Thursday, April 28, 2016

Welding helps bond father, son together

Together building a motorized tricycle designed for drifting has helped Lucas
Graham (left) and his father Nathan strengthen their bond through welding.

From The Crittenden Press, April 21
Made mostly from repurposed parts, Lucas Graham’s motorized big wheel is more than fun for the road, it’s a rallying point for furthering a father-son relationship.

Graham, and his dad, Nathan, have been working in the family’s shop to build what’s formally known as a drift trike. The contraption looks a whole lot like a popular children’s Big Wheel, but this one is made of metal, not plastic. It has a gasoline engine purchased from Harbor Freight, unlike the toy Big Wheel which is operated by pedal power. And instead of cracking open a box to give his son an outfit like this, Nathan Graham has used this as an opportunity to teach his son a number of skills such as welding and fabrication in addition to giving the two some bonding time.

“I sometimes take for granted that I know how to do all these things and want to be able to share this with my son,” Nathan said. “It gives us time to be together and work on something.”

The drift trike is a tricycle that has slick rear wheels. It is designed to intentionally lose traction in the rear end in order to allow the rider to perform maneuvers such as power slides on slick pavement. A bike like this would cost around $1,500 if purchased retail, but so far the Grahams have a few hours and less than $400 in it.

By now, the rig is probably painted and on the road, and 14-year-old Lucas may be enjoying it with friends, but chances are he will never forget the fellowship forged while designing and building the trike with his father.

Nathan said he tries to make sure there are things his family can do together. Dad is a teacher at the Earle C. Clements Job Corps in Union County. On the weekends, they kayak and bike and piddle around the shop with other projects, including some vintage cars they’ve picked up over the years such as 1958 Chevy pickup and a 1969 1/2 Ford Maverick.

Nathan, a deacon in his Baptist church, said he grew up without having much, so he learned how to do things with his hands. He is a heavy equipment mechanic and has many other vocational skills. Now, he’s passing that along to his son and making memories with a set of hot wheels.