The River Rat
Part 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Safe Sex, Slow,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Part 1 - A small engineering workshop is given the contract to refurbish a massive gearbox. See how the workshop expands and its employees develops with it. The title 'River Rat' doesn't become obvious until midway through the story. Not a stroke story

Chapter 1

A mining company was setting up equipment for their new venture, I ran a small mechanical repair workshop locally; we did a bit of machining, welding and fabrication work and general fitting commensurate with agriculture equipment.

Often the contractor doing the setup would drop in with a machining or fabrication job, this was good for our little operation and at times allowed me to hire some temporary labour.

Me, I'm Jim Folden, at this time aged in my late thirties, single and married to my workshop.

As the installation progressed the contractor needed more assistance which we were only too pleased to give, the first major job was a 610kw UBE gearbox off of the first transfer conveyor, a fairly large box about half the size of a shipping container. The problem was over heating at the input coupling end.

The boys rolled the box into the shop on skates and set about removing the upper casing, I decided at this point in time to photograph and document the overhaul procedure, time consuming I know but I could see that maybe in the future there could be more of these jobs and getting in on the ground floor, it made sense to at least appear to be a professional albeit a small workshop.

When we stripped the cover off and removed the input cartridge, it was well and truly cooked; to top it off there was metal particles all through the lubrication. The only practical solution was to completely strip the whole unit and replace all bearings and seal, to say the least this was a major undertaking; there was no manufacturer's documentation apart from the spec drawings.

A call was made to Delaney the contractor to decide on a course of action. When he arrived and saw the damage he nearly had a heart attack. After several frantic phone calls to the mining company it was decided to go ahead and strip and assess the full damage.

Ed Marshall was my charge hand, he and two of the men pulled the main gear shaft out and inspected the bearings, these were full of metal particles and would need to be replaced. More phone calls and it was decided to give the refurbishment of the box to my little workshop.

First we held a confab in the brew room to chart a course of action. The biggest headache was removing the inboard bearing and seal, the designer in his great wisdom decided that an integral shaft and hub was the best way to go. This meant that the outboard bearing, seal, main gear, inboard bearing and seal all had to come off in that order.

The main gear was a fabricated structure about two metres in diameter and a 300mm gear face. The shaft was about 300mm in diameter. The only way to remove the bearings which are interference fit to the shaft is with the oxy cutter, this done, the next job was the removal of the gear, but this held it's own problems as it was also interference fit and it couldn't be removed the same way.

A hasty meeting in the brew room, Ed put forward the idea that we could put our big hydraulic ram on the end and make up two long bolts and a bridge, a bit of heat around the hub and presto 'gear off'. In theory this was good, in practice it was a dismal failure. The bridge bent and one of the bolts stretched to destruction.

Back to the brew room, Richard Burke, one of our fitters reasoned that 'the darned bolts weren't heavy enough' so a stronger set of bolts were machined up and the bridge strengthened and more heat on the hub and failure No 2 was on its way.

Things weren't looking good when we knocked off for the night. Ed and the boys went home to their wives and I to mine, the workshop. I ruminated through all my past mechanical jobs for a solution. Then, in a long forgotten corner of my mind I remembered as an apprentice, an old bad tempered sarcastic mongrel of a foreman blasting the shit out of me. I was heating the hub of a large cast iron gear wheel to remove it from a shaft. He lectured "what happens when you heat a piece of metal?" "It expands said I" "and where the hell is that hub going to expand to" he roared. Once he drew my attention to it then it was obvious that the bore of the hub was going to shrink as the metal expanded because the gear wheel was not going to expand.

Next morning we had another brew room meeting, a brief explanation of the problem and we were up and running. First on the agenda was 2 x 100mm high tensile bolts with a buttress thread each end, secondly was a heavier bridge made out of 50mm boilerplate. With all this in place we hooked up two propane/oxygen torched with heavy heating heads, with the large hydraulic ram in place and a heavy initial pressure on the shaft we proceeded to heat the perimeter of the gear wheel.

