Subject: JP and the TL5
Date: Feb 26 1997
Recently I emailed Fitch about the basket-case of a Hardinge
TL5 lathe I have been off and on (mostly off) restoring....which
by the way came stock with the 3 bevel-gear dog clutch auto-stop
whiz-bang threading setup Fitch has been asking about. If anyone
has any documentation on this machine AT ALL, I need it...I'll pay
copying costs, postage, whatever. This is a stout little roolroom
lathe (with normal tailstock) tricked-out for high speed treadcutting.
It'll be a neat machine if I can get it anywhere near it's former glory.
Anyhow, I got to thinking about the guy I bought this machine from....
Some day Fitch is going to ask where I found that lathe, and I haven't
the strength to tell that _whole_ story more than once.
JD was the former owner, quite the character...so much so, in fact, that
for _many_ weeks I had a very real fear that he might be posting to
_this_group_ under a pseudonym....Jd dabbled in electronics, optics, and
metalworking. He owned nothing five minutes before he had torn it apart
to fix what he felt were design defiencies.... He did some welding, and
was building a welder from old mainframe UPSs...sounds familiar, no? I
scaned many articles full of screaming, untested theories, and abusive
language looking for clues that would tell me if JD was the man behind
such disturbed raving. I was very relieved when research showed that
these postings came from someone who claims expertise in fields too
removed from reality even for JD. (ANY response from _anyone_ admitting
to fitting this discription of a _hopelessly_ disturbed individual will
be completely ignored by me, and HOPEFULLY by others as well.)
It occured to me that the group might really enjoy reading about JD,
but it's off topic I 'spose, so heres the deal: If it matters to you
one way or the other, email (just once each, please!) me saying "Aye"
or "Nay"...and if there are more horses than pirates, I'll quit already.
There is almost no possibility that any will believe that some of this
isn't made up, or at least exagerated....I'll spare you my affirmations,
beleave, or not, as you choose. I whish I had an imagination active
enough to have made it up. ANY resembelence to contributers to this news
group is coincidental, though as I have mentioned, the resembalence to
one seems uncanny. I also note some resembelence to Rancid Crabtree, a
frequent character of Patrick F. McManus, who wrote for "Field and
Stream" in the '70s.
JD had a lot to do with getting me interested in metalworking. There was
nothing that he wouldn't try to build, and many times he suceeded in
turning junk into something useful. He's still living, AFAIK, but I
have't seen him in a while...he lives(lived?) in the desert about an
hours hard driving from the nearest paved road w/o phone, power or even a
source of water (much less _running_ water)...A long trip to find out if
he is home or not...I digress though...JD's "place" will merit a chapter
of it's own. At various times JD has served me as a hero, a mentor, an
assistant, and a warning.
JD isn't quite his real name... I'm not going to exagerate, (as I don't
think I could!) but an accurate account of JD's exploits might be taken
as slander by some folks, so I changed the name a little, just so y'all
won't think I'm so bad to be making things up (I won't) about a for-real
person. I'm posting this stuff as I recall it.... will quit when I run
out, or when the protests outweigh the thanks. I also won't write
anything that would embarrass me if JD should happen to read it...
he knows full well that hears a different drum, and such has been
the topic of more than a few discussions between us.
Chapter 1, JD :
I met JD when my boss hired him to prepare a bid on producion of a
system that had been (mis) designed by a bunch of PhDs at one of
(there are two) the local nuclear physics and tax-money-wasting labs.
JD correctly identified most of the design's shortcomings by looking at
the prints, impressed the end-customer, and won us the production
contract, thus becoming an instant hero with management...it was all
a long downhill slide from there, however.
JD had come to New Mexico to set up a fab for a Semiconductor
manufacturer, the one who tried to copyright a number. When the fab was
up and running JDs work was done...somehow he met my boss, and the rest
is the makings of this tale.
