In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Hot Afternoon

My father worked hard his entire life. He started working in his early teens by making service calls for customers of my grandfather's shop. He worked on anything, including refrigeration equipment. Some of the customers were apprehensive, until they saw the completed work. Over time he acquired a good reputation and was sought for repairs.

After school, my father joined the Coast Guard, which started his career in electronics. Although I don't know exactly what he did, I do know it was with radios and radars. He finished his tour at the end of the second world war, joined the Navy during Korea and his career path was chosen. He  worked until he died in the marine electronics industry.

He could read an electronic schematic like you read a newspaper. With his skills, it didn't take long for him to find the problem with equipment, or the problem with the design. It didn't matter if it was vacuum tubes, or state of the art  electronic components; he could repair it, or recommend spending your money more wisely and stop buying junk.

My father had little extra time. His work could involve days on the road, or even sea trials for testing the equipment he installed, or repaired. Until I was older, and on my own, he had little extra time to spend with the wife and five children he kept from the poor house. Even after he reached a point where his life wasn't as hectic,  our schedules - and my woeful ignorance of how precious every minute can be - prevented visits.

One hot summer afternoon, while I was visiting, my father asked if I wanted an air conditioner. At the time, I was living in a small garage apartment without air conditioning. With the week on, week off schedule while working offshore, this meant only two weeks out of the month sleeping in sweltering conditions. I jumped at the chance, and soon found myself involved with a task I had no idea how to complete, but with an excellent teacher.

He explained the compressor worked, but the fan motor needed replacing. Due to some horse trading, he had the motor, so all I needed to do was replace the motor and give it at try.

He showed me how to remove the shroud, which I did. He then showed me how to remove the fans from the shaft, which left the motor. I followed his instructions and soon had the motor removed. The only thing left was to replace the motor, install the fans, install the shroud, plug it in and I would have an air conditioner....almost.

As I wiped sweat from my eyes, and compared the two motors, I realized there was a substantial difference. My father explained that the free motor he was given was the needed frame and horsepower, but generic. Otherwise, the shaft was over length for machining. It was a universal motor ready for an original equipment manufacturer to modify for their needed application. Unfortunately for me, other than being a motor, it was useless, unless I completed the next necessary steps.

"You'll have to cut the shaft to length, flatten out one side to fit the fans and cut a groove for the keepers."

I looked at him, he looked back, so I started.

Over the next hour, or so, he helped me measure, showed me the necessary steps, then watched as I used a hacksaw, a bastard file and a whole lot of elbow grease to turn the hardened shaft into the necessary shape. After it was completed, and before we replaced the shroud, we gave it a worked. It had all the fan speeds and cold air came from the outlet. I was ready to go and he only gave me one warning: "It's only a 5000 Btu unit, so it's only good for one room."

I took it home, installed it in my bedroom window and turned it on. Within an hour, the room was substantially cooler than the rest of the house. I now had the luxury of air conditioning while I slept. No more hot damp nights and no more wondering how mosquitoes found a way through the screens.

My father gave me something that day that all the riches in the world can't buy. Besides the air conditioner, with his precious time, he gave knowledge and a new self-confidence. Up to that point, my only dealings with an air conditioner were adjusting the settings. I received a free gift that would last a lifetime. Such gifts are priceless.


  1. You and I are fortunate. I had a dad like yours. It didn't matter what it was around the house: wiring, plumbing, carpentry, glazing, cooking, a man was supposed to be able to do it.


  2. Yes we are. Economics forced many handyman tasks and I was glad I wasn't a victim of my ignorance.

  3. Your father was a smart man. But not because he could fix things.

  4. I regret spending more time with my father. Before I was older, and left home, he didn't have the time. At that time, I was too busy, and too young, to realize how precious every minute can be.

    My father died in 1989 at the age of 62. The ravages of cancer took him in short period of time and before he could retire. So much of his history left when he died and I still wonder about his past.