that requires a simple fix.
I could share so many examples about this, so
here’s a fun one.
Every now and then I’m stationed at Fort
Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., for my job at General
Dynamics Land Systems, where I work in their
prototype shop as a driver/mechanic. When I’m
there, I like to visit Tombstone as it’s only about a
20-minute drive south of the base. I’m not gonna
lie, I’m kind of a fanatic of the movie. I really dig
walking through the O.K. Corral where the famous
showdown between Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and
the outlaw cowboys took place. Currently there is
a functioning blacksmith shop literally in the exact
location of the shootout. How cool is that?
On one of my visits I got to talking to the man
hammering on the anvil, a burly, bearded old-
timer whose name is Grizz. He gave me a bit of his
background and I did the same, and I told him how
I’d always wanted to blacksmith. When you can have
an informed conversation about metal, whether
you’re a welder, fabricator, tin knocker, millwright,
or blacksmith, I think there is a trust that forms. He
mentioned that he had a little 110-V MIG welder
that he used to stick together pieces of metal for
souvenir trinkets, and that it had faded to the point
where trying to use it was an exercise in futility. He
figured that something was wrong with the machine,
but his background wasn’t in welding, at least not in
any type of modern welding.
I offered to look at it. I had a sneaking suspicion
that a little attention would cure what was ailing the
machine, and that it would be zapping tchotchke
again in no time. Sure enough, the nozzle was filled
with so much spatter that it was stopping the flow
of gas. The contact tip also had spatter on it, which,
along with the mess in the nozzle, caused the welding wire to either arc out and sputter or jam and
birdnest. There weren’t any spare consumables, so
with a pair of wire cutters, a file, and a steel brush, I
did what I could to clean up what was there.
I put it back together, ran a couple of test beads,
adjusted the tension of the rollers, and then handed
the gun to Grizz and told him to give it a shot. He
pulled the trigger and said it felt like a new machine.
In exchange for my help he told me to come by
again for a blacksmithing lesson or two. So, geeking out over Tombstone and my passion for metal
collided and I experienced blacksmithing in the O.K.