As we were heating on opposite sides of the gear wheel it was decided that if either operator needed to remove the flame he would do so in a manner that avoided directing the heat onto the other tradesman. A change of operators every five minutes was required as the protective gear was absorbing heat quickly.

A loud crack and then the groaning of moving metal, an extra flick of the pressure pump and the shaft slid through the gear wheel to land on the old truck tyre placed underneath to absorb the impact. A loud cheer and it was back to the brew room to celebrate with a few cold ales for a job well done.

After we had all the bearings off and every thing cleaned, a call to Delaney the contractor, for an inspection He examined all the shafts and the only damage was a slight galling to the input shaft where the bearing had slipped and grabbed. The shaft was put in a lathe and the gall marks polished out.

The re assembling was a piece of cake; the new bearings were heated with the induction heater that I picked up at a closing down auction. The heating of the gear was much the reverse of the removal except we used low pressure burners and heated the whole gear wheel slowly until the bore measured greater than the shaft diameter. The input cartridge was reassembled and put into the casing, a face blueing of the crown and pinion and we were underway. Our first major project was a success.

Although Delaney was kept informed of the progress we kept our procedures pretty close to our chest, this was to prove fruitful in times to come.

Chapter 2: Friends with benefits

Saturday and I've finally calmed down after the hectic week and the gearbox saga, thinking I'll just take it easy ... when the damned phone rang, I should ignore it and they might go away but then it could be important.

"I feel horny" the soft voice sent a tingle up my spine,

"Minnie?, I'll grab a shower and be right over"

"Forget the shower and we'll do our bit for the environment and shower together"

"I'm on my way"

Minnie and I go way back, we grew up together and at times shared the same crib when our folks partied. She married a looser who thought a great idea to use her as a punching bag, after she dumped him she vowed never to marry again. We were friends with benefits and I once asked her to marry me and she told me that if I didn't retract the proposal then she would retract the benefits; we are still good friends.

When I reached Minnie's place my hand hadn't even reached the buzzer when to door flew open and a hot squirming woman wrapped her arms around my neck and proceeded to give me the kiss of my life. When we untangled she dragged me through the doorway and pulled at my belt, "come on get naked we have got to get this thing moving or I'll burst". Always being the obedient boy I stripped on the run to the shower, Minnie had the water running and we were wet and slippery in no time.

Minnie had hold of my erection and was soaping it up, "slow down" I pleaded, the poor thing has been loaded for over a week and if you keep playing with it like that it will go off" "that's what I'm drying to do you dork, I don't want a quickie, I want it long and slow so that you get to all the little nooks and crannies ironed out". Too late, I thought my brains were coming out the end of my dick, spunk all up the shower wall.

"Now down to the serious business of getting re acquainted" we headed for the bed and snuggled together for a while, soon Minnie had my dick hard again, seeing as how she had knocked the edge off my ardour in the shower I made a beeline for her muff and rocked the little man in the boat for a spell. Minnie pushed me on my back and climbed up and straddled my hips, swabbing my erection through her sopping slot she slowly sank down until our thatches met. "Sooooo good, that reaches the itch just nicely" We slowly made love for the rest of the afternoon.

Languorously laying back in each others arms I asked Minnie if she could get a few days off work and come with me over to Snowden, I explained that there was a major equipment auction I wanted to attend and it would give her time for a bit of retail therapy.

"I'll talk to Simon on Monday, what days do you have in mind?"

"Wednesday is inspection day and the actual auction starts 9am Thursday"

Minnie's boss is Dr Simon Walker, another childhood friend and all round good guy; he's also on my back to take better care of my health.

Minnie rang and told me Simon had allowed her time off with the understanding that she keeps a stern eye on me and my eating habits. Early Wednesday I picked Minnie up and we were off to Snowden where I had booked us into the Tudor Motel, I had stopped there previously and knew it to be first class.

We booked in and dumped our bags in our suite, then Minnie headed for the shops and I took of to the auction site. Registering as a bidder I proceeded to mung through the equipment offered. First item to draw my attention was some stress relieving heating coils complete with insulators and several unopened packets to boot; I marked that lot on my catalogue and moved on. I spotted a complete metal spraying setup, spray guns with a host of spares, several coils of spray wire and all the support gear as well, a definite item for attention.

