Monday, October 24, 2011

Mechanical Failures

There comes a time in every gal's life when she reflects back on her teenage years and wonders if she should have done a few things differently.  Nothing makes a girl re-think her high school elective choices more than a frustrating mechanical failure.

My deep questioning came at a crisis moment on Friday.

Here's the situation:

My hardworking husband was welding two hours from civilization with no cellphone service. I had to haul water to the cows so I loaded the water tank, generator, pump, toolbox, and water hose.

I loaded the kids in the truck and popped in some classic George Strait tunes.  We rolled the windows down in the old truck and took a leisurely drive down to the pasture. It was a beautiful fall day for hauling water.

I drove down the little two track path, backed the truck up as close as I could to the stock tank, submerged my pump in the water tank, hooked up the hose and drug it to the stock tank.

It was a routine job.

I pulled the cord and the generator fired up on the first pull! I plugged in the pump and 20 seconds later the generator died.

"Hmmm...that's odd." I thought.

I pulled it again.  It started up and died 15 seconds later.

"What the heck?" I thought.

I checked the gas.  1/2 a tank.

I checked the oil.  Full.

I checked the fuel

I let it sit a minute and pulled the crank again. It ran for 5 seconds and died.  again.

I messed with the choke several times.

Pull. start. die.
Pull. start. die.
Pull. start. die.
Pull. start. die.

Now I'm sweating from cranking the thing twenty times.  My husband was unreachable, so I did what every girl would do:

I called up my dad on speed dial.

(I've been calling my dad with crisis related mechanical questions since I got my first car.  He's used to my mechanical language. We have this complex diagnostic dialogue that we do over the phone.  Here's a piece of the actual conversation. )

"Dad, I need you to tell my why in the world my generator won't run.  It starts and dies in 5 seconds."
"Well does it have gas?"
"Of course it has gas! I'm not a dork."
"Tell me everything you've done."
"I turn the switch to on, put it on full choke, and pull the crank.  It runs for 5 seconds and dies. If I move the dies. No matter what I do, it dies."

"Try to start it and let me hear it over the phone."

I set the phone down on the toolbox and crank. Same thing happens.

I pick the phone back up.

"It sounds like it's starving for fuel."

I mess with the choke a little.  Nothing.
He has me do like 15 more things....cranking in between each thing so we can see if it works.  Nothing.
I take some pictures of the fuel line and send them to him so he can have a visual.

Now the cows are gathered around. They lick the hose to mock me.

I tell them, "Patience, Ladies! I'm workin' on it!"

25 minutes has gone by. I'm out of breath from cranking.

Dad asks me about the carburater.
I say, "Is it the silver thingie hooked to the fuel line?"
He seems doubtful about my engine skills.

He asks if the air intake is clean.
It's spotless.

He tells me to take apart the fuel line to see if there's a clog.

Here's the part where I rethink my entire high school experience:

"Dad, why in the heck was I a cheer leader in highschool???? My cheerleading skills have done nothing to help me out in real life.  What I should have done is take auto mechanics, and small engine repair classes.  That way, I wouldn't have to call someone every time something goes wrong with the machinery on this outfit!! What was I thinking???"

I hang up the phone.

I check the fuel line as best I could. I actually have no idea what I'm doing.  It seems satisfactory.

By now, my arms are trembling from starting the generator 46 times. I'm covered in gas, oil, mud, and manure.  I decide to take a break and wallow in self pity on the back of the truck tool box for a good 3 minutes with my feet kicked up on the generator. I ponder life as I stare at a black heifer nudging my hose with her face.

Then I pray.

"Dear Lord, I could really use a little help right now.  If you would see fit to help me start this generator, I would sure appreciate it. Amen."

When it comes to prayers pleading for help, it's best to keep it short and sweet.

I decided to give it one last crank.

Miracle of Miracles, it ran like a champ!

I cried out, "THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!

A minute later I called my dad so he could hear the purr of the engine.

He said, "What did you do different?"

"I prayed."

I thanked my dad for all of the help and hung up the phone. I watered the cows and drove home with a sense of satisfaction.

Everything I've ever learned about mechanics has been from little challenges like these throughout the years. I can put all of my knowledge in a little sack and it wouldn't amount to squat.  But there's one thing I DO know. I've got a 24 hour help line available to me at all times. When my husband is away, it's nice to have Dad on speed dial.  

Oh, and....

When all else fails, it never hurts to talk to God about it. After all, He does do miracles.

1 comment:

  1. Great story. It made me smile, especially the part where you wondered why you took cheerleading instead of auto. Wisdom and hind sight are wonderful things.