Cleaning Out the Garage

It's a job everyone has to do every so often, at least once during the lifespan of the average cat. Since we haven't had a cat in perhaps 20 years, I didn't have a good gauge on when this should happen, but since the weather was considerably on the yucky side and going for a ride was out of the question, this seemed like the day.

We have a spare refrigerator in the garage for important things like beer, pop, wine and those plastic bowls and boxes of various leftovers that now resemble science projects. The first step was to get comfortable in a lawn chair, open a beer and survey the situation. One should never plunge into something this important without a firm plan of action. That stack of empty boxes along one wall definitely had to go. Starting at the bottom were the boxes the computer before my present one came in, or was that two computers before.... at any rate they would go. The next layer were some boxes that I was saving should I ever need to ship something that size. Above those was the box a VCR came in and one that held the new daisywheel printer when I bought it, and so on up the wall to about as high as my head.

Then my eyes fell on the workbench. I'll have to admit that it has become the repository for a number of miscellaneous nomenclatures but there is still room down at one end to work on something small, like perhaps a rear derailleur. There was the Chilton repair manual for the Chevy Luv pickup that I bought new and traded in on the 1992 S-10 which I no longer have... definitely a throwaway. There was a sack containing half a dozen cans of Sterno, you know those squat little cans with the screw lids, the stuff you light under chafing dishes to keep food warm. Can't recall where they came from or why. I shook one and they were still full. Can't throw something new away. Then there was a 1 pound coffee can (if you can consider 11 ounces to be a pound) of old parts from the time I replaced the kitchen faucet. I dumped the contents into the trash and as I stood there with the coffee can in my hand, I noticed that it was slightly larger than the Sterno cans.

"Eureka!" I shouted, which meant I'd found either a vacuum cleaner or a tent, or else had a brilliant idea. It happened to be the latter. The cans of heat stuff would drop right into the coffee can with some space all the way around. I'd make an alcohol stove since that happened to be the topic de jour on the Phred list.

First project was air holes around the bottom, so since this was an odd project, I opened my drawer of odd tools. There was my set of Whitworth tools, a brake adjusting tool for Chrysler products prior to about 1953 and some sort of special wrench to fit something. Then I spotted it, a genuine church key. Episcopalians call them beer openers and Baptists claim they are for opening cans of sacramental grape juice. You know the ones used back when beer came in real cans, before pop tops... well, guess some of you aren't that old... Anyway, they were called church keys and real men wore one on a chain around their neck, always handy when you needed to open a brew and they were awesome weapons in a fight. Gee, all those great memories I've forgotten.

I used it to punch six triangle shaped holes in the side around the bottom of the can and matching ones at the top. Those at the top pointed inward and trying to reach in there would be like sticking your hand in a shark's mouth so I pounded them flat with a hammer. The bottom ones were just the right height to support the cans of Sterno off the bottom.

I removed the cap from a can, lowered it into the coffee can and lit it. Nice blue flame coming all the way to the top edge of the can. I got the pan from the camping stuff I'm taking on my Custer's trail ride, filled it with water and set it on my stove. Before long it was bubbling. No use wasting good hot water so I made a cup of coffee and blew out the flame. I found some of my week-old birthday cake lurking in a Styrofoam box in the fridge. The coffee made it almost as good as it was last Saturday.

The garage cleaning project? Well, at least I'll know where to start should the urge strike me again.

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