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  Chicagoland MG Club:Club Info

Just a Simple Wrench

by Jake &Ann Snyder

Always Use Protection

We were tracking down a few feet of eighth-inch copper tubing to repair a leaking oil gauge line, and finally tried one of those neon-lights-on-the-front-window-super-car-parts-stores-with-repair-bays-in-back. All it needed was a few more luxury SUVs out front and a couple of ladies pushing shopping carts. While the counter person was listening to what was needed, a mechanic came from the back and motioned the counter person aside, evidently with a concern about a part that he was replacing. The mechanic looked like a standard-issue wrench, except for the strange appearance of his hands. He seemed to be suffering from some skin condition on his hands, and while it was clearly inappropriate to scrutinize this unfortunate, lest he be made uncomfortable at a stranger considering his malady, curiosity and concern took control. As surreptitiously as possible, we examined his pale, oddly distorted digits and constricted skin. He was wearing latex gloves! Well, not latex really, but more likely polyvinyl. The first reaction at this was, "All he has to do is change gloves and then he can work in the kitchen when they add the fast-food franchise".

On the other hand, consider the kinds of materials and conditions your hands contact in an MG repair situation: lots of used oil, brake fluids of various ages and formulations, stale gasoline that may be old enough to contain lead, lead-based anti-seize compounds, glycol coolant, methanol gas line antifreeze, and probably a host of polynuclear aromatics from incomplete combustion. Couple the toxic environment with many sharp edges from rusted body work, burred nuts and bolts and rough edges where the Sawzall was the last resort, and you have many opportunities for the toxic materials to enter your body.

Besides, if the gloves worked for a professional mechanic, perhaps they would increase the proficiency of MG owners. So we tried them for several months, and have reached the point where barrier gloves are as much a part of MG maintenance at home as are safety glasses, a fire extinguisher, and OilDry. The general result is that small cuts on hands are way down, and hands are so clean that co-workers can no longer guess how the weekend was spent. We still use leather gloves over the barrier gloves whenever possible to avoid skinned knuckles and major cuts, but there are many times when the leather gloves have to come off. Fitting washers to studs or starting a nut or bolt or working under a dash by feel require sensitivity in the fingers, and polyvinyl gloves give that while still giving some protection. An unexpected bonus is that, while working in sub-freezing conditions, wrenches do not have to be pre-warmed as much to keep them from sticking to the skin. And the polyvinyl gloves do give just a little bit of protection from cold and help keep skin from splitting around the fingernails, especially when used with hand lotion first. The price, less than ten dollars for one hundred gloves in the paint departments of large building supply centers, is reasonable, too.

So, save your hands from wear and tear, and save your livers for Guinness, Bass and Old Speckled Hen.

©1999 Chicagoland MG Club, All rights reserved.