Hola and heidy-ho, my friends.  Welcome back.  I’m glad you stopped by.  At present, I’m like a gushing teenage girl who just saw her BFF’s boyfriend making out with a cheerleader.  I’ve just got to tell someone or I’ll burst!

A very productive weekend, this one.  Currently, I am in a gooey, gelatinous form, (not unlike most New Year’s Eve’s), striving to re-hydrate after a day under a welding hood on an over 100 degree day.  Mom always said I wasn’t her brightest child.  However, this weekend, rain or shine, heat or freezing temperatures, I was motivated by the fact that I should have been making new friends, stealing TTT ideas and swapping stories around the campfire with the great folks from the local Tear Jerker’s chapter but, alas, such was not my lot.  After getting a submariner’s view of the underside of Das Nook on Friday, I realized that my decision to bow out of this weekend’s festivities, however heartbreaking, was a good one.  Had I chanced pulling Das Nook up that steep mountain, last week’s blog might have been my epitaph.  By now, it should be pretty obvious that I’m not one to go out with so few words.  Chalk one up for me.  The damage to the tongue supports was considerably worse than I first thought.

Let me start by admitting, (and this is no excuse), that I have not had a welder in my hand in fifteen years.  I was quite the man with the stick welder back in another life.  However, life and career changes have negated my need to do much welding lo these many years.  To top that off, my new welder is of the MIG variety.  Not an alligator I’ve ever tried to make a suitcase out of  before, but convenience guided my hand in selecting my new toy.  The thought of my having to add a 50 amp, 220VAC circuit/receptacle to an, already overburdened, breaker panel, not to mention the additional expense of some 6-3 SO cable and plug ends to make an extension cord to get from said receptacle to the aforementioned stick welder put the icing on the cake.  The MIG runs on plain old 120VAC /20amp.  I did trip the breaker a couple of times, but I know from experience that the length of extension cord I was using played a part in that.    After a day of familiarizing myself with my new Lincoln Weld Pak 125 HD MIG welder, I can foresee a long and happy relationship together.  It got the 1/4″ thick steel on the original tongue flowing like tears at a wedding.

My point is that the welds I created to form the new tongue frame are a lot like the girl I took to the Happy Acres Cotillion:  butt ugly, but functional as hell: stout and solid.

Since they got her meds right, she never writes?

In my defense, after some selective grinding, (two grinding wheels worth). and much restarting, re-doing and retouching, (once I got the hang of, and fine tuned, Das MIG),  not to mention copious amounts of primer, they look downright snazzy.  Add to that the fact that the box will cover the debauchery and I’m Mr. Wizard!  That’s my story and I sticking to it.

Friday morning:  Finally dragged my night-shift-working, sorry butt out of bed and fit a length of steel under the points where it needed to fit, marked the angles and, after a lot of cussing and pinched fingers, moved the length of 2x3x1/8th to the saw horses and cut them with a steel cutting blade fitted to an old circular saw.  A steel cutting miter saw would have been a Godsend here but, if I were rich, I’d probably lose all of my boyish charm and desire for backyard projects and buy a fifth-wheel camper and a new Dodge Ram truck.  Nah, I’ll never lose my boyish charm and, if I were rich, I’d just have a lot nicer collection of toys to build my dreams with…….Not to mention a garage!  As the majority of you ladies endlessly gripe:  “Men are just full sized little boys.”  To which most men answer, “Neener, neener, neener.  I prefer, “So’s your mama!.”  I grew up in a tough neighborhood.

I managed to get the pieces cut and ground down to fit precisely, then took the rest of the night, and Saturday, off to contemplate the meaning of life.  I’m a very deep thinker so that took until this morning.  Still no answers.  I’ll get back to you when I have my epiphany.

The submariner's view.Sunday Morning:  I finally dragged my, didn’t-work-night-shift-last- night, sorry butt out of bed and walked outside into an oven at nine AM.  Hence this week’s title:  Memoirs from the fifth level of h-e-double hockey sticks.  I ground down all the areas on the original tongue and frame where welds were supposed to go.  I say supposed to go because I’d forgotten how dark the world becomes under a #10 welding hood.  Reminds me of fumbling to find bra strap hooks in the back seat of my 1968 Rambler Ambassador at the drive in………..well, you get the picture.   *brief pause for a moment of retrospective bliss*

I welded the original tongue to the frame brackets so the bolts, originally the only thing holding the tongue to the trailer, are now just an added precaution.  The main tongue is completely welded, top, sides and bottom, to the frame brackets.

