An Adventure from the late ’70s

One day I got a very terse call from the vice president of the company where I was responsible for fleet maintenance back in the late ‘70s. It seemed that an almost new (1978) Dodge one-ton we had was pointed at the gate with a gooseneck trailer behind it and that truck and trailer needed to arrive at our offshore diving and salvaging dock within the next 30 minutes – 25 miles away. I had no idea why that trip to that dock was so urgent, but someone had misplaced the key to the Dodge.

“Get that truck started and on the road within the next 10 minutes,” he told me with his gravelly voice, “and I don’t care what it takes. Just make it happen.”

I must admit that I was in my element under pressure in those days, so I hung up the phone and grabbed a jumper wire with a couple of ‘gator clips on each end out of my toolbox. I opened the hood on the Dodge and made a connection from the positive battery terminal to the ballast resistor to feed current to the ignition coil.

Making sure the tranny was in neutral, I “pocket screwdrivered” the starter to fire the engine up. Ninety seconds had expired and the steering wheel was still locked, but I knew I could defeat the pewter collar around that silly spring-loaded steering wheel lock peg, and I slid into the seat and muscled the wheel hard to the right, and broke the lock. Mission accomplished in less than three minutes and the truck was headed out the gate.

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