Monday, February 29, 2016

Tuesday Torque: A Preview


Susan and I acquired this rare 8 H.P. Bessemer engine in Lawrence County Kentucky in 1976, and we brought it to the farm in 1980 when we picked up and moved.  The parts resided in the barn until 1992...


...when it moved out to the road and became The Mailbox Engine.  Internal parts stayed in the barn in a hydraulic oil bucket.  Gary Bahre stumbled upon our old iron one day when he was driving by and checking fencerows for old iron.


He took it home in March 2014 and began his restoration work.  This photo by Gary demonstrates that it was not an engine; just a parts kit.  He had a new rod built, had the cylinder bored and sleeved, and learned a whole lot of century-old technology when he overhauled the throttle/gas mixer valve assembly.  This old engine was used in Kentucky to power a sorghum press.  It froze one winter and had an ugly brazing job holding the iron water jacket together.   We figure that the original rod broke because the oiler for the rod was allowed to run dry.  The limited capacity of the drip oiler is the big weak point in the design of this engine.


Gary made the old girl run last fall and he brought it to Pinckneyville just so we could see the wheels turn.  We shot some video and have kept it under our hats because the restoration was not complete.  It is all done now, on a cart, with a cooling tank, and decals so it looks darn near like it did 100 years ago when it left the factory.  We will see it run next weekend at Gary's annual crankup and will shoot photos and video of it to share with you next week.  Until then, here is the 8 H.P. vertical Bessemer in its not-quite-finished state last fall.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Not My Victrola: Pax Shares Sounds Of The Mighty Organ

Uploaded by Pax41.


Song 1: Sidney Torch, Ding Dong Ding. Song 2: Lew White, My Song Of The Nile, 1929.
Song 3: Edward O'Henry, Dream Lover.  Song 4: Terance Casey, Bye and Bye.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Name That Site Type*


I was out in the woods in White County this week with Joe Newcomb, a consultant who retired from the Forest Service 25 years ago.  He has been doing real forestry work ever since, and has to turn away most requests because there are only so many hours in the day.  He handled a sale in this timber more than 20 years ago and is now setting up a final harvest, plus prescribing the regeneration plans for the owners.  This is a very productive site with cherrybark oak, Shumard oak , white oak and black cherry.  In most of  my counties black cherry won't grow this nice.  This tree is 22" dbh (diameter 4' 6" above the ground) with a couple of good logs.  Mature cherries in my other counties will be 16" to 18" and will have sap dripping from many places on the log.  I asked Joe if this was on Hosmer soil and he pulled out a copy of the plan he had written. He confirmed that we were indeed on Hosmer soil.  That was a bit of luck on my part, but it was also from experience.

Many years ago I went to a forest soils conference hosted by Purdue, and run mostly by Professor George Parker.  George pioneered categorizing forest site types based on soil type, aspect and slope position.  I took in what George was saying and started applying his ideas in my part of Illinois by paying attention to soil maps and how well various tree species grew on different soils and site situations.  The difficult challenge for foresters on productive sites like this one is not growing trees, but making the species you want reproduce on them.  Fire and herbicides applied in the right combinations are important tools, and it takes a systematic approach to accomplish what you want.  Joe just turned 80 recently and he is prescribing management treatments to this forest so in 80 years there will be another harvest equal to the one he is arranging now.

*We are nearly at the foot of a southeast facing slope on Hosmer soil, just above a bottomland soil where the forest changes to a pin oak stand. This forest has been invaded by bush honeysuckle and there will be herbicide treatments to knock that pest down, plus burning to encourage oak regeneration.  You are a good man, Joe!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Goodbye, Old Car


Our '08 Ford Explorer has been hauled away, and will go to a car auction.  We thought about keeping it, but we drove a wrecked car for many years and don't want to do that again.  Illinois does not want you to drive a rebuilt car that has been totaled, and they make the process difficult. Our car insurance company would not insure it if we had it rebuilt.  Oh Well, it has been a very good and faithful vehicle.  We replaced it with another Ford.


In other news, we pick up glass every time we go outside.  We are amazed at the distance from the house we find sizable chunks.  We need every bit of it picked up because the dogs need to walk in the driveway.

