Monday, December 5, 2016

The Square Peg - Jacked Up


© S. Bradley Stoner



Brakes are good. At least I think they are even though some people haven’t learned to use them. They stop your vehicle. Gently if you’re paying attention to your driving and nothing pops up in front of you. Should your attention wane or that @#$! deer decide to jump in front of you, they’re great for bringing you to a screeching halt. They keep you from bending your fender or demolishing that Cooper that decided to cut you off. The problem is, brakes wear out over time. My Explorer is eleven years old. It’s done a lot of braking. Oh, I still have pedal left, but it will soon be time to replace them. I decided to check them, so I pulled Lizzy into the garage.

I don’t have a fancy hydraulic lift in my garage, so I had to find my hydraulic floor jack. Yep, the one I haven’t used in about five years... and you know what? Those things can go bad too. Especially on a jack that is... what? Twenty five years old? Yep, the seals in the hydraulic mechanism dried up. It won’t lift. Well crap. So, up I go on the Instructables.com site to check out how to rebuild a hydraulic floor jack. It turns out the kit costs over forty bucks plus shipping, not to mention the hours of labor that it takes to actually disassemble, clean, and reassemble said floor jack. I checked one of my favorite warehouse supply sites. Hey! I can buy a brand new floor jack for around $79.00 and pick it up at the local store. Sounds like a plan to me.

I pulled Lizzy into the garage. With the floor jack in place, and my two jack stands right handy, I chocked the back wheels and proceeded to jack up the front high enough to put the jack stands in place. I was still on the floor, planning to position the front wheels so I could have a look at the brakes when Bingo Bob walked in. I saw his feet from my vantage point. Bob wears a distinctive pair of shoes when he’s around home. By distinctive, I mean a blown out pair of old sneakers.

“Hello, Bob,” I called from the floor.

That startled him a bit. I could tell by the little hop those sneakers took. “Um hi,” he replied. “Workin’ on your car?”

“Nope,” I returned, “I’m bench pressing it.”

I wish I could have seen his face, but all I could see was his feet. I did hear him suck in his breath a little though. I crawled out from under the front bumper and got to my feet. Hey, that’s no easy task at my age. My joints don’t work as well as they used to, so it’s a process. Slide out, roll over onto my face, get my legs underneath me, push up with my arms, and sloooowly stand up. Creak, pop, groan. I brushed the floor dust off my hands and cocked an eyebrow at Bob.

“No... seriously, what are ya doin’?”

“Just checking my brakes for wear,” I replied.

“I know a guy who can do that for ya,” he said.

“I’m the guy in this house,” I fire back.

“Are ya sure? It don’t cost that much.”

“It isn’t the cost, Bob. I like to work on my car.”

Bob was mystified. “Why?”

“Call it self-satisfaction. I like fixing things when they need it. It’s why I have all these tools.”

“Speaking of tools...”

“Don’t start with me, Bob. I’m not a lending library for tools.”

“But all I need is a big screw driver.”

“I know where you can buy one. It’s less than a two miles from here. That way you’ll have one whenever you need it.”

Bob pulled a pouty face. That might work with his mother. It doesn’t work with me.

“But I only need it for a little while.”

“Remember the last time you needed one of my tools for ’just a little while.’ I didn’t see it for over a month.”

“I misplaced it.”

“Right,” I said. That was better than what I was thinking, which was, ‘I bet you misplaced your brain.’

“But you have a whole drawer of screwdrivers.”

For a second I wondered how he knew that, but then I remembered he was looking over my shoulder when I got into my roll away tool chest the last time he borrowed something. “And I have a use for every last one of them.”

“Look, I just need it to pry up a stuck lid...”

I looked at him with horror. “A screwdriver is not a pry bar, Bob. Go buy yourself one of those.”

“Fine,” Bob mumbled and turned to leave me to my inspection. “Yer not very neighborly.”

“Try the Home Depot... I understand they’re very neighborly,” I returned. “Besides, they have more tools than I do... and you don’t have to take them back.”

Bob shot me a dirty look and a parting remark. “I hope your brakes are broke.”

“Well, if they are, I can buy a kit and I have the tools to replace them, Bob.”

“Shut up.”