Saturday, June 13, 2009
6-11-09 My Little Bowie
Nearly forty years ago, I was living in Austin. The motor on my air handler began to give me trouble, and I found that the belt driven fan would not work without my opening up the unit and giving the belt a little tug by hand.
I had been told that this model motor had "starter windings", so there was no capacitor to replace. So one day, being fearful that I would eventually burn out the motor if I continued with my "procedure", I called an acquaintance who was in the HVAC business. After some discussion and talk of costs, etc., he suggested that i might try running it continuous.
With the flip of a switch, I turned the air handler fan on permanently, and it ran that way for about three years.
In February of 1973, our "new" house, where we now live, was under construction, and it became necessary to prepare the old house for sale. I fixed a few minor things around the house, then went to the ultimate hardware store in Austin to get a new motor.
When I asked if I could trade in the old motor, the clerk said, "No", but suggested it might make a good grinder.
Sounded like good advice, so, a short time later, when we were settled into the new house and new town, I purchased an arbor and assembled a serviceable grinder, which served me well for a long time.
Soon after making the grinder, I found an old rusted file in the back yard. Remembering that the original Bowie knife was crafted using an old file, I had an idea. I'd make my own knife. I think you will notice that, obviously, Jim Bowie's file was somewhat larger than mine.
To my surprise, my wife seemed puzzled by my project. I wasn't really sure that she wasn't suspicious concerning my intentions for the "weapon".
For many years, the knife hung on a hook beside the fireplace, where it was handy for splitting kindling, until we remodeled the fireplace (another story entirely), and for many years, the grinder continued to be a valuable tool for an infinite number of uses.
A few months ago, after thirty-five years of service as a grinder, after ten or twelve more of serving as a fan motor, the motor suddenly quit with a loud pop and a puff of smoke. I will probably take it apart someday, and try to diagnose why it shorted out, but I will probably never see it working again.
I'll think of it, from time to time, and remember, it once crafted a knife that scared my wife.