CHAPTER THREE. THE START

"Exactly," groaned the Professor; "it weighs a ton - two tons sometimes - more in the sand; it cost twelve hundred dollars, and will cost more before we are done with it. Yes, I know what you are about to say, you could buy a 'purty slick' team for that price, - in fact, a dozen nags such as that one leaning against you, - but we don't care for horses. My friend here who is spilling the water all over the machine and the small boy, once owned a horse, it kicked over the dash-board, missed his mother-in-law and hit him; horse's intention good, but aim bad, - since then he has been prejudiced against horses; it goes by gasoline - sometimes; that is not a boiler, it is the cooler - on hot days we take turns sitting on it; - explosions, - electric spark, - yes, it is queer; - man at last stop made same bright remark; no danger from explosions if you are not too near, - about a block away is safer; start by turning a crank; yes, that is queer, queerer than the other queer things; cylinder does get hot, but so do we all at times; we ought to have water jackets - that is a joke that goes with the machine; yes, it is very fast, from fifty to seventy miles per - ; 'per what?' you say; well, that depends upon the roads, - not at all, I assure you, no trouble to anticipate your inquiries by these answers - it is so seldom one meets any one who is really interested - you can order a machine by telegraph; any more information you would like? - No! - then my friend, in return, will you tell me why you celebrate the second of August?"

"Danged if I know." And we never found out.

At Bellevue we lighted our lamps and ran to Norwalk over a very fair road, arriving a few minutes after eight. Norwalk liveries did not like automobiles, so we put the machine under a shed.

This second day's run was about one hundred and fifty miles in twelve hours and fifty-four minutes gross time; deducting stops, left nine hours and fifty-four minutes running time - an average of about fourteen and one-half miles per hour.

Ohio roads are by no means so good as Indiana. Not until we left Painesville did we find any gravel to speak of. There was not much deep sand, but roads were dry, dusty, and rough; in many localities hard clay with deep ruts and holes.

A six o'clock call and a seven o'clock breakfast gave time enough to inspect the machine.

The water-tank was leaking through a crack in the side, but not so badly that we could not go on to Cleveland, where repairs could be made more quickly. A slight pounding which had developed was finally located in the pinion of a small gear-wheel that operated the exhaust-valve.

It is sometimes by no means easy to locate a pounding in a gasoline motor, and yet it must be found and stopped. An expert from the factory once worked four days trying to locate a very loud and annoying pounding. He, of course, looked immediately at the crank-and wrist-pins, taking up what little wear was perceptible, but the pounding remained; then eccentric strap, pump, and every bearing about the motor were gone over one by one, without success; the main shaft was lifted out, fly-wheel drawn off, a new key made; the wheel drawn on again tight, all with no effect upon the hard knock which came at each explosion. At last the guess was made that possibly the piston was a trifle small for the cylinder; a new and slightly larger piston was put in and the noise ceased. It so happened that the expert had heard of one other such case, therefore he made the experiment of trying a fractionally larger piston as a last resort; imagine the predicament of the amateur, or the mechanic who had never heard of such a trouble.

There is, of course, a dull thud at each explosion; this is the natural "kick" of the engine, and is very perceptible on large single-cylinder motors; but this dull thud is very different from the hammer-like knock resulting from lost motion between the parts, and the practised ear will detect the difference at once.

The best way to find the pounding is to throw a stream of heavy lubricating oil on the bearings, one by one, until the noise is silenced for the moment. Even the piston can be reached with a flood of oil and tested.

It is not easy to tell by feeling whether a bearing on a gasoline motor is too free. The heat developed is so great that bearings are left with considerable play.

A leak in the water-tank or coils is annoying; but if facilities for permanent repair are lacking, a pint of bran or middlings from any farmer's barn, put in the water, will close the leak nine times out of ten.

From Norwalk through Wakeman and Kipton to Oberlin the road is rather poor, with but two or three redeeming stretches near Kipton. It is mostly clay, and in dry weather is hard and dusty and rough from much traffic.

Leading into Oberlin the road is covered with great broad flag-stones, which once upon a time must have presented a smooth hard surface, but now make a succession of disagreeable bumps.

Out of Elyria we made the mistake of leaving the trolley line, and for miles had to go through sand, which greatly lessened our speed, but towards Stony River the road was perfect, and we made the best time of the day.

It required some time in Cleveland to remove and repair the water-tank, cut a link out of the chain, take up the lost motion in the steering-wheel, and tighten up things generally. It was four o'clock before we were off for Painesville.

Euclid Avenue is well paved in the city, but just outside there is a bit of old plank road that is disgracefully bad. Through Wickliff, Willoughby, and Mentor the road is a smooth, hard gravel.

Arriving at Painesville a few minutes after seven, we took in gasoline, had supper, and prepared to start for Ashtabula.