Hmm, this was an interesting little project.
Doro, (the sweet ‘n' lovely Dorothy), & the equally sweet, (!), Kris, also known as Gypsy, live in the same road as Ska Man's garage in bonny Basingstoke, Hampshire. This has become the hub of the Manky empire. Central sun to several orbiting lock-up garages, mainly cos it's in Ska man's back garden so has electrickery for welders & angle grinders & is within walking distance of Asda for regular cake supplies. Got to know Doro & Kris via the 100% Biker forum, (www.100-biker.co.uk), & through occasional visits to the garage by them on their GT750 Kwacka trike. Nice people.
So anyway, the very happy couple decided they wanted to marry, but neither of 'em being religious in any way, they decided to forego a church do in favour of a civil ceremony instead. After checking with the authorities they found they still needed to include mention of God in the service, which wasn't what they wanted. Solution? Write their own vows, create their own ceremony, invite close friends & hold it somewhere special. Not legally binding, but just as meaningful to them, which is all that matters isn't it. The venue was the recent NAB'D national rally, “You've been NAB'D 14” near Manchester. Both being into the whole mystical, historical thing, a medieval Scottish theme was chosen complete with kilts, swords & goblets of wine.
So what's that got to do with me then? Well I was lucky enough to be invited along as a guest. Much appreciated. Free ticket to the rally. Just have to bring along a wedding pressie. No problem. Three days before the event I eventually get around to reading their “Wedding Present” thread on the 100% forum. “We'd like guests to give something of themselves, a home-made gift to remind us of the giver”. Oooh, bugger!
Alright, don't panic -yet. Let's think about this. Something of the giver. O.K, they know me as the bloke in the garage, always up to his elbows in bits of bikes & grinding dust. We're all lifestyle bikers, living & breathing bikes, so obviously it should be bike related. They're going the Scottish route so something to tie in with that would be nice. What have we got then? A bit of ferreting about in the spares bins turns up an old Harley handlebar grip for my trike & a bar-end indicator, one of a pair bought cheap somewhere but never used. Aha! Inspiration! Right, a length of two inch by quarter inch flat steel strap, a little bit of one inch tube, a dirty great lump of quarter inch steel plate & a couple of old ring spanners from my tool chest. Perfect. The ideal wedding pressie.
Here we go then. Hacksaw off about a foot of flat bar. Cut a slot in one end of the one inch tube with the angle grinder, tap it onto the flat bit, weld together then clean up with the grinder & a hand file. Take a pair of perfectly good combination spanners, (19mm & three quarter inch for the truly pedantic), cut the ends off, notch 'em over the flat bar & weld in place.
Lookin' good! Cup of tea. O.K. Spend an hour with the grinder trying to cut a straight, even depth groove down either side of the flat, before giving up & taking it round to Doug, my friendly local engineer, who mills a perfect furrow in a matter of minutes for nothing. Top man.
While it's at this stage, wrap it in a carrier bag to avoid being swooped on by the local constabulary & nip into town. Hand it over to the very bemused guy in the local heel bar & have him engrave “Doro & Gypsy” with the date, on one side of the “blade” & “With love, Manky Monkey” on the other. Spend ages trying to explain what it is & what it's for before walking back to the garage.
Now we need a base. Using a white “Tippex” pen, mark out a nice “splodge” shape on the flat steel plate. Spend ages weighing up the sculpture so far & trying to decide how wide the base should be, before giving up & just going for it. My brother's got a plasma cutter that would've done this in seconds. I've got a hacksaw. With no teeth. Five & a half hours of sweating & cursing! Quarter inch plate. What was I thinking! Sherman tanks are made from lighter stuff than this!
Chain-drill & file a slot for the blade to sit in, weld together & hope it stands up without falling over with a clunk…Success! Dance a small celebratory jig around the garage & have another cup of tea. Wire brush everything off then spray with an aerosol of clear lacquer that happens to be on the shelf. This has taken me two afternoons of messing about. It's the night before the ceremony. Well, projects are traditionally finished at the last minute aren't they! The lacquer won't dry. Take it home to my flat, turn the central heating up full blast & pray.
Managed to swap my day off to attend the ceremony on the Saturday lunchtime, so get up early to check the lacquer. Thank Gawd for that, it's dry. Tap the rubber grip on & top off with the indicator to form a big jewelled hilt thingy. I'd planned to use a length of tartan ribbon to finish it off, but after perusing the selection in the local fabric shop -to amused looks from the shop girls, I decided it'd look more Bay City Rollers than BraveHeart so went for some red & silver braid instead. The ends were dipped in Araldite glue & set into a pair of old stainless dome nuts from the trike engine, (must remember to replace ‘em!), to stop them fraying & give them some weight. Wrap it simply yet tastefully around the hilt, throw the thing in a rucksack & jump on the bike.
Made it to the show in time, my shoulders aching from the weight of all that scrap metal. The ceremony was nicely done. Very moving. And the pressie? Yeah, I'm very relieved to say they liked it. It ended up on the 100% Biker stand where it produced several enquiries as to whether it was for sale or was a show trophy! It now sits in Kris & Doro's living room.
A long & happy life together guys.