Monday, May 31, 2010

Not A Victrola

Pianosyncrazy pumped out the Wabash Blues for us on his 1925 Stroud DuoArt piano for us.

It's Tough After A Long Weekend, But...

Back To The Old Grind!

The Price Of Our Freedom

Robert Service wrote extensively about the men who fought on the Western Front in the Great War, and he was well qualified, having served there as an ambulance driver from 1914 to 1916. I always think of this passage from "Ballads Of A Bohemian" on Memorial Day:

"Silence and solitude! How good the peace of it all seems! Around me the grasses weave a pattern, and half hide the hundreds of little wooden crosses. Here is one with a single name:


Who was Aubrey I wonder? Then another:

To Our Beloved Comrade.

Then one which has attached to it, in the cheapest of little frames, the crude water-color daub of a child, three purple flowers standing in a yellow vase. Below it, painfully printed, I read:

To My Darling Papa -- Thy Little Odette.

And beyond the crosses many fresh graves have been dug. With hungry open mouths they wait. Even now I can hear the guns that are going to feed them. Soon there will be more crosses, and more and more. Then they will cease, and wives and mothers will come here to weep.

Ah! Peace so precious must be bought with blood and tears. Let us honor and bless the men who pay, and envy them the manner of their dying; for not all the jeweled orders on the breasts of the living can vie in glory with the little wooden cross the humblest of these has won. . . . "

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekend Steam: Say It Isn't So!

Bayou Renaissance Man posted shocking news this week about one of our nation's historical treasures; Admiral Dewey's flagship Olympia. Our oldest all metal warship is in serious need of repair to keep it afloat, and the officials in charge of this important artifact are promoting the idea of sinking it so it can be utilized as a recreational resource for divers. Unbelievable!

Mrs. TBS and I visited the Olympia ten years ago on a trip to Philadelphia, and this ship was one of the highlights of our vacation.

Visitors to the Olympia may stand at the very spot where Dewey spoke the immortal words:
"You may fire when ready, Gridley."

Most of the guns on the Olympia are replacements since the ship fought in 1898, but are still important military artifacts.

Visitors to the Olympia will find many fascinating historical tidbits to admire.

This commemmorative tablet was cast from metal salvaged from the Maine after it sank at Havana. It is a priceless treasure from the time that America emerged as a world power.
Click over to to take a virtual tour of the Olympia, and be sure to look down on the starboard engine, (Two of the three cylinder heads are visible.) and visit the engine room.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crankin' It Up; Memorial Day Weekend

Arthur Fields recorded My Buddy on the Cameo label in November of 1922. This song was introduced by Al Jolson in the same year, and it is pretty well believed that it was written for Great War veterans who lost their buddies in France. If you get a chance to watch the silent film, "The Big Parade," you will hear this song in the sound track added to the movie.

Here's An Oddball

This framework appears to be factory built, and what it does is join two, two-row planters together to make a four row planter. Every time I run across a two row planter in the weeds I am knocked back just a little bit. My dad used a two row planter on our farm when I was a little guy, and it was a pretty yellow and red machine that worked like a charm. It was even set up to use cross-check wire so you could cultivate your corn both ways. I haven't seen one like it with original paint since 1964. As much as I hate to, I am going to put an antique label on this post.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Leave 'Em Be!

                                                           Click Photo To Enlarge.

There are lots of wildlife babies out there right now, and some folks are tempted to adopt a wild animal for a pet. Besides being illegal, it's just a bad idea. The reason raccoons, deer, and other wild animals haven't been domesticated is because they don't make good pets or livestock. Admire them when you see them, but leave them with their mother. They'll be happy, and so will you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Patience Pays Off

This Husky 359 was in the local Tractor Supply Company store last year, and it is bit better than the typical homeowner and landowner saws you see in that type of setting. It fits in the Husky lineup at the top end of their landowner saws, and this model gets good reviews from those who buy it. TSC wasn't having any luck selling it to their customers and they put a clearance tag on it for $50 less than they originally marked it. Farm Bureau members get a 10% discount in this store on the last weekend each month, so I thought I could go in and buy it for $450, which would have been a pretty good deal. I tried that at the end of January, but the store mangager wouldn't let me use the additional discount against a clearance tag, so I waited.
The saw did not sell, and they finally marked it down another $50, so I grabbed it on my last visit. It came equipped with a 20" sprocket nose bar and 3/8" chain. One of the features that makes this model appealing is that it has a compression release. It is easier to crank than my well broken in 346XP, and the larger cylinder produces plenty of torque for bore cutting oaks and hickories.
We bought the old 272XP in back in 1995, and it is still going strong since we had some repair work done on it. The 346XP was going to be my go to saw for dealing with small to medium trees, but it gave us fits getting the oil pump to work. The shopkeeper I bought it from didn't know how to repair it, so I bought a new rim, sprocket, and oil pump driver from Bailey's and fixed it myself. It's a good saw now that it oils right, and with a 20" bar it will handle big trees. It is a fast running saw, but it doesn't produce the torque of the bigger saws, so you can't push it hard on heavy cuts. The 385XP has so much power that it is always a thrill to run. It easily handles the biggest trees that I will ever need to take down.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Monday, Coming Right Up

Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola Twofer

Ben Bernie was a bandleader that my dad mentioned often; he heard him on the radio when he was a kid in Moline, Illinois. When I see a Ben Bernie record on YouTube I always have a listen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Steam

This 1918 vintage steam hammer is actually running on compressed air, but it works the same. This is really a great demonstration of a heavy duty industrial size hammer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crankin' It Up

We tried the "Wabash Blues" on the flip side of this record first, but it was worn so badly it wasn't worth sharing. "Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old 'Tucky Home" is a nice Fox Trot that you all can enjoy dancing to, and it is very familiar to me because I used to have this song on a piano roll.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Air Cooled Motor, Lansing, Michigan

We are scraping the bottom of the barrel of raw videos I shot last year. This cute little number was running last July at Boonville, Indiana. I need to check the show schedules and figure out where we want to go this year to see some "new" engines.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Phoebe Babies

We have been enjoying a couple of Phoebe families down on the farm. Some cowbirds have been loitering around this year, so last week we checked the nests to make sure there were no young cowbirds or eggs to mess things up for these cute little birds. The babies in the first picture fledged the day after I took the photo. Spike noticed them stretching their wings, so we locked him up in the garage for the day.

These little guys won't be ready to leave the nest for a while. Mama bird came right back after I took their picture.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saw Class At Dixon Springs Ag Center

Dixon Springs Ag Center (Deep Southern Illinois) recently hosted the second day of a chainsaw class for women. The greatest difference between a class for men and a class for women is that the women do not bring any bad habits with them. When you show them how to do a cut, they jump right in to do it too, without arguing about how they would prefer to do it, and why. We had a lot of fun, and the ladies in these photos had never cut down a tree before.

The top two photos show a couple of the students practicing on the bore post so they will be able to bore a tree when making a hinge.

They punched a lot of holes in the practice post.

This hackberry had about eight feet of forward lean, and was a prime risk to make a barber chair, but with the open face and bore cut method, the student dropped the tree safely.

Completing the aiming cuts.

Beginning the bore cut to make the hinge.

Swinging the far end of the bar toward the face, and making the hinge the proper thickness.

Success! I haven't found a person yet that didn't love cutting trees down after they learned how. I don't know if it would work on hippies, though.

Aiming cuts completed...

and a perfect stump!

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Tactical Tips From Ruger

We ran the first two installments of Ruger's Tactical Tips with Dave Spaulding a few weeks back. These videos are the next three in this series.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend's Over!

Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola

24052 posted this obscure recording of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band performing "Some of These Days" on the OKEH label in 1923. This is a rare treat, and of course it calls for a second version by the Red Hot Mama, who was the first interpreter of this great song. (Courtesy of ASACurator)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend Steam: Number 6 Update

Regular readers may recall that the Number 6 Mogul engine at the Midwest Central Railroad had staybolt problems, and the boiler was removed and sent to a boiler maker in Minnesota for repairs. The 6 was out of commission last year at the Labor Day Old Threshers show, but there is hope that it will be running again for the next reunion. The boiler has come home now, and the dedicated volunteers in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa have begun the process of reassembling the beloved locomotive. Click here to visit the MCRR Blog for the whole story. The top photo is borrowed from the railroad's blog.

This photo is a publicity shot the Midwest Central used in the mid-1960's.

Number 6 underwent a complete restoration in 1987, and I took this mug-shot of her the day she returned to service during the Labor Day weekend show that year.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Here's A Video To Put You In The Mood...

for a range trip. The May e-Postal contest is on, so print out some targets and take family and friends out to shoot this weekend. The contest this month is hosted by Danno over at Sand Castle Scrolls. Click for the link to his rules and target.

Crankin' It Up

The Benson Orchestra of Chicago, under the direction of Don Bestor performs a hot number for us to enjoy this weekend. Recorded August 17, 1923, and played on our old Brunswick.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's In A Name?

