"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

New Info

Yahoo, in their infinite wisdom, has made itself unusable for reliable e-mail.
New e-mail:
plowshareforge@gmail.com
Of course I still check the Yahoo account. They just suck for the day-to-day stuff.

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Wooden training MG's

Wooden training MG's
Maxim MG 08/15
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, July 28, 2014

Red Follows Black. A Sad But Expected Day.

The formation held upon initial knowledge of the long-anticipated-but-dreaded-nonethesame, retirement:
Of my 3/8" drill.
 
Sad, very sad.
Above we see my Sioux 8000, purchased twenty-years ago last winter - being followed at a respectful distance by its successor.
Regarding the black beauty above, today, its Daddy (I apologize in advance to any FaceBook pet geeks. No disrespect meant), which would be me, noticed a sad wobble in the chuck of his tired old soldier.
In the rear: a veteran but still ready to step into the breach. Thank God!
The Milwaukee was there to fill the gap simply because I bought it to fill-in for the Sioux when,after her initial, six hard years she was laid-up.
At one point prior she spent ten days of an Oregon February, exposed to the elements - and on a plastic-lined table with a raised edge at that. When I got back to the job to recover my submarine, all I did was take apart the two plastic, clamshells that make up the case of it and, after shaking out the water, put both chunks on the dash of the pickup, facing the sun. I drove home with those halves still there and ran the defrost full-blast.
In the morning, a WD-40 shower and some grease in the proper places and she was back in the game.
For several years. Then her switch gave out in the middle of hanging gutters on a job with more money available than time so, I took her to the doctor and told them that, while they're fixing it, they should replace that piece of rebar that Sioux had seen fit to use as a cord.
In the meantime, I bought the only equivalent in town, a Milwaukee that was identical in every respect but for that being-red thing. That and a nice, long, rubber cord.
Anyway, back in the day, the Milwaukee was the same drill as the Sioux.
Now-a-days, looks like their latest offering .
The Sioux 8000's last company ID photo.
just might be shit.
And I don't mean "The shit".
My Milwaukee kicked as much ass as the Sioux had.  It's just that the mechanism was newer and stiffer and... I am crazy.
And it was (Is) red!
Anyway, when the black one was released from the hospital (With an eight-foot rubber cord! installed), I/everyone forgot all about the little red drill 'cause...since she was here first...
The Sioux got the glory and well-deserved it was while the Milwaukee languished.
It was used briefly by a helper who found the drywall screw-gun to be fast and intimidating so rather than using the depth-setting, drywall screw-gun... thing, he used the Milwaukee to gently dimple-in the screws while he was screwing-off drywall.
Anyway, it resulted in a dead switch for the little red guy. Switches seem to be a weak point.
The tool guy said that it and the Sioux are identical - but that Sioux parts cost more.

Now the Milwaukee's back and glad I am of it.
This is the best designed 3/8" VSR drill I've ever used. I love it. and I'd hate to have to get used to something inferior.
In closing, it's worth noting that, although the new Milwaukee version may blow, Sioux still makes theirs and it looks very similar to the old one but I'll bet it's got some gross squishy rubber bits.
But - it's available at a bargain basement price.
Just for yuks, here's the new-and-improved Milwaukee.
Sad.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

"Rollin' Coal" With The Poles

I want to assure everyone; there is no "Polack joke" forthcoming. We'll get to the countrymen of Copernicus, Joseph Conrad and others soon enough.
Homegrown stupidity is the first order of the day.
"Rolling coal" is the most recent iteration of the testosterone tantrum of the toddler demographic that feel it needs a 3/4 ton, short-bed, lifted pickup... with a boss diesel!
Their need is real.
Their masculinity is under such threat during the daily run from Mom's house to their shit-job, busting tires at the truck stop...
That... every now and then, ya just gotta roll coal on some dumbass, Prius pussy.
There are some of these morons in my world
Check it.
Oh, and enjoy the spelling.

Stupidity break concluded. We will be revisiting the fuel issue though.
My brainwave: Hemp-oil fueled, diesel-electrics.

