There’s a popular TV show running this summer called, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?” As applied to yours truly, I’m not so sure. Consider:
The problem was with a simple backpack weed sprayer, a Sear’s model, at least ten years old, maybe more. Filled to the brim, it held five gallons of water and weed killer, a capacity I seldom used as this old back was good for only about 3 gallons tops, a weight of what, about 25 lbs.?
Oh, the thing still sprayed, but only if I held a constant pressure on the pump arm to get a stream. Definitely not the way it was supposed to work. When new, you gave a few pumps, built up some pressure, and spray away. Clearly the devise needed a little loving care and maintenance. It was a simple concept (or so I thought); a piston slides down a cylinder, pumps the air in and forces liquid out the hose. All I had to do was take it apart, clean it up, and good to go. Right? How tough could it be?
Two days later:
Spread in front of me on the table were springs, gaskets, tubes, pins, and parts unknown to modern man, and me without a clue as to how they came apart. The first day of frustration was spent on the Internet in search of an owner’s manual for this devise from hell. No luck. Sear’s never heard of it, or so they claimed. On the second day, I actually found the original manual where some idiot had stashed it. It was hidden in an old work cabinet, toward the back, in a dark crevice full of poisonous spiders and scorpions (I didn’t actually see them, but I knew they were there).
The manual helped, but there was one part in particular, one that I suspected, was loosely thrown inside the works by the evil Sear’s, just to confuse the crap out of anyone foolish enough to venture inside. It was labeled as a “semi-spherical valve.”
Okay, Fifth-graders, listen up. What does semi-spherical mean? Is it
A. A big truck with a round cab up front?
B. A partially deflated beach ball?
C. A boob job gone bad, or
D. An object that looks like a hollow pencil eraser?
I went with C, but the kids got it right with D. This weird little dude was sort of floating around in there with no home to be found until I finally figured out that it lived just above the plunger thingy. It’s sole purpose in life to block a tiny hole when the pump arm was on the down stroke.
Then, a game changer! In the fine print, tucked in behind some of the part numbers, was a teeny tiny little asterisk. It referred to a statement at the bottom: Part of replacement kit. Kit included.
Included? What? Where? What kit? Do I have a kit? If so, where in the hell would it be?
Little voice in my head. “Try the crevice with the spiders, the one where you found the manual.”
The little voice was right. There it was, wrapped in nearly opaque plastic, a sack of various gaskets, pins, O-rings, and wonder of wonders, the mysterious semi-spherical valve.
I swapped old parts for new, filled the tank with water, and pumped. I had pressure. I had a spray. Weeds quivered in fear.
The weeds could wait. I needed to celebrate with a spooker. For those new to this blog, a spooker is a little bourbon and branch water used to scare the demons away. One spooker didn’t cut it. Some days the demons are worse than others, especially when they lurk inside a yard sprayer.