All of the victims of our car thief/house breaker have been inconvenienced and have had considerable expenses replacing their vehicles.  The perpetrator meanwhile is enjoying free housing, three meals a day, free legal assistance, and we have to be careful to mention that he is only charged, not convicted at this time.  Well, at least I have a prettier roommate than he probably has.  Take a look at the White County Jail roster for a look at life's other side. Our guy is Inmate #283,658.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger's auction this week is a 1985 Super Blackhawk in .44 Magnum that was returned to the factory.  It has a U added to the serial number to indicate that it is a used gun.  It looks good and the bidding is already up over $800.  This fine revolver will sell mid-day, Wednesday, February 24, 2016. Click Here or on the photo to read all about it and to place your bid.  100% of the proceeds of this auction will go to benefit the USA Shooting team.

$810, 18 bids.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tuesday Torque


We saw this little buggy a couple years ago at Evansville.  I think it is a homebuilt buggy using a Hercules industrial motor.  The radiator shell says Hercules Power, and this was at the Hercules Centennial celebration.  The front axle is from a Model T Ford...


...as are the steering wheel and gear, and the hubcaps. The fenders are cut-down Model T sheet metal. The wheels look like they came from a K-Car.


The foot feed pedal might have come from Warshawsky or J.C. Whitney, and please note the clutch.


The clutch is definitely not automotive.  It is a twin disc clutch operated with a hand lever, so it surely was a motor meant for stationary industrial applications.


The running boards are probably southern yellow pine, judging from the size of the growth rings.


It looks like a fun little ride that would be right at home moving firewood from the timber up to the compound.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Not My Victrola: Casa Loma Stomp

Video upload by Nick Sonnenburg.



The days are getting longer and today was shirt sleeve weather in Southern Illinois; time to shake a leg and lose those winter blues!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fun To Run; Mamod Engines

We haven't run ours for several years, and we should get it out of the closet and oil the cylinder.  They stick if neglected for too long.  They come out of hiding when kids visit, and that doesn't happen nowadays.


Video by John Taylor.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Video Cameras Should Be Welded To The Tripod.

I was about to wedge over this tree, grabbed my pocket camera out of my coat and handed it to one of the swampers who was standing there watching me.  I started it recording and told him to video me.  As soon as I turned my back he moved WAY back, for a tree that wasn't any danger to him, and then he turned it 90 degrees, so you don't get to see my brilliant wedging action with three different wedge setups to tip a tree near the limits.  Oh Well.  I trimmed off the start and this segment begins just before a limb falls next to me.  One of the guys said "You didn't even jump when that fell!"  Well, it was too late to jump when I heard it hit the ground.  This was the smallest tree we dropped today and I wish there was a way to record the bump you feel when a big tree trunk hits the ground all at once.  Everybody cracks a grin.  This one didn't do anything memorable, but it was a good lesson in setting up wedges for the crew.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger has another great shooter this week; A P85 Decocker built in 1990, and stored in Ruger's vault all these years is on the auction block, and it will sell mid-day, Wednesday, February 17, 2016.  100% of the proceeds of this auction will go to benefit the USA Shooting Team.  Click Here to place your winning bid.
$755, 22 bids

Keep That Saw Sharp!

Just a quick lesson in filing your saw.


Monday, February 15, 2016

How I Feel...


...about going to work tomorrow.  Gotta do it, but my heart ain't in it.  I will look for inspiration tomorrow while I am out.  If I don't find it, I will start posting more of our cats.  Thank You to all of our friends, both local and Internet who have helped us over the last few days.  We are unscathed physically, the house will soon be back in order, we have wheels in the garage, and of course we have Schipperkes.  Life is Good!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Outlaw's Luckiest Day, or Five Chances To Die


