OwenK

The One that got Away

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This is my second post, after my obligatory introduction; hope you all are doing well and having fun, safely! I was spurred on by a recent happening just yesterday on my travels back home on a large, heavily trafficked highway.  

The reason I would like to start this discussion is a simple one: since I could not find any similar topic, I thought it would be entertaining for most of you to reminisce about the ones that got away.  Maybe that brings up a sore memory or a funny tale, but it happened to me and I wanted to vent!

 Back on that highway heading home with a friend in the snow and foul road conditions, I eagle-eyed something recognizable on the shoulder, sunken in the accumulation, just leaning up against the barrier.  What looked like a big, honkin, truck spring!  I  hooted and hollered at it as we slipped on by, and wanted to jump out of the car and fetch it!  Crazy!  Bad idea on the turnpike!  But it was gold just sitting there not troubling anyone but me!  I cringed and had to let it go: the free stuff that gets away can be harder to do just that, I am afraid.  

So are there any other folks out there willing to share similar stories of nearly-hads or almost-gots?  Regrets on passing up a purchase to later find it gone from the floor?  Some fantastic prospect in the junkyard that had to be passed on? Maybe you DID haul something home with a struck of luck. I'd love to hear them!  It certainly help with the kicking-one's self feeling!  HA!

Take care and be well,

Owen

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Many anvil stumps have been passed up as I drove past them on the highway in the wife's car and when I returned in my truck, are gone. "Perfect" blocks of wood waiting for me to grab, and most likely became firewood for someone else.

I've made it a habit to constantly scour the side of the road when driving for scraps, whether it be rebar or spring. However in my mind, Safety always is the priority. If the acquisition could cause troubles or personal injury, I pass it by.

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Yes, of course I have a "one that got away story"

 

It was a long time ago and far far away---I was in Spain coming back from Toledo on the train my last full day in Spain and looking out the window I see an anvil alongside the roadbed lying on it's side in the brush.  Double horned, *beautiful*!  And I'm on the train...and it doesn't stop...and even if I did get it how would I arrange to ship it to the USA when it's after business hours now and I leave early in the morning and it was WAY TO BIG to bring on the plane!

 

Sigh...

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Thomas, train, station, in Toledo etc. etc. wasn't that some song by Shaun Phillips? From his album 2nd contribution? Longest song title ever?

Well I like your story and his music!

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I have a few stories about ones that got away. Heck there are two maybes about 1,000' up the road right now, I just don't know who to ask and don't want to trespass, I'm not a thief so there they sit. What sits? A pair of coil springs of a shaker table that fed a big crusher. The OA coil diameter is in the 12" range and the dia. of the stock is approx 2". It's pristine out of the factory and got dumped as it was a wrong part. Those things laying there are about 300lbs. of tools from hammers, top and bottom tools, power hammer dies, etc. but they belong to somebody else. <sigh>

That's an oh well we'll see for ones that got away. What follows is a serious heart breaker and I never told Dad how hard it was to forgive him for it. Depression era philosophy lead him and Mother to actively discourage me from blacksmithing, I should learn a PAYING TRADE. Neither of them could wrap their heads around blacksmithing as a hobby.

Okay that's enough back story and how it happened. The Hickson side of the family were millwrights from the pioneering days of the Pac NW to the 1980's when the old timers were all retired or dead and the kids not being interested sold everything off. I used to keep a vehicle at my Sister's or the Folk's place so I'd be able to take long road trips without risking their ride. I was visiting the Folks and they'd planned a Christmas visit to Uncle Bert's place not too far south(?) west of Susanville Ca. It was high enough in the Sierras to have a few feet of snow on the ground and as we pulled into their easily semi accessible circular drive I admired the decorative chain fence around both sides. Honking big logging chain, links about 6"l x 3" wide from 3/4" stock and it was stretched and hung over posts about every 10'. Very nice looking fence and probably more than good enough to keep asphalt cowboys from driving a rig across the lawn. Their drive was probably a good 3 lanes wide and 1/4 mile long. BIG circle drive lined both sides with the fence.

