Hits and misses of DIY projects, both big and small.

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Some Assembly Required

12/22/2009 11:27:38 AM

Tags: question to readers, DIY

About 15 years ago, when my husband and I separated, I understood that all of the tasks in the job jar would now fall upon my shoulders (or the shoulders of a sympathetic neighbor or friend!). I knew the lawnmower was on its last legs, but figured it might make it through one more season — wrong!

So, off I went to Sears, a company with a known brand and repair center, to buy a lawn mower. I found a simple, no-frills model and asked the salesman if there was assembly required. He assured me there was not — just loosen the nuts holding the handle, put it in the correct position and retighten the nuts. OK, I was ready to go. I opened the box and … you know what comes next … you can feel it! Parts, many parts. And instructions. The kind that make you crazy: Locate the bracket attached to the engine housing. With a socket wrench (I need one of those?) hold the gizmo in one hand, the bolt in the other, and tighten the nut … well you get the picture.

But I was determined not to ask for help. It wasn’t as if I had to build the engine from scratch — just attach a few pieces and hope it all worked. Finally, I had all four wheels on, right side out, and the handle and pull-cord firmly attached. The mower came with a little bottle of oil so I wouldn’t forget to add it. I poured it into the correct port, filled the gas tank, pulled the cord … and it started — second pull! Wow! I felt so accomplished and self reliant.

This turned out to be my most difficult-to-assemble purchase. But I survived the ordeal, and it gave me confidence that in the future, I would be able to decipher the strangely translated instructions that came with my next motorized appliance. Midnight, December 24th frequently finds us under the tree, or in the basement or garage, struggling to put Part A into Part B on the perfect holiday gift. What has been your most challenging “some-assembly-required” gift? Tell us your tale of frustration and success in the comments section, below.

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Marc de Piolenc_2
12/31/2009 2:36:02 AM
This was my parents' nightmare, not mine. The toy was for me - a high quality, Japanese made complete model car garage, complete with gas pumps and a functioning service lift. Only one problem: the instructions were, for all practical purposes, in Japanese. The words were English - from a dictionary, no doubt, but the syntax was distinctly Asian. My father and my uncle, with the equivalent of three PhDs between them, could not get the damn thing to work. They gave up around dawn and gave me the garage as was, not quite operational. Later in the day a neighbor kid came by and, learning of the trouble, asked if he could have a look. He had it running in five minutes.

12/30/2009 5:08:41 PM
Last winter I ordered a small greenhouse, needless to say what seemed like a mid-level put together ended up being a nightmare! My husband and son were at wits end...the instruction were not written well and made it difficult to follow. They managed to get it together but didnt see until after all the panes were in that there was this rubber seal that needed to go around the panes prior to them being clipped into the frame. Needless to say so far this winter 1/2 of the panes have been blown out by high winds!

12/22/2009 7:50:19 PM
The worst trials and tribulations I have had,and this is from a professional electrician(one who has to assemble practically everything,from $500-1000 chandeliers to $10,000 controllers for industrial water chillers)during Christmas(or anytime for that matter)has to be childrens' toys.I do not know who engineers these things but I had a battery powered ride-in toy Jeep my mother in law gave to my son for his birthday that took me nearly a day to assemble!Ran ok afterwards but oh man,someone definitely needed to take another technical writing course in college!After I got to the right language(there were 12 languages)the definition of the parts and how they went together was explained so poorly I ended up staring at the parts and figuring out how one fit another.I felt terrible for one who spoke another language,most likely they were as baffled as I,or maybe another language would have explained the steps better I do not know...

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