Old Age – Comes At A Bad Time

To be honest, my age never really mattered to me until last December when I received my Medicare card in the mail and I was informed that as of February 1st, 2013 I was eligible! I didn’t want it but there it was and now there was no turning back or trying to fool myself. That small little card was staring me in the face saying ‘you are getting old’!! Isn’t it amazing how ‘old’ 70 was when we were 40! But, how young it really is, right? When I found a few gray hairs, I found a great hairdresser. When I told Gary I was coloring my hair, his comment was “Emmylou Harris let her hair go gray” – my comment back “when I can sing like Emmylou I’ll go gray”! I can’t get over how age just creeps up on most of us. One day you are working 40-60 hours/week, shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, raising vegetables and two boys. Then, the boys were the first to go! I didn’t throw them out they just somehow grew up and left. Or maybe it was the cleaning first, but the garden was next, reasoning that the ‘Farmers Market’ does a great job and we DO need to support it, next, Gary took over the laundry (I wash – he dries and folds), he also took over the dishes, then the 40-60 hour/week job went to about 10 hours a week and the paycheck disappeared!, still shopping and cooking (but far less of both). Unbelievable, one day I was doing it all and with what seemed like overnight, my body feels like it still is, but certainly isn’t! My question is when did I cross ‘the line’? Maybe it was back when I realized I needed singing lessons. Got to close, I have a 4 o’clock audition to sing back up for Emmylou. Just think of the time and money I’ll save not coloring my hair!

Safety Wire – Dave’s Garage

Recently, an acquaintance with an MG TD changed his oil. He happened to notice that there were some metal wires in his used engine oil. I suggested he drop his oil pan and have a look to see where the metal came from. It is a good thing he did. The person who rebuilt the engine did a lousy job safety wiring the main and rod bearing caps.

Fortunately, nothing came loose, and his engine did not grenade. Here is a chart showing the proper way to use safety wire. Following this chart and using a little patience and common sense you can properly safety wire your own projects.

safety wire pliers
How to properly tie Safety Wire

Safety wire pliers are available at many tool stores and on Amazon. I buy my safety wire on Amazon, they seem to have the best price.

Speaking of safety, always securely clamp sheet metal when drilling holes. I was making a patch piece today, a piece about the size of an index card. The piece was going to be butt welded on three sides, and spot welded on the fourth side to duplicate the factory sheet metal. I was drilling several 1/4 inch holes every inch or so on one edge for the plug welds. I had the piece of sheet metal on a piece of scrap wood when I was drilling it. I had the drill in my right hand and was holding the metal with my left. The drill bit grabbed the metal and spun it, cutting my hand. I spent the next five hours in the Emergency room getting stitches in my left hand.


Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

White Kress Fire Truck

Tom Mclays’ White Kress Fire Truck

White Kress Fire TruckI first discovered the fire truck in 1974 in a shed in Washington, Vermont. It belonged to Frank Bushey, a school teacher from Bloomfield, Conn. Frank had purchased it to use in his Gremlin Camp for Young Boys. Instead it had rested in the shed for 23 years. I had surveyed and designed a pond for Frank at the time. A couple years later I was working on two more ponds in Orange and Washington and I stopped to visit with Frank while traveling by. I inquired when he was going to get the fire truck out and get it running? His answer.. “I’m going to sell it”. I agonized for a couple days and much to my wife, Shirley’s objections I bought it….I still loved her though . The date July 29, 1976. When I went to bring the truck home Frank said he would get the headlights. He had hidden them in a closet under a pile of house-hold goods, so as he said, “old man Miller couldn’t steal them” (A K Miller the Stutz man lived a mile away.) The lights were Gray and Da-vis 1912-13 Cadillac brass. My son, Tim, and I towed it home and began working on it. We tinkered on the motor and had it running in short order. Then began the process of restoring it. We disassembled the body, fenders and sand blasted everything. It was painted and put back together. As fate would have it, the fire chief from East Berkshire, Norm Lavallee, was at the Middlesex Fire Equipment where Tim worked at the time and he mentioned I had their first fire truck. Norm looked up some old pictures of the truck and told me to come up and we could search in the old fire house. We found most all of the old brass rails and fittings that had been taken off the truck when they sold it. What a discovery!!

Each summer Shirley and I would vacation in Maine. In my inquiries about White Kress Fire trucks I was referred to Harold Walker in Marblehead, Mass. Harold knew all the fire departments in Maine that had White Kress trucks and sent me the list. So each year we traveled to different locations and visited with the fire departments. Finally information came out that the truck came from Augusta. With that in hand we came up with old pictures of the truck. The folks in Augusta believe it was their first motorized fire truck.

It was fun to search and find missing pieces for the truck. The hose bracket came from an old Plainfield fire truck. The siren came from Roxbury. I found lanterns and nozzles at flea markets. A good friend from Suncook, NH sold me the lantern brackets I needed.

The steering wheel was an interesting event. When stored under the high drive** to the barn a beam broke one winter and fell across the steering wheel and dash board breaking the wheel into eleven pieces and gouging out a part of the dash. Frank had saved all the pieces of the wheel and I had them welded back together. When it came time to reassemble the wood parts of the wheel I found one was missing. For some reason I was looking over mechanical parts and there was the missing piece on the inside web of the frame. Talk about luck!

The truck is now back in Augusta Maine. I donated it to the Fire Department. I know it’s in a good home and will be well taken care of. I still miss it when I walk into the garage but it was more than I could handle at my age.

* Tom’s Pumper is the 2nd from the left pictured here in it’s early home in Augusta, Maine
** Some folks in Vermont call a ‘high drive’ a ‘wharfing’….it’s the ramp where one would drive a load of hay into the barn “hay mow”. The Picture at the top is of the Hartford Fire Station in Augusta, Maine early in the fire trucks history.