It was a great visit, Uncle Bert and I'm sorry to say I can't remember his wife's name put on a huge farm style Christmas feed and had called in the kids and a few neighbors. It was a raucous good time with the most memorable Kodak moment being when we were walking up the walk (between the chain fence) to the front door. Uncle Bert and Aunty ? opened the door and Uncle Bert announced in a loud Old school factory foreman's voice, "You didn't have to bring the whole city with you did you?" My 84 year old 4' 10.5" tall maternal Grandmother walked right up to Uncle Bert's 6'4", 275lb self, stopped with her chest against his belt buckle and said, "Who you calling an old biddy!?" We laughed about that one all night, still do when my sister and I get together.

Anyway, Uncle Bert's place was an old family farm, something like 600 acres that was clear cut forest the Hicksons staked and farmed since pre-Civil war times. The home site was probably a hundred acres and seeing as Uncle Bert was a millwright it looked like a factory with warehouses and all sorts of cool stuff. I'd planned on coming for a visit during the summer but he passed away the next summer and Aunt ? sold it all off.

It was years later, after I bought a 5" post vise for WAY too much and had it packed to air freight home that Dad told me about Uncle Bert and the auction Aunt? held after he passed away. Seems Uncle Bert was not only really well known but really well liked and as mills and RR shops started closing after WWII they just hauled the machinery, tools, and such and dropped it off and Uncle' Bert's. He had the room and equipment to move it and cover to store it. Nobody in the day imagined those industries were pretty much gone for good and expected the equipment and tools would be used again. <sigh>

The log chain chain fence around the circle drive? The posts were mandrel cones HUNDREDS OF THEM! There were ENTIRE forge shops from RR shops, logging camp shops, lumber mill shops, ship's chandlery forge shops down to town smithies out back! When did Dad tell me? After Aunt? has sold it all as scrap.

Uncle Bert probably would've given me the land if he'd known I was interested. He was crying for a successor, even if it was just someone who'd appreciate the gear. Semi after semi after semi for something like 8 months! Of blacksmithing machinery tools and supplies dating from the turn of the last century off to the foundries. All of it.

I was in too much shock to say anything while Dad told me the story in his cheerful you should've seen that story voice. I never told him what that did to the blacksmithing community of the USA. Spilt milk and all, no call for hard feelings. I'm glad I finally brought myself to forgive him for not listening to me telling him how hard it was to find smithing tools.

Nothing that gets away after that really bothers me. Those big springs can rust away, I won't cry.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty

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A beautiful though sad and well told story, thank you Jer.

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Well Frosty, maybe some of it got saved at the scrapyard by some blacksmith out scrounging for tools. At least we can hope so. 

I know what it is like when family let's loose of things you would like to have. My uncle sold all of the items he brought back from Europe after the war-German helmets, swords,flags, etc. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, and I loved hearing the stories he would tell me. When he found out I would have liked them he said he would have just given them to me since none of his kids wanted any of it.  He said that he just didn't realize that I was even interested. Like you I was thinking to myself, let's see I have always had a fascination with firearms, and history........any more obvious?

 

Anyway, to get back on track. I have waaaay too many misses to tell here. There is one item that I kick myself for just not pursuing when I should have.  In an empty lot across the street  from the TIMET plant in Henderson NV sat a huge iron crucible from the old Basic Magnesium plant. This thing was around 8' tall laying on its side. The bottom had a hole in it, and it had been patched several times. Now why would I want a several ton busted crucible anyway? Well, my property has a drop off along one edge, and I thought it would be cool to place it at the top, then plant Mexican Bird of Paradise inside, and down the slope so when they bloomed it would look like the molten steel was flowing from the crucible down the slope.  Saw that thing sit there for years, then one day gone, probably went for scrap. 

 

images (4).jpg

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We were very friendly with our next door neighbours when I was a kid. They were both well into their 70's when I was born but they used to babysit me quite regularly. We had a hedge between our gardens with a hole cut in it that I used to go through. 

Anyway they had a shed full of old tools as you would expect. Many of them had belonged to their parents and grand parents so as you can imagine they were old tools. 

 

There were some lovely axes and a huge great sledge hammer that I swear must have been 20lbs. When they passed on, their kids scrapped xxxx near all of it. I was gutted. 

 

I did manage to save a few of the tools though luckily, before she passed I was given a small hand axe and a 2lb hammer that to this day is one of my favourite. 

 

All the best 

Andy

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These are all great stories, thank you all so much for sharing (even if they do tend to bring up the sad moments.)  Being a hoarder/pack rat it definitely is hard to imagine giving up easy freebies and forgetting them, letting go, etc.  But moving forward is a part of the will's determination to succeed in life!