A good heavy duty arc welding transformer went on my list as did the large hydraulic ram; and then there I saw it, an old Craven lathe, a bit rusty but the bed ways seemed to be in reasonable condition and the whole thing appeared to be complete. This I had a definite use for. The last thing I put on my shopping list was a small air operated machine for weld prepping boiler tubes.

Wednesday night we dined in style and then slipped between the sheets, both of us had a full day and it wasn't long before Minnie was making gentle snoring noises, I followed soon after.

Thursday was the big auction day and I was eager to get started, Minnie took of for her second assault wave on the local shops and me to the auction site. There were a couple of half hearted bids on the heating coils but they were knocked down to me for a song. A spirited bidding tussle on the welding transformer but I still got it within my estimated budget. There was no opening bid on the metal spray gear so I made a low offer and was accepted. It seemed that no one had any need for the big hydraulic ram so that joined the list and finally the Craven lathe. I figured if I managed to win with my bid, even if was a load of junk I'd get my money back in scrap. The patron saint of engineering was smiling at me today, I was the only bidder and it was less than scrap value.

I contacted our local haulage company and explained my needs, Laurie said he would come over and assess the load, the Craven was going to be a bit of a squeeze but his low loader should handle it. I settled up with the auctioneer and it was off to pick up Minnie.

Chapter 3: A bigger gearbox

Back from Snowden and Ed informed me that Delaney had told him there was a 920kw gearbox on the head end of No2 conveyor talking to him and it wasn't nice things it was saying.

"This one is much the same as the 610kw only larger" I mused

"We could use the same technique we used on the last one" countered Ed

"When I was in Snowden I bid on some heating coils, I reckon we could build a little furnace to go around the big gear wheel perimeter; make it so we can do both size gears. Something with say two rows of coils on the bottom and make a removable top hat with coils on the perimeter and another two for the top face."

"We can get that brickie from town to build a base with refractory bricks and the coils could sit in channels, which would keep the wheel clear of them"

"What would hold the coils to the top hat then?"

"Stainless steel straps under the insulators"

"We could use that thermal blanket material to insulate the top"

"OK then, we know the dimensions of both gears so let's get started and build the darn thing"

"And what other goodies did you buy yesterday?"

I told him about the rest of my purchases,

"Christ, you don't muck around when you get started do you?"

"Ed, there is a big opportunity for us to get in on the ground floor, not only that but it can give Camden the chance of a few more jobs as we expand"

"Speaking of that reminded me that Delaney also wants us to look at refurbishing the idler rollers, apparently they aren't standing up to it as they expected".

" We could set up a dedicated department just for them as there a hell of a lot out there and we don't have the labour to handle them as well"

After mulling over what Ed had told me I suggested we run an advert in the local paper calling for interested people but point out that it could be a repetitious job, we would train the successful applicant so all we really needed was someone with a bit of go in them. Ed worded up the advert and went over to the newspaper office and asked them to run it.

I was sitting at home about seven o'clock when the phone rang, a female voice enquired if the job was only available for men or could a woman apply for it as well?

"We don't have a gender bias at Folden" I replied, "I'm curious, how did you know about the job when the paper isn't even on the streets yet?"

"My brother Mike works for the paper and he thought the job might interest me so he rang me up".

"Aaah ... what say you show up around eight in the morning and we will give you a rundown on the post and see how you feel about it, if we click I'll give you first call on it"

"Thanks Mr Folden I really appreciate it"

"I go by the name of Jim to everyone, see you in the morning, by the way what is your name?"

"Jenny Walsh" she flustered

"See you in the morning Jenny"

Jenny proved to be ideal for the job; she had a good work ethic and blended in well with the rest of the team. We set up the refurbishment department with a stripping down bench. Using a horizontal press she could press the shaft through the roller, removing one bearing with the shaft, then end for ending it insert a dolly with a spigot on the end and force the other bearing out of the housing. Where the bearing had damaged the cup we used the weld prepping machine I bought in Snowden to removed the end welds of the roller then the bearing housing could be removed. A new cup was then fitted and mig welded in place. Once the shaft was out it was a simple matter of pressing the offending bearings off, clean up the bearing housings and shaft then replace the bearings re-assemble the whole lot.

