Ok, this is going to be a lot less technical than most of my posts. Let me know if you like it.
Last weekend, my lawnmower stopped working. Or, rather, the self-propulsion part stopped working, which isn't nearly as bad–though it did make things harder. And I realized that how I dealt with the problem kind of mirrors how I deal with programming issues (sorry, there's not much to think about while mowing, so my brain starts making random connections!).
- Problem detected/reported. This is easy–someone notices that things aren't working properly. In my case, I noticed that the front wheels of the mower weren't turning when I pulled the lever.
- Check for workaround. Since the mower was still cutting the grass, I didn't stop; I was able to finish the job by pushing. Effective workaround, but not user-friendly.
- Consider my options. As I saw it, I had five options–ignore the problem and keep using the workaround; use my backup–a reel mower–instead; fix it myself; outsource the repair (read: pay someone else to fix it); or ditch the current mower and upgrade to a newer version.
- Try the simplest option. Once I was done mowing, I put the mower back in the garage, mentioned it to my wife, and promptly forgot about it for the week.
- Decide to fix the problem. The thing about grass is that it continues to grow. So I had to mow again this weekend. When I pulled the mower out, I remembered about the problem. Naturally, I first fired it up to see if the problem was still there (it was, of course), so…
- Check for access. It didn't take me long to discover the plastic guard connecting the motor area to the front wheels, or that it was held on by a single bolt. Easy enough to pop off.
- Identify the problem. Once the guard was off, it was pretty clear that the pulley transferring power from the mower to the wheels had jumped off one of its guide wheels–unfortunately, the one under the mower. I'd have to dig deeper in order to get it back on track.
- Get more access. I needed to lift the motor at least a little bit above the base. Turns out that it's held on by three bolts which are (of course) mounted from the bottom–the area with the blades. Joy. But, after improvising a stand (several five gallon buckets under the wheels), I was able to crawl under the mower and remove the bolts.
- Fix the problem. Once I had the motor detached, I was able to pry the belt out of where it had gotten jammed and put it back on the guide wheels. Then I just needed to re-attach everything I'd taken apart.
- (optional, and not really recommended) Break something else. Turns out that I'd accidentally squashed my sunglasses when I was working under the mower. Oops.
- Verify the solution. This is, of course, a very important step. Test your work prior to releasing it to the user. In this case, I checked the self-propulsion prior to putting the guard from step 6 back on.
- Release to production. Once the last guard was back on, I (finally) got the lawn mowed.
So, how well does that match your experiences?