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19th Century Steam Launch engine Plant.

Hi Joe:)I couldn't help laughing imagining some of those jokes and stories you and your buddy must have been sharing while rebuilding final drives and transmissions..plural because I know a lifetime of experience was shared while doing those two projects in your shop.What a wonderful visit. I've often said a buddy is someone you don't see for twenty years and when you do..you pick up exactly where you left off. Often this leads to some really funny stuff :)

My dad had a memory like yours. I believe you have a photographic memory being able to remember the personal funny little things which make life so pleasant.You seem to have retained everything you've ever learned both in a professional capacity as well as the anecdotes and stories on the personal level. I think this is a wonderful gift and always this comes through your writing and memory. I'm more like my mother thinking in generalities rather than detail and have often wished for a better memory. It is always wonderful to read your stories not only from the past but what is happening now.

I have thought about that through the years.Maybe when dad was growing up all they had was family conversation and friends to communicate with, talking about past family and "oral history" and such things. Oh my! Huge day when they got their first radio! Dad always talked about that and what a big thing it was for the family..a step forward which enriched their life and became such a thing to look forward to. In those times days were long and work was hard but people talked and taught their children what they had learned,what they knew and how to do things. Dad had to tell me things over and over for me to get them in my head. Sometimes a strap or hickory stick helped drive his point home.

I'll be talking to you later Joe about the boiler. I'm still giving it some thought. It is such a unique little thing and deserves better. I will always deeply appreciate the astonishing help you gave me on the little fire tube boiler. I'm still a bit awestruck you would take the time and make the effort to help me with it. Without your help this boiler would be a rusty garden ornament condemned and eventually scrapped when I'm gone. You SAVED it all through your knowledge and generosity. I could never pay this back except maybe "passing it forward" to someone I may be able to help someday. Thanks again Joe :)

This load of stock and raw materials my buddy gave me will probably see me through to the end of my days. Now this guy also sold most of his shop equipment ( mostly newer stuff ) so I was able to finally see what he had left in his shop. I asked him if he still had the old carpenter's bench he assembled his engines on.He did so I looked it over again. Beautiful thing. Two and a half inch thick solid Maple top with dozens of the rectangular holes cut out all around its edges. It has the Record wood pattern vice built into it with a complete set of "Dogs" to hold and clamp wood. The legs are like 3" square Maple with all the right strengthening pieces and cross braces. Beautiful and complete with Dovetailed drawers filling the bottom. Is it for sale ken?

Yes,,not cheap though! I said well..who made it? Ken said, I made it. What? You made this? I think my mouth must have remained open longer than usual so.. come in the house. Let me show you some of the pieces I have made on this bench. There in his living room was some of the most beautiful furniture I have ever seen. Beautiful Mission style pieces all done in Oak or Maple.Beautiful joinery and dove tailing.Beautiful stuff. I was astonished. His wife lovingly showed me each piece leaving her quilt project spread out on the table.

Before I left I talked to him about this bench again.He told me before he could build these beautiful pieces of furniture he needed a good traditional bench. Just the Dogs alone cost over three hundred dollars. Ken..what about your kids or Grand kids? ( you have to remember this bench is made as beautiful as his furniture ) No..they don't want it. They said,where would we put it? I couldn't believe ANYONE would not want this treasure of a work bench.It isn't big..maybe 28" x 60". So of course I am buying it. I'll find a place for it inside my house and display it as the beautiful piece of furniture which it is..along with my antique wood tools and chests.

I have an eye for things like all of us do who frequent this board. Such beauty in shape and form. I sleep with a headboard on the head of my bed made in the 1840's. It is a spool bed and all the spools are hand turned. The frame is all spooled as well. Where the side supports slide into the mortises the craftsman used a chisel and marked with Roman Numerals which supports go where. Every night when I read I subconsciously run my hands feeling the subtle differences in these spooled turnings.I have advanced Osteoporosis which is very painful. I wrap my fingers between these little spooled globes and the wood is cool and helps the pain. I find such a beauty in such a simple thing and in so many others as well. Almost everything I treasure has been made by hand..unique as the individual who created it.

We have lost so much in such a short time. This present generation cannot take their eyes off their phones long enough to even begin to understand what they are losing. Huh? That old bench? Oh wait..I got a text...

I have enjoyed following along on your various projects and am impressed by the care you put in to them. I was in Modesto last fall picking up a car and would have tried to talk you into a visit if I hadn't been so short on time.

One thing that I have found, related to the comments above, is that there are those in the younger generation that have interest and aptitude in the mechanical arts. From my experience, what they lack is exposure. Having worked with Boy Scouts for over 20 years I have had them in my shop welding, making projects on the lathe and casting aluminum. Most are only slightly interested but there are always a few that are fascinated and can't get enough. I have tried to help the interested ones get their projects off the ground, lots of work on go karts and then as they get older helping them with their cars. When I went to high school in the 80s there was very little left of vocational training and it has only gotten worse.

If you happen to see a youngster trying to fix a bike or go kart or whatever, be sure to encourage them and offer to help - not to do it for them but show them how to do it. I realize that is something a lot of the members of this forum probably already do, goodness knows how they have helped me out over the years.

Once again thanks for showing your projects and letting us follow along. When I make it back out to California some day I may try and get an in person peek at your engines.