The 920kw box arrived, we stripped it down and found that the input bearings had failed again, there must be some logical reason for the failures, the design was quite robust. I'll have to talk with Delaney and see if we can nut it out. Our little top hat furnace was a great success, we set the gear up on the hearth, connected a few thermocouples to it so we could record the temperature when it let go. Our big bridge and heavy bolts in place with the big hydraulic ram applying pressure we run up the amps on the transformer and sat back and waited. I gave Richard the tong ammeter and showed him how to clip it around the input leads, so he could adjust the amps to suit. About an hour later 'bang' and the shaft slid through the gear, no sweat, a big improvement on the previous run.

"I've been thinking Jim, if we weld a couple of lugs on the bearing inner, then connect the transformer to them they might heat up enough to slide off" suggested Richard,

"Good idea" I said, "cutting the outer shell with the flame cutter is the easy part of getting the bearings off, I'm always wary that we might gouge the shaft with the flame when we cut the inner sleeve." "This could be just the solution, go for it mate".

Another success, the sleeve heated up just as Richard thought it would and slipped off the shaft without any fuss. Gee we're getting good at this game. Every move we make I insist on making detailed records, this will make the next one easier. If we have a stuff up then we can go back and see where we went wrong.

Coffee and Coca-Cola are my two big addictions, I run on them like fuel. If I run out I get cranky and today I ran out of coke. Hopping into the ute I made my way over to the store to restock my supply. As I pulled up I noticed Allan Marsh sitting in is wheel chair looking pretty glum. Allan was in a bad tractor accident; the tractor rolled and crushed his father. Allan was caught under the piece of equipment being towed and lost both of his lower legs, the nerves in the upper part of his legs suffered trauma and he was not able to use artificial limbs.

Passing Allan I greeted him with "buy you a coke Allan?"

"Thanks Jim, any thing to pass the time away"

I came out with my pack for the office and a couple of cold ones.

"What do you do to keep you going?" I asked,

"Not much really I've got an old computer I bang around on but not much else around here for a cripple" he bitterly replied.

"Hmmm" I thought "this lad needs a bit of a boost to his moral"

"Got time to come for a ride?" I asked,

"Sure all the time in the world, where are we going?"

"Out to the workshops, I might have a proposition for you; we'll talk about it when we get there"

Chapter 4: Allan's Quickie

Allan wheeled his chair around to the passenger side of the ute and climbed in, I took the chair and put it in the back then got behind the wheel and we headed for the workshop.

We pulled up and I got the chair out of the ute and Allen climbed in. Heading toward the office, we passed Jenny who rushed over to greet Allan.

"Allan, what are you doing here?" she asked,

"Jim invited me over but wouldn't say what for" he replied.

"OK Jen, this is between Allen and me at the moment so please give us some space."

Getting Allen into the office I directed him to our computer,

"Wow, that's a lot better than my old clunker"

"Let's see how you handle a word processor Allen"

"One thing about being disabled, it gives you a lot of time to kill; I learnt how to touch type and say it myself I'm pretty good".

In saying that he opened MS Word and rattled a few keys and there was a document.

"Right, looks like you got a job as Technical Records Officer; we have lots of roughly written job procedures which need cleaning up to look more professional, also our record system could do with an upgrade." "How do you feel about accepting the role?"

"You're not kidding me are you?"

"Nope I think you are the right person for the job". Reaching over I pushed the PA system on and called the boys into the office.

"Folks, I want you to meet our new Technical Records Officer, Allan is going to take over all our record keeping and bring our job procedure up to a more professional standard; welcome him aboard".

I was watching Jenny as I made the announcement and she was happier than Allan was that he had the job, I think this girl has a strong dose of the hots for him. If the rest of the crew weren't in the office I think she would have been sitting in his lap checking out his tonsils.

I don't think Allan has a clue about her feelings, most males don't see it coming until runs them over.

