Re-FUSING to Fix the Brakes

Sep 13, 1997

RAY: A customer shows up at the garage the other day, an elderly gentleman who's got an old car. He says, "gee, my car is really running lousy. I need some of that fuel system additive that you guys sell." We have this stuff, I don't know who makes it. It's composed of like lizard lips and newt eyebrows.

TOM: Lepo galls.

RAY: Lepo galls and a variety of volatile organic compounds.

TOM: Oyster shells.

RAY: Oyster shells.

TOM: And vinegar.

RAY: So I sell him a can of this stuff, which he is going to put into his gas tank, and I'm not really listening. He says it's running lousy. It's getting terrible mileage. I need to do something. He says, "what do I do with this stuff?" I say well, "you put it in and you fill the tank up with gas and you drive it." So he does it. He says, "Is this going to help my terrible mileage? It says it diesels when I shut it off. I need to do something. I can't afford to really fix it. Will this work?" I say, "I don't think so." But he buys it anyway, and off he goes. Several hours later he calls me up. He says, "I've been driving the car all day." He said, "As luck would have it, I had a bunch of errands to run. But I have been in stop-and-go traffic on the highway for the last hour or two." I said, "Yes, yes, and the car is fixed?" He says well, "I don't have any brakes. My brakes have failed. The pedal went down to the floor. It's being towed in. It won't get there before you close, but you will find it tomorrow morning." So sure enough...

TOM: This is thrilling already.

RAY: Anyway, we arrived the next morning to find his car with the keys under the mat. I tell one of my guys, "Check out Ed's car, pull the thing in. But be careful because I think he blew a brake line or something." Twenty minutes later he hands me the keys and he says...

TOM: It's all fixed.

RAY: "It's all fixed." I said, "What did you do?" He said, "I replaced the fuse." I said, "You moron. The guy had no brakes."

TOM: Whooa, this is getting better and better.

RAY: He says, "I will repeat. I replaced a fuse, and the car is fixed." Indeed, it was.

TOM: Wow, pretty good, huh.

TOM: Wow.

RAY: Which fuse did he replace? Which number?

TOM: And was it...

RAY: How did replacing a fuse fix Ed's car?


RAY: The car -- I don't remember exactly the year of the car, but it was an old Pontiac T1000, which was also a Chevette. This car has an electric choke, which has a fuse. When the fuse blew, the choke wouldn't open. The car ran lousy. Got what? Lousy mileage, dieseled when he shut it off. It ran lousy. Because the thing was racing all the time because the choke was partially closed...

TOM: No vacuum to the booster.

RAY: No, he had an automatic transmission card, and he was working against the throttle every time he was riding the car in stop and go traffic.

TOM: Boiling the fluid!

RAY: Look back at page seven of the Puzzler. He was in stop and go traffic.

TOM: I remember that.

RAY: Riding that brake. But it was dieseling riding with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake. Every time he went to slow down, he had to step extra hard on the pedal. The brakes got overheated; the brake fluid boiled. He lost his brakes.

TOM: Whoo.

RAY: Of course when he towed it in and everything cooled off, the brakes came back.

TOM: The brakes were fine.

RAY: My guy pulls it in and says there is nothing wrong with the brakes. But after running it for awhile, he realizes that the choke ain't opening. The thing is racing at 2500 rpm. He puts a fuse in. Bingo. It's fixed. I mean was that the most stellar of the Puzzlers?

TOM: Of the first season.

RAY: Was that the best one of the season so far?

TOM: It was the best one of the season, but it was a little bit arcane. I mean...

RAY: Well, it was arcane.

TOM: An electric choke with a fuse. A T1000 of which there were only six sold.

RAY: Well, no, there were many cars that had chokes with fuses. I just happen to pick this one.

TOM: Now if we happen to have a winner here...

RAY: We do have a winner.

TOM: Wait a minute. My God we do.

RAY: Crusty who?

TOM: The winner this week is Dale Gadd, G-a-d-d from Corona, California.

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