Everything tacked into place.

I got everything finagled into place, again amid a chorus of words that would have had my mother washing my mouth out with soap, all while my buddy Manny sat there laughing at me, drawing deeply from a bottle of beer which I had, up til that point, avoided. I usually make it a point not to mix power tools, flames and large amounts of electrical current with intoxicating beverages, regardless of how desert hot it is.  Having Manny around is like having a comedian on retainer.  No matter how disgruntled a situation can get me, one look at his goofy mug and I start laughing.  Thanks for all the laughs, Manny.  And this time he even brought his own beer!  *looking around for the four horsemen*

First coat of primer.

And after a whole lot of sweating, numerous first and second degree burns from flying weld spatter and grinder “renderings,” not to mention a tan three or four shades deeper than my natural, Italian heartthrob, complexion, I give you some tongue.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  That’s Das Tongue.  Let’s keep this blog within the PG rating, please.

This pictorial coming out party is with a first coat of primer on all the bare steel.  I’ll be adding a second coat before the evening’s over and, if it cools off a little, possibly a first coat of the Rustoleum glossy black that is the patina du jour for the entire undercarriage.

Next weekend, that being Memorial Day Weekend, will be spent mounting the box directly onto the new tongue frame:  not to the front of the camper.  There should now be minimal flex in the tongue, but I’m not taking any further chances.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my many, many, many………..years as a student of all things in the manly art of tools and the things we cobble together with them, it’s that you learn from your mistakes and do your level best to never make them again.

And, as if to represent the creamy head on the tastiest beer I’ve had in a long time, since the addition of the new framework, getting Das Nook to sit down on her front wheel is as easy as a fat kid bringing down his end of the seesaw with Nerdy Melvin on the other end.  Once I add the box, the weight distribution and tongue weight should be back to where it should be, eliminating the need for that 80 lb. bag of concrete and, consequentially, my shame.  Another wrong righted by that goofy thing we all call kismet.  I’ll take luck over skill any day.

Well my dear friends, it is at this time that I must bid you adieu, but only for now.  I just heard a beer popping in the kitchen which can only mean one thing:  It’s Sunday night and the gang’s all here.  I must admit that my chest is swelling, just a bit, mind you, over the premise of showing off this weekend’s handy work to these Bohemians I’m proud to call my friends.  Now if I could just get them trained to show up when the work is actually in progress, bring their own beer, and lift the seat when they dispose of my beer in my guest bathroom, (that is, when they’re not using the big pine tree behind the Big Top), I’d be selling that story to every woman’s magazine out there as the miracle of the twenty-first century.  While somewhat refined, (trained, if you will), I’m still a guy so, should I manage that miracle, I’d have to take that secret with me to my grave.  It’s a guy thing.

May this week be the best week you’ve ever had, may something truly wonderful come your way and may you never have reason to frown for all the rest of your days.

Until next week, I wish you all the best life has to offer.



All new for 2011!

And, should you be so inclined, The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping has been completely revised for 2011 and is now available as an ebook!  Every ebook dealer from Sony’s iPhone store to Amazon and Barnes and Noble are carrying it.  However, we’re offering a 20% discount for all the loyal readers of Brian’s blog through Smashwords.com.   Just add the coupon code CM84R at checkout and you’ll receive the discount.  Picture this:  Wilderness 2011.  You just bought a new tent and figured it’d be a cinch to set up.  You got out of work late and arrived at the campground after dark.  Ominous dark clouds are looming over your campsite.  You unpack your tent only to realize that you haven’t got a clue about how it goes together.  What do you do?  Well, if you had a copy of this informative book on your phone, you could simply thumb through a few chapters and be roasting marshmallows within the hour.  Don’t have a copy?  Well, there’s a lot to be said for sleeping in the car.  Oh, you have bucket seats?   The kids will be voicing their displeasure over sleeping in the back seat…..all night long?   Save yourself the headache.  Order your copy today.

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