Pattie's front door is where the night of horror began for us, but we were just the end of the line for the criminal that came into our lives.  Eric Hall of Carmi had been in police custody and had a psych evaluation by Skype in McLeansboro.  The doctor who interviewed him gave him a clean bill and told the police to release him.  He stole a car and went north on IL Hwy 242, wrecking the car at Rube's Liquor Locker, and then burning it.  He stole another car and wrecked that one at our driveway.  We knew none of this, and I was stoking the basement stove.  When I was outside picking up wood, Lightning the feral dog was in the lower yard, obviously disturbed and not barking. That was unusual but did not alarm me.  I finished up with the stove, locked the basement door and went upstairs where Susan had gone to bed after tucking in her mother.  The dogs were all in bed in the proper places.  I emptied my pockets and was untying my shoes when there was a loud pounding at the door. Susan got up as I went to the door.  The person pounding outside shouted that there had been a wreck, and like a dumbie, I opened the door.  (Mistake!) The perp was wearing a red t-shirt, no coat or hat, and he lunged at the storm door making unintelligible noises.  I slammed the door and turned the bolt.  He started pounding on the storm door.  I told Susan to call 911 and to tell them we had drunks outside, and to stay with her mother.  At that time I did not even have a pocketknife on me.  We heard glass breaking, and that was the storm door; pounding on the door began, and I told Susan I was going to the office to get a gun.  (Mistake: All of our guns were at the far end of the house from our living space, locked in a gun safe.)  I opened the safe and reached in for my Redhawk, which I knew the location of.  It was unloaded, but cartridges were right next to the safe.  Loading it was difficult with shaky hands. (Mistake: House guns should be ready to use in an emergency.) I locked the safe and went back to the bedrooms. (Mistake: I should have grabbed a second gun for Susan.  There were three loaded .22 revolvers in the safe, plus two .357's, but I would have had to sort through a stack of cased guns.)

 I got back to Pattie's bedroom and windows were being broken there.  These windows are across the room from Pattie's bed, and they were being broken out right then.  The curtains were drawn so we could not see out.  The perp could not see in, and that was good.


Susan was on the phone with a 911 operator throughout this ordeal, and she was sitting on the side of her mother's bed.  The perp next went to the porch on the opposite side of the house where he attacked the three big windows with chairs and trash cans.  I had turned on the porch lights and turned off the interior lights so I could watch him during this phase.  We thought the windows would go at any time, but they held.  He also tried to kick in the library door, which you can see just beyond the third big window.  Had any of these points broken he would have been right into our living space.


A trash can full of sunflower seeds did not break the windows and I saw him throw it over the porch rail in frustration.


My point was here, at the end of the hallway with bedrooms (Pattie's is on the right.) behind me,


The front door that was the beginning of the attack on my left,


and the dining, kitchen, and living space was ahead of me.  The big windows face the porch, and there is a door at the end of the counter that he did not try.  The door at the far end of this room goes into the library, and a few feet beyond that is the man-door into the attached garage.


He returned to Pattie's room and threw more wood through the windows, and then made another attack on the porch. I was able to move a few feet back and forth between this room and the living space to defend in two directions from cover and concealment from the outside.  Noise continued, but we could not tell what was happening.  He had gained access into the attached garage through a broken window.  He ransacked the pickup truck, stole two ham-hocks, a tub of lard and fried okra from the freezer, took a bag of paperwork from the truck and put it in the car, and backed out of the garage with the passenger door open.  It took three attempts for him to batter his way through the garage door, and he laid rubber with all four wheels twice. We knew none of this at the time.  He took a joyride through the yard east of the house, and we saw car lights go by Pat's bedroom.  Then things got quiet.  Pretty soon lights went by, going north, followed immediately by red and blue lights.  The 911 operator told us that police were arriving, and after a long wait, police lights came by the house again.  We still knew nothing about the activities outside at this point.  The 911 operator told us that police were coming to our door, and we responded that I was disarming and would open the door with empty hands.

The State Police took me outside and asked me if the Thermos in the driveway was mine, and it was! That was odd, because it had been in the pickup in the garage, and I said so.  They then shined their lights on the south end of the house and I saw the broken garage door.  They walked me over to the door and shone a light in.  I saw the ransacked truck and then I realized the car was gone.  They asked what kind of car we had, then the color and license number.  Then they asked if I had a tripod in the car.  Odd Question!  Why yes, we shoot videos, and Pattie uses a tripod when she is shooting pistols.  Well the tripod almost got the guy killed.  They told me that he had crashed the car up north and got out of the car wielding the tripod like a gun.  The Hamilton Sheriff's deputy that had pursued him north realized at the last possible instant that the tripod was not a gun, holstered his weapon, and used the Tazer to take down the perp.

