Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

You Can't Do Everything Online

welding2.jpgBy Dennis D. McDonald

My heart sank when I saw what my wife had brought home from her mother's house - an electric treadmill that hadn't been used in years. Its base was broken and it must have weighed 150 pounds.

Somehow we wrestled it into the basement, there to be perched up against a wall in an out of the way corner. I figured that was the last we'd seen of it, at least until death, a move, or my creation of my Home Media Center caused us to revisit that space.

The basic problem with it was that the base that supported it was broken, a crack in steel that required a welder's touch -- and I don't do welding.

We already have an excellent rowing machine, so I figured the treadmill would just take up space.

But The Wife started making noises about how nice it would be to have a treadmill in the basement, she could exercise and watch TV at the same time -- and not spend $$$ every months to Curves not knowing for sure that she might be  helping political causes she didn't agree with.

I finally hunkered down, extracted the treadmill from storage, and examined the systems.

The basic motor was fine, the belt in fine shape, but the "H" shaped metal support that the entire treadmill rested upon -- the one that the electric worm drive pushed against to raise and lower angle of the entire device -- was broken clean at one point. I disassembled the structure and set aside the screws and other components holding the broken frame together. Now to find a welder.

The Web to the Rescue. I started typing in my zip code and the words "welding" into Google's "local" search. Welding companies started popping up nearby. I started calling them.

The first three didn't exist. Then I hit one. Someone for whom English was a third language answered and said, yes, stop by tomorrow (Saturday) and he'd fix it. I printed the driving directions out.

The computerized directions were  in error. It took three calls to locate the place. Even then I couldn't tell if my understanding was right. All I knew is that I had to drive South on Telegraph Road. And drive. And drive. And drive.

I finally happened upon an industrial park way South of Alexandria. There along the side of the building, nestled among a series of furniture repair shops, I saw flashes, sparks, and a sign announcing WELDING COMPANY. I waited while a group of gathered Hispanic workmen negotiated their deal, and looked around. Metal strips and sections of iron fence were everywhere. Sparks and arc-light flashed from two separate locations while other jobs were completed. Then the welder approached.

"I called you about the exercise machine repair -- can you fix this?" Immediately I felt like an idiot. Obviously this was small potatoes to this guy. He eyed the pieces for a second. "Twenty Dollars," he responded, after squinting for a second. I told him to go ahead while I watched.

It took him about 10 minutes from start to finish, and he even spray painted the still-warm joint to protect from rust. He handed me his business card, one side English, the other Korean. It proudly stated the proprietors as "Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee."

I took the repaired part home, reassembled the treadmill, and everything works just fine. I even set up a spare TV and stereo in front of the treadmill to provide some entertainment.

Now to find a copy of the manual...


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