18 Jan My Dragon Breathes Fire!
One step at a time, one Moment of Truth after another… I suppose that is how all things are accomplished. Thursday’s adventure was full of both.
I was up before the sun, knowing that the 130+ miles to the art center was going to take much longer while pulling the trailer. I had everything packed into the car and the car pulled into position by 6:45am. The first stunt, was to maneuver the trailer out of its tight quarters, along the length of the parking space, and attach it to the hitch. The actual parking space is level, but my car was parked about 5’ outside of the space, down a slight decline. The trailer, despite weighing upwards of 700 lbs, pulls relatively easily even by hand. As I reached the edge of the level surface I realized that pulling downhill was one thing—stopping it before it rammed into my car would be something else altogether.
I armed myself with a few small blocks of wood to throw in front of the wheel, aimed the tongue of the trailer for the hitch and heaved forward. The trailer moved slowly at first, and then picked up speed. My aim was true, and a moment before the trailer cleared the hitch I shoved one of the boards at the wheel with my foot. She stopped perfectly positioned to lower over the ball hitch. I cranked the lowering mechanism and when the ball was engaged pulled the pin to rotate the trailers front wheel up and out of the way for travel. The trailer definitely sat a bit lower than when it was empty, but still had plenty of clearance for the journey. I hooked up the lights and safety chains and got ready to hit the road!
My drive to the desert took about three hours, instead of the two I am used to, due to the maximum speed posted for vehicles pulling trailers. My car’s lack of complaint with the extra weight in tow was one of those moments of truth I had been waiting for. All of the numbers and consulting I had done had given me the green light, but until I really had everything in motion I maintained a certain level of anxiety about it. According to the car, the trailer didn’t even substantially impact my usual mileage!
I arrived at the art center around 10:30am. I thought getting the trailer off the car would be as straightforward as it had been hooking it up. I pushed the front wheel/kick stand back into position and cranked it to raise the tongue off the hitch. I failed to fully engage the pin that holds it there and so the moment I tried to maneuver away from the hitch the kickstand slid to the side and the tongue plunged to the ground. Fortunately Ed was there to help me lift the 700 lbs enough to push the kickstand back into place, this time ensuring that the pin fully locked!
As soon as it was secure I pulled the trailer into the shop and began unloading. It took about an hour to unload, and reassemble everything. Around noon I called Mobile Glass Blowing Studios, who made the dragon, for my first time light-up walk through. My call was put through to one of their staff, and I explained why I was calling. There was a pause on the other end of the line, then,
“You want to light up right now?”
“Well, I have my mini dragon all put together and ready to go…” I said a bit nervously.
“Right now, right now?” The voice asks again, and I start to worry, after another long pause I hear him laugh and say “that’s awesome!”
He suggested we FaceTime so that he could see everything in front of me, and talked me through the various knobs and valves and what each adjusts and how to light up. Within a few minutes we had dialed in the right gas/air ratios to get the optimal flame.
After months of planning, working, waiting, problem solving, and anticipation—My dragon finally breathes fire! I let her run for about three hours to come up to temperature and see that beautiful red-gold glow, cook off some of the fumes and such that I had been told to expect on first firing, and so I would really know how it felt when it was hot. I was thrilled to find that the exterior of the furnace didn’t seem to get as hot as a wood stove (while the internal temperature climbs above 2000*F), and the burner system remained cool enough to touch throughout operation. When I shut down, it took about three hours to cool enough to maneuver, and to use my bare hands when removing external components. Having shut down at 3pm, I was able to load everything back into the trailer and be on the road by 6:15.
I can’t wait to light up tomorrow morning, and melt glass for the first time!