How crossword puzzles help me fix the outboard (I hope)

P1250032.JPGMy nemesis, with cowling removed: WeLike’s 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard is stretching my mechanical talents. But I haven’t thrown in the shop towel.

IMG_7955MY DARLING BARBARA SAYS my addiction to the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle has honed my stick-to-it-iveness, especially since I’ve made it part of my second-cuppa morning routine at The Nuthatch. I never give up until I’ve finished a puzzle, even if 23-down is as obscure as “compacted Swiss snow” (firn).

And I don’t rely on having the Sunday paper in my hands. I have whole binders of the puzzles, which I can pick up anytime, just like Mitt Romney had binders full of women (remember that low point of the 2012 presidential debates?).

In any case, my refusal to give up serves me well on an island with no shops and no repairmen. Like when our runabout’s temperamental outboard motor acts up. Again.

I’m currently not a big fan of Mr. Evinrude, I’ve told my neighbors as they’ve wandered by WeLike, sitting on her trailer in the meadow next to the Center Island clubhouse, where she’s been stranded for weeks as I’ve been trying one little fix after another.

It’s not a huge problem for us. We use a water taxi service to the mainland for doctor’s appointments and major provisioning trips anyway. But it means we rely on neighbors’ generosity for rides to Lopez Island for trash disposal, library visits and pleasurable little stops at Holly B’s Bakery for cinnamon rolls and coffee.

I’ve changed the spark plugs (far more complicated than it needed to be, thank you Mr. Evinrude). I’ve changed the internal fuel filter and installed a new Racor water-fuel separator. I’ve rebuilt the water pump (what should have been a simple, routine procedure was a major ordeal thanks to Made-in-the-U.S.A. engineering).  When I need another part, I go online to a supplier in Denver, wait four days and it’s here.

My latest tinker: replacing the motor for the hydraulic pump that raises and lowers the outboard. Thanks to a sadistic designer who apparently got his kicks out of positioning bolts just out of reach behind a metal bracket or with not quite the clearance needed to insert an Allen wrench, I spent a whole afternoon removing one bolt completely by blind finger feel, rotating it a quarter inch at a time. I guess “stick-to-it-tiveness” sounds better than “stupidity.” (Hey, I got it done.)

So doing crossword puzzles not only helps keep your mind sharp. It apparently also helps you repair outboard motors built in Wisconsin.

It’s part of the Catch-22 challenge of living on a lovely remote island. When the boat doesn’t run, you can’t take it to a mechanic. Because the boat won’t get you there. So you just figure it out. cropped-1-anchor.jpg

One thought on “How crossword puzzles help me fix the outboard (I hope)

  1. Welcome to what used to be a daily struggle .Engineers with little thought for the average Joe in the field ,that has to keep his designs on the road,in the air or running on the seven seas ! Patience will always triumph over reticent machinery .As a famous mechanic once said “Don’t they make a tool for that “?


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