“Lord, why do you make everything so hard for me?”

This was the question I kept asking the Lord between Thursday night and Saturday afternoon last week as I repaired my riding mower. I’ve written before about my escapades repairing the mower. Things haven’t gotten any easier. And to be fair, the Lord doesn’t make everything hard for me. Just handyman stuff (and saying I’m sorry).

Before last week I didn’t know what a front axle was, but my tractor tire was slanted in a direction it’s not intended to go – like Joe Theismann’s leg. The manual said it was the axle assembly part #154427. Click here, click there, ordered and a new one will be on my front step Friday. You have to love internet shopping and FedEx drivers.

Thursday evening I thought it was wise to get a head start by removing the busted axle. Socrates said to “Know thyself”. I do and yeah, let’s get going.

Removing the axle requires removing the tires which requires removing the plastic axle caps. Looks simple. It’s not. YouTube said to heat them up with a heat gun or hair dryer. I don’t own a heat gun and the hair dryer is located 20 feet and a flight of stairs away, but I’m on the ground and there’s a knife in my pocket. Once the axle cap is off, the tire’s not coming until the e-clip is removed. Another YouTuber made it look so simple.

Next, the cotter pin holding a rod on was impossible to get off, but I found a video for that, too. Then I realized that it didn’t need to come off at all. I had the wrong rod.

“This wouldn’t be so hard if you weren’t such an idiot.”

That wasn’t the Lord answering my earlier question; just the little man on my shoulder who enjoys whispering into my ear.

I finally removed 4 bolts on each side of the mower and the axle assembly dropped. Yaaah! I pulled it out to find the assembly is supported by 2 braces on each side of it with a 15/16 bolt through the assembly and the braces. This bolt had to be removed, but it had different ideas. For starters, I didn’t own a 15/16 socket or wrench. I had some adjustable wrenches, pliers, a pipe wrench, and a beer – all the wrong weapons for this battle. Well, as one unafraid to head out to Harbor Freight for new tools (I could be accused of starting projects just to buy tools), I added to my arsenal not only new sockets, and more wrenches, I also bought an air wrench. Certainly, this stubborn 15/16 bolt would be overmatched now.

Wrong.

Maybe I used the air wrench wrong or maybe the fact it was only $23 should’ve been a tell-tale sign, but the bolt remained unmoved.

Lord, why do you make everything so hard for me?

I gave the bolt my best shot and I lost. I’ll credit the Lord with this next thought.

“Take it to the tire store. You need to talk to them about tires anyway.”

Brilliant idea. That guy knew how to use an air wrench apparently.

Now that all of the parts were off and properly disassembled I was ready for the new axle assembly. It arrived Friday afternoon and was my date for the night.

I should’ve realized something when none of the YouTube videos showed how to install the new axle. They just said to put it back on the way I took it off. I can’t deny that sound logic. Maybe it really is that simple. Too simple to waste time recording it.

But nothing is easy for me.

Why, Lord?

I mentioned earlier 4 bolts on each side of the mower. Easy peasy to remove. Just lefty Lucy til gravity takes over and the axle assembly drops. But gravity isn’t your friend when maneuvering a 54 year old body on the ground while holding a 10 pound axle assembly underneath a mower with one hand and my other hand trying to line up 4 holes to thread bolts through. By now it’s dark, as well. Sandra feels sorry for me and comes out to hold a light and give me some extra hands. I’m not proud at this point.

We finally get all 8 bolts installed, put the tires back on and call it a night. I just have to replace a blade Saturday morning and this project is done. Easy enough. Right?

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I’ll skip recounting my nightmare about the mower coming to life, pouring queso over my body and eating me.

The nut holding the jacked-up blade must be a first cousin to the one that was on the axle brace. It refuses to come off. I work it to the bottom of the bolt and it spins and spins but stops advancing. Did I mention that I’m laying on the ground again?

Lord…

After I developed carpal tunnel and the nut and bolt were completely satisfied with my demasculation, the nut finally relented. The bolt was bent and the threads were shot. Fortunately, I found a replacement bolt in my mandatory can of spare nuts, bolts, and screws. Things are looking up. Now I just need to pop the new blade on and this adventure is over.

Well…

The blade connects to the spindle via a 5 point star-shaped hole in the blade that slides onto a matching 5 star-shaped thingy on the bottom of the spindle. Slide it on and then screw the holding nut on.

So simple in theory. But the star-shaped thingy on the spindle is worn out and doesn’t look so much like a star anymore.

Again Lord, for the crowd in the back, why is this so hard for me?

I refer back to the manual and find that this thingy is called a shaft assembly part #137645. Click, click, ordered and will arrive on Monday. In the meantime, my backyard is a day or two away from a lovely HOA compliance letter. Been there, done that.

I could push it. Ha! The riding mower has 2 blades. I’ll just ride it with the one. Sounds like a great idea. Let’s go.

Hmm, what’s that burning smell? Smells like a mower belt.

I stop the mower and quickly google, “can my riding mower run with only one blade?”

Google replied sure.

I get off the mower and return to the ground to find that I’d left a wrench on the mowing deck that blocked the pulley from spinning.

“You see, you are an idiot!” the little man on my shoulder said as he laughed.

The mower does in fact work fine with just one blade. Just takes longer, but at this point I’m grateful to sit on the mower instead of lie on my side.

As I’m mindlessly riding in circles, I do thank the Lord for helping me get this far in the project (I still have to install the 5-star thingy when it arrives). And I ask Him, “really, what are you trying to teach me?”

He had been silent earlier through my complaining spirited questions, but this time I hear His answer in my soul –

Trying to build your character, son.”

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