A couple of hours ago, Bill informed me that his riding lawn mower had a flat front tire. Ok, simple enough. Keep in mind that Bill is allergic to all things mechanical. I, on the other hand, have half a clue about such things because my Dad was a mechanical whiz and I tended to pay attention. Doing that has paid off handsomely in the years that followed, but back to the lawnmower…
I go out to the barn with my Dad’s handy ratchet set. I figure if it has a non-metric nut I can just take it off and pull the tire. I look at the mower and try to determine the best place to jack it. But then, I actually thought ahead and figured before I did that, I’d best see what I’m dealing with. I pull off the axel’s dust cover and there is no nut; only a smooth cylindrical thing and what appeared to be a couple of large washers behind that. Ok, Dad’s ratchet set isn’t going to do squat here. Sorry, Dad! This is something I’ve never seen before. I knew I had to tell Bill and I’d have to endure that crestfallen face that is so very hard to endure. Nope, I wasn’t going to do that just yet. There was only one thing to do.
I headed indoors and fired up YouTube to see if there was anything that might help me. Sure enough, there was this wonderful guy who not only shows how to pull the tire but also shows that he is replacing his pneumatic tires with solid rubber ones. Bill would love that! No flats! Ever! I would love that because I wouldn’t have to hear about flat mower tires again! Ever! This was worth pursuing.
So I watch closely and I see that there are no nuts involved in this thing. Apparently, that cylindrical thing was the end of the axle. Then what held the tire on? The only thing that’s holding this tire on is an e-ring. At least that’s what this guy said it was. What is an e-ring? He takes it off and kindly shows us e-ring newbs what it looks like. WHAT THE HELL IS AN E-RING? I’d never seen anything like it. Obviously, this was not my father’s e-ring, to loosely quote an old Oldsmobile commercial. To my knowledge he never had e-rings. But you never know. Some dads can be tricky if they are hiding e-rings from their daughters, but I just know that mine was not an e-ring hiding dad. I’ll never know for sure, but I bet he wasn’t. I would think an e-ring hiding dad would have a certain vibe, wouldn’t you?
Ok, those of you who are laughing at me because you know what an e-ring is can just go stand over there in the corner till I’m done. That’s right, over in that corner right there. You’ll just have to imagine me pointing, but since you can’t see me, just go to any available corner and wait for further instructions.
On with the YouTube video. The guy presents his audience with his spanking new no-flat tires. He does admit that they cost $42 a piece and he thought that wasn’t cheap. I almost shout at my computer screen: “Who cares what it costs if it means never having to deal with e-rings again? No flats and no e-rings!” I try to calm down. He just slaps those tires on, puts the washers over the axle, puts that e-ring on, and proceeds to grease the wheel. Damn it, I don’t own a grease gun. That’s ok, I know I can get one, and I’m pretty sure I can do this thing. Easy peasy and extra greasy.
After a few deep breaths, I go and tell Bill I have good news and bad news. It went something like this:
“No, I’ve never seen anything like it but this very nice guy on YouTube showed exactly how to do it. Really! Once I found out the subtle mysteries of the e-ring, all became clear.”
I got a sideways glance. He says: “Maybe I should call Janusz.”
Janusz is this little man who comes every spring to get the lawnmower going. After he yells at Bill for not bringing the battery in for the winter, he gets everything tuned up and sharpens the blade.
“Humph! Why call Janusz if I can do it?? All I have to do is buy the tires and a grease gun.”
He grabs the phone and tries to call Janusz. No answer. He doesn’t leave a message but says he will call again.
I guess I’m the one who got the message. It seems that I won’t be replacing mower tires any time soon. I am incensed, yet secretly happy that I don’t have to mess around with highly suspicious e-rings. Besides, Janusz will yell at him for not knowing what to do and that provides a certain amount of entertainment value right there. I think I’m still going to buy that grease gun, though. You never know when I might need to grease a few wheels here or there.