The First Sparks – Southern Pines, NC

I decided my wagon should have a light steel frame covered in thin plywood. After all, what other material could survive a captain who’d steered past charges onto shipwrecks?

Beaching…a common theme in my travels (Sea Bird cast up on the beach outside Darwin, Australia. Yet again…)

A ship wreck that Sea Bird actually missed. It was too far up the beach. (Yes, that’s Sea Bird resting on the beach.)

While it’s often true that past performance does not guarantee future results, my mistakes historically repeat themselves. So I decided to stick with the ferrous stuff.

All that remained was to find some steel.

I drove to Lee Iron and Metal in Sanford where I could buy all the steel I wanted for fifteen cents a pound. Yes! This was scrounging at its best.

For a half an hour, I crawled over tangled plates of steel with chunks torched out of them in the shape of ragged hearts. But they were an inch thick, way too heavy. I needed something more in the one-eighth inch range.

Finally I spotted a pair of galvanized DOT road sign posts. I made my way to the crane with the magnetic head and asked the operator if could pull them out for me.

He did. They bent.

Oh well.

If I’ve learned one thing in my travels it was this. Start right. In this case that meant a straight frame.

So I sprang for new steel tubing. Quite by coincidence, it cost me a dollar a pound at Steel and Tube.

Wagon? This is going to turn into a wagon?

By chance, I still had the welder I used on Sea Bird. It was the weekend warrior Lincoln version from Lowe’s that you plug into any old 110 wall outlet.

Bernie eager to strike a spark (Photo by Beth Clarke)

So I got going.

The first welds!

By day’s end, I’d welded up the backbone.



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