Sunday, October 22, 2017

22 October 2017 A Challenge, a Linotype and a challenge

For some time now, I have been wanting a flat bed press. About three years ago the wanting turned into serious looking. I was hoping for a Vandercook--any model would do, but they are hard to find and expensive as they are quite sought after. And there was the problem of where the heck would I put it? 

My shop is an amalgamation of my equipment and my Dad's equipment. Space is at a premium.  One of the large pieces Dad saved from the scrap yard in the early 70's was a linotype machine. 
After getting it up and running and then discovering that in order to become halfway competent on it, I would need to use it every day and find someone to teach me how to work around all the little glitches and foibles of a very old machine,  I finally came to the conclusion that I did not need to keep this wonderful hot metal casting machine. I advertised it (free! come get it) on the hot metal sites and the letterpress sites. No takers. 

This is the monster. Seven feet tall and 3000 pounds of cast iron, steel and thousands of moving parts. It out-rubes Rube Goldberg. It is an absolutely amazing piece of machinery and the engineering makes the mind bogle. 

After making the decision it would have to go, I found a Challenge Press. Now there was a deadline to get this baby out of the shop. That was the second challenge. My brother and a friend spent two days dismantling it, as it could only fit out the door in pieces. 

David and Paul surrounded the machine and started the dismantling process. Oh boy. 

Little by little they whittled away at it, filling buckets with bolts, screws and other little pieces. 

Outside, the piles of parts grew. After the first day of deconstruction, I found a voice mail from someone wanting to come see the linotype. After hearing it was mostly reduced to parts, he was not interested. After the entire machine was in piles outside, I received another call from an interested party. I explained again it was now in parts. Silence. Then he asked if he could come see. Sure, why not.  He came, looked at the piles and said he wanted it and would put it back together. Ye gods!  I was thrilled that we would not have to scrap the machine. The next weekend he showed up with five strong men, a big truck and a bigger trailer. They made quick work of loading up all the pieces.  I was able to find my Linotype Maintenance Manual which has detailed pictures of how and where things fit together, which will be a great help to him as he gets it back together. I have already heard from him. He is cleaning every part and already has the base put together. 

If you are interested in just how this works, there is a wonderful video on youtube called Farewell Etaoin Shrdlu that documents the last day linotypes were used at the New York Times. 

After the linotype was out of the shop I repainted the walls behind it and on the side. I also spent a lot of time scrubbing greasy residue off the floor using several different products and techniques. It looks much better now. 

Since then my new Challenge has arrived. Have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have a brother who knows how to construct, deconstruct and just get things done?  David and I went to the freight terminal and picked up the crated press. He was able to get it off the trailer with Bob, then move it close to the shop where we uncrated it. There were 3" screws every 6 inches. Good grief!

Finally out of the crate, David moved it as close as possible to the shop door. 

The next challenge: how to get it into the shop. Two big problems: first, it is extremely top heavy and second, it weighs 650 pounds. But David is nothing if he isn't a problem solver. And it helps he has tools. We made a smooth ramp from the pallet into the shop using  the wood from the crate, then jacked up the end of the press in order to slide some 1-ton wheel dollies under the legs. We were able to get it into the shop before one of the dollies started to slip out from under it. David grabbed the jack in order to get it back up, but I lost my end. Couldn't believe it. Got that thing all the way into the shop and it fell over. Geeze. What are the odds? 

Fortunately nothing was hurt. I went across the street and was able to get my neighbor and his son-in-law for extra muscle to stand it back up. They were shocked how heavy it was. 

But here it is, all upright and happy. I have some more pieces to assemble before I can print with it, but now I have space and the press. Doesn't get much better than this!  

Stay tuned! This means I can print large pieces now!   Here is a very appropriate piece I printed on a similar machine at the Marriott Book Arts Center. It is 11"x19", but I'll be able to use larger paper than that. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

8 September 2017 - Baby everythings

This year has been filled with babies, they are so darned cute and very hard to ignore. On birding trips Viv and I were always wanting to pull over for the newborns. Our guru finally laid down the law and said "No stopping, oohing or ahhing over calves, kids or lambs." He agreed we could fawn over other (in his opinion) more interesting babies. Pretty funny. Not that it stopped us, mind you, we just tried to be fast or sneaky about the looking. Nevertheless, there were still many babies to be found. 

Pronghorn antelope

Kids playing King of the Hill


Calves (good thing they don't come out with horns!)

While it is fun to see the babies, it is always a treat to watch them play.

These colts are part of the wild horse herd near Ouray.


This counts--baby butterfly? Stretching, but sort of. 

Black-necked stilts. Ever wondered where the expression "under her wing" came from? 

Great Horned Owl

This fledgling Great Horned Owl was walking on a roof not far from the nest. Look at the size of his feet!

Great Blue Herons

California Quail



Eared Grebes

Western Grebe

This baby is almost too big to be riding anymore. 

Clark's Grebe

Magpies. These newly-fledged babies are still begging for food.

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallows

Western Kingbird

Osprey. Adult on right. 

This was a selection of some of my favorites this year. I love seeing the little ones. And once you've found a nest, you can go back again and watch how quickly they grow. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

29 August 2017 - Roadside stuff

Some of us are easily amused. That's a good thing!  Lately I have found myself quite amused by interesting things found along the back roads. Yes, I definitely fall into the I Brake for Everything category. If it were a bumper sticker, you'd see it on my car, but more to serve as a warning than a commentary. So here are some of the fun things that have stopped me in my tracks recently. 

Goats. Everyone knows how much they love to climb. A good goat owner often has hanging bridges and climbing rocks to make their goats happy. If not, well, they find their own climbing walls. 

These goats must escape fairly regularly, you can see they are both wearing collars and tags. But this is the sort of thing that will have me hitting the brakes. I'd just like to know how the heck they got up there.

Out in the west desert, one of the ranches has this sculpture by the side of the road. Unexpected, but wonderful. 

In the spring, the top layer of fresh water on the Great Salt Lake freezes then makes fun formations in rows as it gets blown to the shoreline.

In the fall, parts of the lake turn pink with the algae growth. 

If you add in a couple other kinds of algae you get great patterns. 

I love things in series, so these fence posts had me pulling over in a hurry. The rocks on top transformed it from utilitarian to something quite special. 

I was walking on the edge of a reservoir looking for shore birds and I thought I heard a woman call out "Armando, come get the pig." Pig? Really, did I hear right? Sure enough. 

Cute little pink pig with a pink harness and leash. Definitely one of the last things I would expect to see with a family on a camping trip.

I am a big fan of metal bridges and trestles. Add a reflection and it's magic. 

In August and September the brine fly hatch on the Great Salt Lake brings tens of thousands of birds to the lake to fatten up on flies before continuing their southward migration. During the hatch, orb weaver spiders are everywhere. Not only are they eating the brine flies, but are in turn being eaten by birds. This one looks ready to take out my birding buddies. 

People are funny, and I am happy to share in their amusements. 

Driving the back roads gives you opportunity to appreciate that away from the cities, ranching and farming is still alive and well. I enjoy watching the herders on horseback moving cows and sheep from summer to winter pastures, even if it stops traffic for a while.

Another trip while driving up a canyon, I had to stop and watch two men in an ATV try to catch an escaped sheep. It refused to be herded so they ended up wrestling it into the back of an ATV and hog-tying it so it could not escape again as they took it back to the herd. Just another thing you don't see on the road very often. 

Life is full of interesting and fun moments. I'm always happy to brake for them.