Oil, Fleet and Ash

One evening last week, Asher and I found ourselves at Fleet Farm, immersed in a literal world of motor oils. We shuffled slowly up and down the multiple oil and filter aisles in mostly silent speculation. Having never shopped there for oil or filters before, I was just a touch overwhelmed.

My task was the procurement of oil and filters for the BCS and Bobcat; his was the oil filter, air filter and oil for the Gator. We had engine and model numbers, and even some handwritten notes, so there was no way we could go wrong.

“Umm, so is there a difference between the 5-W 30 in the diesel section versus the other section?”

“Hmm… I’m not sure.”

I turned my attention to filters instead. I had the exact number I needed. Fram PH9928. I scoured the wall of Phrams, eventually sensing a vague ordering in the numbering scheme. Okay, Phram PH 6112; Phram PH 8988; Phram PH… 1021… whaaa? 8988… 1021. No filter. All these Phram PH’s, and no filter. I turned my attention to the oils again instead.

“So the ‘Cat needs just SAE-30 I guess. Do you think that’s the same as SAE 0W-30?”

“I don’t know… where did it say that?”

“It is written in marker on the back of the ‘Cat.”

“Haha, well I guess that’s what it’s been getting!”

I turned my attention back to the coded world of numbers and letters. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I registered Asher telling me he was going to run to another department of the store. I nodded absentmindedly.

To the other side of the aisle I went. Up. Down. Up. Down. And there she was. Big, black, bold and beautiful. SAE-30. No extra letters or numbers. Two-gallon jug. No phrills or fancy graphics. NON-DEGERGENT GENERAL ENGINE OIL. This was it. I could just feel it.

Thrilled to have found at least one major component of my jobs for tomorrow, I realized I had no idea where Asher had said he was going.

Thus set me on the veritable goose chase about which we are all so familiar: displaced from a loved one in Fleet Farm. I wandered to the front of the store; to the side, and to the back, finally finding him a mere three rows over from where we’d been before, eyeing another aisle of… oil filters. Having finally gotten what we needed, we paid and hit the road.


The next day I had rationalized my way through the BCS oil change, and was getting started on the Bobcat when I hit my first snag. The head of the drain bolt was square. It was roughly 3/8 in size, but square. Both the adjustable wrench and the 3/8 seemed to be doing more rounding off of the square than loosening, and I was at a bit of a dead end. From the other side of the granary walked Asher – long, blonde hair blowing in a river of glory.

“Dude. Wanna help me with this oil change.”

We scratched our heads and rubbed our beards. Asher reasoned out a method for trying to turn the square with the back side of a socket. Two nuts tightened together on a bolt; fitted on the opposite end with a ratchet. Square on square nut. It was brilliant, but just couldn’t generate the torque without the nuts turning. We talked about drilling into the existing nut and carving out some new threads. We talked about suctioning out from the top. Finally, we decided to unhook one of the lines running from the oil filter to the reservoir, and drain it slowly from there.

So, we got the oil pan, unhooked the line, and watched the pukey grey sludge stream slowly from the tiny line. “Damn, that’s gross.” We admired the nasty stream for an instant. “Well, maybe it’ll be empty after lunch.”


We turned our attention to the filter, which was stuck stuck. In the absence of a filter wrench, I suggested we grabbed a Channellock and crush it into submission, then turn it from there.

In the absence of a Channellock, I thought hard. Asher brought out two bolts. “So, we’re good to start crushing the filter still, right?”

I have no idea how you go about crushing an oil filter with two bolts, but he was working on it when I got the idea.

“Dude, do you think you could make a filter wrench? Maybe wrap some rope or a strap around the filter, and twist it around something to get the tension we need, then somehow turn it?”

“Hmm… yeah. I actually found a strap over by the trailer yesterday.”

I watched in silence as he worked the strap around a wrench, achieving the necessary tension, and coupling another wrench to the first. He gave one good tug on the second wrench and the filter loosened right up.

I was thoroughly impressed. Sure, I’d had the idea, but he had done it. This was a man whose mind worked in three dimensions. Where my mind brings forth only a constant slurry of language, his seemed able to slow down, and create and manipulate pictures.

I grabbed some slices of Fanni’s homemade sweetbread from my lunch bag, and we celebrated with a snack while the sludge stream slowed to a trickle, and eventually a slow drip.

We hooked the line back up and threw on the new filter, before turning our attention to a clutch adjustment on the BCS, which went pretty smooth. All-in-all, it was a pretty successful morning of project, and Asher and I cemented our status as a Dream Team in the process. I’m thinking we’ll try redoing the brakes on The Shadow next, and really see what we got.