Friday, May 31, 2019

Weekend Steam: Big Boy 4014

Merle likes the Big Boy; I do, too!  The restoration of 4014 is still almost unbelievable.  The big engine needed serious boiler repairs, plus a complete teardown. This engine sat for more than fifty years, and the 4014 would have been an engine kit rather than an engine after being retired while in need of an overhaul, and then moldering for half a century. Union Pacific pulled in experts in steam and machining from around the country to make it happen.  They had not done this level of work on an articulated steam locomotive for sixty years.

Chainsaws And Storm Damage; Even More Danger...

Falling and bucking trees are dangerous activities.  You have the danger of the saw, plus the danger of wood high above you that you are setting in motion.  Bucking offers plenty of opportunities for kickbacks and springpoles to smack you.  Storm damage is a nasty brew of both falling and bucking, and  the temptation for homeowners to get up on a ladder to deal with broken trees causes death and injury on a regular basis.  Keep your feet on the ground and wear your safety gear.  Plan every cutting operation carefully so you don't get hurt.  Susan and I walked around this minor mess for an hour to figure our safest strategy.  It worked out well, but we were both on edge through the entire process.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Down, No Problems

One of the hickories in the dog yard lost a limb this morning, and it had to come down for safety.  We spent a good hour just scoping it out and testing locations for the tractor, so we could support the branch with the loader.  We hoped to not smash the fence, and we succeeded.  Even more important, we did not smash ourselves.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Another Chainsaw Fatality In The News

Today the St. Louis news tells of a chainsaw tragedy.  A 40 year old man was pruning a tree, according to the story, and suffered cuts to his neck and arm.  He died at the scene.  Chainsaws are the most dangerous tools we have, and few seek out safety instruction.  Some activities with a chainsaw are more dangerous than others, and most amateur operators do not understand the forces that may put them in danger.

The article states that the fellow was pruning a tree.  That places the operator under great risk of having a kickback, and that often occurs from above your head if you are reaching above your shoulders to prune a limb.  Reaching above your shoulders with a chainsaw goes against accepted safety rules, but if a person has had no training, he does not know that, or understand why it is dangerous.

I have listed our safety rules below, with kickback related rules in bold.  If you are going to be running a saw, please seek out a safety class.  Study these safety rules and take them to heart.  If you can't find a safety class and must operate, please watch some of my videos to see proper chainsaw use techniques. Click on the Chainsaw label at the end of this post, or under Labels on the left side of the page to see my chainsaw posts.

PS: Note that you must always have both hands on the saw when you are running.  Wrap your thumb around the handle.  Operators often reach out with one hand to make a cut that is at the edge of their reach.  If the saw tip catches anything when you do this, the bar flips right back in your face.  Both hands, tight thumbs, whenever the chain is running!

1. Always wear your safety gear when running your saw: hard hat, eye, face, hearing protection, cut resistant protection for your legs, heavy boots, gloves (depending on work conditions).

2. Safety devices on the saw must be in working order: front hand guard,chain brake, chain catcher, throttle lockout, and right hand guard.

3. Hold the saw on the ground or lock it between your knees for starting. No 'Drop Starts.' Set the chain brake before cranking.

4. The engine must idle reliably without turning the chain.

5. The chain must be sharpened properly, including properly set depth gauges.

6. The chain must be adjusted to remove slack and still run freely.

7. The operator must understand the forces on different parts of the bar as the saw runs: push, pull, kickback and attack.

8. Both hands must always be on the saw when the chain is running. The thumbs must be wrapped around the handles. Both feet should be firmly planted on the ground.

9. The operator must always know where the end of the bar is, and what it's doing.

10. Don't let the upper (kickback) corner of the bar contact anything when the chain is running unless the tip has been buried with the lower corner.

11. Let off of the throttle before pulling out of a pinch on the top part of the bar.

12. Make a plan for every tree you cut. Assess hazards, lean, escape routes, forward cuts, and back cuts. Evaluate the forward or backward lean, and the side lean of every tree you cut. Know your limits.