The first thing one notices about JD is his enthusiasm, infectious smile,
and animated manerisms...The second thing you noticed was his smell. This
was occassionally due to lapses in hygene, but the dominating factor was
DMSO...For those unfamiliar, dimethelsulfoxide (sp??) is a commercial
solvent which penetrates through skin and is widely used as an analgesic
in veterinary ( and quack ) medicine. It has the bizarre side-effect of
producing breath which smells strongly of something roughly halfway
between garlic and smoked oysters. When the weather got damp, you stayed
upwind of JD. I tried some of the DMSO on a sprained thumb once, and
within a day had developed such an aversion to the taste it produced that
I stopped using it, and had trouble talking to JD on those "bad neck
days" without feeling nausia....also don't buy smoked oysters any more.
JD fancied himself a homeopathic doctor, and was without a doubt his own
I don't think JD owned anything that was 100% intact or functional, or if
it was, it was being used for something different than the manufacturer
intended....JD designed an optical assembly for my company that required
a part to be made out of a 44 magnum shell casing, fer instance. He would
buy things at surplus stores and pawnshops just because they were
interesting, and seemed all the happier if they were broken beyond
any hope of repair.
Every day, I'd find some broken gadget, an axe head with
a bullet hole in it, or a photocopied article on radar jammers waiting
on my desk (JD kept VERY irregular, and often late hours).
Soon the topic of every coffee-break conversation was what
screwy thing JD had left for whom that day.
Within a few months, JD had filled his office to overflowing with various
and sundry items....interesting rocks, broken Beta format VCRs, a sheet
metal brake , ancient video and 8mm movie cameras, lenses, and
, motorcycle magazines, half-eaten food, carburators, obsolete computers
and printers, and hard-core pornography magazines in at least 5 languages.
...all mixed, stacked, and slewn in no particular order. The parking lot
was not spared either...JD aquired an econoline based schoolbus, 4
different motorcycles, (2 crashed Honda 500CC V-turbos, a 650 Kawasaki,
and a 'Guzzi) a panel truck (labeled, ironically, "Sanitary Supply Co."
on the side).
One of the bosses couldn't take any more...JD had to go...but the other
boss still maintained he was brilliant....there was much arguing and
debate on mahogony row....Finally a compromise: JD was moved into a
corner of the rented warehouse accross the street from the company's
JD was in _heaven_...More room for more stuff!..soon the "Sanitary
Supply" truck had hauled in a Mill-rite vertical mill, sheet metal shear,
a chinese bandsaw (the BIG one, not the $190 one), and a non-operating
Hardinge TL5 lathe. UPS brought a combo mill-drill-lathe machine from
Harbor Freight. Lacking a lathe bit, JD cut back one flute of broken
drill bit and was turning aluminum within 10 minutes of it's arrival. The
grandest aquisition was a half-finished Monet Monerai motorglider (full
size), which JD was looking to power via a pressure jet.
JD tapped into the 3ph power leads, and soon had the mill running. By
moving a few months worth of "Computer Shopper" magazines into the
only clear walkway, you could actually use the mill....soon great heaps
of Aluminum and plastic swarf were confusing the mice in thier search for
crumbs. JD worked tirelessly churning out prototypes which a team of
draftsman and engineers had to figure out how to put into production
without the use of modified pieces of obsolete equipment. JDs enthusiasm
infected the supportive Boss, and the engineers had nightmares over
the cobbled-up jerry-rigs that had to be turned into economical,
produceable, reliable products.
A world record? One friday evening there was a after work "tailgater" in
the company parking lot. JD took up a collection and headed off on the
650 Kawi' for beer. He returned with _4_ cases...two tied on the
inadiquate luggage rack, one on his chest and on other on his back, held
on by a few turns of duct tape around the whole JD sandwich. I think
this must be some sort of record for most non-imbibed beer hauled on a
..end chapter 1...
I think there is probably material for about 5 more such missives..lemmee
know if you think this is a good idea. Note that this is non-fiction...
plot suggestions are not being solicited.
I'll follow up under the same thread, so those uninterested, but not
averse to having it in the NG can just ignore the one thread.
