It was ten days ago exactly that our trailer accident beached us. Kevin has spent an unconscionable proportion of those ten days, and I’ve even spent some time, getting us up and running again. We have the Trailer Cabal to thank.
It should have been a simple repair. Two 26’ leaf springs (only one was broken, but you always replace both), one new 26’ hanger (that’s the piece that attaches the leaf spring to the frame), and some assorted nuts and bolts should have put us within hours of restored function.
But no. It turns out that there’s twenty-six inches, and then there’s twenty-six inches, depending where you measure from. Different trailer part manufacturers make it a point to measure from different spots so that, once you use their parts, you’re locked in to their scheme. Our 26’ springs fit neither the one functioning 26’ hanger still on our trailer nor the new 26’ hanger we bought to replace the mangled one.
I was this close to calling for a congressional investigation, but I figure, what with health care reform, the economic crisis, and the Afghanistan situation, our legislators have their hands full.
We solved the problem with brute force, by chopping up our hangers.
A hanger is a bar with a bracket on either end. The bracket holds the spring, and the bar spaces the brackets. We cut off the brackets, positioned them to fit our 26’ springs, and planned to weld them to the frame.
If you’re going to weld, you need a welder (the piece of equipment) and a welder (the person trained to use the equipment). Neither Kevin nor I has the first or is the second.
Our friend Dan, though, has one and is the other, and today he brought both to our house.
Over the past year, I have learned to appreciate power tools, and have been come tolerably conversant with things that saw, drill, and nail. But welding takes power tools to a whole new level. The spark-generating level.
Your fist clue that a welder (the equipment) is a breed apart is that the welder (the person) has to wear a Darth Vader helmet to use it. Your second clue is that, before you fire the thing up, you check that the water is turned on and your hose is working. And your worst suspicions are confirmed when the sparks start flying. All over.
I am assured by people who can weld that it’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do. Our friend Jeannie’s eyes light up when she talks about welding, and she jumps at the chance to permanently fuse one piece of metal to another. Let her loose with a welder and the next thing you know you can’t open the refrigerator.
Even so, I was content to watch Dan from a safe distance.
Once our hacked-off brackets were welded to our trailer frame, and the leaf springs seemed to be doing their job, we reclaimed the boat from the pond. There was a certain satisfaction in having defeated the Trailer Cabal and repaired, for about $250., what would have cost over $2000. to replace. It was particularly satisfying for me, since Kevin did all the work.
Kevin says next time he’s shelling out the two grand.
We are now, once again, afloat. We’re going to check our lobster pots in the morning.