GEARHEAD DIARY: But I might need it someday

PHOTO BY MATT BARTMANN Make do with what you have. Plywood wheel for the lawn mower.

by Matt Bartmann
North Forty News

“I think a wheel fell off the lawnmower,” reported my wife a couple of years ago.

I pulled the mower out of the deep grass she’d been cutting near one of her gardens, only to see the wheel had not fallen off. It broke. Hidden rocks and stumps are hard on mowers.

I figured I’d have a wheel that would work around somewhere, but no. So I cut two circles out of plywood, glued and screwed them together, and drilled a hole in the middle for the axle.

Bam. New wheel. Took about a half hour. Cost nothing. Worked fine.

My wife, so proud of my genius, posted the repair to her Facebook page.

“You can go to a hardware store and buy a new wheel for about $4,” one of her friends replied.

Yep. Of course that person was right. But they didn’t understand that the nearest hardware store is more than an hour away. Procurement of a new wheel would have required a 3-hour round trip and 3 gallons of fuel. 

And $4.

PHOTO BY MATT BARTMANN
Everybody’s junk pile is different, a reflection of personal interests. This one is not mine.

Enter the “junk pile.” Stuff that would normally be considered…well…junk. Before you throw “junk” away, though, you realize that you might be able to use that item, or part of it, some day. So you keep it in a pile with other stuff, in a discreet out-of-sight location. You update your mental inventory every time you look for something.

I’ll plead guilty. I have several junk piles. I have a bunch of car parts up yonder in that shed. I have a collection of nuts, bolts, nails and spare tools up in the guest house. Various scraps of wood under the guest house. There is also a good junk pile left outside—rolls of fencing and other stuff that can get wet without damage.

Call it what you want. “Hoarding” comes to my mind.

But if you need something, it’s sure handy to have something around that will work.

Especially when you’re on your own, living remotely. There are neighbors to call upon, but folks mostly go it alone. If you need something to complete a project, you go with what you got, or the project gets delayed.

I’m not the only guilty person here. While looking for some bolts recently, I uncovered my wife’s bag of knitting supplies, complete with the unfinished sock that she jokingly gave me for Christmas, five years ago. Under her desk, boxes of seeds, leaving no room to put her feet. Some dated 1990. Will those seeds ever get planted? Maybe. But there they are, should she need them.

Alas, sometimes floor space is a greater priority. Yesterday, I loaded the car with junk for a landfill run. “Will I ever use it?” was my thought. If “no,” into the car it went. Of course, I saved some miscellaneous items that I really can use. Including the lawnmower wheels that I grabbed from a neighbor’s junk pile a couple months ago, before he hauled it away.

Never know when we might need a lawnmower wheel. The plywood alternative still works fine. 

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