A crisp fall evening in a brightly lit shop with the giant bay doors opened to the night. I’m standing face to face with my front left brake rotor. 

The radio is good tonight. We don’t hear any commercials. Just music. Tears For Fears. Kenny Loggins. Bruce Springsteen. Cameo. Word up.

Tom Petty’s “American Girl” is playing. We’re talking about Huey Lewis. Josh, working on the exhaust at the opposite corner of the truck, is saying how he never really got into Huey Lewis, but finds almost all the music around him to be really good.

Behind me, over my right shoulder, Brother Keith has finished clearing off most of the gigantic welding table and is now servicing the ultrasonic cleaner in preparation for cleaning some small, yet mission critical, hydraulic components for the shop. He agrees with Josh.

I go on the record as having always loved Huey Lewis and The News. I mean, C’MON. The Power of Love? Hip to be Square? Happy to be Stuck With You? The Heart of Rock n Roll? I even like that one he did with Gwyneth Paltrow. Sue me.

Some time passes in relative silence. A minute. Maybe two minutes—or was it only a few seconds? I dunno.

Standing there in the brightly lit shop on the crisp fall evening with the jams softly playing in the background, doing the most relaxed, and yet thorough, brake pad job I’ve ever done, while Josh and Brother Keith help out with other projects around me, it hit me.

Gentlemen. This is without a doubt the best day I’ve had turning wrenches all year.

Trials riding pros Josh and Nigel concur from the far end of the shop where they’ve been doing an oil change on a Ford Transit and looking over a pair of Shercos.

We all concur. Catch me if you can.

My last work call of the day ended at 4PM. I was at the shop ready to wrench by 4:30. The plan was to work until 7. We started cleaning up at 8. Just lost track of time.

By 8:30, the rally car was parked back in its spot on the lift, “Johnny Two-tone” was tucked in next door with three more GVR4s, and the three of us were checking out Fezzik’s Diode Dynamics SS18 combo light bar behind the shop.

There were challenges, sure. A sticky caliper bolt. Crusty torsion bar hardware. The rear spring we installed, then removed to more easily install the exhaust, then re-installed, then removed because we thought we forgot a gasket and had to remove the exhaust (but didn’t), then re-installed. The increasingly common wrong parts (sway bar end links) from Amazon. And all the little things that slow you down when you’re not working with your usual tools in the usual spots.

Second Shift started at 4:30. Four genuinely pleasant hours later, I drove home with new front brake pads, a new ABS sensor, new OME torsion bars, new OME rear springs, a complete exhaust system, and all my ADD skid plates installed. We even rotated the tires. Thanks, Josh and Brother Keith!

With the new, 4.90 gears Ernest finished up Monday (thanks, Ernest!), Fezzik likes to run. And with a complete exhaust system (thanks, Eric!), I can hear that healthy engine run for the first time since Josh and I installed it nearly three years ago. (The Camry Incident was a couple weeks after the rebuild.)

I’m going back tonight.

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