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Recipe for Disaster: An Old Man, A Lift, and Six Quarts of Oil

I admire people who are handy. You know the type. We all have buddies who, if they really tried, could launch a satellite into space with nothing but a crescent wrench and a gallon of WD40.

I used to be handy in my “other” life. You know. The life you had when you were 20. A 20 year old can do anything, and I mean ANYTHING. What keeps them from getting real cocky is that most are too dumb to know it. After all, they are only 20.

When I was 20 I was maintaining huge diesel engines that were the size of 7-11’s. I could paint. I could build small things. I even paneled and tiled a basement. My crowning achievement was rebuilding and customizing a 1969 Honda CB 750.

My last bike was a Honda VTX 1300 and I changed the oil all the time and it seemed like I knew what I was doing. On that bike I was able to use a motorcycle jack and a stand. The rest was easy.

So here I am now in my mid 60’s and I have a brand new Victory Vision. It’s a beautiful bike that also is the size of a 7-11. Today I decided to change the oil. But first, I must digress.

My old cycle jack did not fit under the new Vision so I decided to buy a compressed air hydraulic jack. I knew I was not strong enough nor agile enough to push this bike on the lift then tighten down the front tire vise. So, I had to get a front wheel chock that I could just drive up onto the lift into the chock and get off the bike. Except, the Vision is wide and the lift is six inches off the floor and unless I was Evel Knievel I wasn’t going to survive the launch into the chock. I thought about modifying my shoes so that I would be 6’8”, but that wasn’t practical. So, I decided to make side ramps out of ATV ramps that attached to the lift and gave me stability as I roared up the lift into the chock.

Now, when I say “I” what I really mean is my riding buddies Don and Bob pitched in and did the heavy work, the tool work, the fabricating, and the brain work. I handed them tools and bought donuts. The shoe mod was my idea though.

Remember, I was doing all of this so I could change my own oil. I was going to save a fortune but as the cost of the lift soared and my fortune in future savings looked like our nations economy, I came up with other reasons I needed this lift. Hey! I could air up my own tires without lying on the floor of a cold garage. Every time I did this I wondered if I would be able to get up again. AND, I could clean under the bike. Therefore, my idea of a $10,000 lift was still brilliant.

Anyway, the lift worked fine and is fun to play with. Today was the day to change my oil. I was nervous because Victory sells an oil kit that comes with 6 quarts of oil for a bike that only needs 4.5 quarts. Why would they do this to me? To confuse me? What am I supposed to do with the extra quart and half? I figure by the time I have 50,000 miles on the bike, I will have so many extra cans of oil that I will have to buy a new house. The kit also comes with an oil filter and several washers and “O” rings that I decided I didn’t need.

Here I have this land barge of a cycle, this massive lift, the side ramps, 150 gal air compressor, tools chest, work bench, dozens of boxes of stuff, lawn tools, fishing stuff and much more all in a 1 car garage. The garage has just enough room for my wife’s Prius, give or take an inch. Luckily my wife is small so she can extricate herself from the car with some effort. I, however, would need the “jaws of life” if I were to pull the car into the garage.

So I’m in this miniscule, scientifically packed garage, the Vision high up on the lift amidst the hanging down storage, 4 quarts of the new oil installed by yours truly and I decided to start the engine and circulate the oil so I can be sure to get the right amount of oil added.

I slowly lower the lift, find neutral on the bike, fire her up, and say to myself “WhatTheHeckWasThat!” I looked up and saw oil spraying all over the side of the wall from the floor to high in the ceiling amidst the hanging down storage. (It needed to be repeated)

I had forgotten to put the dipstick back in. That’s right. The dipstick. That simple device they so aptly named after ME!

I spent the next 2 hours wiping oil and cursing 20 year olds. How did I ever get this stupid?

Frank “Jetsn” Gary



Copywrite© 2009 Frank Gary

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