Lost my touch?

I know nothing about cars.  Ask my buddy Dave, he will confirm this.  I can check the oil, add oil, put gas in the car, and, my one claim to fame, I can change a flat.  This a was a skill learned while working the as part of the pit crew for Elmer “Fudd” Clark back in my senior year of highschool.

Elmer used to race Demolition Derby at Spanaway Speedway, south of Tacoma.  the summer of my senior year, my dad and I joined his pit crew.  Well being 17, I was given the least skilled job.  Yep, Lugnut Valente they called me.  When the car would drive (or be drug) of the track, my job was to get 4 tires back on it while they fixed the ‘real’ damage.

This skill was called upon this weekend….

Any cyclist knows a tire might have to be changed at a moments notice.  And unless you are my friend Bridgette (who is extremely cute and not afraid to use her cute powers to get a tire changed) we all learn to change a flat quickly.  Shoot, I sweat I can do it in the dark with only one hand if I have to.  The best part, is that once it is fixed, a new inner-tube is less than $10.  One of the many advantages of a bike over a car.

So there we were, about 8 AM, heading to Edmonds for breakfast.  We had decided the day before we deserved to spoil ourselves a little this weekend.  Not a mile from the house, we pulled out from a stop sign, and heard this weird noise!  Yep a flat.

Into the parking lot of the library we pulled, and then I went into action!  Pulled out the donut (no one has a real spree tire anymore) jack and tire iron.  I miss the old bumper jacks that were SO easy to figure out.  These new fangled things can be a pain!

OK, the steps always go through my head.

First, while all 4 tires are on the ground, bust loose the lug nuts (lefty loosey).  THAT was tough.  Had to  use some muscles I forgot I had!  Pedaling does NOT increase arm strength! OK all 5 busted, step two.

Next, use the jack to raise the tire enough to remove the old one, and put on spare.  OK, again the new jack required this strange pull twist repeat rhythm to use.  I have never had rhythm so this was a challenge, but got it done!

Step 3, take off all lug nuts.  Easy as pie since I loosened them!

Finally pull off wheel.  OK, grabbed hold, pulled it and nuthin!  That thing was NOT coming loose!  Read the manual, looked at the tire and saw a bolt in the center of the tire.  I pulled harder and still nothing, so it HAD to be I needed to remove that bolt.  No tools to do that with, so it was a walk back to the house, then bike back!

I attacked it, but since I don’t have a socket set, sadly (or luckily) I wasn’t able to budge it.

Dammit, I HATE called  AAA for a flat tire, but no choice!

OK, huge to truck showed up, with an ever bigger man.  He looked a LOT like Ron Howard’s little brother, but bigger!


He walked over, looked at the tire and I pointed out the bolt telling him it needed to come off first.  He gave me the look Dave does whenever I try to tell him what needs to be done to any engine (kind of like “Well bless your heart for trying”) and told me it would have been bad to remove that (still don’t know what it was)

So the big man grabs hold of the tire and pulls!  NUTHIN! (OK, gotta admit it helped my fragile male ego to have him struggle).  He tried 3 more times, and said “OK, PLAN B!”

He goes back to the truck grabs our a 2 X 6 board and a full sized, long handle splitting maul (A big asses sledge hammer with a axe part of the head) and starts walking toward the car. All I could thin of was “I am damn glad Michelle is not here, this car is her baby!”  He puts the board flush against the inside of the tire, then wacks it 3 times and it pops loose!  (He used that the huge hammer like I would a small one to put a nail in the wall, he was a BIG man!).

Then off to Discount Tires for new ones (MUCH more than $10).  We did find out that European cars, and ours is a Volvo, have a weird tire set up.  Moisture and get into where the tires seats, and rust a little.  Essentially sealing the tire to the axle.

Good!  I haven’t lost my touch!!!

2 thoughts on “Lost my touch?

  1. Nice article. Elmer is my father. I’m sure he appreciated your assistance helping out on race day. It also sounds like some of that pit crew knowledge stuck with you.

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