Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Short Tour of the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, Barberville Florida

So, I keep talking about the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, for whom I am the volunteer 19th Century graphics point man. I thought I might show a few scenes from the Settlement during last Saturdays "A Florida Christmas Remembered" event.

The Pioneer Settlement is really a small Florida Country town, circa anywhere from 1890 - 1930. Not a lot really changed in the Florida outback over those years, at least, not as much as in the big cities of Jacksonville or Tampa. In fact, when I was a teenager running about the groves having rotten orange fights, it wasn't unusual to find an operating water tower insulated with palmetto thatch with a pull rope to let water into a steam boiler. I remember Ford tractors running on T-valve wedge-headded four cylinders with flywheel govenors as late as 1972! We had a swamp prison which the state ran out in Slavia as late as 1979. All our Fire Stations were volunteer, in fact, our particular Station, Seminole Goldenrod, used a 1936 GMC "Crash Truck" with the big displacement six-cylinder as our main pumper. It was Engine 1.

I used to work with "Eddie", who sold crawdads to "Mrs Rawlin's", none other than Marjorie Kennan Rawlings of Lake Lockloosa up in Alachua County. In fact, his big brother ran Rawling's grove. His character is depicted in the movie "Cross Creek".

Things moved slowly in the Central and North Central Florida highlands, and glad I am to have gotten in on the sunset of that era. Why, this was the only place I know where a kid could dive into a clear water pool created by water flowing from out of a solid limestone embankment, and come up with his hair washed, smoothe as lanolin. Rope swings that carried you out some one hundred feet onto a springfed lake, and the gators didn't bother you. In fact, I remember pushing my canoe very frequently thru literal herds of gators and pushing 'em out of the way with the paddle on brightly moonlit nights. Some of the gals I dated lived in what you would now call tin roofed cypress shacks. Some of those "shacks" were built in the 1870s! Brahman-shorthorn ran free though the brush and groves. Small AME and Baptist churches would hold baptisms in the many lakes that dot the region, under the shelter of Camphor and spanish moss laden tall Cypress. They would hold their "Sings" on Saturday nights, as common in most of the deep South states.

The rope swings, the old water towers, the Swamp Prisons, the pit prams, license free fishing, open black powder hunting, rotten orange fights, and Sings all exist in old photos and memories now, I'm afraid. But a lot of that almost lost Florida Culture is preserved here in Barberville, at the Settlement. Here, we still have concerts at the old AME Church, the village Smith, the town Potter, the Woodwright, the Printer, the Weaver, the Candlemaker, the Livestock and Poultry farms, the Cypress and log homes once so common here in Central Florida. We remember and relate the old stories, too. Everybody has a story. My favourite come from retired Florida State Road workers from the 1940s, and usually involve Catfish, what they like to eat, and the tourists that like to catch 'em. Remind me to tell you sometime. From time to time we are visited by the Seminoles.

The Pioneer Settlement is also a great concert venue, hosting music events through the year as the occasion demands. We have a barn large enough for a substantial Barn Dance, which we take advantage of. We also have a large cooking facility to feed the hordes that come an visit us during our events.

In this installment, I'll not mention much about the Settlement Print Shop, I've mentioned that a lot on this blog, and will continue to do so, but for now, just relax, heat up some coffee, and flip through the photos of a small Florida Town just north of DeLeon Springs and due west of Astor, Florida. As time permits, I'll go back and lable these photos, which were taken on Saturday, Dec. 13th during our Florida Christmas Remembered event for 2008.

This is the main building, the 1919 Barberville High School Building.

These are the various pre-motorcar transit vehicles we have on campus

Ahh, yes, the Settlement Print Shop.

Hey! These doors are wide enough for a Heidi "Windmill" ! (hint hint!)

Leaving the Shop, going 'round the corner is a Cypress Settlement cabin.
one of the many we have in the Settlement.

The Shop neighbor is an 1880's "Carpenter Gothic" church, where we hold Weddings,
some of our music recitals, etc.

Right outside the Smithy is the boiler for the industrial steam engine.

To the left is the Pottery, to the right is the Post Office, which is in operation
during special events.

The Settlement kiln, water storage and charcoal pit.

Our Fire Department, staffed, using vehicles dating to the 1920's.
Lots of old, original American LaFrance equipment, btw.

Chordwood for the Kiln and Charcoal pit. Not to confuse anyone, the pit is
not where we burn charcoal, but where we make charcoal.

Cooking pit on yonder side. I have not looked closely, but that opening in
the brick on the right hand side may be a Dutch Oven.

Old Bailey. Yeah, don't go smashing my prized Border Fonts, y'heah?

The Smithy. Probably the largest Blacksmith operation in Florida, and site of many
of the Blacksmith Organisation's functions. Many Smiths are young gals, btw!

Another view of the Steam Engine, which belts to some of our equipment.

This is the passenger loading dock of our Train Station. It houses our Railroad exhibits.

