Ever since deciding a few pages back that I need to have a proper belt sander in my humble shop, I've been on a mission to find one. I've been scouring Craigslist like it was my job; searching all of the Northeast 10 times per day. I came close to a Delta-Rockwell near Boston for $375, but it was gone within hours. I saw a Grizzly down in southern CT, but it escaped my grasp. I've become Ahab and this has become my White Whale (too dramatic?)
So anyhow...when I woke up this morning, there was a Craigslist search result email in my in-box. A belt sander fitting my general description had been sighted in Clifton Park, NY; an hour and a half from my home. The description was relatively generic and it was of unknown manufacturer, but I've grown weary of the pursuit and I just wanted to put an end to the madness. The price was reasonable so I took a shot and emailed the seller. I heard from a gentleman named Harry a couple hours later and the arrangements were made for a viewing.
The joy I feel when I take to the road in search of a potential Craigslist conquest is well documented, and today was no different. With a wad of cash in the exact amount of the asking price in my pocket, I took to the road...right in the middle of some sort of ice storm. However, with the Joe Walsh channel from Pandora pumping out of the speakers and a Mountain Dew in the console, my spirits were high. After meeting Chet a couple weeks ago while pursuing a Bridgeport motor, I was looking forward to meeting the seller...he's a guy with a belt sander in his garage...he must be OK.
Following Harry's detailed directions, I made the hour and a half drive in 85 minutes and found the address with no problem. As I pulled up the long gravel driveway, my pulse quickened. On the left, a handsome colonial house with attached 2 car garage and newish looking cars in the drive...but on the right...oh boy...a large, equally tidy, detached garage...2 stories tall...maybe 30' x 60'...with a couple antique gas pumps outside. Like a Jedi, I could sense the presence of "the Force". There was a gearhead nearby...an automotive enthusiast of some sort...someone with enough cool stuff going on that the 2 car garage attached to the house couldn't possibly get it done. Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!
Trying my best to not look like a serial killer, I approached the front door of the house and was greeted by a cheerful woman who intercepted me via the garage. I inquired about Harry and she said "oh, he's in the garage grinding...he can't hear anything" That's a good sign. I can respect a guy who's grinding just about anything in the garage on a Friday afternoon. She led me to the door and then inside...
Like a soldier who suddenly finds himself in a firefight that he wasn't expecting, I was immediately disoriented by sensory overload. My brain dimmed momentarily like the lights in your shop when your compressor starts up. There was simply too much stimuli for me to process. I turned around, went back to the truck to get my camera phone, wiped the drool from my mouth, and attempted to regain my composure.
Back inside...Harry was just coming out of the paint booth (yeah, like a full sized paint booth with a truck inside)to greet me. Introductions and hearty handshake completed, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. I peppered the poor guy with question after question...none of them related to the belt sander...
The place was like Disneyland. Walls covered in more petrobilia than any episode of American Pickers you've ever seen...giant gas station signs...vintage tools...gas and oil cans...antique oil lanterns...and so many other things that I'd need a full day to document it all. I couldn't take it all in due to the fact that I was standing face to face with a full size truck chassis sans body on the left, a hardtop Chevelle project in the center, and a pristine 1970 Chevelle SS ragtop on the right. Stunning.
All around the periphery of the room...Bridgeport...lathe...drill press...giant band saw...welders...work benches...and so much more. Behind the cars...like some sort of giant trophy...a gold '32 Ford sitting atop a 4 post lift...1800 square feet of flat out awesomeness. I was ready to move in.
If the surroundings weren't sufficient, Harry was a great guy. He entertained all of my questions, showed me around the shop, and let me ogle all his stuff. He showed me the freshly TIG welded exhaust that he had just fabbed up for the Deuce...he showed me the paint job he had laid down on the SS (nicer than the paint on my Corvette)...we talked phase converters...he told me about extracting his Bridgeport from a widow's basement...and on and on. I'd still be there right now if I didn't think I was keeping him from some other activities. I've definitely got to start showing up with a cooler and a cold 6 pack when I go on these trips...
Much sooner than I would have liked, we arrived at the belt sander...the least interesting object in the garage at this point. It was just as described and ran just fine so I handed over the asking price. Harry actually told me to give him $20 less to offset the travel. That's quite a gesture for a guy with a list of other buyers.
So...after all that...here's the new addition to the shop...it's a bit smaller than I was hoping for, but I think it will get the job done for a while.