It was the beginning of my 2nd year owning and operating a motorcycle, a 1982 CB450T Hawk. Still in the honeymoon phase, I loved everything about it. I loved riding it, I loved the way it looked, and I loved working on it. It was the spring/early summer and according to the odometer, time to change the oil. I had done it twice before successfully so the third time would be a lot smoother. (as if!)
I pulled out all the necessary stuff:
Oil catcher: Check
Filter, socket wrench, torque wrench, crush washer, rags, latex gloves: Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
I was 30 minutes into the job and was just about finished. I had drained the oil, put in the new cartridge oil filter, and put on the oil pan on. 30 minutes! “Wow, I’m getting pretty good at this! And I didn’t even open the manual. I’m actually pretty good at motorcycle maintenance now,” I not-so-humbly thought to myself.
Now for the final step. I carefully measured the correct amount of oil and start pouring it in. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something yellow moving. Wait, it’s growing. OMG it’s oil!!! I immediately stop pouring the oil and realized what I’d done. Or hadn’t done in this case. This great mechanic had forgotten to put in the oil drain plug so the oil I was pouring in was flowing right out of the bottom of the motorcycle creating a small pool of shiney, fresh, golden, motor oil. With my lightning fast reflexes I put my finger over the hole to seal it. Phew, not too bad. Only about 500 ml’s of oil spilt. I’ll just put the drain plug in and clean up the oil and nobody will suspect anything.
As I look for the drain plug, I realize it’s on the other side of the garage. So I do what every man does in a tight situation. I call for my wife. “Margoooooooo!” A couple minutes later, a head pokes out of the doorway from the house to the garage. “Yes dear?”
Me: “I need your help.”
Margot: “What did you do.” (Note, this wasn’t a question)
Me: “Can you pass me the drain plug and crush washer from over there?”
Margot assesses the situation and sees what happened. Without saying a word she walks over, picks them up, hands them to me and walks back into the house.
Me: “Can you help me clean this up?”
Margot: “You made this mess, you can clean it up.” The door closes.
I finish filling the motorcycle with the specified amount of oil and now it’s time to clean up. I quickly search the web to see what the best way to clean up an oil spill is — kitty litter. “Great!” I thought. I have a cat! (her name is Ally). So I grab a bag of kitty litter and pour it on top of the oil. I wait a couple minutes but nothing seems to be happening. Well this sucks, the internet was wrong! Not only do I still have to clean up the oil, now have to clean up the kitty litter too. Argh!
Using my man brain, the logical answer was to hose it down, then use some type of detergent to clean up the oil. I unroll the hose, turn on the water and start hosing the oil and kitty litter. Did I mention this was clumping kitty litter? The kind that turns into a gooey mess when it gets saturated with water? At this point the garage floor is partially covered with oil, and completely covered with grey liquid goop.