Feeling Clever

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Two weeks ago I was driving down the road when my truck tailgate fell off with a bang. Luckily tailgates are also secured by safety straps so the gate did not tumble end-over-end down the highway. Still, at 55 m.p.h. it was unnerving.

Inspection revealed that the tailgate hinges had rusted completely away.

I drove to the local NAPA store to order a new hinge set. When you are as mechanically ignorant as I am, just walking into an auto parts supply store is intimidating. However, I survived.

34810When the set arrived I examined the old hinges on my truck, ready to remove the pitiful remains. I got out my socket wrench and tried a 1/2″ socket on the rusted bolts. Too small. I tried the next size up, 9/16″. Too big. It took me a moment of concentrated puzzling to realize this meant I needed a metric socket. On my next trip to civilization I found a 13-mm socket to fit my 3/8 ratchet.

A few days later, when I had twenty minutes to spare, I removed the rusted-out hinges and replaced them with new steel. The tailgate is fixed — almost as good as new, if you overlook that the whole thirteen-year-old box is rotting.

I felt very pleased.

I know this is an absurdly minor repair. I know it would be like someone saying, in my own area of competence, “I went to the dollar store and bought my own coloring book. Then I braved Staples and bought my own crayons. And then I colored inside the lines!

Still, my mechanically-minded friends are very kind.

“Did it all by yourself?” asked Allen. “Good girl.”

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