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4x4 Truck Shop Transfer Case Rebuild & Hair On Fire Incident - Low Rage

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2002
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Joe's PlaceI had some troubles with my rig when I was out at Moab, which was not the reason I was so ticked off about that week, but it probably didn't help. My transfer case was acting up. Balky to shift, and after a few days it wouldn't go into 4-Low at all. So when I got back I went to visit Joe.

Joe runs the 4x4 shop in our town. Well, there are a couple that are open in our little burg, but to me it's the shop. I have nothing but respect for the man. He's a master craftsman, one of the best drivers I've ever seen, and he knows his stuff. Plus, Joe won't b.s. you. He'll tell you exactly what you need to know, even if it's not what you want to hear. Know what I mean? Sometimes that costs Joe sales, but he'd rather do what's right. I like that.

I figured it would be a snap for Joe to take one look at my transfer case, tell me what was wrong, and fix it. Or not. Maybe he'd give me the excuse I needed to borrow the checkbook from my wife and order up a set of crawler gears.

So I sorta looked forward to spending some time with Joe in his shop. How could I have known that I'd wind up with my hair on fire?

It had been a while since I spent any time with Joe, and I forgot just how busy his place is. Every time he'd get started on my truck, some other guy with a broken part would wander in the shop, or the phone would ring, or the UPS guy would show up. And every time Joe would leave my truck, see what he could do to help, and then eventually come back to my rig.

It's not like Joe works alone. He has a couple of employees who answer the phone and help with the wrenching. But they're young guys-kids, really. So I go straight to Joe. Turns out, so does everyone else.

I watched this three-ring circus that Joe calls his business for quite a while. He did a pretty good job of juggling it all and making slow progress on my truck. But then he got a phone call that worried him. I guess he had mixed up the dates on a big job, a full cage going into a CJ that was in the corner of his shop

I could see what was coming. As ticked off as I was that my truck was going to be pushed aside for some other guy's Jeep, I figured it was only fair. That guy's 4x4 was here first. It wouldn't help Joe any for me to pitch a fit. So I offered to help, and Joe surprised me by accepting.

I guess you could call it help. Pretty much what I did was hold parts of the cage while he did the measuring, trimming, bending and tacking. As he was cutting a piece of tube, I felt something sting my scalp. There were plenty of sparks coming off the cutter, and I didn't think any more about it until I caught a whiff of something awful and realized it was hair burning. My hair.

Joe must've figured it out before I did, because he swatted the top of my head before I realized what was going on. Just about knocked me over, but that big work glove of his did the trick. No more sting, no more smell.

Not long after that the cage was tacked in place. Joe said he'd final weld it later and went back to my truck. I guess he figured I'd been around long enough, because he pretty much ignored the phone for the rest of the afternoon and got my transfer case working again. It was a simple fix, so the crawler gears would have to wait. Which is too bad. When my wife saw my head that night, it would've been easy to talk her out of the money.

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