Monday, December 31, 2012

Staying Up Late Tonight?

And More Is On The Way

We had 5 to 6 inches of snow last week before Jason could move the last of his logs out.  He bladed off the landing with his skidder so the ground could freeze, then we had another 5 inches.  Oh Well, or words to that effect.  Forecasters say we have more snow coming on New Year's Eve, and I bet Jason is out early in the morning to see what he can do.  The truck with the knuckleboom on it has big ag tires, and they can move logs to the road to load a semi-trailer.  Most of the wood has already been moved, but our loggers would like to get this job finished so they don't have to come back next spring.  They have already moved the Timbco to their next job, and they need to move the rest of their equipment. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Have Pity, O Lord, In Misery I Languish... other words...Back To The Old Grind! 

Photo Credit:  Page 463, Samson Et Dalila, Metropolitian Opera, New York, 1915, with Caruso, Matzenauer and Amato.   The Victor Book of the Opera, Victor Talking Machine Company,1929; RCA Manufacturing Company, 1936.  Photo by White

Revisiting The Sotz Monster Maul

We had a comment on our YouTube video showing how to use a Sotz Monster Maul, and it was a pleasant surprise.  Ed in Detroit bought the unsold stock from the Sotz corporation, and he is selling it all via Craigslist.

The Sotz Monster Maul was a well-thought-out design which solved inherent problems of wood splitting mauls.   Most mauls sold in the pre-Sotz era had wooden handles, which broke with annoying regularity when splitting wood.  Sotz fixed that by making the handles out of steel, with a reinforcing collar just above the head.  Most splitting mauls are only six to eight pounds, and you swing them like an axe to deliver sufficient energy for splitting.  That's great if you are young and athletic, but big swings don't work well for middle aged and older folks.  Sotz's solution was to make the head a big slow bullet; 16 pounds heavy.  You don't swing it; you raise it, and then bring it down, using the handle as a lever to deliver a bit of speed.  We were able to split any species of hardwood with our Sotz mauls, even elm, though we never did enjoy busting elm wood.

The other problem with splitting mauls and axes is that they stick in the wood you are trying to split.  The wide angle of the Sotz head eliminates sticking almost 100%.  I finally gave up using a maul and bought a hydraulic wood splitter a few years ago because of a bad elbow, but that was caused by using a hoedad for tree planting many years ago.  If you use a Monster Maul correctly, it won't cause tennis elbow.

I looked around on the internet a bit, and Monster Maul knockoffs are not as heavy as the original product.  Northern Tool has a Monster Maul wannabe that has a 12 pound head, and that is typical.  If you want the original, check the Craigslit page and order one.  Ed does ship, so anyone in the country can still buy one of these useful artifacts from the 1970's energy crisis.

Ed also has some Sotz fireplace tools, which were designed to use with their barrel stove kits.  He is asking $40 for these, and that looks like a very fair price for useful American made product.  When these are gone, there won't be any more, so visit these pages and have a look.

Sotz Product List

Sotz Monster Maul

Sotz Fireplace Tools

Click the banner at the top of this page to see the current posts!

Not My Victrola

Lucius1958 shares a beautiful George M. Cohan show tune, played on his Edison machine.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Was A Long Good-Bye

"What's going on out here? You talking to Joe again??

"Oh No...I can't watch this."

Marvin Cat started showing up for meals many years ago, and soon became part of the family. This photo was taken in 1995.

This photo was taken in 2008, after we had learned that Marvin had melanoma. We figured he was a short-timer, but his cancer advanced slowly. He has been losing hair for a couple years; and a year ago his lungs began to wheeze, but he didn't show many signs of being ill.

He went off his feed Christmas Eve, and retreated to a little cat hut where he could curl up and stay warm.  Yesterday he was sitting in front of the water bowl, unable to drink.  We had a couple of long sessions with an eye dropper to give him water and a molasses mix.  When I greeted him this morning he cried instead of purring, and I called the vet.

The vet gave him a muscle relaxer in his hip and I held him in my lap; Marvin purred until he went limp. They took him away to administer the IV to finish the job, and then I brought him home and buried him next to HeyJoe. Jack figured out that this was serious business. He was with Joe when he died, and watched me wrap him up and bury him. This was a tough way to end the holiday season, but on the positive side, this year Susan and I managed to to bring our mothers through some serious medical crises, and that is a real blessing...and we have more pets, thanks to our brother-in-law who gave us SEVEN feral cats that he caught and had neutered and vaccinated. We aren't about to run out of cats, and they have mostly tamed down so I can pick up most of them.

