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Old 07-02-2012, 07:50 PM   eBay Motors  #1581 (permalink)
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i don't read this every day, but every time i do i find myself not being able to put this thread down for both the stories and the truck build. thanks for getting my eyes off the tv screen!
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:18 PM   eBay Motors  #1582 (permalink)
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Where's the hole for the .50 Cal?!
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:16 AM   eBay Motors  #1583 (permalink)
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Looking good. Do you think the fiberglass shell will warp any after cutting out the main support system? I havent worked with fiberglass, so i wasnt sure if it would retain its shape or give out. I'm sure you've already thought of this...
Very good point!
I'd say it will obviously weaken somewhat but that darned thing is pretty rigid and stout. I am saving most of the compound curves where the bulk of the strength lies so I really feel it will maintain enough structural rigidity to keep it's shape long enough to get the steel frame glassed in. THen. I think it will start to become even stronger. I plan to glue in some webbing on the inside to make the base 2X-3X stronger just in case I do put a .50 mount up there. OK, well, maybe just kidding about the .50 mount, we;ll keep it small, say GAU-17
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:19 AM   eBay Motors  #1584 (permalink)
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i don't read this every day, but every time i do i find myself not being able to put this thread down for both the stories and the truck build. thanks for getting my eyes off the tv screen!
Happy to have afflicted ya!
Afterall what is life if we can't enjoy it, I believe we were meant to! And thinking about it, reading this thing is not costing you any money.

In your honor, my unknown friend, I think I'll have to post up a story or something, hmmm, let me see what I can find...
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:28 AM   eBay Motors  #1585 (permalink)
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All right, found something. I mentioned I was writing a second book. Here's something from that one, a funny and memorable little piece from it I hope you all will enjoy:

Dad The Trash Blew Up!

By

Donald Harward

Raising a family was and continues to be a source of fun and amusement for me. Kids do the craziest things and we as parents are wholly unprepared for the daunting task at hand. Having a family while knee deep in a career is all the more challenging. There always seems to be a fine line one has to walk between career and family needs with the balance in constant ebb and flow. With my family that career was one in the military, specifically, the US Army.

Throughout this story and the many which will follow the focus will center around the exploits of a young boy with my namesake, Don. I will attempt to detail his many experiences while growing up in the surreal world of the military while living in a family that moved around the world and was very near ground zero for a number of historical occurrences.

This story will not take place in the beginning of his wildly fantastic adventure but about one third of the way to him becoming a young man and finally leaving. He would have been somewhere around thirteen years old and in the sixth grade. I am a bit foggy about the exact timeframe, but not at all on the incident that gives its name to this story. No that is a very vivid memory indeed. This story takes place in our home, our very first house tucked away in Rural Tennessee on Lannom Road in Clarksville. If you have ever heard the Elvis song, last train from Clarksville, that’s the same place!

We hadn’t been there at our “new” house all that long, I had purchased it a few months earlier and was enjoying having Don live there and adjust to his new life. We had recently lived in Main Sondheim, Germany where we occupied a smallish apartment for the previous several years. We felt a loss from having left that friendly village where we were one of only two American families in a town of about a thousand. While there, over the months and years we had worn ourselves into the very fabric of that town and into the hearts of many of its residents. We had grown to love them as much as they loved us and in those early days in Clarksville the thoughts of lost friends and of that place was never all that far away.

When I first came back from Europe I had been assigned to a classified (secret) unit in the Army located at nearby Fort Campbell. Because of the difficult and demanding training requirements I had to endure, there was literally no time for anything else other than training and some badly needed sleep. Because of all of that Little Don could not accompany me when I first reported to Ft. Campbell and for many months thereafter. Instead he stayed with my father and mother in Maryland.

He was many hundreds of miles away and my off time was nearly nonexistent, so we saw each other very little for the first few months after we all left Germany. I sort of liked the idea, however, that he would get to live with his grandparents for a time and get to know them much better. From all reports, things were going well for all concerned but we wanted to be back together once again.

I didn’t really have a plan for where to live when I first reported to that new unit. I had never owned a house before, only lived in various apartments during those early years. To own a home seemed like an unobtainable dream to me, still a young officer with limited financial means. But as time went by I thought more and more about living in the country, in a real house that we could call our own.

