Farm Industry News Blog

Getting a PhD in J-B Weld

I didn't think I would need to get involved with my fiance's move from Michigan to Iowa; she recruited her foster son Jeremy to do the job. But one cracked motorcycle wheel and one leaky pickup radiator hose later, I found myself up to my elbows in Fix-A-Flat, J-B Weld and Red Green-type repairs.

Sometimes the parts come apart. That's the way things work in the mechanical world. The solution is to find a way to keep them working the way they're supposed to work.

Last summer when Sherill (who was, at that time, my fiancé) was ready to move from Michigan to Iowa, one of her past foster kids said he would help on her end of the move. He's a young guy of about 30 by the name of Jeremy. Jeremy would do the heavy lifting in Michigan, then get behind the wheel and drive the rented truck to Iowa. Sherill would drive her car full of critters and get it out here in the same trip. The best rental rate had them returning the truck to Rochester when we were all finished with the move.  

The thing that sort of jumped out at me was that all of those moves and transfers sort of left us with multiple people from Michigan in Iowa. Quite frankly, I was looking for a net gain of only one. 

Jeremy had a solution, though. There would probably be just enough room left in the back of the moving truck for him to throw his motorcycle in with him. He'd then ride it back to Michigan and skip the planes, trains and automobiles option.  

I didn't ask questions. All I knew was that I didn't have to drive to Michigan, so I was satisfied.  

The truck showed up and the move went much faster than I thought it would. Jeremy hit the hay and decided to hit the road the next day. The following morning, we found a note on the kitchen table. Jeremy had already headed out for Michigan. It's roughly a 10-hour drive, so he'd get back home at a pretty reasonable hour. We had printed out a Mapquest route for him the previous night to get him to Chicago on a relatively motorcycle-friendly path through Wisconsin.  

Jeremy called later in the morning. He was in Wisconsin, but he had encountered a problem. His motorcycle had a flat tire. That's not a good problem to encounter at 65 mph! He managed to keep it upright and got himself to a farmer's place for some help. It was a crack in the rim that was leaking. Obvious solution there. They put some Fix-A-Flat in the tire and Jeremy went on his way, only mildly confident. He stopped a few miles later at a Wal-Mart and decided the quick solution wasn't working. He went to the next level of Red Green technology: J-B Weld! A generous helping of J-B Weld was applied to the rim. After waiting for it to set up a while, air was put in the tire. It seemed like it would hold, so he went on his way once again.  

Sadly, J-B Weld didn't do the trick. The leak kept leaking, so Jeremy went back to Wal-Mart. If at first you don't succeed, try more J-B Weld! A rather generous amount was tried. It still didn't do the trick. He'd have to give in to his situation and make the call to Sherill. That call came in around 3:30 or so. We decided we would take Sherill's car and the big screamin' diesel to Wisconsin. Jeremy had to be to work the next morning, so he would take Sherill's car back home to Michigan. I would load the motorcycle in the truck and bring it back here, seeing as how there would be no place to get it fixed on a Sunday if it was a rim and not a tire issue.  

We got to Wal-Mart around Dodgeville, Wisconsin, and found Jeremy. He had become well-versed on all of the hunting and fishing regulations in Wisconsin, because he'd spent a good share of the day reading all the literature the DNR had in the hunting and fishing section of Wal-Mart while he waited for multiple applications of J-B Weld to set up. We got the motorcycle loaded in the back of the truck and were ready to hit the road. That's when I walked around the front of the truck and saw a stream develop. It was a lovely shade of green. Not John Deere green, either. Nope, it was antifreeze green!

My big screamin' diesel had sprung a leak. Late on a Sunday. Far from home. Big surprise there.  

Jeremy crawled underneath the truck and quickly found the leak in my radiator hose. We both went into guy mode at that point and went inside to the hardware section. We grabbed hose clamps, duct tape and a screwdriver. Then we went to the automotive section and got some antifreeze. The lady at the checkout counter seemed to know Jeremy quite well when we went through the line. Seems he'd gotten to know a lot of people in his few hours of living at Wal-Mart.  

We got the equipment out to the truck. Jeremy crawled underneath and wrapped some duct tape around the leak. Then he took two of the hose clamps and put them onto each end of the duct tape section. The clamps were tightened and some antifreeze was added. Then I fired up the truck. The leaking had slowed, but it didn't disappear. I was starting to do some math and geography in my head to figure out how far we'd have to go, and on which route, to get us within reasonable distance of home where I could leave my disabled truck and get a ride from someone at headquarters. Sadly, this was a section of Wisconsin where I hadn't sold any hay and didn't really know any farmers. If this had been a couple hours in the other direction from home, we'd be chatting up a connection of mine somewhere around Iowa City or Cedar Rapids. But we were in the land of cheese-flavored beer and beer-flavored cheese, so we couldn't go the Rolodex route.

We decided to go with Guy Mode 2.0 instead. If two hose clamps and duct tape weren't doing the trick, why not add more of each? We bought another hose clamp and added some more duct tape to the leak point in the radiator hose. Then we put a hose clamp directly over the leak point and torqued it down as tight as it would go. More antifreeze was added. This time, the pavement stayed dry when I fired up the big screamin' diesel!  

Red Green would be proud.  

We made our way back to Cresco in the truck with the motorcycle in the back. Jeremy made his way back to Michigan with Sherill's car.

We stored Jeremy's motorcycle in my machine shed. Sherill didn't seem to think she wanted to drive it back for him. She had a few days off in early November, so I took her to the Amtrak station in La Crosse. She boarded a train and headed to Michigan to retrieve her car. The motorcycle would have to wait.  

We got a call from Jeremy in March. He was planning to come out and pick up the motorcycle and get it home so it could be ready to ride when the weather permitted. He'd bring his minivan and put it in the back to haul home. To keep it interesting, he'd also bring his wife with him. Oh, and their eight-month-old son, too!  

The van pulled into the ranch one afternoon. Everyone came inside and we visited quite a while before heading to get some Mabe's Pizza into the travelers. That's how things work in my world. There's almost always a pie of some variety involved.  

Then we moved to the challenging portion of the day: Getting a Yamaha Virago to fit inside a Dodge minivan. Jeremy had taken the back row of seats out of the van before they came to Iowa. We popped the back door open and quickly discovered that the handlebars and mirrors made it impossible to just wheel the thing right inside like the box of a pickup. But there was another option. We slid the side door open and did some measuring. The bike would juuuuuust barely squeeze past the door frames and seats. It took some jockeying, but we managed to make it work. The unexpected bonus was that the track for the rear seats had absolutely perfect slots for attaching tie-down straps! My guess is at least one of the guys at Chrysler who designed the minivan was a farm kid. Who else would make sure there's a tie-down point? Someone who has experience with hay, that's who!      

Jeremy & Co. then surprised us once again and said they were heading out for Michigan yet that night! That's right. A young married couple and their eight-month-old son were traveling five or six hundred miles in a minivan to load a motorcycle, then more or less turning around and heading at least part-way back the same day.

 

The motorcycle fit in so perfectly that it didn't even interfere with young Isaac's seating arrangement. It was still out of his reach, so they didn't have to worry about him reaching over and firing it up.  

Of course, if he did try to move around at all, he'd probably be secured soundly in his car seat. I bet it would involve at least one, maybe two packages of J-B Weld.  


Guy No. 2

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