Here’s a short video I made while working on an old railroad coach.
Rainy days and weekends are the time when I can get a lot done for Q & B. It’s Sunday evening, I finished bracing the supports and securing the roof of the shed I’ve been making. I’m testing the tools in it, and starting to make inventory. There’s a lot going on.
Over the years, I’ve written down a lot of ideas; it’s time to start selling them. Initially, I’ll make test inventory. rather than deciding whether I should commit to making hundreds of each item, I’ll make less, and see what’s in demand.
I have a video that I need to edit, so I’ll share details of our progress tomorrow. For now enjoy these neat pictures. I’ve shared some of these pictures on the internet before, but not here. The first is a car driving past a tree on a misty morning.
When you get a picture of yourself with a snake, it’s called a sssss-selfie.
Below is a picture of fat pine burning. Most wood won’t burn apart from other wood in a fire, but this has so much flammable pine resin that it burns like a candle. If you find an old rotten pine tree, often the knots that are the bases of branches have a lot of resin in them. They’re the last thing to rot, and will work like this.
I’ve found that most vehicles have a good angle to be seen from. I moved the 1951 Chevrolet 2 ton truck. When I walked by later, I noticed that it was looking very nice from this rear angle, so I got a picture. With the room addition to the house, this project got put on hold. But that’s done, so I can work on other things, including this. It runs, but needs a charging system, paint and body, and brakes to be road ready. I’m thinking seriously about making it into a rolling store.
Here’s a picture of two of our youths working on off road motorcycles. I think I see 6 in the picture. One could think that it would be better for them to pursue engineering or accounting studies in their spare time, but this is quite beneficial. In these times, being able to do your own mechanical work can be the difference between financial survival or not. Even if you hire the work done, it’s good to know if the mechanic is being honest with you.
Even if it were band or football, they would still be learning important lessons about attention to detail, working with others, and determination.
Lastly, here’s a picture of a rail road track. Why is there sand on it? For traction. This deposit is a bit heavy, my guess is that they had the sanders opened enough for road use, while they were doing some switching. Nearly all locomotives use sand for traction. When I was young, I read a book that said it started when a cloud of locusts descended on a track, and the train couldn’t move. So the engineer filled a box with sand, made a small hole in the bottom, and set it on the front of the locomotive. From there it trickled sand down on the rail, and the train went on its way. A quick internet search didn’t show that story, but I know I read it.
A couple of our kids adopted a dog. It has a case of fleas and mites. I noticed that it had a great personality, in spite of its condition. We’ve been treating it, and it looks better, but it still needs an occasional bath to help it along. We had a nice Christmas celebration, but it wasn’t complete or tranquil knowing that the dog would feel better with a bath.
I washed it indoors, but didn’t want to put it outside in the winter, while wet. So I towel dried it, and let it stay next to the wood stove for a few hours. He also got treats and extra food, basically the royal treatment for a dog.
Then the problem was how to clean the towels, specifically, how to kill any mites that might be on them. One of my sons suggested using boiling water, and I knew that was a good idea. I have an antique kettle, but I needed a way to support it. I remembered that I had some steam heating pipes from a 1930’s RR coach. I pulled 3 out, and used some metal coat hanger wire to secure them together. That wire wouldn’t do much for some situations, but in this case, it was the tensile strength that mattered, and steel has very good tensile strength.
Those pipes were free, the trace chain came in a box of assorted things from a rummage sale at a church. I used some scrap wood that was too long to fit in the stove. Trace chain is easy to identify by its long links. It’s the chain used between a mule’s harness and the single tree.
Below are the towels, and the kettle with them in the hot water. I had to move several pieces of green Hackberry wood next to the fire to block the wind. It worked well. I think I read that when the old timers did laundry with a kettle like this, they first scrubbed the clothes with soap and cold water; the hot water was a rinse.
We’re not on the deep end of the philosophical pool with this post, but I loved the look of this little room. Probably because I was thinking of theming out stairway in submarine decor, but that’s a different story.
I was at this little bitty gas station, getting some fuel, and used the facilities there. Man, how cool can you get? Notice the ever practical but classic style of the diamond plate metal of the floor and half wall. Notice the rugged pragmatic look of the metal pipes contrasted by the sleek elegance of the white plastic pipe in immediate proximity.
That arrangement of pipes is representative of our daily incidents and decisions, while the greater passing of years in our lives is boldly displayed by the metal conduit which transcends the left part of the back wall.
Finally, the immaculate cleanliness and abundance of cleaning instruments inspires us all to make every place and task the best it can be. Ah yes, this is an awesome little bathroom.
I’m warming up my skills at verbosity to make a career being an abstract art critic.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I wasn’t considering the possibilities. I’m a craftsman who has a sporadic income, and uses that single income to pay the bills. When I was growing up, we had wall to wall Christmas. It was a chore that I didn’t continue when I left the house.
I didn’t want to be bound by an expensive tradition, especially at the time of year when my work slows down. So we had very modest Christmas celebrations. When the children got older, they started getting each other gifts. Some of them only earn a couple hundred dollars a year, but they spend a lot of it one each other. I mean, they get some nice gifts. They even get their old pa one.
