True Knowledge

I’m working on the next book.  No idea where it will wind up, but for now I’m focusing on an old-timer near me.  He’s 80 years old.  When I talk to him I simultaneously marvel and despair at his breadth of knowledge and how much of it will disappear with him.

Here’s a transcription of what he had to say on a recent day when we started out looking at different sets of oxen yokes he made over the years (for his two prize oxen Chester and Lester) and then wound up in his shed by his iron lathe.  This is just a rough transcription of the recording, so it’s gappy and incomplete and contains my ALL-CAP notes, but you’ll get the idea:

Yah, and with the oxen you gotta make your own yokes [SMALL ONE] This fits calves until they’re about 500 pounds apiece.  And see all your yokes are made so you’ve got adjustment.  Different holes here.  And then the yokes you see in the museums (MEW-zeums), I’ve never seen one bigger than a 4-footer.  And my 4-footer, the nieghbor’s got it, but that fit’em until they were about 1500 pounds apiece.  And then I went to a 5-foot yoke, that’s out there on the cart, that fit’em until they were 2300 apiece, and it fit’em on the neck OK but they were walkin’ too close together like they were leaning on each other.  And toward the last we had that six-foot yoke [2DO study/describe]  I don’t think in the woods any of them were more than 1500 pounds, according to the yokes we see.

Yah, and back here, is my lathe and my milling machine.  They’re all very old.  This milling machine, the last patent on it is 1916.  [UNINT] Horizontal…  And back here is my lathe.

WHY HAVE SO BIG? Well, you can do little work on a big lathe, but you can’t do big work on a little lathe (grin).  I had one for 20 years before this one, I ran on to this one and sold my first one to a firend.

Here’s a deal I just made.  A guy brought me some shafts he wanted o-ring grooves cut in.  But he didn’t tell me how deep, so I don’t know, I cut these 50 thousandths of an inch, and if they’re not deep enough I can easily sete’m up and cut’em deeper.  And ah, for my old lathe I had a little tool bit here…but it didn’t have any way to hold it…so I made this in the milling machine.  Like an aighth inch bit is just the right length for cuttin’ those…’course you gotta put shims in to hold it…

SOMEONE TEACH YOU?  No.  You get good books and read’em.  Understand what you’re reading.  I’ve got a lot of books in the house.

HOW INTERSTED? Well, it’s a hobby that paid off tremendously well, because through the years I got by with a lot junkier class of machinery!  A lady we know says I am the only guy she knows who can operate with junk and get by fine.

That’s the fun part.  Now here’s an example.  This is a boring bar holder that I made for the lathe here, like when you ream out the inside of a tube of some kind.  You throw a cutter bit in there, and then you stick these….[demonstrates]…and it’s always right on level and in line…I made this boring bar holder out of a broken tractor axle.  It takes quite a while, but you work on it by degrees.  I put this, this is what you call knurling.  No need of it, it just looks neater.  This is a tool that’ll put knurling in and will put in three different sizes of knurls.  There are four little wheels, you put it in your tool ?post? and put pressure against this as it rolls, and it leaves a design like that.  A lot of time knobs and stuff with have knurling on them for gripping.


The lathe is the king of tools because if you need something you can make it.  This is called a bull-nose center, and if you bought one, it would probably cost you $75, and I made this one out of a piece of 5-inch shaft and [pop!] like if you turn a piece of pipe, you ….

HOLE IN WALL I guy brought me a fifteen foot shaft.  We had to machine the end of it.  I think it was off some manure spreader.  It was small enough I could slip it through the lathe, but I couldn’t slip it through on the end we had to work on.  So we cut a hole in the wall and went outside and ran it through…  GRINS  Yah, y’do what y’gotta do.

Oracles are not strictly restricted to the Himalayas.

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