I didn’t know what a mandrel was before yesterday. I know who the Mandrell sisters are, but that’s as far as it goes.

Will and I started our Saturday with a project as we so often do. Most of these projects mean that I’m learning along with him. As a result, we attend YouTube U. And my top priority isn’t to get the thing done – it’s to introduce Will to a variety of hands-on activities that he can carry into manhood. Recently, Will has learned how to change the oil in a car, assemble a pergola, use a power washer, cook grilled salmon and cream spinach, and construct an outdoor firewood box from old pergola lumber, just to name a few things.

Because getting the thing done takes a backseat to the educational process, I don’t care if it takes all day. And sometimes it does, like yesterday, with the mandrel.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the mandrel we set out to fix. We intended to only change the belt on our Craftsman riding mower, but by the end of the day we broke something else that Google told me was the mandrel. Now I know that many of you guys are thinking it takes some kind of idiot to break the mandrel when replacing a belt. Well, I’m that kind of idiot. But to be fair, we did replace the belt and reassembled all the parts without breaking the mandrel. However, when I started the mower and engaged the blade everything went sideways. The blades struck the concrete and broke all of the mandrel mounts. So, at this point I’m thinking that maybe my belt never needed replacing and the real issue lies somewhere else. That’s another project for another Saturday.

So, on the surface yesterday was not a good day – very counterproductive. At the end of the day the project was in worse shape than when we started. Our efforts caused more harm than good and created more work to be done. That’s drinking from a glass half empty. Let’s sip from a frosty mug that’s half full.

  • Will and I tackled a problem.
  • We used problem-solving skills – we watched YouTube videos on how to change a mower belt; we tracked down a new belt.
  • We learned how to remove the necessary cotter pins from the mower deck to get the new belt on.
  • Will put the new belt on by himself.
  • We got more experience using tools like various wrenches and a hydraulic floor jack.
  • We learned a lot more about the mechanics of our mower, including what a mandrel is.
  • We spent a Saturday together.

So, the day wasn’t a total loss. I tried explaining this to Will and he said it was an expensive lesson. Yes, son. Education isn’t free.

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