March 28, 2020

Spring: Let’s Make It Happen

Janine Pineo Photo | John holds the new Daimler shift knob he made.

Janine Pineo Photo | John holds the new Daimler shift knob he made.

• By John F. Chisholm •

There’s nothing the matter with my Daimler’s shift knob.  It works fine.  More than that, it’s beautifully made of turned, polished mahogany.  I suspect that it isn’t original.  But where the car is among the first SP-250s made, it may be.  It came on the car when I got it.

Later examples of this model had tall, cylindrical, pot-metal shift knobs.  They weren’t anything to write home about but did come with the shift pattern cast into the very top.

I have pictures but, more than that, I have one of those knobs.  I found it buried in a coffee can of parts and pieces tucked in the trunk.  It was there when I bought the car.  That knob doesn’t do anything for me.  I have it stored.

The point is that I don’t need another shift knob.  I have two.

That being the case, bet you can’t guess what I did this past weekend?

Yeah.  You’re right.  I made another shift knob.  A third.  Creating the metal insert where the knob threads onto the shift lever took the most time.

Properly mating wood to metal takes thought, care, measurement, drilling, tapping and a bit of epoxy.  The knob itself I turned from a likely-looking piece of firewood.  Maple.  You could see the patterned grain on the split surface.  I saved it from the woodstove at the last possible moment.

I painstakingly sanded and polished that wood.  Then I inlaid the Daimler logo, a circular crest taken from a key fob, into the very top.  It looks great.

I’m still adding coats of polyurethane to the maple.  That’s after applying a coat of linseed oil to bring out the grain.

In fact, I slaved all weekend over a shift knob that I don’t need and quite possibly won’t use.  I really like that mahogany knob.  It’s comfortable, simple and elegant.  Original or not, it’s antique, too.  But the question struck me as I looked out the window this morning.  Why?  Why go to all that trouble?

After some thought, I realized the answer.  Still, I need your help for my efforts to bear fruit.  That’s because this morning I looked out over fields buried under feet of ice and snow.  A dust devil blew up from the winter sand spread over Tay Road as I watched.  Northwest winds off the arctic icecap spun it out across the drifts covering this farm.  The sun sparkled from ice crystals through the miniature maelstrom.  You bet, it’s cold out, too.  Still.

There’s no doubt spring is late this year.  March blew in like a lion but here we are in the last week of the month and there’s no sign of the lamb.

Worse, a blizzard is predicted for this up-coming week. (Editor’s note: Which never materialized in central Maine.)

As a result, I urge everyone with a fishing rod, a boat, a motorcycle or, in my case, a convertible to make something that requires spring.  Put your heart into it.  Sew a sun dress.  Inflate your swimming pool.  Tie flies.  Cane a canoe seat.  Change the oil on your Harley-Davidson.  Start it.  Rev the engine.  Make a shift knob.  Whatever.  But do it.  Do it now.

Perhaps together, we can bring spring home just a bit sooner.