Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekend Steam

I wish there was a date on this ad for the Pitts traction engine. This is copied from 'Old Time Agriculture in the Ads' by Robert F Karolevitz, 1970, North Plains Press, Aberdeen, SD. The Pitts company was started by John and Hiram Pitts, twins born in 1799. In 1837 they patented a thresher that set the pattern for all successive threshing machines. They moved to Buffalo, New York in 1840, and that is why the company became know as Buffalo-Pitts.

This particular engine is an early one, possibly one of the first traction engines produced by this company. It has a Stephenson reverse gear; the 1896 catalog has engines with a Woolf reverse gear, so we know this ad is before 1896.

More information about the Buffalo-Pitts engines can be found in the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines by Jack Norbeck, Crestline Publishing, Glen Ellyn, IL, where I found the information about this company.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Model T Mechanic Mania

We saw this fixer-upper at Boonville, IN last summer. The owner probably keeps it going with his copy of Dyke's Ford Supplement. Click on each page below to enlarge, then save it to your hard drive. Click on the T's label to collect all of the pages.

Next time: Carburetors!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Piece By Piece

The Midwest Central Railroad Blog has a great series of photos in their current post. Number Six engine at Mt. Pleasant had some leaky flues, and when the teardown began, one thing led to another, and now the boiler is off and will be receiving new stay bolts in addition to the new flues. It's well worth your time to click over there if you are curious about the inner workings of a boiler.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Of Our Local Heroes

J.R., Orchardville, IL Fire Chief has built a well equipped and well trained fire department that responds to fires, accidents, and other emergencies in a sixty square mile area. Working with only a thin financial shoestring he has managed to accumulate two pumpers, three tankers two brush buggies, a well equipped rescue truck, plus generators, water pumps, and other equipment for emergencies. His latest project is this little 4WD truck that will serve as a lightweight-go nearly anywhere brush buggy. He is equipping it with a 50 gallon water tank, pump, hose reel, and corner nozzles. It will have an additional 50 gallons behind it on a trailer to take to fire sites.

Water is J.R.'s obsession for rural fires. A neighboring fire department frequently loses houses because they respond with their pumpers, quickly run out of water, and have to call for tankers. The Orchardville Fire Department's first truck on the road to a fire is a tanker. The second truck out is a pumper, which probably will pass the tanker on the way to the fire. Everyone in this department is thoroughly trained to drive sanely and safely, so they arrive at every fire they are called to. It is a real pleasure to work with organizations like this one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Wind Was Blowing, and Snow Was Falling,

and my SKS has the world's worst trigger, but I had a good time shooting out behind the barn Sunday afternoon. That is my prone target in the photo, which was my best one with the SKS. I ought to take the trigger group to a gunsmith and have it tuned up, but then I would have to come up with another excuse when I miss a shot. The old Winchester 74 makes me look a bit better. This was supposed to be slow fire, but I was cold, so I popped off my ten rounds in under a minute and went back to the house for a cup of coffee. Go to the sidebar and click on the Gun Blogger Rifle Match and do likewise. You have until March 21, so maybe you can pick a day with better weather.

UPDATE!! Results are in; click to go there!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not My Victrola

This version of the St. Louis Blues will have you tapping your toes all day. A big Thank You to 24052, over on YouTube for a great record!

Here Comes Monday Again!

Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gun Blogger Rifle Match

Fight cabin fever by getting out to your range and shoot your targets for the Gun Blogger Rifle Match. Click the link under 'Shoot More,' on the left side of the blog to learn the rules, and to download your target. You can enter in three classes: Kalashnakov/SKS rifles with iron sights at 50 yards; .22 rifles with iron sights at 25 yards; and .22 rifles with a scope at 25 yards. I hadn't fired my SKS in quite some time, so I took it out back today to check the sights. It is centering up 2 1/2 inches high at 25 yards, so with a minor adjustment I will be ready to shoot my 50 yard targets tomorrow.

UPDATE!! Results are in; click to go there!

Weekend Steam

Let's take a hop across the pond and have a look at an English plowing engine. This scale model is a joy to watch, and it highlights a method that was little used in the US. English plowing engines pulled the plow back and forth across a field with a winching drum, instead of being hooked to the plow with a drawbar. The plows used in this method were actually two plows in one, with a set of wheels between them, and made so that only one is in the ground at one time. Below is a photo from the "Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines" by Jack Norbeck, of an Engilish plow at the Henry Ford Museum.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ride The Narrow Gauge Model T!

Take a ride on the narrow gauge Model T at Old Threshers! After your trip, be sure to click on each page below to enlarge, then right click and save for future reference when you are working on your Ford. If you are new to this site, click on the T's label to bring up all the posts with pages from Dyke's Ford supplement.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coming Event:

The Bard's 250th birthday is coming up on Sunday, so practice up on your poetic recitations, buy a supply of really old Scotch, and gather your ingredients for a haggis.

