up cowering in the corner blinking 4000 times per minute slack-jawed in a puddle of drool.
For ex: Make or pay for a new interior?
Paying someone means a better result, but costs money and time. And then the outside will seem ugly witha sparkly new set of seats. It will add to the value. Ok fine I’ll have the seats redone.
—- BUT ——
I WANT to make my own interior. But I don’t have the first clue how. Or a sewing machine. Or know how to use one if I did. Or the patience to learn. Or the ability to allow myself to make a mistake and redo the covers as many times as needed to be satisfied. Because that costs money for materials and eventually I’ll be upside down when I could have simply had the covers made for XXXYY dollars. And will anyone want to sit on the seats? But I saw online that others have made them for cheap. and hot rodding is about getting one’s hands dirty. but is this a hot rod? Or a classic? Do I dare muck up the stock car? OK fine I will make them.
And on it goes, day by day, minute by minute the constant swirl of change in my mind. The only thing I have perfected is the exponential inverse rule of costs: the more I try to do to save money, the more I could have saved by paying a professional. But what fun is that? Or so I tell myself. Over and over and over while punching my PIN into the ATM or hitting SEND by Paypal on eBay. Again. and Again.
When it comes to the Hudson I had wanted an all original car. Especially at the price I paid. I was told the engine would run. Like anything with enough time and money I’m sure it will. And to be fair to the seller he didn’t promise it would run perfectly, only needing gas and the glancing gust of a wind-whisper from a Car-God to get me plodding down the road at 54 mph top speed. “It will run” is what he said. “You will be driving this tomorrow” is what I heard.
I love the planning stage. or loathe it depending on how well the prior day’s plan has gone. Tossing about ideas and hunting for parts and things online or at swapmeets. THAT part I love. I’m good at idea buying. And my bank loves that I love it. But I make a lot of plans. Plan A. Plan B. And C, D, pretty much all the way on through the alphabet with a few subscript and superscripted numbers thrown in for good measure. Enough to make it hard to keep track of what Plan I am on, to stay focused and actually HAVE an endpoint. It hurts my brain.
I worked at a law firm in college where I had to update their legal books with case law changes etc. The task consisted of having to find the book in the firm’s library and open it to the set of pages that needed to be replaced with the new ones. I would have to replace pages “1.763a.b11.c13” through “1.912d.holy.hell.what.am.i.doing” or something to that effect. It wasn’t as simple as grabbing pages 34-50 and swapping em. There were sub pages of sub pages that were already sub pages of sub pages. And so 90 minutes into my first “professional job” my mind was tired and swollen. Compared to what I do to myself willingly regarding the choices for the car, those days seem like a never-ending supply of Boston Creme Pie to the pig trough of slop (mental)prisoners have to scarf down.
Nevertheless when a Chevy 250 with a good 3 speed transmission popped up locally for cheap I grabbed it as Plan B. Figuring that a few days and maybe $150 or so to test the runability of the original Hudson would decide if I was to keep it or drop the Chevy in but at least I had my backup plan. I even built a little cart for it so that I could roll it around the garage when I needed to move it to hunt for some tool I cleverly organized only to never be found again. I have no idea where all my 1/2 sockets are? Of course the cart broke from the weight of the engine and transmission at the junction of the 2 by 4s where I only used 2 screws on each end. Had to assemble the engine hoist and run it back over the grass (not fun with 3 inch casters that have minds of their own) and then down the road across the driveway where it left it’s autograph as 1 wheel stuck and scored the ashpalt with a white chalk line as I pushed it backed by fury and determination. Rigged up the engine – again. Lifted it. Again. And fixed the cart. This time it’s held!
So there the engine has sat for 2 months while I attempted to get my quick to run Hudson to run. I’m a bit closer to making a decision. At this point I have all the parts needed to see IF the engine will run and I won’t be giving up yet. I’ve learned a lot. Notably that replacing the oil in the upper dip tray of a Hudson is a week-long job and a messy one at that. And whomever came up with the plan to do so will not be getting a Christmas card from me ever. I’ve learned that a motorcycle jack will eventually fail under the load of the Hudson’s lower control arms. And that the placement of the distributor on a Hudson 8 sucks. I mean it really just bleeping sucks. And so now I have to find a way to get the distributor off, rebuilt, installed and timed.
And then maybe, just maybe the Hudson-lover of Car-Gods will send a whisper of good-will-wind down to me and the silence of hope will be replaced with the jubilation of success.