There's nothing like a good guy project. One of those projects that starts off as a simple fix-it and ends up as three trips to the local hardware store, the borrowing of a neighbor's pickup, and a call to the local utility company after causing a city-wide blackout. One of those projects that starts off simple enough, when you still have complete faith that it "shouldn't take more than an hour" and ends up with your spouse sending out a rescue party because you've been missing since Friday afternoon.
I had a good guy project this weekend. I had to fix my wife's elliptical machine.
The situation started at the tail end of the renovation, when the new bedroom was ready for occupancy. My neighbor and I moved this 500lb behemoth from the basement to the second floor. Unfortunately it was still plugged in when we started (yes, any good guy project is self-inflicted to begin with), and as a result we damaged the point where the electrical plug connects to the base of the unit. The plug connects to it much like a laptop, so let's call that point of connection "the plughole". It was still functional for a while, but eventually the "plughole" simply fell out of the machine.
So I called the manufacturer (has anyone noticed I have a penchant for calling manufacturers lately?) and asked if I could get a replacement plughole. He gave me a "there's good news and there's bad news" answer. The good news was they could overnight me the part for $20. The bad news was that the part was permanently attached to a wire that I would have to snake through the machine from the base all the way up to the electronic console at the top. I asked, "is it doable?" He said, "yeah sure, why not?" (I swear, that's what he said). I said, "let's do it then."
The next day the part arrived. I grabbed my tool bag and carried her up the stairs like that scene from Officer And a Gentleman, and got started.
Take a look at this machine. As you can see, there's a plastic "shell" of sorts surrounding a big round disk on each side to which the elliptical pedals are attached. The shell is attached by simple screws, so I started taking them out. After every last screw I could find was removed, I could not get the shell off. The disk seemed to be holding everything in place. And I couldn't figure out how to remove the disk.
So I called the manufacturer again. He responded with, "Oh, you need a crank puller."
In a glorious guy moment resembling that scene in Blues Brothers where John Belushi "sees the light"' the room brightened and a halo came over me as I realized that not only do I KNOW what a crank puller is, but my friends, I HAVE a crank puller! Yes, this overly expensive and very underused tool was sitting in my bike repair toolbox jut waiting for an excuse to be rediscovered. In case you are wondering, a crank puller is used to remove the axle that goes between the two pedal arms of your bicycle. But any real man would know that.
So after a quick trip to the garage and a quick, ummm, pull of my crank, the beast was subdued. Soon, the cable was snaked, the shell was put back on, and the unit was functional. Total work time, four hours spaced over three days, with approximately thirteen trips back down to the workshop for additional tools (including the crank puller). And the best part of it all? Only two leftover screws. Yes, the standard end to any normal guy project. I feel almost disappointed that I never had to call the electrical company, but the weekend's not over and Spring is in the air.