Ted Kalvitis - Far Muse

Webster’s defines “effluvium” as a byproduct that is considered to be waste. In literature, though, the perhaps more delicate ‘‘effluvia” seems to refer to the many possessions that — though having some value — nonetheless weigh us down and impede our progress.

Many people in the business of storing stuff use a term, though synonymous with effluvium, isn’t suitable for polite company. The sentiment though, appears to be universal.

Robert “Pastor Bob” Combs and I were conversing at the Xpress Stop at Hanging Rock. Noticing the stance of my 1967 F-250 Old Black Truck, Bob remarked that the truck “had its nose in the air.”

This comment implied that I had loaded the truck excessively with tractor repair tools and that I must be resourceful and proficient at my work.

With a dismissive gesture that said “thanks for the compliment, but his assertion was incorrect,” I explained that the rear springs were simply shot. I really couldn’t recall a conscious decision on my part to overload the truck, then taking a day or 2 to pack the compartments full to capacity.

As the reader may recall, I wrecked this truck back in August by driving it into a small tornado — aka “a localized meteorological anomaly” — near Middleburg, Va.

Fortunately, the accident occurred close to a 300-acre farm belonging to a 20-year customer. I was able to limp the truck there where I have carte blanche access and indefinite storage.

With the damaged Old Black Truck resting securely there, it became time to turn attention to the next OBT, our 1979 F-150 Old Hippie Apple Truck.

“Now just a minute,” you may say. “The Old Hippie Orchard Day is a decade-old tradition. You can’t take her apple truck away.”

True. so I’m replacing it with our 1954 Chevrolet flatbed/stake body.

Anyway, she acknowledged (very insightfully) that I’ve written all that I can about the truck and that it’s at an inspirational standstill.

The back ends of these trucks aren’t very substantial, so a heavy oak frame is constructed to accommodate a vise, workbench and crane. Having completed this stage, next came the removal of OBT II’s air compressor and the emptying and transfer of the large toolboxes from the wrecked truck to the next OBT.

“Pastor Bob” was right after all.

The accident had a blender effect on the neatly arranged tools and hardware. I hadn’t seen my bolt bins. so mixed up since I let a local builder pick through them.

As I randomly boxed these items, I could see a pattern of duplication and redundancy. Some of these excess tools were spares (2 spare 1/2-inch drive air wrenches?)

Some couldn’t be found when needed so a duplicate was purchased. Others were just along for the ride as “what ifs.” For example: “What if’’ I needed two 1-7/8 wrenches or two identical monster gear pullers — or four pairs of spare eyeglasses; am I a spider with 8 eyes? Since OBT III is a lighter duty truck, weight reduction is critical.

With the empty toolboxes now mounted on the truck, it’s time to restock the shelves as it were. Besides, all those boxes of random, mixed-up tools are weirding me out. They hauntingly resemble “box and contents; what am I bid?”

So it appears that I unwittingly overloaded the truck little by little over a period of 14 years. All the excess tools that won’t be going back onto the truck can’t really be considered waste, but are certainly effluvia.

Some of these tools will go to other collections that we own in order to fill gaps. Others may turn up at the flea market or as a big give-away that could make some pre-teen gear head very happy. (His countenance may fall as he realizes that this is part of my plan to entrap him into being the next equipment mechanic at the local facility of the Christian organization to which we belong.)

Adding considerable weight to the truck is the actual effluvia covering the truck bed-in places — to a depth of 4 inches. Highly visible in this mix are things like electrical connectors, rounded-off nuts and bolts, grommets and rusty manure spreader chain links.

A core sample would expose the bonding agents of leaf mold, dandelion fluff and sawdust. (The vise serves as a sawbuck for small logs.)

Drain oil and diesel fuel from discarded filters complete the formula that comprises this 4- by 6-foot cake of farm history. Here’s some other seldom (if ever) used tools that I’ve been hauling around since OBT II’s deployment on Pearl Harbor Day, 2005:

• A 6-inch oil filter wrench. One rarely sees a filter so huge this side of a strip mine. Although I confess to a brief dalliance with heavy equipment prior to becoming the eccentric tractor artist of the Northern Virginia Horse Country, this tool probably hadn’t been off of OBT I in 10 years prior to my transferring it to OBTII.

• Manure-spreader floor chain tool; This heavy cast-iron tool with its industrial-looking gray enamel finish was purchased 30 years ago because it was “indispensible” for changing manure spreader floor chains. Though I’ve changed countless floor chains over the years, I still haven’t figured out how to use this thing. Anyone need a boat anchor?

• A row of very large open-end box wrenches hanging from a board. These are meant to clang and ring to make my truck sound like an approaching old-time tinker’s wagon. That is, as if any of my customers have any idea what an old-time tinker’s wagon sounded like. I have little idea myself.

Try to ignore the absence of hoofbeats.

• An 8-piece set of 2-1/16- to 3-inch 3/4 drive sockets. Never leave home without ’em.

• Over 20 calibers and gauges of ammunition — some in both black powder and smokeless. Well, I never know what I might acquire out there.

• A 2-ended box wrench bent at multiple and grotesque angles. Now is this the wrench for reaching that odd John Deere starter bolt that you can plainly see and touch, but can’t get a wrench on? Maybe it’s for changing Massey Ferguson hydraulic relief valves without splitting the tractor. I haven’t done either in years.

I carry it out to the back wall of the woodshed. Drive another nail. o

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