Over The Fence

Deer hunting is all over until next fall, and this morning we had a dozen antlerless deer walking around in the yard. A couple of them walked right up to the fence to visit with Jack, our Mal-a-Mutt. Note the frost on the backs. One of the deer, totally unaware of global warming, was walking around on the pond.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Fangled Threshing Engine

I began attending steam shows at an early age, and one of my first memories is of a steam traction engine lumbering toward me. They look VERY big to a toddler. I 'discovered' old tractors and gas engines later on, and early machines like this Avery are as enjoyable to watch as a steamer. The technology is not too far removed from the steam traction engines these heavy duty monsters replaced. Note the tall steel wheels, the governor, the exhaust-induced draft, exposed gears, and of course, the heavy construction. They sound pretty neat, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not My Victrola

RReady555 has posted a very clear recording from 1920 of tenor John Steel performing "Love Nest." This song is guaranteed to put you in a good mood for Monday morning.

Here Comes Monday!

This interesting video is a water powered flour mill in Normandy.

Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekend Steam: Buckle In!

This video from YouTube starts out a bit slow, but the ride is worth it. I hope a passenger was doing the filming; and I wonder what he's burning in the old A Model.


This video was shot from the van ahead of the Model A in the top video. You will note that the Model A has only the driver inside. How does he stay in the road while filming out the window?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Not My Victrola

SilentBacchus posted this nice fox-trot recently, and it is a good one for practicing your steps. Since it is too cold to be out and about at night, just stay in and dance. Al Jolson made a hit out of this song, and the lyrics are very amusing. It starts out: 'Passing by the jail this morn', I heard a hard luck brother moan, I'm in here, right here, where I don't belong, I never done no wrong.'
I will do a search this weekend and see if I can find it posted so I can share it with you.

Crankin' It Up

Here is an obscure song from the drawer in the old Edison. I don't think there are many artists brave enough to record a song like this one these days. It may not be safe in your workplace, depending on your office climate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Nights

We had zero this morning in Southern Illinois, and Mom had twenty below up in Iowa. Tonight is forecast to go to thirty below. My memories of below zero temperatures always go back to crawling under my '51 Hudson to remove the starter, cleaning up the brushes, and bolting it up again in hopes of firing up the old girl. At twenty below you could count the cylinders firing when it started.

One cold January night thirty five years ago I went for a walk under a full moon to try my hand at time exposures. I think it was only around zero that night, and the thing that I noticed at the time was how I could spot rabbits in the moonlight. They would have been easy pickings with a .22. After I had crossed this trestle I heard a train coming from the east and quickly set up my tripod. I think I set the aperture on f22 and clicked the shutter open. After the engine passed I clicked it shut. When I copied this slide I noticed a good looking old manure spreader that I had not noticed in my younger days. It is probably long gone, but I will take a look the next time I go to Iowa.

I stay in on cold nights now, and I sure do like cars with a good twelve volt starting system. Make sure your outdoor animals have water and a place to get out of the weather.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Frozen Flivver Follies

Model T's came from the factory with only rear wheel drive, but if you look through old literature you will see that aftermarket accessories could be added to improve the versatility of the Tin Lizzie. The first video shows a 1917 Model T with a four wheel drive attachment added on, and it does pretty well in the snow. Most T owners kept a set of chains available to deal with mud and snow, and since the car only weighed about 1200 pounds, and had lots of clearance around the tires, it was a great mudder with chains on the drive wheels.

The second video shows off snowmobile attachments made for Fords that operated in the frozen north. Below are three more pages from Dyke's Ford Supplement. I have peeked ahead, and by the time we get through these pages you will know how to turn you Model T into a hot rod. Click to enlarge, and save them to your hard drive for future reference. Click on the T's label at the end to see all the pages thus far.

Mrs. TBS and I got caught up in the Ford Fever and bought a new-to-us Flivver. We looked at rental cars, and were able to find obvious signs of abuse, and so we switched to looking at leased cars, and found a very nice 2008 with 20,000 miles on it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Last week I helped a landowner find old fence fragments around his timber so he could mark his nearly vanished boundaries. We spent most of the day navigating with a compass, and we double checked our location once in a while with pocket GPS unit. The fence fragment above was inside of the stump of a collapsed tree, and the wire would have been nailed up about 100 years ago.
I was checking pockets in my coat on the drive home and stopped to take inventory when I realized my GPS was missing. I had to think a few minutes, and realized that the last time I used it I had probably missed the inside coat pocket I used, and had dropped it in the woods soon after. I turned around, went back to the timber, and quickly navigated to the spot where I had last taken a GPS reading. I found the unit about forty feet out on the track I had made through the leaves. I told EJ about this close call when we talked that night, and his question was, "If you could navigate right back to it, why do you even bother carrying it?" I'm still trying to come up with an intelligent answer.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Trees have a reputation for slow growth, and that is not always deserved. Overstocked stands of trees do grow slowly, but with proper thinning, they will turn on and produce wood in a hurry. This bottomland site will easily grow trees with rings 1/2 inch or wider, but the tight spacing has them producing mostly height and not diameter. A quick count on the stump below shows that the trees are about twenty-five years old, and that they are slowing down from overcrowding. The largest trees are about eight inches in diameter, so they have averaged about six growth rings per inch.

