Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I almost missed St. Andrew's Day.  Would you believe that no-one invited us out to celebrate?  Anyhow, pour a glass, and read one of my favorite stories; it's almost as good as going oot.

The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor

Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes."
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall. "The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from a Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:
His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek;
An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon,
Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night
We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.

Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball;
But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time band struck up the newest hit,
He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit."
And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye,
He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar,
Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star;
A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze,
A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall;
"The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch
To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore,
For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.

"The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer,
When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear?
Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall."
"It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
"Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees,
And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye,
With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all:
"And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee,
And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt,
By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes:
"Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?
"Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth,
And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.

Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl,
And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea,
And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall;
We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret
For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high,
Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor;
Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.

Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place,
And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand
If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band?
But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat:
"We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff;
But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?"
"You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall;
"For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
"Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out. Have patience; bide a wee."
"That's right. Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.

And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew,
Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
The dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set,
They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette:
"It's long enough, we've waited. Come on, Mike, play up the Blues."
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar,
The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.

Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high,
With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride,
While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see,
Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed:
"Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray
MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.

Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few,
And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall,
And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about,
It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore,
As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.

Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set,
While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishmen to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt:
"And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt?
A fellow artiste needs our aid. Come on, boys, take a hand."
Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.

Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race,
That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!"
Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch
Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray,
To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.

You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn,
Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high,
And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask,
Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?"
MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only haf' begun."
Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore,
A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.

And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down,
They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town,
And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all,
But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on,
With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray,
And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er-
How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.

Weather Worth Working In

 The weather last week during the long holiday weekend was warm for November; warm enough to paint the new wood on the old barn.  We fired up the Graco sprayer, and soon had a good coat on the newest siding, and recoated the siding we had painted earlier.

 We had sprayed thinned linseed oil on all the siding a few weeks back, and added extra oil to our paint.  We hope that it will help the barn shed water for many years.

We finished up the painting right at sunset, and cleaned out the spray equipment in the dark.  Next weekend:  Firewood, weather or not!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gotta Go On A Treasure Hunt!

 These photos showed up in my mailbox recently, and were sent to me by an old friend who took these shots about fifteen years ago, not too far from Oblong, Illinois.  The engine is a Superior, of the same type as in this video.

 The engine and an eccentric assembly sit in a power house, and rods connect the eccentric to oil wells in the surrounding area.

 My curiosity is killing me, and I am going to have to make a trip and find out if this artifact is still in use.  The tank in this photo is made of redwood.  They were assembled with copper hardware, which withstood the ravages of saltwater better than steel.

There is a bellcrank assembly at each well to transfer lateral movement to vertical.  Wells opposite each other on the eccentric would pretty well balance each other so the machinery ran smoothly, and iron could be added to individual wells for fine tuning the load.

 UPDATE!!  It's Still There!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Steam

 There is always more than one solution to a problem.  Simple engines use steam on one power stroke before it is exhausted, and compound engines were invented to improve economy by using steam on a second stroke.   Cross compound engines had separate cylinders on individual cranks.  Industrial and maritime engines went to triple-expansion technology, using steam three times before it was spent.  Tandem compound engines like this Port Huron had both the high pressure and low pressure cylinder on the same rod, which simplified the crankshaft considerably.  Several steam engine manufacturers used a layout similar to the Port.

 This Russell tandem compound is a real eye catcher.  The high pressure cylinder where steam is first used is closer to the crosshead, which is reversed from the layout we are used to seeing.

 Steam is exhausted from the high pressure cylinder to the larger, low pressure cylinder where it expands a second time, yielding more power before it is sent up the stack.

Cross compound engines, with their cylinders on separate rods and crankshaft throws, can have live steam sent straight to the steam chest from the throttle for extra power, and for starting without being stuck on dead center.  Tandem compounds have the same starting characteristics as single cylinder engines, which means that the engineer must pay attention to the location of the crankpin when starting, and use the reverse lever skillfully to make the iron beast go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Take A Break From Shopping

and go to the range!  This is the last weekend to shoot the special Pistol Carbine e-Postal Match.  Manfred has still not posted the Mr. Completely Match for November, but don't let that get you down.  Click Here to download the target, Click Here read the rules, and send your entry in by the end of November   Midnight, December 11.  Don't have a pistol caliber carbine?  Take your visiting family and friends to the range for an outing, and submit your targets with whatever you have to shoot. Send in your target scans, and I will post the scores.  Use the name you want posted on the internet on your target.

Crankin' It Up: One Worth Repeating

I posted "Bluin' The Blues" (June 25, 1918) a little over two years ago, and in that time only a few more than 100 folks have listened to this great number by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band. We have been busy with family, so I haven't had time to wind up the old Brunswick this week, but I'm sure you will enjoy this repost.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789." G. Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smokey Was Right, You Know

I've worked on both sides of fires in the forest.   Eastern Kentucky has a bad history of wildfires during dry spells, both spring and fall, and I have seen a lot of ruined timber.  I also saw plenty of advance oak regeneration while I worked there.

