A box of 10 gauge welding rods and a dozen skinny angle grinder discs please, Pat.” I was in Mortimer Machinery buying what I needed for a workshop project I had in my head.
The very wet and windy weather had put a stop to all fieldwork, though there’s much to be done. But farming has always been about using less productive times like this to good advantage. It’s good for the head as well.
So I’d spend a day being creative in the characterful old stone workshop (1841) and I hadn’t fabricated anything in there in a long time. The blacksmith’s bellows may be long gone but the anvil remains. Neither has the arc welder been replaced with a MIG.
Time was when I used to be always gunterin’ in the workshop making stuff. As a matter of fact, I have quite a few inventive workshop creations to my name, none of which, it has to be said, were awarded worldwide patents. The most notorious of these inventions and perhaps the most useful, was one the children christened the “shaker sheen”.
The shaker machine was developed in 1993 when third baby, Victoria, was proving difficult to put down to sleep. In my desperate babysitting efforts, I’d noticed any sort of rocking motion got even the most reluctant child to sleep. I came up with an idea that involved a 220V electric motor, a 100:1 ratio reduction gearbox and a belt-driven sliding teak cradle.
The baby was put into the cradle, the unit was powered up and the cradle oscillated very smoothly backwards and forwards. Even the most difficult child succumbed to sleep. One night, we forgot to switch it off and as a result baby and all slept blissfully through to morning.
But global sales were slow and I own the only production machine ever built. Victoria obviously didn’t suffer too badly from shaken baby syndrome as she is now a stable, well-qualified physiotherapist. However, other parents were less enthusiastic about entrusting their little darlings to the shaker sheen but I did rent it out to a cousin, Norman, with good results.
Other inventions over the years include a low-loader trailer known as the Arab Carrier Mark I, which featured in the iconic magazine Power Farming in 1983. The Arab Carrier series ran all the way up to a Mark V, which I think was a home-built diesel bowser.
More recently, I built a dual wheel changer which is very useful. And also for dual wheels, I invented a new method of attachment but the manufacture of this was subcontracted out to Bruno’s boys – it was beyond my workshop capabilities with high-tech plasma cutting.
But not all my ideas are a success. Recently, there was a meal dispenser which cost a fortune to build. It’s a complete disaster. And a seed hopper for the Fendt Xylon (see machinery page 3) wasn’t much better.
However, nowadays I still come up with ideas but because I’m older and lazier than I used to be, I get Bruno’s boys to build them. The quality of workmanship is higher and, just as in bygone days when the blacksmith’s forge was a sociable place to be on a wet day, it’s always good craic in Bruno’s. But it isn’t advisable to call him a blacksmith to his face.
So it’s been a long time since I spent a day in the workshop – this time fabricating a mobile stand for filling the fertiliser spreader, which I really enjoyed.
Mind you, the hand’s gone shaky with the stick welder so between that and a lack of practice, some of the welds have a distinct resemblance to crow shite.