When you think of heirlooms, what comes to mind are gifts, jewelry, a painting or even a small brooch. Not necessarily a wheelbarrow. My grandfather gave my father a simple wheel barrow when he was in his early 20s. I don't remember this happening because I was probably 5 years old at the time, but judging by it's current condition, it was originally blue. My father always told me as a kid that you need to take car of tools, especially if they mean something to you. One of the things he made sure to mention was to keep the wheelbarrow upside down when it wasn't in use. "Don't keep crap in it," he would tell me. "If you're not using it, it should be upside down in the garage." The second thing he told me about keeping it in operable condition was to keep it covered in oil. He told me it would prevent rust. The wheelbarrow was already at least 10 years old when he got it from his father, so I think rust had already begun to appear on it. Oil stopped the oxidation and prevented rust. Maybe a new paint job with rust-stopping paint would have been a better thing to do, but regardless, it kept the wheelbarrow in operable condition. Needless to say, it's still around. This wheelbarrow meant a lot to my father, and he told me I would eventually inherit it. I know a wheelbarrow isn't something glamorous. It's not a set of jewels, or a painting created by a famous artist. But it's still important, just the same. It means something to me just like it meant something to him. My dad died in 1997, and I inherited the wheelbarrow when I moved out of my mom's place.
At some point it was borrowed by a friend without my permission. My sister originally had it at her place (my uncle brought it up from South Texas for me) and I figured that since she was doing a lot more yard work than I was at the time, she was welcome to it. Eventually someone else borrowed it and to be honest, even without my permission, I didn't really mind. I mean, it's a landscaping tool. It needs and deserves to be used. But then I found out that it was sitting outside, not upside down, in the elements and not covered in oil. I wasn't too happy about it so I requested that it be returned to me. It sat in my garage for the next couple of years until I attempted to start a garden (which failed miserably). I purchased a new wheel for it, as the tire that was originally on it was visibly aged and worn. The wheel was fine, but it was just cheaper and quicker to buy an entirely new wheel/tire combo. I decided recently that I'd like to do a restoration project on this wheelbarrow. That's what this blog will be for. I'll post pictures of my restore process as I go along. And there will be a couple here on this post as a 'before' shot, as it were. The restore process will likely be slow and drawn as I will no doubt get distracted my a great many things down the line, not to mention that Texas Summer heat is nearly unbearable so I'll probably stay inside a lot of the time. But for now, this blog is here as a reminder and a testament to an unorthodox family heirloom - The Wheelbarrow.