Full steam ahead for Doug

Resident Stories Connectedness Community Health Lifestyle
03 July 2019

There probably isn’t a clock at Howard Court at IRT Pioneer Place that Doug Mazonowicz hasn’t fixed.

“There are lots of people here with lots of clocks. I’ve nearly repaired them all.”

He doesn’t charge for his work but draws the line at watches. “I haven’t got time to fix watches,” he laughs.

Doug has a passion for repairing and building all things mechanical – from model steam engines, to marine engines and wall clocks, and is a member of the Illawarra Live Steamers model engineering club.

He says his hobbies have kept him sane – following the sudden death of his son Stephen 15 years ago and the death of his wife Carole two-and-a-half years ago.

“When my wife was sick with pancreatic cancer I used to go to my workshop and just build steam engines.”

miniature steam engine

Doug’s been repairing a music box, intermittently, for nearly two years. “The music box was found in a skip, full of bricks and tiles. My son found it for me.”

It has hundreds of pins around a cylinder and most of the pins were bent, so Doug spent three weeks, on and off, painstakingly straightening them.

He says he has plenty of patience. His motto is: “The difficult I do straightaway, the impossible may take a little time”.

Doug working

He built his first basic steam engine at 14. “I showed it to my teacher and he threw it down on the desk and said ‘I hate liars, you didn’t build this’ and told me to get out.”

From then on Doug wanted to prove everybody wrong and he didn’t let the challenges of being dyslexic and colourblind hold him back.

Dougs engineering schematics

As a young man Doug completed his boilermaker apprenticeship at AE Goodwins, Port Kembla and worked at Port Kembla steelworks but was interested in the crafts.

Doug and his wife went into antiques – with shops in Sydney and Mount Kembla. They used to travel to England and France and ship antiques back to Australia to restore and sell. Then he opened a factory and made and sold reproduction antique furniture.

Doug has just turned 80 and has met someone. “It’s nice to have a companion . . . she lost her partner too and we are a team.”

He believes his interests keep him going.

“I hope I can still do this until I’m 90 . . . and I’ll probably end up going into a wheelchair or a mobile scooter, but that’s fine, I’ll probably start pulling it to bits and repairing it.”