Monday, November 9, 2009

Suitcase Repair

This blog is intended to be about time travel, and I've delivered stories covering a couple of centuries.

But, it is also a personal account of one man's life. So, this post is about a current event in that life.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I was taking suitcases out to the shed for storage, since we have no trips planned in the foreseeable future.

One that we especially like had a broken handle. The strap was unattached at one end, because the rivet holding that end was gone.

I didn't take any "before" pictures. But in the one above, you can see the intact rivet at the lower edge near the right corner. The other end of the strap is missing the leather piece, torn away at the rivet hole, and you can't quite make out the bolt head. But, I'm getting ahead of the story.

There was another well-used suitcase in the bunch that I just carried to a dumpster, as it was too far gone, missing one complete wheel assembly, and with a stuck handle. It hurt a bit* to throw it away, because everything else was fine. The zippers worked. Nevertheless, out it went.

But we liked this one, and it just needed the handle re-fastened. A small bolt, that would do it. I looked around the house for awhile, but couldn't find one the right size.

Sara was working at the Food Co-op, so there was no car. I walked two blocks to Sutherlands and bought a bolt, a washer, and a nut with an integrated lock washer. All for 52 cents, one one hundredth the cost of a new suitcase.

The walk was interesting. It's less than a mile, but it is quite strange here to be walking when almost everyone else is driving. The only people who walk are too poor and/or too young to own a car. A shame in a way, as it was a beautiful day for a walk.

Here is the other end of the repair, showing the nut and the end of the bolt, which sticks into the interior just a bit. A rivet would have been better, but that requires a special rivet setting tool, which I don't have.

My dad had that tool. I remember the day he bought it. He also had a nice bolt cutter, that, if I had that, could be used to trim the bolt to just the right length.

All this reminded me of him. His grandchildren, most of whom only remember him as an invalid, couldn't know what a great repairer of things he was. Almost anything broken, he could fix. He even took a welding course in town one winter, and bought an arc welder, so that he could make repairs on the farm equipment. I can still picture him, in my mind, welding, wearing his protective helmet. The power supply hummed loudly, and the arc made a loud distinctive buzz and was as bright as the sun, so as an unprotected observer, I had to turn my head away. When the welding was done, he would take the piece to his electric grinder and smooth the rough edges while it was still red from the heat. I wish that I could produce those images for this blog, but my head is not equipped with video out jacks.
*Our parents grew up during the first great depression, so we were raised on the saying, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." While googling this, I learned that the saying also appeared on a World War II poster.


Myrna said...

Our dad could fix anything--he set the bar high in so many ways! But one time, my Bruce broke his glasses and dad said he would fix them--and he did. Big lump of solder on the nosepiece. Not too aesthetically appealing, but it did hold the parts together! :o)

Bruce Conrad said...

The link to the poster mentioned in a footnote no longer works, but maybe this one will: