Friday, June 03, 2011

Grease is the Word

This past week's Dockmaster duty at the Heron Lake Marina and its aftermath were marked by "interesting mechanical learning issues".

One of them happened when I was towing a MacGregor sailboat south from near the lake. This is a boat we've been very slowly repairing and preparing for sail. I had just put new tires on it last Friday and was towing it south on Wednesday afternoon when the left side tire and wheel decided to go walkabout, sheering the wheel studs.

When I called my auto club, the responders seemed to think that the only solution would be to find a flatbed truck large enough to load a long sailboat and boat trailer. Such a great beast was not readily available and might have to come from more than a hundred mails away.

Another friend suggested a heavy-duty wheel dolly to allow the boat to be towed. This seemed far more sensible than waiting for hours for a giant flatbed wrecker.

Even more directly helpful was a good Samaritan named Henry who stopped with some advice and aid. With this support I was able to remove the wheel bearing parts and drum. Then, I dropped by the marina, where I was able to use a bolt, alignment bar, and sledgehammer to pound out the press-fitted wheel studs.

The next day, Thursday, I was able to go to the auto parts store in Chama, near the Colorado border, and look for replacement parts. Although the store didn't have exact replacements for the wheel studs, they did have some that were expected to fit; the clerk took time measuring various candidate wheel studs with a digital caliper to find the best candidates.

Returning home with wheel studs and other goodies, I then placed the wheel drum in an improvised jig and pounded the new studs into the drum. This is a case of literally placing a small object in an even smaller hole; the studs are slightly compressed in the process.

Then it was time to journey seventeen miles to where the crippled boat trailer awaited repair, attach the drum, repack and reassemble the bearing and related parts, and then get to the relatively simple business of placing the spare tire and wheel on the trailer. After gathering up all the tools, blocks, and gear, it was then time to cautiously head south. The bearing and wheel seem to have held up well and this time the trip south to Placitas was a success.

And I even got to play with lots of dark grease. It's sort of fun, in a primitive, childish, atavistic way to mess with the stuff. And, for when that palled or I before had to touch "clean" things, there was a tub of mechanic's hand-washing cream on hand and lots of rags plus a roll of paper towels.


At 11:21 AM, June 03, 2011, Blogger Tillerman said...

Say the word and you'll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is grease?

This is an entry in my Beatles group writing project isn't it?


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