Subject: Re: JP and the TL5
Date: Feb 27 1997
Part 2 of ?
A few pirates (those who say "Aye") have emailed me, but no horses thus
far. If the count evens up, I'll ask for more input, but for now
I have enough encouragement to feel like more folks are enjoying this,
than being irritated by it, so no more need to fill my "in" mailbox.
Chapter 2...JD's "Place"
A few months after JD started working at my company, he started talking
about a place 'bout 20 miles past the end of the pavement which he had
"discovored", Within another month or two, he had become a squatter
He aquired some vega poles (vegas are the exposed round pine beams which
stick through the wall to the outside in traditional adobe houses), and
said he was building a hogan. (thats a circular, dirt floored, home
traditional with Navajo indians). He also bought a Chevron station....no
not the land, the building, which was being demolished for one of the new
style "Ready-Marts".. This consisted of a bunch of zig-zag metal truss
beams, and sheet metal panels with foam sprayed inside of them, and a
couple dozon 5or6" round colums.
JD eventually located the out-of-state property owner (before being
discovored) and purchased the place. Seems the owner had been taken in
by some sort of real-estate scam, and was delighted to sell of part of
his holdings.... JD said he had trouble limiting the deal to what he
could afford the taxes on...
This is sage-brush desert country, and JDs place is miles from anything
but a long-distance power-line.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I spent the better part of two sunday
afternoons trying to find this place. JDs directions were a little
vague.. "Go till the road gets bad, then keep going some more, untill it
gets really bad, then go a ways farther, and turn left onto the crushed
grass at the at the Foster's can with a rock on top of it...I'm just over
the first hill" ...Pretty close to that anyway.
Curiosity also infected a co-worker, who was into MotoX riding, and he
began searching for JD's "digs" as well. He succeeded before I did, and
the tales _really_ got my curiosity going. Seems JD wasn't expecting
Ryan's arrivial, so when he got there, JD, was, quoting Ryan, "Buck assed
naked", but was eventually persuaded to conceded to his guest's modesty
and put on some clothing. JD showed Ryan his privy....this comprised a
clothes dryer drum stood on end over a hole, with the requisite seat
loosly fastened to the top ...said JD of this construction "It just
doesn't get any better than this!"... For weeks afterward, Ryan would, at
odd moments, shake his head laughing and say "It just doesn't get any
better than this!".
On the third try, with Ryan's directions, I was finally able to find JD's
place. It was everything I imagined and more. The main dwelling was
(is?) sort of a circular lean-to built around the only tree for at least
a mile around (not counting large sage-brush)..heat and cooking on a wood
stove fueled by pallets. Secondary accomidation was a gutted travel
trailer, which had contained that half-finished motor-glider I wrote
JD had poured a slab for the Chevron station, and at one point had 2 1/2
walls up, but last time I was out there, the wind had taken out all but
the 1/2 part. After my bosses finally asked JD to move on, the machine
tools lived under inadequate tarps partly sheltered from the elements by
these walls....It is a desert, so rain is rare, still outdoors, is
outdoors, and just not a healty place to store good stuff.
Oh, yeah, the critters: JD had a dog, a chow she was, a couple of almost
feral cats, and of all things: a donkey. The donkey had been rescued
from a coyote trap on the King (former NM State govoner King that is)
ranch. Apparantly there is rather significant herd (is that what you
call a bunch of donkeys?) of feral donkeys in New Mexico. This one was
not quite weaned when it fell prey to the coyote trap. One of the ranch
hands knew JD, and asked him if he wanted the critter. JD nursed it to
health, and the thing follows him around like a puppy. The donkey is
very wooly with a main and head/facial hare that stand pretty much
straight out. JD has named him, appropriately, DonKing. DonKing is a
very curious animal, and, should you I at any task, liked to sneak up
behind me...I'd sense his presense, turn my head, and find myself nose
to nose with this fellow.