Come in... see.
Chevy had to work hard peddling trucks in the '30's. The economy was in the toilet and most of GM's big-truck business was being hogged by Chevy's in-house competitor and older brother in the truck game, GMC.
Not to worry, General Motors had fingers in a lot of pies. In the late thirties they made a deal with Lilpop, Rau and Loewnstein, a long-established, Warsaw manufacturer of rail-cars, to produce - under license - both Chevy trucks and the very upscale Buick 90, in Poland.
Then bad things happened. Adolf and Joe, charter-members of the Silly Moustache Club, decided that they could haggle over which part of Poland they would each receive during the upcoming readjustment of Europe's borders and, whatever the result, the Poles would just have to... handle it.
And handle it they did. Even though Poland was overrun in the very opening of WW2, the people of Poland operated the largest underground resistance movement in occupied Europe - from day-one right up to the end of the war - which is where Kubus came in.
Late summer 1944; the Soviet army was nearing the outskirts of Warsaw so the Polish Home Army thought to help the situation along - make it easier for Joe Stalin's boys when they arrived - and to lay some prior claim on their city before the Russians started measuring for new drapes.
This effort manifested itself in the two-month-long, ultimately futile bloodbath known as the Warsaw Uprising; not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place the year before.
Then, after the PHA was fully committed, the Russians decided to sit on their hands rather than enter the city. Meanwhile Roosevelt bailed on providing support despite Churchill's pleading.
The 20,000 to 40,000 strong Home Army slugged it out with the German occupiers for 63 days before finally calling it quits. I realize I've painted the uprising in very broad strokes. That's because this is about the hardware, one specific piece in particular.
Kubus was banged together in thirteen days in the auto-repair shop of one Stanisław Kwiatkowski.
The starting point comprised a ton-and-a-half Chevy 157 (The wheelbase in inches) which had been converted to wood gas. Armor, in the form of chunks taken off captured German vehicles or just what was around, rounded her out.
You can read about the ad-hoc armored-car here and well you should.


At this point, all I can add to the saga of Kubus, apart from my admiration at the sheer audacity of it, is that they maintained the Chevy grill look.
See, if all they wanted was airflow through the radiator, any sort of opening would have done.
I'd have cut dragon's teeth into the grill. That would look badass.
Those classy Poles instead gave tribute to the donor vehicle and gave Kubus a '38 Chevy grill.
Gotta love them.

Which brings me to the final bit - and the title.
Kubus, the little-metal-shop-project-who-could was powered by wood.
Probably charcoal in the case of Kubus. Charcoal = less efficient use of fuel but a smaller gas generator on-board.
This is how depression-era/wartime Europe along with most of the third-world dealt with "fuel uncertainty". The third world is still doing it.
I've thought the wood-gas concept was cool since the first time I heard about it.
Now I've come to think that: as a fall-back position for a society suddenly cut-off from the petro-tit, it is easy and cheap and altogether the shit but... slightly underpowered.
Seems that wood-gas - bitchin' as it is - only packs about 85 % of the energy punch provided by good old gasoline.
Still, wood grows out of the ground while the  petro-chems; not really.
For the record, Kubus was only one of hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles that motored on through various fuel vagaries with this butt-simple scheme on-board.
Okay, waxing eco-maniacal.
Closing with this art work I recently acquired courtesy of our old friend George Hill.
We see: Saint Reagan driving a lifted (I assume 4X4. The photo is indistinct) Ford Mustang with a Pabst Blue Ribbon paint-job, superchargers upon superchargers and the only vanity plate one would expect on such a patriot-mobile.
What's more, the front-end must be tight on this rig.
Check it out.
Ron's using his right hand to fire at the evildoers (Through a hole in the windshield; likely caused by some hippy throwing a concrete-filled condom. They (I) totally do that.) while his left is just hangin' on the window ledge like...
ain't no thang.
That's a president.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tandom Rangent or "it was lemonade once, this is gratuitous"

Random Tangent!
That's what I meant!

You may recall (Probably not) the seemingly pointless struggle I bravely powered through, ultimately emerging triumphant as... "The Guy Who Successfully Polished a Turd".

And who can forget it?


Boooorrrrrrin'.
It's right boring, innit?
I know.
Old news but I'm building to something. Honest.
The turd spoken of earlier has, in the past sixteen months been subjected to...
It beggars description.
Low-rent... "testing-to-destruction" would come close.
See, my friend, Donkey (I know, I know. It's Oregon) adopted it and then later (not much later) used it to build a cabin (Again, Oregon).
Not sayin' the hawk did a good job in the process. I wasn't there but, after the fact I saw the result and I can say, although Donkey's workmanship was a bit rough, it was solid.
My point and I do have one is: the hawk handled it. Still chop-able and smoke-able to this day.
The end of the handle was chipped because Donkey was throwing it at things...
Don't do that.
I'd like to be able to post a picture of it but Donkey was forced to move into yet another spot of woods that I won't be able to find until someone guides me there and he's in jail so...
But that was then and, near as I can judge, this is now.
A few months ago; a commission for a pipe-hawk: pictured below.
Nice... if I do say so myself - which I do.
Similar set-up as the earlier pipe-hawk. Leather instead of hemp. Myrtle instead of yew.
I test-drove it a few times before I sent it to live at its new home and, I must confess, I was so taken with the whole thing that I took my remaining Harbor-Freight, 24oz ball-peen hammer head and made the subject of this entire, pointless entry.

