I just got home from a trip to Cedar City, Utah. We went up to place an offer on a cabin.
My BIL took me to meet his old school principal, a 93 year old gentleman with a wicked wit and sparkling eyes.
He is also a blacksmith. He gives demonstrations to groups of 25-200 students at the beginning of each school year. He does restorations of wagons and wagon wheels, among any dozen of little projects sitting here and there that you can ask about on a tour of his shop.
He used to train welders during WW2. There was a contraption to put the finished dowel end on a wagon wheel spoke chucked up to a huge antique drill press, called a tenon cutter. It had been brazed heavily. I asked why he chose the brazing process over welding, and he said deadpan, "Because it is cast iron."
I quickly recovered by saying, "That's a good reason." It gave him a hearty chuckle.
In a thumb nail, he is living history.
I cannot wait until I can see him do his magic. I believe I will be spending some time there. I soon hope to put up a website to share some of the things I have been getting involved with and into lately. He consented to me coming in and taking pictures.
"SteveB" wrote: (clip) I asked why he chose the brazing process over welding, and he said deadpan, "Because it is cast iron." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ In 16 years I'll be the age he is now. I can see I have a lot to learn in those years. However, I have a question for right now. I spent most of my life repairing cast iron by brazing "because it is cast iron." Recently, I learned about nickel rod, and I have a new lease on life. I may never braze another piece of broken cast iron. So, what I want to know: When you asked that question, were you asking why he didn't arc weld it with nickel rod? And, if so, did his answer really make sense? Was your response to his answer shaped mostly by courtesy and respect for his age?
There were so many things around, and so much to ask about, I was totally overwhelmed. I noticed this thing
chucked up to a huge drillpress. It just stood out because of the brazing. All multicolor. I thought I would be smart and impress him by going over and declaring what it was by analyzing it. I said some kind of cutter. I was actually kind of trying to steer the focus from "I don't know what the heck this is", so I asked why brazing instead of welding. It has spindly legs, not really shown in the ebay example, and not near enough mass to take an electrode.
He had an ancient Jackson hood hanging up. Right there next to a new SpeedGlass Auto. He declared he realllllly liked the new ones more than the old ones. The old one had old leather straps for headbands, and looked like it had about 5,000 hours of welding on it. One side had a little shine left, the other completely black. It looked like it was the kind that is made out of thin metal, and has the lens holder riveted onto the hood. Mighta been fiber, but it was originally silver color. I commented, and we both laughed that I could definitely see he was right handed, as that side had all the paint burned off.
I had nothing but respect for the gentleman, and he could tell that. He also knew that I had been around the block a few times, too, because I knew some of the answers to questions he asked. My BIL chimed in about my underwater days, and overseas work. He knows ten times as much as I, yet he had respect that I wasn't just a rank newbie. You could tell the man was a teacher, and recognized a willing student. He had been school principal for most of his life.
I get a little hesitant in conversations with people about welding, because I seldom run into people who know as much as I, or have welded as much. So, I just back off and listen. Most want to impress you, and you can't get a word in edgewise. I could see by just looking around that this guy has forgotten more than I know.
But, we talked about many things, one of which is why women made as good a welders as men during WW2 when he trained welders. I said it was because women could draw and write good, and welding was a lot of repetetive hand movement. He said also that women who could sew made a good welder because they usually learned how to sew with a needle and thread and had excellent hand/eye coordination.
He was an absolute hoot. The kind of guy that would get the best of David Letterman, like the old fart from Vermont that had hummingbird feeding hat on his head. Don't know if you ever saw that one, but he really got Letterman's goat. We each repeatedly got the other with zingers, and laughed as much whether we gave or got the zinger. I hope I am that sharp when I am 93.
The hearth is in a log building that he moved many many years ago that was built by Chinese immigrants. I am sure it was hauled mostly by horse and wagon. Holy, crap! Moving logs by horse and wagon 30 miles over mountains. Just looking around at the log outbuildings discloses lost processes of hewing and trimming, and lots of adz work.
Outside the log cabin was a ring, about 36" in diameter, 1/2" steel that stood on three offset metal legs. A hammer was hanging on it. I asked if that was the dinner bell, and he said that is what they used to bend wood for wagon wheels. There were just too many things to ask about, and we did not want to overstay our visit. But he did show us many things, including a bellows that came from Nauvoo, Illinois. It had been rebuilt by a very old fellow in Panguitch, Utah. Some new pieces of brass hardware, but mostly original.
It was like when I went to Hurst Castle at San Simeon. My brain just couldn't take in all that was there.
We may have to go back as early as Tuesday if our offer is accepted for the cabin. If we get it, our cabin is about five miles from his compound. I am really looking forward to seeing him again, and maybe even schlepping for him at one of his demonstrations.
I am ready to start learning about some forge work, anyway, and the cabin will need lots of things.
"SteveB" wrote Actually, I had just stepped on my dick. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ OK, now I understand everything. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ (clip) He was an absolute hoot. The kind of guy that would get the best of David Letterman, like the old fart from Vermont that had hummingbird feeding hat on his head. Don't know if you ever saw that one, but he really got Letterman's goat. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That guy WAS an absolute hoot. What I thought was so wonderful about him was that he was funny, and he knew it, but pretended he didn't. But when he laughed (to himself) and tried to suppress it, those hummingbird feeders gave it away, and we were ROTFL. I thought Letterman liked him.
I know an old guy like you describe, not an ironworking sort but just way quick thinking, heard most funny stuff already and remembers it all. Old-timers are a major asset, too bad there's not more of them.
I'd sure like to meet the one you have.. you can always up the offer on the cabin if you need to, at least you found something there that's worth more than you expected..