JD's place was far enogh from anything, that it made a good place to go
shooting, which nearly anyone who knew JD did....JD made a lot of
aquaintances that way, and I must say that I wasn't favorably impressed
with the character of any I met. (guess they probably say that about me
too) A few months ago, JD was interviewed by a newspaper reporter,
because an altercation that started between two of these, at his place,
escalated into a homocide. (ruled justifiable, in a well publicized and
contriversial hearing) Years earlier, I had figured out that I wasn't
comfortable with the company, and that rather limited my trips to JD's,
and has a lot to do with why I haven't ween him in some years. JD lumped
these into catagorys...There wer simple yahoos, Harley riders, neo-nazis,
and misc. (where I hope I fit in) The very last time I was at JD's I met
one of the neo-nazis...JD wasn't kidding, scary stuff. I think the news
account, though, involved a couple of the yahoos. JD never seemed to
share my discomfort, passing the time cheerfully with all comers.
Apart from poor marksmanship, (ever notice that the worse a shot someone
is, the more rounds thier magazine holds?) there was much else to be
learned on a trip to JD's. fer instance, a trash bag (UK bin liner) full
of pure acetylene gas will detonate (rather spectacularly, I might add!)
from the shock wave of a high-powered rifle round, but not usually from a
Then there is JD's "cannon". This was about 8 feet of heavy walled steel
tubing, with a piece of re-bar stuck through crossways, and welded in
place, about two feet from one end. The "breech" (end closest to rebar
crosspiece) was closed by a beer-can filled with sand, resting aginst the
ground. The projectile was another such can, about 1/2 filled with sand,
and was held away from the breech by that re-bar piece. The two foot
space between the cans contained a touch hole. The propellent was
Oxy-acetelyne. The torch was lit, andjusted for a neutral flame, and
quinched against a copper plate. The torch tip was placed into the
touchole for the length of time required for grown men acting foolish to
become rather bored (not very damned long). The torch was then lit
again, and the pure acetylene flame applied to the touch-hole. The
report was a thing of beauty, and the flight of the wildly tumbling
projectile easily traced by the trail of sand/dust spewing from the
openings. Limiting range is about 350 yds. Doubtless a dangerous, and
damned fool device, but loads of fun, I gotta tell ya!
JD had a larger version which fired empty disposable propane cylinders
(the shorter, but larger diameter of the two common types). This was a
little louder, but the projectiles were not as abundant as beer cans,
(with which JD was apparantly atempting to pave his driveway) and were
hard to find in the dessert, so I only saw that one fired a couple of
I was able to get JD to install sparkplugs into these, so that they could
be fired remotely, with a little more safety...old car pieces being in
almost as abundant a supply at JD's as beer cans, this was about a
half-hour project, and didn't even require a trip to town.
Many would balk at the lack of public utilities at JD's place. JD got by
on a couple of jerry-rigged solar panals and deep-cycle marine batterys
operating with no regulation (other than manual disconnect) at all.
Bigger jobs, like firing up the mill, were handled by a gasoline
generator. JD is quite content to do without a telephone...I actually
tried trhis for a while, and found it quite nice...my girlfriend didn't
The big problem for JD was water. The last I knew, JD was really happy
that he had a new neighbor, only 3 miles away, with a well. JD told me
his mother had come to visit him a while back, and had offered to buy him
a well if he'd keep a cell-phone. JD hadn't gotten back to her on
that....but was still trying to decide if he could afford such a well. I
really regret not getting to meet JD's mom...The only other thing
(besides about the well) JD has told me of her is that she was the best
shot in the family.
"It just dosn't get any better than this!"
....end chapter 2....
Subject: JD rides again
Date: Mar 14 1997
Not sure theres much of a chapter here...we'll see I guess.
Got my coffee, got my carne adovada & eggs burrito, here goes:
Chapter 3: JD And The Roof
The roof is as much a part of this chapter as JD.
When I bought my house, I new the roof was near the end of it's
useful life. "I can do that", says I, and lowballed an offer to
the seller, noting the condition of the roof.