Weekend Steam: Antique Entertainment

I can remember asking my Grandmother if she had seen silent movies, and of course, she had.  She laughed about it and told me that movies were very different when she was a girl.  She told me that more than fifty years ago.  (I also asked her if she knew how to dance the Charleston...she was a Covenanter, (I didn't know that back then.) so that was sort of a dumb question.   Anyhow, here is a great example of a silent film from 1915, with Helen Holmes saving the day, and Thomas Edison Studios promoting cigarettes.  Posted on YouTube by sfo1164.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Crankin' It Up

The Van Eps Trio performs Hill and Dale, a "Syncopated Fox Trot."  Brat Cat helps out a bit.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Timber Cutter Tricks

The loggers working in our woods put on a real push in the days leading up to Christmas.  They completed cutting, and then dragged logs like crazy the last couple days.  I was up on the landing at sunset on Christmas Eve when Jason dragged in the last logs.  This was really important with a major snow in the forecast, because once you have snow on the skid trails this time of year, they are done for until things dry out next spring.  The logs can all be loaded out and sent to various mills now, and the loggers can make their money back on their time and effort in a timely fashion.

Here is a little demonstration of a neat cutting technique for trees that need to be pushed over.  The key to this trick is to leave the release cut uncompleted, so that the fibers will hold the tree steady until it is pushed over.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Never, Ever Give Up

...and in what used to be Great Britain, you are a dangerous person if you have tools to putter around in your kitchen. Soon, you will have to demonstrate a need to drive nails if you possess a hammer.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Make A Christmas Donation To Project Valour-IT...

...and win a nice Ruger for yourself! The Ruger being sold this week to help wounded soldiers is a 1969 production, Ruger 10/22 International Rifle. It has a solid walnut Mannlicher stock, hand cut checkering, sling swivels, and a black grip cap. Click Ruger's photo for the full description, and to Place Your Bid!
 The hammer falls at 12:30 PM Eastern Time, December 26, 2012.  Set up your bids right away so you don't forget with the Christmas activities.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola

Pax41 posted a wonderful collection of old time Christmas carols from his collection for our enjoyment.

Jim02026 pedaled his player for us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Buy A Special Ruger; Help A Wounded Soldier

Don't let Ruger's Project Valour-IT auction pass you by this week.  This particular 20 gauge Red Label was manufactured in 1988, and the model was made through 1991.  This fine shotgun has been residing in the Ruger vaults since it was made in May of '88, and New In Box Red Label shotguns just aren't out there anymore.  Ruger ceased shotgun production last year, so this may be your only chance to buy this masterpiece of gun manufacturing.

100% of the proceeds of this auction will be donated to Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT, to provide voice activated laptop computers to wounded soldiers.  Visit the auction site, and Dig Deep.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sometimes I Think Too Much

I get requests from heirs to property with timber every so often, usually from sons and daughters of recently deceased parents. They always want to know how much money the timber is worth on the property, and they usually sell the trees and the property quickly. Occasionally I get one of these. The fellow who called for me to check out this old farm is the nephew of an aunt who died recently, and he inherited her farm. He needed an opinion on the timber, and that was easy enough to do for him.  The history nut in me always makes me look around old farmsteads, and it helps me figure out some of the timeline on the current timber stands.  His aunt's old house looks tough now, but she had electricity, and good tarpaper siding, so it was a cozy little house.

The home had a tin roof, and that is probably why there is still a good pile of remains to see today. I looked in, and there is an old pair of trousers in the bedroom.  They probably belonged to her husband.

You have to wonder how many meals were prepared on her old cookstove.  There isn't much left of it, and the younger generations wouldn't even know what they are looking at.

The home was humble, but this is a first class cistern.  The remains of an old well bucket can be seen at the bottom.

An old broken coffee mug...was it the favorite mug of the lady who just died?

Here's the mystery; an extra room added on to the little home, with a set of bedsprings.  Was this a bedroom for a son or daughter, or maybe a parent that had to be cared for?

