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Here’s the deal: We should be embarrassed. Andrew was at first and he’s convinced his mates in England aren’t going to let him live this down but I told him it’s okay. It’s totally okay that we forgot we had a vehicle with a choke.
See, since we got our 1965 Clark Cortez two months from the day, we have been so focused on getting it started . . . and then getting the brakes functioning that we forgot we had an old relic with a choke. We’ve been using starter spray each and every time to get our faithful beast to fire up and we honestly didn’t think much of it — I mean, we knew we wanted to tackle this issue one day, but we had so many other jobs on the list that we moved the thought to the side . . . that is until we bumped into one of my uncle’s friends at the farm.
“So have you mastered your choke yet?” he asked grinning. This man’s name is Arthur and he was really sweet — When we pulled our Cortez into my uncle’s garage, ready to start a full day’s work, Arthur slowly moseyed over, intrigued so we invited him inside.
“You made the right move,” he said, looking around and nodding, and that’s how we first met.
“Doesn’t feel like that some days, mate,” Andy told him while wiping his sweat-covered brow, leaving a grease smudge on his forehead.
“You did. My wife and I just bought a brand-new trailer — a pull-along, you know. Worst financial decision ever” and here we began our conversation. Arthur told us about all the old vehicles he’s had and how one of his favorites was an old campervan that he and his wife purchased with grand plans to renovate it . . . that is until his wife wanted to sell it. “She said it was too much work. We are both retired — actually I just retired today — but she said we should just enjoy it, travel. We didn’t need to take time to fix it up at this age and I agreed.” He paused and I was thinking over what he was saying. Surprisingly I agreed with his wife too until he added again, “Worst financial decision ever. You two are doing it right. This is neat — This is really cool.”
It was around here Andrew began explaining how our decision may not have been the best — that some days, we wonder if our Cortez will be a money-pit or if it will be a dream-maker — but that, for now, we are happy with our choice.
“For example, we can’t figure out why it needs this — ” and here Andrew produced a can of starter fluid. “We have to spray it every time to get the engine to start.”
“Huh,” Arthur said and he looked at us with as puzzling an expression as we had for our Cortez. “So have you mastered your choke yet? And it still won’t start without that?”
Andrew’s realization was immediate and he started to laugh. “The choke!” he cried, turning to me. “L, I completely forgot the choke!”
Being that I had no idea how the verb ‘choke’ could suddenly become a ‘noun,’ I just looked and blinked. Surely he would explain himself, I thought.
And he did: An engine needs a balance of air and fuel to run. A choke — which is an engine valve — reduces the amount of air when the engine is started and this action allows the engine to fire up. All modern vehicles do not have chokes — They have other fancy parts that have made the choke obsolete; however, in older motors, people have to operate their chokes manually. (And by the way, if you know when the last vehicle with a choke was made, leave us a comment — I’m interested.)
So Andrew sheepishly admits he forgot the choke because he was so focused on other Cortez jobs and what could I say? Up until that point, I didn’t even know chokes existed in vehicles so of course it didn’t matter to me. “It’s still embarrassing,” he said until I pointed out this: For those ready to bant — Bant away, buddy because I’m hoping the fact that we are the only person we know with a Clark Cortez . . . and we are the only person we know restoring a fifty-four-year-old motorhome — well, I’m hoping this gives us a free pass.
Anyway we had a good chat with Arthur who taught us that our choke needs to be closed when the engine is off or when the engine is cold — not when the temperature outside is cold. So as we are talking, Andrew pulled the choke cable out all the way and — click — the engine’s carburetor snapped shut.
“That should be good,” Arthur said and all three of us held our breath as Andrew twisted the key ignition . . .
and it worked! Our ancient behemoth fired up! No starter fluid sprays — no can in sight — and our Cortez engine was super duper happy. We were, too.
“Now you have to figure out how your vehicle likes it but you want to close it now,” Arthur was yelling over the healthy roar of the engine so Andy dipped back down and pushed our Cortez’s choke cable in, slowly opening the carburetor’s flap.
That’s when another amazing thing happened: Our engine grew silenter but still remained as powerful.
With the job complete, the only one we had to tackle was now how to get our choke cable to move more smoothly. Essentially, it had seized so it was extremely hard to pull in and out. For this, we employed WD-40 — spraying it on both ends of the choke. Since then, this sucker has been sliding easily.
In the end, this is a short and sweet post about how miracles can happen.
. . . Or maybe instead I should say this is a short and sweet post to show knowledge has taken place, and with that we are hoping this information will help anyone else with a vehicle that has a choke; and for more, we just posted a new video so head on over to our YouTube channel.
Cheers to figuring ours out!