Focal Point

I DON’T HAVE TIME for a lot of comment this morning because it’s a more-than-full day: an hour in the dentist’s chair, which really takes about three hours because of the drive, but also gives me an opportunity to visit civilization, thereby extending the trip to about half a day. And then when I return, there’s the test-flight of another major repair job in the ongoing saga of squeezing maximum service life out of the tractor’s 30-year-old mower-head.

For the mechanically minded (and if you’re not, skip to the next paragraph), this time it was a broken spring -- irreplaceable without at least a three-or-four-week wait. Meanwhile it has given me yet another an opportunity to teach my neighbors inventive combinations of Anglo-Saxon and Korean profanity and then later to successfully test my mechanical ingenuity. The result now awaits final re-assembly and performance-testing of my heat-treating skills: a connecting link had broken off the spring, which is a fairly heavy one-inch-diameter, six-inch-long coil attached to an idler that tensions an interior drive belt system that powers three rotary blades from a single external central pulley – the central pulley driven by a long belt off the tractor’s power-takeoff. I made a new connecting link by clamping the coil spring in a vise, stretching out two loops, heating the two loops with a torch, bending them to the appropriate shape, heating them again to the same dull red, and quenching them in oil (theoretically – if I remembered correctly a text I read 22 years ago – thereby restoring an approximation of their original temper). Then I reinstalled the spring. This is what you do when you “think boat” – the sort of emergency repairs you make as a boat engineer. Today I’ve got a whole pasture to mow, so we’ll see if it worked.

Meanwhile here’s another one of Spengler’s excellent columns, this a biting analysis of U.S. intelligence failures and an urgent plea to recognize that what we are fighting is not a war on terrorism but rather mortal combat with jihadist Islam. If you read nothing else today, whether from this site or any other source, read this. The link is here.

posted by on June 15, 2004 10:18 AM