The landscape and road networks of Illinois reigned in wildfires, and most oak woods in Illinois aren't burned often enough for trees and other plants to reproduce adequately, so there are lots of folks out there who are anxious to push the use of fire in timber.  These stumps are a good reminder of the damage that wildfires can cause to trees.  The top one is hollow due to rot from major damage, and the second stump illustrates ring shake, which is caused by the tree separating new wood from the old after an injury.  Fire is an important component of forest management, no doubt, but landowners need to protect their crop trees before they light up, or they stand to lose much of the value in the trees they have produced.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Positive Crankcase Ventilation

That open crankcase with the rod and shaft spinning around lets the smoke clear out pretty well. I bet someone is putting in a set of rings before next summer's shows.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hickok 45 Schools Us About Pocket Carry Options

Every little bit we hear a news report about someone having a negligent discharge because they carried a pistol that wasn't holstered properly, and a lot of those were pistols in a pocket with no holster. Hickok45 covers the basics about pocket carry, and whether you carry or not, this is a good video to watch just to learn a bit more about gun safety.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Crankin' It Up

The flip side of "Arabian Nights", "Sand Dunes" (1919) I guess, is also supposed to make us dream of the exotic near east, but even my demented musical mind can't quite make that trip with this tune. It is fun to listen to, though. It is kind of funny to me how songs have glamorized the Arab world through the years. "Midnight At The Oasis" came out when I was fresh out of college, but my favorite of all time is "Ahab The Arab."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All The Inventin' Is Done For You!

 An acquaintance showed me his fish scaling machine recently, and if you like to fish, you will want to build one of these.  Start out with the air filter housing from a big earth moving machine, cut out and hinge a door, and install pop-rivets all over it so they project in a bit.

 Build a manifold to spray water into the back side of it...

...and install a motor and transmission out of scraps around your shop.  Fill the cylinder with as many as 100 bluegills, and watch the scales wash away!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Know About Hammer Bite?

Watch Hickok45's review of the 1911; you will see how hammer bite occurs, and how to prevent it with Band-Aids before you are bitten!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Don't Like Spiders And Snakes

Susan was sorting through some things in the garage Sunday, and was bitten by a brown recluse spider.  I keep snake bite kits handy in my man-purse, and put a suction cup on her hand right away, within minutes of the bite.  We use these things frequently for insect stings, and they pull wasp and bee venom out effectively if we can apply a suction cup right away.  This was the first time we used one on a spider bite.

I pulled it off after a few minutes to have a look, and we were astounded at the amount of blood that had come out.  Evidently, brown recluse venom has anti-coagulant properties.  We put the suction cup on again, and pulled less blood out on the second go.  The third time pulled very little.  The patient has no redness or swelling, only a tiny scab at the bite site. 

If you read about the Cutter kits on the Internet you will find that medical folks despise them, and say they do more harm than good.   I have never been snakebit, and I can sure understand the harm that can come from using one of these kits instead of seeking prompt medical attention, but I also appreciate the way they work for me on bee stings, and insect bites.  Now we know the little suckers are good for spider bites, too.

This is a brown recluse spider.  They like to hide in dark places, under boxes, rags, or etc., and can deliver devastating tissue damage with their venom.  If one gets on you, brush or shake it off; don't smash it on your skin.  Get it on the floor and then step on it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Superior Oilfield Engine

One of the big engines on display at Boonville in October. Engines like this one pumped the wells that produced oil and fuel for our war effort in World War II.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Whole Lotta People Don't Take Off For Veterans' Day

Doin' The Old Grind Every Day

U.S. Navy Seabees hard at it in Korea, courtesy of the webmaster at, a fascinating site with lots of photos from the Korean War.  This photo appears to be by Charles Godshall, who can be seen with his trusty grease gun at the top of this page (click).  Many thanks to all the veterans who keep us safe in the USA!

Not My Victrola

bsgs98 gives us a great slide show with Birmingham Breakdown, by Red Nichols and his Five Pennies.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Steam

 This set of photos is courtesy of Zeke, the Engineering Johnson, from his Labor Day Weekend visit to Old Threshers.  This Avery is a top mounted, straight flue engine, which is slightly unusual since most people think of the undermounted design when Avery is mentioned.  Bill Sater, one of the founders of Old Threshers had one of these engines at the show until the 1970's, so it was sweet to see these photos.

 My dad and I went to an auction near Wayland, Iowa about 40 years ago and thought we might buy an engine just like this, but the bidding left us in the dust, and I realized that I would probably never own an engine.  The sale was the estate auction for a Mr. Swartzendruber, and we found out last year that he was a relative of Stranded In Iowa, of the Between Two Rivers blog.  It's a small world.

 I think that the Avery firebox door is just about the neatest thing going in operating platform hardware.

