By Tara Feeney
I’ve always prided myself on being a fast learner, but the rate at which I learn new skills here at McPherson College is unparalleled. In my brief two and a half weeks here, I have already learned how to oxy-acetylene weld (not perfectly, I’ll admit, but it’s a work in progress), as well as the basics of TIG welding and their different applications. When they say TIG welding is like welding with a ballpoint pen, I assure you they are not joking. I read in my textbook that learning how to do it properly is like learning how to drive a car. You have your petal on the ground to control your amperage, the torch in your right hand, and the filler rod in your left. It feels unnatural initially, but I am reminded of when I first started driving and how uncoordinated I first felt. Over time, I’m sure my ability to weld will feel as second nature as my ability to drive.
In my Intro to Restoration class, we have just begun covering the various steps for planning a successful restoration, some of which I was familiar with from my work in a vintage Ford shop, and some were completely new information. I hadn’t considered that when you first purchase or are given a car by a client for restoration, you might need to order specific parts that may be on backorder, so you order those parts for the car first before anything else; that way, you’re prepared for when the time comes to use them.
Walking onto campus and seeing the parking lot filled with fully restored cars and projects alike is amazing. Whether you’re into classic American muscle, model A’s and T’s, Broncos, import cars, etc., you will surely find a little of everything. The unique part of this is that they are all being completely restored by students.
Part of what drew me to this field in the first place was a drive to preserve the culture and stories of these vintage cars and keep them out on the road for future generations to experience. Seeing the culture so alive and thriving here and seeing the unmistakable passion of all the students, myself included, has been a breath of fresh air into the industry and the future of these amazing cars.