When Bob and Bernie Collins moved to Rose Court in November 2016 Bob moved his welding and machining equipment into the garage of his new home. He quickly realized it wasn’t safe to use the machinery in the garage, so he reached out to Colleen Musselman, director of life enrichment, in March 2017 to figure out his options for pursuing his lifelong passion of metalworking.
A machinist and millwright by trade, Bob started working with metal and creating custom cars with his brother when he was just 10 years old. He wanted to continue these projects, so he was willing to figure out the next steps to make it happen.
Colleen responded that if he could form a group of five residents, she would help him request a space to work on campus. Bob quickly rounded up a group of skilled tool makers and machinists and a proposal for a metal shop moved to CEO Steve Lindsey for approval.
Steve says, “My initial reaction was two-fold. The first part was, this is a great idea! My second reaction was, ‘Where are we going to put a metal shop?’” But, he says, “when we have a group of people that are that passionate and excited about something and find purpose in it, we do everything we can to facilitate it.”
By mid-June 2017 Steve and Scott Weaver identified the pole building behind the barn as the best option for the metal shop and Campus Services cleared a workspace. The Garden Spot Village Woodshop made a monetary donation to establish the club and founding members donated machining tools, MIG welders, vices, clamps and metal lathes. Smoketown Airport donated a sheet metal shears. Bob installed fireproof walls and members moved donated machinery into the space.
By late September 2017 bylaws were filed and Garden Spot Village Metal Crafters was up and running. Bob says, “I am so pleased with the cooperation of Steve Lindsey and Scott Weaver. They were very receptive to the idea. They have been so gracious with all they have done for us so far.”
Through the winter Bob and Bill Ashley built custom work tables for the metal shop. Bob also built a forge from sheet metal so members can explore bladesmithing and expand their skill sets.
A journeyman toolmaker by trade, Bill worked in a machine shop for 23 years before moving to sales. He also ran the machine shop for the US Army at Fort Hood during the Korean War. Because of his background in toolmaking and machining, Bill was happy to join the effort to start up a metal shop.
Building a future
Bill says, “We hope to work hand in hand with maintenance offering repair services. They often need welding and machining services and we can do that work on-site. We also offer the service to residents. We have a few projects we’ve already completed for residents, fixing wrought iron plant hooks.”
Eventually Bob hopes the group can create functional art for sale at Garden Spot Village events like the Fall Festival and Train Room open houses.
After completing the tables and tool benches for the metal shop, Bob plans to build an antique Harley Davidson to scale. He’s also anxious to learn how to craft wrought iron spindles and balusters.
More importantly, Bob and others find purpose in crafting a community and a future together.