David Heick, who exhibits his model steam engines and 1956 Chevy at the Antique Engine Jamboree, tells us about restoring his father’s model train.
Model railroading is something I have been doing since I was a young child. This is a prewar Lionel electric locomotive that belonged to my Dad. It was a wreck. I rebuilt the whole thing.
“I love model trains. I have a lot of them. This toy train was made around the time when Hanford Mills was in its heyday, about 1926.”
It took me a while to decide if I should restore this locomotive because I can remember as a child my dad told me that when he was a kid he took it apart and painted it. It is sentimental to me.
I had to clean off all the paint, I could tell it was house paint that was brushed on. I polished all the brass parts. I found reproduction parts that were missing on eBay. (You can find anything, you just have to look.)
I found green spray paint that was pretty close to the color that this locomotive might have been. I completely disassembled the motor to clean all the dirt, dust and old oil out of it. I rewound the motor armature and installed new brushes. I replaced the broken wheels. I also rewired the whole thing.
“It is a really nice running locomotive now. I’m glad I decided to restore it.”
Bernd Krause, who exhibits at Woodsmen’s Festivals and other Hanford Mills events, writes about his work building musical instruments.
“Not a lot has changed for me during this pandemic. I spend pretty much all day every day in my shop building dulcimers, ukuleles and other instruments. This year has been particularly busy. I do miss going out to dinner with my wife and seeing the local bands perform.”
Krause said that dulcimer groups on Facebook are a good resource for him, putting him in touch with people who want to order instruments.
“Patience is very important, as many of the items I needed to complete the instruments came from all over the country and many states totally shut down. Things like tuners and some custom parts I was unable get for a while which slowed down or stopped progress on several instruments.”
“Although I enjoy bringing my instruments to Hanford Mills for people to see and learn about, I really enjoy bringing my springpole treadle lathe and shaving horse to demonstrate. I feel it fits in better with atmosphere at Hanford Mills. Hopefully next year I will be able to bring them again.”
We hope so too Bernd!
As far as musical instruments at Hanford Mills, there is a piano in the Hanford House that once belonged to Horace Hanford. The piano was donated to HMM by Ron and Grace Kent. The piano was sold by L.A. Babcock in Norwich, NY (inscribed on lid over keys) and it was made by Ivers and Ponds Piano Co, Boston in 1888.
“I have been working on expanding my antique engine collection and bringing a couple of recent acquisitions back into running condition. The one I just finished is a 1934 Maytag Multi-Motor which originally powered a wringer washing machine. I completely disassembled the engine, cleaned, painted, and reassembled it. After quite a bit of tinkering and adjusting, the little engine starts and pops along just like it did over 85 years ago.”
“These antique engines were made in an era when machines were built to last. It always amazes me how easily (relatively speaking) an engine that looks like a rusty hunk of metal, can be brought back to life. Broken parts often have to be fixed or fabricated by hand, but there are a surprising number of replacements that can be found online and on eBay. YouTube is very helpful to watch videos of other people restoring antique engines.”
“I have been visiting Hanford Mills since I was a young kid and the mechanical workings of the mill have always interested me. My grandfather was on the Board of Directors in the early years of the museum, so we went many times back then. I began collecting antique engines about three years ago and have exhibited at the Dan Rion Antique Engine Jamboree the last two years.”
The Hanfords installed this Fairbanks gasoline engine in the Mill in 1910 to power a dynamo that generated DC electricity for the Mill and nearby residents.
Luke Murphy, Education Coordinator, talks about reading up on the World Wars.
“I have always loved to read. For several years now, I have been fascinated by the World Wars. With the exception of a very limited number of countries, the whole world was engulfed in conflict. I am always trying to find lessons from the past and I believe we have a lot to learn from this terrifying period of time. I even have my trust research assistant, Rey, to help me!”
“The Pacific War by John Costello has been a great, one stop source of information and sources. Follow the information! I had a lot of preconceived notions about the Wars going into this many years ago and my opinions on things have changed a lot. It is a fascinating journey to spend so much time learning about things that interest you!”
“Hanford Mills Museum was operating throughout the World Wars….almost everyone was impacted by the Wars. It is incredible to see how everything connects!”
Shelly Jones, a trustee of Hanford Mills Museum, talks about writing, gardening, and inspiration found on long hikes.
