Our Welding Work Gets Serious



Unbelievably, Andy, I, and our rare antique RV did not scare off our newly hired professional welder Paul (the founder and owner of RVA Mobile Welding Services), who returned to the farm for two more days of work.

Previously, Paul had welded our new roof supports so to say we were excited and grateful to see him again is an understatement.

I think I felt entirely convinced our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome restoration lay in the hands of someone we met less than 48-hours earlier.

(Listen, when you restore an antique RV as unique as the Cortez, you’ll realize the feeling I’m talking about when any expert steps in to help.)

Our joint focus was getting our retro relic water-tight, which entailed welding new metal panels to cover roof holes. As Paul got set up, Andy and I carried a ladder to the side of our Cortez so that Andy could start on the welding prep.

For this, Andy climbed the ladder to access two roof vent holes. With blue painter’s tape down to mark the area followed by an angle grinder with a cutting disc turned on, he cut squares in our roof because that shape is easier to weld than circles.

I admit, watching Andy purposely cut our roof and seeing the gaping holes to our floor all seemed to contradict what we were trying to achieve.

However, I also understood our mission so I moved ahead to equally contribute.

My task was to remove bent metal from another vent location.

Next up, it was Andy’s turn to cut out portions of our roof that had corroded above both the driver’s and passenger’s side gutters.

After this we had one more area to remove — the massive portion of our roof that faced the most severe corrosion under our air conditioning unit. I was most dreading these cuts the most while Andy had trouble containing his excitement.

“Remember we aren’t building a Cortez,” I reminded him. “We are welding a Cortez.”

Brushing me off with an eye roll and an “I know,” he climbed onto the roof and turned the grinder on.

There was no hesitation while he expertly dodged our internal roof supports to cut a section that was — no exaggeration — nearly the width of the Cortez.

Pulling out the last rusted metal panel, our poor steel beast had (what felt like) body parts cast aside on the green grass. Our Cortez fought long. Our Cortez fought hard, but it was undoubtably a gruesome battle in the end.

As Andy and I wrapped up what we were able to do on our steel beast, we moved in front of the camera with full smiles to document the end of this job on YouTube. This is where I proudly and loudly proclaimed, “We finished Day Two of welding!” only to have Andy interrupt that Paul certainly hadn’t.

“Paul’s still working!” Andy yelled over Paul’s angle grinder and sure enough our welder stood half in/half out of our Cortez through a hole in the roof.

Clearly, Andy and I are not professionals at hiring professionals.

Thank goodness for Paul though, who took advantage of every second at the start — While Andy and I cut out the above metal pieces, Paul worked to replicate them, matching measurements on a new steel panel that was the same thickness as our Cortez’s roof. Soon, there were enough metal squares and rectangles to keep our welder busy.

Now it was recovery time …

Moving into welding, Paul began by welding three places with cracks and holes near our grill.

Our old lass seemed to welcomed the attention and waited with all opened doors for what came next.

Climbing the ladder, Paul took to the passenger’s side to repair the area above the gutter …

Next came the driver’s side matching area …

This left our various-sized skylights. Starting at the back, Paul began by tackling our vent and fan locations …

With three new panels in, this left our largest skylight yet …

Beginning in the corners of each, Paul began by zapping spot welds (or starting spots that allow the two metals to fuse together and create a welding joint).

After, he zap, zap, zapped weld around the new metal panels, pausing occasionally to hit the welds with a hammer– This, I learned, relieves heat-induced tension caused from hot metal expanding.

Before we realized it, our welding-work was done …

and our RV should essentially be water-tight …

I admit, Andy and I both were beyond impressed with the job so more than grateful to consider this mission accomplished.

We did have one last request for Paul though — While he had been welding, Andy removed our exterior battery’s floor so we did ask Paul to weld in a new metal floor. Here’s our before and after pictures of that …

In all, our prep and welding work took three days to complete.

As Paul prepared to go, Andy and I awaited the moment we had been practicing — Since meeting and hiring him, we were determined to thank Paul in a more personal way. Because of this, we had been practicing Ukrainian …

And and I had rehearsed how to say words such as “team player,” which is “командний гравець” (pronounced “komandnyy hravetsʹ”). Let me tell you, people say English is a hard language to learn, but do you see that sixth character in both the first and second words?! The pronunciation also requires a thick accent that we felt we pronounced more than subpar. Because of this, we attempted another word: “hello,” which seems easy, but the letters and pronunciation together make this one of the hardest entry-level Ukrainian words to speak. Determining maybe Andy and I were reaching too high, we leveled on learning “hi,” which is “привіт” (pronounced “pryvit”) and a great place to start. Still, we wanted more so we also picked up “thank you” — though Google is against me now and pulling up “Дякую” instead of our learned pronunciation at the time of “spasibo.” With renewed energy and dedication though, we broke up our words to better focus — Andy practiced “spasibo” while I took “komandnyy hravetsʹ”.

So how did we do? When it came time to impressing our welder, Paul knew immediately that we said “thank you” (though it was supposed to be “spasiba”). However, “team player” was better suited to as “friend,” which is “друг.”

I suppose though what’s important is you now know a little Ukrainian, and Andy and I have more opportunities to improve because as we were saying bye, Paul told us he looked forward to doing more work by our side again. Bless him.

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

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