Ducati 350 Sport Desmo
DIY Projects

Zen and The Art of Wood Chipper Maintenance

Rolling my sleeve back up, I pulled my eyes off the offending injector pump and glanced at the sky. Looked entirely possible that it might rain and I half-wished I’d thought to work on the wood chipper inside the shed. Trouble with that though is that the machine is large and my shed overly full with parts and old machines and other mechanical flotsam and jetsam. It gets cramped in there, so when the weather is lovely – which it was this morning – I prefer to work outside.

The chipper I was working on was an excellent piece of kit that I’d purchased from a local company called Chipstar. It had been faultless for many a long year and, even now, it was going strong. Any sensible bloke would have taken it in for a routine service a long time ago, leaving such shenanigans to the professionals, but truth be told, I enjoy getting my hands dirty when I can.

wood chipper zen
Working outside, a man can think…

You see, most days now, I’m chained to a desk. Which is funny, because when I started the company I didn’t even have a desk, just a kitchen table where I would irregularly attempt to sort out my paperwork, something I’ve never been interested in. Not even slightly.

I was always more one for getting out and getting amongst it. I ride motorbikes, so I would hop on my old Norton and go around to see any new potential customer. They would usually look surprised that their potential new garden maintenance man would arrive on two wheels. ‘Well, I’m not starting today!’ I would joke and proceed to sell them what they called me for plus as many extras as they kept saying yes to.

That was a winning strategy and pretty soon I had to employ some help. At first that was even better, because I could get the other blokes to drive the truck about and I would follow on my bike, sometimes “accidentally” taking the long way, hopefully via some windy open roads. But eventually, I found myself with one hell of a business on my hands and my working life became less about mulchers and edge-trimmers and more about recruiting new franchisees and balancing quarterly budgets.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining: my kids went to the best schools, me and my wife get to enjoy the finest life has to offer and I have a motorcycle collection that makes the average bike nut turn green. I’m talking everything from classic Triumphs, to 1970’s Ducatis to the latest greatest road bikes that money can buy.

Ducati 350 Sport Desmo
Ducati 350 Sport Desmo … what’s not to love?

And yet…

And yet…

A man needs to think… and I’ve always found the office, with all its interruptions and distractions, a terrible place to do that. For me the best ideas arise spontaneously when I am outside.

That’s actually how I built the business up so successfully; a man really to gets to thinking when he’s got nothing to do for the next 45 minutes but push an old mower around and around a field until you get to the centre. (Didn’t have a ride-on in the beginning!) With the headphones reducing the engine noise to a muffled purr and the simplicity of the task, my mind would wander far and wide until – pop! The best ideas would bubble up. It was at just one such time that it occurred to me that I had a hugely scalable business on the my hands, all I had to do was clone myself over and over again, taking my slice of an ever-expanding pie.

So that’s what I did. And that’s why I’m so well-off now. I took the idea and I ran with it.

Anyway, like I said, I wound up rolling in the green stuff – money not just lawn! – which is wonderful, but I don’t get the time to get outside and think as much as I used to. In fact, I haven’t even turned the key on any of my bikes in a couple of months now. Which doesn’t strike me as such a great result.

Not complaining mind you. Just thinking.

And that’s why I’m out here, wrestling with this damn wood chipper engine myself instead of paying someone else to do it. You see, it’s not really about the mulcher; the real reason I’m outside is because I want to sniff the wind.

Why?

Because I’ve always succeeded by staying one step ahead of the weather, and like I mentioned earlier: it looks like, sooner or later, it might just rain…

fridge repair folly
DIY Projects

Fridge Repair Folly: DIY (Mis)Adventures in Suburbia

With unbounded enthusiasm I got on my bike and took off for Bunnings.

My purpose? To find – somewhere in the endless, massive aisles – the part I needed to complete a repair job on my  fridge.

It was running hot. Had been for some time, but the decidedly un-frosty beer I’d cracked at the stroke of midday was the final straw. I had, of course, Googled some fridge mechanics, and nearly decided to call a promising looking outfit, Fridge0, that clearly specialised in my brand and area (Melbourne’s South Eastern Suburbs).

However my penchant – which my wife might redefine as ‘chronic obsession’ – for penny pinching kicked in and I began to talk myself into an alternate plan.

fridge repair folly
“Come on, I got this! How hard can it be?”

“If can service my own motorcycle,” I lectured myself, “Then surely I can figure this out too”. Besides, the sun was shining, and I was up for any excuse to ride. So, self-assured and full of bravado, I swung out of the driveway intent on saving myself a few bob.

I was to return an hour later somewhat deflated.

The part was not something simple to find. Neither was an Bunnings employee to help me find it. When I did manage to nail someone down, pleasant as they were (just like the ads!), it was not easy to describe what I needed to fix my fridge. I had received my Internet DIY Degree only just that morning, (that is to say, I had watched the only YouTube video I’d been able to find that seemed remotely relevant and useful) but the actual model of refrigerator that the star of the show was fixing was different by some years. Mine is a Samsung 26 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator; the Texan handyman’s was a newer model. Also, it turns out, the US terminology used to describe the specifics, seemed arcane and unfamiliar to my Bunnings employee.

When, thanks to the wonders of mobile Internet connection, we eventually figured out what I was after, the young lady shook her head regretfully and apologetically excused herself, turning to face the next needy customer. The impatient one who’d been hovering in the background for some minutes, making everyone involved uncomfortable.

motorbike riding to Bunnings
“Just off to Bunnings on the Yamaha, love.”

I pulled a sour face, grunted at the door greeter on the way out and, with the smell of cheap supermarket snags reminding me that I’d forgotten to eat lunch, I fired up my Yamaha Bolt C-Spec. I had to take some deep breaths on the ride home, staying mindful not to take my frustration out on the accelerator.

When I got home, the missus was her usual forthright self in voicing her lack of enthusiasm for a kitchen full of warming groceries and refrigerator parts. I briefly considered digging my heels in just to show her, but a wise little voice in the back of my mind managed to get my attention over the roar of my pride, and I made the sensible decision to suck it up and call in an expert.

After all, there were the gutters to clean, and I’d be buggered if I was going to pay someone else good coin just to jump up on the roof and do something as simple as that!