My sailboat has a small outboard engine, and from time to time, it needs service. A part that wears out every few years is a part of the water pump. The last time I had one of these replaced, several years ago, it cost me about $120. Since this is something that has to be done every few years, I started wondering if I could learn to do it myself. How hard could it be? It’s an engine. This isn’t brain surgery. Right?
So earlier this week I did a little internet searching to see if I could find a tutorial, and I ordered a repair kit to get the necessary parts. Today was repair day. Between the owner’s manual for the engine and two or three websites, including some YouTube video, I felt that I was ready to give it a go.
Taking the engine apart was pretty easy.
It wasn’t too difficult to get the old parts off and the new parts installed.
The difficulty began when I tried to put the thing back together. After struggling with it for an hour or so, I had to take a break for lunch. All of the books, tutorials, and videos just glossed over this part of the operation. They just all basically said, in one way or another, “put it back together.” But it wasn’t going back together. I could get it almost re-assembled, but not quite. There were two main pieces that were supposed to fit together and be bolted together. But they wouldn’t get any closer together than about 3/8” apart. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t close that gap.
What to do? I began to imagine calling a repair shop and telling them, “Um. I took my engine apart but I can’t get it back together. Can I bring it to you and have you put it back together?” Not really the sort of thing a man wants to do.
Now you might think that this situation would lead to some anxiety on my part. Actually, I wasn’t really worried. You see, I’ve been in this sort of situation lots and lots of times before. I get myself into situations by charging ahead into something that I’ve never done before, and when I do, I almost always get myself into some sort of trouble. If I were afraid of this sort of trouble, I would never try anything new. It’s just not my nature to hold back. It’s my nature to charge into things, taking the risks, and work out the difficulties as they arise.
I think that’s why the whole idea of daily learning is something that is so real to me that I had to start writing this blog. I wanted to share the experience of taking risks, trying new things, and working out the kinks along the way. I want to be able to encourage people to try things that they might not otherwise try. I want to infect people with this belief that they can do new things and learn in the process.
After lunch I did manage to get everything buttoned up. I studied the problem with fresh eyes, found out what was blocking the pieces from fitting together, and managed to make it all work. Maybe sometime next week I’ll get the boat into the water and find out if my repair actually worked. If not, I’ll just have to tear into it again and find out why.