That's it above - and in the pic at the top of the page as well.
I tried to bare-bones it insofar as possible.
Having found that the Donkey test case was only failing in the wood around the head and that such wood was purely camouflage. Nothing but stage-dressing, hiding the true source of the invincibility.

"I bought 3' of 1/2 X 1/2 X 1/8" angle iron, cut it in half and welded the two pieces together
lengthwise.
I welded them up oriented as shown to the left which gave me a hollow rectangle 5/8 X 1/2" and 18" long."


Stirring prose.
With this one I eliminated the wood entirely - at least near the head. Instead I wrapped a piece of steel around it and blobbed-on some of my always expert welding to stick it in place.

At the other, rather phallic-looking end, a piece of ebonized walnut was wrapped around it and finished to a rounded-rectangle cross-section.
The exposed, welded-up, steel angle was covered with black leather and the wood was covered with the same leather - but flesh-side out.
All the steel has been blackened.
Don't know what to call it but it looks Orcish to me.
Anyway, I'm making these things now.
You can smoke with it. You can chop with it. Makes mountains of coleslaw!
$180.

Don't ignore this update.
Bastille Day - Lemonade Lives!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cover and Concealment, Great War Snipers

To your left: a (mis-named) "sniper shield". This is a German example - in case the helmet hadn't tipped you off.
This is an early pattern and similar shields were manufactured and used by all the various participants. They just didn't last long being used as cover for snipers.
The first thing is; you're looking at the outside - the bad guy's side. Maybe the guy who took the picture knew that and just stuck his helmet in front of the more interesting side.
A pre-war, "on manoeuvres" shot.Naive, of course but they at least got the trench thing right.
One clue is that the loophole is on the wrong side (Forgive me, Southpaws).
I know it doesn't look like it and as counter-intuitive as it may seem, all the things that seem wrong with this being the front actually make sense. The flare on the sides and top were meant to face forward to redirect ricochets and "splash" (molten lead resulting from the bullet's impact) and to keep both from hitting your buddies on the line.
Note that the loophole cover seems to be wrongly placed as well. My guess is that they didn't want it attached on the inside since a direct hit, when closed, would send it into the user's face.
These were initially issued, in the German army, as a simple piece of kit. I don't know if every ground-pounder carried one but many did and they couldn't all have been snipers.
Back when the prevailing fantasy was a war of movement, the thought was that the lads could advance, set up their little "fort" and proceed to reduce their next spot.
Of course, the war of movement lasted a few weeks tops and after that the shields had to become something else.
Let into the sandbag parapet, they would provide a protected firing position for a sniper, a plain rifleman or for observing the folks across the way.
The problem was that no matter what, they looked just like what they were, a piece of steel with a hole. A hole that would conveniently fit a rifle - for example. Hard thing to hide in a wall of sandbags.
The French had a slight advantage on this issue. Lacking the anal-retentive nature of the Germans, they made sandbags out of anything that came to hand, pillowcases, blankets, curtains, whatever with the result being the front of their line was this patchwork mishmash where the sniper's shield wouldn't show up a like a turd in a punchbowl.
The Germans also became very proficient at shooting through the loopholes. Or shooting the top mirror out of periscopes or anyone dumb enough to poke his head up.
It's reported that, at least once, a German bullet went into the muzzle of the rifle belonging to his British opposite number. Probably luck but he did hit the loophole.
That was the problem of the Brits, busting open these shields.
They started looking at the problem and, obligingly since they were obviously going to be the recipients of sniper fire, the Germans did as well.
They started the R&D circus with their K round, a pointed, tool-steel core jacketed in copper and fired through their standard Mauser infantry rifle.
The British farted around with some experiments but came up empty.
Of all the Great War battle rifles the SMLE had the lowest muzzle velocity so, bitchin' rate-of-fire notwithstanding, it was no good against these loopholes.
But, being The Empire carried certain advantages: ie a long tradition of big-game hunting.
What's pictured next is not a novelty pen. Nor is it an ironic sex-toy. Rather it is a round of .600 Nitro Express. A bullet for an elephant gun - and a big elephant gun at that.
These were the big guns the Brits brought to the party to deal with those pesky, steel shields.

