Monday, July 06, 2009

The past is future.

Nobody's more of a natural "prepper" than a bunch of people dedicated to steam-powered tools and hay-burning tractors.

I live with this every day, since my roommate commutes to work from 1937.

Me? I appreciate the thought behind this, but my idea of "old school" is SCSI and vacuum-operated secondaries...


Anonymous said...

CP/M forever.

Frank W. James said...

My dad was into that stuff in a BIG way. He would go to a half-dozen 'Old Steam' shows every summer.

Me? I like 200+hp, heat in the winter, a/c cabs in the summer and front-wheel assist diesels in the mud.

I've driven enough 2 cylinder John Deeres to know to keep your knee out of the way of the hand clutch when the plow hits a rock and none of 'em could pull a fart out of a mud-hole when it REALLY rained.

Yeap, those were the BAD Ole my opinion.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

Didn't know your roomie was a ham...


Carteach said...

Yes! Vac Secondaries!

Okay, maybe I miss those. I've rebuilt so many Q-jets I used to call them 'one -a-days'. I'd get twitchy if I didn't do one every so often.
Now... It's been a year since I even tuned one.

Today I repaired vacuum door locks on a German-mobile.


Ed Foster said...

I should introduce Roberta to my buddy Ed, a double E who tinkers. He has the most amazing cellar, along with several thousand vacuum tubes in the original boxes.

Back in school he was working at Hatry Electronics in Hartford when they went out of business.

Obviously, nobody was ever going to need all those silly vac tubes again, so he was told to throw them out. Yeah, right.

They went into the cellar, where most of them still reside. He cataloged about half of them maybe twenty years ago, and came up with fourty grand then. Today?

Directly across from the tubes (and ungodly amounts of wierd eight millimeter rifles from the 1870's through 1890's) is the all wave transciever from the U.S.S. Sunfish, still with it's decommissioning tags. Power?

He found a 24 volt combination engine/generator set in the town dump, lacking only a cylinder head. Since it was a flathead, all it needed was a chunk of cold rolled, blanchard ground on one side, with four holes drilled. Works like a charm.

Oh, the house he lives in is on a 5 acre plot, smack in the middle of 300 acres of hickory and hornbeam. He can cut all the standing deadwood he wants to.

His furnace has a long bed of rollers that holds two days worth of firewood, and gravity feeds logs into the fire chamber, where they are hit with a starter flame from the propane tanks out back.

If the roller rack runs dry, the propane kicks in and keeps the place at 55. Big garden, woods full of mushrooms, deer, and fish, and a house filled with guns. What am I doing wrong?

And my grandfather worked at the Underwood factory when he came home from the war. Because of all the Polish people who worked there, the locals still call the area Da Vondervoots.

He'd work twelve hours a day, Monday through Friday, hotbunking with three other Mick immigrants, then walk 16 miles to Middletown on Friday night, to get a ride home to Killingworth for the weekend.

He'd been gassed a few days after Belleau Wood, and his lungs couldn't take the beating pneumonia gave them. One winter weekend he went home, and never made it back to work.

Those old machines were beautiful pieces of workmanship, made by human beings, and they all have a story. I have a twin of her machine in my cellar.

Ron M said...

I live just 5 miles away from at Michigan Steam Association's anual meeting grounds. I love the big old wood burners.
And before that I lived right behind the old RR shop that was fixing up the 2-8-4 Berkshire engine, the Pere Marquette 1225. I even got to ride on it for about 10 miles up and down the rails.
I love big iron.

Roberta X said...

James: Darn right! ...Oh, for a Kaypro II...

Frank: 'Strewth, many parts are glamorized in memory, way too much so. But some of it worked well, and some of what we have today is just...frills.

Ed: wow! -- to every bit of what you wrote.

I have pretty much decided that Underwoods are probably the best built (in a pack of well-built typewriters). I picked up a later four-row portable one today, strikers all stiff and sluggish -- a shot of light lubricant and some careful moving of parts and it was typing again in about ten minutes,

Chris: Yep. Since forever, almost.

Anonymous said...

I'd have figured you for mechanical secondaries :)


Anonymous said...

Shootin' Buddy

theirritablearchitect said...


Yeah, I'd figgered Tam for a Holley 4150 gal, oh, and with points in her distributor too. :)

The Freeholder said...

Thanks for the link.

Oh, and a Kaypro? Morrow all the way!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I was just working on the vac op secondaries last night, putting a kit in for the '66 T-Bird's 428. Driving it the other day, it had good power with the secondaries frozen dead shut against the bore walls. Should be interesting tomorrow with all the bores open.

I have a Johnson transmitter and a couple of Hallicrafters communications receivers. If anyone wants them, e-mail me at UltiMAK. -- Lyle

Old Grouch said...


Howabout an Osborne.

"Anybody know where we can get a single-sided 5¼” copy of CP/M?"

stevie reno said...

Did ya see the new scifi show warehouse 13? Their geek had a cyperpunk keyboard on his -puter.