Think of the chances this lowlife criminal had to die that night!  Three stolen car wrecks, an unsuccessful campaign to gain entry into the living space of a home with an armed resident, and then a deputy  who would have been very justified to use deadly force. Well, we are very fortunate and are blessed that the guy did not get into our space in the house.  Our troubles are very manageable and this guy will be put away for a good, long time.  The police at the scene were exhibiting some giddiness that there had been no bloodshed, and everyone was in a good mood, considering the circumstances.



We had a few things wrong, all in preparation.  Guns should have been more readily accessible for an emergency situation, and that is being corrected.  Most things were done right.  We stayed in, utilizing the barrier of the walls for our safety.  We knew not to shoot except to defend life, and our gun never became part of the crime scene because it never was seen by the perp, nor was I except for the brief encounter when I opened the door.  I followed the State Police as they cleared the house and told them what was behind every door, including at our bedroom, where I warned them that dogs were in that room, and a pistol to the right on a dressing table.  That was not a problem since they were told in advance of seeing it.

The Illinois State Police, the Hamilton County Sheriff and his deputies exhibited the very best of professionalism at our home, and we are grateful for their quick response to a very busy crime scene. The training we have had from Mike and Valinda Rowe of the Carmi Rifle Club served us well.  Training from the Appleseed Project was also quite valuable.  We have studied much of Massad Ayoob's knowledge over the years, and have learned much from other bloggers in the gun-blog community.

We are making changes to improve our home security, and your comments with helpful observations are of course welcome.

Feed My Critters



Back To The Old Grind!

Video by Eddie Darnell.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mayhem Update: Regaining A Semblance Of Normalcy

We have had a string of phone calls and visits from adjusters, contractors, and concerned neighbors, and we have a list of things to do. Putting good wheels back in the garage was at the top of the list, so some searches were made on the Internet this morning and our Brother-In-Law hauled us up to St. Louis to check out some cars in person. We drove a 2015 Explorer home tonight that had been a rental car in Virginia Beach, and it seems like a good one.  It feels like the old one, but tighter, with a snappier throttle response, and a touch screen dashboard. I don't think the driver is going to be able to use that very well while driving, but maybe we will adapt.  I'm still fond of the chrome knobs and buttons that I had on the dashboard of my '51 Hudson.  Anyhow, here are a couple photos at the end of the driveway where the crime scene invaded our lives.


The perp stole his second car 1.6 miles east of here from a patron at Rube's Liquor Locker. You can tell by the spacing of the tracks that he was sliding sideways after he left the road.  He mowed down our 911 sign so the responders could not see our number. Two is one, and one is none.  We are going to put up a second number on the other side of the driveway.  He hit the driveway,

...went up and over, landing on the top in the ditch on the other side of the driveway. The pile of glass shows where the windshield was.  This wreck would have killed most people.  I am confident that he had not buckled in.  Drug crazed and sh*t-faced drunks seem to survive terrible wrecks, and this guy came out of the wreck like a lion.  I guess that must be better living with street corner pharmaceuticals.

Two of the friends that came the day after this mess were Mike and Valinda Rowe, of Illinois Concealed Carry, the Carmi Rifle Club, and our concealed carry instructors.  They walked through the entire scene with us and discussed the events.  We are still figuring out what we did right and what we did wrong, and we are already making changes to make our home safer. Was it bad that the keys were in the car? The garage was closed, and the car would have been safe from the casual thief.  The perp would have invaded our living space had he not found the keys in the car, and then we would probably be looking at the trauma of a shooting in our home and the legal aftermath of that.  I am taking the keys as an answer to a prayer we did not even know we needed to pray. I am also very glad he took our car into the woods with no escape rather than going on the road where he may have killed an innocent victim.  Stay tuned, there is more to come.  We want to pass on what happened from our perspective in the home while mayhem was happening around us.