Pictured; from the left: .303 ball Mark VII, .500 Nitro 3 inch, .500 Nitro 3 1/4 inch, .450 Nitro 3 1/4 inch, .450 No.2 Nitro, .475 No.2 Nitro, .475 No.2 Jeffry Nitro.
Just some of the lads posing with their little brother.
The "nitro" designation was because the propellant was cordite, nitroglycerin based.
Here are the stats comparing the little kid with the brother who restored order on the playground: "The regular .303 Mark VII ball round has a muzzle velocity of 2450 fps and at 100 yards 2236 fps. Energy at 100 yards is 1940 ft. lbs.
The same figures for the .577 inch Nitro Express are 2050 fps, 1874 fps and 5860 ft. lbs." Nearly three times the hitting power of the .303 - and that's the .577.
This ammo is still available although it's not really plinking stuff. The big boy above, the .600, will run you $45 per shot. Make 'em count.
So, the static sniper, safe behind a shield, was no more. Alas, poor cover. We hardly knew ye.
Now, these lads pictured next are using a bit of both but it seems to be mostly concealment.

"If you can be seen - you can be killed."
The words of the prophet.
The first technique to be adopted was that snipers simply kept moving.
Next photo, one Walter Schmidt, notable because he's in this picture, which is reproduced everywhere, but also he was known, at the time, at being shit-hot.
Interesting aside; There was an American sniper named Walter Schmidt as well.
He's the one in the middle, 1892 - 1966.
But I digress... cover is the big deal although concealment is nice too.
There's the moving one's high-value ass around after one or two shots (See Schmidt above) which minimizes both problems greatly.
Then there's concealment.
Cover of course is a spot where you are not only hidden. You're also protected. Concealment is just what it sounds like.
There are lots of ways to pull this off.
Here's one of the more ingenious:
First photo (ignoring that this is obviously not no-man's-land - but is a demo for the Yanks): a normal dead horse laying between the lines.











Or is it?

Apparently not.
The French really liked their paper mache horses and used them a lot - and who could blame them? Although occasionally, if the Germans had taken a few sniper casualties, they might just put a round into that particular horse out there, just to see.
Sometimes a cloud of flies would bloom briefly and settle back. Sometimes, a Poilu would come out and sprint for his own lines.
But there were "green" alternatives as well.
Apparently the evil German who conducted business from this hollow stump brought about the demise of several French soldiers before they took it.
Just buildin' up to the centennial  of the moment when the developed world just said: "Fuck it".
Twenty-eighth of this month.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Random Wheelage

Vehicles with odd numbers of wheels (Mostly three). Just to get it out of my system and 'cause it's kind of on the subject, here's a shout-out to the Harley Davidson trike.
I think the things are silly but I can see their place.
Now, concerning the guy pictured:  He's a concerned, American Teabagger and former Wisconsin legislator...
And the ride we'll briefly talk about is not the one pictured.
His regular trike is in the shop and he's in a (losing) pissing match with Harley Davidson over his warranty.
Seems he burned out his clutch by driving several thousand miles while flying as many as seven flags - some as large as three by five feet - at freeway speeds.
He asked Harley to fix his clutch under warranty and you can guess what they said.
Corporate weight was thrown. Stupid, bearded folk droned... Dumbass ate his own clutch.
Fucking Obama!!

"It's just my way of serving the Lord with prayer, flags and Harleys,"

I'll leave it at that and move on...  quickly.
The Wayback Machine has been set to 1913 and the red beast above. It's missing its cowling so you can better see the cooling system.
On the subject of that: That gigantic bundle of copper tubing with the brass tank on top is the radiator.
A very well-cooled engine, methinks so, depending on clutch, you could probably fly butt-loads of flags from this thing.
Okay, unfortunate magazine query but the answer should be obvious.
I'd venture to say that it's neither.
It's not a motorcycle because it's got a steering wheel and side-by-side seating - and two retractable outriggers each with two wheels apiece. It's not a car 'cause - look at the thing.
This is the one-and-only, Scripps-Booth, Bi-Auto-Go, a one-off put together by dilletante heir to the Scripps publishing fortune and sometime engineer, James Scripps Booth.
It was powered by a 45-horsepower V8 which also happened to be the first ever V8 produced in Detroit.
So there.
For the sake of perspective: Those wooden wheels are thirty-seven inches high and this monster weighed 3200 pounds.

Here's something contemporary to it - but different.
How about a chain-drive, tricycle log-truck?
Ever wonder where the term tractor/trailer originated? 
Its origins are right here.
Introducing the Martin-Knox tractor.
While we're on the subject let me just say that what you see above is one rockin' fifth-wheel.
Okay, that was lame.


















