Going from a one-and-a-half storey house with a shared driveway and a lawn that could be re-sodded with sprigs of parsley to the sprawling pastoral beauty of Juniorvania was bound to mean that a much more substantial portion of our lives was going to be consumed by mowing. We were, accordingly, excited to obtain (in addition to the lands and structures of Juniorvania) the riding mower allegedly used by the premises’ former owners to care for the grounds.
This is what it looked like when we took possession:
It had no battery and the mower deck (not attached to the tractor in the picture above) was rusted clean through. Other than that, it was ready to go. Obviously, the machine was going to need some repairs. Thus did I take it upon myself to begin a refurbishing project; I should have known to turn back once I experienced the ignominious beginning previously detailed in this space. Instead of quitting, I turned to that most informative of documents, the owner’s manual, for direction and inspiration.
Once I waded my way through the tractor’s book of words, though, I was able to identify the parts necessary to magically transmute the thing from an inert piece of rusting junk into a dynamic and impressive piece of lawn grooming equipment. It made me happy to think I could do it myself and not call the best lawn care company in Louisville, KY for once. I drew my credit card and headed for a telephone. Replacement parts were ordered. These arrived last weekend and, as I have described, the ensuing repair job became one of my most terrifying adventures. What follows is a photo essay about the repair attempt; these photos have been rendered all the more poignant as they document life in those simple, carefree days before The Wheelie; before an inanimate piece of gardening equipment began to make serious attempts on my life.
Upon arriving home from the Sears outlet, I removed the packages from my car and excitedly inspected the new booty. What red-blooded Canadian man wouldn’t like to receive a package like the one pictured below? There really couldn’t be a much happier label to affix to a cardboard box. Filled with acid! Corrosive! But wait, there’s more: poison! If you added the prospect of fire or explosion, you’d have yourself a little Disneyland in a box as far as most guys are concerned.
One battery, installed in its (plastic) anti-acid, poison-proof and corrosion resistant battery basket. I had to find a couple of random nuts and bolts in the Toolbox of Infinite Variety to secure the leads to the battery terminals. I was excited to quickly locate a couple of fasteners that would nicely handle the job. I have memorialized this moment with a photograph, as it would be the last success of my day.
I never thought that I would ever have a box that had, among its contents, two mandrells; even more shocking, therefore, that I would choose to actually open it.
Hmmmmmm. I’m starting to think that this is not where the mower blade assembly gets installed. Nevertheless, you can’t work on a vehicle without opening the hood. It’s against the law.
The Great Fixini advises that one should commence every repair job – no matter what the nature of the problem, the equipment, tools or dangers involed – in the same fashion: kneeling in prayer.
I have never operated a socket wrench in circumstances that did not involve some amount of resultant blood and I was definitely working up a sweat. You can be certain that there were tears.
My extensive exhortations to the Great God of Lawn and Garden Care must have fallen on deaf supernatural ears, as they evidently failed to drive out the demons interfering with the installation process and possessing the deck assembly. The demons manifested themselves – initially – in some repeated difficulty with installing the deck completely and correctly. They then turned their attention to making the whole damn thing hang off the bottom of the tractor on an angle that could only be accurately described as “rakish” and effectively thereby ensuring that any attempt at actually cutting the grass with this equipment would produce the kind of results usually confined to films featuring the Three Stooges. Nevertheless, I decided to take the People’s Lawn Tractor for it’s maiden voyage.
The great artist begins applying paint to his virgin canvass. A swath is born.
This may very well have been the last picture taken of Your Hero, had the Fates had their way and assassinated me in the course of The Wheelie.
Sadly, there were no photojournalists present to document the balance of the weekend’s events. We must, therefore, rely upon an artist’s conception of The Wheelie: