Some Disassembly Required

What do you get when you cross a kid with a broken lawnmower? A take-apart project, of course. (That was too easy.) We’ve had the lawnmower since last fall when a neighbor put it out on trash day. My son, who likes to pick stuff out of other people’s trash, saw it through our bay window, and I knew what had to be done. We knocked on the neighbor’s door and asked if it was really trash. Yes, it is. Chip down the street tried to fix it but couldn’t, so it’s just best to get rid of it, she said.

Can we have it so the kids can take it apart? “Sure, have at it!”

Mr. Enigma spent some time late last fall emptying the gas and oil tanks and removing the engine from the chassis. He covered it up and left it near our shed, where snow promptly buried it for a couple of months. Over the long winter, the kids forgot about it. Then I mentioned it a couple of nights ago. My daughter wasn’t terribly interested, but there was no holding The Duke back.

The next morning, we peeled back the tarp and unveiled the hardware. As I lifted the engine to move it to the grass, The Duke said, “Hey, that’s a spark plug!” It was — I didn’t know he knew what a spark plug was! When, exactly, did he acquire that knowledge?

behind the curtain

[What’s behind curtain number one?]

Before any project, it’s important to gather the right tools. The Duke has his own toolbox, complete with several screwdrivers of differing sizes and heads, an adjustable wrench, a hat, and measuring tape, which he apparently thought he’d need but didn’t. I also brought out my toolbox in case I had some tools he was missing. (I’m not sure which we have more of in this house, tools or books.)

you gotta choose the right tools

[Carefully choosing the right tools.]

The Duke patiently examined the engine from all angles, planning his attack. We agreed that he should remove the plastic engine cover first since it was covering so much. It took us a while to get the sockets on the handle, but once I figured out we needed a pesky little adapter, the Duke was all set.

first piece

[The first piece came off easily.]

The socket set was our friend today. The Duke removed a lot of bolts surprisingly easily. Others required a little more oomph and some better leverage. My inner (and outer) feminist was not going to be happy if neither of us could budge any bolts and I had to ask big, strong, manly Mr. Enigma to loosen them for us.

standing gives you leverage

[Gaining some leverage.]

Occasionally, a less, um, refined tool was needed. Did you know that when a part is really stuck, you can sometimes smash it off?

sometimes you need a hammer

[Descendant of Thor swings his mighty hammer.]

Overall, I was impressed with The Duke’s careful attention to detail, his patience, and his use of different tools to do different jobs. He even grabbed a very small, thin flathead screwdriver and used it as a lever to bend some metal flashing that was blocking two bolts.

After about an hour, which included a couple of short breaks on the swings and zip line, The Duke announced, “That’s enough for today.”

hour of work

[A day’s work.]

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  1. Obi-Mom Kenobi said,

    May 28, 2009 @ 8:15 am

    There must be something in the air. Padawan Learner is in a take it apart, strip it down and see if it’ll go back together mood lately too. Ah, good times.

  2. Kelly said,

    May 30, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    Awesome. There is no end to the things that can be taken apart. Noah loves this too. We haven’t yet tackled anything as big as a lawnmower. Next on our list is the old Mac Centris in the basement. As it’s been sitting there since we moved into the house 11 years ago.

  3. lori said,

    June 2, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

    This was our biggest take-apart so far, I think, Kelly. We’ve mutilated many computers and kept their parts (”technology”) for use on other projects, like the old bicycle converted into a time machine. You gotta have keypads and circuit boards on a time machine, right?

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