Friday, June 21, 2019

Hay-Wire Outfit

            “Hay-wire outfit” is a dated western term for a ranch that has a lax maintenance policy.  It comes from the use of the wire - once used in tying up haybales – to hold things together
            I haven’t seen wire-tie bales in 50 years, but at one time there were operations that had piles of it.  Baling-wire was used to repair fences, reinforce shovel handles, and hold the steel tire onto a wooden wagon wheel.  In modern times you are more likely to see duct tape or nylon zip-ties to make repairs.  But I have a couple of new entries to the category of fix-it materials: rubber bands and paper clips.

            It was a couple of years back when our balewagon quit right in the middle of the county road.  We cowboy-mechanics determined that a spring had broken in the carburetor.  It was only a half mile back down the road to the mailbox, where we snagged the rubber band holding the every-other-day packet of mail. 
            We substituted the rubber band for the spring, and were then able to drive the huge machine out of the road and back to the shop where permanent repairs could be made.
            This week I made a repair on the printer in my wife’s office with a paper clip.

            Computers are a fact of life in this new millennium – and printers are essential equipment – even on the ranch.  Office machines are not really my forte, but it didn’t take me long to understand the problem: a tiny piece of plastic – which held the paper roller in place – had broken off.
            Carefully bending a paper clip to the exact angles, I threaded it thorough a small opening and into a narrow slot.  Using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, I bent the other end around an anchor-point on the backside.  The paper clip accomplished the same task as the broken piece of plastic.

            Thirty-six hours later, my repair is holding.  Tell me again what that repair part will cost, how long it will take to be delivered, and what that office machine technician gets per hour (plus travel time)?!?

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