 

Here's to the one that got away!

 

Owen K 

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this topic strikes a chord with me,i am currently 24 years old(about to turn 25).i grew up with an uncle who was a quadriplegic and shared a passion for cars with me that i will never forget.he passed away when i was 18 R.I.P Greg...he had a four car garage 2 stories high that we called the "Garage Mahal".long story short the usual story occurred when he passed,his wife and the women of the family decided where everything would go and an auction was set up.i was told by his wife that if there was anything i wanted to "just mention it " and it wouldnt be sold.again long story short there was all sorts of tools from automotive to blacksmithing and everything in between(no anvils except a rr track anvil which luckily i have)i mentioned that i would like the lincoln ac/dc stick welder he taught me to weld with,as well as the 1970 chevelle i had rebuilt the motor for(327 H/O) and a 1955 buick special with the 324 nail-head with 6800 original miles.....again long story short the only thing i have from his collection is the small rr track anvil and a timing gun.but the way i look at it this "loss" made me more aware of spotting old quality tools and respecting them.the one or ones that got away only make us more aware of what we should look for.great topic to follow.would love to hea others take on this.........ODblacksmith

couldnt find pics of the chevelle or buick but found one pic of the L79 engine meant for the chevelle

l79 fozzz 010.JPG

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I have a serious thing for old tools.  Even if I'll never use them, or even know what they do, I want them all!

I can't stand the idea that something built in the 1920's will wind up in the scrap yard or lost in the weeds, never to be seen again.  The quality of older tools aside, I'm curious about their stories and love knowing that I'm working with something that another guy once used in his trade.  My Fisher anvil was made in 1892 and was used consistently for decade after decade, helping craftsmen and tinkerers do their thing.  Where it's been and what it's seen has been lost to the history of time, but I do my small part by recording my adventures for posterity.

And when I die, I'll be sure to leave the anvil to a worthy successor.  

I've often said that men are attracted to tools because men have evolved to be tool-makers, builders of things.  And I'll never understand how someone would allow a perfectly good piece of equipment rust in the field rather than selling it to someone that will put it to good use.  Even if it was grandad's favorite, grandad wouldn't be very happy to see it going to pot!

My most memorable recent loss was a beautiful 150# Fisher anvil sitting in a field as a tombstone of sorts, marking when an old homestead building used to be.  The owner was downright rude when I stopped to inquire.  I've seen a lot of anvils around the area, but that's the only Fisher I've ever seen in all of South Carolina.  I had to import mine from Massachusetts.

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Don't feel bad about the Chevelle, odblacksmith. I lost one too. Well, lost, as in I sold it after I was involved in a wreck. Looking back, I know I should have kept it, and repaired it. At 14 years old, I was just getting into the whole car scene. I loved the 60's cars a lot. As most boys did back then, they started working odd jobs to save for a car. I was no different. I mowed lawns all summer, and still had not seen the 'perfect' ride. That was until I went 12 blocks away looking for more customers. BOOM! There she sat! A 1967 Chevelle Malibu on jack stands in some guys garage! Unmistakeable taillights. I quickly worked up the courage to go knock on the door. The old fella answered to door to a starry eyed boy yammering on about a Chevelle. I asked if it was for sale, and he just shrugged, and said 'sure kid, if you can get it running, I'll let it go for 1200 bucks.

Now, 1200 bucks is a whole lot of money to a 14 year old kid, and despair soon set in. When desperation comes, sometimes good things happen. I doubled down on my lawn mowing, and managed to get hired washing dishes at a greasy spoon. It didn't take long to earn the money, but I still had the other prerequisite to deal with. Get the car running Jed! So, I took some earnings, and went to a book store and bought almost every book I could find on the internal combustion engine. Two months and a lot of reading later, I walked back to the guys house, and was ready. I knocked, he answered, I handed him 1200 cash, and asked if I could give it a go. With him behind the wheel cranking the engine over, something just didn't seem right. Not to be diswayed, I took a real close look, and noticed that the distributor was moving when he was cranking it over. The hold down bolt was not tight, and the dern thing was out of time. So, I stopped the fella, and asked for a wrench. I remember the snide look he gave me when I asked, and then the shocked look when I got behind the wheel, and brought that 6 cylinder to life. One wrench, one bolt, and he was stumped. Showed up by a 15 year old no less. (looking back, he might have loosened the bolt just to be frisky, who knows)

I drove that car the 12 blocks home to some miffed parents. Somehow I forgot to tell them I was going to buy a car. haha Three years later we moved to Alaska, and I had managed to keep my grubby paws on that car the whole way. Not long after that, cruising through the parking lot at school, I was T-boned by a redhead girl. My baby was wrecked in an instant. Drivers quarter, door, and fender were hashed. I'll never forget that feeling in my stomach right before we collided. She was found at fault, and her insurance offered only 800 bucks to repair the car. A month later, I sold the car for 1200 bucks, and have regretted the decision ever since. 