Well, maybe it's better we don't know.  The couple who made their living on this farm had no descendants to pass it to, and it was handed down to a nephew.  He seems like a good sort, and is very appreciative of the gift from his aunt.  That is some encouragement, but places like this look like a shipwreck of hopes and dreams.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Many Mondays...

...and two more to go this year. Back To The Old Grind...

Not My Victrola

Paul Whiteman's Orchestra - Doo Wacka Doo 1924 by grzegorz240252 Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra - Doo Wacka Doo (Gaskill -Donaldson - Horther) Victor 1924 (USA accoustic recording) By grzegorz240252

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekend Steam

 The Stradbally Woodland Express operating at the Stradbally Steam Railway, Co.Laois, Ireland. By Eiretrains

Crankin' It Up Rewind

We posted A Wee Deoch an' Doris four years ago, and during this holiday season, it's a good one to listen to again.  Harry recorded this classic more than a century ago, and it's a safe bet that he was walking hame after the last refreshments of the nicht.  Use your better judgment while you party.  It's a braw bricht moonlicht nicht.  Yup, I'm alricht.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How Do You Become A Logger In Illinois?

It's not easy to learn how to be a logger in Illinois. Workman's Comp rates run over 100% of the wages, so logging is a family business. I haven't run into any loggers in my end of the state who worked for a company; they are all self employed. If you aren't born into it, you probably will never make it trying to learn it on your own. Jason, the fellow who is logging our woods had his little boy with him in the skidder cab, and I bet he'll be dragging out logs long before he has a driver's license. Watch the cab door as the skidder goes by. Here's another skidder drive-by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Logging Videos From Our Woods

We have been having a good time watching the loggers work in our woods. We had rain on Sunday, so they have taken a few days off to run logs through their mill while the ground firms up. The hard part of videoing this type of work is getting in close enough to see what is happening without getting smashed by a tree or run over by the skidder. Once a trail is established for the skidder it is a bit easier. I parked Susan's mother in the Kubota right at a turn so she could get the full effect of having the skidder bear down on her just before it turned. She liked that. If you watch closely, you might see Jason's little boy in the cab helping his papa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WOW! Check Out Ruger's Project Valour-IT Auctions!

We have been highlighting the auctions of special firearms from the Ruger Vaults for many weeks now, and it is exciting to see the serious cash being donated by Ruger to Project Valour-IT. Last week the hammer fell on a special 10/22, and the selling price was $4400! Expect to see some serious money again this week when a Ruger No. 1 rifle sells that was made during Ruger's fiftieth year.  This rifle is engraved, and decorated with 24 karat gold inlay, and is chambered in .45-70.  This is a very special rifle that could be used for hunting the largest animals on this continent, but it will probably be locked away in a safe as part of a collection.  As of Monday night, the bid was up to $2225, and it will probably make significant jumps on Wednesday morning.  The hammer falls at 12:30 PM, Wednesday, December 12.  If you can afford it, make a bid!  All of the funds from these sales go to Project Valour-IT, to purchase voice activated computers for wounded service personnel.

If you can't afford to jump in on Ruger's auctions, you can still help our wounded soldiers by going to Project Valour-IT's website and making a donation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Farmer?

The Happy Farmer tractor is a pretty collector item, but you have to wonder just how happy the customers were who bought these old-timers. I have heard it said that farmers found real happiness when they traded them off. That isn't really a fair criticism, given that most of the farm machines from ninety years ago were high maintenance. They are a lot of fun to watch now that we don't have to depend on them.

Beats Pounding Wedges

A black oak needed a push in the right direction, and the John Deere grapple skidder is sure easier than driving wedges.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is Multi-Tasking Really A Good Idea?

Back To The Old Grind!

Not My Victrola

Don't Advertise Your Man-Rosa Henderson 1924 by bigband78 Rosa Henderson is well liked by YouTubers, and one of them reminded me to put "The Great" in front of her name when I posted Friday's record. Here is another GREAT Rosa Henderson song that is over on DailyMotion.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekend Steam

 The Christmas is upon us, whether we are ready or not. Here's a little joy for you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

...Lives In Infamy...

