Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Take A Trip And Never Leave The Farm

The geyser camera at Yellowstone is one of the sites I visit frequently. You can check the weather and the crowds at Old Faithful, and sometimes you will click in on an eruption. The timer in the upper left tells you how long it is until the next event, and I will hang around and watch it if the time is not too long. One day I watched a tourist take a cell phone call with his back to the geyser, and he missed the entire show. He turned around to look as the crowd started moving back to the lodge, but it was all over.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not My Victrola: Warming Up For The Big Party!

Pax41 on YouTube has just posted a peppy number that is sure to put you in a party mood for tomorrow night. Irving Berlin published 'Alexandar's Ragtime Band' in 1911, and this recording was pressed the same year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Model T Centennial Celebration Continued!

I am sure some of you took off for Grandma's house without switching to your winter oil. If that is the case, these next few pages of 'Dyke's Ford Supplement' will be your guide as you get under the old flivver and adjust the knock out of your rods. Remember on cold days to block the wheels and jack up one back wheel so the old girl doesn't run over you when you crank her up. Take off the top floorboard to get a little heat back in the cab on these cold winter days.

These pages are jpg images scanned at 100 lines per inch. Click on each one to expand, then save it to your hard drive. You will eventually have a very nice resource for working on your Ford. Click on the T's label to see all of the pages posted so far.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not My Victrola

This is a great oldie done up for dancing a snappy fox-trot. Just the thing to help you scoot out the door on Monday morning! It is courtesy of Pax41, one of the old record posters on YouTube.

Monday Again!

Back To The Old Grind!

This Post Is...

EJ and his mother exercising their right to bear irons.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weekend Steam: Kinda, Sorta

This nice old engine started life as a steamer in the oilfield, and then it was converted into a gas engine. It is set up to be used on a cable drilling rig, having a cable operated throttle for the driller to pull when he needed extra power. It operated in a power house for more than one hundred years, and the current owners have its history, which was recorded by the operators over the years. You will note that it fires every revolution. It is a two-stroke engine, with one end of the cylinder charging the other end the same as a Bessemer two-stroke engine.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Crankin' It Up: Something Old, Something New!

EJ brought a brand new microphone for the True Blue Sam recording studio! The old mike was bad about maxing out on loud records, and this new beauty will definitely improve the quality of our recordings. 'Brown Eyes, Why Are You Blue' is our first attempt with the new microphone after readjusting the settings for audio recording.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


The head buck behind the barn has been very secretive this year and I have seen him on only one other occasion. Yesterday he showed his face long enough that I shot some pictures, enough to see that he is an 8-pointer. He was ninety yards out, and he noticed that I had slid the door open to take his picture. He did not hang around.

I am glad he make it through the gun seasons; next year his rack should really be magnificent.

This little guy heard the shutter sound effects at fifty yards, turned, and strutted away very indignantly. He needs to be a bit more shy to survive next year when he grows better antlers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saved By A Method

A couple months ago there was a logger killed not too far from here when a dead branch like this one nailed him on the head. This particular limb fell behind me after I made my escape from a dead black oak I had just dropped to make some firewood. The method I use to fall trees is what saved my noggin. There are lots of people who cling to the old methods of cutting trees, and I see their comments on my YouTube videos. The most surprising thing to me about this is that the U S Forest service still teaches the old method to their people because someone in the organization thinks that the bore cut is difficult or dangerous to learn.

The open face and bore cut method for falling trees has some great advantages over the older methods. It is a necessity for trees with excessive forward weight in order to prevent barber chairs, which are often deadly. The bore cut allows you to make your hinge the exact length and thickness you want while your tree stand motionless, and allows you to set up your wedges in advance of releasing the tree. The greatest safety advantage I see is that the faller is up on his feet when the tree is released, and can make a quick exit away from the stump as soon as the tree is in motion. Those seconds saved in your getaway will eventually save you from injury or death if you cut down trees.

This dead black oak has a bit of forward weight to the north, so wedging won't be needed to make it fall.

The first cut aims the tree, which will fall at a 90 degree angle to the bar of the saw.

The second cut matches up to the first, creating the front surface of the hinge.

Bore through behind the hinge and cut most of the way to the back of the tree.

Bore through from the other side, and cut back. Look around before you sever the back strap to make sure no spectators have wandered into your impact zone. The tree will stand safely with this method until you release it.

Sever the back strap. Cutting down will prevent your saw's bar from being sat upon by the tree when you miscalculate the balance of the tree. Get away from the stump on a predetermined path to safety. Twelve feet is the critical distance, and you should plan on at least twenty feet to be safe.

The finished stump and butt log. Angling down slightly with both bore cuts would have eliminated the bypassed wood.

Hinging with the bore cut is also useful for bucking logs that are suspended on both ends. Make a notch, bore through to make a hinge, and cut out the bottom.

I was able to put all but three armloads of this tree in our wood trailer. The little Kubota had to snort pretty hard to make it up the hill on the way back to the house.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Monday Again!