I had grown up in a rural setting in a very old town, Abingdon, in Harford County, Maryland near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. My memories of that place were thick enough to slice with a knife. There was the church I occasioned, Cokesbury, which was the site of the first Methodist College in the colonies. On nearby Ha-Ha Branch, a small community a couple miles away, some of our family still lived on land which had been granted to them by Lord Baltimore, the first British Ruler of that area of what would become the United States. I had lived a youth of outdoor adventure replete with almost daily hunting, fishing, sailing, or similar activities. My brother and later my sister had known real freedom and we did not know of the widespread crime and concerns of our modern America. No, back then a child was free to roam the country as he saw fit, and the next adventure was waiting for the adventuresome just on the other side of the large Oak tree or around the bend.

Having enough maturity at the time to realize the importance of all of that as it pertains to the development of a young man’s character, I wanted that for Don also. That was the spark and motivation for the decision to seek a proper house in the country where he would learn and grow. That house, as it turned out was very easy to find. I must say and give due credit here to a certain divine spirit that in retrospect has been at the root of a great many of my decisions which I have made along the way. When we are young we have a strong belief in self. We are strong, fast, fleet of foot, and seemingly on top of our game. It is complete folly though for one moment to think that we actually did any of that in our own power. Actually (and in my opinion) that it is only with a great effort from somewhere else that actually contrives to connect all the dots and get us through to a good decision and outcome.

That good decision for me began with selecting a realtor of local distinction and by paying him a visit on one of my rare Saturday’s which I had off. I even remember the office. It was a brownish affair with cedar plywood panels adorning the sides and a rather average awning and single glass door. More like a home actually than an office in appearance, it had the immediate feel of being “right.”

Inside sat a husband and wife team who listened patiently while I went on about our particular needs and circumstances. They asked the pertinent questions, politely interrupting me only on a couple occasions while they scribbled a couple notes and nodded. I thought I’d try to make an impression, and while describing exactly what I wanted, also make me look like something other than the complete novice which I was at that time.

“We are looking for a three bedroom on some land out in the country with a wood burning heater and we want it to be brown!” The last little bit of my statement elicited both a raising of the eyebrows and a smile. The gentleman realtor answered immediately, “I know the exact house you want, but I’d suggest we look at two others first then visit the one which I believe will fit your needs perfectly.

He owned a large Cadillac Coupe Deville. Powered by a 500 cubic inch V-eight and looking like the Queen Mary with its somewhat faded aqua blue paint, we all got in and drove away. The first stop was to a home in a nearby community which had the proper size and number of bedrooms. That house was in fact brand new and had a price tag of some sixty thousand dollars. Back in nineteen eighty four that was big money. Especially for a junior pilot struggling with various payments including a new car. Further the home had many other homes built all around it. I couldn’t picture little Don leaving the house on a hunt for squirrels with his trusty twenty-two rifle, so we moved on.

The next home was a similar design. This second house was a ranch of about fifteen hundred square feet with three smallish bedrooms and a couple bath rooms. It too, would meet our basic needs, but was a little bit too much money and didn’t have open ground on which to roam.

Those two homes were located in the suburbs of Clarksville which exhibited the typical urban sprawl of a growing bedroom community. Mighty Fort Campbell was the economic engine of that place where it housed the mighty 101st Airborne division and my secretive unit. Over twenty thousand hardened combat troopers worked and trained there and supported a town of fifty thousand just outside the gates of that one hundred forty five thousand acre base. All of that is situated on the northern side of the Cumberland River which flows up from Nashville to the south and empties into the huge Kentucky Lake area to the north west. On one side of that river was suburbia and a wonderful old town, on the other side was near wilderness.

Driving along riverside drive on the south side of Clarksville we turned southwest in that giant Cadillac. Not far away and looming ever larger was an ancient narrow Iron bridge that looked like it had already lived its better days. We made a right turn and started up a long, climbing ramp that led directly toward that bridge. Pulling onto it I wondered if it was even two lanes wide? Was it groaning and creaking as we made our way across? It led to a rampart of hills overlooking Clarksville to the north east. The area we were entering was known as Cumberland Heights, but locals referred to it as string town. I never was quite sure why the name, but I can attest that it was like a different country by comparison to nearby Clarksville. Only hardened locals lived “out here.”