This year, about a month prior to Christmas, one daughter’s off road motorcycle was stolen while visiting relatives. So her siblings pitched in and bought her a used dirt bike, nicer than the one that was lost. They hid it out in a workshop until early Christmas morning, then brought it in as a surprise. It’s a joy to see them care for each other. Young parents wonder if they’re doing a good job; when something like this happens, you feel like you did.
When I prayed over the afternoon meal, I did something different. I read the passage from Matthew chapter 4, where it talks about the people who lived in darkness seeing a great light. I thanked God for not only making a way for us to be saved from the penalty of sin, but that we can understand what it means to fulfill righteousness, not merely live by rules. The meal was excellent, and another very good Christmas has been enjoyed.
Merry Christmas to you all.
There are a lot of items we’re getting ready to sell, but I always want to be aware of how tight money is for most people. The plan at this time is to sell complete items, as well as parts and kits, for the do it yourself buyer. I have a bit of wood stored already, some unique, some exotic. In order to display the look of different lots, I’ll take one piece and turn it on a lathe, then shellac and varnish it. Who knows, maybe we’ll make and sell a lot of tool handles.
I have a lathe for turning wood, it sat unused for a long time. I pulled it out, then cleaned it up today.
Below are several pictures I got while doing chores and running errands. The first is white mold type of stuff that grew on the bottom of a wet board.
Here’s a pile of rusted rail road spikes, that were in the sun.
Finally, a picture of a rock outcrop. I’ve studied how rocks look, for the sake of illustrations. This one is different, because the lines are smoother, more flowing. It reminds me of rippling water in a brook.
When I got the pieces of scrap metal from the silo, they had large holes, crooked cuts, and uneven curves. They had been made straight in a few places. I figured that I could pull the straight parts into a curve after they were installed; but that it would be a slow task. I thought I would use long all thread bolts to start pulling the pieces together, then use a number of smaller self drilling screws to finish it, tightening them a little at a time. Here’s the two gaps.
The gap next to the angled 2 X 4 is actually bigger than the long one behind it; but the board is pushing them closed. That’s done by having it angled, with the bottom sliding on another board. I tap it with a hammer, to make it go to the right, which pushes it higher.
What’s very nice is that the repair was much faster than I anticipated. Below is a picture of the two bolts that closed that gap. You can see that they’re long, but that was necessary to span the gap. They are also what’s called all thread. When I was younger, most bolts had threads cut all the way down the length. But these days, in order to save money, bolts only have threads near the end, and the rest of the way to the head is smooth. In a situation like this, you need all thread. Carriage bolts usually are. These ones are 3 inches long, by 5/16ths, galvanized. I got half a bucket of assorted new galvanized bolts for about $4 at a garage sale. That was a good buy. the gap near the board is closed, but the edge is bent down.
As I was working near the ground, I noticed a sight that is familiar at this place, broken beer bottle pieces. In logic, one of the lessons is that correlation does not equal causality. The previous residents might have been messy, even if they never drank, but the odds are pretty good that they had an alcohol problem. So as usual when I find a drinker’s bottle, I pray about that person. I don’t know who it was, but God sure does. In Proverbs chapter 15, it says “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good”. Here’s a picture of a small booze bottle I found at a gas station, and the label I put on it. I leave it on a tool shelf, or some place where I’ll occasionally find it, then I pray for that person. Below that is another scrounge tip: Use empty feed bags to throw pointy objects away. It’s safer that way, and neater, because the sharp things won’t tear open a plastic trash bag. They do that pretty easily. I often cut the tip off the sign scraps before putting them in the feed bag. The beer bottle pieces are next to the Meow Mix.
I took a long break, so it was pretty late before I bolted the second gap together. As a little victory celebration, I moved the seldom used band saw into this new building at 2 am. Hey, I want what I want. What I’ve wanted for a couple years now. The band saw will be used more now that it’s much easier to access, and will be used in some of our product line. This building will also have a table saw, lathe, and radial arm saw.
Winter has come, the garden is completely gone, but new projects are coming along nicely. Here’s a picture of two calves in the garden. You can see the black and green tomato stakes behind them, as snow is falling.
In a previous post, I showed the metal silo pieces I ‘m making a small building from. There are 3 pieces, each one is 13 feet 4 inches along the curve, and 38 inches wide. Below is a picture of an end support. I used a circular saw to rip a 45 degree cut along the 4 X 6 at the top. that’s where I attached the roof pieces.
Here’s a picture of it put together. The metal is a lot thicker than roof tin, and the ridges make it more rigid; so it doesn’t need trusses. Although I will add long boards between the sides, to make it sturdier overall.
Once cleared out, this little outbuilding will be important; because I want to put several wood working tools in it. There will be a band saw, a radial arm saw, and a lathe. I have supplies to make things, but these tools will let us make our first inventory, besides tomatoes and birdhouses.
Finally, while we’re expanding Quill and Blade, I’ll continue to do restoration work. I’m currently painting the floor of an open air coach, used on the Rambler Train in Knoxville Tn. here’s a picture taken in the evening, looking out the car, over the Tennessee River.
One of the items we plan to make and sell are wood tool boxes. I’ve already made one for my own use, and it works well. That was probably two years ago; and as often happens over time, designs improve. The new ones will have features that allow a man to do more work; or will look great as a decor piece, all at a reasonable price. We plan to have them finished in our own period paints and varnish. All the hardware will be from a bygone era. Here’s a sketch, without all the features.