Monday, October 10, 2011
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Who ever said it was going to be easy?
I was working on the pick up truck AGAIN, a 98 GMC with more than 210,000 miles. From my rough estimate of time to fix it, (which is usually way too optimistic), I figured I'd have it fixed in not much more than a half an hour or so. Easy! Of course I had about a million other things I needed to get done before the snow flies but the small problem the truck had, that I've been milking along for quite some time, unexpectedly became a bigger one.
It's a good thing actually. The problem it had was a gas line leak, in a place that I couldn't really pin point. But, you could smell gas when the truck was running. Now for some reason this truck has always had a gasoline smell. It was only two years old when we got it so I figured it must be a characteristic of the truck. My Dad's Chevy has the same thing. But over this last year the smell of gas on the GMC has gotten stronger and it seemed my gas mileage has been getting substantially worse. I looked and looked for a leak but couldn't find one. This started back during the winter and I figured if it was a big leak I'd see it in the snow. But I never did see anything in the snow.
In time my gas mileage got so bad I began to think someone was stealing gas from me, so I got a 'locking' gas cap. But, I didn't see any difference in my mileage. I still didn't see any leaks so I was partly convinced I was dealing with a pretty crafty gas thief. But, then again it seemed I was smelling gas more than ever too. So my mind was going back and forth all the time between thinking I had a thief on my hands or having a gas leak. If it was a thief he was smart enough to get through or around the locking gas cap. It's funny how the mind works.
Well FINALLY, the other day we were using the truck and trailer to haul leaves away from the cabin and my kids noticed something dripping in the sun light as it was getting late in the day and the low angle of the sun shone nicely underneath the truck. I finally found my leak!
So yesterday I got a chance to crawl underneath the truck on a soft patch of grass and I pinpointed the leak. A bracket became unattached which allowed the gas return line to go up against the body of the truck and in time wore a hole in the line. Upon further investigation it looked like an easy fix as stated above. I figured somewhere around a half an hour.
There was a fitting down below along the frame that was fairly easy to take apart. And I only got a little dirt in my eyes while working under there. The top fitting was up just behind the engine and was a little more difficult to get to but I got it apart in relatively short order. Then I crawled back underneath and pulled the whole works out, and without much fuss.
Went to town and got some parts and came back home to whip the whole thing back together. I simply cut the bad tube in half at the bad spot, installed some rubber gas line and doubled clamped it. Quick and easy! I was sure proud of myself because my first assessment of 'around a half hour' looked like it was going to be right on, not counting the trip to town and back, which is always around an hour no matter what you do. Well I got the repaired gas line all ready and got in position under the truck. Up she goes! Got it in place then climbed back into the engine compartment to hook it up to the fitting behind the top of the engine. It reached perfectly fine but the angle wasn't quite right. Well, simply change the angle and try again. No go! "What's seems to be the problem here", I thought to my self. No matter how I repositioned the thing I just could not get the angle right enough to get the threads started. Bugger!
By now my time frame was getting blown away. I was already at least an hour into it and the other plans I had for the day were coming into jeopardy. I tried and tried to get the gas line to line up correctly, to no avail. I crawled underneath the truck and climbed back on top enough times to be well reminded I'm not as young as I use to be. Knees screaming from kneeling on top of all the hard stuff in the engine compartment. Even the plastic parts which had started out soft enough to kneel on where getting harder and harder as time went by! And all those squirms back out from underneath the truck where bringing me face to face with that belly that's been growing a little more, year after year. Sit ups aren't nearly as easy as they used to be with that thing in the way!
I eventually came to the conclusion that the hose clamps I used where what kept the fittings from lining up properly. So my only hope was to take the gas line back out, remove the hose clamps, put it back up and try to reattach the troublesome fittings without the clamps in the way. This I did and I was right. I got the fittings up behind the engine reattached. Now ALL I had to do was get those hose clamps back in place way up under the body of the truck. So that's what I set out to do.
HOURS later, with the dexterity of a brain surgeon I finally got the last clamp, 4 in all, back on the line. I used muscles that haven't been used in a quite a long time with all the contortions it required to fish those babies back up where they were supposed to go. And I think I had enough dirt in my eyes to easily start a small crop of lettuce and salad greens. Every little bit I'd be blinded by it all and have to kind of 'wiggle' my way back out from under the truck to regain my site. After hours of this I was no longer 'crawling' out from underneath in an even remotely dignified way, eventually I was wiggling out! Kind of like the "worm" they used to do in the 80's only on my back and not near as graceful as I'm sure you can imagine, with that bloomin belly jiggling all the way. Man I have to get rid of that thing!!!
I had given up completely on the other stuff I'd hoped to get accomplished for the day and all my efforts were focused on getting this project completed before it got dark. Once I came to grips with the thing not being an 'easy half hour job', the devil really got after me. I wasn't in a real good mood. A few times I lost control of my tongue to the point I had to hope no one was in ear shot especially my daughter, I had hoped. I won't go into it, but that kind of language is kind of hard on a guys testimony! I understood that the enemy was having an excellent time at my expense. Shortly after coming to this realization the words came to me,
"Who ever said this was gonna be easy!" But, I realized it meant much more than what I was struggling with in the moment. It meant 'all the struggles' we have in life, so it went way deeper than that. It felt like God intervened and helped set me strait.
I was reminded that there was a time when I loved working on stuff, doing mechanical things. I used to race motorcycles when I was young and I loved all that stuff. I loved working on the bikes and getting them ready for each race. Eventually, in my twenties, I began working with my dad as a maintenance mechanic and I loved it. Did that for 11 years. Yesterday what I was doing was no different than what I did years ago and I really enjoyed it back then. I enjoyed working with my hands and I enjoyed the challenge. But, somewhere along the way I got the mistaken idea that we shouldn't ever have any troubles or challenges. And if we do, they should be 'quickly' and 'EASILY' remedied and fixed.
Every thing I have has over 200,000 miles on it so these moments are getting way more frequent. Even the garbage truck is heading towards 400,000 miles so what do I expect? You fix one thing and just wait for the next thing to fail. That's life! But that's just material things. Eventually it's the same thing with these old bodies of ours. And somewhere along the way we get the idea that it shouldn't happen to us. I thought we were supposed to get wiser as we get older. Sometimes I think we get dumber. Get set in our ways. God never promised us a life of ease.
I shared this revelation with Kelli earlier today and it's funny how God works. She was just talking about this same type of thing with our daughter earlier. Somewhere along the way, we forgot to enjoy the challenges. To be thankful for everything. And I mean everything. It just shows that we aren't the ones in control anyway and that's a good thing. We need to let God "Order Our Day", (something I heard of a local preacher saying).
So the remainder of fixing the gas line, I made a conscious effort to enjoy the journey. It had to get fixed and it's just as well I did it myself than pay a mechanic to do it, since a penny saved is a penny earned. Nowadays it's more like hundreds saved and hundreds earned when it comes to auto mechanics. But, I think this is a theme the Lord has been working on me with lately. To get the idea out of my head, that life is supposed to be easy. I really don't know when it ever took hold of me. But, getting back to a more youthful outlook is very freeing. Little stuff that never bothered me when I was young gets me down in a way it never should. So from now on, Lord willing, I'm going to see trouble in a renewed light. Who ever said it was going to be easy, anyway?
Until Next Time
If you think you've been having a bad time check out this post over at http://heavensgatesalebarncafeandcoffeeshop.blogspot.com/2011/10/baxter-black.html Might brighten your day or at least give you a good laugh.