I am usually pretty good at putting together ready-to-assemble furniture and the like. I know to RTFM (“read the flippin’ manual”), and have a good sense of spatial relationships, or visualizing how things fit together. I love putting together IKEA furniture – for me, it’s fun. But the other day, I was stymied – along with my whole family.
My husband is in the midst of restoring and rebuilding a classic TransAm. Part of this includes cleaning up all the parts as he removes them, to get them as close as possible to original factory condition, and a great way to do this is to sandblast ’em. This is how the guys on the History Channel show American Restoration strip the paint and grime off all those Coke machines, antique metal toys, and yes, cars, and then repaint them and make them look like new. So DH bought a blast cabinet from one of the popular online auto parts suppliers.
He was thrilled when it arrived the next day. Things went downhill from there.
I came home from work to find him ready to kill something – preferably, the blast cabinet. When I jumped in to help him assemble it, I quickly understood why.
The thing must’ve come with 400 nuts, bolts, washers, and other small parts, none of which were labeled.
And yes, he did RTFM – that was the first thing I asked him. This was also the first thing our daughter, who’d also been conscripted into helping, asked him. Guess what his usual MO for stuff like this is?
But in this case, the assembly instructions weren’t much help, as they were almost unreadable, and what was legible, didn’t make sense. I suspect it was translated (and poorly) from Chinese, or some other language dissimilar to English. In many cases, it didn’t specify which way something fit together (does that screen go with this side up, or the other one?), and the pictures were even less clear than the text. My husband even emailed the retailer with a request for better instructions. Not only weren’t they any clearer, they were different than the first booklet!
The worst was when we had to match up four sets of bolt holes. Invariably, where some matched up, others didn’t, even after loosening what we’d already assembled and jockeying it around. My husband even resorted to getting out his drill and drilling a few of them larger. But we pressed on, and puzzled it out until we got most of the cabinet put together and called it a night.
The next day, I came home from work to find DH in a similar state as the day before, only this time he was muttering about what he could do with a machine gun.
We’d gone to all that trouble only to find that the door didn’t fit. One of the hinge holes was over an inch off!
The blast cabinet is being returned tomorrow, shipping at the retailer’s expense. Unfortuneately, he can’t get them to return the entire day he spent working on the darn thing, or the couple hours my daughter and I both spent helping.
He’s going to look through Craigslist to see if he can’t find a used, already-assembled one someone wants to unload.
How are you with ready-to-assemble products? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Do you RTFM as a matter of course? Got any horror stories like the above to share?