13. Clear your work area and your escape path of brush, vines, and other hazards that can trip you or catch your saw.

14. Escape from the bullseye when the tree tips. 90% of accidents happen within 12 feet of the stump. Go more than 15 feet, and stay out of the bullseye until things stop falling.

15. Keep spectators away more than twice the height of the tree in the direction it will fall.

16. Don't cut alone.

17. Keep your body and the swamper's out of the line of the bar in case of a kickback.
18. Set the brake when taking over two steps or when moving through tripping hazards. Keep your trigger finger off of the throttle when you are moving.

19. DO NOT operate a chainsaw from a ladder! Operating with your feet off the ground requires special training.

20. Do not cut above your shoulders.

21. Springpoles must be shaved on the inside of the apex between the ascending and descending sides. If the apex is higher than you shoulders, stand under the springpole and cut it low on the descending side. It will release upward, away from you.Leaning and heavily loaded poles that are too small to bore cut for a hinge should be shaved on the compressed side until they fold.

22. Do not cut a tree that is holding up a lodged tree. Do not work under a lodged tree. Think about a mouse trying to steal the cheese out of a trap.

23. Instruct your swampers and helpers to NEVER approach you from behind or the sides to within the reach of your saw when you are cutting. If you pull out of a cut with the chain running, or have a severe kickback, the swamper can be killed if he is coming up behind you!

24!! Quit When You Are Tired! 

25!! Pause and review; reflect, when you are being pushed. You may be pushed into danger. Do not let pressure cause you to ignore safety rules! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

How Perishable Are Your Shooting Skills?

Up until Patti began failing, we shot nearly every week at Pistol League.  During the dark time of year we shoot indoors, mostly on the target you see here.  We shoot 12 rounds at 15 feet, 12 rounds at 30 feet, (both stages standing, unsupported), then from 50 feet we shoot 6 strong hand with a brace, 6 weak hand with a brace, 6 kneeling, and 6 standing unsupported.  We have shot just a few times since Patti passed away last summer, and the last time I shot, I made 470 out of a possible 480 points.  We went last week for the first time in 8 weeks and I shot one round, making a score of 459. Two months ago I made all shots in the 9 and 10 rings, and this time I strayed clear out into a 7.  I obviously was straying to the left, and all of those were from the 50 foot line.  I will work on this at home and hope to do better next time.

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

This will probably be your only chance to buy brand new, Ruger Old Army cap and ball revolver.  This one was built in 1982 and it has never been sold.  The photos you can see at Ruger's website show a few small blemishes, most likely from fingerprints, but nothing major.  This rare item will sell mid-day, Wednesday, May 29, 2019.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place that winning bid.
$605  Good Deal!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Rotary Engine Challenges

Great War pilots faced great challenges, learning to fly, fight in the air, and handle planes with peculiarities that are difficult for pilots with long experience.  Whenever technology happens there is a learning curve, and people die while troubles are sorted out and overcome. It happened with steam trains as they sped up in the Nineteenth Century before reliable braking, communication, and signal systems were developed.  We have seen it recently with Boeing airliners with changes to the engines and software systems in the planes.  Rotary engine peculiarities were responsible for many crashes and pilot deaths.  Some say that the handling characteristics of the Camel killed as many pilots as the Germans.  Here are a couple videos that give a pretty good look at the problems pilots had to overcome.

Solemn Thoughts For This Day

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.  from Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead                      from Bivouac of the Dead, Theodore O'Hara

Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see the black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier's grave.   Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Cover them over with beautiful flowers;
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours;
Lying so silent, by night and by day,
Sleeping the years of their manhood away...   from Cover Them Over, Will Carlton

At night when everything's quiet,
And I'm lying alone in bed,
There comes a vision of battlefields,
The fight..the maimed..the dead.

Will I ever forget that hell "O'er There,"
And the tales the battlefields tell,
The price my "Buddies" paid with "their all,"
And the places in which they fell?"    from Thots!  "Buck Private" McCollum

Friday, May 24, 2019

Weekend Steam: Truckin' In The U.K.

You have to love steam lorries.  Don't you wish we had some of these on this side of the pond?!  Many thanks to Merle for spotting and screening!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dead Wood Paradox

We have been heating with wood for many years, and it took me a while to figure out this problem.  Downed wood that is horizontal does not make good firewood unless you split it and stack it under cover with time to dry it.  Vertical dead wood is often ready to burn, except for the lower portion of the stem, which will dry rapidly if split and stacked with good ventilation.  Treetops down on the ground must be cut well in advance of going in your stove.  I think what happens is the sapwood rots quickly and acts like a sponge, holding water that soaks the heartwood.  Water runs down off of vertical stems so the wood has a chance to dry and stay that way.  It's one of those things they don't teach you in school.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wayback Machine: Extreme Wedging Means Having No Fun

Several years back I was asked to cut several dead trees endangering parking areas at a state office.  This stump is a shortleaf pine, and if you have ever cut pine trees in a tight planting project, you know the challenge.  This was a 60 segment tree, and you can see that it took 3 inches of wedging to make the tree fall.  That means that I wedged the top over about 15 feet before the tree fell.  This tree was nearly vertical, but pine trees tangle up in the crowns, and the neighbors were holding it up. No matter what kind of tree you are cutting, if you have to cut wooden shims to tip the log, you are doing some hard work with your hammer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is offering another New Old Stock Mk I Target pistol this week.  It was built in 1982 and has been stored in the Ruger vault ever since.  This Mk I is a beauty, and I can't help but think that Ruger is getting to the end of these treasures.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place your bid. This fine .22 LR pistol will sell mid-day Wednesday, May 22, 2019. $581.15

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tuesday Torque: A Change Of Pace

Here is a very fine flying boat model with six engine nacelles with twelve propellors. I kept thinking, "No Way," but it flies!  You will enjoy watching this one.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Saturday, May 18, 2019

I'll Spare You

I spotted baby raccoons in a den tree last week, brought the camera out on the tripod and shot 25 minutes of video.  I whittled that down to 6 minutes, and if a helicopter hadn't flown over there would have been no excitement at all.  Oh, you could see a little movement, but mama wasn't home, and the kids were bashful.  I took three screen shots and that pretty much shows the action.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Weekend Steam: From One Extreme To The Other

Last week we looked at the Union Pacific 4014 Big Boy, and how do you top that?  I can't think of a way, so we are going to the other extreme and looking at an old, toy steam engine. This little Weeden engine is about 90 years old.  Remarkable!  We have videos in line from Merle, but after the Big Boy I am feeling a bit giddy and in need of a reset.

Enough of that! Here's a good pick from Merle, and suitable for the day we turned on the air conditioning. Hoo Boy; we let the fire go out Tuesday and now we are running the AC.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Swarm In May Is Worth A Bale Of Hay!

A swarm of bees flew in today.  I used to have several hives, but quit beekeeping thirty-five years ago when stings began sending me to the Emergency Room.  Susan took up beekeeping about five years ago, so we have equipment that is ready to set up.

Susan is not doing any lifting right now, so I set up a couple of supers, suited up and started clipping branches to reach the swarm.  Susan mixed up sugar syrup to keep the bees quiet and tucked a sheet into the entrance on the hive.

The swarm dropped into a box while still hanging on the branches and I placed them in front of the entrance, misted them with sugar water, and they began their march into the hive.  We checked them at sundown and all of them had moved in. The best part is neither of us was stung!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Way Back Machine

Chainsawing and fire fighting were about the most enjoyable activities when I was working.  There was a city dwelling greenie that got into IL DNR in Springfield who started making policies.  One was that we had to document and justify any trees cut down on state sites, and also document that a tree was planted for every one removed.  What a pain!

