Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm Such a Nag

Shame on us, we took the weekend off from weeding even though there are still large areas needing attention.   There were two major garden walks in nearby cities so, of course, we had to venture out of our weed patch and see what was happening in other people's gardens.  There's always something inspirational to see and learn.   But wouldn't you know I forgot to take a camera along, so I don't have any photos to show from the garden walks.  I'll do better next time.

We came home with renewed energy and more ideas for future projects. But first we have to finish the current projects, yep, Aaargh is still waiting for mortar.

 One project that Carl and Joel finished last week was fixing our lawn mower.  Oh, this was a fun job.  (There hasn't been a 'Sarcasm Font' invented yet, has there?  We could use one for the 'fun' part of that last statement.) Our mower is a ZTR (zero turning radius) machine and I'm the principal driver.  Carl has never mowed the entire lawn in all these years.  He's not fond of cutting grass, but I am.

I'd been nagging Carl for over a year that the mower seemed to be using too much oil.  Every time I'd go to mow lawn and pulled the dipstick the oil levels were dangerously low.  I'd add oil, mow for a couple of hours and then recheck it to find it was back down below the add line again.  The whole engine was an oily mess.  We had a problem and it was getting worse.

Carl is a very handy guy who can fix almost anything, but that doesn't mean he enjoys every challenge tossed his way.  One of his pet peeves is engine repair.  He hates it.  So I had to nag extra super hard to get him to take this seriously.

"Just keep adding oil, it will be fine," he kept telling me.

"I do add oil but it's leaking out somewhere," I said.  "What if it runs dry while I'm mowing?  I don't want the engine to seize up."

"That's not going to happen," he said, looking at me as if I was a Hysterical Female.  "But if you're that worried, quit mowing every half hour or so and recheck the oil and add some if you have to.  It'll be ok."

Carl to the rescue.
Quit mowing every half hour?  Well, I guess I could, but it takes about two hours to mow our lawn and the part of the Back Eight I regularly mow for walking purposes and then I have another hour and a half at my mother's place, too.  Ideally, you should let the engine cool down enough so the oil has drained back where it belongs, so that means the mower would have to sit for at least a half hour before I check the dipstick again.  At that rate, I'd be mowing lawn all day long. 

"What happens if the engine does run tight, then what?  I countered.  "Shouldn't we fix it now before something bad happens?  The mower isn't getting any younger, ya know."

"Ok, if the engine runs tight, we'll buy a new engine.  And besides, it's not that old, is it?

"We bought it in 2000."

"2000?  Really?  It seems like it was yesterday.   I wouldn't worry so much if I were you, just keep on checking the oil and add when you have to.  I don't have time to work on the motor right now."

 I knew he didn't have the time, he wasn't making that up.  But I also did some research into what a new engine would cost.  Around $1250.  Ouch.  Or we could opt for a whole new mower of the same kind for five times the price of a new motor.  We'd paid $5000 for this one back in the day and I know prices have gone up.

I went to small engine repair forums late at night and searched for our engine model and the most common problems; read through a myriad of posts and watched Youtube videos of engine repairs and finally decided our problem was probably gasket related.  Of course, I showed all of my online research to a less than enthusiastic Carl who finally tired of my unending harping on the subject.

"All right, if you can find a gasket repair kit, I'll fix it," he said, "But I don't think it's something we have to do Right Now."

I was one step ahead of him.  The gasket repair kit arrived in the mail bright and early the next day.

Joel came home and took the engine out of the mower and between the two men working on it, after a few hours the gaskets were replaced.  Both of the guys were covered head to toe in oil but to my relief, they did find a gasket had deteriorated and was the reason why oil was squirting out all over.  I was really glad they'd found the problem.  Now I could get back to mowing.

But they were one step ahead of me.

Joel didn't have time to put the engine back in the mower.  He figured Carl could handle that chore on his own.  Carl was working with me on the new front bed remodeling job at the time, and he hadn't seen what Joel had taken apart, so he wasn't sure he knew how it went back together.

The Back Eight and my Walking/Skiing/Hiking Trails
All progress halted.

I asked both of the guys when the motor would be installed.

"Dad can do it," Joel said.

"Joel can do it," Carl said.

"I can't do it," I said.

There the motor sat, on the floor of the barn, staring at me every time I went to get a shovel.

My walking trails, getting overgrown.  I need my mower!
The grass was growing.  This summer started out on the wet side and the lawns are growing rapidly even this late in the summer, needing cutting at least once, if not twice a week. 

Now what?  Thoughts of buying a push mower came to mind, but as Ann said, "That's crazy talk."  Yeah, I could work it into my exercise routine I suppose, but mowing two lawns twice a week plus the trails would be a daunting task.  Especially in the high heat and humidity we've been having. 

You know what I did. 

Dandelions and I have a lot in common.  We're persistent.

I kept nagging.

To be fair, I didn't have to wait more than five days to get the mower back in action, and I know how lucky I am that Carl and Joel have the ability to fix it in the first place, thank goodness.  The gaskets cost under $50 but the labor was 'free'.  (I wasn't the one covered in oil slime, so I can't complain.)