 

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Well, at the risk of being overly different...  to go with all this check out the song by Pink.   Yeah I mean the singer.   Don't be afraid.  

Pink - "the one that got away"   Pink has a great bluesy voice when she wants to use it!    

If your first reaction is to say I ain't gonna check that out then you are missing out.   Google or you tube it and just listen for yourself.   

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I've just been restarting my blacksmithing hobby after a twenty-some year hiatus. The one that got away? Except for two hammers and my anvil (which I've been lugging from apartment to apartment to the great distress of my wife; just couldn't let it go), my old forge and all my old tools -- hammers, chisels, punches,hardies, post vise, salvaged wrought iron stock from my neighbor's old farm in Vermont, etc, etc, etc. Left it all behind when I moved to the city. There was this one six pound (or thereabouts) sledge that I would use one-handed for stock reduction, which I now realize was essentially a double-ended rounding hammer --really missing that one right now.

On the other hand, this very morning, I found a lovely crescent of broken coil spring on my street while I was out walking the dogs. It got me thinking: I've got my anvil, a couple of hammers, a decent little rivet forge, some vice grips, access to scrap tool steel (courtesy of the shop that takes care of my van and my wife's car), a few other tools that have come my way, and an enthusiastic (if unskilled) striker in the form of my twelve-year-old son. I've got my old skills (rusty and limited though they be), my brain, and resources like my old books and IFI. I have everything I need to find, buy, or make everything I want.

Edited by JHCC

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Hey, I didn't say I had time! :)

However, here is an in-progress photo of a small hot-cut hardie that we're making from an old jackhammer bit. Should be big enough to cut truck axle for a properly sized one.

IMG_20150810_231235179_HDR.jpg

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I found a 600lb fisher that looked like it'd never been struck with a hammer for $1500 that was a short distance from me. I had just gotten my tax return, too, but we had more important things we needed to spend our money on at the time. I really would have loved to have it, though. That was about a year ago.

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There is a spinning lathe at my local scrap yard, and I just cannot afford it.

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Driving down I-90 yesterday in stop-and-go traffic, I spotted something lying on the left shoulder. Traffic sped up just as I reached it, so I couldn't stop to pick it up, but I did see it was a coil of about a dozen yards or so of steel cable.

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One got away from me the day before yesterday and I'm still a little unhappy about it. There is a particular auction house in town that gets stuff from all over the world. Most of the stuff they auctioned off this week was from Amsterdam. I won my 246 lb JEB Austrian anvil from them a few months ago. Anyways, they had two tables PILED HIGH with what they described as "primitive tools" being sold as a single lot. I didn't even recognize half of the tools but of the ones I did recognize there were a few unique and oddly shaped hammer heads. Mixed in this bunch of "primitive tools" was a beautiful stake anvil, and that's what I really wanted.

I decided that I would bid as high as $300 because even after I kept all the things out of the lot that I wanted I could sell the rest and easily make back the $300, maybe even make a profit. No luck. The lot sold for $800 to a lady who has a booth at a local flea market. Anyways, I'll probably go see her this weekend after the Balcones Forge meeting and see what she's asking for it. Who knows? She might not even know what it is.

Edited by Anthony San Miguel

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IMG_20150926_200739.thumb.jpg.f6bf22a293It DIDN'T get away after all! I found the lady that won the auction at her flea market shop and after talking to her for a bit she sold the stake anvIMG_20150926_200426.thumb.jpg.02e60deddbIMG_20150926_200607.thumb.jpg.cfd0bb6525il to me for $35. It has something stamped into it but I can't make it out. All I know about it is that it came in a lot from Amsterdam aIMG_20150926_200320.thumb.jpg.1caa0205cfnd it's mine now. It looks like it might have originally had a reddish color.

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