Back To The Old Global Warming Grind!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weekend Steam

Here is a very timely photo from the cover of the January-February 1964 issue of The Iron Men Album-Magazine. This Frick engine was built in July 1899, and the photo was courtesy of George M. Shoemaker of Avenmere, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Can't Be An Antique....

...because I used to crank one of these....Oh never mind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Global Warming Not My Victrola

Victrolaman1 has posted the original Winter Wonderland recording from 1934, the hottest year of the Twentieth Century. We could use a little global warming right now. The photo below was taken on the DesMoines River near the southeast corner of Iowa last week. You could stage the Ice Scene from Uncle Tom's Cabin there, and this week is worse. The weather man is calling for ten inches of heavy snow in Iowa City today. EJ was stuck in Chicago yesterday because most of the flights were canceled at out of Chi-Town. I scooted home Tuesday night on black ice, and am going out again first thing in the morning on slick roads. One of my favorite expressions has always been, "It's colder than Christmas!" It sure is!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Out Behind The Barn

Some of the local hunters complain that we keep all the deer in our woods. We have about sixteen regulars out back this fall, and they feel right at home as long as I don't go past the barn. These two were about twenty-five yards out when I took some pictures. This morning it is 19 degrees, so the herd is probably sitting tight in our cover again today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Tree

This great photo came from and was shot by astronomer Jimmy Westlake.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Not My Victrola

Victrolaman1 has just posted a very nicely done Christmas selection. I hope you all are getting in the mood now for Christmas!

Monday Again!

Back To The Old Grind!


I was reading excerpts from "Home Country" this morning, which is a compilation of Ernie Pyles columns he wrote on the road during the 1930's. He and That Girl who rode with him were "at least three times into every state in the Union. We have been to every country in the Western Hemisphere, except two. We have been in every city in America of more than a hundred thousand population, except one....We have stayed in more than eight hundred hotels. have crossed the continent exactly twenty times, flown on sixty-six airplanes, ridden on twenty-nine boats, walked two hundred miles, and put out approximately twenty-five hundred dollars in tips. We have worn out two cars, five sets of tires, three typewriters, and pretty soon I'm going to have to have a new pair so shoes.......When we started I weighed 108 pounds, had two bad colds a year felt very tired of an evening, and was scared to death at meeting strange people. But now, after five years and 165,000 miles of travel, I weigh 108 pounds, have two bad colds a year, feel tired of an evening, and am afraid of people. Travel is indeed broadening."

Ernie expressed some interesting opinions he developed during all of this travel, and I hope a few readers weigh in with opinions of how true these assessments may or may not be today, almost seventy years after Ernie wrote them. He said: "I suppose the following assertions will draw forth screams of righteous wrath, but I say every man is entitled to his opinions. The prettiest girls are in Salt Lake City. The best-dressed women, outside the coastal cities, are in Memphis. The friendliest public servants are bus drivers. The nicest rain is in Seattle. The American town with the most spectacular setting is Ouray, Colorado, completely cupped by terrifically towering mountains. The most beautiful single scene on this continent is Lake Louise, in Canada. There is no really perfect year-round climate in America. Of all the places we've been in we'd rather revisit Hawaii. In the States, we are partial to New Mexico. The happiest people in America are not those who are wondrous wise, but those who are a little crazy."

Well, now I'm not so sure I am happy about being a generally happy fellow. Here is one of my favorite places: Mammoth Hot Springs, in Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Weekend Steam

The steam powered carousel at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa is always a pleasure to watch, and I never tire of listening to band organs.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crankin' It Up; Christmas Edition

Here is an interesting record that you should get a pretty good kick from. The number on this recording by Range Records is 1-001, and the flip side is 2-002. If this is not the first record on this label, it is at least the first recording by The Ridge Riders. I doubt that this song made it to The Hit Parade, but be careful, or it may stick in your head for endless repeats. This is an electrically recorded song, probably from the late 1940's, but it played just fine on our old windup phonograph.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Sun Shines East, The Sun Shines West

The market for this product pretty well disappeared during the 1920's when minstrel shows withered and died, and they probably had a hard time finding enough in the 1940's to make Jolson Sings Again. I spotted this during an antique mall walk last week while I was on a road trip. It is the first, and probably the only one I will ever see.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Not My Victrola

Click over to YouTube to check out Ben Chan's other videos. He and his brother will go far.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tree or Pole?

Here is solid evidence that Festivus is catching on! Now I have to decide whether to put up a Christmas tree this year, or an electric Festivus pole. This would be beautiful at night, kind of like Roman candles. Oops.....this is a fireworks stand, not a Festivus pole store. I am so disappointed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Watchmaker Special

One of my friends from way back is a retired watchmaker who happens to like old cars. What kind of car is best suited to a watchmaker? The American Austin, of course! Forty years ago he restored his first Austin, and I thought it was a beauty. That's my friend in the top photo in his first big restoration job. That car was nice, but it was very rough to start with, and it was a car you would drive to shows. He sold it long ago.

A couple years ago he found a good 'Barn Fresh" Austin and went all out to make it into a showpiece.

The tires were made for motorcycle sidecars.

