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Question of the Day:

Sign announcing 24 hour bait machine

"Do fishermen really need to be able to buy bait 24 hours a day?"

Sparky's History of Cement in Split Rock City
Guy messing with cement
Reasons nothing is made from concrete in Split Rock City:

When you’re working with concrete it requires first getting the bags of cement, and they’re pretty heavy and hard to steal.  Then you need a lot of sand, which is available in the area, but it, too is real heavy and takes a lot of work to secure enough for a big project.  Then you need a lot of small rocks, and they’re also a lot of trouble to acquire without a lot of work.  Then you must mix the three ingredients together and add water, and again mix in the water thoroughly, another heavy and tiring job.

Then, by the time you get it all mixed and ready to pour, you’re most likely tired and thirsty, but you can’t leave it just then…assuming you have the forms prepared properly, you still need to pour the mix into the form and smooth the top numerous times as it sets and dries.  If you need more, you’ll need further mixing and pouring and smoothing.  If you get thirsty and have to leave for a while, by the time you return, the concrete will have most likely set up in the mixing trough or wheelbarrow, and you will be left with a useless blob of concrete that may also ruin your mixing trough or wheelbarrow, or at least require the use of dynamite to remove.

All in all, a very distasteful project.

That’s why all of the folks around Split Rock City have unanimously approved the use of wood as the standard of construction.

Trees are readily available, and Hiram’s Log & Lumber is all set up to either cut logs to length or square them up in the case of large timbers, or further, to saw logs into lumber for added convenience.  Nails are easily acquired from unguarded construction sites on the other side of the mountain.

By far, the favorite feature of wood is the ability to just run off in the middle of a project whenever the mood strikes, as in the case of an attack of severe thirst or hunger, or sudden illness brought about by impure food or drink, or simply fatigue.

Sparky's Back Yard
Page 4
by Sparky

The Split Rock City Railroad

Featuring Construction and Operational Information About the Railroad

Split Rock City will be a small, pertend town full of pertend people, and they will need a railroad to get around, cuz, jest natcherally, everybuddy will want to get to somewhere else.

That's why Jim and I are building all these important things out in the back yard.  Of course, I'm doing a lot of the complicated work, but Jim Picture of my Acme Wagon after it broke down while still under warrantyis no slacker, and he gets a lot of the heavier things done so I don't get too tired or get in an accident and get injured or break my Powerful Steam Shovel or my Acme Wheelbarrow or Acme Wagon again.

The wagon fell apart while I was hauling a simple load of rocks to be installed alongside the new flower beds on the east side of the house.  Correspondence with the manufacturer was useless, cuz they claimed I had overloaded it and that's why it broke down like shown in the pitcher.

That's why I don't buy nothing from that Acme Company anymore.  The coyote that chases that roadrunner buys a lot of their products, and that's why I bought that wagon in the first place, but I guess I should have known, cuz that coyote has a lot of trubble with their products also.

I finally got the wagon to stay together after I put in some reel strong bolts and washers to hold on the back wheels.  Now I ken reely 

We had a Split Rock City at our old house, so we brought all the buildings with us, and they will be installed as soon as we get the tracks put down and working like they're supposed to work.

So be sure to watch fer the building named after me.  It's called "Sparky's Discount Shootin' Iron Warehouse."

July 13, 2003.  Well, for the last several days, Jim and I (Sparky) have been out in the yard building some little retaining walls to hold up the upper track when we get that installed after finishing the grading for the roadbed.

The pitchers below show the continuing construction of retaining walls for the upper roadbed.  My powerful Steam Shovel continues to amaze people with how it makes short work of even the largest of excavations.  The first picture below shows it digging for the roadbed that will go in front of the Maple tree that we have there to provide us with shade, and eventually, some day, we hope, maybe it will be a source for Maple syrup, but that's another project entirely.

The second pitcher shows it after completion of backfilling with dirt behind the big stone wall that it also helped to lift the large stones into position to make for a faster and neater job.  It is heading across the bridge supports so it ken get down to excavate the large hole for the foundation of the long wooden cribbing wall that is being built jest North of the just-completed stone wall.  Pitcher 3 shows it beginning on that project.

