This is actually a true story too...
Mom was always worried about Ward Austerbrun; we were about 10 and he had a homemade go kart. That automatically made him dangerous, per Mom. To me it
meant we had a ‘way out’, an escape. Now, life at home wasn’t all that bad, but Ward had a go kart…and that meant all the difference in the
world. After we got the tree fort done, complete with seedy pictures from the Sears catalog, we had not only a Bat mobile, but also a Bat cave. Ready
for any contingency; we were free!
Ward was good with his hands (his dad owned a machine shop), but not so good with his head. I think at one point he even rode the short bus, but that
didn’t matter to me…he had a go kart! And even better, two could ride on it. Ward was kind of like a backwards Einstein; his ideas always seemed
plausible, but usually we ended up getting in deep trouble.
Fella, my dog, didn’t like Ward so much. I suppose it was a result of the time he told me Fella would be just fine walking out on the ice to fetch
the toy submarine that somehow didn’t pierce the ice like Ward had planned (it’s a long and twisted story). Fella loved his cookies, but just
hated the water. Ward promised me just one more cookie would do the trick. Now that I think about it, Fella would downright growl whenever Ward came
around. Matter of fact, even I sometimes felt like growling at Ward when I remembered having to wade out and break ice to get Fella…but Ward had a
One day Ward and I watched a formula one race on TV. Ward kept telling me about how he knew how to make a “turbo”, just like on the formula one
cars. After the race we were all charged up to have something with a turbo on it. Then there was complete silence. Uh oh, it was happening again!!
Ward had some kind of a hair brained scheme.
I found out (later) about all Ward knew about turbos was they involved using exhaust gas to get more air into the carburetor. We got the go kart into
the garage easy enough, and in a few minutes had the muffler undone from the motor. Then, per Ward, it was a simple matter of fashioning a cardboard
duct from the exhaust to the carburetor and viola’…turbo! (Hey, we were 10, and Ward was a 'genious').
The first try of the turbo yielded less than desirable results. In fact, the engine seemed to run even rougher than it did before (which was pretty
rough). Obviously the problem must be we didn’t have a good enough seal on the piping. After a good amount of bailing wire and tape we had her
sealed up real good. Hmmmph, now the damn thing wouldn’t run at all. Oh, it’d start, but then sputter, cough, puke and ultimately die. Some
‘turbo’ I thought, but Ward was convinced it would work.
Now I had seen Dad use this stuff in a spray can on the tractor to start it on cold days before. And I knew exactly where that stuff was, but I
didn’t tell Ward about it at first because I figger’d he’d get it all worked out.
After a while I said, “here, Ward, spray some of this in there”
. About this time Fella, my dog, decided this was his moment to get out and
promptly skedaddled. Holy mother of all things holy, did that go kart run now!! It only ran for about 20 seconds, but I was bettin’ the old Briggs &
Stratton engine was turnin’ more RPMs than one of those formula one cars! “DO IT AGAIN!”
I yelled with glee, “DO IT AGAIN,
WARD!!! Give it more this time, that was COOL!!”
Ward gave ‘er a big ole shot of that ether the next time and pulled the cord.
Oh man, I don’t know if the crank was spinning backwards, or forwards…or both, but she lit off. I think he had about a quarter pull when it
happened. I’m not sure if the cardboard caught on fire first or Ward got the whiplash from the cord, but that baby took off at about 60,000 RPMs!
To this day, I don’t know if the horrible shrieking noise was Ward, or my Mom (who’d now come to investigate) or the go kart itself, but the huge
ball of fire (which used to be Ward) was pretty scary and I got the hell out of there!
Within seconds there was a loud bang, and then a kind of “eeeaaaiiiiiggghhh”
sound. As bad as it sounded, everything was good so far. Then
I heard it…that dreaded sound…”BOB….GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE…RIGHT…THIS…MINUTE!!!
I hadn’t had time to check Ward’s vital signs yet, and I was clear out in back, but there was only smoke (not fire) coming out of the garage so
that was a good thing. Time to make a decision.
As I streaked by the garage and into the house, hoping to avoid an appointment with Mom’s oak “sawed off yardstick”, I could swear out of the
corner of my eye I saw a smoldering Ward, hunkering over what was left of a go kart trying to figure out version III of his new “turbo”
After what seemed like hours of, “you and that boy are going to kill yourselves one of these times and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit by
and let you two do it!!!”
I was given two choices; go to my room for the rest of the day, or go clean the basement. I eagerly chose the
After a while milling around (not really cleaning) in the basement I discovered an old horn full of blackpowder, long since forgotten about. Now if I
could just find some tubing…
…just wait ‘till Ward sees this!!
edit on 11/13/2015 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)