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How I spent my first few days of freedom... straps and canvas

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

This will be vastly more boring that the usual entry... no actionable information present. There's like three guys who will be/seem interested but the rest... skip it. Eject-Eject-Eject.

The first thing I did when I decided I was off the clock for a while (see "Status" blog adjacent to this one) was decide to make something, which turned out be on behalf of Clock Work. I do have a full machine shop in my basement which I have not been able to use much this year because of work. A couple of weeks off doesn't provide enough time to go through a typical design/experiment/fab cycle but just running some kind of machine would be wonderful. I got one of my semi-industrial sewing machines out (once you buy one, others literally just show up... at 3 as of this writing) and put it on the bench. I think every machine shop should have an all-metal-drive-train sewing machine in it. There were several CW projects that involved sewing in the queue and I plowed thru all of them.

Predictably, my first act was to go over the machine's drivetrain to ensure it's ready to go.. i.e properly adjusted and lubricated. My coffee mug next to my keyboard right now says "I Like Machines" on it and enjoy my role as a steward to the good ones. I'm just in awe of how many 100's thousands or 10's of millions or whatever of correct and exactly repeatable stitches my main machine has turned in over it's 70+ year life time. It just sits there on the side for weeks at a time, and then you have to use it... you press down on the gas pedal and the right thing just keeps happening. It's like when I was a cpu designer and realized this thing isn't just arts and crafts for a pay check. It has to be PERFECT across every cycle of it's life across every copy we built, or else people can end up extremely screwed. To relate Clock Work, I believe the designers of the 6CT engine (pre-EPA Tier bullshit)... or John Garand... of the design team of the W123 platform had to have carried a similar mindset into their roles. Actually, I used to know Garand's assistant who lived across the street and he was very much wired up that way. Actually-2... my dad fixed Garand's oil burner once and they talked while he did and said Garand was all about making hyper reliable machines. If you like cool problems, the design and care/feeding of certain kinds of machines is a wonderful place to hang out.

Machine setup and lubrication verified and a new sharp needle installed, I began fabbing new bimini hold-downs for the flybridge.. WHY I had to make these is sort of interesting, in a rage-inducing sense. When I got the boat, the dinghy cover was full-on useless. Barely held down beyond th effects gravity. That lead to buying my first sewing machine (used but perfect once it was gone through) and I set out to cure that. I bought D-rings and other hardware and fab'd up a proper taught nicely adjustable hold down for the dinghy using the Sunbrella that came with it. Made up new straps for the bimini. Lots of sewing happened. Did it all in the saloon on CW at the dock. In that first burst, I also upgraded all the UV-affected stitching on every piece of canvas. Whoever made the canvas initially didn't use UV-rated thread. I did. Got the new cover on and got several compliments and requests to help dock neighbors with things.

Then I got an email saying the SS d-rings I ordered weren't actually sent, but just plain carbon steel. All the sewing was done. I spent a week of heartbeats on that. When I finally took that canvas off the boat to bring home and fix a few weeks ago, the D-rings just looked like hell.

As there is a 2-photo limit to blog photos, some pix of the new straps and canvas refresh are in the gallery labeled "Straps and Canvas". What I made was strong and functional with some added usability features. Skipped the decorative stitching... It's a certainty I'd be drummed off my dock if that little detail ever got out!

So.. a few days of working a machine and only thinking about what I'm making. The projects all turned out to my liking as well. As a friend once said, I'll make someone a wonderful wife.

Oh.. since it will be asked somewhere.. 100% guaranteed.. why not just farm out things like the straps or canvas repairs or motorcycle jackets to the "pros"? Short answer... heartbeats. I don't have the time to correct the frequently half-assed work I've paid others to do, and across hundreds of jobs, I typically more than match the guy I hired and also have more free time and it will be done in 1/500th of the time "promised" by the professional. No different for home trades or marine services or auto mechanics. Yes there are good ones and there will be typically rare times you're simply delighted. But you don't KNOW until after the job's done and history has shown me there are too many that just suck, and yet think they're God's gift to what they claim to do. The expanded answer is... I believe in being useful, as a first principle of how you organize your life. I live under the expectation my phone will ring when a friend or family member is screwed at 3am. I'm broken. It takes work being ACTUALLY useful which is work I clearly enjoy doing, so, at the cost of being THE most boring guy at my marina/on my street, I can diagnose/fix/make nearly anything now, and I'll be even better next week. The cool part is anyone can get there if they're wired up to.. if they try.. Be anti-fragile (research it.. totally worth it). Figure how that last problem screwed you or your neighbor or some guy on the news and what you could do differently. Give up a few sunsets and dig in to how to defeat or avoid it completely next time. As they used to say at IBM.... THINK.

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