I’ve now been the proud owner of the Guzzi Quota for six months and still haven’t got the sidehack hooked to it. Asked Gary at Motorvation about doing the mounting, being it’s their sidecar. Gary suggested welding on mounting tabs or something to the frame… No way, that frame is probably heat treated chrome moly and no way is anybody gonna take a torch to it! I talk to professional machinist and gearhead par excellence Lee Bruns in Watertown… He’s busy, check back in the fall. Briefly consider the mount kit Jay Geise has on his website, but turns out he doesn’t stock them and he’s backed up for months too.

So come november, the elections over so I’ve got some free time (’til the next crisis), so I send Lee an e-mail. He’s still way busy, but offers to show me how he’d do the mounting if I’d stop by for a few minutes. Not about to refuse a lesson from the master, I ride the Quota to Watertown. Now consensus has it that the Quota’s robust frame needs no subframe, so I’d already test fitted some of Motorvation’s mounts and figured out what would probably be an acceptable mounting strategy with one hole drilled in a frame web like Jay does and maybe a second for a lower front mount. But Lee proposed a “belt and braces” solution, with a sturdy steel subframe that left the Quota’s premium steel subframe unmolested by the torch or drill. Thought about it a bit… Sure, could probably get by with hanging on Motorvation’s standard mounts with the odd hole drilled in the frame, but why not do it right? And heck, I need to learn how to weld and some machining too before I die.

Having seen enough botched welding, I’m leery of just buying an el cheopo welding outfit and bodging welding like my fellow amateurs. So why not take a community ed or vo-tech course in basic welding? I check Western Minnesota Tech College’s website… Nothing! Check neighboring South Dakota’s Tech College’s website… Programs in both Sioux Falls and Watertown, and the College in Watertown is one of the ten best in America. But no basic short courses, the shortest program takes a year. Maybe if they’d accept my math credits I could shorten it a bit. And tuition? Probably at least $5000! So I check the local school’s adult ed offerings… Let’s see, we got GED prep, citizenship classes… but nothing that would take you beyond a belated high school diploma and the right to vote.

Now I’m glad we’ve got those programs, and they’re certainly needed. And if your preparing for a career as a machinist or welder or a bunch of other professions, South Dakota gets it and has some comprehensive degree programs. My native Minnesota, not so much… Which is shameful. Apparently the powers that be here think that they’ll just train social workers and computer geeks and when something breaks, they’ll just buy a new one. That worked fine  back when we had a middle class that could afford a continual stream of new stuff… Today the average car is 11 years old. It’s engine will need rebuilding, but we’re not even training enough automotive machinists to do the valve jobs. And somebody will have to cut the rusted metal off and weld new in, but we’re not training enough welders. And how will we compete with China and it’s armies of cheap workers? The only strategy that’s worked is Germany’s, where they put major resources behind training the best welders and machinists and other trades in the world. And yes, we need to pay these professionals better too- South Dakota’s tech colleges report that after a couple years full time training, their graduates are only earning wages in the teens per hour. After you’ve invested a couple years of your life learning a skilled trade, you deserve better than a slight bump up from WalMart wages!

I rest my case, and consider acquiring a copy of “Welding for Dummies”…