Ahh, one of my favourite spots! Di-di-dah-dit, Dah-di-di-dit!
What you see is an Ancient Underwood "mill", Bunell sounders and an S-38 "straight" key.

Here are a couple shots inside the Smith's Shop.

The freight side of the Train Station.

Back to the main Building. We have to go by it again to get to the agricultural part
of the Settlement.

This is a view across a field to one of our board-and-batten barns.

This structure served as Astor's Bridge-house over the St. Johns River for a
century. Astor is eight miles up the road. It was moved to it's present location.

This is a genuine St. John's River Ship, under restoration, by the Bridge House.

This is the Carriage Port for the Bridge House, which served as a residence, too.

This is our main barn, where dances are held.

A restored Harley and Side-Car, Kiddie Style. (@ 1929)

This is "real Florida". Fields of Green and Yellow. Canopy Forests along spring fed
streams and rivers, miles of farmland, sweet local folks, and a long-gone sense
of belonging. I am glad to have spent the latter half of my teen years here.

To this day, this is what many a "back-yard" looks like in Marion, Putnam,
and Alachua Counties. ( the Town of Alachua is pronounced "Alachu-way",
but not the County! Just so's you news-guys in Gainsville get it

A shot from behind the School Building. Didn't they do a great job in restoring

We're gonna have firewood this winter!

Inside the Old Church.

The Reform Church I went to had a pump-organ just like this one, only we used a vacuum cleaner to power the bellows of our organ as late as 1975. This one still has functioning bellows and solid reeds.

Ok, so I was off ten years. The old AME Church was built in 1890.

Now, This church was larger than ours, and has a nice pole mounted bell to
call service and class. Ours had a hand held bell to ring folks in from fellowshiping
in the front lawn - and kids playing in the back by the water hose.

My best friend lived in a home just like what you will see in the following photos. This was very, very typical of what you would find traipsing through Oviedo/ Slavia when I went to High School. Many gals never took their up-town dates home for embarrassment of the little, often 100-plus year old "shack" they lived in. These homes were absolutely comfortable, safe and vermin-free. The finest families in the State were rooted in homes such as these!

Our last photo is a combination chordwood pile and draw bench, where you would make staking, posts and fencing in the time honoured fashion. Most folks made much of what they had by hand. Especially fencing, flooring and siding. In fact, last year I helped a friend out in Osteen put up his own pole-barn. Save for the power tools, it went up just like it would have a century ago.

Hope you enjoyed the trip (and narrative)! For more information on the Settlement, click here.


G. Johanson, Settlement Printer.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More "finishing" work on the Pearl

What you see in the above photo is the chase retaining clamp and the chase itself resting on the typebed of the Pearl. If you look closely you will note dissimilar colours in the metal at the end of the clamp, which I call a Chase Clip. You see, I sorta make up terminology as I move along . . . Especially at 1 am and I need to hit the road in the morning by 8 am.

What happened was that I was using this press with a Linoleum block, hand inking and making some impressions which actually, worked out pretty good. I don't have the rollers for this thing yet, and so this is about the only way I can use her now. As I was working the clamshell by rolling the flywheel by hand, something looked just a bit odd. The chase was resting at the exact level as the rails, and if I can judge distances and proportions, I'd say that clip was protruding beyond the rail line. So I found a straight edge in the interminable mess I call a "Studio" or "Shop", and laid it across the two rails. Sure enough, the clip protruded far enough out to take a healthy divit out of any roller carreening across that area on the way to and fro the ink disk.

I put a query out on the LETPRESS list, and some suggested the chase may have been the culprit. As it turned out, my chase did need some attention anyway, it had a lot of rust on it, and this provided a handy excuse to take it out to the grinder / wire brush and knock some of that stuff off. I ground down the depression, or mortise, atop the chase to make the clip set lower. I then took down the top edge and shoulders of the chase, leveling the top as I ground it down, using a straight edge. I succeeded in allowing the clip to rest lower, but it still protruded. So I removed the clip entirely (tapping out the cotter that holds it to the casting atop the type bed), carried it out to the shed where the grinder is, and stripped the paint off it to see what was going on. I noted a thick roundish area under the clip which signalled some welding had gone on at some point. Removing the paint revealed the bright original iron suddenly ending and a bright yellow metal suddenly beginning, seamlessly.

Ahh, yes, the ol' clip had broken it's tip off at some point in the misty past, and somebody formed a new one. But this begs the question: was this press ever in use thereafter? It would have been impossible to use rollers! At least, not for very long!

I took her down about half an inch, rounded a concave area in what once a convex mass of metal on the underside of the clip. She now rests as you see in the above photo. Both chase and clip are well below the surface of the rail, and there is a healthy clearance beneath a straight edge suspended over the two rails. My future rollers will be safe!

I will re-apply black gloss Rustoleum on the finished clip, and may paint the chase as well.