Names of geographic features around the country are sometimes hard to figure out, and if we only knew, some of them have amusing stories behind them. While checking out the topo map for a fire I was going to in Eastern Kentucky(Long,Long Time Ago), one of the other guys spoke up that the map was wrong. He said the creek we were going to was Hurricane Branch, not Harkin, as the USGS map showed. That was easy enough to figure out. The mountain accent of the locals made Hurricane sound like Harkin to the surveyors who did the field work. (The hollow next to was named 'Hard' on the map, but it should have been 'Howard.') It was probably named Hurricane because a 'Toad Strangler' hit an early settler there. The stream you see above is Dry Fork, and I don't think it has ever been dry in all the years I have been in Southern Illinois. Much of it is downright swampy, with lacustrine deposits alongside that soak up water during wet weather, and seep it back into the stream during droughts. Anyhow, this is how it looked Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Warm Weather, Rain, Well Fertilized Tree...

and Fireblight strikes. We haven't seen this on our trees for many years, but I see it every spring on trees that have succulent new growth from over-fertilization. It is better to avoid it than having to treat for it, so click on the link and read about it if you plan to grow fruit trees.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Backroads Treasure

This old Oliver tractor is hiding out in White County, Illinois. The mounted corn picker would be a tough challenge for even the most talented restorer, and the open exhaust pipe pointing up into the sky serves as a warning to collectors that the Diesel engine in this old-timer might be irretrievable.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Honoring Your Mother

I've been reading "Laughter Is A Wonderful Thing," an autobiographical book by comedian/actor Joe E. Brown; published in 1956. I remember seeing Mr. Brown in old late night movies when I was a kid, but never knew anything about him until I picked up his book. He became a circus acrobat in 1903 at the tender age of ten, and worked in entertainment the rest of his life. I have developed a great admiration of this man as I read his life story. During World War II he traveled the world to entertain soldiers in far flung places, and he was very serious about providing good, clean entertainment to fellows far from home. Here is a wonderful anecdote from Joe E. Brown's book that shows us what a great man he was...

["Once, at Dobodura, a little tip of land in New Guinea, I was doing a show for fourteen or fifteen hundred kids gathered down at on end of the airfield where the crews could be handy to their planes if trouble started dropping from the sky.

It had been a long show, for those kids were simply starved for some fun. Every time I got ready to stop, they'd scream and applaud and make me go on. I'd just about reached the end, but they kept shouting.

"Listen, you guys," I said, "that's all I know."

"Give us more, Joe," they roared.

We argued like this awhile, and then there was a little slit of silence in the noise, as sometimes happens, and way back on the edge of the crowd a youngster shouted: "Hey, Joe, tell us some dirty stories."

You could have heard a pin drop, and not a big pin either. The kids looked at me, every one of 'em. I could feel 'em wondering what I was going to do. I stood there a minute, not quite knowing myself how to turn it off. And then I just forgot I was a comedian. I said to them, just the way I'd have said it to my own sons: "Listen, you kids. I've been on the stage since I was ten years old. I've told all kinds of jokes to all kinds of people. I've been in little flea-bitten vaudeville theatres and in big first-class houses. I've been in movies, I've made 65 pictures in my life-and there's one thing I've been proud about. In all that time I've never had to stoop to a dirty story to get a laugh."

They were quiet and they looked a little guilty, the way kids do when somebody speaks out loud about something like this.

"I know some dirty stories," I went on. "I've heard plenty of 'em in my time. I could tell them to you fellows if I wanted to. But I made a rule a long time ago that I'd never tell a story that I wouldn't want my mother to hear me telling."

Then the applause came. Not just a trickle of it but the biggest, noisest gale of hand clapping I've ever heard anywhere. It went on and on."]

Joe received hundreds of letters about this performance. He heard from parents, chaplains, officers, and soldiers who thanked him for what he did for those kids on New Guinea.

Monday's Coming!

Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola

I had never heard this song until I found it on Pax41's YouTube channel. How have I missed this delightful song all my life?! "Kissed right in public, although it was rude....Maybe we're loony for acting so spoony!" How could anyone not be charmed by this song? Thanks for sharing this treasure, Pax!

Henry Burr and Helen Clark recorded "Kiss Me Again" on April 22, 1914.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weekend Steam: Donkey Engine

The Dolbeer Donkey Engine brought the industrial revolution into the woods, and made it possible for loggers to handle the big timber of the western US.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mr. Completely's May e-Postal Contest Is Up at The Sand Castle!

Danno over Sand Castle Scrolls is hosting Mr. Completely's May contest, and it is a fun challenge for the whole family. Click the target to see the rules and download the dartboard. Remember, Cheaper Than Dirt is awarding a $50 gift certificate to one of the participants each month this year, and you get bragging rights for entering. Take the wife, take the kids, invite a friend, and go to the range!

