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Around 1980, I came home a little early one blisteringly hot summer day and told the family to pack so that we could head to Lubbock to visit my parents.
I was in my 40s in those days and thought nothing of striking out at the drop of a hat in one of our Volkswagens. Soon everyone had a sack packed and Neva had some goodies readied as well.
We already had discovered that packing in one of our ’67 VW Beetles was more efficient if each person packed his possessions in one or two large, brown-paper grocery bags; these “squashed“ into relatively small spaces whereas a suitcase will not. Even the miniature dachshund would run to the back door where his leash hung and beg to be put on it. In a matter of a half hour or so, we were in the car and off.
We sped through Dallas on I-30 with no problem and had gotten practically through Fort Worth when I noticed that I was having more and more difficulty coaxing speed from The Red Baron, our ’67 Beetle sedan. As we neared the western outskirts of the city, I began to think about “vapor locks“. I never had experienced one, but I thought about the metal gas line that comes through the firewall and into the engine compartment. Given the tremendous heat of the day, coupled with the heat of the engine, I decided that a vapor lock it must be.
I pulled into a gas station at Las Vegas Trail and explained my situation to the mechanic on duty. He agreed and soon had pulled the metal line and had replaced it with a standard woven gas line. I paid the bill and we pulled away from the station. As we left Fort Worth, the car could barely reach 15 mph.
I knew that there would be no help past Fort Worth, so we turned around and used the shoulders to limp back into town with traffic speeding past us. It was a memorable and hair-raising trip into town.
Years later, Neva and I made a trip across Fort Worth and on to Mineral Wells. This brought to mind that ill-fated trip of long ago. As Neva and I traversed the same route, we rehearsed each harrowing moment, cringing sometimes and laughing at others.
Finally, we made it back to Las Vegas Trail, exited to the South and found a large auto parts store in the first block. I had decided that the problem had to be the fuel pump. I bought a pump and set out to find some shade so that I could swap it out.
At a vacant shop, I put the family into a shady spot while I changed the pump. Soon, I had us going again, but the car was going only more and more slowly!
The day was wearing on so I decided that we should return home. As we neared downtown Forth Worth, I thought that perhaps a carburetor rebuild might do the trick. We were not going to make it home at the rate we were moving (actually NOT moving!). I exited I-30 and soon found another auto parts store. I went inside and explained our plight to the man at the parts counter.
What was the question that this person asked that led to the solution to the car’s problem? Chime in below with the answer!