A Jag-Lover's Tale
Maybe "fanfare" is too polite of a term for what really happened. The shift started as we approached 25MPH. The first indication that something was happening was that the engine seemed to change in pitch, up and down and up and down. This was soon followed by a rattley bang, which was immediately followed by a soulful and hearty GRROONNNNKKK!!, and we were in third.
I've only driven a few automatics for any length of time, and they were all old Buicks owned by my father. And while their acceleration, handling, and ride were not particularly memorable, I distinctly remember the complete lack of a "GRROONNNNKKK" when entering third gear.
At first I refused to acknowledge the noise. Phil said he thought that it didn't sound too healthy, which forced me to admit that I too had heard it. I told Phil that I thought it had to do with bad rear engine/transmission mounts letting the drive shaft rub on the tunnel. As I pulled into the driveway, echos of the unheard "transmission should be looked at" began to ring in my ears.
The eternal optimist in me told me that it was an isolated incident; that the transmission hadn't shifted into third in a long time and was a bit out of practice. Reality intruded into my delusions on that same straight stretch while I was taking Trish and my son on their first ride in what was becoming "that car." This time the GRROONNNNKKK seemed to come from my ankle, and at once I admitted I had a problem, and knew what it meant. The engine was going to have to come out, again.
After dropping Trish and C.J. off at the house, I drove to the auto parts store around the corner and bought a replacement tail light bulb. On the way home I discovered that if I babied the throttle when the transmission went for third, the noise was either significantly reduced or eliminated entirely. As I rolled into the garage, I decided that I was not going to ride the bus to work in the morning.
Curiosity made me pull one of the front wheels, just to see how my home-made bridge pipes were doing. All of the clicking noise had come from the back wheels where I reused the originals, and the fronts were basically quiet. What I found made my skin crawl. The pipe on the right front was nearly worn through. A gentle press with a screwdriver punctured the pipe and out came the brake fluid. By my estimate, I had maybe one stop left. The left front had a small spot of wear. I made some minor changes in the routing with the mallet, and put the left wheel back on. I spent the next two hours making a perfect bridge pipe for the right side, and then bleeding the brakes again.
The morning of November 5, 1994, one year and one day from the day the car was delivered, dawned cool. I deliberately left late so that I would avoid the majority of rush hour. Not having too much confidence in the car I stuck to the surface streets. After a very uneventful trip, I arrived at my office ten miles away, and parked in the very space in which I first saw Ryan's car. Ryan also chose this day to drive his Jag to work, and he parked it directly across the street from mine. I must have spent most of the day staring out of the window.
The drive home was just as uneventful. It was dark, but the headlights worked fine. I stopped for groceries on the way, and rolled triumphantly into the garage. My son was there to greet me. He wanted to sit in the Jag and push some buttons and turn the key. After a few minutes of this it was time to go in for dinner. As I stepped into the house, I stopped and listened as the Jag clicked contentedly to itself, cooling in the night air. Maybe the transmission repair could wait for a while.
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