The road wandered from turn to turn as it meandered along the crest of the ridge ever farther away from Clarksville and from civilization. I wasn’t paying that much attention but in about two to three miles we slowed and made a hard left turn onto an oil coated dirt road. A crooked green and white street sign sticking out of the ground in a honey suckle patch said “Lannom Road.” We would learn later that the road had been named for our very neighbor, Mr. Lannom who had actually pushed enough dirt around to create the road in the first place when he built his house many years earlier, literally out in the woods.

At the very end of Lannom Road a gravel driveway on the left curved around gracefully back to the right, first downhill then back up and ended right in front of a single level brown ranch house. It was deep in the woods positioned on the top of a spur overlooking what locals called a “holler,” which was a valley. At the bottom of that “holler” flowed a perennial stream which worked a crooked path down to the Cumberland river not too far away.

Planting a foot on that gravel, I knew this was the place. Don could make a good run from here. The woods would teach him, the locals would harden him and teach him country ways, and together we would grow and experience many things here. The tour of the house’s interior was almost inconsequential as I just had that feeling that this was going to be our home. The master bedroom was small, as was everything else including the asking price. That was a very affordable $45,000 and it even had a wood burning stove augmenting the heat pump which droned in the back side of the house. For the added sum of only one thousand dollars, I could purchase the adjacent six acres of land making out total property a little over seven acres.

Mr. Realtor was very adept at reading his customers and he had done his job well with me. He saw the look on my face and I think he could see my mind’s eye visualizing my watching Little Don run through the woods on a day of discovery. “Do you want to make an offer” he asked? “I believe the seller is very motivated.” While looking over the expanse of the “holler,” I replied, “Yes, this is the place, this is our new home.”

The process went very well and also quickly, as does nearly all things that are of divine origin. In no time we had an agreement with the seller and a contract, and a willing bank to loan me the money. I called little Don the next week to tell him the good news. He would soon be coming to Tennessee to live in his new home and lay claim for the first time to his very own bedroom. Maybe it meant more to me than him, you’ll have to ask him that question, but I recall it a sure felt right at that time.

Before long, Don had come and life was settling into a familiar pattern. He had quickly found new friends, been integrated into his new elementary school, and even gotten a dog. I was very pleased with how he seemed to be assimilated into the local southern culture and before long, we had the feeling as though we had lived there for a long time. I was surprised at just how fast Don was developing. Before when living in that tiny third floor German apartment, he was somewhat limited by what he could do, but not here. In these rolling hills and thick woods was a life unfolding and exploding in all directions. I was still very busy with the Army and was often gone on some training mission or supporting this organization or that. The world was a very dangerous place at the time, as it remains to this day, I suppose, and my new outfit was a sort of nine-one-one force policing all of it. The calls would come unexpectedly at all hours and I’d be off for an undetermined period of time. But after returning I’d get another snap shot of my son’s continual development.

While constantly expanding the horizons on what he could do, and what I would allow him to do, he attained more and more responsibility. I was allowing him to venture out to who knows where for hours on end. He was shooting, playing sports, chasing the dog all over creation and just having a run of it. While allowing the growth outside of the home to continue, I was also encouraging more and more responsibility in the home. Don was very receptive to the idea, always eager to please and continually seeking more and more responsibility.

I had a lively hobby of working on cars at that time. It seems we always had some car project going and on some of them, Don was very much involved. The garage we had at the time was actually in the basement below the first floor. There, one tiny bay was the site of engine builds, body repair and repainting and hotroding of all sorts. Following any project, the mess created was usually considerable. Afterward or periodically during a project I would clean up the mess and bag the cans and other plastic and metal items for disposal in a nearby dump. You see, we did not have the luxury of a trash removal service so the accepted technique was to burn the paper products, compost the food and organic items and haul the metal and plastics to the dump. To those ends we all had compost piles and burn barrels.

We owned a fifty-five gallon barrel and thirty gallon trash can for that purpose. About two to three times a week, I would gather up the bags of paper and Don and I would haul them a short distance down the hill to a leveled off spot we used to burn the trash. Don seemed fascinated by the power and the mystery of the fire thing and as time went along, I would let him do more and more to help. Eventually, I let him start the fire and monitor it as was required to prevent accidental spreading to the nearby grasses and trees.

