Daniel and the Steering Axle
It was a cold, windy day, but Daniel was glad to get outside. Icy air hit his face as he jumped down the back steps. “Chad! Do we have time to work on the go-cart?” he called.
Chad’s head poked out of the tool shed. “Only a few minutes. I’m going to help Tod with his new paper route this afternoon.” He finished tightening a screw on his new bicycle basket and then pulled out the go-cart frame.
“If you show me what to do, maybe I can work on it while you’re gone,” Daniel said. “We are almost done with the nose, aren’t we?”
“Yep,” Chad said. “I guess I can cut the side boards and you can nail them on.” Daniel held the measuring tape while Chad measured and marked the triangle pieces on a scrap piece of plywood. The nose of the go-cart was so long that Daniel’s legs just reached the steering axle in front. At least, where the axle would go.
“Will the axles be the next part?” Daniel asked as Chad put on earmuffs and safety goggles. The whir of the table saw drowned out his answer, but Daniel thought it was “yes.” He couldn’t wait until the wheels were on and they could try it out!
By the time the boards were cut, Tod had arrived with his newspaper sack. “Just be careful with the tools and put everything away when you’re done,” Chad told Daniel as he swung onto his bike. Soon he had pedaled out of sight down the road.
Daniel liked using a hammer and hitting the nails squarely on the head. Bam, BAM! If he hit them just right, he could usually level a nail in five hits. The only bad part was that he couldn’t hold a nail with his mittens on. But Daniel didn’t mind cold fingers. He hardly noticed the hail beating on the roof until Rosie opened the door.
“What are you doing Daniel?” she nearly shouted. “Is that the go-cart?”
“Yep.” Daniel nodded and stood up. The nose was finished and he stepped back to look it over. He couldn’t wait until the wheels were on.
Rosie shut the door and stepped closer. “It doesn’t look like it can go anywhere,” she said slowly. “How will it move?”
“It will have axles and wheels, see?” Daniel held up a piece of two-by-four with a rubber-rimmed tire attached to each side. “This will be the steering gear when we bolt it in through the floorboard, here.” He tipped over the nose and laid the axle against the bottom. “Like this.”
“Are you going to put it on next?” Rosie asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” Daniel said slowly. He remembered Chad was going to use the long bolts and washers that Dad kept in his tool cabinet. I know how to use the electric drill, Daniel thought, as he looked at the boards carefully. I can put the wheels and axle on before Chad gets back. Wouldn’t he be surprised!
“Do you know how?” Rosie asked.
“Sure I do,” Daniel said, quickly. “I just have to drill a couple holes and slide the bolts in.” But as he reached up to take down the electric drill, Daniel remembered something Dad had told him once: Never use an electric tool unless Chad or I am around.
Daniel stopped. “It’s not dangerous to use a drill,” he said half-aloud. But Dad didn’t say “if it is dangerous.” Obedience is always the right thing, a thought whispered. “No, I better not,” Daniel told Rosie. “I’ll wait until Chad gets back. He might have other plans anyway.”
“Then come inside,” Rosie said. “Mama said we could make cookies with her.” It was hard to leave the shed with the go-cart just waiting to be finished. As he shut the door and followed Rosie across the yard, Daniel kicked at the melting hail. I wish I was big like Chad. Then I could make things without having to have someone else there, he thought.
As it was, Daniel had to wait several days before they could work on the go-cart again. He spent his time imagining the bright blue stripes and red star he would paint on the front. What great fun they would have speeding down the big hill on Eagle Crest! He hoped it would be ready when the cousins came on Saturday.
Friday afternoon Dad offered to help them finish up the go-cart. “What is left to do?” he asked, as the boys hurried to put on their coats.
“Attaching the axles and seat,” Chad said.
Daniel grinned. “And then we can paint it!” Dad smiled as he led the way to the shed. But his face grew sober as he looked the go-cart over. He tipped the nose down and looked inside. Then he looked at the bottom boards and frowned.
“What is the matter?” asked Chad. “Is it built wrong?” Daniel’s heart seemed to leap into his throat as he waited for Dad to answer.
“No,” Dad said slowly. “I guess I just can’t figure how you’ll get the axle on with these boards here.” He tapped the triangle pieces that Daniel had nailed to the sides of the nose.
“Oh, no!” Chad looked surprised, then laughed. “We sure would’ve messed up putting the steering bar underneath! Imagine trying to get our feet on it!” He looked at the nose boards. “It’s my fault. I told Daniel to put them on without really thinking.”
Imagine if I had bolted the axle on the bottom, Daniel thought. How glad he was to have done the right thing!
“It won’t be hard to fix,” Dad said cheerfully. “These boards are nailed on so straight that they’ll come off in a jiffy. Then all we have to do is bolt the steering bar on and trim the sides down a bit.” As he spoke he took down his crowbar and began to pry the boards up.
Daniel smiled at his brother. “I’m glad we didn’t do any more building. Maybe we can still get it done before tomorrow.”
“Sure we can!” Chad said. “It’s just a mistake to learn by. When you’ve done your best, there’s nothing to fret about.”
And Daniel was very glad there wasn’t.