We are all familiar with the proverbial shade-tree mechanic. The do-it-yourself car mechanic who tackles his/her own repair job at home, ideally in front of the house under the sprawling Oak tree as the neighbors look on in mystified horror while said mechanic spreads the contents of their motor across the front lawn. The term is not new; it has been around since the mechanically inclined shifted from horseshoeing to wrench turning. It has become as common as the term Crescent wrench, or WD-40 – a basic part of our common vernacular.
I submit for your review and ultimate approval a new term, destined to become part of the new common vernacular – at least among the home-schooled grease monkeys of the world. I submit the new term: Kitchen-Sink Mechanic.
The kitchen-sink mechanic is a slight variation of the shade-tree mechanic. The shade-tree variety of mechanic generally works on large machines – cars, trucks, tractors, boats, etc. As such, he requires a large amount of space, and preferably shade to escape the elements. The kitchen-sink mechanic works on a much smaller brand of machine, the two-wheeled variety. The steel horse. The two-wheeled monster. The murdercycle as those faint-hearted onlookers like to chide.
Motorcycles require far less space to perform the delicate dance of routine maintenance and/or complete overhaul. The small footprint of the motorcycle lends itself to garage-bound work, no shade tree needed. (Although, an argument can be made that I have tried my absolute best to exceed the confines of my three-car garage by randomly spreading parts and tools beyond the capacity of the more-than-large-enough space in which I work.) Therefore, most do-it-yourself motorcycle mechanics work in the relative comfort and solitude of their own garage.
So why not call them “Garage Mechanics?” Or “Room Wrenchers” if you prefer alliteration?
Well, curious readers, you lack a critical piece of knowledge. Filth. Dirt. Grease. Oil. Muck. It pervades motorcycle parts. Even the most fastidious cleaner of his steed will face a parade of filthy, dirty, greasy parts when performing even the most routine maintenance. And I have found, that despite my best efforts to avoid cleaning anything with more than a pressure washer, at some point I must break down and actually clean, with vigor, various parts of my ride. And where better to clean them than the kitchen sink.
My kitchen sink is white – providing a bright backdrop against which to see the tiny parts I inevitably drop into the abyss. My kitchen sink is deep – allowing me to clean all manner of large or small parts (my cylinder submerges quite nicely in the soapy mixture). My kitchen sink sits directly under a nice, bright light – making it even easier to locate the aforementioned tiny parts dropped into the abyss. Perfect. The kitchen sink it is then.
Hold on there fifth-gear. One problem. The wife. She’s a wonderful woman. She supports my never-ending quest to chase the next wet riding day, the next new riding area, the next adrenaline rush. She even smiles and helps me unload my bike when I come limping home after a particularly tough ride. But she draws the proverbial line when I leave that smudgy, nasty, greasy, filmy ring around the kitchen sink.
I recently spent an unusually long and difficult period of time rebuilding the valve train on my street bike. During that time the kitchen sink had a permanent gray haze to it. It lasted for about two weeks. I wrapped up the work, got the bike running, and cleaned up the sink – confident that my kitchen-sink wrenching had passed for at least a short period of time. It wasn’t two hours later that a new ring had appeared in the sink, ripe with fresh grease and gunk from yet a new job I had found to dive into.
Even as I write this a new film forms in my kitchen sink. My dirt bike kickstarter needed some attention. So it sits, in a pool of soapy water in my kitchen sink, oozing its greasy sheath onto the porcelain-coated walls of an item designed to wash and prepare my dinner. I only hope I remember to drag out the Soft Scrub BEFORE my wife gets home from a long week of work.