Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Bought Fred Flintstone's Leaf Vacuum

Man, them leaves sure is purty. Man, I sure hate raking them. I hate it so badly, I bought a leaf vacuum. You could bail out right here and know that I hate raking, or you could read on and learn just how serious I am about that.

I found a used yard vac in the paper for $90, which is a far cry from the $599 needed to buy one new. So I call the guy and ask to come out and have a look. The directions he gives take me right to my old neighborhood, actually to the house across the street from where I used to live, and I realize that I'm on the phone with the guy we used to refer to as Fred Flintstone. Nicknames such as these are the wont of kids in their teen years, but in retrospect, the only reason we called him that was because he looked exactly like Fred Flintstone. We weren't so unfair that we'd judge a person based strictly on looks. He also walked like Fred Flinstone. In fairness, anyone who shares that particular physique has little choice in that regard. But that was enough to make him "Fred" in our book. Oh yeah - and he also had a job at the quarry, operating the bronto-crane.

Well, whatever. I ended up buying the thing. The neighborhood discount? He filled it with gas for me. Yabba-dabba-whooptee-frickin'-doo.

I brought the vacuum home and it was every bit as awesome as I had hoped, working flawlessly for me for two seasons, sucking up everything it its path and not requiring the use of a rake at all, until one day when I tried to unclog it using a broken piece of furniture and that stopped the engine dead. Instead of breaking the shear pin like it's supposed to, it broke the connecting rod.


Walking past the rake, I went to the computer and found a replacement part online for 15 bucks, all told. I had it within a couple of days. I had to tear the whole engine apart to get to the con rod, but I got it in. Getting it all back together would prove to be more difficult, and I managed to snap a piston ring in the process.

Oh well. Just rings, right?

$66! Are you serious? $66 for rings! Don't make me spend 66 bucks on rings, because I'm not even sure I got the connecting rod back in right. I hate raking. What is the deal?

Well at some point, enough is enough and you just have to face the simple reality that, even though you don't really like it, the yard does need to get clean. You should probably just go ahead and replace the engine. I mean, come on. $66 for rings? Right. So I couldn't believe it when I found a drop-in replacement engine for $95, plus $10 to ship, and I whipped out the plastic faster than you can say, "You could've had that yard raked 1,000 times over by now, dumbass."

The new engine arrived, and in 15 minutes, I had the old engine off and the new one on. Pretty easy, except I spent the next two days trying to pull-start it. See, Fred Flintstone's vacuum was just start and go, but this replacement motor had a "dead man bar" ignition system on it, meaning the spark was disabled by default. I didn't have a bar on my vac, but I eventually figured what was going on and found a way to hold the switch closed (nylon tie-wrap) and the thing fired up on the very next pull. Sweet! I gave my rake the finger, went outside and kicked some yard ass, and put the vac away for the winter.

In April, I made sure to give it a start and do a little light cleanup, just so that it wouldn't be sitting so long without starting. Ran great. Fired on the first pull. Yesterday, I thought I'd get a start on the yard since we have one particular maple tree that drops a lot of leaves which can prove to be somewhat of a mouthful for the vac, and then I have to unclog it with a broken piece of furniture. Since about half the leaves seem to have fallen (as in the photo above) it was a good time to get after it.

I got out the 'ol vacuum and gave her a pull. Nuthin'. About two hours, several wrenches, and several dozen pulls later, I discover that my tie-wrap, though still tied, has torn through the thin metal tab I'd secured it to, and the kill switch is again in the off position. I found another place to secure the tie and it fired up no problem. Yes!

Me 1 Rake 0

By this point, it had started raining heavily and the leaves were far too wet to vacuum. The wind had also blown most of the rest of the leaves out of the tree.

No comments: