By Craig Hastings
Some years ago, the time I spent using my hand tools and automotive repair tools slowed down considerably. I would naturally expect this to happen, because, not only was I no longer modifying my cars in order to one up my friends and foes rides, but also the cars I was buying for myself were newer models with comfort in mind. Then along came Payton and Lukas and with them came a minivan as my vehicle of choice. All in the world was good.
Then it happened. First to my home came the battery-powered electric jeep that would seat two small boys or one growing boy. I even rode in the thing a few times myself. Not much maintenance on this ride other than assembly and a few replacement parts and batteries along the way. Big Wheel trikes, bicycles, and electric scooters followed in that order in the years to come. Still not many repairs to be made or parts to replace and when they did only your basic tools were required.
I’m not sure exactly when, but I think it was about ten years ago I acquired a non-running go cart and bought a new 125 cc ATV. The drawers on my 1972 Craftsman toolbox became more active. I rebuilt the Briggs and Stratton engine on the go cart, straightened the bent steering gear, and repaired the broken chain and handed it over to the boys. Payton was all about that go cart, but Lukas was more about just riding in it. When Payton was finally old enough and tall enough to reach the pedals it was his daily driver in the summer months. Still, Lukas was more into just riding in it while someone else drove. I spent many hours over the years repairing broken parts and pieces on that old go cart. Fortunately, it didn’t require more tools, because I had done this work for five years working for our local True Value Store.
As the Yamaha ATV aged, naturally, repairs to it became necessary. This ATV threw me a curve ball. I was introduced to a machine that was everything fastened with metric size nuts, bolts, including allen wrench metrics and a host of torx fasteners. This forced me for the first time in 40 years to shop for new tools. In my past, if my friends and I happen to come across a metric anything it was simple. We all owned the only two metric wrenches needed in the 70’s and 80’s. Those two tools were pliers and a cresent wrench! Worked every time. I even had a few worn out standard sockets that had managed to wear themselves into metric sizes! My tool box space was running out. So what I’ve done over the past several years is to buy my metrics and other specialty tools in sets that come in their own cases. I’ve been leaving them in those cases and just stacking them in and around my work bench. I’ve resisted buying a larger tool box or even just an additional tool box because to buy a good one like I need is around $800. If I was still turning wrenches for a living that would not be a big deal to me, but I’m just doing the shade tree thing on a few broken motorized vehicles for my oldest son, so I’ve resisted.
My resistance position may have just changed this past week. What happened? A few months ago my oldest acquired (bought) a Yamaha R6 motorcycle. It’s a 2003 with 25,000 miles on it, so maintaining it will be necessary. I took the easy way out when we bought it and took it directly to Sportland in Urbana and had them service it and go over it from stem to stern. After paying the bill I wondered to myself if maybe I should have given it a once over myself first. But, I’m no motorcycle mechanic and knew nothing about these sport bikes other than having owned and ridden one a short time before selling it. No maintenance ever required. I did decide when it came time for its next oil change I would figure that out for myself. Well, the oil change didn’t come before much more serious repair would be required.
Payton laid the R6 down on its left side last week that not only damaged the motorcycle but also a bunch of his left leg and left arm skin. No deep cuts, broken bones, damaged muscles, or jarred head or neck injuries though. His injuries were of the typical road rash description. You know the ones: intense burning sensation, oozing skin repair secretions, and bright pink/red color. Having endured these same type of injuries in the same places over my early riding career I was able to forecast for him the healing process, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. The motorcycle? Well, the left crank case cover was broken open allowing all the oil to leak out and the fairing pieces on the left side are cracked or broken in places. The “sliders” that are installed on both sides of the motorcycle broke off! (cheap) They are supposed to save the engine from having the crank covers damaged and all the oil leaking out! The transmission shift arm is bent and a few other odds and ends need tending to. I had the motorcycle dropped off at my house (couldn’t ride it, no oil) and rolled into my garage. What to do next. Haul it up to Sportland or….tear into the thing myself with all these cool new metric wrenches I’ve been accumulating? Wide awake at 11 p.m. Friday night I decided to have a go at it myself and learn as I went. I turned on all the shop lights, television, and air conditioning and cracked open my reborn tool box.
Once inside the engine with the broken crank cover removed, I discovered further damage inside. Some of the stator windings have been crushed requiring replacement, and, hopefully, that will be the last of the undiscovered repairs I will need to make. The good news is that I had every metric anything that I needed to disassemble the left side of this motorcycle. I videoed the process and sent it to Payton as I was doing it. Now I’m waiting on parts. So where do I go from here? Do I continue to grow my tool inventory or pray for no more repair events? Younger son and soon-to-be-driving Lukas will not cause me these same events as my oldest. Lukas wants only to get from point A to B and back again. No speed or theatrics needed with him. Slow motion traveling suits Lukas just fine. I think I’ll play my hand as the cards are dealt to me. No sense going all in just yet.