Cleaning Up Irene

Saturday night it began to rain steadily and became much harder toward morning.  Because of our location next to East Putney Brook we had already taken some precautions, and I was still moving things up onto the downstairs work benches when around 10:30 Sunday morning the column of moving water finally overwhelmed the Beebe Road culvert and the flood came cascading in.

The Saxtons River at flood stage, seen from the New Tenney Bridge

An enraged Saxtons River rushes past underneath the New Tenney Bridge around 6:00 Sunday afternoon

I left when the water was over my knees.

By that time the phone & lights were already out, and walking home I was reminded, inexplicably, of the Arthur Kuestler novel, “Darkness at Noon”.

This picture is of the normally placid Saxtons River, taken from  the New Tenney Bridge in S.R.  Earlier, the water had risen nearly 16 feet and was splashing over the deck.  A close associate of ours a few miles up river in Grafton told me later that the homes of two neighbors close to the banks were washed downstream in the flood surge.

Conducting Drainage Operations

Conducting Drainage Operations

Monday was a solo clean up day.  Butch lives between Rte 100 & Rte 30, the epicenter of Southern Vermont flood damage.  He mostly  dodged the bullet, but his only way out right now is thru Colrain, Massachusetts, another 40 miles in the wrong direction.  John made it in Tuesday and we began drainage operations, mostly on our rebuildable transmission collection, but also on two engines  left behind our coal furnace waiting for the cars to come back from being painted.

While I would hestitate to list it in our menu of routine services, we gained useful experience of this type of conservation work as a result of drying out several british  cars after the Alstead, N.H. flood of 2005, which caused severe damage in that town across the river.

John drains a TR3 engine

John Drains a TR3 Engine

Here’s a wonderful picture of John draining off a TR3 engine.  If you back up to the last picture, you can see that our protocol is to pull the timing cover & oil pan, check the bearings, and clean & repack the oil pump.  The transmissions will get a pint of hydraulic oil sloshed around inside them , and then we’ll spin them up with the 1/2″ electric drill.  Pretty straightforward stuff.

Seat upholstery and door panels should be stripped off  (no problems of that sort this time, however), and ventilated with a household fan.   Some seats, “T” Series MG’s for instance, have horsehair padding, and the treatment for those is a good soak in a kiddie wading pool with a strong bleach & water solution followed by a session with the fan and some strong sunlight, should you be so fortunate.

We’ll be back to the same old same old on Tuesday, may your Labor Day Weekend be a pleasant one.

Addendum Back in the halcyon pre-9/11 days we were putting engine work into four different machine shops, but times change and by this past spring the last man standing was Dale Spooner who had moved his operation, Motion Machine, to Danville, Virginia.  While we continue to  send Dale our Jaguar cylinder head work, the distance is still an impediment.

Wayne & Randy with the boring & honing machines

River City Machine in White River Jct. Wayne & Randy at the boring & honing work stations

It was already a good day last month when I walked out of Traffic Court in White River Junction with my “Click It or Ticket” Campaign speeding violation dismissed, but it was about to take an even bigger turn for the better when I saw the “Open For Business” banner flapping in the breeze in front of the late and very much lamented business premises of what used to be Upper Valley Auto Machine.  With a little help from Wayne, Randy Barrell has opened the doors back up again as

River City Machine (802-295-5788).

These guys know how to hold a tolerance, and we have a long history together, going back to when they were working under the watchful eye of Robbie Patterson at Alsup Racing Engines in Woodstock, Vt. where you could almost always find Sports Car Services machine work in the house.

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