Friday, June 8, 2012

Attaching the Axle

We were all set to work with JM on the front axle of the go-cart, and then we got tied up at the DCF event in Montpelier and didn’t get back in time, so we essentially flaked out on him. When I called him the next day, he said he was busy all week and couldn’t help us until the weekend, so we blew our big chance at getting some assistance from the man who knows. I felt bad, and hope he wasn’t pissed off that we bailed on him, though I can’t blame him.

Whatever be the case, we were now on our own. We could have waited until a day arrived when JM would be free to help, but he’s an extremely busy man, running all the programs that he does, not to mention this go-cart project. Plus, waiting is not an option when you have two eager kids who want things done yesterday. We decided to give it a go. Just do it, right?

The installation of the axle bearing is a little tricky because it has two attachment points, and once you attach one half, it’s hard to access the other half. JM advised us to secure the bearing to the axle, then attach it to the frame. Screwing it to the axle was a breeze, just screw in 1 1/4 in screws and you’re done. The next part is where the fun begins.

Now I understand if this makes no sense to you because I’m not good at explaining things. Plus, it’s conceptually a little tricky, so much so that as JM was explaining it to us, I had one thought running through my mind: can you now explain that in English? It’s not his fault, my brain is just not wired to translate words literally into action, I’m more of a visual learner. Either way, the more we thought and worked on it, the more what he was saying made perfect sense.

Looking at the bearing, it’s clear that you can’t screw in the part because the axle itself is in the way. JM got around this by drilling a hole in the axle that lines up with the screw holes and then driving the screw through the two holes. Does this make any sense at all? Since the bearing is a perfect circle, one hole will match up with the three holes. In the end, it’s a brilliant scheme, and after looking at it and ruminating over it, we figured out what we needed to do, and subsequently did it.

The next part of was attaching it to the frame. Once again, this was a little tricky, but we were determined to get this done. JM gave us a piece of hard wood that is supposed to anchor the axle screws. Hard wood is preferable because it has to sustain a lot of torque, and screws could easily rip out of soft wood or plywood. I lined up the axle, drilled some pilot holes, and then went for it. I first attached the hard wood piece to the other side.

One more conundrum that we ran into was that my Phillips head drill bit was too short to clear the thickness of the axle. I asked JH and his magic bag of tools if he had one, but he said he didn’t. I was prepared to go and buy a long screwdriver drill bit, when it dawned on me that I could simply do it by hand. Wow, is such a thing possible? Sure enough, it worked out fine.

Now this is where we arrive at the part of the story where the kids love to torment me. I initially installed the axle but saw that it was backward. The footholds were facing the wrong way, so after quietly cursing myself out, I unscrewed the axle and turned it around. That is when I realized that there is no backward because the darn thing spins around. How ridiculous is that? Boy did I feel stupid, though this story will be a constant source of entertainment for A&N.

The story doesn’t end there. I screwed in the two front holes, and then, when I started to screw in the back holes, I saw that the hard wood plate was too small. The screw came out right through the plywood. Total bummer. We had to come up with a plan. I could contact JM and ask for a bigger piece of wood, but as I mentioned, he’s busy this week, and at some point you have to take matters into your own hands. I decided that the time had come to just be a man and deal with it.

We had to go to Lebanon so I figured I’d stop at LaValley’s for a piece of hardwood, but en route, I realized that Baker Lumber is right there in WRJ. I stopped there and the guy’s gave me a 12”X12” piece of wood from the scrap heap. He asked me what I needed it for, and when I told him it’s for a go-cart, I don’t think he quite registered what I said. Either that, or he thought I was crazy, though he did say, “Have fun.” All we do it have fun, and in the end, we got what we wanted.

We got home, cut the wood to size, and finished attaching the axle. I think we may have to cut out the front tip in order to fit the hood on, but that can wait. Give us a moment of self-indulgence to bask in the glow of our recent success.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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