Friday, August 15, 2008

Car Show in Elizabethon, TN

When I went to visit my Dad in May, we took one evening and went to Elizabethton, TN. During the summer, all summer long, the town of Elizabethton closes its main street on Saturday evening and folks bring their hobby cars in various states of renovation. There's lots of showing off and the car owners talk about how to get this or that done, and where they've found good suppliers for various parts. There's no admission charge and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

I really liked the old cars. My favorite old cars are the ones with huge fins. There weren't very many "fin" cars there the day we went, but there were a couple beautiful old cars. The one in front is a Packard with a swan hood ornament from probably the early 1940s. I don't remember what the other car is but I think it was also a Packard.

My husband really likes the old Shelby Cobras, so I had to photograph this little gem!

There were some hot rods, too. My favorite of the hot rods was this unlikely Ford Pinto. Look how tall they've stacked all that engine stuff! I don't even know what that stuff is called, but it's impressive. Look at the back - it has little "training wheels" so it can't flip over backwards when popping a wheelie. On a Ford Pinto!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sawing Lumber - part III

The last of my sawmill (and related) photos.

My Dad puts the cut off rounded sides of log on this table/bench/shelf thing he made. Rather than having a solid top like a table, it's an open structure with occasional supports going front to back. He has it marked at intervals, and he uses his chainsaw to cut through the entire stack of scrap and make them regular lengths so they fit well in his wood stove. Clicking the photo for a larger view makes it much easier to see how it works. Simple, yet ingenious.

Sometimes the wood is flat on both sides but the edges are too wiggly and non-uniform to be suitable for lumber. Or sometimes it's flat on both sides but of an odd thickness, due to shaving off the "extra" in order to get all 2x or 1x thicknesses. He uses these odd pieces to make "stickers" which are used for garden stakes or for stacking wood. The stickers can be of non-uniform width, but they have to be a consistent thickness.

Here is a stack of 1x lumber of varying widths. This lumber will be used for siding on sheds or board-and-batten construction. To stack wood, Dad places cinder blocks, rocks, or whatever on the ground and then puts cross-pieces of wood in place; he'll lay the lumber on these cross-pieces. This is to keep the lumber off the ground so it stays dry and doesn't rot or get infested by insects. The lumber stack isn't exactly level; it slants ever so slightly toward one end. This facilitates air flow and drainage of any water that should get into the stack of lumber.

He puts the cross-pieces of wood at about 30" intervals. Then he lays a layer of lumber on the cross-pieces. Then he puts stickers on the layer of lumber directly above the wood cross-pieces. Then a layer of lumber, a layer of stickers, etc. until all the lumber is stacked. It's important not to get the stickers too far apart, and to get them placed directly over one another so that the lumber doesn't dry in a warped fashion.

On top of the whole structure he puts old tin roofing. He overlaps it, with the top piece being on the "uphill" end of the stack (remember, it's not quite level). Then he weights the tin down with cinder blocks or rocks to keep it from blowing away. Lumber stacked like this will stay good for years if the weeds are kept out of it.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Sawing Lumber - part II

As always, you can click any of the photos for a larger view.

Here the log is in place and the first cut is being made. Getting the log positioned properly is, to me, the most tedious part of the whole thing. A log that looks straight can turn out to be surprisingly crooked when you try to line it up for cutting. All those lumps and bumps where branches used to be get in the way and have to be dealt with, too. It takes some turning and jostling to get it lined up so that your cuts go straight down the log and produce the most lumber possible.

The log has been turned so that the flat side is flush against some vertical dogs. Wooden wedges are seen holding the log in position for the second cut. These first two cuts are critical. After this cut the log always lies on a flat side and things square up pretty well. Dad said the first log he cut, it took him a couple of days just staring and turning, turning and staring. Now he does several in a day. He sees a lot when he looks at a log.

Here the wood is being cut to two inch thicknesses. In all these pictures Dad is using a 2x2 (more or less) to help push the blade mechanism forward. Lots of times he just wedges that stick between his hip and the mobile portion of the mill and walks slowly forward. He's figured out a lot of little tricks to make the sawing less strenuous on both him and his sawmill.

Pure magic! 2x4 lumber from a tree trunk.
You see how those boards are raising up? I didn't know this but trees have a lot of internal stress and as you cut them, they like to twist and turn. So when you see warped lumber it's probably not that the sawmill did a poor job cutting the lumber, it's more likely due to internal stress within the wood itself.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Rabbit Ear Problem

I have something weird going on in the rabbitry. A few of the rabbits look like their ears have been bitten and chewed on. Wednesday I was able to grab the worst and we took photos of its ears. They're not the best quality photos, because it's surprisingly difficult to photograph a rabbit's ears. No flash, and they're blurry. Flash, and they wash out. ANYway.

