Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 61st Installment

had splitter wedges. The splitter wedges were road grader blades sharpened with an oxy–acetylene cutting torch. The blades were fashioned together in a cross and pinned in the chamber so they could move a little. To split all winter’s firewood took only a couple of hours. The lodge pole pine logs were cut in eighteen inch lengths. The baler was started with a slow PTO power from the tractor and the round pine wood blocks were dropped into the chamber, the plunger would drive the blocks through the blades at a rate of about ten blocks a minute. Perfect firewood at about five cords an hour.
Most of the Old Man’s equipment and tools were salvaged then put in good working order. If he needed a grain combine, he would buy two junk combines and use the parts from both to make one. I can remember he would send me crawling into the guts of a combine across the sharp ‘straw walkers’ with only inches to move about; once inside I would wire together the broken slats. He made many more one–of–a–kind farm implements and odd tools that he needed. We watched and learned, and were recruited to work with him if we were too close and had time. Sometimes, we would stay away but not very often.

When television arrived new to the world, Vernon took a television correspondence course in the mail and became the farm country’s ‘TV repairman.’ He could fix anything electrical or mechanical and spent all of his free time working on the neighbor’s stuff. He charged some folks a fee but most of the time the labor was free. However, he could make a little money on the mark–up on parts from wholesale to retail, and this way the Old Man earned extra money for our family. I would spend time in the shop learning about electronics. Together, we built all of his test instruments, some from scratch and others from kits; we built a tic–tac–toe computing machine that no one could beat, and a wheeled robot out of an anti–freeze can, motors, and relays that could follow a white line. We rewired a radio so it would broadcast instead of receive a signal. It worked like a little radio station and with a microphone so we could broadcast to nearby radios.

All right, look at that. You don’t see welds like that everywhere! Perfectly straight, a perfect fit and strong too. If you ‘knot heads’ are able to break this driveline it will break somewhere else, but not at my weld.” Vernon said, stroking his own ego.
If patting yourself on the back and bragging was in his genes, then I am one of my Old Man’s teens! I thought. I held the drive line in place and said, “It does fit real well, but we need to get our work done, so tomorrow we can bolt this in place. In a day or two more, we’ll be

500 more words tomorrow

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