Monday, December 13, 2010

Doug vs the Snowblower

Yesterday I proved I was smarter than my snowblower.

It took 3.5 hours to do it, but ... I did it.

(Why would anyone want to check the ability of one's snowblower to work before the big snow? I dunno.)

Anyway, as the snow was falling, there I was, yanking back on the pullcord, pleading with the small, stubborn 2-cycle engine to turn over. "Screw you", it grunted as the pistons moved back and forth before quieting again.

I'll show you, snowblower. I will set you on my workbench and take some of your covers off and stare at your insides (somewhat helplessly). That will show you. I may even take off some random screws and bolts to see what happens.

But then it dawned on me. Hey, this is a pukey little engine. I am smarter than 22 lbs of steel, aren't I? Channeling my dad I remembered that internal combustion engines only need three things; fuel, air and a spark ("It's actually four," the guy at Lowe's said, being 'helpful'. "You need compression, too." Thanks, Lowe's guy. You are smarter than me. I'm just trying to make conversation. Are you happy?)

So off I set on my journey to outwit the snowblower.
1) Air. Yes, plenty of it around. It's getting a bit colder by the minute, but there seems to be an abundance.
2) Fuel. Out with the wretched fuel that has been sitting idle in the engine for eight months. I will freshen your cup with nice, new gasoline with just a hint of 2-cycle engine oil mixed in.
3) Spark. I can take out a spark plug, right? I remember someone (Dad again?) telling me that God made special sockets for sparkplugs; coated with rubber to keep the ceramic from breaking in the event of a mishap. Off to Lowe's for trip number one for a socket and spark plug (Every Huber Home Improvement requires a minimum of two trips - call it Huber's Law). The entire way to Lowe's I was chanting "Rick Chuck James Ate Yams ... Rick Chuck James Ate Yams." This was the model number of the spark plug I needed (RCJ8Y). There is where I met the aforementioned 'helper' who helped my find Rick James' spark plug and who convinced me I didn't need a socket; that a small engine spark plug wrench would do the trick. I'll save you some time, it doesn't do the trick.

Back to Lowe's I go. This time, to secure what I should have gotten in the first place; a shiny Kobalt 3/4" deep well socket (not made for spark plugs because small engine spark plugs don't justify a special socket ... at least not a Lowe's. But, going on hour 3 of my project, these were mere details). Back to the house!

Now that I was armed with the proper tools, I pulled the original spark plug out and it look bad (this being a purely qualitative assessment of the original spark plug, having no idea what I was looking at).

After swapping the gas and installing the spark plug, I re-assembled my snowblower, ready for another pull of the cord.

Nothing. Amidst the quiet snowfall, one could hear my energy and motivation tiptoeing down the driveway and into oncoming traffic. Shoulders slumped, I shuffled into the garage to grab the snow shovel. Defeated, I began to shovel the drive.

But, you said you are smarter, Doug? Yes, as it turns out, but not more spiteful. After shoveling the entire drive, I looked at my snowblower one more time. I gave it one more tug. Nothing. Just one more.

That tiny engine (all 98 cubic centimeters) roared to life! Announcing its presence to all of the snow pushed neatly to the sides of the drive. I let it sit there for a moment so it could reflect on its actions. Barking, coughing and rattling there in the drive, I watched it with a great deal of satisfaction.

Then, I pushed it over to the neighbor's house and cleared their drive.

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