Saturday, March 22, 2014


This is Lent, when popularly, it is thought that one should be giving something up, as in, "I gave up peanut butter for Lent."  As I understand it from the ancients, though, it was about cultivating a deeper desire for Christ, not necessarily giving something up.  Appended to this was the idea of penance ...

Now anyone who has undertaken to build a boat is familiar with penance and suffering ...

The winter was long and deep.  In addition, a trip was made to South America, other responsibilities and vocations were attended to.  Time in the boiler shop was scarce.  I could not spend as much time on the launch as I desired.  The spouse became worried as neurosis set in.  But today dawned warmer with a hint of Spring, and I was free to work in the shop.

As you may recall, faithful reader, I am building three boilers - one for myself and two for friends.  The one was just ninety some tube-beadings away from its hydro-static test.  And so, thinking about my sins and shortcomings, I picked out a flaring and beading tool, hefted Cletus from the air gun rack and made penance on the tube sheet.

Cletus and I are old friends.  He is thirty-five years old.  Together, we must have beaded over hundreds of tubes in six different locomotives; some repeated re-tubings.  Cletus has a slow, long stroke that when throttled is gentle when starting the tube roll, but can build to a chain-gun crescendo when putting the final polish on the roll.

To illustrate all of this for the uninitiated, here are some illustrations:

An array of tubes (not mine); some flared and some beaded:

The beading tool:

A boilermaker (no acquaintance), beading tubes with an air gun (not Cletus):

So, after a slow, thunderous morning and afternoon, I finished the one boiler.  I ache and there are few busted knuckles, but my soul is purged and free.  The result from the camera-phone, still flecked with bits of Crisco.

Quiéscite ágere pervérse, díscite benefácere: quærite iudícium, subveníte opprésso, iudicáte pupíllo, deféndite víduam. Et veníte et iudício contendámus, dicit Dóminus.

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