The Stationary Engine Mailing List on the internet is a mine of useful information, some of which I pass on to the readers of GEM. It is also frequently a mine of useless information, and for this month's article, I've veered more towards the latter. Saying that, this information could well come into the category of "Safe Working Practices", as it is a list of "wife-do-nots". Now, a discussion along these lines is not going to classify for a top award at the next gathering of the politically correct, but I have two claims in my defence. Firstly some of these contributions are from engine wives (note that I did not use the phrase "engine widows" - their opinions are admirably put forward by their menfolk), and secondly, I'm female, which I think gives me an edge in such a sexist discussion.
This article may prove useful in many ways. Those new to the hobby (of engine restoration or relationships - take your pick!) may be set on the right track for a hobby which runs in harmony with marriage. Some may pick up a few tips to form the basis of New Year's Resolutions. And some of you can use it as a defence mechanism: "You think I'm bad? But Dear, at least I don't do what THIS guy does, so I'm not as bad as some. You should be grateful!"
You will note that names HAVE been omitted to protect the guilty parties. I don't want to see an extended list of obituaries in the next edition of GEM.

The discussion began when one list member reported a method of weighing an engine which involved using the bathroom scales. As he said, "the only hitch was that my wife had a fit when she found out what I was doing with the scales. She still remembers when I wrecked her good paring knife cutting a gasket."
"Kind of like my wife not being too happy with me using her oven to pre heat a rod mounted in a fixture, and pouring the babbit bearing on the kitchen table," responded a sympathetic List member. "Perhaps we should come up with a list of "wife-do-nots" for those just getting started members."

In the spirit of those great words of wisdom, "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself", I give you the definitive guide to "Wife Do Nots".

* Curing paint in the oven seems to always get a "rise" out of her.

* Never use her pinking shears to cut emery paper.

* Don't fill her side of the garage with engines (at least not during winter).

* Don't put foam air filters in the dryer

* Don't bake enamel paint in the oven

* Don't open a can of Chem-Dip carb dunk in the house

* Restoring an engine in the living room during winter doesn't set too well.

* I also found out that engines don't make good interior decorations either.

* Don't EVER use the wife's car as a workbench.

* Don't EVER give her a kiss after wipin' yer nose with a greasy rag.

* Don't EVER ah, er, um, well it involves your greasy hands and her white pants!

* Don't EVER paint engine parts right next to her car. BIG TIME NO NO.

* Don't EVER leave the soap all covered in greasy grimy goo in the bathroom.

So that's a simple list of things to avoid for starters. Don't worry, there's more! And it's not only a wife who can be upset by engine-related misdemeanors - there are girlfriends and mothers, too.

* Persuading her to take the BMW when we go for a ride to check out the fleamarkets usually gets me in hot water when I find something greasy. Last summer I got two Maytag motors for $12 and they had some skunky gas in them. I still catch hell for that one.
Stupid things that I did while living at home, getting Mum riled up include: putting oilers in the dishwasher, preheating castings in the oven, keeping engine parts in the freezer, tracking grease and shavings into the house, taking her emery boards and fingernail polish, washing shop towels in her washer, boiling parts in the kitchen, and the usual hammering, grinding and related shop noises (namely, cussing) that could be heard into the wee hours of the morning.
Starting a Reid at 11:30 got me in particularly deep *%^! for a few weeks. Pa was in it as well because it was his idea. Living a mile from the nearest neighbors meant you could get away with it.... almost.
As my Pa repeatedly told me as a kid, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"
The older I get, the smarter he was, and is.


By the way the emery boards were for dressing ignitor points and polishing parts, and the fingernail polish is what I used to use to clearcoat nametags. Just didn't want anyone jumping to the wrong conclusion.

This offender mentions washing shop towels in the washer, but that wasn't the main issue whereby towels cause a lot of marital disharmony.

* Don't use the "good towels", the ones that are just supposed to hang there and get dusty. I never could quite grasp the concept.

* Me neither - my Mum, age 79, still has rails full of "good towels". The only good towel is a handy one, I say.

* Not trying to be mean, just perplexed. Can you explain this towel thing for us troglodytes ?


As a wife, I've learned that there has to be some compromise here. So my solution is for the "handy" towels to be always purchased in the darkest colors possible. Black preferably. Save the pretty pink towels for an upstairs bathroom well away from the site of first handwashing on entry to the house. Not sure if that solution would work for all engine spouses, because there is also the "Aren't you going to shower? You smell like gas" problem.

Another household appliance which has appeal for engine-related projects is the dishwasher.

