pinchvalve PowerDork
5/23/12 8:21 a.m.

A comment in another thread about and old welder guy brought back a memory from my childhood. Maybe you had something happen in your youth that shaped your perception of stereotypes?

When I was quite young I had a bike and I loved it...until the left pedal fell off. It was stripped out from overuse I suppose. With a fixed crank, the bike was toast. I was crushed.

But I took all of the money I had in my piggy bank (like $2.47) and I rode it with one pedal down to an old garage nearby, literally across the tracks in an industrial area that no 9 year old should be venturing into.

I was pretty far from home (in my mind) and scared to walk into a dirty garage full of rather large greasy old men who looked like murderers. But I put on my bravest face and told the manager my problem, and immediately all work stopped in the garage. Three guys put the Huffy onto a lift and proceeded to weld the pedal into place, grinding it clean and hitting it with some spray paint. They then very officially wrote up the invoice slip for $1. Which I paid, beaming, and rode home. (I think that allowing me to pay something was much better that just doing it for free.)

Try that today at your local NTB.

RossD UltraDork
5/23/12 8:23 a.m.

I smiled.

92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
5/23/12 8:26 a.m.

Heh, the guy in my thread wasn't much different. Older bear of a dude with a HUGE old shop just crammed with stuff. I counted at least 8 toolboxes stuffed with tools, at least 20 cutoff tools, all the welding stuff you've heard of and some you haven't.

He builds puller trucks for fun.

He wouldn't take any money from me, just wanted me to buy a pound of rod so he'd have some extras. "For the next time you something like this done" he said.

He did the job in about 20 minutes then talked my ear off for about an hour and a half. Cool guy, learned a lot. I'll be taking all my welding stuff to him from now on and forcing him to take money.

m4ff3w UltraDork
5/23/12 8:30 a.m.

That's awesome!

N Sperlo
N Sperlo UberDork
5/23/12 8:32 a.m.

I weld for beer usually. I figure its a fair trade because I'm still learning.

I guess kids can't buy me beer, so they get a free pass.

914Driver MegaDork
5/23/12 8:49 a.m.

Obviously a nonunion shop.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UberDork
5/23/12 8:57 a.m.

When I was a kid I snapped off one of the pedals on my bicycle - the threaded portion was broken off flush in the crank arm. I took it apart and carried the crank down to the local welding shop. The guy there heated up the end of the crank with a torch, got out a big punch and hammer, and with one big blow knocked the broken stub right out of the hole. Amazingly to me the threads in the hole were unharmed, and the whole procedure took about 90 seconds. He then told me to get out of there and went back to work.

Curmudgeon MegaDork
5/23/12 9:08 a.m.

I had a 1969 Honda Mini Trail 50 which was the rigid frame variety. It was exactly like this one, right down to the color and tank badge.

In 1970, I aspired more than anything else to be a motocross racer and that meant practicing jumps. Lots of jumps. Combining a rigid frame, a ham handed 12 year old kid and lots of jumps meant that something had to give.

That something was the front weld on the frame loop, just behind the gas tank. The poor thing literally bowed in half. I knew something was bad wrong when I saw the engine wobble up and down. I damn near cried, thought it was the complete end of the road for my trusted friend.

My dad looked at it, then we put it in the back of my mom's station wagon and we drove to a house about 4 or 5 miles away that I had seen many times as we rode by. It was surrounded by all kinds of incomprehensible metal stuff and non running cars, all sitting in weeds about two feet high and there was a clapboard shop out back with no door, the building had a list to port of about 5 degrees. There was a weatherbeaten homemade sign which said 'Brown's Welding'.

In this shop was a short stocky old black man with a wrinkly face, he must have been at least in his 70's. He had all kinds of machines, tanks etc in that shop with him.

He and my dad chewed the fat for a few minutes (a necessary first part of any undertaking in the rural South) then unloaded my wounded steed and hoisted it up on a table. The old guy looked at the broken welds, grinned and made a comment about how kids could tear up an anvil with a feather or something to that effect.

He and my dad did all kinds of incomprehensible things with ropes and stuff, pushing the engine and frame loop back into position. The old dude then started making a lot of noise and sparks, cleaning the paint off of the broken area.

Then the old guy picked up a pair of those bug eyed goggles, flipped a switch and told me to look away.

I did, for a moment. When I heard the loud rasping buzz start, I couldn't help but look back and I saw the biggest damn blue spark I had ever seen. My dad poked me and told me not to look, I turned away and discovered that I could still see the big blue spark if I closed my eyes.

I wanted to look again so bad but I knew my dad would NOT be happy if I did. So I waited till the buzzing stopped, then turned around and saw METAL GLOWING. How the hell did the old dude do that?