Allan's settling in fine and enjoying being productive; amazing how having a job boosted his sense of self worth. I had been watching him move around the office in his old clumsy hospital type wheelchair when it occurred to me that a sportier model would make life a lot easier for him.

Taking Jenny aside I quizzed her thoughts on the matter,

"There's a chair called the 'Quickie' that most of the 'Wheelies" use" she said. I asked her to look into it, price and availability, but to keep it to herself.

"Yes yes yes," she squealed "I'd love to, Allan really needs a new chair, that old one's like sitting on a kitchen chair".

I was sitting down to beans on toast for my evening meal, when I heard the crunch of tyres on the gravel driveway. "Wonder who that could be" I mused. Looking out the window I saw it was Minnie, "great" I thought, "She's going to give me hell about my meal, just what I need."

Opening the door to let her in she rushed me and wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a big kiss.

"You are one hell of a nice guy for giving Allan a chance like that".

"The benefits are both ways" I replied "Allan needed a lift up and we badly needed someone to handle to office work"

"Talking of benefits you are going to get lucky tonight, BUT, first we are going to get some decent food into you, how you exist beats me, coke coffee and beans ain't a healthy diet." "Simon told me to keep on your back about what you eat, there are not that many friends around and we don't want to loose you so get dressed, we're going out to tea".

A great steak meal with all the trimmings, then back to enjoy those 'benefits'. It takes a lot of beating to wake up next to a warm body.

Jenny tracked down a Quickie chair so I arranged for Ed to go and pick it up. When we were all in the brew room having lunch Jenny sidled up to Allan and in a sexy voice asked

"Allan how would you like a quickie?" Allan went red and spluttered

"You shouldn't joke about things like that, it embarrasses me to blazes"

Just then Ed came into the room with the Quickie and everyone bust out laughing, "Good one Jenny" someone called out. Jenny grabbed the chair and held it for Allan to get into. "I don't want a quickie I want to take it real slow she whispered, "I love you Allen" It was too much for Allan to take and nearly in tears he asked "Why me, I'm a bloody cripple"

"No you are not, you're a man who had an accident but no way do I consider you a cripple". "What's more you and I are going out to tea tonight to celebrate".

Ed sent Richard and Mick Greene, one of our fitters, over to Snowdon to prepare the Craven lathe for transport. The plan was to remove the head and tailstock and if it wasn't too difficult, the saddle as well. This would make it light enough for Laurie's low loader. The removed items could then be transported separately.

When the loader arrived we set the base on timbers and proceeded to clean all the rust and gunk off of it. We arranged for our brickie to prepare a concrete base with mounting studs cast into it. When the concrete had cured, with the aid of two heavy duty mobile cranes, a lot of grunting and cursing we positioned the bed on the concrete foundation, and then proceeded to re assemble it. Jenny decided it needed a paint job and her choice of colours was cream vertical surfaces and pale green for the horizontal bits.

Things were going great for Folden Engineering over the next few years we were turning the gearboxes around inside of a week and assumed we would be the only repairers for the mine. Wishful thinking, Sam Delaney came into the office cursing and blinding, "Dammed stupid pen pushing engineers wouldn't know their own arse if they sat on it" he ranted. It turned out that a new engineer from the mine had checked around and found an engineering company that claimed they could repair the gearboxes for less than we could.

"I think they might find themselves in deep shit once they get going, we did a lot of experimenting to get to where we are with them now; most of that was at no cost to the mine either".

"I tried to tell him that but he almost suggested I was getting a kick back"

"We will just have to wait and see what unfolds" I said.

The following week I got a phone call from the company which was going to do the job requesting the documentation and gear removal equipment.

"I'm sorry but the equipment is not available to you" I replied.

"Sour grapes 'cause you dipped out on the contract hey? We'll see about that mate" and he hung up.

A few hours later a mine vehicle drove into the car park and a young engineer strode into the office. "I demand you release all documentation and equipment to Stapletons immediately." He roared.

"Nope, won't do"

"That stuff is mine property and you WILL release it."

I pulled the first gearbox we repaired file and removed the manufacture's drawings.