“One of the reasons I joined the Hanford Mills Board of Trustees was the museum’s emphasis on sustainability and rural traditions. As someone who grew up on a farm and loves the outdoors, the mill’s missions reflect my own values and the themes found in my writing.”
“While I often write fiction, since the pandemic I’ve found myself writing more poetry. My creative writing often relies on natural imagery (birds, trees, flowers) and incorporates elements from folklore (herbal remedies, superstitions). Despite the quarantine, I’ve still managed to take long hikes (getting lost in the woods is a great way to social distance…) and these are often inspirational for my writing,” she says.
“I bought The Complete Language of Flowers, an encyclopedia of plants that I find very useful both for gardening and writing purposes.”
“Recently my colleagues and I hosted a virtual reading of our work online. It was a bit more challenging to gauge the audience’s reception of our work, but we found more folks could attend virtually than they could if we had held it in person.”
Tell us how you are spending your time “Milling About at Home” by completing this short form.
HMM Board president Burr Hubbell does windows…and tells us about a unique find on Hubbell Family Farms.
Here at Hanford Mills, Kevin Jensen is working on windows too. He set up a workshop in the Hardware Store. The large window is from the sawdust room in the Mill.
“And speaking of Milling Around,” says Burr, “look what was found while cleaning up a collapsed building, a nearly complete old cider press.”
Burr says the cider press was found by his niece Casey Mudge and her husband. The plan is to restore/rebuild it to working order. All of the equipment was there, apple elevator, grinder, racks, forms, etc. Also found was a very early Kneeland single cylinder vertical gasoline engine, which still runs. Maybe we will see these one day at the Antique Engine Jamboree?
Burr Hubbell, president of the Board of Trustees of Hanford Mills Museum, shared a few projects with us.
“Back in March, I made an Irish Soda bread, baked in a cast iron frying pan in the oven of the coal-fired Kalamazoo stove.”
The Royal Bride Cook Stove in the Hanford House can use either coal or wood as fuel.
“In April, the project was building a cold frame to start some early greens. The cold frame is in front of the “Cornell Approved” Chicken Coop. The chickens really ‘got into it’. They liked the way it warmed the dirt.”
“Got the sides on, filled it with compost and dirt, planted, and of course we got a little snow.”
Stephen Shursky, a Member of Hanford Mills Museum who has also exhibited at the Dan Rion Memorial Antique Engine Jamboree, on recreating a large flat belt-driven lathe.
“My projects are probably larger than most people’s. I enjoy repairing or restoring antique equipment, but I also like to put it to work.”
“I am recreating a large flat belt driven lathe, with a 20″ swing and about nine feet between centers. This is something I have been working towards for years. I cut an ash by the house, sawed it on my antique sawmill, planed the timbers with an antique 20″ planer powered by an antique tractor and flat belt. The lathe bed is two 4x8s and the legs are 4x4s. The legs are assembled with mortise and tenon joints with wood pins.”
“I have some books with antique woodworking equipment I have used for inspiration, like Vintage Woodworking Machinery by Dana M. Batory and American Industrial Machinery Since 1870 by C.H Wendel. I have also been inspired by Hanford Mills which I have been visiting since I attended SUNY Delhi in the late seventies. Also the Hill Sawmill in Duck Harbor, PA, which I first visited in 1980. I grew up in the woods and sawmill working with my Dad, I guess I have sap in my blood.”
“My advice is to have a strong back and proper equipment. Also be able to make parts you don’t have.”
Kevin Jensen, the Mill Interpretation and Research Specialist at Hanford Mills Museum, on raising chickens
“My family’s been raising our latest batch of chickens on our farm in Hobart. We got them as day-old chicks about a month ago and they have been growing quickly since then. Their breed is ISA Brown. Once they start to lay in mid-August, some of them will stay on our farm and lay eggs for us to sell and some will go to other people raising chickens. My family has been raising chickens for generations and for many years our farm operated as a large scale commercial poultry farm. We’ve scaled back since then but still enjoy raising flocks of chickens.”
“There are lots of resources online for people interested in raising their own chickens, which has become an increasingly popular backyard project in recent years.”
As we work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of us in the Hanford Mills community find ourselves with extra time. We want to highlight the projects, hobbies, and pursuits people are working on at home.
Read through these short profiles and you may gain a tip or some inspiration. See how people are expressing the spirit of Hanford Mills–ingenuity, dedication, entrepreneurship, rural traditions, sustainability, and creativity–as they “mill about” at home.
Complete this short form to let us know about a project you are working on.