How many Men’s Shed members are required to build a trailer? Quite a few more than John Porch expected.
In February 2018, John began building a trailer at the Mudgee Men’s Shed to convey his vintage Farmall tractor to machinery exhibitions around rural NSW. His vision was clear. He wanted a robust dual axle trailer, the plans for which he had mulled over for many months and consolidated with first hand inspections of building methods used by others in Mudgee and beyond. As an ex-farmer, John had the skills and know-how to achieve a professional result.
Well prepared, John set to work at the Men’s Shed on what he thought would be a simple solo construction effort. The Members however had a very different view. From day one his detailed plans were scrutinised, dissected and debated in detail from which flowed a plethora of suggested modifications and ‘improvements’. Robust discussion followed not just for the odd hour or two but for days; a process that became a trademark for every stage of the project. This was John’s introduction to how things were done at the Shed where every project provides an opportunity for members to share their considerable knowledge and become engaged with the outcome. No idea is sacred. Every outcome is a collective effort.
And for John’s project, the involvement of fellow members was far more than a talkfest. Once an improbable agreement had been reached after a long and tortuous process, the members swung into action contributing to the welding, wiring, grinding, refinement of design aspects and painting. Before long, John was heading a team of enthusiastic constructors every one of whom had an opinion not just about the trailer but on almost every event affecting the world about at that time. Spirited and often barbed humour laced every discussion particularly by the pseudo naysayers who cast doubt about the legality, the weight, the strength and indeed the very merit of the trailer. And if John dared to differ, he soon discovered yet another attribute of being a member; the need for a thick skin and a preparedness to give back as good as you got.
As a relatively new member, it is fair to say that John was a little overwhelmed by the way Shed members embraced both him and his project. However, he is the first to admit the quality of the finished trailer is far superior to that he first envisaged thanks to the members who became involved. He built a trailer but he also built a new network of friends in the process. A worthy result.