BTW, I'm in the market for another chase for this press: 7x11", made for a Pearl Old Style Model 3. If anyone out there has one in excess to their needs, drop me a line, ok?

You Florida Letterpress folks: Think in terms of a Letterpress Weekend at the Pioneer Settlement sometime after the first of the New Year. I don't know what we will do, maybe just clean up the place (hee), but it might be fun, I'll supply coffee and Danish, and the Settlement Directorship would be thrilled to have us. The Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts is situated very near the intersection of US17 and Fla Hwy 40, in Barberville, just above DeLeon Springs, Fl. Very direct access to Deland, Ocala, and Ormond / Daytona Beach. I have no itinerary, but even if we just showed up and went over the equipment and took a tour of the campus, it might be fun. I'd like to see some involvement and activity amongst the Florida Letterpress Community. We have a slowly growing list of folks who would really like to get into Letterpress, yet have very little access to available equipment. It doesn't help that Florida is sort of the "Black Hole of the South" for Letterpress equipment. Seems like all the good stuff is bought and sold everywhere else! We need to change that!

So here's a Rebel Yell for the Letterpress Folks of the Southland be ye transplanted or no ( brother Yanks can yell, too :>) and maybe we'll get an eyeball on one another eventually!!


G. Johanson, Settlement Printer
Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Removal and Maintenance of the C&P "Split Disk"

1. This is the disk before disassembly. There is a nut on the bottom, which loosens the conventional direction. You will need to brace the disk. It would have been handy for the nut to turn against the ratchet direction, which would lock the disk for this operations, but - oh well. This was probably the hardest part of the whole operation. I used an adjustable spanner (wrench) and turned slowly. If you have a tight fit with the spanner, a few taps with a mallet, easy does it, may help, along with some WD-40.

2. Once the nut (and washer) is removed, your gear may well be just as stuck. Quite probably past oilings only infrequently reached this area. This particular gear held fast. But the disk spun free. I noted one tooth missing on this gear. My solution: a gentle prying using a table leg which was laying around. It fit just right. I levered up and down every ten degrees of turn. Go very gently, you really need only solid localised pressure. I would advise against the temptation to hammer the gear off. Reason? This gear is connected to the inner shaft of the disk, and is keyed. The key is very shallow. And cast iron teeth can break under sudden concussion.

3. Ok, after about five or six minutes of slightly prying every ten degrees of disk rotation, she came off. Once the gear was halfway off, I could remove it by hand.

4. Here is what the base looks like with the gear removed. The flash makes things look rustier than the press really is. Although there was rust which I later discovered. The rust shows up bright (almost) golden. Note that there is oil, but it was congealed into an almost grease-like substance. The viscosity was enough to grip the gear. Just a reminder to me of why we oil our presses, not grease them.

5. By now things should look familiar to C&P folks. This is, of course, the casting for the ink disk. Note that the anti-rotation gear is still screwed into the casting. The rotation of the disk as moved by the dog and ratchet turns this gear, which in turn engages the gear we just removed. This gear is bolted and keyed to the inner disk's shaft, thus it turns the opposite direction. The effectiveness of this arrangement is a subject of debate to this day. I note that none of our 12x18 models use the split disk arrangement, although the castings are there for the gearing.

6. This is the disk, with the inner disk still in place. Note the concentric shafts. We're talking some precision machining here!

7. The disks are separated. The safest way to do this and not break a couple toes is to lay the disk face down and lift. If the inner disk is lodged, a light tapping should dislodge it, unless otherwise fused purposely.

8. Here's the flip-side of the outer disk. Ahh, yes. Moisture has found the lowest point, I'd say!

9. After cleaning and lubing, the disks are re-inserted, and fitted back into their casting on the press. Here is a close up of the inner disk's keying. Note how shallow it is. The lower gear has a notch to receive this key, which is why I remarked earlier to go easy on this gear in efforts to encourage movement. You could easily shear the key.

10. This is a close-up of the lower gear. Notice the notch. The gear isn't as rusted as it looks. Again, it's lighting and macro-focus creating a lot of the reddish colouration. And . . . the press is Vermillion coloured. I believe it to be painted from the Manufacturer.

I hope this helps those of you who encounter Chandler and Price's anti-rotating concentric ink disks. One final note: a single, solid disk made for the same size press will fit nicely. Leave the rear rotation gear in the back. Or remove it, it won't really make a difference. We run both. Another comment: the oiling point for the ink disk is essentially a cleavage cut into the top of the disk mount casting where the nap (neck) of the disk's bottom rests. This is not only an awkward angle to oil from but difficult to get a quantity of oil into as well. I suggest that if you use this arrangement, that you disassemble it frequently and lube it directly. For solid disks, just lift it out and smear the oil with your finger around the inside casting and the disk shaft itself.

Good Providence in all your Letterpress endeavours!

G. Johanson, Settlement Printer