Pearl Harbor Day affects you whether or not you acknowledge it. Susan's Father and his friends went to a Marine recruiter soon after Pearl Harbor, and O.T. went to war. He saw New Zealand, Guadalcanal, and other islands in the Pacific, and fought on Bouganville, Guam, and Iwo Jima. He strung phone lines, and was always in front of the front, relying on his .45 and Kabar more than his M1 to survive. His brothers also served. Maurice was a SeaBee, Donny served on a seaplane tender, and his little brother Lloyd served on a gun crew on the USS Colorado. When the Colorado was scrapped, some of its guns were placed on the USS Olympia. We just learned this recently, and now we have to wonder, did Lloyd ever touch this gun that his niece, Susan touched in Philadelphia.

O.T., Donny, and Maurice all came home, but Lloyd died from the wounds he suffered during the bombardment of Tinian.  Lloyd left a widow, but no children, so Pearl Harbor Day is a sad day for us as we remember him.

Crankin' It Up

Rosa Henderson recorded this great blues number on May 24, 1923. Victor disc 19084-B. Played, as usual on the old Brunswick.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Excitement On Bea's Daily Walk

This week there was an armed robbery at a restaurant that Mom walks past every day, and then there was a meth lab bust on the Washington, Iowa square (CLICK). The local cops set up a privacy tarp around the busted ones and decontaminated them with a fire hose. It was 40 degrees, and then they had to sit on park benches in the cold temps while the police finished processing the crime scene. I do feel bad about the dogs, who also had to be washed down, and now have had their world turned upside down by these druggies. It doesn't matter how good your neighborhood is, the people who do bad things are mobile and can turn up anywhere. If you live in a concealed carry state, get your permit, and carry your gun. If you follow the gun blogs you know that folks never get tired of arguing the important points to consider for the perfect carry gun. There are a lot of right answers, and right now, I have a couple of firearms ready to go if they are necessary, and I know that Mom has three at her disposal. Look at your situation, do the necessary research, and figure out what you need for your personal protection.

Orient Buckboard at Pinckneyville

This beautifully restored horseless carriage was on display at Pinckneyville last summer. The Waltham Manufacturing company made cars in Massachusetts from 1902 'til 1908. In 1905 they started making cars with a four cylinder engine. These are a pretty rare vehicle, but I did find one on YouTube putting around.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Visit To The Log Landing

The Mrs., her mother and I took a tour of the logging job and looked over some of the logs at the landing today.
This timber was cut hard in 1940 when a sawmill was set up here. This pit was under the headsaw, and the steam engine that powered the operation sat just to the west (right). We thinned out the hickories in the mid-80's and the black oaks turned on the diameter growth.
Pat is able to climb in and out of the utility vehicle on her own, which is amazing progress in her stroke recovery. Life is good.

November e-Postal Scores, and e-Postal Appeal For Hosts

Rimfire Pistol
Iron Sights
Ruger Mk I
Ruger Mk II

Rimfire Pistol
Red Dot Sight

Mr. Completely
High Standard/OKO
Engineering Johnson
Ruger Mk III
True Blue Sam
Ruger Mk III
Mrs. True Blue Sam
Ruger Mk III

Rimfire Pistol

Mr. Completely
High Standard/Leupold

November is usually short on e-Postal entries because of weather and holiday activities, but a few of us diehards managed to find the time to pop some primers for some online shooting fellowship.  Billll, of Bill's Idle Mind showed us how to do it with iron sights, and his friend McAllister also did a fine job.  Mr. Completely shot a couple of very impressive targets with his High Standard pistols.  I threw this target together quickly, and should have tried it before posting, because it is a bit too difficult.  The Mrs. and I were laughing at our misses before we cleared our targets.

This is a closeup of a target by Mr. Completely.  We should all be shooting for his skill level.
The big news for bloggers and blog followers is that Mr. Completely and I have a few spots to fill in the host list for the 2013 e-Postal contests.  Here is a list of the hosts so far:

March:  Mr. Completely
June: Phil at RNS (unconfirmed)
August:  Up For Grabs
September: True Blue Sam
October:  Up For Grabs
November: Up For Grabs

Prospective and confirmed hosts should all go to Mr. Completely's post about contest design to see what goes into a good target and contest.  These contests are for everyone, not just bloggers, and are great for that much needed practice at the range every month.  

