A Saturday Disaster
Panic strikes as the transmission filter breaks off in my greasy hands leaving a piece behind impossible to retrieve. My high hopes to fix up Dad’s old Oldsmobile lay splattered in the oil on the driveway. I concede, “That does it, I can’t do this anymore!”
Once a fair mechanic, this Saturday morning adventure turned into a total disaster. It began with fighting rusty bolts on shock absorbers that never came off, then finding out my new pile of ignition parts were for a Ford and not dad’s Olds. And would you believe, I just stared at worn disc brakes not remembering where to begin.
My last hope for success, other than changing the oil, was to flush the transmission. How hard can it be? 12 bolts on the lower pan, check for ware, install new internal filter, and replace the old pan gasket. Simple right?
Now I couldn’t even drive it to a “good” mechanic. What changed? What happened to my old skills?
I guess there are many good excuses … too old, out of shape, wrong tools, etc. Yet, it really comes down to expectations. Ages since holding a wrench, I should have leaned into this rather than jump off the cliff with just a Saturday window.
Down and Out… But Tried Again
This experience burned out this old backyard mechanic. For a while, I let others work on my vehicles, except for a few ‘must saves’ with our Land Rover in Africa. Finally, last year I decide to give it a go again. Installing new shocks to stabilize our diesel truck under its’ heavy camper.
Truth is, I let the shocks lie on the work bench for a few days then chickened out calling a mechanic.
Fortunately, he wasn’t available until the next week. So, I would at least try to get the bolts off. Ninety minutes later, new shocks were glowing proudly in their proper place. I must admit I stood a bit taller. Not that it was easy. There were definitely a few anxious moments. Yet a little voice in my heart kept saying, ‘You can do it Grandpa.’ So, I did!
Then Something Unexpected
Remarkably, this sparked an impossible journey of turning a basic empty windowless year old cargo van into our new tiny home on wheels. With no help from others (thus with our bare hands) she is a beautiful creation if I do say so myself. And it’s not just a bed thrown in the back of an insulated paneled bay with a couple of 5-gallon jugs under a tin sink. She is a full-blown RV satisfying our dreams and every need.
Now I Know What You’re Thinking.
How did Margrit and I at age 67 go from scared of shock absorbers to building this monster? Well, it was the same consistent thought, ‘You can do it Grandpa!’
As we look back there was so much more to this journey than wrenches, electrons, running water, and sawing wood. How about learning 5 trades, being patient with failure, picking ourselves up so many times, pushing forward, changing expectations, pushing down pride, and realizing deeper things of life. Most importantly, trusting in an impossible outcome.
So, you know what, ‘You can do it, whoever you are!’ We are so much more than we give ourselves credit for. And that was the pure joy of this journey… We did it and if we can, you can to! Just grab a bit of courage and desire.
Enjoy the day and do some good.
Russ Harris loves all things technical and making the world a better place, especially for Margrit.