Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The DA ratio

As in the Dinking Around ratio.

As in the ratio between the amount of time you spend dinking around with a car, a boat, or a motorcycle, and the amount of time you actually spend driving it.

First car I ever bought with my own money, twenty dollars of my own money, was an early sixties Vauxhall with leather seats and a four cylinder motor. I bought it from an old pipe-smoking wretch of an Anglophile who I believe was the first person my dear daddy hired on at his nascent real estate brokerage.

Wallace Nodwell may have been an old pipe-smoking wretch, but it was through his connections that we got tickets to the football finals at the Montreal Olympic Games.

The DA ratio on that car was 100:0. That means I spent a hundred hours dinking around with it for every hour I spent driving it, which was zero. I was fourteen years old at the time.

Next up was a Chrysler Windsor with a 383. I believe it was a 1964 model. I didn't have any plans for the Chrysler, but I had great plans for the 383. The DA factor on that one may have been 100:1, because I actually tooled it around the block a couple of times before I pulled out that 383.

Those were optimistic days. Somewhere in my voluminous archives I still have a photo of that 383 hanging from an engine hoist and me posing in front of it, in all my dorkshit 15 year old glory, the way you would in front of a twelve point buck.

Once I got a driving licence, that 100:1 DA ratio didn't cut it anymore. I mean, you bought a vehicle because you had people to see and things to do, and dinking around under the hood wasn't one of them.

Possibly this is because I was always notoriously inept at dinking around under the hood. I was reasonably adept at taking stuff apart, but woefully inept at putting it back together, at least in such a way that it worked. I couldn't do a brake job without having a few odds and ends left over.

That's not a good thing when you did a brake job.

And that's why I've always had such a ferocious allegiance to those guys who can take shit apart and put it back together and HAVE IT WORK!

That's just absolutely priceless!

My old pal Lippert, may he rest in peace, was one of those guys.

I recall when I was testing out an old fourteen foot Arkansas Traveller with a 35 horse Johnson on the Chepstow mill pond. I'd been dinking around with that puppy for months, and now that I actually had it in the water, I wasn't getting nothing.

Jimmy lived ten minutes away. A phone call was made, and twenty minutes later that old girl was on plane!

My dear Uncle Fridolin was another guy who had the gift. I remember when me and cousin Johnny towed a Rebel Machine back to Guelph behind one of my 340 Darts. I'd picked it up at a Toronto dealership for a pittance, because even though it was an immaculate low-mileage car, it didn't actually run.

That was a very rare car. Me and Johnny spent hours dinking around under the hood. Finally his daddy Fridol came out, re-arranged some plug wires, and we were off to the races!

And my old pal Kipling is another guy who has the DA gift. Kipling makes his paycheque doing expedite deliveries with a VW diesel van that has two million miles on it. Aside from the body panels, there's probably nothing on that van that he hasn't repaired or replaced at least once in the course of two million miles.

It's a gift I never cease to marvel at!

As I get older, I'm more inclined to look for vehicles that have at least a 1:1 DA ratio. That Kawasaki 500 Ninja I bought last year has probably been 1:1, or close to it. An hour of fiddling rewards you with an hour of riding.

The Mustang 50 has been virtually no dinking around at all. It's a 25 year old car. You get in and turn the key and it runs and drives like it came off the dealer's lot last week.

So I'm a little concerned about my current boat hunt. There's a lot of stuff out there with low prices and high numbers on the hour meter. That sounds like a recipe for lots of dinking around.

I've got a canoe in the barn that requires no dinking around whatsoever. Also gives you a decent workout when you circumnavigate Lake Charles. Ya, it doesn't have the adrenaline rush of forty feet of fibreglass coming on plane in five seconds, but maybe I'm gonna have to let that go.

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