Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonus e-Postal Shooting Time!


The Conservative UAW Guy will accept your April e-Postal targets until Midnight, Monday, May 4. If you haven't shot this month's match, schedule some time to do so during the upcoming weekend. Click the link on the left sidebar to read the rules and download your target, then go to the range and try to save our country from bankruptcy. You surely can do better than I did; I felt sort of Congressional when I added up my score.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Steam Traction School Slide and Video Show



EJ and I went to Mt.Pleasant, Iowa last Saturday and Sunday, and we had a great time. This video is a mix of still and video shots that show some of the classroom activities, and firing up on Sunday. The young man partnered up with EJ on the Advance-Rumely is a thirteen year old engine enthusiast from DesMoines. I bet we will be seeing more of him in the years ahead.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Important Business!

Mom has been building her handgun skills with her .22's for about a year now, and she decided to move up to a Ruger Blackhawk since she really enjoys shooting her Single-Six. I went to Iowa Friday and took her to the Coralville Scheel's store where she had a new .45 Colt/ACP convertible waiting for her. The sales people at Scheel's are always very helpful, and she soon had her paperwork completed. Luckily, I had bought some .45 ACP ammo ahead of time for her; Scheel's had been bought out of all but high priced defensive pistol ammo.
EJ and I went to Mt. Pleasant for the steam school on Saturday, but Mom called her range buddies, and they broke in her new revolver, and also shot some .22, 9mm, and .38 special. Her first shot from the .45 Blackhawk was right in the center of the bullseye. Her friends tried it and had the same result, making for smiles all around.

I think her friend is telling her that she has worn out the middle of her target.


Cleaned, oiled, and ready for the range. Mom was unsure about whether she would like the black grips on this model, but she found that she can easily maintain a sure grip with them when the gun recoils.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fungus From Mars?


Cedar Apple rust has really been making a show this spring, and the wet weather we are having is ideal for spreading it to apples and crabapples, the alternate hosts. Spray your fruit trees on schedule, plant resistant varieties, and clip these spore bombs off of nearby cedar trees every spring before they start producing spores.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not My Victrola



"Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble" was recorded on the Victor label in 1928 by McKinney's Cotton Pickers. bsgs98 posted this for our enjoyment on his YouTube channel. Shake a leg, and have a great week.

Here Comes Monday!

Back To The Old Grind!

On The Road Weekend Post

Midwest Old Threshers director Lennis Moore greeted tweny-five lucky people who got into this year's steam traction class at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa on Saturday morning. We had a full day of classroom instruction from two steam experts. We will be receiving hands on instruction Sunday as the students try their newly acquired knowledge on four different engines that will be fired up. Check in this week to see more photos of this great event.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crankin' It Up



This week we are revisiting the early recording artist Arthur Collins as he performs an amusing novelty song about travel by rail. This weekend I am meeting up with Engineering Johnson to attend a steam engine class, so I picked this song to help us focus.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Arbor Day Preparations

Mt. Vernon Garden Club members and Tree Board members got together this week to package seedlings for school kids in Jefferson County and Mt. Vernon. Pines and hardwoods were individually bagged and stapled to an instruction sheet that shows the kids how to plant a tree properly. This dedicated crew has been helping with Arbor Day festivities for several years, and they make it possible to distribute trees to every school in the county. SALUTE!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ticket To Adventure

Qualifying for a Red Card from the US Forest Service doesn't guarantee adventure, but it does enhance your chances for memorable experiences. I got my first Red Card in 1979, hoping to earn a little extra money and some fire fighting experience in the West. At the time, I was working in Eastern Kentucky, and had lots of practice fighting fire in Appalachian hardwood forests.

Earning one of these thirty years ago required doing the Step Test, which was pretty easy for anyone used to climbing hills regularly. You had to step up and down, on and off of a one foot high step for five minutes, and have your pulse monitored to check your fitness. After I passed, I packed a duffel bag, and waited for a call. In August we were flown out of Lexington, KY to Butte, MT to work on the Barker Creek fire, near the town of Anaconda. Our crew spent four days mopping up fire line, riding in deuce-and-a-half trucks, sleeping on the ground at night, and loving nearly every minute of it.

Here are True Blue and friend Ken P working near timber line in subalpine fir forest.


The vistas were a bit longer, and the mountains were a bit taller than we were used to in Kentucky.


Our ride is sitting on the Continental Divide. It felt good to start out at the top of the hill.

Our crew managed very well in the high altitudes. The air was thin, but we all knew how to pace ourselves from working in the Appalachians.