I hope our visitors have enjoyed the Valentine Countdown.  I started a list of songs and it kept getting longer and longer every day as songs would pop into my head.  I got up to two songs per day possible when I began posting them, and was able to pre-post the last couple weeks one night in an internet YouTube session.  It was great fun for Susan and me, and I hope you all like the songs we chose.

Valentine Countdown: There Is Love, Peter, Paul, and Mary

Uploaded by Bobit de Guzman.


Valentine Countdown: At Last, Etta James

Uploaded by Jennie Postemus.


We Retrieved The Explorer From The Woods...


We had a home invasion with lots of damage to the house, mostly broken windows.  The perp entered our attached garage though one of the broken windows and stole our '08 Explorer, backing out though the garage door.  If he had not found the key to the car he would have entered the house, and that would have been much worse.  He drove away on our woods lane because the police were arriving and he wrecked the car 1/4 mile north of the house, where he was taken into custody by a Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy.

For a news report on WFIWRADIO.com, CLICK HERE and play the audio bar at the top of the page.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Home Invasion


Last night went all to pieces about 10:30 P.  Lots of damage to the house, the car was stolen and totaled, but we are all OK and the perp is in custody.  Two more Valentine songs are in the hopper for tomorrow, but otherwise we will be giving the blog a rest for a few days, at least 'til our nerves settle down.

Valentine Countdown: Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly

Uploaded by Rumoxidierer.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Abandoned Corn Picker

Here's a neat piece of old machinery I ran across this week.  I don't know how it survived the scrap metal surge that we had a few years ago, but you will note that the radiator is gone.  No doubt it was stolen by some late-night recycling entrepreneur.

Valentine Countdown: Margie, Performed by Frank Crumit, 1920

Uploaded by edmundusrex.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine Countdown: My Heart Belongs To Only You, Bobby Vinton

Uploaded by CatMan916.




This was Bobby Vinton's hit in February and March, 1964.  The Beetles appeared on Ed Sullivan on February 9, 1964, and the kids went nuts for yeah-yeah music.  Our popular music has suffered ever since.

A Schipperke In Its Native Habitat

Eric Janssen posts pictures of his Schip on his barge. Well worth checking every few days.

The American Kennel Club calls the Schipperke a non-working breed, but they are very good ratters, and great little watch dogs.  Our Schips would hunt squirrels if we let them, and they can pop a vole right out of the ground.

Valentine Countdown: Never My Love, The Association

Uploaded by clovermaria.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger's auction this week is one of their highly desirable .44 Magnum Carbines made to commemorate 25 years in 1985.  This fine little rifle is new in the box in Ruger's safe, and it will sell mid-day Wednesday, February 10, 2016.  100 % of the proceeds of this sale will go to benefit the USA Shooting Team. Click Here to place the winning bid.

$2755, 31bids.

Valentine Countdown: Your Song, Elton John

Uploaded by Nina Santiago.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Yard Art


I've been driving by this sad little M for thirty years and finally took a picture last week.  I spoke to the owner twenty years ago and he wasn't at all interested in letting it leave the property.  Take a good look at the photo and you can see the years have not been kind. The top of the water hopper has been lifted by frost, and you can bet the bottom of the water jacket is broken, too.  The sparkplug is gone, so we know the piston is well rusted to the cylinder, which may also be broken by freezing.  If it was a rock I would say "That's Leaverite!" And that's what I did.

Valentine Countdown: When I Fall In Love, Nat King Cole

Uploaded by DentelTV2.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Valentine Countdown: If You Knew Susie, Eddie Cantor

Uploaded by CatsPjamas1.


Sweets For The Sweet!

Cacao Beans by Scott Moore Jr.


Back To The Old Grind!

Valentine Countdown: Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Al Jolson

Uploaded by tmmvds.


BIg, Off Balance Pin Oak

This big pin oak died last year and was still solid all the way through.  It had forward weight, but it also had side weight when viewed from the point we wanted to drop it.  If we dropped it in the direction of all the weight it was going to smash a good tree, so we gambled on fighting the side weight, and won.  If the side weight is too great the hinge will not hold when motion begins and the tree will go where gravity wants to take it.  No high value targets were in danger, so it was worth trying.

