Yesterday I posted a short-short on facebook about how we woke up to such a beautiful day and how that day soured and then ended happily. Well I sensationalized it, if for no other reason, to make me feel good about the outcome in the end. So, as I promised, here is the story in its entirety, or as Paul Harvey would say “The rest of the story.”
Today, which is the day following the day after Typhoon Ruby’s visit, we woke up to bright sunny skies and knew it was going to be a wonderful day. The Mrs. was wanting to wash some clothes so I thought after breakfast I would fire up the generator. When you are without power, efficient generator management is important – such as in keeping the refrigerator charged. So usually about 8am, the generator gets turned on and we will run for one hour until about 11am when we again fire it up and run for two more hours. The early morning run was an opportune time for the Mrs. to get a load of laundry done in the machine. So, right at 8am, I fire up the 5500 kw Diesel genset and all is well. The washing machine is churning, the ref is charging, the fan is blowing and life is as good as it can get after a typhoon. Less than one hour into operation, the generator crashes…just quits…and the washing machine also ends before the cycle is complete. My Mrs. immediately looks at me with that look that it is all my fault that the generator quit before the wash was completed! Oh well.
Now, after what we just went through with Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), and if one closely observes her track across Samar, one can be pretty certain that Ms. Ruby and Mr. Murphy (who has his own laws) are somehow acquainted and have conspired to wreak havoc on us here in Calbayog City. This storm, after travelling hundreds of miles across the Western Pacific along a fairly straight path, actually did a fricking left turn and came directly at us…after it was all but certain that this storm would just clip the northern shores of Samar.
Anyway, after a quick visual inspection of the genset, I decided to pull the valve cover off to see if I could find anything. And there it was (or wasn’t)! One of the two push rods was missing. Seems like we “dropped a rod” as they say. So I proceeded to disassemble the motor, pulled the head and retrieved the rod which had sheared off at the bottom, unseating the rod. I cleaned myself up, jumped on the motorcycle and headed to town. Once at the repair shop, it didn’t take long for the mechanic to dig out an exact match from an overly large pile of parts (looked like a pile of junk to me). He found it rather quickly so I’m assuming his organization and cataloging methods are in good working order. I handed over P300 ($6.69) to the man and I was off and headed back to the house. About a kilometer from home, I came up over a hill on the jungle road that leads to our village and suddenly my back tire completely locks up. The chain somehow disengaged from the rear socket and wrapped itself around the rear hub, locking my tire and bringing me to a skidding halt. While I was assessing the situation, a group of boys (with basketball in hand) came walking up the hill and one of them yelled down the hill that we needed a mechanic. Within two minutes, some guy just appears out of the jungle, kneels down and looks at my wheel and then takes off only to return on his scooter with a pocket-purse sized tool bag. I thought to myself, maybe a dentist could get his tools in that bag, but a mechanic? Nonetheless, he did not have what we needed to fix the wheel. When I mentioned that I have all the tools I need at sa bahay (the house), he quickly handed me the keys to his scooter and says “you go!” Wow. So I jump on his little automatic scooter, went to the house and retrieved two large crescent wrenches and a large screwdriver. When I returned, he looked at my tools with amazement…as if he had never seen quality tools before. After about 10 minutes, he had the chain un-lodged and the tire secured and I was ready to go. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a P100 note and handed it to him. He backed away like I had the plague and said “no, no, no…next time.” I think he maybe felt honored to have the privilege of helping a foreigner and using the best quality “American made” tools he has ever held in his hands. Anyway, I was back home in a couple of minutes and back to work on the generator. Remember the generator?
After about an hour, I had installed and re-seated the new rod, made all the adjustments and reassembled the engine. One crank on the cord and she fired up and ran sporadically until the fuel stream steadied out. We were back in business. I went into the house to take shower and was just sitting down to eat lunch when…Crash, bang, boom….it quits running again. (It didn’t actually make all them noises but for the sake of this making this story sound good….you know.) So frustrated, I finished my lunch and the Mrs. asked me what was wrong? Like I knew? I told her I was going to take my nap (nothing gets in the way of my naps most days) and I would look at it after I woke up.
By now it was 3pm and if I was going to get this thing working for the evening three-hour session, I had to get busy. I proceeded to tear down the engine again, this time to find the same rod had dropped, but now it was because the rod adjustment screw which holds the rod tightly in the rocker arm socket was sheared off. Now I had to go back to town, but this time I was not taking the bike, as it had a slightly bent chain (which will need replacing). I was hot and was going to take the car so I could experience a little “air conditioning” comfort during the ride into town and back. Again, I get cleaned up, grab up the broken adjustment screw, jump in the car and IT WON’T START! Aughhhh!!!! It was cranking okay, but it just wouldn’t fire. This now officially ranks up there with one of those days where I should have went back to bed, just to get out of bed on the other side.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of managed cranking, the car begins to get a sense of fuel and starts to fire. Another couple of minutes and it finally starts. “Whew” I exclaimed as I immediately reached for the air conditioning controls….just hoping and wishing something would work right today. The AC worked great and for the first time all day I felt some relief. So the Mrs. accompanied me to town (she needed some AC relief too) to find the mechanic shop guy. I showed him the part and he dug into his magic pile of parts and comes out with an exact match of my part. This time it was only P100 ($2.23), and we were back in the car and headed back to the village. We made a quick stop at a roadside market for some fresh veggies and fish and after leaving, we happened upon a rather nasty looking motorcycle accident. We couldn’t tell how bad it was because the two riders involved were not present and we really couldn’t discern whether they were okay or not. They must have been carted off to the hospital. From the looks of the motorcycle, one could only imagine a worst case scenario. After getting through that bottleneck, we were home in a matter of minutes. I immediately went back to work on the genset and had it completely back together in short order. At this time most guys would readily try to crank it up, but me, NO! I had to wait for whatever it was this day causing my difficulties to wear off so I was going to take my sweet time. I confidently put all my tools away and cleaned up the mess. I walked inside for a bottle of water and came back out to the generator shed, topped it off with fuel and just looked at it. After finishing my water, I decided it was time, so I had a pull on the cord and voila!… one pull and she fired right up. She performed flawlessly for the next three hours doing everything it was supposed to do…like cool the house and the beer.
When I looked back on the days events, I can’t begin to imagine why everything went so wrong…all day long. Maybe Mr. Murphy followed the likes of Typhoon Ruby here for a visit? But in the end, everything seemed to work out okay…except for that couple on the motorcycle…I hope their day turned out better than mine. I guess sometimes you must keep things in perspective and just be grateful that you made it through the day in one piece.