Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day Trip with a Can of Worms

Ask any veteran DIYer and he or she will tell you that most of the time nothing goes as planned. A simple plumbing repair turns into a massive plumber's nightmare. A simple 15 minute vehicle repair turns into a six hour ordeal due to one stubbornly stuck bolt. Some call it opening a can of worms while others may call it the DIY Principle. I call it Inevitable.

Weekends can raise a dilemma for the DIYer, on one hand there is a chance to unwind from a long week's work, but on the other hand, the weekend offers a golden opportunity to get many projects started. This weekend I had a little bit of both. I spent Saturday making great progress with a couple of projects and Sunday afternoon was used to "unwind." However, the DIY Principle would make sure Sunday's recreational activity would carry with it a solid dose of frustration.

Sunday afternoon my wife and I met with two friends for a short canoeing trip. We loaded the canoe onto my truck and started on our ten mile journey to the river. Not even a mile before our destination I noticed a terrible repeating thump and bounce and immediately pulled over.
Yep, a flat tire.
Normally such an event would not be much more than a minor inconvenience. I would just put the full size spare on and be on our way, right? Well... you can call me guilty for not always practicing what I preach, because the full size spare was nine miles away, safely locked in the garage.
We jacked the truck up and removed the flat to inspect it. I had a can of Fix-A-Flat as a last resort back up, but it turned out the valve stem had cracked where it meets the wheel. This was the second valve stem that has gone bad on me within three months.

With a few calls I managed to get ahold of a friend to come and pick me up so we could take the tire in to get fixed. However, my worst fears and the DIY Principle came to light when a new valve stem was installed and the tire inflated: the tire had received fatal wounds in the form of four very large grapefruit-sized sidewall bulges indicating massive internal tire damage. I paid them to dispose of the tire, took my wheel, and went on to plan B: drive back home and get the spare!

With the spare on the truck, we were able to continue our afternoon vacation. We paddled down the lazy river until we came across the wreckage of an old steam ferry. The river was high enough for us to dock with the derelict craft and explore it. It was a lot of fun trying to figure out what had happened to the boat and how old it was. It looked as if it had caught fire since most of the remaining wood on the inside was badly charred.

After a few minutes we had searched through everything that we could without compromising our safety, so we returned to the canoe. Just as we all got it, the winds really picked up. What should have been a relaxed upstream paddle against a lethargic current turned into a demoralizing struggle against storm front winds. One gentleman on some docks we passed informed us there was a tornado watch in effect. We made it back safely and had the canoe returned to its storage before the storms hit, so in the end everything turned out well.

Thanks to the same fortion that spawns the Inevitable DIY Principle, our four hour trip turned into seven hour trip. Besides some very sore shoulders and back, it was well worth it.

Update: It seems as though there may be a batch of defective valve stems!
Link 1
Link 2

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