Saturday, 3 June 2017

A very special XSNo.4 and modifying the bucket list

A little over a month ago I took a deep breath and started working on a new plane for a very patient customer. All of my customers have been incredibly patient as I recover from my shoulder injury - it has been much appreciated.

This plane was a perfect one to work on - the bronze sides are a lot easier to work than steel, and it is not so big or heavy that my weak shoulder will be stressed from the weight.

I started working for 20 minutes a day, and stopped regardless of how my shoulder felt. It seemed like such an insignificant amount of time, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get things done in 20 minute windows. It also allowed me to spend some time setting up my camera and filming video clips of the process - you can find them on my instagram feed.

My shoulder specialist felt that this was a sound approach to getting back to work and said that if I feel fine the day after my 20 minute workout - that I could continue with another 20 minutes. If there was pain from the previous day, take a day off. I needed to take one day off between piening - something that was a serious concern. The pronation of my left hand is still very poor, so controlling a ballpien hammer and striking a very small target gave me serious stomach acid.

It went very slowly, and the rhythm was off, but I was able to do it - I was very relieved.

I have been able to increase the time up to about an hour to and hour and a half depending on how intense the work is. It still feels depressingly slow, but it is improving which is ultimately all I can hope for.

There is more to the story of this plane, but I will reveal the final chapter once it has safely arrived to its new owner.

I have had a life-long love of Porsche’s, but my experience with them has been extremely limited. I was the passenger in one a few years ago... that was the first time I sat in one.  

Two weekends ago, I was in Amana Iowa attending HandWorks - the finest handtool woodworking event there is. A friend drove up in his 1970’s Targa and handed me a small box - pictured above.

I suspect the look on my face was priceless when I realized what it was. His reply was simple and incredible, ‘I wanted to get you started on your first part’. I was floored. Incredibly thoughtful and generous beyond words. That hood emblem turned out to be a bit of a warm up - striking something from my bucket-list - driving a 911.

Two other friends had recently acquired 911’s and were eager for me to see them - and the offer of driving one was extended. To say I was excited was a gross understatement... I was rather delirious... but also nervous that all the hype I had created since I was 15 couldn’t possibly live up. 

Boy, was I wrong. I had heard lots of people use the expression, ‘it corners like it is on rails’... I had always thought this was just a figure of speech... to make the point that they handle really well. Turns out - it does drive like it is on rails. Real rails. The owner of the car sat beside me and coached me along - which was really, really valuable and insightful... his most common 2 phrases were, ‘now let it out!’, and ‘you’re holding back aren’t you?’ It took me a while to unlearn driving our stick-shift Volkswagen Tiguan and drive this 1983 911 like it was meant to be driven... and I suspect I still had a long way to go.  Going 60 miles an hour in second around corners was not something I was used to - it was incredible. The sound, the vibrations you can feel through your body, the feedback - it was all amazing and unlike anything I had ever experienced before.

The first outing was about 1/2 long, and my heart was still racing when the other 911 pulled in. The keys were exchanged, and I was asked if I wanted to take that one out. A couple of slow-motion eye blinks and were were off again. I was a little more calm this time and (I think) drove a little more comfortably. Still cautious - but I wasn’t freaking out as much. We came back 1/2 hour later and I felt completely exhausted mentally - but in that really good way. I had just removed something that had been on my bucket list for decades... and it exceeded all my expectations.  The trouble is... I am now officially ruined, and as I removed one thing off the bucket list... I fear I have added something... find a 911.

(These are the two 911’s I had the pleasure of driving)

I had shipped a crate of Brazilian Rosewood sticks to Jameel Abraham to make available at HandWorks. Quite a few of them sold, but there were a few remaining which Jameel has generously offered to distribute as required. The sticks are 1-1/6" square and 20" long. These were cut in 1966 by C.F. Martin as ‘off-cuts’ from cutting acoustic guitar backs and sides. My best guess is they were cut for the pool cue industry.


These sticks are $40 USD each and if you are interested, let me know and I can make arrangements to get them to you. All the CITIES export/import paperwork is available as well, so if you are a toolmaker or knife maker and want to use these in your product, you will have what you need to legally re-export them.


Blogger Steve Kirincich said...

Hi Konrad,
When will the 911 GoFundMe project go active?


4 June 2017 at 21:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

not soon enough Steve :)

4 June 2017 at 21:25  
Blogger nbreidinger said...

Sounds like a blast, Konrad. I have quite a few items on my bucket list as well. One is to restore a 1968 Mustang with my son to give to my dad as a birthday present. He bought one brand new, fell in love with it, then it was wrecked when he was the victim of a traffic accident. While not nearly as curvy as the 911, he was definitely a fan of the raw muscle. Cheers!

6 June 2017 at 09:13  
Blogger Derek Cohen said...

Hi Konrad

Some years ago I showed you a picture of my '57 Porsche 356A, which I spent 12 years restoring from a wreck. Sadly, I no longer have the car. I sold it about 5 years ago after a few years of struggling with a problem gearbox that no one could repair - unfortunately, I live in a vintage Porsche backwater. Although I can work with motors a bit, and rebuilt all the bodywork myself (teaching myself panel beating over several years), the gearbox was way beyond me. After several thousand dollars were spent on "experts", I realised that the car was deteriorating in inactivity, and someone else should have their day.

I missed the car the moment it was out of my garage. Still do. There was some fortune in that the 356 had realised a decent sum of money. Enough to consider another Porsche. I looked around and decided on a used black-on-black Boxster S. And this is the point of my writing to you. This is an absolutely fabulous driver. It has real power and it is a better driving car than a 911. With the hood down (almost all the time), it is so good for the soul. This is my therapy. Drive one!

Regards from Perth


7 June 2017 at 09:41  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Nathan.

Hope you are able to fulfill your bucket list item as well. You have some time to start looking for your car - and hopefully you can get one before the prices go as crazy as they have with 911's. The early 911's are so far out of range... hopefully there is a slowdown or a correction to the prices... otherwise, this one might just stay on the list:)


7 June 2017 at 10:19  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Derek,

I remember the photos - glad you were able to find that soul filling feeling again in the Boxter S.


7 June 2017 at 10:20  
Blogger Bob Duff said...

Maybe the family could send you here for dad's day

8 June 2017 at 15:18  
Blogger Dennis Cloutier said...


My wife has a 2006 Cayman S. You're welcome to come for a drive if you're in Vancouver.

8 June 2017 at 19:46  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Bob,
Now that is an excellent idea!

11 June 2017 at 07:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Dennis,

Wow - sounds like a trip to Vancouver is in order...:)

How does she like it? Has she driven a few Porsches to compare them?


11 June 2017 at 07:54  
Blogger Daniel said...

Glad to hear your expectations of driving a 911 were met! They're such beautiful cars, and have been on my bucket list for a long long time. I did once get the chance to drive a 944 Turbo, but I was tired after a long shift as a dishwasher, and felt that I wasn't in a condition to drive an unfamiliar powerful car. Alas, the chance hasn't yet returned.

I'm happy for you that your shoulder is recovering, and hope that it continues to do so. I've so enjoyed the added step-by-step process of your plane making, and am interested in hearing the story behind it!

14 June 2017 at 15:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Daniel,

If you ever get the chance, drive one! An air cooled one in particular. They are pretty special cars.

Thanks for the good wishes for my recovery - it is taking its time - but is getting better. The XSNo.4 is all packed up and ready to be shipped tomorrow. As soon as it is safe to do so - I will tell the rest of the story.


14 June 2017 at 20:36  

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