It’s funny how certain actions, words, sights, or sounds can trigger old memories to pop up to the forefront of our consciousness. For example, a few weeks ago I found myself jerry-rigging my bench vice with two blocks of wood, a couple small pieces of steel plate, some bailing wire and a dab of peanut butter just so I could try to press-fit a sleeve into a front fender for a Springer (Ok, I exaggerate but you get my point). Around the third try of unsuccessfully aligning the sleeve-and basically mashing it slightly out of round-I had a flashback and I heard my dad’s words come flooding back to me, “Always use the right tool for the job.”
While it’s a very simple lesson I’m sure we were all taught earlier on by someone significant in our lives. I’m not sure if it’s through my stubbornness, laziness or a combination of both that I sometimes find myself trying to make do with what’s readily at hand. Sure, in some cases I have been able to accomplish a task without the right tool or tools, but often times it came with a loss of more time, effort, and in some cases blood, than necessary.
Of course there are those few instances in history where a little bit of ingenuity might have led to the development of a new tool or improved upon an existing tool to make a job easier, but a stroke of genius such as that has yet to occur in my garage. It was after nearly permanently replacing the finger prints on my thumb and forefinger with the jaw markings from my vice, that I decided to heed my dad’s words and postpone this little project until I had a shop press.
So after several years of using other people’s presses or trying to “cave man” through various projects without one, I finally decided to pick up a 12-ton shop press. It’s not that it was a huge investment financially, (I picked it up for less than 150 bucks at my local industrial hardware supply) that delayed my purchase. It’s just that it hasn’t been one of those high-demand tools in my garage-it’s not like I’m swapping out cams every other week. I know my new toy isn’t going see as much use as most of the other tools in my garage, but I do feel it was a good investment for my time, piece of mind, and health.
Now that it’s sitting in my garage I find myself looking for things to do in which I can use it. For instance, about a year or so ago I utilized a press at one of our local shops to swap out the stock springs in a set of Softail shocks, with some stiffer springs. Well, now I am ready to go back to the softer springs again, so it’ll be a quick and easy job in my own garage. I also have an axle bushing that needs to get pressed out of a Springer front caliper bracket so that I can replace it with a smaller I.D. bushing. And if I ever get bored or want to make sure it still works, I could always use it as a giant nutcracker.
I guess where I am going with this is that it got me to thinking about all the other times I found myself wasting time or scarring my body because I was trying to get by without the right tool. Like when I spent abut a half hour trying to use two scratch awls like a set of chopsticks to remove a snap ring. Or when I nearly started a new piercing trend when I almost shoved a flat blade screwdriver through the palm of my hand because I was using it to scrape off an old gasket.
Does any of this ring a bell? Or is what they’ve been telling me true, “I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.”
Until next time, remember motorcycling is supposed to be fun,