GARAGE GURUS IN THE SHED WITH JON FAINE
WHEN MY beloved decided to surrender her ceramics gallery and move it to home, I knew there was a crisis looming. Over the years I had managed to sneakily occupy some of her precious pottery space for my shed overflow.
Now she wanted it back.
So I find myself scrounging every nook and cranny and needing to squeeze all the overflow back in to my garage.
And surprisingly the shed is inelastic. So an extension is urgently arranged. And removals. I visit the big box hardware store and grab a dozen plastic stackable crates on special. A bargain.
First things first – a slab.
Concrete slab, not the other kind. Then poles, roof sheeting and the wasted 2 metres by 3 metres gap up the side – previously inefficiently occupied by the compost bins – is converted into a “temporary structure”. My beloved says the compost is rotting more slowly than my cars. Smells the same too.
Then some shelves – thank you Lord Ebay – and the fun begins.
I need to move three brimming bulging filing cabinets from the old shed to the new space. How hard can it be? Empty the contents from said cabinets and trolley them across the yard, and we ought be done. But instead in no time at all an entire weekend has gone as I relive all the glories of the past. Each armful of files disgorged from the archives reveal more history about jobs long forgotten and cars I barely recall I owned. Work files, renovations that have since been re-renovated, transactions from thirty years ago… The memories come flooding back.
Eventually, after throwing away about half my life story, I excavated the two wheel trolley scavenged from hard rubbish years ago and tried to pump up the tyres. With the sound of a small howitzer, one tube and tyre exploded. A one wheel trolley is not a lot of use.
Off to the hardware super store again. As you all know, it is against the law to go in there, find what you need and get out without being distracted by any number of temptations. Dawdling around the tool shop, I managed to limit the damage to a swish new LED torch, a packet of high speed steel cutting discs and some replacement 2mm drill bits. I am convinced they are being made more fragile than they used to – or am I just getting impatient and breaking them?
And I managed to find a 4.10/3.30 tyre and tube and all was dandy.
Back home, whip out the split pin and washer, yank the wheel of the trolley axle, offer up the new one… But it is a different axle size. Same hub, same tyre, same everything except the bearing is about two millimetres smaller.
Back to the big box hardware shop, excavate the wallet to find the receipt froma few minutes back, wander back down the aisles, inspect the wheels even more carefully, find the matching tyre this time on a hub that fits an 18mm axle… and off we go. Home again, pop the replacement onto the axle, apply the washer, new split pin and then fire up the compressor to pump it up.
Hiss, hiss, hiss… The unmistakable sound of a puncture. I curse, undo the split pin, whip off the wheel and drive for the fourth time to the big box hardware. I throw the punctured tyre at the now terrified teenager behind the counter, snatch a third wheel, test it for air tightness and go home and fit it to the trolley. And then get to move the cursed filing cabinets. Half the day is gone.
Seizing the opportunity to salvage something productive from the weekend, I decide to also fix the cracked plastic cowl under the Alfa Spider steering wheel.
Already exhausted from filing cabinet wrestling, I upend myself into the drivers footwell. The circus contortions involve that crazy upside down – but with head on the pedals – and both feet over the headrests – exercise that undoubtedly shortens your life expectancy. So there I lie, dripping sweat, blood rushing to the head, It is going well.
The cowl is held in place with five long hex head screws.
They are buried deep in the plastic and it eventually dawns on me – upside down and blinded – that they are not responding to either a phillips or flat head screwdriver. I try star heads, Torx, everything and exasperated eventually explore the deep recess with a long Allen key, with instant success.
The new cowl slips on without trouble, then upside down with allen key in hand I reach behind my head for the long machine screws to reinsert them in their tunnel.
They have vanished.
With all the dexterity of a beached whale I climb out of the footwell. I lift the rubber mats, search under the seats, check the work bench three times, check all my pockets and retrace my steps even though I know I left them loose on the floor next to my right ear. I stare at the floor, shake my hair, check my pockets again and lift the floor rubbers another time. As I swear and start to grind my teeth with exasperation, I turn off the fancy new torch and go to get a cup of tea. As I put the torch down, I crack up laughing. The screws have attached to the magnets on the back of the fancy torch. Almost enough to make me want to go back and blame the hardware store all over again.