Saturday, December 31, 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

Weekend Steam: Narrow Gauge Railroads Around The World Part 2

 Merle found a great series for us showing some special railroads in far-flung places. Thank You, Merle, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Front Yard Wildlife

Susan's great-grandfather Green Darsham bought the farm in 1903, and sometime not long after that, he planted a bunch of catalpa trees. The idea back then was that the catalpas would provide fence posts for the farm. One thing that catalpas really do provide is wildlife habitat. They are really great at providing dens for wildlife in their old age. This tree, in the front yard, has been a snake den for years, a home for squirrels, and now we know that opossums use the hollow stem for  a home, too. Pretty neat!


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Staples Are Out!

 Susan's new knee was installed just fifteen days ago. The hips were a piece of cake compared to knee surgery, but she is doing well and now walks with a cane. Dr Eric Brewer of the Bonutti Clinic did the honors, using the Mako robotic system.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Vintage Train Watching

 Let's go to the diner for coffee and pie!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Tuesday Torque: Looking For Help

 Maybe some antique car expert can identify this old car. I just realized today that there is no crank, or place for one below the radiator. That can mean just one thing. This car has a transverse engine that is cranked from the side, and probably has a chain for final drive. I remember Dad talking about a car that had chain drive, and if the chain broke you had no power and NO brakes.  Up front behind the wheel is my Aunt May, to her left is Ivah, and in the back right I see the top of my great-grandmother Myrtle's head. The license plates says 1914.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Tragic Tuba...

 This is just Part 1. Click it over to YouTube and you can see the next segment. (Part 2)This is fascinating work!

Back To The Old Grind!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Weekend Steam: A Look At A Pike's Peak Cog Engine!

 Thank You, Merle, and Merry Christmas!

All I Want For Christmas Is You (Piano Cover)

Jennifer Thomas: Carol Of The Bells

George Frederic Handel: And The Glory Of The Lord

 London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Poet's Winter Corner, A Re-Post

Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are cover'd wi'' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shrill's I hear the blast,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
a' day they fare but sparely:
And lang's the night frae e'en to morn,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
Up in the morning's no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a' the hills are cover'd wi' snaw,
I'm sure it's winter fairly.
Robert Burns

Photo by EJ, on returning from a trip to Japan

It Isn't Necessarily Warm Down There!

 Coal mines gotta have air, and on a day like this, they are pumping in sub-zero air to keep the atmosphere safe. I hope they are all dressed for it. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Another Bradford Pear Goes Down!

The kid came down to visit and we had a busy weekend. One of the tasks we tackled was cutting another one of our decadent Bradford pear trees.  Zeke does all kinds of engineering calculations in his work, but had not ever dropped a tree. We spent some time before we videoed doing chainsaw orientation and walking around the tree discussing the cuts he would make, then he practiced bore cutting on a stump. He made a pretty good stump, and he could soon be a professional tree faller if he decides to change career directions

Silent Night, All Day Long, John Prine

Monday, December 19, 2022

O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel

Tuesday Torque: West Of Donner Pass...

 Pushing snow with Jordan Spreaders. Those engines are working hard! Thanks for the pick, Merle!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Weekend Steam II: Kempton Pumping Engines

 19 million gallons a day, retired in 1980.  Thank You, Merle! I love watching the barring engine, too.

Frank Sinatra: Let It Snow

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A Comin'

To Mattoon And Back

 We got up early and checked in at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital this morning. Dr. Brewer did the honors of installing a new right knee for Susan and she is safe at home tonight. We saw only one deer on the way up, and the morning crepuscule was a deep pink. Really pretty. The dogs were glad to see her, and Susan's sister came down to dogsit and to help Susan settle in.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Dean Martin: Winter Wonderland

Logging 100 Years Ago

 A fellow named Norm Montgomery shared this photo on a history page on Facebook. The Man operating the drag saw is also a Montgomery, so I bet he is Norm's great grandfather. That appears to be a two-stroke gas engine, just a little slower and heavier than our two-stroke chainsaws of today. We don't know how good we have it. Don't let the machinery grab your overalls!