When we came off of the Barker Creek fire, we were sent to Missoula, where we spent five days on the Grant Creek fire. We had more excitement than we wanted on that one, with long hikes, hot firelines, and big Douglas-firs crashing down around us. It was a memorable trip.


More training is required today by the Forest Service for fire fighters, and I have been getting a Red Card again since 2005. My employer let some of us go on a fire assignment in 2006, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime fire assignment. Minnesota had most of their personnel committed on big fires that summer, and our crew from Illinois was sent in to stop little ones from
becoming big ones. Since we weren't on a big fire, we stayed in real lodging, not tents, and had a shower every night.

We had to do 100% mop up on the fires we were assigned, and we got some experience using water, and dropping trees.

Minnesota has lots of water, and you are never too far from it, so fire-fighting involves moving water more than digging line.

We were sent to this smoker late one day. Part of the crew set up a pump in a beaver pond and carried hose uphill while we made our falling plan. As soon as we had some water on this white pine, we dropped it, chunked it into movable pieces, hosed it down, stacked the pieces around the stump and hosed it more.

One of our brave crew members mugged for the camera the next morning when we checked it to make sure it was cold. Dropping trees with a crew watching is good practice. You have to plan every cut on every tree before you crank up, because burning snags don't let you stop and think about your next move. It was exhilarating.

Speaking of exhilaration, I just passed the Pack Test to get a Red Card again this year. You have to carry forty-five pounds three miles in forty-five minutes or less, and I surprised myself by improving my time. I don't know if the boss will let anyone go this year, but it felt good to qualify.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Way Of All Iron

This old binder was probably parked only a few years before the fields it harvested were abandoned and allowed to grow up in briars, sumacs, dogwoods, ash, and persimmon. It is a sad looking case now, with all of the wood and canvas gone, along with the memories of the farm it worked on. The remains of the farm house are caving in across the road, a sad reminder of days gone by.
There isn't much left of this one. I think the parts that could easily be removed have been carried off to a scrap yard, leaving just the bones to remind us of times past.

Monday, April 20, 2009

We're Bugged!

These purple box-kites started showing up in Illinois recently, and I figured out what they were before I stopped to look at one. The emerald ash borer has been on the move, and governmental agencies who watch these things are trying to track them.

The bugs are probably all over Illinois already, and are just waiting to be discovered. Ash is one of our greatest hardwood trees for growing useful and beautiful wood, but I quit recommending it in tree planting projects as soon as I heard about this insect arriving on our shores. Ash has serious disease and insect problems that are native in this country, and I think that the new bug on the block will make it impossible to manage for ash timber in the future.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not My Victrola



EdmundusRex has posted another great song by the "Victrola Girl," Aileen Stanley, and Cliff Edwards. This YouTube posting is guaranteed to brighten your Monday!

Here Comes Monday!

Back To The Old Grind!

Beating The Wildlife

We went looking for morel mushrooms Saturday, and it was slow at first, but we found a recently-deceased elm tree with the tasty treats growing above the dead roots, and we felt like we were in Hog-Heaven.
This is our haul; we had some with supper, and we are eating the remainder with Sunday breakfast.

If you have morels in you woods you have to find them before the deer, turkeys, and squirrels eat them. This cute gray squirrel was hunting alongside Mrs. TBS for quite a while, and I followed him around taking pictures. I was only five or six feet away from him when I took this shot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend Steam



Case steam traction engines climbing a steep incline were a popular attraction at rural fairs in the early Twentieth Century. It was a pretty gutsy demonstration, and I don't know of any other manufacturers who showcased their engines doing this. If the single cylinder engine stopped on the way up, it would have to back down. The backing down after the engine reaches the top give me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. These engines do not have brakes, and the steering is a rudimentary system of chains pivoting the front axle. The first video is courtesy of Jrcaseman, and the second one is from hartparr, both fellow YouTubers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Crankin' It Up



We had a fan of the Benson Orchestra leave a nice comment on YouTube, so this Friday we are playing the flip side of last week's record. 'My Little Bimbo' is a One-Step, and I have no idea how you dance to this. It sounds like good music to go with the old 'Fractured Flickers' show hosted by Hans Conried many years ago. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Instruction From Joe Glenn: Chainsaw Kickbacks



Joe Glenn demonstrates the power and danger of a kickback from your chainsaw in this short video. Note that Joe directs the kickback horizontally so he is not in danger of being hit during the demonstration. He performs this by using only the tip of the saw; engaging more of the kickback corner would propel the saw out of his grip. A major kickback that launches toward your head and shoulders can be deadly, so you have to pay attention to the tip of your bar at all times when you are cutting. Joe is wearing all of the personal protective gear recommended for chainsaw operators, he locks the saw between his knees when he starts, and he wraps his thumb around the bar in order to have a firm grip on the saw. A chainsaw will blast right out of your hand during a kickback if you don't have that thumb in the right place.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Everyone But Me

