Anyone that knows me knows that in addition to being a web application developer, server admin, database geek, etc that I am also a biker. And my wife is a photographer and a triker. Part of being a biker is wrenching on your own ride. It makes it more personal and whom else can you trust more than yourself?

My wife does a fair amount of mechanical work on her trike, but sometimes the job is just more than she knows how to do. So, I get to wrench for her. She has a 1981 Trike Shop trike which are made here in White Bear Lake, MN. Essentially it's a custom chassis and fiberglass body with a 1970 VW Beetle 1600cc engine and a fair amount of custom mechanical work on these older versions.

Last month her hydraulic clutch master cylinder was leaking and needed replacing. On this trike the clutch and brake master cylinders are identical and mounted on either side of the center chassis rail. At some point in the life of this trike someone welded a custom brace to the chassis rail and failed to leave enough room for a wrench or socket to reach one of the mounting bolts. This was the last bolt to remove. I had already disconnected the hydraulic lines and transferred the other reusable parts to the new master cylinder. I laid on my floor creeper under the trike for about half an hour assessing the situation. I kept running through a mental list of all the tools I owned and ruling each one out as I pictured each one not being able to fit. A few times I dug into my tools just to test fit something I thought just might work. Several times I found myself wishing I had the ultimate wrench. The fire wrench, that good ol' cutting torch I grew up with and used while in my Dad's gas station garage. I almost went to the store to buy one. However, I kept thinking there had to be a way to solve the problem with the tools I had.

There's an old saying that Mark Twain wrote, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well with a cutting torch all the world is a potential puddle of molten metal and sparks. Yeah! I knew I could get that bolt out with a torch. I might have even managed to do it without igniting the hydraulic fluid, which by now was all over me. There had to be a better way.

[More]