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Old 11-22-2012, 03:50 PM   #124
Ulyses OP
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Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 1,091
Ghetto Fab-rication

One of the things that I had meant to do before I left the states was weld a larger base plate onto the bottom of my kickstand. We’ve all been there: put the kickstand down, hop off the bike, and watch it fall over as the kickstand sinks into the mud.

Every day that I go to Spanish class, I pass a little shop where the men inside are welding and building stuff out of metal, so today I decided to see if they would sell me a little piece of scrap and use their shop. It took me a while to explain to them what I wanted to do. It took even longer for me to explain that I wanted to do it myself.

After a bit of broken Spanish and some vague hand gestures, we were good to go! I hunted through their scrap pile until I found a likely piece of steel, then used their angle grinder with a cutoff wheel to get the general shape. I asked if they had a cutting torch to cut out the pattern….no dice. So I used a cutting press to trim it to size and the angle grinder to smooth it out.

The steel was a little thin so I figured I could fold the edges up a little bit to add some strength. They didn’t have an anvil, so I grabbed a broken ball peen hammer, held the plate against the vise with a pair of pliers, and started whacking away.

By this time my expanded base plate was looking a little ghetto, but I decided that half the fun was making it myself, even if it looked like crap.

After a good deal of pounding, it was time to weld. Now, I haven’t used an Arc Welder in about ten years, so I was going to just let the owner do it. But then I said to myself, man, you should just do this yourself.

And the results were about what you would expect. I told the owner of the shop, Waltzo, that it was looking “un poco horrible”. He laughed, and agreed with me, then offered to fix it.

I should mention that the Arc Welder was missing one of the insulators on the head and it shocked the crap out of me a couple of times. But that’s no excuse for my inabilities as a welder. I really needed my brother alvincullumyork to fix and fabricate for me.

Waltzo finsished up the welding, pounded off the slag with a spare piece of angle iron, cleaned it up a little with the grinder then splashed a little black paint on it. Good as new! I offered to pay, but he said it was gratis. I finally managed to make him take 20 quetzal.

I went back to the hotel, reinstalled the kickstand, and brought it back to the shop so I could show Waltzo. One of the other guys that I had ridden with for a while had had his friends sign his gas tank. So I started having people that I met along the way sign my tank. The only criteria for a signature was that they had to be a memorable person or help me out in some way. So I had Waltzo sign my gas tank.

Yes, the weld looks like crap. But hey, it works. Form follows function or something, right? All in all, it’s shaping up to be a memorable thanksgiving.
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