Friday, January 14, 2011

Small Accomplishments

I'm so proud of myself. I recently fixed two things.

Things that people in my town don't do on their own. They hire other people to take care of it and pay them a lot of money to do it.

I have a five-year old Craftsman snowblower. I know, why do I even own one when people in my town hire snow plows to clear their driveways. I used to do that, too. I just got tired of waiting until midnight to get plowed out.

In five years of owning the blower, I never did much to take care of the machine besides occasionally pouring some extra oil in. This past fall, I finally took it in for a maintenance check up.

Two hundred dollars later I get a cleaned up snowblower delivered back to my house - there goes my amortization! I wasn't sure it was worth doing until I saw on the maintenance report that they cleared out a mouse nest. Imagine firing the machine up after the first snowfall?

Anyway, I fired up the blower after our recent blizzard. Everything worked fine until I reached the last 10 yards of my driveway filled with 22-inches of snow. The traction drive went kaput. I was tits up in a ditch.

I called the bastards at the snowblower repair shop and they told me Craftsman machines are crap anyway, and surely it was nothing they did during maintenance. Bastards!

They said they could come out the following week to get the machine.  I didn't want to wait until next week.

Fuck them! Instead, I downloaded the service manual from the internet. I wanted to see for myself how this traction drive worked. I cleared a space in my garage, put the machine on its end, and then contemplated what I was trying to do for two hours.

What the hell? If I mess it up, I won't feel so bad about paying the repair shop to fix everything. At least, I'll know it would be worthwhile at that point.

I grabbed my socket wrench and easily removed a few screws and the covering plate. As soon as I took the plate off I could see the axle and chain drives. Everything looked solid.

I shined a flashlight into the deeper reaches of the machine and saw a loose bolt sitting in the corner. I picked it up and recognized that it had been sheared off. The other half was sitting on the other side of the machine. The drive mechanism and axle were held together simply by this one bolt!

I grabbed another bolt and nut from some spares I had around my toolbox (yes, I have a toolbox!), dropped it in, tightened it and voila! - I got traction. Fuck you, repair shop!

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The second accomplishment may even rival the first one.

My eldest son got his driver's license last year. He crashed the car this year.

Crash may seem too violent. He misjudged a turn and hit some boulders that were near a curb he was negotiating. The plastic bumper got a huge dimple, the kind you just want to pop out but never seem to be able to do.

Some may think the accomplishment I achieved was not killing my son. But, no, I was calm. What I am most proud of was what happened next.

I rented an industrial-strength heat gun (cost: $10). It resembles a heavy-duty hair dryer. I heated up the plastic just enough to make it malleable and pop out the dimple to its original shape (cost: priceless).

Besides a few deep scratches that the boulder left as a reminder, the bumper was restored to near-original perfection.

Voila! Fuck you, repair shop! Yay, me!

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