Complications

Have you ever noticed how sometimes even simple tasks can snowball out of control with complications?  I was taking something to my workshop and I noticed that the right-front tire on my pick-up truck looked low on air pressure.  I made a note to check that when I was done with what I was doing at the time.

When I got to it I took an air pressure gauge out of the truck glove box and checked the tire pressure.  22 pounds: yep, that’s low.  I checked what I could see of the tire to see if I could find any damage or foreign objects embedded in the tire and found nothing obvious.

I have an air compressor.  It’s not a great compressor: it’s probably an antique, although I recently bought a new hose for it because the old one dry rotted and crumbled, but it will fill up a car tire.  Eventually.

The air compressor stays inside the garage — which is more of a lumber shed now.  But there is a corner open just inside the roll-up door where I can store a few things.  Mostly automotive supplies, and a few odds and ends that I want to keep handy but not taking up space in my workshop.  The air compressor is on wheels, so I can roll it out to the driveway to air up the truck tire.

Except the air compressor was in front of a riding lawn mower I parked in there that fills the open space side-to-side.  To get to the air compressor I’d have to back the mower out.  I can do that, it does run.  The rings are going out in the engine and it smokes like a fiend so I don’t use this one much any more, which is why it’s parked in here not in the barn with the rest of the yard equipment.  But it does run.

I could just disengage the transmission and roll it out of the garage and down the little ramp that leads up into the garage.  That would be easy enough, except I would need to make a sharp turn to clear the space so I could get the air compressor out beside the truck.  There is a lumber stack sitting there that complicates things.  I might have to jockey the mower back and forth a little to make that turn.  And pushing the heavy mower back up that little ramp may prove a daunting task for me alone.  I should start it up and drive it out and around that corner.

Except because it’s winter, and because I don’t use this mower much, to keep the battery from going flat I pulled it out and took it inside the workshop, which is heated, and keep it near the battery charger.  I put a charge in it just a few days ago, it should be fine.  So I went to get it.

As I was trying to attach a lifting strap to the battery posts so I could lower it into the snug well where the battery sits under the mowers seat, I dropped one of the nuts.  It fell into some saw dust and debris.  I looked and looked, but could not find it.  Not to worry, though, I have a lot of spare hardware: I’m sure I’ll have a nut that will fit.  I keep this hardware in a tackle box.

Yeah, I know: most respectable handymen keep spare nuts, bolts, and nails in coffee cans.  And I did that too until I actually tried to find something from those cans.  Looking for what I wanted was insane: dump out the contents, sift through it, decide what I’m looking for is not in that can, put it all back in and repeat with a different can.  I had a tackle box laying around: an old one, made of steel and real sturdy.  So I sorted the hardware into that, separating out the special bits for easy access.  It should be a snap to find what I want now.

Except I don’t see the tackle box.  It was sitting on a fold-up table in my assembly room, where I have a wall of bins for commonly used hardware I buy by the box.  But I needed that table for something recently and moved everything that was on it somewhere else.  Where did I put the tackle box?  I began the search.

My shop is a mess because what was once a professionally run, well organized, furniture making shop has over the past decade because more of a potting shed, dog kennel and general stuff storage depot.  OI need to do something about that, but … not today.

Eventually I found the tackle box tucked away under a bench and behind some lumber.  I pulled it out, opened it up and began sifting through the nuts to find one that fit the bolt sticking through the battery terminal.  I tried several before finding one that was both the correct size and the correct thread.  It’s the wrong shape (square instead of hex) , but it will work.

So with strap installed on the battery, nuts installed on bolts, I carried the battery out to the garage, slid it into the battery well, removed the lifting strap and installed the battery cables.  The mower fired up right away and I backed it out of the garage and around to the side to clear the opening.

I wheeled the compressor out of the garage and toward the truck.  But the cord wasn’t long enough.  I used to have a 25 foot extension cord on the compressor as a permanent accessory, but I needed that cord for something else recently and stole it from myself.  What did I do with it?  Back into the shop to search for that cord, or any other heavy cord that would work.

It didn’t take long to find one: coiled up neatly and hanging on the wall where it should be.  It wasn’t the one I was looking for, this was a 50 footer, but it would do nicely.  Back out to the garage.

With power cord plugged into an outlet in the garage/lumber shed and compressor wheeled out to the truck I switched on the compressor motor, affixed the air hose end to the wheel valve stem, pressing it firmly to get a good seal, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Eventually the compressors pop-off valve started to scream, alerting me that it had reached max pressure.  I laid the air hose aside and used the tire pressure gauge: 35 pounds.  That’s a little high: it should be 32 pounds.  I was going to let some air back out, but decided to leave it for now.  I’ll check it again tomorrow.  If it’s still reading 35 pounds, the tire is okay and I’ll let some air out.  If it’s less than 35 pounds, the tire has a slow leak and I need to take it to the Exxon station for examination and repair.  But that’s a task for tomorrow.  For today, I needed to put things away and clean up.  But … maybe I should change things around a little.

The mower just barely fits into the empty space in the garage/lumber shed because there are a couple of steel wash tubs, stacked and filled with odds and ends just in front of it.  If I move those, the mower will go further in and I could put the compressor in behind it for easier access.  So I found new places to tuck the tarps, plastic sheeting, hose bits, and bag of oil dry so I could set the wash tubs up on their side in front of where the mower will go.  Then I pulled the mower in, disconnected and removed the battery, put it back in the shop.  Finally I coiled the electric cord and air hose up on the compressor, rolled it into the new empty space just inside the door, and hit the button to roll the door down, closing off the garage.  Just need to wash the grunge off my hands and I’ll be done.

That’s what it takes to air up a tire here on Piney Mountain.

 

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