July 17, 2016

A Grease Monkey Is Born

For crying out loud, that hurt! My wrist was beginning to swell, and I watched the outline of a lovely bruise make it's appearance under my skin. There was grease under my fingernails, covering my hands, and smudged on my arms up to my elbows.

I frowned down at the exposed engine of my riding mower. A few days ago it started leaking oil from the valve cover, dripping oil onto the hot exhaust pipe and smoking like...

...like the crumbs left on the bottom of my oven that I forget are there until five minutes after I turn on the heat, and everyone starts coughing, and I feel bad because I was supposed to remember to clean it after it cooled down the last time I used it. You know, now that I think of it, I should probably put "clean oven" on my to-do list, or better yet, ask one of the kids to clean it for me, but I digress...

Where was I? Oh, yes. The mower. In the past I would have waited for someone to fix it for me. Perhaps I would have left it in Matt's able hands, or taken it in to be serviced, but Matt was working longer hours and being low on funds and with no trailer to get it to a repair shop, my options were few. I'd have to do it myself.  I could do this. Okay, so the only thing I knew about my mower was which end to put the gas in. Still. I'd look it up online. How hard could it be?

Several YouTube videos later I managed to remove the mower hood and had crouched down beside the engine, removing screws. The valve cover was supposed to be a cinch to pull off. Only it wasn't. At. All. The guy in the video didn't have any trouble. What was I doing wrong? I put in a call to my neighbor who knows how to fix stuff. He wasn't home, but his wife, Karen, a super sweet lady, reassured me. "Honey, I've learned a thing or two about fixing things and I can tell you - you're not going to break it. Use some more muscle. It will come off. You might try heating it up with a hairdryer..."

Removing the screws.
Hey Karen, see the hairdryer on the chair behind me? 

Fine. If Karen said I could do it...
I scored along the edge of the cover with a knife and wedged the tip of the screwdriver under it's edge. It was not going to get the best of me. But it did. The screwdriver slipped and I fell back onto my hind end, hitting my wrist on something as I did so. "Ow, ow, ow," I whimpered quietly. Darn it. I was going to get that cover off no matter what! I shook my wrist, grabbed the screwdriver and gave it another try.

I gave it all I had. Something had to give - and it did! For a moment I stared at the cover, now off of the engine and in my hand. My arms extended in victory. "Whoo hoo!" I shouted. I just couldn't help myself.

Inside, I was doing the happy dance.
I was almost finished. I only had to clean it up with brake cleaner and re-seal it. At least that's what would have happened if I hadn't noticed a crack in the metal. Uh oh. Maybe I could plug it up with sealant? No, I wanted to fix it right.

It took me a few days to hunt down a replacement part. None of the local shops had one in stock. I had fun asking though. I was amused by the shop guys' facial expressions. I could tell they were thinking, "Where is your husband?" I was even more amused to watch those expressions disappear when I asked for the part by name and number from memory. I had done my home work. I spoke the language. I really had no idea what I was saying, but they didn't know that. Alas, with each the result was the same. No part. One could be ordered and I'd have it in 10-14 days. In 10-14 days my yard would become a jungle. It was time to try something else.

I figured I'd call the mower manufacturer. What did I have to lose? It worked and in only two days my mower was back together. Yay! I was ridiculously proud of myself. It was a very simple repair, but I taught myself to do it. I felt so capable. The whole thing felt, as my kids would say, "epic."

It was too bad the grease washed off my hands so thoroughly. I kinda wanted to show it off. "What, that? Oh that's just some grease from the engine I just repaired." *cough, cough*

My lawn is nicely trimmed and all is as it should be. Except for that noise the car started making. Hmm... I wonder if there's a video for that.