* Some time back I learned that it was not taken kindly for me to use the dishwasher for parts cleaning. This was after I sprayed grease solvent (Gunk)on a two cylinder Vespa automobile (two stroke, French) and, by removing part of the dishwasher rack, got it in there. The engine came out clean, the dishwasher looked all right, but the distinct odor of kerosene from the Gunk lingered on for months. Funny thing, though, the odor didn't cling to dishes that went through the dishwasher, or, so I told my wife.
The Vespa engine came out looking like new.


* I've had to rent a shed.
My wife complained about not being able to get to the washing machine in the utility room for toolboxes, old central heating burners, lorry turbochargers, workbenches, tripods, laser levels, standby generators, car batteries, light fittings, plumbing supplies, old engine parts, oil cans, starting handles, tins of thinners, tins of enamel paint, surplus
wood from household projects, etc., etc..
Can't see what she was so upset about, myself.

Maybe some men are more macho than others. Or maybe there are some who simply have a deathwish .

* Not sure what gets her more exited, the smell of Carb Cleaner from the cellar or the sight of Electrolysis in her laundry sink!

That won some admiring comments!

* I'm pretty game to say the least but I'm not that game. Oh, I could hear it right now!

* Mate you have won me, I'm impressed to the max.


Women have had a rough time of it so far. But there are some who take the opposite stance, and for that special breed there are a different set of rules.

* Don't EVER leave HER engine sitting out while your junk stays in the garage.

* My wife's answer to the displacement of her car by engines? She said, "If the garage is going to be filled up by engines, then by-golly some of those are going to be MY engines."
She has a 1½HP original Hercules, a nice New Way with lots of original paint, and a 1914 Hercules doctor's buggy.


* I am still waiting for my husband to clean the Gilson Pony off and put it right back where it belongs ... ON MY COFFEE TABLE in our living room!! It is still out in the barn getting cold, the poor baby!!
I feel that there is nothing wrong with an engine as an interior decoration. Yes, I know it sounds like we have a wierd sense of decor, but I don't care - people like it when they see it, or at least they say they do!

* I submit that the pair Petters in the corner of the dining room of an English engine man and his understanding wife, and the what-not shelf covered with mags make for perfect interior decorations.

* We have a F-M Eclipse model living on the worktop in the kitchen.
One of the less popular engine activities around here was cooking the head of a Petter Atomic (diesel) in my oven which made a rather unpleasant lingering smell.
The kitchen table has been the preferred location for several projects, including building the model, restoration of various smaller parts and pinstriping the block of the Root and Vandervoort.


* I have a Maytag sitting on the coffee table - her idea!

* We have plans to redo the entire house this coming spring. I suggested a place to park another engine and was told to go and build a barn to keep them in instead. So now I get to have a nice small little shed that will be 45 by 65 to keep them in. My wife is kind of excited about the shed as well as this will be the first time in 12 years that she will get to park in the garage.

Another little point worth bearing in mind is this:

* Remember that, when you do something the better half likes, you get an "Attaboy". Also remember that, by accumulating just one "Awsh&*", you lose all your "Attaboys".
And there is no "statue of limitations" on Awsh&*s.

And one final piece which really upsets everything we've mentioned here. This one came up in a parallel discussion about welding safety .

* Now for a little story....
One day I was in the garage welding. I had cleared off a portion of the workbench (ours is shaped in an L) to have a clean, safe area to work in. As I am concentrating on the job at hand, all of a sudden I hear this piercing whistling. I'm sure I looked like Wile E. Coyote at that moment - studiously working, then raising my head with the facial expression of "Oh $%^*!" just before something terrible is about to happen. Well, with
torches in hand - trying not to light the garage or myself on fire - I rip off the goggles so that I can see, race over to the tanks (I keep them about 5' away for safety under foot), and shut off the gas. WHEW! but hey, it's still whistling! Panic! What's going on??? I look around to where I hear the noise, and there on the other side of the workbench is something smoking. I'm going for the fire extinguisher, when the whistling stops
abruptly. Carefully, I go over there to see what the heck it was. Do you know what I found???? A bag of Piccolo Pete's!!! Seems my husband bought them for 4th of July or for some type of prank, and laid them on the workbench. As I was welding, an errant spark just happened to fly over there and light one up.
Needless to say, I needed to go inside and clean my shorts. I also had the 'adrenalin shakes' so bad, that I had to take a break and have a Pepsi on the patio for a few minutes.

I'll tell you this - my husband was damn lucky that he was not home when this happened. As you can imagine, he got an earful when he DID get home.
I guess you could add this to the list of wife do-nots too!


So how's that for turning the whole discussion around???

Which brings me finally to my conclusion. Chose whichever you most feel fits your personal situation.
* No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
* They're not making old iron any more but they're still making wives.
If you chose the latter, it might be advisable to make a will immediately, deciding on the distribution of your engine collection.
Best wishes for the holiday season!

stationary-engine@atis.net

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