He and my dad looked at the glowing metal which slowly went dark as it cooled, there was some more talk which was something along the lines of planning ahead for more stupidity on my part. The old dude rummaged through some scraps and crap in buckets, muttering all the time, then he came up with something that he placed against the now cooled metal. he and my dad conferred a couple of minutes, then they both nodded and I was told to look away again. Being told to look away like that is excruciating to a gearhead like me; the next time I felt that I wanted to look at something that bad was when my daughter was born.

Anyway, more buzzing and sparks went on for a while, when I was able to look back again the old dude was watching the metal slowly turn dark and nodding his head.

We rassled the Mini Trail back into the wagon and my dad pulled out his wallet, the old guy wanted $3. My dad gave him $5. I remember this clearly because I had to pay him back with lawnmowing money and that was about what one long hot July afternoon of pushing a mower would net me.

The old dude did several other small welding jobs for my dad and I as I got older, but nothing will ever compare to that first one. Sometimes when I pull down my helmet, hit the switch on mine and hear the transformer start doing its thing I think back to the old dude at Brown's Welding and smile.

foxtrapper UberDork
5/23/12 9:14 a.m.

Shops and people like that are still around.

Went to the local yard with a load of cans and my then ~7 year old son. Shop sized it up instantly, and conducted all business with him, not me. Son was struggling in with a bag of cans, and that big bear of a guy reached down and helped him, didn't take it away, just helped him.

Showed him how the scales worked, how much his cans weighed. Had him calculate out what that should mean he gets paid. Wrote out the ticket, to my son. Paid my son and made him check his change and the receipt. Shook his hand very seriously.

I think my boy grew six inches taller right there in that shop.

Grtechguy PowerDork
5/23/12 9:24 a.m.

Great stories in here

e_pie Reader
5/23/12 10:45 a.m.

Great thread!

4cylndrfury UltimaDork
5/23/12 10:55 a.m.

i seriously love this forum

turboswede PowerDork
5/23/12 11:42 a.m.

sniff damned allergies....

Xceler8x UltraDork
5/23/12 2:39 p.m.

It's a damned big deal the first time you do some business man to man.

Thanks for the kick arse stories guys.

Apexcarver UberDork
5/23/12 2:47 p.m.

Back when I was moving in 2004 I had 2 welds break on my hand truck. Took it to a local guy who had a sign up as a welding shop at his house.

Guy charged me $30 for 2 1" long beads with a MIG, what a farking ripoff. Almost told him to keep the handtruck.

After that I vowed to be able to do my own welding. I have a friend who lets me use his, but I still want my own welder.

Anti-stance HalfDork
5/23/12 2:51 p.m.

Cool stuff here.

DrBoost UberDork
5/23/12 2:55 p.m.

I agree, the fact that they charged you, even wrote up an invoice was a big deal. People put a value on something if they had to pay for it. And it stuck with you for all these years. Nice story.

Rusted_Busted_Spit SuperDork
5/24/12 9:37 a.m.

Very cool stories, thanks for sharing.

LopRacer Reader
5/24/12 6:01 p.m.

Very cool. I am now attmpting to access my ancient childhood memories for a good story to share. Hoefully one will come that is worthy.

EastCoastMojo UberDork
5/24/12 6:11 p.m.

Curmudgeon, you made my day with that story. I think you should get a column in the magazine. Oops, forgot about the welding, better put on my goggles

Brett_Murphy Dork
5/24/12 10:45 p.m.

Yes, these stories belong in a magazine.

Curmudgeon MegaDork
5/25/12 5:51 p.m.

For some reason, Brown's Welding got stuck in my head. I have never forgotten that whole thing but at the same time I haven't thought about it in years. I got on Google Earth last night (wonder what old man Brown would think of that!) and it looked like there were buildings still where I remembered it being.

I had some time to kill and a motorcycle that needed riding, so I went out there to confirm/deny. Damned if the old shop isn't still there. Too bad the sign is gone.

Bike out front of the shop:

You can see a hole in the wall for (IIRC) a coal stove. At the far right of the building the breaker boxes and meter box are visible. I don't know if that table is the one from my memories; probably not.

Looks like someone stood the building up straighter than I remember, but the center pole still leans a bit.

The house is still there, looks like someone converted it into a thrift shop that went under. I wanted to poke around some more, but you can see that someone cuts the grass pretty regular. Because of that I was a mite concerned about someone hollering 'TRESPASSER!' then shooting first/asking questions later. I don't do rock salt or birdshot very well.

I think I might see if I can have some decals made for the Jensenator that say 'Brown's Welding'.

fasted58 UltraDork
5/25/12 5:57 p.m.

now that's some 'Mericana

friedgreencorrado PowerDork
5/25/12 6:48 p.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: I think I might see if I can have some decals made for the Jensenator that say 'Brown's Welding'.

I'd be tempted to find an excuse to talk to the neighbors, and see if I could find out what happened to him. Hey, I'm a Southern Boy daddy taught me how to "chew the fat".

Like my Grandmother said, "..good manners are the grease which allows the gears of society to turn.."

EDIT: Great pictures, man. I can think of a place or two I'd like to revisit..

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