"THAT is all the documentation the mine gave us, that's all you get." "The rest of the documentation is what we have at our own cost recorded for future reference." "Your new company offering a cheaper refurbishment they will need to record their own".

"As far as the equipment goes, the mine never supplied any, we developed our own techniques and manufactured our own gear, I might add, at our own cost".

"Oh" was a very deflated response.

"Have you bothered to take a look at the insides of these boxes" I asked.

"What do you mean?"

I pulled a large photo of the box taken with the top cover off.

"The biggest hurdle your new contractor is going to overcome is the removal of the main gear"

"Why does that need to be removed?"

"When the gearbox is pulled out of service it is invariably the input cartridge that fails, when it fails there is a lot of metal contamination in the lubrication. This contamination works its way through the entire bearing system. To replace the inboard bearing and seal the gear has to be removed because some idiot designed the shaft and drive hub as an integral unit. If the oil seal collapses you have to wreck the two bearings and remove the main gear".

"Have you inspected your new company's premises yet?" I queried

"Why would I do that, they're a recognised company"

"If it was my gearbox I would want to make sure they could successfully complete the job. Remember you have only two spare boxes and if another drops out you are in deep water, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you what it costs when a conveyor goes down".

"I would require progressive inspections and list what bearings and substitutes were acceptable. There a cheap Russian made bearings on the market which don't have the quality of recognised brands. I would want to inspect when all the bearings and gears were removed, I'd inspect the shafts for damage and would check the main gear for any distortion from the removal process."

"My second inspection would be after the assembly of all components and to check the crown and pinion gears were 'blued' and meshing correctly. But before anything I would make sure that the work area was clean because I would not want any contamination in my bearings. If we do work for you, you may inspect your job at any step of the way excluding the removal and replacement of the main gear, that technique is ours and ours alone and we will not share it with anyone."

After a few moments of silence the engineer said "It looks like we might need to review the contract with the other company. Thank you for your enlightening conversation."

When he finally left the office I felt like a washed out rag, I was sweating and trembling; grabbing a cup of coffee I sank into my chair and nearly passed out. Allan was observing my predicament and called Jenny on the PA, she took one look at me and rang Minnie, " The silly bugger is having a heart attack, we're putting him in the car and coming over to the Doc's" she screamed. Allan by then had called Ed and Mick in, they carried me out to the car and Ed drove us over to the Doc's.

"What the hell have you been doing to yourself; we've given you countless warnings which you chose to ignore. YOU my stupid friend are heading for a major breakdown, today was a warning, what has happened to you is a caffeine overdose plus you are run down from overwork and a dismally poor diet."

"I'm ordering you to take two weeks off and just to make sure you have total rest I'm putting Minnie in charge. She will move in with you and be in total control"

I tried to protest that it was just a lack of sleep but he wouldn't have any of it. "When you leave here I want Minnie to take you up to the cemetery to pick out a headstone 'cause if you don't listen this time you will need one in less than six months".

I did a lot of heavy thinking during the next week, I thought about how I'd brought the workshop up from a shoestring affair to now a multimillion dollar enterprise. I thought about all the folks that worked for me, if I croaked it how would it affect them? Finally I reached the decision to call Ed and ask him to come over for a talk.

"Ed, you've been with me from just about the beginning, we've shared all the ups and downs and built a strong company. I need to take at least six months off to regain my health. You have contributed a lot to our success and what I want to do is write over 49% of the business to you. I had written you as the benefactor in my will and on my death the company would go to you, Minnie would get all my other assets".

"What I want is for you to run the shop your way but I want to still take an interest in what's going on. Any interesting jobs that come in I want to be a part of. From now on she's all yours my friend".

"I don't know what to say, it's a great honour that you think so well of me and I'll do my damnedest to live up to your expectations".

So that was it, semi retirement took a bit of handling, but with Minnie riding herd over me, my health improved although I miss my coffee and coke fix.

I started looking through the Trading post and boat for sale publications until I found what I was looking for. A forty foot cabin cruiser, solid, roomy and ideal for living on. Just exploring the rivers and bays, maybe doing a bit of fishing. The name?

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Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Heterosexual / Safe Sex / Slow /