The black truck is back from the shop with it's fusible link replaced. "What the hell is a fusible link??" I hear you muttering. We didn't know either, but I have the Internets (sic) at my disposal.
According to Car Care, a fusible link is "a short section of wire that has a smaller diameter than the rest of the circuit. When current flow in the circuit exceeds that of the fusible link, the wire melts and interrupts the circuit." This would account for the puff of smoke coming out from under the hood.
Fusible links are not easy to change like standard fuses. Unlike standard fuses that come in pretty pastel colors and can all be found in a tidy little plastic box, fusible links are hidden in some wiring harness somewhere near the main wiring harness -- or maybe not -- and they may or may not be tagged. So first you have to know you have a fusible link. (This won't be a problem for most of you, since they are now obsolete, but we have an affinity for engines that pre-date onboard computers.) Then you have to find and fuck around with the wiring harness, hunting for a little melted length of small diameter wire which you may or may not be able to differentiate from all the other little wires in there. Then, if you're pretty sure you've found it and you aren't afraid to start hacking away at your electrical system, you can replace it. Speaking only for myself, there's already so much wiring in a car engine that looks suspiciously like someone stuck it on as a quick fix while praying that the electrical tape would hold till they got home that I'm not at all sure I could pick out a melted wire from your standard jury-rigged wire. Car engines are, to me, a confusing mass of greasy things, wires going nowhere and everywhere, nuts and bolts that human beings can't budge and stuff that will rip your hand off if you reach in there.
But I digress. Larry, our favorite mechanic (and champion smart-ass), does know about fusible links and where to find them, so he replaced the offending wire and told us we should never drive the truck to St. Louis. Actually, he said we should never GO to St. Louis -- in any vehicle -- under any circumstances. He says it's a dangerous place and there are people who will rape and rob us. He's right, of course, but at least they give you free coffee and soda while they do it.
So the good news is that we learned another new thing about car engines, and the next time this happens we'll know to hunt around for a little melted wire. The bad news is that fusible links melt because there's a short somewhere else in your electrical system, so if it happens again we've got bigger problems than can be fixed with a pocket knife and some electrical tape.
It's still a damn good truck, and well worth the $308 we paid for it, and if you can't love the vehicle you drive then what's the point? I'm just happy Ev's got her truck back.
And now, back to our previously interrupted Christmas plans. I'm knitting scarves. Who wants one?