I had a handyman day yesterday – I did some carpentry, some plumbing and some engine maintenance. Each project went well. For once I had all the tools I needed and just got the job done.

The engine maintenance was the one most likely to cause problems. My Stihl 350 backpack blower wouldn’t run any faster than idle, so it had been sitting unused for a few weeks. OK, maybe months. But after consulting The Google, I found this video of a guy who showed how to fix the most likely culprit – a clogged spark arrestor. To fix this, you have to take the blower apart a bit. Normally this would be the source of infinite frustration and error, but Stihl has made the device very serviceable. The most fun part was torching the arrestor, which is really only a wire mesh filter. It was clogged with gummy oil and carbon, so a blowtorch cleaned it up in a few minutes. With a satisfying secondary burn of the hydrocarbons, I must say.

Even so, I was surprised when I reassembled the blower and it started up perfectly and went full throttle. My ex father-in-law told me once that it was a great thing that I had gone to college and made a living with my brains, because “…if you had to make a living with your hands you’d starve to death”. He was famously blunt. For once I proved him wrong.