Thursday, May 23, 2013

Praise for Owner's Manuals

After being exasperated about the rotary cutter's manual, especially its lack of clarity for a potentially expensive repair unless maintenance is done, I found a gem.

An old, but never used, Marlin 783 rifle with a nice Bushnell scope came my way. It's a varmit gun par excellence, in case Phyllis and her groundhog family manage to get past the Mountains of Mordor...I mean past the ramparts of what I am now calling "Fort Tomato."  Yes, cute as they are, I'll methodically yet with regret kill ever one I see if they begin destroying the garden.

That's another post I hope I'll never write, since for now, the groundhogs are cute and graze on clover.

Meanwhile, owner's manuals. Guns are even more dangerous than mowers, and though I'm familiar with long arms and pistols, I'm still thankful for this gem from the 1975 edition manual's section to load the weapons with "the bullet end toward the muzzle."

Shooters know what that means. Would a novice? Luckily, a handy photo shows a close up of loading the rifle.  Only a dunce--and there are dunces in abundance--would simply ignore the brief bit of advice and put, say, a bullet in backward. Yet I suppose it has happened, so it has spawned both The Darwin Awards and the titanic owner's manuals of our decade.

Such manuals bother me. By the time a reader wades through 20 pages or so of safety instructions, only then can a new piece of equipment be operated. My concern is that most won't read the manuals at all, facing such a daunting task.

I do read them, but then I wonder if I'm at all typical.

In addition to reading the manuals, I do Internet-based research, plus I chat with old-timers, before I begin with a new piece of gear. Thus I'm working on a chain-guard, common on the fronts and rear decks of newer rotary mowers, to add some protection for me when I pull an antique rotary cutter we have. It cuts grass like a master barber clips hair, but it not safe until modified with a chain guard.

There is no need to have one's name added to the Darwin Awards: read your manuals.

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