 These folks, the Martin Rocking Fifth-Wheel Co. pioneered the way big loads are carried - at least in this country.
The partnered up with the Knox Automobile Co. to produce the power unit, "The Tugboat of Land Commerce" .
The things you find on the internet.
Did you know that there was a '90's emo band from Denver named "Christie Front Drive"?
Did you know '90's emo band' was a thing?














They ripped off the name. This is a Christie Front Drive tractor, a two-wheeled vehicle designed to ease the transition from this:













To something you could take to a fire without harnessing, feeding and cleaning up after it.
Those two photos are from roughly the same period. The lower was taken in 1913 I believe, in New York City.
The Christie Front Drive was taken in Boston.
J. Walter Christie was a bright guy with lots of fingers in lots of pies. He made half-track conversions for Mack AC's and the 4X4 track conversion used by a Latil TAR artillery tractor in this post was also designed by him.
And he cooked-up the whole front-wheel-drive, transverse-mounted engine scheme for a race car that actually got to compete in the Vanderbilt Cup. A car powered by a 19 liter V-4.
It didn't go well so he scaled the design up and got rid of the rear axle and the Christie Front Drive was born.
There's a problem with producing a product whose sole purpose is to prolong the useful life of an already archaic technology - the steam-pumper fire engine. That is: You'll have no return customers. When you replace your steam pumper with whatever comes next, what do you do with a two-wheeled tractor?
Sad.
To finish up; a pathetic plea for someone of means and/or substance to buy one of these for me: Morgan 3 Wheeler. You can pick colors and all that.
Thanking you in advance...



Thursday, May 29, 2014

BULLSHIT!

This has been around a lot the past few days what with the taxpayer-patriots gettin' all gushy about Memorial Day and all. And this is so full of shit.
Where to begin... I've been to Vashon Island, didn't see the bike but what I do know is that I didn't cross into Canada to get there.
So, in 1914 an American boy leans what looks like the bike I rode in first grade against a tree and goes to fight in France... for the French or the Brits, who? It's not inconceivable as Americans did volunteer, Ernest Hemmingway and Allan Seeger for example. It's just not likely.
It doesn't look like a bike Hemmingway or Seeger would have ridden anyway because - it's a little kid's bike!
That's not a 1914 bicycle. Like I said, it looks just like mine did in 1960.
It's also over ten feet up in the tree.
Ever see a tree grow around a fence.
Did you notice how they don't pick the fence up and fling it into the air - slowly. They leave it where it is and flow/grow around it.
Someone stuck this bike, forgotten in 1954, higher in the tree at a later date. It looks as if they hung it from a branch and pissed off the tree in the process.
Snopes was on the case back in December. 
Jesus, People. Pay attention.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

What The Fuck Is A Doodlebug?

It's not this:

Although... it is and it isn't.









Nor is it this; same story as above.











It's not even this... the coolness-below-the-cool, Texaco-designed, Diamond-T - built, 1500 gal, Doodlebug fuel-truck.
 No, the doodlebug at issue is this marvel of redneck ingenuity developed during the depression and reaching its full flower during the war years.
The doodlebug tractor.
Times were tough in the thirties and full-on tractors were out of reach for lots of small farmers.
It had been noted however, that a secondhand Model T or Model A, or Chevy or whatever - could be gotten cheap if you weren't part6icular about looks.
First thing: Cut down the frame. Replace the rear-end with a truck unit. Put in a second transmission, right behind the first and you're good to go.
Further refinements: Duals (pictured), tire-chains and filling the frame rails with concrete for ballast.

The concept can skip around in time as well. The purple Chevy looks to be set up for log skidding.
Bare-bone version with a Model-T four-banger - cut in half - which apparently you could do with them. I fail to see the point but...

This was such a bitchin'-cool idea that Sears and Monkey Ward got in on the action and sold kits.

This incongruous truck picture is only included to give you an idea what the final 'bug' we'll be looking at would have originally looked like.
This gorgeous jewel is the thing that first introduced me to the whole, doodlebug concept.
I stumbled across it while looking at pictures of ugly trucks. I've got a thing about ugly trucks and my ugly truck has a thing for me... I know it.
But...then I saw this thing.
And what a butt-ugly thing she was/is.
So hold the above image in your mind while you witness what sixty years and a serious bent toward funkiness has lent to...

And the Cammo!
I'm left without speech but the best part is: Still powered by the original... wait for it... 235 straight-six.
Wiki sez:

"The Chevrolet 235-cubic-inch is known as one of the great Chevrolet engines, noted for its power and durability. It was gradually replaced by the third generation 230, beginning in 1963."

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