If you want to be a host next year, contact True Blue Sam at: truebluetravelinman (at) gmail (dot) com.  Mention e-Postal in the subject line so I don't lose you.

Click Here to go back and read about the November 2012 contest if you missed it.  

Big News From Ruger's Project Valour-IT Auctions

Ruger's Green Beret 10/22 will sell at 12:30 PM, Wednesday, December 5. This is the fifth out of six consecutively numbered rifles made in 1973, possibly as prototype commemorative rifles. This rifle has stirred up plenty of interest, and you will be amazed and gratified when you click over and see the level of support that bidders are showing for Project Valour-IT. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; go to Ruger's website or Facebook page and thank the CEO for Ruger's generous support of our wounded heroes.

The auction item that will sell next week is a real eye-opener. From Ruger's Facebook post, it's a "50th Anniversary engraved No. 1 S rifle chambered in the historic 45-70 cartridge. These limited edition anniversary rifles were only available during Ruger’s anniversary year - 1999. 100% of the proceeds will be going to Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT."  CLICK HERE to go to the auction page, and to bid.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are Four Rules Too Many To Remember?

Iowa had five wounded in the shotgun deer season last weekend.  Three were folks who shot themselves in the foot, and two were victims of other hunters who did not observe where their shots would go.  Go read all about it, and pass it on to the young shooters in your family.

You can review Jeff Cooper's Four Rules on many sites, including this one; here is a good one to start with.

"I Turned Around Every Time... see if I smashed you."  That's what the operator told me after I videoed his machine cutting trees.  I was hugged up against a tree all the time when he was cutting, but it was too close.  The warning on the machine says 250 feet, and I was under 50 feet when he had to let go of a black oak.  Running wasn't a good idea, so I got really familiar with the tree I was using for an umbrella, and had twigs raining down on my hard hat.  I hope to have a little time to watch the loggers this week and maybe we can get some more good video.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Milestone Of Sorts

The True Blue Sam team has been blogging and YouTubing for five years, and while TBS is not an exciting blog (between 100 and 200 page loads per day), our You Tube channel where we post our own videos now has well over three million views.  Our first video, Splitting a White Oak Log With Black Powder has over 100,000 views, and is still getting 500 hits per month.  It's too long, and looks pretty amateurish, but folks like the ending, even if we shot it with a cheap camera.

This video is the 600th we have uploaded to our channel, and it is a special event.  The Mrs. and I have been watching this red oak tree for over twenty-five years; it's the prettiest tree in our woods.  The black oaks have been dying off for several years, and it looks like they have done about all they can do on our site, so we are having them harvested.  Our favorite red oak shows signs of root-rot attacking it, and a 4" limb died at a little over two logs height, so it is declining, too.  The logger we have is a nice man, and he let me cut down our favorite tree.  Mrs. True Blue Sam did the honors on the camera, and her mother came out to the woods to watch, too.  The logger moved his skidder well out of striking distance, but that's just being prudent. 

Update:  A viewer on YouTube wants to see the face cut, so here is the stump with the root swells and the face cut set back in place.  The red oak had a flat side facing the direction it wanted to go, so the face cut is very thin, and was totally in the slab.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hit It Three Times As Hard This Week

Back To The Old Grind!

Crankin' It Up: Herding Cats Edition

Rosa Henderson recorded this great blues number on May 24, 1923.  Victor disc 19084-A.  Played, as usual on the old Brunswick.  Bart and Brat cat assisted, and sang along on the first couple takes, and I was in doubt whether I would ever get this one in the can for you.  This is a record we picked up at an estate auction many years ago, and it has been residing in a filing cabinet until today.  Next week, the flip side, Good Woman's Blues.

Not A Victrola

Published on May 11, 2012 by
Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me) (Swanstone, McCarron & Morgan)
From Capitol Roll A-1638

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weekend Steam: Let's Go To Iowa

"Uploaded by supereightmovie on Jul 26, 2010 Video starts Friday July 23. First clip is leaving Newton, then runbys at Colfax, Mitchelville,Booneville and Desoto. Then arriving at Earlham. The next day its running beside it along old Hyw 6 out of Dexter, by the old Stuart Hotel, under Hyw 6 outside of Casey and finally by the Jesse James train robbery site outside Adair."