Some of my favorite rock lyrics (sung by rocker Tom Petty) : "Well you can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down." Probably my personal anthem. It’s not like I won’t back down ever, but if I’m facing a situation that just plain isn’t right, I’ll dig my heels in and I get as obstinate as an overloaded pack mule on a cold and snowy night. Same thing goes for certain personal goals. I’ve got a few old cars that I want to either keep running, or get running. Reaching those goals is going to take years, so when people ask me how things are going with the "fleet" the answer will reflect the current situation. With forward momentum or big setbacks, I’m not backing down.
Recently I’ve suffered a series of setbacks with the cars. It’s to be expected because I’m well aware of the fact that we have far less control over events than we think we have. It’s all going to be OK, but if you let it get you down and you choose to give up, the body of evidence in favor of giving up has to be pretty overwhelming for me to simply chuck it. At this juncture I chose to dig in. These setbacks are by no means too much, all it says to me is that I have to change the timetable for certain things. When it comes to the cars, this means that I’m probably going to have to continue being very patient. Therein lies the beauty of not backing down.
By setting goals
In order to take on some of this work, I need a suitable place to work on the vehicles with the right tools. Fortunately, a lot of the plan over the past few years included putting up a metal garage, and gathering the tools and equipment to help me reach the goals. Last weekend I was finally able to make a major step happen, thanks to my fiancee and a bit of creativity. Tools required to work on old vehicles are generally air driven. While I have a compressor, it can’t keep up with the various tools needed for sandblasting, grinding, etc. Sitting in mothballs is a very heavy eighty gallon compressor that is perfect for the job, just a few dozen feet from the garage where it is destined to be installed. By using my tractor, we were able to move the compressor onto the concrete pad that we had poured back in August. While it was a bit of a tricky job, my fiancee was up for it, manhandling (womanhandling?) the huge tank as it dangled from a tow rope off the tractor’s bucket. It took a while, but this critical piece in the puzzle is now in place. The best part? No injuries.
With a larger capacity compressor in place, I am now able to sandblast and grind metal for long periods of time without interruptions. It will also allow me to remove fasteners with an impact wrench, operate an air chisel and a riveter, as well as use my plasma cutter. Many of the more important tools I have accumulated over the past seven or eight years, all with an eye on the ultimate goal of being able to have them accessible in one place with sufficient power and shelter.
This has been a long process done on a limited budget, and is far from complete. I may have a few more years to go before I’ve got the near perfect work shop, but I’m well on the way. This was never intended to happen over night, and that makes the whole plan vulnerable to loss of interest, frustration, and failure. That’s where Tom Petty comes in. Despite setbacks, depletion of funds, periods of zero progress, and the steady pressure of a challenge, I simply will not back down.
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for 20 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM every weekday morning at 8 a.m.