Dear Dr. Motorhead,

It is such a grand a glorious day as I sit to pen these words to you. All the rain we

have had in what was one of the most dismal Mays I can remember. I now have great

sympathy for all who reside in Seattle during the winter months. Alas, why dwell on the past “shall

we make hay while the sun shines” as they say. Pondering for a moment who “they” really are. Is there some type of secret committee in Washington DC that conjures up sayings for us all to live by with the acronym “THEY”? Who would have the answer to this first question of mine? Is there some web site that you could direct me to? Or perhaps this “THEY” committee is so secret, a website would breach their privacy and anonymity?

Ok, now to my real question. I know “anything that can break sooner or later will”. It is with this knowledge and basic philosophy that keeps my “head level” and without anger when things are in need of repairs. In addition, I subscribe to another “they-ism”, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” I have taken your challenge to become the self-mechanic as most of this stuff on our flat head motors is pretty basic and fool proof. Built to last a long time with few problems. I have two questions of which the answers elude me. This spring I wanted to brush a touch-up coat or two of varnish on my dashboard. Knowing it is best to remove the gauges and switches prior to the initial sanding. I got behind the dash and proceeded to mark all the wires as to where they go, so I didn’t screw things up when I put it all back together. Knowing, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Removed all the gauges except for one. I had trouble with the temperature gauge. I could not remove the little pipe on the backside that would allow me to pull the gauge out the front of the dashboard. I tried and tried but that darn thing just would not unscrew. So, I worked around it while varnishing. I put it all back together and now, you guessed it, the temperature gauge doesn’t work. The second mystery is, my bilge pump also is not working. This worked just fine before, so I pulled out my test light with the Dr. Motorhead seal of approval and proceeded to verify if there was power to the pump. First I clipped the ground clamp to one of the gauge brackets behind the dash and tested to see if there was power to the switch. “You betcha”. Next I pulled the switch on and tested to see if there was juice coming from the switch. “You betcha again”. So, I said to myself, self, what would the good Doctor do next? See if the pump is getting the needed current. Make sure the wires were not cut or shorting out before they reached the bilge pump. Ok then, reinstalled the ground-clip to the shift lever and touched the light to the power wire from the switch. “You betcha again too”. Next touched the test light to the automatic bilge power wire. “You darn betcha”. So, I concluded that somehow the varnish fumes must have incapacitated the bilge pump as power was everywhere but no pump action. However, before I go out and buy one of those spendy Lovett pumps, thought I might just “run this up the flag pole” with you as “they, say again too ya know”.
Inka Dinka Do

Dear Inka,
Is that a Norwegian name by the way? Do you know Carl Weisser? Are all Norwegian’s born carpenters and furniture salesman? “Wait a minute, wait a minute here” as the old Shnazola used to say. I’m not supposed to ask the questions, I am supposed to answer them. Well, “do you want the good news or bad news first”? ”I don’t want to rain on your parade”, but “you really did it this time” Inka. “Good news or bad news”, either way, “first things first”. “Dollars to Doughnuts”, there is nothing wrong with your pump. “I’ll bet you anything” the ground wire to the pump is loose or not even connected after your re-install. You see “my good friend”, what you did with the test light was almost correct. You connected your ground-clamp to a perfectly good ground both times. You should have gone to the pump grounding point to test the appliance. When you touched the test light of course it went on. Why? You had power everywhere with an excellent ground. However, if the appliance is not properly grounded, it won’t work. Power into the switch and out of the switch. Power into the pump, but not out. There is no way home without a good ground. Check your connection behind the dash and “as sure as my name is Dr. Fred Motorhead” you will hear the pleasant whirl of your spendy Lovett, once you make sure your ground connection is proper.

Now for the “bad news side of the equation”. The small pipe you referred to is actually called the capillary tube. This is a sealed tube that runs to the engine. This transmits the temperature of the engine to the gauge. This works the same as those indoor-outdoor thermometers with the little tube you stick out the window. When you were trying to disconnect this “my friend”, you most likely broke or cracked this tube and now there is no way to send pressure from the expanding alcohol inside the tube to the gauge and make it work. How to fix it? Remove the gauge, capillary tube and send it all to your favorite gauge restorer, along with a about $100.00. You then will be “back in business” as they say.

“Oh by the way”, there is no secret committee in Washington DC with the acronym “THEY” “They”, are actually Gnomes who reside in the Norwegian forests with nothing to do but think up all these sayings as “They” say. Their staple diet is boiled potatoes, lutefisk and lefse, which is the basic food group for creative thinking of silly phrases. No one has ever seen these little people, but all Scandinavians and good Minnesotans know “they” exist. These silly sayings have been found by lumberman for centuries written upon tiny crumpled pieces of birch bark along with small crumbs of lefse at the basses of hollow trees in the forbidden forests. Dette er all meget dumt, men moro. Gjor De blir enig? Mange takk Carl for alle Deres bidrag. “A stitch in time saves nine”
Dr. Motorhead

PS: You were very wise to mark the wires so you knew where to reconnect them. A road map and a set of directions is a good thing. I know asking for or reading directions even under the worst times is very difficult and challenging for most.