Just Stomp and Stoke!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crankin' It Up: A Double For Veterans' Day

F4U Corsair "Whistling Death"

P-51 Mustangs!

Bell P-39 Airacobra 'Brooklyn Bum'

The Bell P-39 always appealed to me as a really neat looking piece of fine flying machinery, but it had a poor record with our flyers, mainly due to it's lack of a turbo supercharger. It could not perform at high altitude when mixing it up with German fighters. The Russians, on the other hand, used it to great success on the Eastern Front, where the fighting took place at lower altitudes. Anyway, I think you will enjoy the photos.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lighthearted Songs Helped The Effort During The Great War

Listen to a variety of songs from 1918, and you might think that World War I was no big deal.  Songs like K-K-K-Katy, How Ya Gonna Keep Them Down On The Farm, and others helped keep up spirits at home, encouraged men to enlist, and were fun to sing back when people sang to entertain themselves.  This old record is one of my favorites in spite of the poor condition.  I still haven't deciphered many of the words, but the lightheartedness comes through, and I hope that Young Johny Jones found true love.

Marines 236 Years Today

The Charlotte Observer ran a story on a Marine who earned The Medal Of Honor on Iwo Jima (Hat Tip to the Freeholder), and it's one I have to pass on.  As I read about Mr. Williams I noted that he was in the Third Marine Division, and was further surprised to learn that he was in the 21st Regiment; my father-in-law's regiment.  O.T. didn't say very much about the battles he was in, but he did tell us about using gasoline and flamethrowers on Iwo.  It was rough business.  I showed the story to a friend, and he told me that Mr. Williams had been featured on the TV show Sons Of Guns.  I did a search, and sure enough a couple of clips are available on Hulu.  Click Here, and Here to see them.  You do have to watch a brief ad at the beginning of each clip, but it's well worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sentimental Songs From The Great War

John McCormack's recording of Roses of Picardy is probably the best known version of this song. Posted by patriot4913.

Al Jolson recorded this sentimental tearjerker in 1918. Posted on YouTube by teoghiechimneys

Potatoes In The Root Cellar?

 We've had a long fall with good weather in Southern Illinois, so you should have all of your crops safely stored away now.  If you tire of digging potatoes by hand every fall, you should keep your eyes open for one of these nifty little rigs.

 I recognized the purpose of the potato digger before I saw the label on the side, because it is quite similar to the machines used for lifting tree seedlings, and I've seen those a few times.

 The tail piece shakes the soil of the spuds before they drop off, same as a seedling lifter.

 If you're going to produce a prodigious pile of potatoes, you should add one of these to your tool list for the machine shed. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sentiments From World War I

We posted several records from The Great War a few years back, and this week is a good time to recycle them.  Katy gets a lot of plays, and YouTube viewers still leave positive comments frequently; mostly in the vein of "My grandpa used to sing this song." 


 We finished the siding project for the southwest corner of the barn Sunday.  I realized Saturday night that my old ears don't like the sound of nails being pounded, and I wore ear protection Sunday.  It doesn't take much to turn up the tinnitus volume nowadays.

While we worked on this side Saturday and Sunday we made frequent trips into the barn for boards and nails, then to the garage to run the table saw, then to the barn to drive nails.  The deer that hang out in our woods stayed right out back, only about 100 feet from where we worked.  They could see us clearly in the barn when we were pulling boards out of our stash.  They are pretty tame as long as we stay on our side of the line.  Our friend Troy stopped by for a brief visit, and when I took him back in the barn to have a look at the herd, they all disappeared.  Must have been his camo, or maybe they could read his mind.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hercules Engines At Boonville

There were three slick Hercules engines on this trailer load of restored iron last month at Boonville. If you have a listen, you will hear the exhaust whistle tooting away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crankin' It Up: Exotic Places

It's not Sheherazade, but it's not too bad. Performed by the Waldorf Astoria Dance Orchestra November 29, 1918.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back To The Barn

 We haven't spent much time working on the barn for many months, but the open corner kept reminding us that we needed to get back to work, so we have been spending time on recent weekends going up and down ladders, nailing in new stringers, and fitting new siding boards.  Our goal for this week is to close in this corner and treat the boards with linseed oil in preparation for painting.

When the southwest corner is finished we need to start in on the northwest corner.  After that, there is plenty more to do; actually we will never be done, but I do think we are starving some of the termites, and that is gratifying.

A Visit To Pond Creek Logging

I stopped in to see how Jason and his partner were getting along, and had the pleasure of watching several big old white oaks being dropped and hauled. This patch of woods is well into over-maturity, and the red oaks were all damaged by fire about sixty years ago. You can identify the red oak logs by the hole in the middle. White oak bark is more fire resistant, and those trees were in much better condition. Jason asked if I would like to drop a big white oak, and having a sense of value of those trees, I declined; but did take down a hickory and a big post oak. Thanks, Jason!