• Jack Cullen
  • Tue November 29 2016
  • Posted Nov 29, 2016

It’s about an hour and a half before the bell rings at Davenport West High School, but one class already started.

At 6:45 a.m., students don the essential safety gear — steel-toed boots, flame-retardant jackets, heat-resistant gloves and safety glasses — as worries about that second-period chemistry exam temporarily disappear.

It’s Andrew Zinn’s vocational welding class in a garage-style workshop, where fusing two pieces of metal together with a torch is the baseline on the learning curve.

When the class foreman calls for a break at 8:05 a.m., one team of five students push on through their allotted 10-minute recess. They’re working on their newest project: a bicycle rack for the Quad-City Times.

“This is the fun part,” junior Logan Soenke said with a grin as he closed the face shield of his auto-darkening helmet. “It’s what we do best.”

The group just finished marking a cityscape design into the steel plate of the 2.5-foot by 6.5-foot structure using a software-controlled plasma cutter. The drafting process, they said, presented the most challenges.

“I don’t really care for this computer stuff,” said Josh Brus, a junior whose father owns Brus Construction in Blue Grass. “I like being hands on.”

Sparks flew as members of the crew took turns attaching “feet” to the base of the frame, which they plan to paint before delivering it to the Timesin early December.

The other students who produced the rack are Richard Quandt, Tyler Edwards and Tyler Garcia.

Bike-friendly efforts

We first reached out to Zinn in April, about a year after his students designed and built 20 bicycle racks for the Downtown Davenport Partnership, an arm of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

So far, 13 of those racks, which the organization purchased for $75 each, have been installed outside several downtown businesses, including Me & Billy and Riverbend Retro.








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