I placed a couple wedges behind the hinge on the heavy side to keep the hinge from crushing.  If that had happened the other end of the hinge might have ripped apart.  You can see where fiber pull happened in the wide end of the hinge at the end of the video.  Only so much wood will bend in a hinge, and then the wood behind it pulls apart.  You will often hear cutters say they are going to steer a tree by leaving the hinge thick on one end to "pull" the tree around.  That is a big fallacy.  The tree will go where the front end of the hinge points it, and where gravity pulls it.  The thick end of the hinge stabilizes a tree only until there is enough movement to pull it apart, and that is just for an instant while the tree begins to move.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Up On My Chainsaw Soapbox

I am constantly preaching proper chainsaw techniques at work and at play.  This week I saw the remains of a walnut tree that was wrecked by a logger who did not know how to aim a tree properly, and a few days later I stopped a landowner by a stump that I am sure he made and discussed what he had done, and then what he should have done.  Between those two cases there was a filing lesson for a chap who was throwing dust instead of chips, and that's important because a dull saw wears out both the operator and the chain.

Here is an important video by WorkSafeBC that shows the consequences of improper cutting.  The operator in this video was not qualified to be cutting any trees that required hinging or borecutting to prevent barberchairs, and he kept at it until it killed him.

Valentine Countdown: Strangers In The Night, Frank Sinatra

Uploaded by Sinatra Fan.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Valentine Countdown Crankup BONUS!

I looked through one of our hard drives and found Oh You Beautiful Doll with a picture show of old sheet music covers and put it back on YouTube for your enjoyment.


This record, and a few others in our collection belonged to my Aunt Bessye Hornung, who is front and center with her husband Carl on their wedding day.


Weekend Steam: A Sad Sight!

The front end broke off this English steam roller while it was out for a spin, and although it looks a mess, no-one was crushed, and the engineer did not allow the boiler to explode. When the front end drops it leaves the crown sheet dry, and the fire must be cooled down quickly to avoid a catastrophe.  He evidently did his work well, because the boiler did not let go when the front end was raised, putting water on the crown sheet again.



Video by Richard180961.

Valentine Countdown: Rainy Day People, Gordon Lightfoot

Uploaded by Louie's Tunebox.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Drop Two Snags; Miss The Electrical Box

You have to assess the weight and lean on trees like this, and then hope that the wood is still solid.  Wood gets punky pretty fast in dead trees, and then your aim can be overcome by gravity.  We had one today that broke off its hinge on the way down, and it moved off its aim point by several degrees,  These two trees were still solid and went right where the hinges pointed them.


Another Fairbanks 208!

Looking through photo/video folders I ran across this pump jack and 208, from back in the Spring of 2012.  It's a decent video, even if it is just another Fairbanks 208 running an oil well. I always stop to listen and watch when I run across one of these on my walks in the backcountry of Southern Illinois.


Valentine Countdown: Sealed With A Kiss, Bobby Vinton

Uploaded by NostalgiaClassical.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gun Blogger Rendezvous and HAVA Check Presentation...

...at Shot Show. Click and Click.

Gun Blogger Rendezvous will be September 8-11, 2016. Mark it on your calendar!

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger is donating to a different beneficiary this week, and this very rare gun is generating plenty of interest.   This Mk II pistol is evidently a prototype for the pistols that Ruger supplied to the U.S. Army.  It was rollmarked on November 3, 1982, and has been residing in Ruger's safe ever since.  There are slight differences from the pistols produced for the Army, and therefore it is extremely rare and collectible.   As I post this there are thirty bids and the price is over $2400, so brace yourself if you plan to make a bid.  100% of the proceeds of this auction will go to benefit the USA Shooting Team, and the hammer will fall mid-day, February 3, 2016.  Click Here, or on the picture to place your bid.

46 bids, $4790!  There are some very generous folks out there!

Valentine Countdown: These Foolish Things, Rod Stewart and Rudy Vallee

Uploaded by Rod Stewart VEVO.



Uploaded by DianaMHerrera.