Bowled Over

BONEHEAD BLUNDER: An incomplete repair

THE BONEHEAD: The Motor Doctor’s new apprentice

BONEHEAD RATING: 7

WHAT HAPPENED: After my last bionic part was attached, I found I needed someone to help R&R gearcases and remove engine covers so I could work on the engines. I don’t know how I ended up being lucky for once, but a young fellow named Graham was looking for some work he could make a career out of, and a friend referred him to me.

Initially, Graham couldn’t tell what a spark plug looked like, or the difference between that and a propeller. That delighted me, because I could train someone who didn’t say, “When I was working for ‘X,’ we did it this way.” What a joy! He absorbs knowledge like a sponge, and rarely do I have to tell him twice. We’re not yet at the point I’m ready to relinquish the reins and let him work while I rake in the money: That’s more than a few years hence!

One of my nicest clients has an old 16-foot Boston Whaler powered by a 40 hp Yamaha that died. I found the owner a nice 1999 60 Yamaha that should have been a straight swap but wasn’t. Letting Graham take the lead, I watched as he performed the swap, and I showed him how to change the control box throttle direction. I let him do the test run with the owner. I’ve never seen a kid so proud!

We headed to the next job, but before we got there, the owner of the Whaler called and said he was in the river being towed back, with fuel all over. No joy in Mudville. We went back, where we met the boat, and Graham took over.

Moments later he found the #2 carburetor spewing fuel, probably from a stuck needle. I asked Graham if he needed my help, but he said he knew exactly what he was doing. He managed to squeeze the offending carb out of the middle and remove the bowl — to find whoever had cleaned the carbs had left the float pin screw loose. It fell out, allowing the needle to drop and gas to go everywhere. Graham corrected the situation, checked the float to make sure it was level,  and reinserted the carb between #1 and #3. We watched him button everything up, and I asked him if the fuel tank had any gas left in it. He got a case of

The Attitudes and asked what that had to do with anything. I told him that leaving the bowl off the carb he just repaired would probably increase the fuel consumption, and he should warn the owner to take a second tank with him. As the owner and I had a great chuckle, Graham’s face turned the color of red buyers ordered on their ’62 Chevys.

LESSON LEARNED: The “fall” that comes after the “pride that goeth” can always be anticipated — and quantified relative to the amount of pride.

Bonehead Blunders

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