Saturday, July 14, 2007

Building New Things

Three Hundred Ninety Forth Post: Building New Things

I came across yet another building problem. I was putting together a bike rack that fits on the vehicle’s trailer hitch. I could not figure out why they didn’t give me a hitch bolt. The receiver on my truck was 5/8 inch and the hole in the rack’s bar was less than ½. After going to 2 different auto parts that confirmed my theory of shearing breaking the ½ bolt in the 5/8 hole, I decided to drill the holes the right size.

After a trip to the local hardware I always go to for my little projects, my Dad and I drilled the holes. That is after buying a $25, 5/8 drill bit. It was only after drilling the holes did I read the back of the instructions and see that they included a nonslip bolt. It was a stupid but easy mistake of not reading the instructions. That is when the instructions are actually complete and explain everything thoroughly. The funny thing is that I had keep thinking of such a bolt such as the nonslip bolt. I knew if I had a machine shop how I would build one, but I didn’t know they were common and I didn’t check the hardware thoroughly. The nonslip bolt is small enough to go through the hole and has a rim of 5/8 inch where it touches the receiver’s hole. I could see in my mind what I need, but seeing all 4 bolts that came with the rack, I did not make any connection.

There is many advantages of drilling the holes in the bike rack bigger. I have a stronger, standard size hitch bolt that locks. Also the bolt that was provided with the rack has to be unscrewed to remove it from the truck’s hitch receiver. Now all I have to do is unlock the hitch bolt and pull it out. As Bob Ross would say, “We have a happy accident.” Sometimes when building the work comes easy, and sometimes assembly takes hours. Go figure.

May the Creative Force be with You!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Builders before Designers

Three Hundred Ninety Third Post: Builders before Designers

I dabble in math and drafting with a little design of simple things. But I realized something the other day when I was assembling my new bike. And that is that I need to improve as a builder. You see in design you think about the entire aspects of the designs assemble, but in building it must go together. That is the problem. Things tend to not want to go together. I mean screwing in one screw is easy. Screwing in dozens of different size parts when you are relying on poor instructions is a great challenge. There is also the times when everything goes together perfectly, but in the end you find that you have to tear it apart because it is on backwards.

Originally before I bought my bike, I was going to attempt to build a bicycle car out of PVC pipe with plans I ordered over the Internet. I was excited and ready to put this thing together. But again, the instructions were difficult so I scrapped the idea. It would have been fun and quite a learning experience. However I don’t think I was ready for the time and patience it would take to construct this thing.

Everything in the store you buy says “made in China.” It kind of makes you think America doesn’t build anything. But when I read “Make” magazine or watch things like “Monster Garage” I am reassured we do have the greatest makers and builders in the World. So why doesn’t it seem that way? I honestly have no idea. Maybe it starts with our schools. Classes like drafting and wood shop aren’t seen as important as other traditional classes. But nothing could be further from the truth. Art and industrial classes are were we learn to be builders. And once we are builders, we can become designers.

Einstein was right: “Imagination is More Important than Knowledge.” That doesn’t mean knowledge isn’t important. Though, it does mean we are learning facts in school without using our imagination. That is why students get bored in class. They have no understanding what they can do with the knowledge they just learned. It is being forgotten before they every apply it.

So the next time the schools want to cut the budget. For the makers sake, make sure it isn’t one of those classes were builders become creators.

May the Creative Force be with You!