                                                               Back To The Old Grind!

Weekend Steam II: Duplex Steam Locomotives

 New subject for me, Merle. I have heard of compound engines, but knew nothing about these! Many Thanks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Am I Knot Amused?

 Who hasn't been at least a little fascinated with knots and knotholes in lumber? A knot is just the cross section of a branch that is surrounded by wood. As long as the branch is alive, its wood is joined to the wood of the stem of the tree. When a branch dies, the tree continues to grow, surrounding the dead branch with wood. There is your loose knot! When the dead branch drops off, the tree will hopefully grow around the end and seal the opening from insects and rot. A sawyer cutting for grade rolls a log after placing it on the carriage, and reads the knots. The first cut is made to isolate the clearest wood in a face, and to isolate the knots into other faces. A skillful sawyer can make good money for a mill owner. Susan and I like to look inside the wood after we make our splits, and we do pay attention to where the knots are. Wood splits much easier if you go around the big knots. They are tough. Firewood splits easier when you split from the bottom to the top, so laying wood onto the splitter involves a quick assessment of every piece. 

Silver Bells on the Player Piano

Occasional Trolls


Click to enlarge.
This is why we do review comments before they go up. This comment is obviously from an Internet troll, and is loaded with a string of links. Nothing but trouble if it was posted.

And, another one!

                                                                        Click to enlarge.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Tchaikovsky: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy, Glass Duo

Tuesday Torque: Fired Up The Briggs And Tilled

We had a great garden this year in spite of Susan's hip surgeries. She kept up on canning, too! We still have turnips, but we will get a hard freeze soon, and then the turnips will be done. The soil works better every year because of the mushroom compost that we are piling on.

We bought the tiller in 1980, and it had an Tecumseh motor on it. It ran well, but the carburetor would not stay adjusted. It would go rich while running, and you would have to walk alongside the tiller and adjust the mixture while it worked. We did that for years, and then one day the engine busted the rod. So now we have a Briggs engine. It evidently is a green engine, and the non-adjustable carburetor jet is set for well below sea level. You have to leave the choke on part way until it is totally warmed up, and then it sputters a bit from being lean. Aggravating!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Weekend Steam II: Ironbridge, Trevithick's First Engine

 Thank You, Merle! This engine goes way back!

Dean Martin: It's A Marshmallow World

The Importance Of Branch Angles

"See Good Trees" is my motto when doing improvement work in timber. Look for the good ones and get rid of trees competing with them. For timber growers, a good tree has a straight stem, good natural pruning, a wide healthy crown, and no forks or tight branch angles with included bark. This red maple demonstrates the danger of forks and tight branch angles. Trees like this one tend to be damaged by wind and ice.

Do we need to get rid of this tree now? We can utilize it for firewood, but currently we are covered up in dead ash trees, and those need to be harvested before we go after a live tree. Is it interfering with a good crop tree? If not, just leave it for the time being.  Rot is going to work its way down the stem, but there will still be a good log for ten or fifteen years. You can also leave a tree like this to serve as a wildlife tree. That break will work as a good nesting site, and possibly a den. 


Here's a bad fork with included bark and rot progressing.

Another bad fork with hidden bark included, but sound on top.

This one is a sound fork with both wood and bark where they should be. A fork is the top end of merchantability for sawtimber. You need a minimum of 8' 6" for a hardwood log to be merchantable. If a tree forks below that it will never go to the sawmill. 

This is a good branch angle with the limb going back all the way to the pith. The tighter the branching angle, the more likely bark will be trapped between the limb and the stem.

Weekend Steam: Undermounted Avery Pulling A Twelve Bottom Plow

 I think this is a 40 HP Avery; the big one in the undermounted line. Old Threshers at Mt. Pleasant used to have one of these, but they sold it when it needed extensive boiler work. I am sure the current board of directors is banging their collective heads on the wall for that decision. Boilers can be repaired or replaced, but the rest of the engine, not so much. Thank You, Merle, for this one. I am going to look at the other videos on this YT channel.