Definitely, don't quit the day job!
What a royal pain in the ass. Remember when I said that I had removed the rear cargo rack for painting? Well, I kinda fudged on that a little. I didn't have it quite off when I wrote it. What I eventually discovered was that I had unbolted from the frame the mounting brackets that support the cargo rack, instead of unbolting the rack from the mounting brackets. That would not have happened to a real mechanic, who has a lift to raise the thing off the ground, adequate lighting, line of sight vision, and direct access to the parts involved....not to mention youthful flexibility, manual dexterity, and 20/20 eyes. But, despite those handicaps, I decided that I was not going to let a couple of bolts and their subsequent nuts get the best of me. I would just rebolt the mounting brackets, detach the final connector holding the cargo rack, and go on with my life. Ha! What a joke...a not-very-funny joke, at that.
As it turns out, the mounting brackets in question not only supported the cargo rack, a minor function, but are the primary supports for vibration dampening 'fingers' to the undersides of the rear fenders. The ramification of that is that the vibration dampening finger assembly consists of six or seven pieces sandwiched together with a bolt through them. Two metal washers, two rubber washers, the vibration dampening finger, the bracket with the small tab for mounting the cargo rack, and, of course, the frame to which everything is secured. What unbelieveable torture and torment. I had to do it all by sense of touch because I couldn't see it and touch it at the same time. The location was just high enough off the ground that you couldn't sit on a crate to work on it, or kneel, or sit on the ground. A bigger problem was that it was high up under the rear fender, which curls down sharply to block any attempt at actually seeing what my hands were doing. I was not about to dissemble the fender just to put one bolt in.
This was a true 'trial by ordeal'. The whole process was awkward and frustrating to the max, for all the reasons mentioned above. I must have dropped the lock nut and washer fifteen or twenty times, often requiring a magnet to find them (outdoor, leafy ground). It was getting dark and had started to drizzle rain, just to kick things up a notch or two. Anybody with any sense would have covered the whole thing up and given it a rest. Not me, though, glutton for punishment that I am. I covered it up, all right, then rigged up a light, put on some rain gear, and got under the cover with it, kinda. I still got soaking wet, but like I said, I was not going to let a couple of bolts and rubber washers get the best of me. The dogged determination probably converted to stubborn idiocy when the rain ticked up another notch, but it was 'game on' at that point. After what seemed like hours, actually not more than twenty minutes, I got the nut started. I was so relieved that I took a break, before I tightened it up, and celebrated with some refreshments. I felt like I had really accomplished something.
Back on task, I quickly tightened the first assembly, saw that it was looking perfect, and moved to the other side to begin the same grueling process there. It was when I was sorting through all the second-assembly parts that I discovered that the remaining rubber washers looked a lot different from the set I had just installed. These were fitted parts, made of rubber, not just the plain rubber washers now part of the first assembly. Immediately following that was the doomed feeling of worst nightmare realized...I had to undo the first assembly. I had used the wrong combination of rubber washers. Dammit!
So, how could that have happened? Well, it was the result of a phase of the process that must be very similar to 'the fog of war'. Because of the position the assemblies were in, up under the machine, blocked by the fender, I was not ever able to get a real good visual on them, then I took them apart blind, and, of course, all those parts, from both sides, fell on the ground under the machine. Somehow, I settled on the two plain rubber washers as the parts needed for the first assembly... a decision I would live to regret. I just didn't think the problem through, far enough.
Moving on, the rework of the first assembly was equally as frustrating and painful as the first time around, but was done in half the time since I had lots of experience at it. The only consolation was that I was now sure that I had the right parts for the second assembly, so the same thing could not happen again.