June 04, 2021

I'm No Wheelbarrow Mechanic

I’m No Wheelbarrow Mechanic
By John R. Greenwood

I’m no wheelbarrow mechanic. Although I am capable of fixing all sorts of things around my house, the probability that it's done correctly runs around 38%. Today’s wheelbarrow revival was no exception. Also, I’m not known for my ROI when it comes to repair versus replace either. To further that point, today’s wheelbarrow rebirth would be a great example to use in a course titled, Homeowner #101, Episode #1, Take your time.

To be clear, this particular wheelbarrow is not my go-to means of transporting yard debris around my property. The mover of choice is the Cadillac of dirt haulers; my indestructible Rubbermaid Commercial 7.5 cu. ft. Plastic Yard Cart. It was the best $150 investment I ever made. Buy one, and it will be yours too. Today’s fixer-upper is a 4 cu. ft. Craftsman that I purchased from an old store you may remember called Sears. I paid $39 over 15 years ago. You can buy the very same wheelbarrow from Lowes today with the name BlueHawk on the side and the cost—you guessed it, $39.

I like having the ‘4cuber’ for small jobs like planting a shrub. Mrs. G likes the nimble little guy for moving a flat of petunias from the backyard to the front yard. (By the way—why is backyard one word and front yard two?) Let’s just say if you own more than a half-acre, you can never have enough dirt movers leaning against the side of the garage.


When the tire on the ‘4cuber’ kept going flat, I decided to replace the tube. Like all my repairs go, they never have the size, shape, or model I need when I need it. This repair adventure was rolling down the same path. Instead of replacing just the tube, I forked out $30 for a new wheel with the tire already mounted.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, yes and no.

The first time I loaded the ‘4cuber’ with the spanking new $30 wheel/tire combo, one of the handles crumbled like a milk-soaked cookie and left my feather-lite load in a heap in the middle of the side-yard. (side-yard requires a hyphen. Geez, even our yards can't agree on anything?) The plot thickens. Do I replace one of the handles? Do I buy a new ‘4cuber’? Do I really need a ‘4Cuber’? What will I do with a brand new wheel/tire combo that doesn’t fit anything else I own? Is anyone on Facebook Market Place going to pay full price for a lightly, slightly, barely used wheel/tire combo? Don’t answer that one. A closer look reveals that the remaining handle looks worse than the one that actually broke. Now my head hurts. I summon my inner adult and decide to buy two new handles and paint the barrow portion of the ‘4cuber.’ She’ll be like a brand new $39 ‘4cuber’ and last another 15 years! How much can two replacement handles possibly cost—$18 apiece plus tax and mileage, to be exact. 

Here’s where the intelligence portion of the story really kicks in. How hard can it be to replace two wheelbarrow handles? For anyone with a better than 38% repair accuracy, it’s probably not hard. To a “How hard can it be knucklehead,” it was obviously over my pay grade. As I drilled the last four holes through the handles to attach them to the barrow, I realized that the handles I thought were square were actually rectangular. I had drilled the holes through the wrong sides. It wasn’t a life-altering mistake, but it did have me standing in the middle of my garage, LOL’ing myself. It also makes you look at the ‘4cuber’ with your head slightly askew like a curious canine. You know there’s something not quite right, but you just can’t put your paw on it. It reminded me of when I upcycled a few old boards and four porch railing posts into a “chic” side-table. That table was in my living room for a year or two before realizing I had installed one of the legs upside down and opposite the other three. I remember the day I sold that table to an unknowing garage-sale’r. I often wondered if she ever caught my construction snafu.

The moral of the story is this. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most importantly, don’t spend $66 repairing a 15-year-old $39 ‘4cuber’.

But, if you do, enjoy the ride…

'4 Cuber' Before Paint

'4 Cuber' After Paint

'7.5 Cuber' 
Best Yard Implement In The Arsenal

"6 Cuber'
2018 Dumpster Rescue
($38 Wheel/Tire Added)

1 comment:

  1. This saga had me laughing out loud! I suppose you could always turn it into a $66 planter for flowers if nothing else! An eclectic, rustic piece of art!