Pipe Bomb
by Robb White
Excerpted from Messing Around In Boats)

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You know, I'm sort of stupid about some things. Fortunately it is not infectious and doesn't carry over into all aspects of my life, but I am kind of oblivious. It might be that I am single-minded and apt to ignore the immediate doings in my surroundings while I am hot on the trail of the right track. For instance, I have poor pedestrian skills. I would think that it is because I never stay in town any longer than absolutely necessary and have conditioned myself lo believe that it is all right to wander around in a daze and not pay attention to where I am going because, out here in the woods where the shop is or down at the coast, about the worst thing that can happen is that I might stub my toe.

I try to pull myself together when I am in town because I believe that some of those ninnies or nincompoops driving around with the cell phones clapped to their heads will run over me. But just the other day I had to cross the street to go to the radiator repair shop to buy a filler neck for the copper coolant overflow tank I am having to build for the Rescue Minor because it is impossible to buy a plastic one that won't leak antifreeze in the bilge. I don't actually know if it is impossible or not but I have a whole collection of cheap made, polyethylene, after market crap, and they all leak.

What it is is that the little hose barb on the bottom comes out right on the seam where they sort of halfway melted the two halves of the thing together and lhe two halves of the nipple aren't lined up right, so either the nipple itself leaks or it is impossible to get the vinyl or rubber tubing to seal even with a hose clamp. It'll work for a while, but then I'll smell antifreeze and get worried over nothing. I even Fixed the last one with 5200 (which, except for polyurethane foam, will come closer to sticking to polyethylene than anything I have found) only to smell antifreeze again and come to Find out that the whole side of the damned thing had split.

You know there is no pressure involved in a coolant recovery tank...I just don't understand it and ain't going to worry about it anymore. I hate to waste my time trying to fix otherpeople's mistakes. I used to do a little gunsmithing on the side, but I found myself being unhappy at my work which is an unacceptable condition. I think it was a Remington 1100 automatic shotgun that finally convinced me to quit doing that. What a piece of junk...ain't worth fixing.

So, I was cussing and fuming around the shop and my son said, "Hell, man how long you been fooling around with that project...three or four days? Why don't you throw that piece of junk over in the pile with all them other pieces of junk? You have spent more time going to town than it would have taken to braze a coolant tank up out of pure copper."

So, I went to town again to gather up the raw materials for a dadblamed coolant overflow tank that will not, damrnit, ever leak a single drop in the bilges of my boat. While I was crossing the street to the radiator shop to gel a radiator cap neck lo solder on my copper tank, I was not paying proper attention to my pedestrian skills and walked right out in front of a small pickup truck. The man stopped and leaned his head out of the window and said, "Better watch out there, old man. You are gonna get yourself run over like that." Then he started laughing. Durn if it wasn't the employee of my uncle (the antique furniture man)...a black man about 80 years old and my good buddy. We like to stand around the furniture store and compare notes on our colonoscopy experiences. Which, as an aside, if all modern medicine worked as good as that gallon of antifreeze they make you drink to clean you out in preparation for that humiliation, we would all be in good shape.

Almost getting run over wasn't the most dangerous lhing about this antifreeze project, it was trying to find a radiator cap that would fit the damned thing after I got it all brazed up. That's another thing I don't understand. Why in hell are there so many different radiator and gas caps for automobiles? It seems like they would be standard like lire valves. Must be some kind of seam like this damned gas war. Anyway, here I was wandering all over town to every automobile parts place (which there are at least 30 of them in a town of about 10,000 people...I don't understand thal either). Whal I was looking for was a non pressurized cap like on a Farmall Cub iractor (which fit the neck I had) but nobody had such a thing, not even the tractor place, so I was looking for something I could modify.

After I had made two or three stops...carefully looking in both directions before I crossed the parking lot...1 was driving to the Auto Zone when I was stopped by a sheriff. As soon as I pulled over, damn if here came about Five or six other sheriffs and police and all of them circled my old Mercedes like Osarna Bin Laden was driving. You know. I wonder if he has an old junk Mercedes like mine? Yasser Arafat does. The word was out that I was wandering around looking for something important to blow up with a big pipe bomb so they gathered a SWAT team. They even had a little robot and a big dog. They also, most of lhem, including the dog, knew me.

"Hell, that's just old Robb While," was the consensus of opinion.

Of course, they had lo tie up traffic for a long time while I explained that thing. You know, given the theme of all these impotent, incompetent heroes we have charging around on official business in the interest of national security, I am lucky I live in a small town. I bet if I had been in New York City. I'd be under the jail right now. Guess what? I have to take the damned bomb back to town again because the dum brass nipple I brazed on the bottom won't fit the same size hose as the titty on the Filler neck on the engine day tank and I got to find out if there is a hose that can be stretched enough to get on the damned thing. If I was actually a bad man, I would stick me a little cotton cord down in the nipple and light it and walk in the door of the hardware store and exclaim:

"All right, dadblame you! Next time I ask you lo order me a 24" meat saw blade, I bet y'all'll pay attention."

Of course, they all know me in there, too.

Robb White