A sunny morning, with the snow approaching (or so the weather reporter says). I figured I could put it off no longer: I went outside to start the mower and mulch the leaves.
Except the mower would not start. I primed the motor, pulled the rope . . . nothing. I pulled again, and listened closely. None of the usual “pop-pop” sounds to indicate the spark-plug was firing. I fetched my wrenches, removed the plug and gave it a cursory look. Rusty, covered in filthy oil. The whole motor could stand a cleaning, but for now all I needed (probably) was a new plug.
A quick stroll to and from the local Home Hardware, the plug was installed, the motor primed, the rope pulled. I was rewarded with a cloud of white smoke and a “BANG-BANG-BANG, MWOOOOOWER” and a mower that would now mulch my leaves.
Mission accomplished. So why bother trumpeting it? Anyone who knows anything about the internal combustion engine knows the lawn-mower is probably the simplest application to get hooked to one. Thirteen-year-old kids who fail basic math and literacy can get schooled in its maintenance and even earn decent coin from it. Replacing a spark-plug is no big deal.
Except my wife couldn't do it. I have accomplished friends who, if confronted with my mower, wouldn't know where to begin, except to throw the damn thing in the trunk of their car and drive it to Canadian Tire. I paid three bucks out of pocket for the plug; CT probably wouldn't let me leave without charging fifty. There but for the grace of God — and my high-school friend, BD — go I.
BD lived around the corner from me. When I got bored with reading and hearing the same 10 songs repeat on the radio, I wandered over to see what he was up to. It almost always involved an internal combustion engine. Sometimes it involved electronics. I accompanied him to Consumers Distributing when he bought his first car stereo, and I sat with him for a few hours while he took apart the interior of his rusty Toyota to install it.
I learned from BD that cars and stereos and, later, motorcycles weren't organic creations that had been squeezed out from between the haunches of an exotic alien species, but were in fact assembled by human hands, and could be disassembled and reassembled by human hands — my own! — as well.
I don't do it very often, especially when I realize what might take me a day to accomplish could be better done by a pro within an hour. But replace a spark-plug? I'm all over it — thanks to BD.
Another BD recollection, here.