The coolest thing about long weekends is, obviously, the extra time one gets to recover from a hangover. As one ages to the point of not needing that recovery time, due to not having been drunk in the first place, that free time is used for other pursuits. In my case, it’s “projects around the house”.

I’ve come the conclusion, however, that the holiday Monday in a long weekend is NOT the day to actually start a project. Here’s why: inevitably, you will get half-way through your project and find yourself lacking a part or a tool to complete it, and the stores will be closed.

Today, I figured I’d replace the leaking steering damper in Claire’s Cherokee. (It’s for sale, by the way – $10K or best offer.) It looked simple enough. Two bolts to loosen to take off the old part, and brand new hardware comes with the new part to install it. I jacked up the front of the Cherokee, set up my work lights and laid out my tools. I removed a cotter pin from the bolt at the center link and located the appropriate-sized socket to begin loosening the nut. This is where things got interesting.

The nut was firmly seized. I had treated it with WD-40 an hour earlier, but that hadn’t helped. I gave it another shot and tried using a rubber mallet to tap the end of my ratchet to simulate an impact wrench. No dice.

Of course, at this point, had Canadian Tire been open, I would have simply driven there with the other car to purchase a breaker bar, and a two-pronged puller. These are the right tools for the job. Not having the right tools is the reason I have to pay $90/hour for someone no smarter than me to fix my car, and this irritates me to no end. I’d rather spend that money on a tool I can use over and over again. But I digress…

I soldiered on. I eventually improvised a breaker bar by taking the handle and mechanism from a JackAll and putting the tube around my little ratchet to get some leverage. This worked, but hammering on the bolt to push it out of the center link –in the absence of a puller– yielded no results. I suppose I could have wailed on it with my 10lb sledge, but this would probably have damaged stuff and thrown off the alignment.

The upshot is I had to give up and put the nut I’d removed back on, lower the vehicle, put my tools away and shelf the project for when I get hold of the right tools. Ironically, the days that stores are open tend to be the days I don’t have any time to work on such projects. Anyway, the moral of this story is: start projects like this early on days when the stores are still open, so you’ll have time to buy the stuff you didn’t think you needed when your project is halfway done.