Everybody I talk to is eaten up with turkey hunting this time of year. Southern Illinois has an abundance of these birds, which are so common now that I don't get too excited by them, except when one launches at my feet when I am looking up in the trees. A covey of quail always gives me a thrill, but a turkey taking off in my face just about causes a heart attack. When we want a dead bird we go to Kroger.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fire Weather



This spring has had narrow windows of opportunity for prescribed burning, with the frequent precipitation events interrupting plans regularly. I did get a chance last week to participate on a burn, and it was a good one. The wind shifted near the end, and the ladies with the drip torches had to string fire fast to prevent the fire from making a getaway. This grass had been flattened by an ice storm, so the flames aren't terribly dramatic, but they were hot enough. It started raining as we were loading up our equipment after we finished.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not My Victrola



Here is Sophie Tucker performing her signature song, "Some Of These Days" on an Edison four minute cylinder in 1911. This fascinating look at Sophie's early career is courtesy of Barndog44, on YouTube.



And, as a bonus, here is the Red Hot Mama performing on a 1927 unreleased OKEH record, uploaded to YouTube by bsgs98. I hope all of you have had a great weekend.

Monday's Coming!



Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bore Cut Demonstration and Practice Post



Chainsaw instructor Joe Glenn is shown here building a hinge in a storm damaged elm tree, then releasing it and escaping. After it is safely on the ground he makes a practice post out of the stump for his students to use in learning how to perform a bore cut. Lots of loggers resist using this method, but they are clinging to methods devised when the axe and crosscut saw were the only tools available. Modern saws increase our options for methods in cutting and bucking trees, improving production and safety for those willing to learn. Remember to always start your bore cut with the lower corner of the bar.

Weekend Steam

Last summer I visited Wildcat Den StatePark near Muscatine, Iowa, to look at the old mill I remembered from a childhood visit.
Even as a small child I noticed that the Pine Creek Grist Mill lacked a wheel. Here's why; this mill was powered by a turbine, which has recently been uncovered in the depths beneath the mill.

The first step of power transmission from the turbine was this wooden gear, which transferred motion to the lineshaft system to run all of the machinery in the building.


Here is why this mill made it to a Weekend Steam post. A steam engine from a boat was installed to provide a more dependable source of power than the creek. 'Friends of Pine Creek Grist Mill,' an organization based in Muscatine has been providing the labor to restore machinery in the mill, and it is now a great educational stop for tourists, families, and students.

The steam engine is the oldest one I have seen. Nearly all engines of this vintage either ended up in the bottom of the Mississippi or were scrapped.

It appears that the Friends of Pine Creek Mill intends to make this relic run again. The state of Iowa has owned the mill for many decades, and it is a rare survivor. It is a bit of a miracle that vandals have not looted or burned this treasure.

The displacement lubricator shows any steam fan that this engine came from the early, low pressure steam era. Tallow would have been used to lubricate the cylinder, since it will mix with water. The discovery that tallow could be mixed with mineral oil allowed steam engines to be run with high pressure steam.

This hand pump would have been used to pump tallow into the steam chest when starting the engine. Mechanical lubricators came along later, replacing the displacement lubricator for running. They had a crank to operate the lubricator at startup, replacing this little gadget.

Steam condensed in the displacement lubricator, floating the tallow out into the steam line to the engine.

The old boiler will not be used again, but it is a very interesting relic of the 1860's.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Crankin' It Up: Heating Things Up A BIt



I saw over on Hobie's blog that he had snow this week; the Grouchy Old Cripple had snow in Atlanta on the 7th, and the same day I had ice pellets falling on me while I worked. On April 7, 1949, my Mother had two inches of snow on her first garden as a newlywed. Since winter can't seem to quit, I picked the spicey 'Chili Bean' out of the record cabinet to warm us up. It is a quick Fox-Trot, and should be a good one to try out your Charleston moves.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Special Chainsaw Technique For Small Leaners



Small trees with excessive lean pose a special problem if they must be felled. The loading they have from the lean will make them explosive if you drop them with a conventional cut, and there may not be enough wood to set up an open face and hinge with a bore cut. We all like to go home in one piece at the end of the day, so here is a way to safely fold down a heavily loaded tree: treat it just like you would a springpole, by shaving out the compressed side until you hear the fibers pulling on the tensioned side. Back away, and let it come down.

