Archived Story

Husband has ‘Tool Man’ moment

Published 9:14pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

“Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor.”

Most of you know this fun-loving character from the TV show Home Improvement, which ran for eight seasons during the 1990s. Tim Allen, the actor who played the “Tool Man,” did a masterful job of portraying a bumbling home improvement expert whose projects invariably turned into a disaster while his family, especially his wife, looked on in horror.

The reason why I’m mentioning this show is because last week I experienced my own “Tool Man” episode. Well, if you asked my wife, she would state she was the one who experienced a “Tool Man” episode. But, I digress.

A week ago this past Sunday I decided to fix a small, but persistent, oil leak on my wife’s van. After considering the problem for a while, I determined the best course of action was to simply tighten the oil pan bolts – a simple fix for a simple problem.

I was dead wrong. After tightening a few bolts I accidently snapped the head off of one. Suddenly this simple solution became very complex, especially for a novice mechanic such as myself.

The next day I went to several local stores looking for advice on how to extract the confounded thing. I eventually bought an extraction kit that contained drill bits designed to do the job. Without giving any great detail (it’s too painful to put in words), I broke all of the drill bits trying to get the stupid bolt out of the engine block.

After saying a few words my wife didn’t appreciate, I decided to try again the next day. However, just in case I couldn’t remove the thing (which I knew was the probable outcome), I developed a Plan B, which was to simply leave the broken piece in the block and re-attach the pan with a new gasket.

Needless to say, I had to go to Plan B.

So, on the third day of this growing fiasco, I re-attached the pan as planned with no problems, at least until I broke the second bolt. Again, my wife did not appreciate the words that sprang from my mouth.

On the fourth day of what was now a crisis, I attempted to re-attach the pan again, this time with success. I used a new gasket, extra sealant and a whole lot of care. I double checked every bolt and screw and made sure everything was perfect. I even replaced the old oil filter for extra measure.

Feeling rather smug about my victory, I triumphantly cranked the van to check for any leaks. Suddenly, I noticed what seemed to be a mist coming from the top of the engine. When I climbed out of the vehicle to investigate, I discovered what can only be described as a geyser (it looked like Old Faithful) of golden oil gushing from somewhere underneath the engine.

I couldn’t believe it. Neither could my wife. In her disgust with my ineptitude, she began to call me Roger “The Ratchet Man” Steele. Believe, me, it was not a term of endearment.

On the fifth day of the disaster, I decided to climb underneath the van and see if I could pinpoint the location of the world’s newest geyser. After looking around for a while, I discovered my oil filter had two gaskets attached to it. Apparently, the last time I changed the filter I failed to check and see if the old gasket had been removed. Obviously, it had not.

Once I fixed this problem, my wife’s van ran like a clock. No small oil leaks, no rattles and thankfully no geysers.

And just think, I completed this simple task in record time. Unfortunately, this record is for longevity, which is something I’m sure Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor could appreciate.

Roger Steele is general manager and advertising director of The Outlook.