Rendered Fat Content

Carless- Day Fifteen -Troll Shoulders

Stopped in the bike shop today, committed to finally resolving that squealing coaster brake. I believed that I would need a cone wrench, a thin little baby most bike break hubs require for disassembly. The owner admired my antique then checked his master manual, because there are several different sizes of cone wrenches. He flipped the machine upside down and loosened the back wheel before concluding that my bike didn’t require any special wrenches.

He advised that I take pictures of each disassembly step because it might be tricky getting everything reassembled in the proper order, so, once back home in the garage, I did just that. He’d given me a half dozen great tips and refused any payment. I told him that I might be bringing the parts back to him for reassembly, anyway, and he could charge me plenty for that.

I once, with great enthusiasm, tore apart a small gas engine, hoping to replace the piston rod my brother-in-law had blown for me. I ordered the manual, had a small engine repair shop order the parts, then set about trying to put the thing back together. I’d impressed myself disassembling the monster, and though I tried valiantly, I could not figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I delivered the pieces back to the shop and they had it reassembled in a few days.

I’m bikeless as well as carless until I finish this little job. The mechanic speculated that the squeal might be caused by old grease, reduced to varnish after decades of friction. He recommended that I soak the parts in solvent, and that this might take a few days to soften the shellac. The parts cleaned up quickly, though, so our assumption about the cause proved false.

As I started pulling the series of mysterious pieces out of the hub, though, a shower of small ball bearings burst out onto the workbench, a few landing on the floor. A mangled ring, which I suppose used to hold those little balls in place, came out next, and I set that aside.

Every other part looked fine, showing little wear. I cleaned them all up, careful to preserve their reassembly sequence as I placed them in the drying tray. Tomorrow, I’ll revisit the bike shop to see if they have a replacement for that mangled ring.

I’m old enough now to understand that whatever assumption I make might easily prove wrong later. But rightness and wrongness must be beside the point. The purpose of the assumption extended no further than getting started; not to prove my motivating assumption true or false, but to resolve the squeal, whatever the cause.

My overwhelming sense of uncertainty effectively prevented me from assuming enough to even get started fixing this squeal for a year or two. An expert’s guess reassured me enough to get started, and even though he guessed wrong, I still got started.

I’m no master of the mysteries of change, but my more masterful-feeling moments stand on the shoulders of trolls, not giants. Assumptions get me off my ass then fall away, meaningless as yesterday, in favor of a different tomorrow.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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