How to get out of a sticky situation

Back in the '80s I was studying to be an aircraft mechanic. My Powerplant and General Knowledge instructor was a truly unique individual by the name of Richard "Dick" Looney. He had flown bombers in WWII and was quite a character.

Looney was down in the shop one day, and he pointed out that some valves from an aircraft piston engine we were working with were filled with sodium. He said that as the valves heated up, the sodium would melt and begin sloshing back and forth inside the valve, carrying heat away from the valve face and into the valve stem.

"If you're ever in a bad situation and need a way out," Looney told me, "use a hacksaw to make a notch in the stem of one of these valves, take cover, and toss the damn thing in a bucket of water. The shrapnel will take care of your problem."

M. Otis Beard

Upon hearing this story I naturally had to track down and buy one of those value stems, which it turns out are fairly easily available for people restoring sports car engines.