“Most problems in life ain’t hard to sort out,

All it takes is some WD-40 and duct tape.”

—song performed by Aaron Scherz

As an old car tinkerer and repair artist, employing WD-40 and duct tape to fix just about anything is a familiar routine. However, I believe we’re overlooking a third fix-it essential.

Last week, one of the earpieces on my glasses felt loose. I didn't spend time fretting knowing that I had an eye exam on Monday. “Yep,” the optician confirmed. “It’s broken and hanging by a thread." An order for new frames came with the warning, “Better baby those until we get the new ones.”

Guess I’m out of practice for babying. Thursday morning, I found myself holding the ailing earpiece in one hand and the rest of my glasses in the other. Hoping for a miracle in my workshop, I became reacquainted with an old friend akin to the WD-40 and duct tape family: J-B Weld. J-B Weld and I have a long and solid relationship. It will fix anything but a broken heart.

My relationship with the miracle compound started not with a broken heart, but in high school with a broken 1946 Chevrolet panel truck serving as the emergency service vehicle for Mount Pleasant Explorer Scout Post 206. The truck aided in our efforts to assist police and fire department personnel directing traffic at wrecks and fighting grass fires. H.O. Townsend's father was the post advisor and a father with an interest in helping guide young men in a positive direction.

Taking a positive direction with the old truck, we liberally applied white paint to every inch of the interior, painted it "emergency orange" with the help of a local body shop after which a local sign painter donated his time to add, “Explorer Post 206, Mount Pleasant, Texas, Emergency Service Vehicle” to the sides.

It looked good and was reliable, but it was not swift. At full throttle, it rumbled along faster than a heard of turtles in a cloud of snail dust while leaking a variety of fluids, and the transmission jumped out of high gear. We soon learned that getting to a fire before it burned out on its own required a two-man team: a driver and someone to hold the floor-mounted shift lever in gear.

Seeking more speed, we pulled the head off the stove bolt six-cylinder to freshen up the valves. In the process, we also solved part of the fluid leak mystery, the one about where that leaking water was coming from. With the manifolds removed, a hairline crack in the block was clearly visible. Popular opinion was the motor was not fixable. We would need a new motor.

Funding was scarce, but creativity was abundant. We cleaned the area around the crack and applied a liberal dose of the magical J-B Weld epoxy. Once the engine was back together, we filled the radiator, crossed our fingers, and fired up the old Chevy letting it run long enough to get hot before we ventured off in it. Our gamble paid off; one leak was gone.

We continued to operate the noble steed until the time that the majority of us graduated from high school and moved on. Last word was that Bobby Joe Spearman bought it for parts. He already had one like it that was his father’s plumbing business service vehicle for many years.

When we sold it, the J-B Weld repair was still doing its job. And I’m happy to report today, typing while looking through salvaged spectacles, it’s still doing the job on my glasses as well.

Instead of new glasses, maybe I should have bought more WD-40, duct tape and JB Weld.

—Contact Leon Aldridge at leonaldridge@gmail.com. Aldridge columns are archived at leonaldridge.com

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