Breaking Stereotypes

Blonde, Female, Smart and Able

Yesterday I took my 1982 Honda Rebel out for a ride and the spark plug blew out of the socket. That was quite surprising. Fortunately, even though I had been riding for 45 minutes, I was only a half-mile from my house. Running on one spark plug, I rode noisily home, getting embarrassing attention from my neighbors.
Knowing that the spark plug popped out because the threads were stripped, I purchased a Helicoil Repair Kit from Amesbury Industrial Supply to repair the stripped threads. I had never done this job before. Heck, I'd never even seen someone do it. I only knew what to buy because a friend told me over the phone. The information included in the kit was not comprehensive enough to follow as instructions. So, being in the age of instant information, I went to look for a "how-to" video online. I found one, but it was not very helpful. The part the narrator was working on was sitting on a work bench and I did not want to go taking the cylinder head off to do this job.  Not seeing more videos with my search, I went to a Popular Mechanics article, "How to Repair Stripped Spark Plug Threads." Perfect! Then I read:

Warning: Installing a Helicoil or other threaded insert looks simple -- but it's not. Any readers out there who wish to attempt it might want to practice a couple of times on scrap parts.
Super. Practice? Not gonna happen. Another good article on the subject is from Auto Media. I also accessed the experience of others by reading as many comments on the procedure as I could find. None were very encouraging. I had no air compressor to blow out the chips. The tap did not have a handle. And every male I had encountered (at the two auto supply shops and the coffee shop where my daughter works) said "good luck" with that tone of "yeah, sure you can". Even the friend who'd told me the tools I needed kept asking if he should come over and help, but he had a dinner date in Boston which he did not need to be late for.  I was feeling like I had (again?) taken on more than I should.

But I did it! And was stoked about it. It is a wonderful feeling to tackle a problem out of your comfort zone and solve it. Not to say there weren't glitches. I used a channellock to turn the tap, going slowly and backing it out ever now and then to wipe off the chips sticking to the grease; it was awkward and could only make 1/3 turns before having to be moved. I dropped the coil tang in; that resulted in a lot of swearing but once I stopped and calmed down I purchased a telescoping magnet and retrieved it. The spark plug still needs regapping but I'll need to buy a tool.

This story has a moral and is really about not allowing preconceptions to determine who you are or what you do. If you want to do something, then you can; it's all about you making that decision. No one can make you more or less, better or worse. Yeah, I'm blond, but I'm not dumb.

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