Tom Dually 1.1 and 1.2


Tom Dually 1.1

The Frankenwerke is back in business!

On the last couple of road trips, Miss Kathleen’s trailer seemed to be developing more and more aches and pains.  First it was marker lights (never designed or marketed as underwater things) that seemed to wink out one by one.  Then, wire connections—and there are scads of ‘em—started breaking inside the crimp connectors and other places, that took some heavy–duty noodling to nail down.  The leaf springs seem to be complaining more and more, as we lurch around various parking places of uneven character.

Most recently, while barreling along single-file through the seasonally ubiquitous construction zones on one of our cross-state highways; I thought I saw movement from the port side trailer fender.  We were in a line of big rigs that all seemed to have someplace to get to, and hemmed in on both sides by New Jersey barriers.  The pavement was gouged out for replacement, and pretty rough.  Plenty to be paying attention to.  But, about every third glance in the mirror showed a definite sashaying back and forth from that heavy, steel fender.  Could it be completely loose?  Only sort of rattled loose on the bolts?  Not the sort of thing I really wanted to find out.  One of those fenders ricocheting off the barriers and the following traffic would not be a good thing.  About then, something black, heavy, and hard to describe appeared immediately in front of the left front truck tire.  It went “Ka-bannnngggg!!!” off the frame and floorboard directly under my feet.  And it sounded heavy and hard enough to have done some kinda serious damage.

Still running with the bulls through that endless concrete chute.  No apparently cut fuel line, bleeding brake line, or holed muffler.  But, it was definitely getting time to look for a bingo field.  Turns out, the first opportunity was an exit at the little village at Snoqualmie Pass.  I found a spot and got out to inspect that fender.  As I passed the trailer tongue, something even worse popped up on the screen.  I’m guessing that hunk of metal (sort of on the order of a cast iron lid on a potbellied wood stove, sort of) that caromed off the floorboards did more mayhem than imagined.   Somehow, it had to hit a narrow aperture that I would be hard pressed to hit with a hammer.  The factory plug and bracket and trailer plug and several yards of wiring were all dragging along in our wake.  I had been running that gauntlet without a scent of trailer lights.  It was suddenly necessary to band aid things back together.  We had yet to run metro-Seattle traffic at the bottom of that mountain freeway.  No lights would be a No Bueno for certain.  Repairs took a bit longer than initially imagined in that cold rain, next to the highway.  And, that fender still needed first aid, too.  Anyhow.

I made a different kind of discovery a couple of weeks back.  I took the whole rig across a log truck scale in Priest River.  Seems, my quite-new 3,500 pound capacity axle is toting around a bit more than a half-ton more than that.  And, I do remember taking a couple leaves out of those springs back almost two years ago, to make the axle U-bolts “long enough.”  The tongue extension is pretty “ingenious” too.  It’s all lashed together with galvanized “mending plates,” and grade-two galvanized carriage bolts.  I did add a lot of them; but the entire 6-foot extension is held on with the friction resulting from compression from these relatively-soft fasteners, on a structure that flexes up and down, vibrates, and has generally been doing the hootsie coochie  steadily for maybe 20,000 miles. It’s either time for a complete re-work on that beast of burden.  Or time to start completely over.

The Frankenwerke crew has been off for nearly the entire summer.  And, now the Planning Department guys have plugged in a new priority at the very top of the shop punch list:  “Place Tom Dually into service, ASAP.”  Talk about a tall order.  He’s a big boy, for starts.

And, it would appear that those boys and girls down in Planning didn’t schedule the removal of quite a bit of stuff that’s accumulated on the shop floor before giving the green light to this undertaking.  But, in a single night shift, the metal-fab crew has managed to get new U-bolts fabricated and installed.  That seemed like a good idea, when they broke several of the originals off just trying to get ‘em loosened.  And, the wheel truck is now moved as far aft as possible.  A bunch of 3” square tubing has gotten cut up, and drilled for half-inch shank.  But it’s the Design Department that is fumbling their way along.  Somehow, this rig is going to have to perform just as efficaciously as the original unit. And, that original was done with a great amount of by-eye curve replication.  Cutting and installing a new set of curved bunks of about 20 feet fore ‘n aft won’t likely be any more difficult than all the other stuff we do here.  Not fun.  Just necessary.