Joel came home a few days later and between the two of them, they managed to remember where almost everything went and after a few hours, engine and mower were reunited.  The only problem was an electrical plug that had no place to go.  Hmmmmm, that must be important, but there was no place to plug it into.  We took a chance after Joel left and decided to start it anyway.

"Get your motor runnin'," I was humming under my breath as Carl cranked the engine over.

Amazingly, even after having had open heart surgery, the engine started right away.  (We were both surprised.)

I mowed for about two hours and then turned off the deck on my way across a rough patch of ground.  When I tried to turn it back on, there was no response.  Turns out the Mystery Wire went to the charging system.   Luckily it was a fairly easy fix to find the plug which had been obscured by the engine shroud and after recharging the battery, we were good to go.

And when I checked the oil this morning, it was right up there where it should be.


Hosta 'Willy Nilly' in the spotlight late morning.
The Moral of the Story: If at first you don't succeed, nag, nag again.

My thanks to both of the Mechanics in my life.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Great, humorous story and you are blessed having two mechanics and hard workers.

Glad you have your mower back.


shannon i olson said...

nag nag again, I love that!!! Things look lovely, even a little overgrown!

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Love your story and so glad the mower is fixed. Sounds a lot like my conversations with my brother when I need something fixed. haha Have a great week.


El Gaucho said...

I'm not sure I can agree with the moral of this story, but it was darn funny.

Alison said...

I'm glad they found the problem and fixed it, and you don't have to worry any more. Don't have to nag either. That would have been keeping me awake at night.

Men! Can't live with them, can't kill them and bury them in the garden.

Chad B said...

I wish my wife was a better mechanic so I could nag her about some things I'd like to have fixed. :)

Indie said...

Ha! Glad you finally got your mower working again - that would have been quite some challenge mowing all that with a push mower!

Rosemary said...

Karen I laughed so much this story is so much of what happens in life ........ thank goodness women are very good naggers..love going on garden tours trouble is I come home and want to rip out almost everything and start over........ not going to happen tho, getting a wee bit grey to be doing that.

Larry said...

Glad we got to visit on Sat... your gardens are looking great and I really like the changes! Larry

africanaussie said...

Clever you for researching the problem and ordering the gasket!

Karen said...

Lorraine, I am blessed, thank you for the reminder. ;-)

shannon, good to hear from you! I shouldn't admit it in print, but I can be very 'persistent' at times.

Sandy, sometimes these conversations are extremely necessary, aren't they? I'm glad you can relate.

El Gaucho, It may seem my morals are a bit skewed at first glance, but for the good of the Briggs and Stratton, Some Industrial Nagging had to be done. The poor thing was suffering.

Alison, oh, I felt the Exact same way this past week! I was ready to haul the whole kit and kaboodle into a repair shop and get it over with. Having this off my list of stuff to fret over has been a major relief.

Chad, see my comment to El Gaucho. ;-)

Indie, oh yes, using a push mower for the approximately four acres, give or take, would be a lot of walking. I'm spoiled by the riding mower.

Rosemary, I'm glad you can relate. I don't like to nag, it just sorta 'happens', ha. And I feel the same way after a garden walk, let's rip this out and start over.....but then I come to my senses. Sometimes.

Larry, it was great to see you and Sarah this past weekend. We hope to see your garden soon, too.

africanaussie, I know, that was sneaky of me, wasn't it? And I was so glad the parts I ordered were the right ones!

HolleyGarden said...

So glad you got the mower fixed! The grass doesn't know to stop growing while the mower's being repaired! I have started mowing here, and like you, it takes me a couple of hours and another couple of hours to do my parents and grandmother's yards. (Probably not as big an area as yours, I'm just slower.) I know men hate to be nagged at, but sometimes that's the only way they'll listen. And it would have been horrible if the little gasket problem would have been the cause of ruining the mower! So, good for you for nagging, and good for Carl and Joel for being such great handymen.

Beth said...

So glad your men came through for you! You are blessed as you say to have guys who can fix almost anything for "free." Enjoyed our visit last week! Thanks for letting us tour your beautiful gardens and see your awesome stained glass work.
Hugs, Beth

Dragonfly Treasure said...

My fave thing about the internet...you can research issues!! And more than likely find the solution. So glad you're back up and running. Mowing by hand IS CRAZY TALK! You'd have a heat stroke then where would you're men be?? SOL! LOL

Pam's English Garden said...

Laughing through this story I realize I am a nag too, but prefer to be called 'persistent' like your dandelion. Happy Gardening! P. x

Jennifer said...

Hi Karen, I like the moral of the story, but I am not sure my husband would. We have a hand mower, but then we have a comparatively small yard. Glad your mower is up and running.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I love your persistence, Karen. Kudos to you!

Lana said...

Karen, the mower is so critical! You are fortunate to have such talented, skilled family members. My dad could keep an engine running for an eternity with his mechanical skills. I am hoping my husband develops more of those skills! He's great at construction, but mechanics and plumbing are not his specialties, but he's learning fast!

Your flowers are gorgeous! I can't wait to have time to focus on gardening out here. Our gardens can really do more than change the landscape, our gardens can change the way we feel...every day!



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