Crankin' It Up

The Tennessee Ten recorded this jazzy dance record on July 23, 1923.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mood Lifters

Mrs. TBS does a great job tending her flowers. These poppies are an annual treat; I just wish they lasted longer when they bloom. Her clematis didn't bloom last year, but it is putting on a show now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pay Now, Or Pay Later

I have been recommending for several years that this black oak be removed ASAP, but it never happened. It had a major opening where another tree had grown against it, plus there was root damage from lawnmower injuries. This tree had no permanent targets, but it was in a high traffic area for pedestrians. Luckily, it came down over the weekend during a storm and no one was beneath it to be hurt.

Right next to it is this shingle oak, which also has rotting roots from lawnmower hits, and advanced rot in the trunk which is obvious due to the conk growing out its northeast side. Tapping on the tree with an axe produces the drumlike sound that only rotten and hollow trees can make. This tree leans toward a power line, and a road which carries moderate traffic. I am recommending that this tree be removed. I will be keeping an eye on it, but I won't be holding my breath.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

History For Those Who Look

When I see houses like this one I always wonder how many kids were raised within. This little old home had a couple of additions made, so the farm provided a good living, and probably supported successive generations. We are fortunate to have a glimpse into the past, thanks in part to the tin roof, which has kept the wood dry. This nice little home is situated on a bluff overlooking Dry Fork in Wayne County, Illinois, and the farm was a combination of upland and creek bottom, so crop failures would have been rare. I wish the walls could talk.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gunblast's PK 380 Review

Gunblast is a new addition to the Forum and Reference section on the left sidebar. Jeff Quinn has a great site where he reviews a variety of guns, and he makes good videos, which he uses on his page. This video is a quick overview of the Walther PK 380. Click Here to see Jeff's post about this great little pistol. There are a few important facts you need to know if you are looking for a .380 pistol. Many of the handguns in this caliber are simple blowback actions, which means that they have a heavy slide and a fairly heavy recoil spring. Newer designs on the market use a locking recoil system which makes them lighter and easier to carry, and allows for a lighter recoil spring. This type of system means that people with a weak grip can probably cycle the slide on the newest .380's. Nearly all of the new pocket size .380's on the market use a double action only trigger, which means that you have a long trigger stroke which cycles the hammer or striker for every shot. You need to check these designs carefully before you buy to make sure that the user can indeed cycle the slide reliably, and can operate the trigger. The PK380 can be fired in both single action mode or double action. The double action only pistols will not have a safety, but the PK380 does, and this means that the user must take the time to become very familiar with the gun's operation before using it as a carry weapon. The extra time spent is well worth it, because this little gun is very reliable, and it is easy to shoot in single action mode. Most people who carry it will probably leave the hammer cocked at all times and set the hammer-block safety on safe. UPDATE: Conversations on the internet about this pistol show that some have a difficult time taking it apart and reassembling. Takedown does require the use of a key, which is supplied with the pistol. The key stays in place once you have rotated it, and you turn it back before you can remove it when reassembling. It's pretty easy to do if you read the directions and look at the pictures in the manual. Compressing the recoil spring stymies a few, too, but it is also very easily done. Insert a section of cleaning rod through the hole in the front of the slide, thread the recoil spring over it, then push the cleaning rod section out with the spring guide rod. Set the head of the spring guide rod in its catch, and you are ready to put the slide assembly back onto the frame. SIG Sauer's P238 is a 1911 styled pocket pistol with a single action trigger and a safety. Be sure to check out both of these guns when you go shopping for your concealed carry weapon. MORE UPDATE!!!! Do you enjoy shooting, and visiting with other shooters? Sign up to attend the seventth Annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno, Nevada. Click over to the GBR website for more info, and the registration form. The Rendezvous is September 5-8, 2012. Watch the video below to see some of the good times. GBR is organized by Mr. Completely; steel shooter, and blogger extraordinaire.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not My Victrola

Pax41 uploaded this excellent recording of Fritz Kreisler.

Monday's Coming!

Back To The Old Grind!

What's Bea Been Up To?

If you have been following Second Amendment news in Iowa you know that Governor Culver recently signed legislation which will allow Iowans to obtain concealed carry permits. Bea has been following the progress of this legislation, and communicating with the Governor's office and her legislators. Saturday she celebrated this victory for law abiding citizens by shopping for a pistol to use when she is licensed to carry. We made a shopping list of various pistols to examine, and Mom looked at a bunch of them. Scheel's in Coralville had the new Walther PK380's in stock, and she knew as soon as she held it that this was the gun for her. Above you can see Cody guiding her through the paperwork. We also looked at holsters and purchased sufficient ammo to try out her new hardware. During our afternoon trip to the range just west of Washington, Mom ran seventy rounds through the little Walther with zero malfunctions. The sights are right on from the factory, so it is ready to report for duty. Mom now needs to go to a class and apply for her permit.