Here's another shot of that same ear. I thought perhaps the problem was overcrowding, and they were nibbling on one another's ears. I have about 21 or 24 rabbits in there, plus one litter coming above ground. Now that I've beat the rat problem, I have lots of rabbits. I have some ready to butcher this weekend or next, so that will relieve some of the stress from crowding.

But then look at this. This doesn't look like chewing on ears, does it? I'm not sure what I'm dealing with. Maybe a fungus or a parasite?

Another shot of that right ear. I'm going to ask my rabbit buddies on the Homesteading Today forums what they think.

I have about 5 rabbits affected by this, but only this one has the bad spot in the middle of the ear, and only this one looks so chewed up. The others are just slightly chewed looking and for the most part it's right on the tips. I do have one other one that has a naked spot on its ear where the fur has come out but it's totally naked, not messed up like this one.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dad's Sawmill - a close up view

You can click on the pic for a pretty darned large version (2272 x 1712) where you can see the letters and what I'm describing.

I wish I'd thought to take more photos of how this amazing machine actually works, but this will have to do.
A - This jar holds either water or kerosene, depending on what kind of wood is being cut. More about this later.
B - A 5 gallon plastic bucket hanging by a rope; it catches excess sawdust and has to be emptied regularly.
C - A square plastic box that holds fuel. The little cylinder on top is where you open it to put fuel in, and the bent wire thing is the fuel gauge. It's on a float inside the fuel tank and you can poke on it and bob it to see how much fuel you have left :)
D - A silvery yardstick. This is used to calibrate the height of the blade so you get 1x or 2x or 4x lumber. My Dad had to make special marks on it with a permanent pen, to allow for the kerf (the part of the wood that gets eaten up by the saw).
E - These horizontal logs/branches are at the bottom of the step-like area on the hill (the hill is to the right of this photo) where the logs are rolled down and onto the sawmill. They roll down the hill, across these pieces of wood, and onto the metal frame of the sawmill.

Under the log you can see the metal structure that supports the logs (Dad welded it around a construction I-beam), one of the wheels (it's a portable sawmill), and on the ground you see what looks like scrap wood. The scraps are triangular and are used to wedge the log in place while it's still round and the first cuts are being made.

Although it looks cluttered, every bit and piece serves a purpose. The only part my dad didn't assemble is the gray part that shields the saw blade and has the big wheels in it that propel the saw blade.

This is looking from the other side of the sawmill, at the blade going around a big wheel. This is inside the gray plastic shield (temporarily removed while the blade was being changed). See how the sawdust wants to build up on that little black roller? A buildup of sawdust causes the blade to stretch and slip - and it can break, too! Dad says it's spectacular when a blade breaks. And very dangerous.

Remember the jar marked 'A'? There's a hose running from the jar to this roller. Dad drips kerosene or water on this area to wash it clean. Kerosene for sappy softwoods like pine, water for hardwoods like oak (or Weekend Farmer's walnut :)

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Sawing Lumber - part I

My Dad has some logs lying in his field. Folks in the area know he has a sawmill and when they clear land sometimes they bring him the logs. They do this because they don't need the firewood and it's a good way to get rid of the logs... and besides, they like my Dad :)

First you have to figure out what type of lumber you're going to need. 2"x4"x12'? 1"x3"x10'? Then you go hunt up a log that's about the right length. We had figured out what lumber I'd need to build a chicken coop, and we marked the appropriate logs with red spray paint. We measured twice, just to be sure.

Then my Dad dragged the logs over to the sawmill with his tractor and the tongs.

This photo is taken from the hill to the right of the sawmill building. It shows some extra logs to the left of the ladder (foreground), and the area where my Dad rolls the logs down the hill to the right. The area where he rolls the logs has lumber laid out on it, to make sort of like a staircase. He rolls the logs one or two levels at a time, and uses bits of stump or other scrap wood to stop them from rolling all the way down at once.

A log is amazingly heavy. It could break your leg or crush you before you even knew what was happening. So you want to keep it under control.

Also, if the log rolls down the hill all in one fell swoop, it gathers speed and can roll onto the sawmill and right off the other side of it. Or jump partway off and get lodged awkwardly against the sawmill. It would be a royal pain to fix that kind of a mess.

So, my Dad has created this staging area and it works great. Click the photo for a larger view, where you can see the engine/sawing part of the sawmill and the metal frame that the saw rides on down there in the shadows of the building.

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