Albuquerque is fairly dry most times, (Not last summer though) so
I managed to procrastinate a couple of years before deciding that roof
just had to be re-done.
Put the job out for bid, and priced the materials. Calculated the the
difference would pay a helper, buy a bunch of roofing tools, a compressor,
and still have lots of money left over for buying machine tools, or
1/2 interest (or at least a big down payment) in a 15M sailplane.
Located a near-new pneumatic roofing nailer at a good price, and that
sealed it. (I'd consider offers on that nailer BTW...Bostich still in
Now who do you suppose I know that is reasonably experienced with light
construction, has no regular job, and could use tsome money? Well, in
this case you get no points for guessing that I hired JD to help with
the roof (the end of his employment with my company will need to be it's
Now JD lives a good 2 hr. trip, one-way from my place. He had one
vehicle that ran reliably, and another which was registered. I better
digress into a discription of the "runner". This was a maroon Cadilac of
mid-70's vintage. One day, JD was working on it (never did find out
what he was doing, exactly) and a gust of wind (it can really honk
around these parts, at times) slammed the driver's door, catching JD's
finger in the door-latch. This was serious, and JD had to drive himself
to a hospital...ended up loosing about the last 1/3 of that finger. After
the finger was patched up, JD went back to work on the car. To make sure
the door didn't get him again, he took it off. Before he got around to
putting it back on, (I think this was maybe 3 months later) somebody
offered him $50 for the door, and as he still harbored a grudge against
it (the finger got infected, and took a long time to heal) he sold
it....Thus the unregistered Cadillac would be rather conspicuous, even
without a trail of blue smoke following it.
Anyhow, I was starting to say that part of the arraingement would be that
JD would be staying with me. I was a little impressed that JD was ready
to go when I got to his place pre-dawn on saturday morning. He loaded up
his tools comprising 3 rusty shovels, and two levels with three intact
vials between them, and a folding camp saw ("cuts on the pull stroke" he
told me at leas tw dozon times) (we had to re-do some of the sofet and
facia). He had me stop at the neighbor's to "check out" and make sure
they would feed & water the dog and the donkey.
I got another friend to pitch in, and by really hustling, we had most
of the old roof stripped by 10 AM, when the materials were schedualed
to arrive. (I'd verified this at the lumber yard the day before).
About 11, I started wondering when they would get there. Called the
yard..."yes, yes, on thier way right now"..about 12:30 I called again,
and was again assured that delivery was imminant. About 2:30, tired,
dirty, blistered, and mad as hell, I went over to the lumber yard with
the idea that I was either going to follow the delivery truck home, or
get myself arrested. It was really looking like it would be the latter
...Got 3 different stories from a clerk and two assistant managers,
(Manager was off that day) none of whom seemed to know where the
delivery truck might be. I decided I was being lied to (I was) and
aughta stand outside the entrance letting folks know how much better
they might be treated at any other buisiness, untill the management either
decided to make me happy, or called the police. Just as I was taking
up a position to do such, the delivery truck pulled in. I decided, I'd
see what lie the driver would tell me. Turned out the driver was a
decent sort,(named Cleveland, after
the engine, BTW) and took it upon himself to see what was happening...
Soon he was as mad at his employer as I was...he and I
loaded my order onto the the truck. The yard had sold my shingles to
someone else at 11 AM that morning. He got a better grade shingle
substituted for what I bought, had the management issue me a $50 gift
certificate on top of that, and followed me home with the loaded truck.
By 5:30 or so, we had the roof loaded, and commenced
2-1/2 years later, I finally needed something that
none of the other lumber yards carried, and went back there. Cleveland
was(is) now a manager, and remembered my name...only thing that could've
gotten me to ever shop there regularly again.
Getting back to JD: We got some felt rolled out, and the first shingle
layed with the sun getting well down in the sky. Due to the late
start, JD decided we hadn't aughta let lack of daylight deter us, so he
rigged a couple of my clamp-lights on my camera tripod atop my truck,
a Coleman lantern on a pole near the peak, and we worked untill the
police showed up. (about 11 pm) I was actually grateful to the neighbor
that had sent the police...logic and good sense are just no match for
JD's enthusiasm.The prospect of further encouters with Albuquerque's
finest damped said entusiasm to controllable level.
