Fred Sanford rocks

I’m really confused now. I just saw a report on the tube that the Canadians are contemplating sending an ice breaker up to New Foundland to help a school of dolphin escape a growing ice pack. I thought we were concerned that the polar bears were going to starve because there was no ice. So now there must be plenty of ice, plenty of polar bear food and we’re in the process of screwing the bears. Personally I was never a big bear fan and would always pick dolphins over bears but isn’t this just a bit hypocritical. And is it right to break up the ice and then complain that the ice pack is getting smaller?

My neighbor George is a Fred Sanford kind of guy – can’t throw anything away and will even stop on the side of the road to salvage things people have trashed. He’ll pick up an old mechanism and tear it apart – not to rework it – but to get the bits and parts for future projects. Sounds crazy but no matter what you need, he has it or can make it from the stuff he has. Some of his creations are total genius. Let me give you an example of one he did just the other day. He built his own boat trailer, long ago and has a really cheap, junkie winch on it. It’s always been a struggle getting the boat winched back onto the trailer. That’s become a problem lately since he has a chest wound which just won’t heal with any stress on it. So George made a piece from an old socket set that replaced the handle on winch. Then he takes a portable hand drill and uses that to crank the winch. Is that clever or what? It worked so well that he built another one to control the winches that lift his boat at the dock. He offered to upgrade my dock winch but I begged off. First I’d have to get a new portable drill with plenty of torque but it would mean that I would have to keep the drill battery charged and I’m not too consistent with that.

I’ve picked up some of that junk conversion skill and recently scored a success. I had a cheap hand shovel with a nice, long, narrow head. The shaft and handle broke off after just a bit of use. I saved the head just in case. Yesterday I got a new Lee Valley catalog and was looking over the garden tools and spotted the perfect furrow tool which would allow me to make nice rows for planting seeds. They wanted $60 for it, which was totally outrageous. The head on their tool was quite similar to the head on my old hand shovel so I went up to the shop to see if I could conjure up anything similar. I had a 5′ piece of plastic electrical conduit which would make a nice handle but had a head scratcher as to attaching the head to the conduit. Checking thru my stash I came up with a couple of long nylon bolts with nuts that had I had saved from a toilet seat change. A lot of people probably wouldn’t have saved them but George has had this influence on me. The head of the bolt just fit in the conduit so I mixed up some epoxy and installed the toilet seat bolt. Then I drilled a 3/8” hole in the shovel head, slid it over the bolt, and put the nylon nut on to hold it all together. It almost worked perfectly. The shovel head had just enough round that the nut didn’t hold it tight causing it to swivel when I tried to furrow a row. I removed the head, hammered it flat, added a washer and reassembled it. Perfect. The last design flaw was that the conduit was just a little too flexible – it would work but it wasn’t optimal. I solved that by cutting a piece of bamboo from a large stand of bamboo and forcing it inside the conduit. The green bamboo hasn’t immediately solved the problem but my theory is that it will stiffen as it dries.
The great weather and low water said Poke Boat to me so I broke it out again. The Poke boat is a lightweight, personal boat – a cross between a kayak and a canoe. It’s 12′ long and only weighs 22 lbs. I love to fish out of it because you are so quiet and the whole experience is up close and personal. Since the propulsion is totally manual, you wake up a few dormant muscles each time you start a new season. I made a modification which I think will make it a bit more comfortable. I took a garden kneeling pad designed to protect knees (and jeans), and cut off a strip to cushion the back of the cockpit where it tends to cut into my back. It’s held together with the usual duct tape so instantly recognizeable as one of my creations. Much more comfortable. Fishing out of the poke boat has one interesting feature you have to deal with. it’s very light and narrow and there are no brakes. So when you catch a fish, even a small one, it tends to tow you around a bit. That makes it kind of tough to get a large fish out of the grass since he’s pulling you and the boat into the thick of it. You just have to laugh sometimes when you see yourself being towed under an overhanging tree and know it’s going to be nasty getting back out – with or without the fish. Adds another dimension to the whole experience. And just for the record, the large bass have started moving into shallow water and I’m bagging a big mama every now and again.

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