June 22, 2017

A Weather Vane

• By John F. Chisholm •

I’m making a weather vane for my garage. The profile on top — the vane itself — is of my old Land Rover. That makes it fun. But, of real import on a sizeable project, all materials — I mean everything — the sheet steel, rolled rods and even the fasteners came from the dump.


Yes. The project itself might be a fabrication, literally, but not so the source of the parts.

I put on four wheels, making the view symmetrical, side to side. Then I turned them into whirligigs, the fan blades on either side bent in opposite directions. That way each will rotate in the proper fashion, forward, when the vane faces the wind. (That worked with the air compressor. It ought to work in the real world. Time will tell.)

It’s been a lot of cutting, filing and polishing mixed with measuring, improvising and welding. But so far, so good.

Now I’m up against cutting the letters, N, E, S and W. I have more than sufficient sheet metal. I turned and machined the receptor for the rods that will extend them, each in their appropriate direction, earlier.

The mounting bracket itself has been a challenge. I have to span the roof’s cap piece while centering and supporting the vane. (My garage has a steel roof.) Heavier gauge metal has certainly been available at the dump. I’ve made use of it.

In fact, there’ll be a significant weight of material in this by the time I’m finished, at least 10 pounds.

I’ll even use spray paint scavenged from the dump to protect the metal when I finish the construction. Seriously. That’s both primer and top coat. Someone discarded boxes of it last summer.

So, sure, a weather vane will be nice but the point here isn’t how wonderful it is to have one. Furthermore, it wasn’t until the project was well under way that the poignancy of my choice occurred to me.

When any Jane or Joe Blow, in this case me, can construct entire projects of significant size using 100 percent discarded materials, right down to choosing between a complete rainbow of finish colors, saying that, “We throw away far too much” is a gross understatement. Huge.

I’ll paint this weather vane black, with reason.

Every single salvaged item used was wrested from the earth at tremendous cost — not just in dollars but in space, energy, resources and effort as well.

We spend all of that only to discard the end products? Truly?


What I created is a weather vane, indeed. If we don’t clean up our act, and soon, what we’re throwing away points to exceptionally nasty weather, just ahead.