A Two Hour Voyage... or, Rosetty's Island
by Eddie Buck
(Queue the theme song to Gilligan's Island and add your own words)
Another, of what have become my monthly trips to Bob Rosetty's Funny Farm Fabrication…..
Backstory: In December, (no name dropping intended, just part of the story) I finally got my butt on a plane and went to one of Bill and Pam's ("Jungle" Pam and her lovely husband) Christmas shindigs, at HodgeMahal, after being invited for the past three years. As always, anytime I am out that way, I must stop and see my “ugly twin sister," Bob Rosetty, at "the Funny Farm." I hung out and spent part of the weekend visiting and helping on an undisclosed, soon-to-debut project. Great times were had by all and it recharged my batteries, so to speak. About a week later, I called Bob and told him I had a blast and if he ever needed a set of hands to let me know – I’m there. I was back a month later, playing the part of shop grunt/student, helping tin and perform other tasks on the newly-minted Vega body, slated to go atop Bruce Litton's newly acquired ride.
This past Friday, I was back on my way to help finish the job. After sitting through a couple flight delays, I finally arrive at Philadelphia International... airport...not the famed Gamble and Huff enclave mind you. Step out of the warmth of the terminal into the awaiting farm wagon.
“You hungry?" he asks.
"Hell Yes!" I retort.
"Here's the plan. We get food. Get back to the house. Top off the master cylinder in the rollback. Get the cradle for the body strapped down and head for Sano's. Pick up the body. Get back to the shop and go from there." I always admire Bob's precise plan. Nice when the other guy thinks and I follow. With everything strapped, stowed and started... off we go. Leaving the driveway, he says, "Queue the theme to Gilligan's Island. We’re on a Two Hour Voyage."
About a mile up the road, we heard what we swore was the body cradle falling off the truck. Immediately stopping, we jump out... nothing out of place... nothing underneath... let's get rolling! Another mile the toll plaza is in view. Up to the booth, grab the ticket, let out the clutch and… BANG!
"What the f*%$ was that?!!" in two-part harmony.
"Driveshaft," as he jumps back in the truck.
A couple moments allowed for pondering.
Bob jumps out and runs back to the toll plaza (to do what one does when one blows a driveshaft and has to run back to the toll plaza office) while I sat firmly planted in the rollback. Understand, this is an event with all the possibilities of being life altering. Of course, it was colder than the balls on a brass monkey. It was also a Friday afternoon... at the beginning of RUSH HOUR ON THE PENNSYLVANIA F*@#ING TURNPIKE!! There were two types of drivers there that afternoon: Us and… them. Cars whizzed by to my left, as we were stranded about 200 feet out in the center of the toll plaza. A couple hundred feet past was the split to go to the on-ramps. I wasn't feeling like a babe in its mothers arms yet, even though I had about 18 feet of frame and rollback behind me. This would probably stave off any real physical harm, should an errant soccer mom be making an appoint or ordering carryout on her cell phone as she set off into the setting sun of the turnpike.
Bob emerges and makes a dash for the truck... Whew!... He made it.
In his patented cadence, he recites the plan: "Call my kid, get him here, get off the road, get a U-joint, get it back in, and get the truck out of here."
Right on. Tow truck shows up, pulls us a few hundred feet into the demilitarized zone (the triangulated patch of frozen dirt and highway slag), grab the driveshaft and go meet his son at the parking lot of the toll plaza office.
First stop, Pep Boys...”no have right u-joint, mister.” They called another store which had the proper unit to solve our dilemma. Pete, drops us off... we go in the garage, prep the drive shaft. Being that Pep Boys was on the other side of town, we waited a bit; our hero returned with the U-joint...I forgot to say.... the WRONG U-Joint. In the meantime, reinforcements showed up in the form of Jake. Jake was dropping off the anodized panels for the Vega... remember the Vega?
Again, we head out. Auto Zone has the part. Back to the shop, press the 2nd u-joint in the yoke. Pile back into the trusty farm wagon. Upon arriving with the driveshaft, tools... consisting of ratchet, sockets, hammer. We roll into the DMZ, Bob and Jake under the truck, I was fetch. One of the tangs was broken off the rear end yoke. Damn. Get it carefully in place and tighten... need a wrench... “no have wrench mister...”
Back to the shop. Making a U-turn is frowned upon in the turnpike culture. Instead of the two miles to the house, we had to go about 15 via the pike and the return streets. At the shop, a new tang was affixed to a u-joint retainer, wrenches gathered and back on the road again. Once back in the DMZ the driveshaft was secured, truck started and directions given to Jake following in the farm wagon. Bob and I jump in the rollback... let out the clutch... start to drive away...CLUNK!
"What the hell?" probably in three part harmony. Maybe we sounded like the Bee-Gees. Diagnosis attempts were made.
It wasn't going anywhere... Goodnight Mary Ann. Pack it back in the wagon, head to the shop...the long way. We stop to pay our toll, tell the same attendant from our last excursion we're hired by the state to drive around all night, checking toll booths. With food in hand, we arrive at the shop, formulate a plan of attack. By now, it's midnight.......
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