I convinced JD we shouldn't pound any nails before 7 am, nor after 10pm.
Working at night wasn't really a bad idea: By 10am the shingels were
too hot to work, and stayed that way 'till 6 pm or so. The work dragged
on for some weeks, due to some rather involved repairs, installation of
5 skylights, and a couple of early thunderstorms slowing us down too.
Partly from living 3 miles from the nearest neighbor, but mostly due to
his nature, JD doesn't know the meaning of the word "stranger". No
passerby was safe from his comments: "Nice dog", "Hot enough for you?"
"Just how many blocks do you walk every morning?"...Now I'm all for being
friendly and such, but often as not these comments would lead to a 5 or
10 minute conversation, and JD couldn't swing a hammer and talk at
the same time....Set down his tools, walk to the edge of the roof...
Hands on his hips....Well, I was getting on JD's nerves too...what they
say about familiarity breeding contempt sure proved true in this case...
.Wasn't just pedestrians either: "Nice paint job!" "You've almost got
some tread left on those tires!" "You call _that_ music?"...oh well, at
least the cars didn't stop to chat.
Joe Wilson, the retired man behind me, moved his Lazy-Boy out to the back
porch, deciding that JD was a lot more entertaining to watch than daytime
TV. JD dealt with the midday heat by wearing a baseball cap with a
handful of icecubes under it. JD normally goes bare-footed at his place,
but the roof was a little too treacherous for that, so he laced on what
appeared to have once been a pair of running shoes. These required a
really peculiar gait to keep the soles flopping in such away as to stay
underfoot. Monty Python fans will recall John Cleas's "Ministry
of Silly Walks" sketch...not quite that bad, but getting there.
I've previously mentioned that JD fancies himself a homeopath, and part
of his health regiment involves frequent stretching exercises....he
is really VERY limber, especially for someone pushing 50. Anyway, JD
would work for a bit, set down his hammer, spread his arms wide,
letting aut a loud exaggerated yawn, then wrap a leg around
his neck, leaving it there for a minute or so...get up, refill the
ice in his cap, and go back to work. Joe was right...no way Oprah could
One corner of the roof had rotted out. Fortunatly this was non-
structural, the damage being confined to the overhang at one gable.
The roof decking overhung, and supported a 2x4 false rafter 14" off
the outside wall. JD had just cut two new decking planks to replace
the rotted ones when I got home from work. I walked over to look at the
work, and JD stood up, put his hands on his hips (conversational posture)
then took a step back onto the overhung boards (not nailed in yet) he
had just cut to size. In about 1 second JD's center of gravity was a
foot off the roof. Somehow I got ahold of one arm, and stood him
back on the roof without going off myself. Had a talk with him about
maybe leaving the beer untill after we'd quit for the day. He later
put one leg through the felt where we'd cut out for a skylight, but
somehow the job got done with only one real injury:...wore my wrist
out (repetitive stress) swinging a hammer. Something a guy probably
aughta work up to before doing it 8 hrs. a day. (good technique helps
too, I bet) Still use a power screwdriver if I have more than 3-4 to
put in, as the wrist won't stand much of that twisting.
We got through the job without coming to blows either, though it did put
a lot strain on a friendship. I tested JD's patience with a number of
comments that started with the words "While were at it, we aughta...."
Those skylights being the worst of it. I had some problems with JD
jerry-rigging things that were to be part of the house...like framing
a skylight off the roof decking instead of the rafters, for example.
The odd mix of JD being at once a houseguest & a hired hand probably
doesn't have good odds of working out well anyway, sort of like the
addige about not lending money to (or borrowing fom ) a friend.
I aughta go out and check on JD before long, need to take back that level
with the 3 broken vials he left at my place.
-end chapter 3-