The basic method in an overstocked stand like this one is to select a tree with good potential for a crop tree, and release it from competition by cutting the trees around it on three or four sides. The extra space allows the crown and roots to expand, and the tree will increase in diameter quickly. Landowners can expect forty to fifty good trees per acre to make it to rotation on land like this, so helping a crop tree approximately every thirty-three feet is common advice for large sapling and small pole stands. (Thirty-three X Thirty-three =Forty per Acre)
Thinning early in the life of a stand allows a landowner to select the more valuable species and the best quality stems to dominate, and to dramatically decrease the number of years needed to produce a crop of timber.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Not My Victrola

KSPM01 posted the lively 'Casa Loma Stomp' in 2007, and somehow I have missed it until now. This will help you get out the door with a spring in your step.

Monday Again!

Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weekend Steam

Here is a really big engine from the pages of the January-February 1964 issue of the Iron Men Album Magazine.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Crankin' It Up

This week we cranked up Grandpa's old Edison again and listened to another jazzy fox-trot. The new microphone has definitely improved the True Blue Studio.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sun Pillar

I caught this stubby pillar yesterday morning before I got out to the hard road. I bailed out and was able to take photos just before it disappeared.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hazard Tree Assessment

One of my favorite sitting places looked a bit different when I checked on it last Sunday. This old shingle oak was hollow, and it had an opening about eight feet up on the south side, so it was probably occupied by owls, or populated by 'possums. I liked resting under it to watch a couple of intersecting game trails. Last week we had a day with thirty mile per hour winds, and that took it down.

I knew this tree was bad, but it wasn't crowding any crop trees, and it was a good acorn producer, so I have left it alone. It did not have any targets, and it did not hurt anything when it came down. It will make some good firewood.

I spotted this hollow urban tree recently, and unlike my tree, it is in a target rich environment. It could easily hit either of two houses depending on which way it breaks when it comes down, or it could fall into the street and smash a car. There is also the possibility it could fall on a person.

When you compare this trunk to my tree, you can easily see that this tree will come down in the foreseeable future. Look at the trees around your home and spot problems like this one before the hammer falls. Look up when you park your car, and don't hang out under trees like these when the wind blows.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It Yust Goes Down So Smood!

If you like good, clean fun, you need to click over to Read Harry Stewart's biography while you are there to learn all about the man who entertains us every Christmas as Yogi. You can also order most of his songs on CD by calling the number on the site. The service was excellent, and it was worth the call just to hear Mrs. Howard summon her husband with "It's another Yogi call!" Yust go nuts!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Not My Victrola

Janet Gaynor performs a sentimental song from the 1929 talkie, "Sunnyside Up." This one is guaranteed to lift your mood for the work week.

Monday Morning Blues

My grandparents gave me a very nice Bible in 1959. It is a leather bound red letter edition, has maps in the back of Asia and the Holy Land, and lots of religious art throughout the book. This picture of Samson grinding grain in prison always bothered me because I knew that he had been blinded by the Philistines. I never gave a thought to him wearing a loin-cloth.

If you do a search for 'Samson In The Treadmill' on the Internet, this is what you will find. The loin-cloth obviously bothered someone. Prints with this Photo-Shop abomination are for sale on more than one site. OH WELL......Back To The Old Grind.

Urban Barns

Barns in town? The town I grew up in has lots of them, and it used to have chicken houses, too, which have all disappeared. I never thought much about them until recently when I realized that the younger generations might find them to be an interesting bit of history.

In the not too distant past, you needed a horse and carriage to get around, and these barns served as shelter for a horse, a carriage house, and also stored feed and hay for the horse. A chicken coop probably stood nearby to provide eggs and Sunday dinners. Many families also kept a milk cow in town.

After Old Dobbin was replaced, these buildings made a great garage for the horseless carriage, and had lots of room to store items in the loft.

Many of them are in sad states of disrepair, and obviously are not long for this world. I suspect that this one is full of clutter so the family car can no longer fit inside.

This one has a new tin roof, so it's a safe bet that it will soon be fixed up and painted.

I learned about my old home town looking for these artifacts. You find them only in neighborhoods built before the 1920's. By that time, most families had a Ford, which required only a small garage to protect the transportation.

This barn is just a few blocks off of the town square, and probably served as a livery stable, or as a feed and hay supply store.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Weekend Steam

This week's steam post features some beautiful winter shots of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. This video was posted by ClassicLights over on YouTube.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Crankin' It Up

We are having fun with the new microphone. It does a great job of capturing our old records without the clicking and fuzzing out of the old mike. Here is a great jazz number from our stack of Edisons that will give you a good workout on the dance floor.