On the fateful day, I seem to remember it was an autumn day. I was relaxing on the couch watching TV following a long “day at the office.” My eyes were heavy and I was looking forward to supper and an early night. I had left the house around five AM to go to PT (physical training) on post and had flown some during the day. The cold weather had taken a toll and all in all, I was toast. Little Don presented himself and asked if he could burn the trash. The question was presented in such a manner as to suggest, that he wanted to burn it himself without my presence. I thought about it for a moment. This was one of those decisive moments and a chance for me to show him that I trusted him with something potentially dangerous. There didn’t seem to be all that much risk, a recent rain had dampened the leaves and grass so the risk of a fire spreading was low. “Sure Don, go ahead, have fun.” I could see the slight change in posture as he crossed into a new realm of trust between him and his dad.

It’s funny, but you are just never prepared for all the folly that is always waiting patiently just out of sight to erupt onto your placid landscape and smack you right in the forehead. I believe I was somewhere between sleepy land and the conscious world when I heard the first in a series of explosions.

I came wide awake instantly, but my mind was not there in my house. Nothing fit just right at that moment. I thought I just heard a volley of 2.75 inch rockets slam into the earth producing that muffled “Whump, whump” sound. Then in an instant I knew it wasn’t that at all. I jerked my head around toward the window just in time to see a ball of black smoke spreading outward from where the burn barrels were. I got an instant sick feeling of doom as I flew out the door and turned downhill toward where Don should be. I didn’t know what I was about to encounter, or how this had happened, but I was scared, real scared. In a flash I saw him staggering uphill walking toward the house. He was covered with black soot from head to toe! He looked just like Wiley Coyote who had just been blown up while holding a handful of dynamite. His black stained cheeks had two trails of pink skin where the tears were washing away the soot. His hair was full of tatters of paper and everything else imaginable, but I could see no visible damage. He was shaking and crying as I walked the last couple feet to him but no blood. Through those green tear filled eyes he looked up at me and uttered those words I will never forget, “Dad, the trash blew up!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

After some inspection I could see he was not harmed at all, just startled and scared. Behind him beside a trash barrel which had been partially blown apart were the remnants of some shattered spray paint cans. I immediately knew what had happened. While grabbing the bags of trash he had collected one or two which contained paint cans from where I had cleaned the garage earlier. Those bags were intended for the trash dump and obviously, not for the burn barrel. In his zeal, born from his newly found trust, he had collected all the trash in the spirit of doing a good job and impressing his father. But as with all things the result is not always what we might expect. The outcome from this little “learning experience” was not a bad one, but certainly was a memorable one. As it would go with many of the things which would happen to Don over the years, he would survive intact and in good spirit. He would as we say in the Army, “live to fight another day.”
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:51 AM   eBay Motors  #1586 (permalink)
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HAHAHAHA I too had a learning experience so so similiar to this while helping my grandfather burn the trash around the farm! I might have lacked a mojority of the soot covered body but it none-the-less scared the bajesus outta me!
As demanded I have subscribed to this incredible thread filled with all kinds of excitement!
Over and out!
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:12 PM   eBay Motors  #1587 (permalink)
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lol, great read. experience is always the best teacher!!
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:34 PM   eBay Motors  #1588 (permalink)
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lol, great read. experience is always the best teacher!!
Indeed!
He grew up just fine, but had about a hundred other funny things happen to him along the way.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:38 PM   eBay Motors  #1589 (permalink)
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OK, let's get going again on day 2 of the topper modification.
Today the big hole happened. What was smooth and curved and all shiney white is now a thing of the past.
I laid the new top frame onto the topper and squared it the best I could. THen I marked a line on either side of the frame. The 2" wide area needed to be cut at the outside edge on the front and back edges since they were crowned, however only about half way on the sides so I had a flange to bond the frame to. With a couple holes drilled into the shell at the corners, it was saber saw time
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:41 PM   eBay Motors  #1590 (permalink)
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Here is the resultant hole. It is just rough cut at this point. It would require many more fine cuts to slowly sink the steel frame into the top just where I wanted it.
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