New Year’s Day 2015

Australian Flag on flagpole

Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Day 2015. The flag is flying again. This may seem like an unremarkable achievement but it has been something of a yak shave.

In late November a violent supercell clobbered Brisbane. Gusts over 140km/h (70kts) hit our area. I was trying to get back from Melbourne at the time, and for reasons I shall not trouble you with (but were curiously entirely unrelated to the storm) my flight was delayed by four hours. This left the Other Blogger to deal with the carnage. We were lucky – the only real damage was to the flagpole, which had developed a rakish 15° attitude. Also, a 36-hour power cut, but we’re worryingly used to dealing with that.

So onto the internet, $75 and three days later we have the parts for a new flagpole. By a lucky happenstance it is entirely compatible with the old flagpole, so we could now go to about 45′ if we were those sort of people.

The brackets holding the old flagpole being irretrievably mangled I sallied forth with a screwdriver and a mindset based more in hope than experience. No luck. Couldn’t shift a single one. The screws had corroded and expanded in the wood.

Time for some thoughtful staring at tools at the local DIY emporium. “If I only had a robust cross-head with a square or hex shaft I could lean in and apply unsafe amounts of torque with a spanner….”

Ten buck later, apply crosshead driver, sneeple on a spanner, heave, tooooorrrrk, graauuuunch and out comes the first one. The third and fourth also oblige.

The astute amongst you will have noticed that I have not spoken of the second screw. Therein lies our tale of woe, culminating in the most abusive engineering perpetrated so far this year. As I applied the torque I felt a satisfying yielding. Satisfying, yet strangely different from the first one. I look closely to discover that the pointed tip of the screwdriver has neatly sheared off, leaving a smooth surface where the crosshead slot would normally be on any reasonable screw.

This necessitated a further trip the to DIY barn and further cogitation. “You’ll have to drill it out, mate.” “I’d just replace the fence section.” “File it flat, paint over it and never speak of it again.” People are surprisingly cheery when offering advice to problems not their own.

My thoughts go down another path. A screw is a bolt with a round head. If it had a square head I could get a spanner right on it, shear the head off and have no way of drilling it out. To make a square head I could use a file, damaging the fence paint and removing a layer of skin from four knuckles in one stroke. Got to be worth a shot.

Another ten bucks for a flat bastard-cut file, five minutes of elbow grease, a miraculously unscratched fence and the spanner was snugly on. A gentle application of torque and out came the screw.

I shall glide smoothly over the challenge of finding replacement brackets (a tale involving brain surgery and plumbing – really) and our combined inability to take inventory of a flagpole package. I mean, how many pieces has it got? And it’s not like you can fit it upside down (spoiler – you can, and we did.)

Anyway, all’s well that ends with a suitably patriotic capability well in advance of Australia Day.

Happy New Year!

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