Back in February, I wrote about the question of what to do with the original numbers-matching engine from my 1973 3.0CSi. The time had come to get it out of the garage at what I will always think of as my mother’s house, even though my sister and I own it after my mother’s passing. I wrote, with a good deal of defensiveness and passion, about how I am never going to rebuild this engine and reinstall it in my E9, and can’t imagine a reasonable scenario where, after I pass on to the Great Hack Mechanic Beyond and my heirs dispose of the car, the next owner will either. This isn’t just everyone-should-be-like-me projecting—If someone wants an original 3.0CSi, he or she is never going to buy this one, strip off the Signal Red paint, respray the car the original Polaris silver, rip out the beige leather, source and install the original Navy velour, yank the E28 engine onto which I installed not Motronics but L-Jetronic injection, rebuild the original mill, and hunt down and install an original D-Jetronic injection system. They’d come to their senses and find a more original CSi to use as a starting point.
However, the bulk of the work in dealing with the old lump of an engine was in getting it out of the garage. Where it was dropped off was a comparatively minor issue. So I began the task of removal. In the past, I’ve done this sort of thing using my engine hoist to lift engines in and out of the back of the truck, but dismantling and assembling the hoist multiple times was more than I wanted to deal with, so I instead planned to move it by dragging it into a small U-Haul trailer.
I began by getting the engine onto a furniture dolly. I solicited the help of #3 son Aaron, as I knew that wrangling around a 350-pound engine would be a bit much for hobbled old me. I thought that we could essentially tip it onto the dolly. It wasn’t nearly that easy, as attempting to do so instantly caused the dolly to tip upright. We then trapped the dolly against the garage wall while Aaron stood on one end. Once it was on, I underestimated the challenge of getting the engine’s center of gravity over the middle of the dolly to make it stable. A very long 2×4 was pressed into service (the older you get and the worse your back becomes, the closer a friendship you develop with massive amounts of leverage). Once it was centered, I trussed it up with ratchet straps—a numbers-matching turkey. Appropriate, since both are dead, have dark fluid running out of them, and leave a greasy stain in their wake.
I would’ve preferred a trailer with a smooth wooden fold-down ramp, but I was surprised to find that the small enclosed U-Haul trailers have side-opening doors instead, so I had to make due with one of the open trailers where the ramp is basically a metal grate and the floor of the trailer is corrugated metal. I expected both to be problematic, and I was right.
As planned, the dolly allowed the engine to effortlessly roll out onto the street. It was surprisingly poignant watching the engine traverse the distance and get loaded up in the exact spot on the street where I’d pulled it from the E9 34 years ago.
The poignancy evaporated when I discovered how much of a pain in the butt it was to get the engine into the trailer. Even using my portable electric winch, everything about the open trailer—the metal grating on the ramp, the gap at the hinge, the corrugated floor—made it rough going. I again brought leverage to bear on the problem, shoving the thing around and getting it unstuck, and eventually got it in.
As I live just half a mile from the Newton recycling depot, part of me wanted to definitively end this fiction that the engine is ever going to have a useful afterlife and just drop it off in front of the metal recycling bin. Hell, as a former physics major, I even imagined that I could conduct a fun little experiment where I undo the ratchet straps, lower the trailer’s gate, mash the accelerator, and test whether the torque-driven forward lurch from the truck’s big diesel and turbo will overcome the numbers-matching engine’s inertia and the friction of the dolly’s wheels on that non-smooth surface and adroitly and elegantly auto-unload the thing.
But in the end, I just couldn’t dump it. I’m all about keeping options open, and it would cost me nothing to do that with the engine. All that I needed to do was move all the cars from the right side of the driveway, roll the engine down there, and put a tarp over it. So that’s what I did. And that’s where it now sits. Waiting, like the toys in Toy Story, for their grown-up but still child-like owner to play with them again.
The irony that the engine now sits in exactly the same place where, last week, I crowed that I made space by selling large unneeded parts, is not lost on me.
Since the engine is now sitting outside and will be for the foreseeable future, at some point I’ll take the time to seal it up. I must have an M30 valve cover around here somewhere.
So, yeah, I kicked the numbers-matching can down the road to the end of my own driveway. But that’s okay. If a car-centric property suddenly drops into our laps and we vacate the house in Newton, the engine can now be moved quite easily. And, if I die and the family has to deal with my excesses, this numbers-matching boat anchor on wheels is going to be the least of their worries. The more pressing issue will be the 40-year accumulation of smaller parts. You know the saying—Live in such a way that, when you die, your family will say “Why the hell did he save this?”
Rob’s newest book, The Best of The Hack Mechanic, is available here on Amazon, as are his seven other books. Signed copies can be ordered directly from Rob here.