Since I sort of had a day or two off from my duties in preparing the funeral for my now-passed 94-year old father, day after tomorrow; I figured the least I could do, was show up for this morning’s staff meeting and see what those guys have gotten done.  They’re a bit flapnoozled over how to measure for Miss Kathleen’s stub keel clearing the trailer frame when launching and recovering. The water’s already gotten too cold for anybody with 98-point-6 as a baseline body temperature to want to go swimming and actually check things out in situ.   And, I don’t blame those guys for shying away.

I told ‘em that they should just cut things off as close to the hind end as possible, and go with it.  The engineering guys pointed out, “…but, you gotta’ keep this thing hooked together back there.  Can’t be wobbling all over the place…remember last time…?”

They gotta’ point, there.  I’ll have to show up at tomorrow’s staff meeting, and see what they came up with today.  I’ll let you know.

Tom Dually 1.2

The Lucas asks a hard question.

I was scrolling through my email the other day.  Somebody working in the graphics and copy writing section here, at Frankenwerke, normally does a short wrap-up of the stuff we get done on any given day and sends it off to MAIB and DW.  Then, if he’s feeling particularly brazen, he forwards copies on to a couple-three handfuls of people that I’ve plugged into my address book over the past few years.  The Lucas gets most of my stuff on this “galley proof” distro list.  Sometimes, he even responds with characteristic wit and laconic drollness.  Anyhow, I was scrolling through the ol’ in-box when one of those notifications flashed across the screen, about an incoming message.  It was from Dave.

As I reached back for my trusty trackball (yeah, yeah, I know…totally outré’) my hand brushed one of those sticky notes off onto the floor.   As I picked it up, I realized it was from one of the guys who works in purchasing.  The note was pretty succinct.  “Gather up chits from lumber yard, hardware store, etc., and total expenses so far on that new trailer overhaul…”  Not too sure how long that note had been perched on the pile of papers protecting my desk from sun damage and coffee spills.  Maybe a while.  So, I stood up and dug around in my pockets, dumped the receipts and stuff out of my wallet, and then headed out to the shop to see what I might find in my jacket, truck dashboard, and so forth.  Hey, I was an administrative pogue in the navy for 25 years.  Now, I make sawdust.  Paperwork is for some-other-time.

When I got back to the office, there was another note on the top of that pile.  “Read his email.  Lucas just might be right.”  Huh?

Every married male in this galaxy will tell you that when he hears, “…why didn’t you (fill in the blanks)?…” nobody really wants to know WHY anything didn’t happen.  The foregone conclusion is that you’re simply too stoopid to breathe.  And, that even one so cretinous as yourself should be able to figure this one out.  Anyhow, I’m familiar with the form.

Basically, Dave asked me why I didn’t just go out and buy the right trailer, close to home, for a ridiculous price.  Like he does.  Well, now that he asked, I don’t have such a good answer.  Take this Tom Dually project for instance.  I did kinda’ drive a long way.  I didn’t come home with what I went out into the sticks to buy.  And, my initial target item wasn’t all that good an idea, either. And, I probably could have found a complete boat trailer in the local listings for about what I paid for a converted flatbed decked in broken and eroded Trex decking.  Tom also will need tires, and brakes, and new wiring, and paint, and bunks, and rollers, and…

That pile of chits that has been accumulating after my multiple trips to town for hardware and lumber is getting taller all the time.  Looked at it this way, I really didn’t get even a marginally good deal.  So, how come?

Well, allow me to paraphrase Dave for a moment.  He has also said,  on many occasions, “Anybody can go out and buy something.  We, here at the Tiki Hut figure stuff out.  We build stuff.  We make it just like we want.  And, you can’t buy that…”  Yeah, Dave.  That’s why.  But, you already knew that.

Anyhow, thanks, Dave.  I’ll try to have a better answer next time we have a chance to chat.  And, I do hope that’s soon.  Right now, I gotta figure out how to get this trailer operational.

I just can’t wait to see what I do next…

Part 1.0 – Part 1.1 and 1.2


  1. Dan,
    I’m ancient enough to catch the nod to the Kingston Trio’s hit. I couldn’t quite remember the lyric and looked it up. Yikes! Here’s hoping Tom Dually has more to look forward to than his namesake Tom Dooley.

  2. Bill:

    It’s funny how a song like that can “take you back,” and then, simply, “stick in your head.” As that project morphed over the past Sep/Oct, it got to the point of something more on the order of Poe’s “Tintinnabulation of the bells, Bells, BELLS!!!” So, his moniker shifted to a more dignified “Mr. Tom,” as a proper consort for “Miss Kathleen” should, likely, be. A fellow-with-a-history, but now living peaceably enough, among the reg’lr folk. Please, stay tuned. Tom has quite the story to tell.



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