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Dads Apprentice Four

Dads Apprentice Four



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Published by Paul Richardson
This is the final installment of the Dad's Apprentice series.
This is the final installment of the Dad's Apprentice series.

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Published by: Paul Richardson on Jun 18, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Dad¶s Apprentice ± Four
By the time I was 15, I had learned to do a wide range of things by working withmy Dad, carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, auto repair, major and minor appliance repair and how to fish and hunt. Yes, we did take time for other pursuits beyond work all of the time. As I mentioned in previous chapters, we had sold theGuernsey Lake cottage and bought a much more expensive lot on a lake closer tohome. It was also attractive to Mom and Dad because it was located in the³neighborhood´ where they were born and raised.Since the lot purchase had consumed most of the proceeds from the cottage sale,Dad was looking for economical ways to acquire the materials for building a newcottage at Morrison Lake. The opportunity arose in the summer of 1958.Michigan State University about 20 miles east of home in East Lansing was preparing to replace the frame construction married housing they had quickly putin place for the surge in WWII veterans going to school on the GI Bill. The frameunits were 110 feet long containing 5 apartments each. The university, to get themremoved expeditiously was offering them for a few hundred dollars to anyone whowould agree to have them torn down and hauled away by mid-August.Dad purchased a 44 foot section (two apartments). Each unit came with bathroomfixtures, kitchen fixtures and each unit had an oil furnace. Since we had to movequickly, Dad bought an old Chevy stake rack flat bed truck with dual wheels on therear and a 5 speed floor shift transmission linked to a Chevy ³suffering six´ engine.It wouldn¶t win any races but it would haul massive loads with ease. We wouldonly drive the big truck over when we had a load to take to the dump or a load of lumber to bring home. The buildings were built in sections so they could bedisassembled by section and hauled home for further disassembly and rebuildinginto new sections consistent with the new cottage plans.During the time of the tear down and haul away project, we worked like longdistance sprinters. Dad would go to work at 5:30 every morning and then gethome about 4:30 in the afternoon. I would be ready to go and Mom would have ameal packed for us to eat on the drive to the site. This was a 7 day a week  process. On the weekends we would leave home by 6 AM and on Saturday (asMonday thru Friday) we would work until it was too dark to see, usually getting
home at 9:30 to 10 PM. On Sundays we would quit early and get home around6:30 PM. I know I worked darned hard during that time but Dad with working hisfull time job plus working on our project worked really hard. This was the firsttime I really understood the old saying that when you get home from somethinglike those days, you need to leave the door open for half an hour to let your fannydrag in.While the tools we used for the teardown were mostly standard carpentry tools,one tool new to me was a nail puller. We each had one and they were ideallysuited to pulling the nails at the section junctions so that we could take things apartwithout causing massive damage to the lumber we were salvaging. The nail pullers were designed cleverly to be able to do the whole job of pulling nailswithout needing other tools such as hammers. If you look at the pictures, I showthe puller in extended and compressed modes. Notice the narrow opposing clawsthat were hinged to accommodate different diameter nails. The long two piecenested handle was used by using the slide action to drive the claws deep enoughinto the wood on both sides of the nail to be able to get under the nail on bothsides. Next you would close the jaws, extend the handle for maximum leverageand torque the nail out. We used them so well with all out practice, I think wecould have used them in our sleep. And maybe at the end of a long, long day wemay have actually done that.The process started by removing the interior plumbing and fixtures, the furnace,kitchen cabinets. The next step was to remove the roofing. They had used rollroofing instead of individual shingles. This actually made it easier to remove because once you got it started at the peak you could basically pry it loose along its
length and ³roll´ it down the roof to the eaves with repeated prying along thelength of the roof at lower and lower points we could finally push the roofing off to the ground where it could be loaded on the truck for a dump run.Then it was time to remove the windows for transport home. The siding was somesort of cheap compressed board that was not salvageable so it went to the dumptoo. Next was the time consuming and careful process of removing thousands andthousands of nails one at a time to be able to take the sections apart withoutdamage. At this phase we brought the big truck more and more often because wehad lots of stuff to bring home. We would stack sections still attached to their wall studs or rafters or joists on the flat bed as high as we could, well above the topof the cab.One aside was that Dad thought all of our drives each day would be a good way for me to get driving practice. I had driven farm tractors and similar trucks whileworking for neighboring farmers but never on the road or at more than slow speed.The old Chevy was a challenge to drive because the transmissions of that era didn¶thave syncros built into them so you had to learn to double clutch when shifting upor down to avoid grinding your gears to powder. Once you ³got it´ you wonder why it took a bit of time to learn. I liked driving the 57 Chevy family car better than the truck but both were good experience.We made I don¶t know how many trips to the dump but we met the deadline with afew days to spare. My football practice for school started a few days later and thenI was into school full bent. Dad worked all fall and into the winter, further pullingapart the sections and rebuilding them into the required pieces for the new cottagewhich we constructed the following summer.One story related to that is worth telling because it was funny (to us, not the participants I would guess). We were working on shingling the roof of the cottageand a guy and his wife were not far off shore in a runabout. He was trying to gether up on water skis. Well this went on for some time with both getting more andmore frustrated. Of course, they didn¶t seem to realize that the sound of their arguments traveled so clearly over the water to us. Dad looked at me once andsaid, ³I wonder if that marriage will last.´ I can¶t answer that question but suspectthe husband may have slept on the couch that night or perhaps in the doghouse.

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