22 October 2010

The Friday Belt: DIY Sling Belt & Port Tongs

Lou, his little brother and a 1964 Opel Kadett Caravan

Lou is from South Carolina, authors, 64 Tempest.com, a web site devoted to the restoration of the same Pontiac and recently made a sling belt from one of his grandfather's rifles. I can't nail two boards together so I thought Lou deserved a guest spot on a special DIY Friday Belt.

Lou's restored sling belt

After my Grandfather died, I became the custodian of his three rifles, a Winchester 74, a Remington Scoremaster, and a Mauser. They haven't been fired in years. I really don't give them much thought - just the occasional glimpse at the gun rack as I walk through my den.

Not much thought about them -until last night. Inspiration straight from the pages of The Trad: Friday Belt hit me in the head. A real gun sling belt - that would be cool - wait, I think I have an old sling!

I rummaged through the bottom drawer of an old dresser that I keep in my closet and found the sling. I proudly told my wife that it was destined to become a belt. Not just any belt, but a special belt. She smiled and told me that years ago she had pulled it out of the trash after I threw it away. What a wonderful woman!

I touched it up a bit with some leather lotion and cleaned the brass. The color and texture of the leather and the dull glow of the single brass claw are beautiful, and can never be replicated in a factory, no matter how much "heritage" is applied.

I wore the gun sling as a belt for the first, and perhaps last, time today. Age and lack of care on my part have taken their toll. The leather is cracked and dry and the claw rivets are giving early indication that they could soon pull out. I could try to have it repaired, but I don't know if it would be the same. Even if I never wear it again, I still have the satisfaction of having taken an ordinary item and using it for a special purpose.

I've been enjoying G & T all summer, but I know that drink has already been featured. When I was younger, I was partial to a Tom Collins - made with Canada Dry Collins Mix. I haven't had one in years. I know its not a cocktail, but with the approach of colder weather, I'm looking forward to drinking Port again. I'll just let you select the drink, as I'm not very adventurous. It's only been a short time since South Carolina finally got away from mini-bottles, so getting a well-mixed cocktail in this state was virtually impossible for most of my adult life.

Lou, I'm going to suggest a 1966 Vintage Port. Dow, Warres, Fonseca, Taylor; Doesn't really matter just make sure it's a '66. It'll set you back $200, $300 even $400 depending on the house. Old Port bottles can be a mother to open but trust me...it's worth the effort. And here's a DIY video that has your name written all over it. You'll have as much fun opening it as drinking it. Save a glass for me.


ADG said...

Strong belt. Stronger than wolf urine.

La Maison Fou said...

What a great story and an heirloom that you can and will enjoy!
Here's to many years and that great fell, look and smell of broke in leathar, that cannot be replicated.

Great post,


Main Line Sportsman said...

TinTin...You are dead on accurate about suggesting Dow's. If Lou wants to spend less...Cockburns comes to mind...perhaps or Grahams 20 year old Tawny...which we were drinking last nite at the Duck Hunting Club...about $54.00...but that's a Delaware price.

Alice Olive said...

Ha - I love that his wife had pulled it out of the trash!

Anonymous English Female said...

Lou - Great belt and lovely story! I'm sure a skilled cobbler could carefully attach a lining made of say, glove leather ?? (If Ralph doesn't steal your idea first...)

tintin said...

Lou's belt has great character. Which, I suppose, is what ADG means by wolf piss. It breaks the heart to think it may not be worn again but I hope Anon Eng Female's suggestion might come to the rescue.

MAin Line- I'm a big fan of non vintage ports. Perfect with a hunk of Stilton and walnuts after dinner.

A favorite for years and cheap as dirt is the Aussie, Hardy's Whiskers port. Usually south of $10 a bottle, the stuff is a steal and the bottle a helluva lot easier to open than a '66. Not to be confused with a real port, it ain't real but it ain't bad.

Oyster Guy said...

I once opened an old port bottle (the cork had turned to putty) by wrapping a wire coat hanger around the neck. I then heated the wire a few inches away from the neck with a blow torch usually used for a little creme brulee action.

I removed the wire with gloves and pliers then touched the neck with an ice cube. Easy. We were enjoying a lovely old port before you could say "Gitmo"