an inventors mind
10/12/2006 2:19:00 PM
My Dad likes to invent things. I think most of his inventions come from necessity. His creations make his work easier. On the weekend, I went out to his shop to see what he was working on.

"Yeah, the windmill I'm working on is almost finished."
"Windmill? You are building a windmill?"
"Yeah, I painted it green...green power."
Smiles, yes it's green and awesome.

green power!


He told me that it's actually the second windmill he's constructed. The first one he built at the ripe age of 14. I just think that's the coolest thing. My dad is cool.

I look around the shop and see alot of familiar things, but they have been seriously modified. For example. A dryer, is now a sand blaster. Two holes in the front contain big rubber gloves to hold whatever object, and an air compressor hooked up to sand, with a vacume to suck the sand outside. It works really well.

dryer sandblaster

Because my dad has his own alternator/starter rebuilding business, he's invented things to help the process of rebuilding. There are a couple of devices that rewire an alternator. That was the most tedious part of the rebuild before he finished his "winder". It's amazing when I chat with my Dad, I begin to realize how his mind works.


"Dad, how did you ever come up with the idea to build this?"
"Oh I think about these things in the middle of the night. Going to sleep or when I wake up."
Interesting. I make the connection. That's where I get it.
"Your mind is working on solving the problem all the time isn't it?"
"Yeah I guess so."

Even a hydralic jack has been modified. Then I notice a mod that is purely entertaining. Two hooks welded near the top, to hold a hammer. No detail left unfinished. The object fully designed to make things easier.

welded hooks to hold a hammer

Then there's the test bench. It has to be the most impressive looking piece of mad scientist. A former washing machine is the base, with all kinds of switches and dials to test the current of the altenator. The thing that impresses me most is that my father is self taught. Through trial and error he learned the functions of a starter and alternator, and then began to reverse engineer to create this test bench.

the mad scientist bench

I look over and see his computer. It's the least impressive thing in his shop by far. That is the world that I know. Then I notice an old dishwasher with a toaster oven on top. There are no modifications made to these devices.

"Dad what are you doing with this dishwasher?"
"I put the old alternators in there, with some Tide and run it thru, cleans them off."
"Then I put them in the toaster oven and heat it up to about 400 degrees to dry them."
"And mom said you never do any dishes!"

It's fun to watch him repair an alternator. I love learning how things work. How parts combined serve a greater purpose. He picks up a pair of plyers and I notice a modified end welded on to grab a part of the alternator with better precision. Then I notice a tea strainer. The little mesh ball shaped kind. I know what it is. But I know too that my Dad has another purpose for this item.

bolt washer not tea strainer

"What's this Dad?"
"Oh that's for washing small little screws and nuts and bolts."

I smile on the inside this time. What is genius? Isn't this genius? Allowing yourself to think about things in a new way. To not be locked in to basic knowledge, but to push limits of use and function. I learn alot and get inspired from my Dad.
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