Thursday, March 1, 2012


During an early dismissal from school one afternoon I raced to a scrap metal yard just outside of McAllen, TX. I had never been to a scrap metal yard before and I felt like a kid-- wanting to watch the electromagnet pick up big loads and drop them into piles. One of the guys working there gave me a hard hat and we went out to the yard to pick out metal for the ballast. I felt pretty tough in my cowboy boots and hard hat picking out scrap metal. When the guys at the yard saw the tiny Toyota hatchback I wanted to load the 800 lbs of I-beam and rebar into, they laughed. I did zoom back to the ranch riding a little lower than normal.

After another trip to the yard, I had about 1700 lbs of scrap metal at the boat shop that I thought I might be able to jam into the ballast. Even then my poor little Toyota wasn't quite finished-- I also picked up 14 50-lb bags of Quikrete at the local building supply.

A few weeks later, I picked up a cement mixer, got a few neighbors together and we started pouring the ballast. I made the mold for the pour the night before. I built it pretty stout and I'm glad I did because my main concern when pouring the ballast was that the side of the mold (what would become the bottom of the keel when standing upright) would not stay square. It did stay square so I was happy.

 Boat building in hindsight: Overall, I was surprised by how well the ballast pour went. If I were to do it over again, I wouldn't use Quikrete-- I've since learned its not as good as what you can mix yourself.

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