Sometimes, it’s the Little Things

I gotta tell ya, some aspects of this tractor project are right up my alley.  I can sit at my workbench for hours pulling nuts, bolts and washers out of the degreaser, and wire brushing them back to like-new condition.  Of course, it helps if the Phillies are playing in the background, but I love to make old stuff look new… like the oil pan bolts.  There are 20 of them, and they’re not that big, so they’re nasty to try to hold in one hand and wire brush with the other.  As I did them I had plenty of time to study them and in the end realized that, “they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.”  To start with, each bolt has a raised capital “E” on the head.

Isn’t that beautiful, and that ain’t all.  It took me a while to notice it, but on the threaded end of the bolt there’s another “E” incised into it.  Take a look.

Go to Home Depot, Lowes, any hardware store; you won’t pull bolts out of the drawer like these.  These things don’t just hold stuff together, they’re beautiful, and just a small example of what American craftmanship could still be like back in the 50’s.  By the way, it didn’t slip past me that these photos showed a little remaining rust on a few bolts, so on top of the two hours I already had in them, I spent another hour on them today.  Sheesh, they’re just nuts and bolts man!

Today I was cleaning up the hydraulic pump and came across some more great hardware.  Take a look at this.

Another great bolt, don’t you love the “?”?  NOTE:  How the heck do you punctuate the end of that sentence?  Even though you’ve seen a couple of great bolts here, what surprised me most were the lock washers on the “?” bolts.  Take a look.

This little guy looks like a jeweler made it.  It’s beefier than a typical lock washer you might see, and the incised pattern on the edge is just “over the top” for a lock washer.  Don’t tell The Princess, but I say she gets one of these on our next anniversary.

I did finish cleaning up the hydraulic pump today.  I took it all apart, and it looks fine inside.  I was surprised to find “O” rings inside, as I thought that was a more recent invention.  Then I thought, well, maybe this was a later addition to the Pony.  But no, I pulled the pump’s cover out of the degreaser, cleaned it up and there was the date, “02 28 51.”  Here’s what it looks like.

I did just a little research, and it turns out the “O” ring was invented in 1936 by a Swedish immigrant, Neils Christensen.  In spite of bringing litigation, many companies were infringing on the inventor’s patent, and in light of the importance of the patent in producing war-related material, during WWII the government bought the patent for $75,000.  The government then gave only certain companies the right to produce and use the rings.

Yeah, the little things can make a difference, and you’ve got to have your eyes open to them, or they’ll slip right by you.  Back in the late 50’s my dad would bring home bags of coins from the bank.  We all enjoyed going through those huge bags filled with thousands of coins, touching every one so that by the end of an evening our fingers would be black.  We each had a coin collection, and it was fun and kind of exciting to open a new bag always thinking this might be the night you found one of the “keys,” that is, the most valuable Lincoln pennies.  Some of them I still remember by heart:  1909s-vdb, 1909s, 1914D, 1924D, 1931s.  To find one of these and be able to fill one of the open spaces in our collection books was our constant dream.

But there was another Lincoln cent of very recent vintage (as of the late 1950’s) that was being talked about a lot.  In 1955 the US mint in Philadelphia had put several hundred thousand pennies into circulation that had been double stamped by the die, so that certain parts of the coin (like the date) showed a visible double image.  These pennies, known as the “1955 shift,” or “1955 double-die” were valuable right from the “git go” and now can command prices in the $1000 range depending on condition.

One night the idiotic brother and I were sitting in our usual spots across from each other at the dining room table, each of us tediously sliding pennies from our bags, flipping them if necessary, and moving most over to the discard pile.  The night got long and the fingers had turned black when all of a sudden Jim kind of stuttered and shouted, “A fif, a fifty-five shift!”  These coins were not that easy to spot, and our eyes blurred sometimes with the thousands of coins passing by, but that idiot kept his eyes focussed and spotted the faint lines of the doubled date, 1955. 
Dammit, why couldn’t I have gotten that bag!

Let this be a lesson to you.  Keep your eyes open, appreciate the little things…and try to get the right bag.
Thanks for reading.

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One response to “Sometimes, it’s the Little Things

  1. Mark Borkovec

    Bruce,

    You left Lincoln a few years ago and you’re still working with “Nuts” and talking about “Lincoln Pennies”! Retired or not, you just can’t get away from some of us.

    Mark

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