It was a quiet evening in Hometropolis, indeed a little too quiet. Incredidog was dozing on the couch, having barked a record ten minutes straight at the UPS guy, who delivered a small, unassuming package from Amazon Prime, containing a recoil spring for a Briggs and Stratton 130212/3247-01 engine. This engine powered a 25 year old air sweeper/leaf blower which HomeOwnerMan had acquired from Weaselpuss, an unscrupulous Craigslist huckster who thought he had gotten the better of a mere mortal by selling what he believed was a non-functional pile of scrap. Weaselpuss gladly accepted $125 for the lot, and smirked as HomeOwnerMan loaded it into the Homeowner mobile and drove off slowly so as to not damage his new purchase. Weaselpuss was sure that the machine would never start, but HomeOwnerMan spent 5 minutes with some Gum-Out and a screw driver, and before you could say “Homeowner Beacon” (if you spoke really slowly) the air sweeper started up on the first pull, and continued to do so for the next five years.
It was a good thing that it started on the first pull, actually, because after a few years, if it didn’t start up on the first pull the starter rope would not re-wind into the machine, and HomeOwnerMan would then spend 5 minutes manually rewinding the rope before a second pull could be attempted. Finally, this procedure became too much for HomeOwnerMan, and he scoured the internet for the cheapest place to buy a recoil spring. He found it at Repairclinic.com for $6.95, but they also wanted $6.95 for shipping. HomeOwnerMan was too seasoned to fall for the old “Shipping and Handling” trick, and he remembered that Wife Girl had recently enrolled in Amazon Prime which, in addition to offering free second-day shipping, also had a large variety of TV shows and movies. It further occurred to HomeOwnerMan that he had not actually seen Wife Girl since she enrolled in Amazon Prime; someone had cast a spell on her and all she could do was watch old movies and foreign films on her iPad. HomeOwnerMan, for his part, stuck to watching Looney Toons re-runs like Elmer Fudd being “vewwy, vewwy, quiet” as he stalked Bugs Bunny, or Foghorn Leghorn speaking in his southern drawl phrases like “Hey, I say, Hey there boy…”, or Pepe Le Pew as he wooed unsuspecting female cats. HomeOwnerMan thought of this as educational television.) So for $10.12 and free shipping from Amazon Prime, HomeOwnerMan got the recoil spring and was ready to install it.
Although HomeOwnerMan lists “Superior Intellect” among his many super powers, he is not above watching a You-tube video or two before attempting a repair job, especially those that involve springs under a great deal of tension. Choosing the video of a man replacing a recoil spring that had the most hits (41,763), he watched and learned. The man in the video had a difficult-to-understand southern drawl, so the educational television that HomeOwnerMan watched was already paying off. The man adeptly installed the spring right before HomeOwnerMan’s superhuman eyes, and now it was HomeOwnerMan’s turn.
It was a warm evening, so HomeOwnerMan set himself up near the top of the driveway. Knowing that night came quickly in these parts, he wanted to be near the spotlights. Unbolting the cover plate, he exposed the flywheel, the recoil spool and the recoil spring. The spring was a long, thin ribbon of memory steel so named because if it hit you in the head, you might well lose your memory. It was in bad shape, so at first inspection HomeOwnerMan was sure he had made the correct diagnosis. He then began re-installing the new spring just as Foghorn Leghorn had done in the video, only with not as much ease. The first time he got it all wound up, but as he went to re-insert the pull cord the spring came flying out, momentarily erasing the memory from HomeOwnerMan as it whacked him in the forehead. The second time he did a better job of winding the spring, and this time invoked the help of WifeGirl who, among other superpowers, boasted tiny, little fingers unrivalled by anyone but Oskar Schindler’s little children who polished the insides of shell casings. WifeGirl threaded the pull string through, knotted the end, and they tested the rope. It recoiled just as it would have done if new, and HomeOwnerMan was so pleased with WifeGirl that he gave her a greasy-handed embrace.
He re-installed the assembly on the air sweeper and gave it a pull. The motor rotated but did not start and much to HomeOwnerMan’s chagrin, the rope again did not recoil. Undeterred, HomeOwnerMan again uninstalled the cover plate and this time tested the starter clutch. It was frozen like a chocolate covered banana at a state fair. So HomeOwnerMan watched another video, this time by a man who sounded more like Charles Emerson Winchester from “M*A*S*H” showing how to remove the clutch and lubricate its parts. It was now dark, but HomeOwnerMan just had to finish the job. So, following the advice of Major Winchester, HomeOwnerMan unscrewed the clutch, being careful not to lose the ball bearings, lubed up the shaft, and was ready to re-assemble.
It was then that he saw it. Were his eyes playing tricks on him? Had a black cat accidently rubbed her back on a paint brush loaded with white paint? No, it was him. Not fifty feet away it was Pepe Le Pew! HomeOwnerMan’s instinct was to recoil like the $10.12 spring, and to clutch his heart in fear, but the educational television had paid off again. Summoning the images of Elmer Fudd, HomeOwnerMan stayed “vewwy, vewwy quiet”, and the skunk eventually turned tail, but did not lift tail, and scurried off.
Reinvigorated with his new-found zest for life that did not include bathing in tomato juice, HomeOwnerMan re-assembled the air sweeper, and throwing caution to the wind that would soon come out of the machine, he started it up despite being well past the “noisy equipment curfew”. It ran like a charm, and when shut off, it was able to be restarted again with one pull. All was right again in Hometropolis.
HomeOwnerMan – making the ordinary extra-ordinary.