 UPDATE!  Click here to see a quicker, easier method!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

That Was A Close One

While I was working on equipment one day I heard Scooter sneeze. Pretty soon he sneezed again...and again. I checked on him and he was a sick kitty. We had him to the Vet in short order and found that he had a fever, and a rattly lung. The Doc gave him a shot of antibiotics, put half a liter of water under his skin to fight deydration, and counted out eight day's worth of pills. If we had ignored the sneezing, our little rose colored kitty would have been a goner. Veterinarians are amazing people. They have the ability to size up a situation with an animal they don't know, reach a diagnosis and treatment within minutes, and save a life. And they do this for several different species. It makes me wonder if I should be going to a Vet instead of our family physician.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chainsaw Instructor Joe Glenn Builds A Stump Vise

I always look forward to learning new techniques or tricks when I go to a training session, and the chainsaw class at the Dixon Springs Ag Center last week provided a Dusey. After the students had all performed a bore cut on a squared-up stump, Joe Glenn showed them how to build a vise for sharpening and adjusting a chainsaw in the woods. This is going to come in handy! It's one of those things that makes you slap your head and ask, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Doin' What Comes Naturally

Sapsuckers are busy little birds, and homeowners are often alarmed to notice the evidence that the little woodpeckers like their trees. This mockernut hickory in our woods is obviously a favorite, and even though the tree is of no value, we will keep it, because if a bird is pecking on this one, it is not harming one of our good ones.
Yellow-poplar will draw about ten times the number of wounds you see here. Sapsuckers drill lines of holes which attract insects who feed on sap, then the birds eat the insects. I wonder what draws the birds. Do they drill holes in one tree and not the other because it tastes good to them; or can they recognize which trees will be the best ones to attract insects? Any ornithologists out there are welcome to comment.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Not My Victrola; One More Dance Before Monday



It's embarrasing how often I say, "That song is one of my favorites." 'Sleepy Time Gal' is one that I had on a piano roll, more than thirty five years ago, and I pedaled my way through this song MANY times. I still like it. Thanks to pax41 for uploading this to YouTube.

Here It Comes Again!


Yep...Monday! Back To The Old Grind!

GOOD TIMES!


Instructor Joe Glenn (#63) and assistant Dan Schmoker (white beard) pose with their class of eleven chainsaw students at the Dixon Springs Ag Center last week during a break. Many of the participants had never run a saw before, but were anxious to learn. On the second day each student had to discuss and make a plan for a tree to cut, perform the cut, and then be critiqued by the instructor and the class. These eager beavers managed to discuss and cut sixteen trees in one day, even though we had about three hours of classroom instruction, too. We will be doing a second session with this group in May to complete their training. Stihl graciously donated three hardhats, three sets of chainsaw chaps, and a set of cut resistant mitts for this occasion. Thank You, Stihl! More pictures and some video of the good times will be posted here in the days ahead, so check back.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekend Steam


'The American Thresherman And Farm Power', April, 1922 clearly shows the trend away from steam traction engines on American farms; most of the ads for farm power are gas and kerosene powered tractors. Farquhar, Advance- Rumely, Port Huron, and Baker steamers are badly outnumbered by the gas tractor ads for; Aultman-Taylor, Advance-Rumely, Minneapolis, Flour City, Allwork, Case (times two), Nichols & Shepard, Frick, and International Harvester.

Now, let's look at a video by The Original WheelsTV on YouTube, of a Baker engine at a steam show.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The April e-Postal Match Is In Play!

Click over to The Conservative UAW Guy to study the rules and print your targets. This month you will put sixteen shots on two targets, and have a little fun with math beyond our comprehension. It looks like lots of fun; take friends and family with you to the range and share the joy.

Crankin' It Up



The record this Friday is an old favorite song of Engineering Johnson. He learned this song from a CD by R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. This recording is by the Cook Sisters, who cut two sides on September 28,1927 at the Brunswick studio in New York, and were never heard from again. I picked this disc up in an antique mall, and unfortunately it has tape on the paper label. Don't do this to your records; it can't be peeled off without hurting the label. Put on your dancing shoes, because this is a nice Fox-Trot.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

March e-Postal Results Are Up!

Click over to Mr. Completely's blog to see the scores.

It Must Be Driving The Collectors Nuts

I've been driving by this McCormick-Deering 15-30 occasionally for over twenty years, and the multiflora rose is hiding it pretty well during the growing season now. That is a stationary baler sitting behind it. You have to wonder how many times a collector has gone to the door and tried to buy these old machines. You never get lonely if you have old iron parked by the road.