It should have hit me sooner, but once a tree is dead, it is technically no longer a tree.  It's just a post sitting in the ground; so I quit doing the paperwork for it.  I never got called on it, and the troublemaker eventually moved on to another agency.

There was a lot of dead wood overhead on this one, wasn't there? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Meet Swiper!

Swiper came to us over the weekend from a shelter nearly 500 miles away.  Swiper is an elderly dog, coming up soon on his 14th birthday.  He has been to see the Vet already, and he will have his teeth cleaned next week.  He is in isolation for a couple weeks and we have determined that he is well housebroken, he walks well on leash, and he is a mellow old boy.

Midwest Schipperke Rescue has many applications from possible adoptive families, but if you are interested in giving this old boy a home during his Golden Years, go to Midwest Schipperke Rescue's website and submit the one page application.  (The link to the application is at the bottom of the web homepage.) 

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger's offering this week is getting plenty of interest. It is a 1982 vintage Mk I Target pistol in .22 Long Rifle that has been sitting unused in Ruger's vault for all these years.  It will sell mid-day, May 15, 2019.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place that winning bid. $1025

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Engines, Steamers, Crawlers, Tractors

Shows will be popping up from now until winter; here's a mood maker for you!  Thank You, Merle!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Gotta Try This!

Back To The Old Grind!

Cool And Dreary

We had to fire up again.  We won't have to move wood back to the barn; this cool spell will finish the supply at the house.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Maggie Watches...

                                                                 "Who's coming?"

Weekend Steam: Big Boy 4014

You may remember that we have posted a few times about the Union Pacific retrieving Big Boy 4014 from Pomona, California for restoration.  Engine 4014 is now being broken in and tested!  Videos have been popping up on YouTube this week about this blessed event, so have a look!  Thanks to Merle, I did not miss this!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Favorite Spring Highlights

Poppies began blooming this week, and I stop to enjoy them every time I pass them.  They don't last long, so I pay attention. Our flower bed is getting overgrown and needs to be thinned and scarified to bring the poppy numbers up. I gather the seed heads every year and scatter the seeds, but without disturbance, nothing new comes up.  Gotta do it this year!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team

Ruger is selling another early Mini-14 this week.  It was made in 1976 and is marked Used.  There are a few minor dings and a bit of wear to the finish on the edges of the receiver.

This vintage Mini-14 will sell mid-day, May 8, 2019.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place your bid. $993

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Starting A Ruston Hornsby Engine Is A Two Man Task

The guy cranking this 1917 model could sure use a helper to keep the flywheel going while he is trying to make it fire off.  They cut out the actual start, so we don't know how he finally made it go.  I am guessing someone volunteered to keep the flywheel at speed so the engine would not bounce backwards.  Thank You, Merle!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

An Oldie, and Now, A Goodie!

Here's a good look at the process of bringing an old tool back to life.

Back To The Old Grind!

Friday, May 3, 2019

It's Not A Flying Car...

...but I think it is even better.  Susan had some surgery a week ago, and she has been basically pain free from day one.  She has to be careful for many weeks while she heals up inside, but she will in all probability have a troublefree recovery.

 See her surgeon here:

How many times have you wished for an extra hand while doing some complicated task? The human surgeon has but two arms of his own, and the DaVinci gives him five more! Susan had seven ports for the robot, and no stitches on the outside; the ports were glued shut when her surgery was done.

Weekend Steam: Plowing Across The Pond

I started reading steam magazines in 1965, and one of the wonders I saw was British steam plowing engines.  The cable plowing systems are something you will not see in American farm country.  Here is your chance to see this system in action.  I think that small fields and large engines made cable plowing a necessary invention, and it also is good to avoid soil compaction caused by heavy engines.  Thank You, Merle, for spotting!