The motor is rebuilt to tighter specs than when it was new. You could drive across the country in this little beauty, but if it has to move more than a few blocks, it is loaded into a closed trailer.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Weekend Steam

This video, by smgussey, is one I picked up on YouTube, and is interesting because the Case steamer takes off from a dead stop with a multi-bottom plow in the ground. The clutch had begun slipping and adjustments had to be made, and that is where this video begins. There is some great stack talk.

The next video is the view from the operator's platform on a smaller Case steamer. This video is by ddog7831, a young steam operator. Thank You, ddog!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Crankin' It Up

We pulled another one out of the cabinet that we had not listened to before. This one is a Billy Murray-Ada Jones duet of an Irving Berlin song,"I'll Take You Back to Italy." This was one of the songs in the Broadway play, "Jack O' Lantern" which ran from Ocober 16, 1917, to June 1, 1918. There were 265 performances, and there were 65 in the cast. Wouldn't you love to be able to go back and see some of these stage plays? We played this as usual, on the old Brunswick.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eye of the Beholder

Ernie Pyle's books are always a good choice when you have a few minutes and want to read something that will entertain, teach, or touch you with a bit of poignancy. I flipped open one of my copies of 'Home Country' last night and found this gem about Ernie's father.

"We were disappointed in my father and my cousin as tourists on their western trip. We persuaded them to come back by way of Canada so they could see Lake Louise, which I considered the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I noticed that he never said much about it in his letters, so when we reached home next time I asked him about Lake Louise. Had they seen it? Yes, they even walked clear to the other end and back. And weren't they impressed by it, by that first breath-taking sight of the blue water and the great towering mountain and the white glacier at the far end? No, not especially. Well, what was the reason? No reason, just weren't impressed. The best thing they saw in the Canadian Rockies was when they got to Banff and went to a movie."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Don't Miss It

Oil well service rigs stayed busy this year with the big spike in oil prices. Lots of wells that had been shut in were pulled and worked over in hopes of rejuvenating production. The well in this video is in southern White County, Illionis. The rig is a double drum; one drum has a short line for pulling rods and tubing; the other drum has a long line for swabbing. In this video the crew is running in a string of pipe to do a workover. This could mean cleaning out a well or deepening it. The pump sitting on the right is for circulating fluid to bring out the crud or cuttings. A power swivel would be used to rotate the pipe. A pit has to be dug next to the well for the fluid.

As you watch you will see the crew snap the elevators on a joint of pipe, the rig picks it up, and then the pipe is lowered onto the last joint that was run in. The power tongs are then raised to the new joint to screw it in. The pipe is picked up out of the slips and lowered into the well. The sound of the pipe sliding off the stack makes me just a little nostalgic. Notice how easily the elevator man can flip around a joint of pipe.

Most of my work in the oil field was servicing and fixing the rigs and trucks for a well service company. I spent a lot of time under these rigs fixing things like air brakes and drive shafts. I prefer working with trees.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

E-Postal Results! and More!

Curtis Lowe has the November E-Postal results up on his blog. Click over there to look at the scores on a very interesting match. Rugers got a good workout this month, including my mother's new 1973 vintage Single-Six.

Before she took it out to shoot we put in a 17 lb. Wolf hammer spring and a 30 oz. trigger return spring. These made the Ruger much easier to shoot. We shot a few targets to dial in the sights, moving the rear sight down several clicks, and left one click. Mom shot a couple of bullseye targets to get a feel for her gun, then shot the postal match target. This match required shooting at the first nine balls in order at 7 yards, with any kind of rest allowed. Mom sat in a chair and rested her forearms across the back of a second chair. Her first shot missed all the balls, but for the next five shots she was in the zone. She reloaded, missed the 7, hit the 8, and missed the 9. She is very pleased with her revolver and is anxious to practice more. One of EJ's cousins was watching, and since he had never shot before, we had to do some range orientation with him, then let him try his hand at shooting .22 pistols. He was able to keep most of his shots in a 3 1/2 inch circle at 7 yards after a bit of practice, and then he shot the postal targets a couple of times. He hit 4 out of the 9 both times, but not in the right order. Oh Well, he had a good time, and the next time he comes out to the country we will make sure he gets to burn more ammo with us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping Again

We spent a good bit of time car shopping on Friday and Saturday of last week. We saw this Model T truck along the road as we came home on Saturday afternoon. It is a bit better than 'barn fresh'; it will start and run. The guy told us that it needs bands in the transmission.

The ignition system has been cobbled up. The timer has been replaced by a distributor, and the coils and coil box are gone; replaced by a modern ignition coil. Model T trucks have a low speed rear end for rough service, and this one has a two speed rear end, so it will probably run as fast as a car.

I am wanting to spend a bit less time under cars, so I am passing on this beauty. Feel free to jump in and buy a project. It is located on IL Highway 15 between Keenes and Bluford. Below are more pages from Dyke's Encyclopedia. Click on each photo to enlarge, then right click and save as to keep these references in your hard drive.

Click on the T's label at the end of the post or in the label list to save all of these pages on the Model T.