Exploding Wheel Barrows
I bought a flat pack shed to replace the pool shed. Long overdue, I hear you say, and you are right. Anyway, I brought it back home to build and found I needed a place to build it. The instructions suggested constructing a 3 metre by 1.8 trestle thingy. It sounded more difficult than putting up the shed. Anyway, I thought, follow the fucking rules old son, follow the rules, we’re a lot like that recently. I built the said trestle, and it’s a bloody magnificent thing. I thought tomorrow I will go out and build the shed sides and stuff, then move them over to the pool enclosure ready to construct the shed.
Meanwhile, my wife had asked me to look at her wheelbarrow it wasn’t pushing well, she thought a wheel was rubbing and perhaps the tyres were flat. Okay, I said, no problem, first thing tomorrow I’ll sort that and then build my shed. Right, it should only take, oh, perhaps half an hour to fix.
underneath.You must understand that our wheelbarrow is a dual wheel affair, with a wheel on either side of the bucket. A steel rod going through two U-Bolts underneath, I turned the wheelbarrow on its side and realized that the bar has slipped to one side. Easily fixed, I will push it through and tighten the U-Bolts. On the first attempt, the axle doesn’t shift and the nuts on the U-Bolts won’t cooperate either.
Oh Fuck, I see hanging temptingly near me is a small sledgehammer; I reason that if I was to use the sledgehammer to give the bar a wee tap, I could push the bar to the centre. It sort of responded to my first tap, so I gave it another gentle tap, it responded a tiny amount again; I gave it a third tap, and it still made the tiny gain. Well, you know what happened next don’t you? I need not write the words, but convention insists I do. I gave it a bigger tap, and it moved a bigger bit. One more bigger tap and it was perfect, no problem really, well not until later, but I will get to that.
Now the wheels are centred correctly, time to check the tyres, of course, they are flat, not just a little soft, absolutely and completely flat. I dig out my “you beaut” four-wheel-drive tyre pump, the one with the extra oomph that can pump up all four wheels on an off-road vehicle from 18 PSI to 38 PSI in minutes. I hook it up to the battery, connect the hose to one of the wheelbarrow tyres, and turn it on. The gauge shows zero PSI, but the air leaks around the connection. I push it harder to seat the valve and achieve success, it pumps away, but still shows nothing on the gauge.
Fuck I say again and was just turning to switch off the machine to investigate why it wasn’t pumping when there is a very, I repeat a VERY large bang.
The tyre explodes, bits of rubber go flying all over, hitting me just above the knee and on the forearm. The noise had almost instantly turned me deaf, the pain in my arms and leg would put a woman in childbirth to shame. I’m telling you. The chooks took fright, clucking all over the backyard, and all the birds disappeared from the garden. I know right now you are thinking, “I hope he is all right.” I know you are not rolling on the floor laughing at my miss fortune, or stupidity, whichever you think.
Back to the problem, I have a wheelbarrow lying on its side with one wheel blown up, my wife is at the other end of the garden, under the shade of a mango tree reading a book, in the twenty-five degrees, cloudless day. I’m looking at the ruins of her treasured wheelbarrow, wondering how I was going to explain it to her. Why didn’t the gauge show me the tyre was over-inflated, my “you beaut” tyre pump must have a broken gauge? I know I will try it on the trailer which is sitting next to me and see if it works there. I’m smart this time, I measure the pressure of the tyres independently, and see the left one, the one facing my wife is down a bit. I put the pump on and watched it pump up to the correct pressure. Great my. pump is working and I must have had a faulty tyre.
I need to remove the tyre from the wheelbarrow. You might remember further back in this ramble, that I had adjusted the centralisation of the axle using a small sledgehammer. Remember that? Good, because here is where the issue starts, and why you should not use that method. Hammering the end of an axle can cause it to develop a rather large burred edge. In my case, the wheel is now trapped on the axle by a ridge of steel put there by me, with a sledgehammer. Oh, fuck. It took thirty minutes with a file to finally clean up the axle enough that the wheel would now come free of the axle. Next time I will put a block of wood over the job before belting it.
This wheelbarrow is one of the most important implements in the garden, I must fix it no matter what. With my head still ringing from the bang, although most of my hearing returned, my left arm swelling to a balloon, and a newly acquired limp, I decided I must go over to the hardware store, Bunnings to get a new wheel. I take the dimensions, and the wheel in case I forget and off I go.
We are under pandemic rules; we have to stand 1.5 metres from each other and there are strict guidelines. It takes nearly an hour to get into the shop to go look for my wheel, luck would have it they had one in stock, I purchased it at the grand sum of twenty-eight dollars and headed home. Instantly I arrived back, I jumped out of the truck like a firefighter attending a burning house fire and rushed over to the wheelbarrow with the new wheel; it slipped over the axle perfectly and was in every way correct except. There was always going to be an except wasn’t there. Except for the width of the wheel is twenty-six millimetres or one inch to the Americans wider than the old one. Oh, fuck.
Head hung low, I took the new wheel back to the truck and saw my wife signalling me from her place under the Mango tree. I approached her and she told me to look at the trailer, remember I pumped the tyre up on the trailer. The tyre was now as flat as flatbread; the air had all gone to the top. The trailer had a distinct list to one side. Oh, fuck.
Nothing I can do, I head back to the hardware, wait another hour to get in, hand back my tyre and find they haven’t got one with the right depth shaft hole. I went off to yet another hardware, had a long discussion about how good two-wheeled wheelbarrows were with the storekeeper, but purchased nothing. He didn’t have the tyre either. Just as I was getting into my Nissan Patrol my phone beeped, it was a message from my wife, it just had a photograph of exactly our two-wheeled wheelbarrow for sale on e-bay for $120, her words were, don’t spend too much on new wheels.
Dejected, I got the message; I headed home empty-handed, went to my PC and ordered a new wheelbarrow. I put everything away. The time was nearing four in the afternoon, and everybody knows during pandemic lockdown that is Happy Hour. I had spent my entire day on the wheelbarrow, tomorrow I had to fix a trailer, then I might get back to building my shed.
Oh, and as a sidebar. My ears have come right, my arm still hurts like hell and my limp is going away. Oh, and apologies to women and my childbirth remark, that was just an adverse reaction to pain on my part, of course, childbirth is more pain.