Pitcher 4 shows the excavation is complete and construction of the cribbing wall is underway.  I'm not in any of the upcoming pitchers cuz it got too hot fer me out there where the tree shade don't reach, and anyway, my powerful Steam Shovel was all done fer the day.

Pitcher 5 shows the cribbing wall getting taller.  Pitcher 6 shows it nearly done and partially backfilled.  Pitcher 7 shows the wall completed and backfilled, ready fer the train tracks, almost.

The last pitcher, number 8, shows an overview of the entire project with several completed walls, ready fer the installation of some special gravel called "Breeze," that the tracks will sit on.  Breeze is jest some special little tiny rocks that are left over after they smash up reel big rocks that they make all different sizes of rocks and gravel out of, so they can pave roads and things like that.  

Sparky's Backyard Photo Album

Picture of powerful Steam Shovel digging for roadbed in front of tree
Here's my Steam Shovel working

Powerful Steam Shovel finished backfilling, headed to dig for wooden cribbing
Steam Shovel moving below

Powerful Steam Shovel digging for wooden cribbing
Digging below for wooden cribbing

Digging complete, beginning construction on long cribbing wall
Starting cribbing construction

Cribbing construction well underway
Construction underway

Wall nearly done, partially backfilled with dirt
Nearly done, backfilled

Completed wall, backfilled
Completed and backfilled

Overhead view of completed wall and backfilled upper roadbed
Overview of completed wall

Different Kinds of Gravel:

"Breeze" is scrunched up rocks that range in size from dust to about 1/4" square.  It packs together reel good, and looks like what the big railroads use to hold their tracks in place.

"Crusher Fines" is similar to Breeze, but it may contain rock sizes from dust to 1/2" or so in size.  You ken sort it out with a big piece of special screen wire, like the guy uses when he sifts flour to get out the big chunks over at the donut store.  Of course, you'll need a bigger one that you ken make with the correct size screen and probably a wooden frame like the one Jim forgot to bring from the old house when we moved to this house.

"Squeegee" is like little sand and gravel up to about 1/4" in diameter, all mixed together.  All of the pieces are sorta round like ball bearings, and it doesn't pack together very good, so we don't use it.

"Road Base" is often crushed concrete recycled from building and highway demolition.  Many larger cities have businesses that collect broken concrete and store it in high "mountains" near the crushing machine.  Old asphalt is also collected and recycled.  Both pack very well and are priced fairly low, and the only concern is that there may be some leaching of lime or other embedded chemicals that could damage plants.

"Crushed Stone or Rock" is jest different sizes of scrunched-up rocks that they sort out fer you, and it comes in a lot of sizes, 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", and so on.  Of course, if you find some that are different sizes mixed in, they won't let you take them back and exchange them, so you'll jest have to figger out how to use them up somewhere else.

"Rip Rap" is jest smashed-up big rocks.  They usually sell them as 2-12", or 4-16", or 10-24", or something different, depending on your rock supplier.  That means that most of the rocks will fall within the range stated.  Of course, you'll also have some dust and dirt with the mixture, so plan on using that up as well.

"Boulders" are bigger rocks, and are normally sold at a higher price due to the fact that most people will pay more for them cuz they're too hard to jest steal from along the road.  Some quarries will give them away if they have too many of them, cuz they might not fit into their rock smooshing machine, and they can't do much else with them.

That's about it fer the story about rocks and gravel.  I jest mostly needed to fill this column so I could fill out this page properly, or else it sits funny when the column at the left is longer than the middle one.

That's about it fer this page.  I'll have some more pitchers in a couple of days and then I'll add them to the album that will be on the next page. --Sparky
Beverage of the Day:

Iced Sun Tea (Decaffeinated so it won't ruin our afternoon naps).

Lunch Food:

Ham & Cheese Sandwich.

I heard how the "Sandwich" got its name.  Jim said his dad told him that when he was a kid in New Jersey and they used to go to the beach, they always took along some bread and some stuff to put in it, between 2 slices.  They jest called it "Lunch."Drawing of lunch before some kids kicked sand all over it

Whenever they made a bunch of them, and set them out on a plate in the middle of the beach blanket, sooner or later, some unruly kids would come racing around and kick sand all over their lunch, so they started calling them "SANDwiches."

Duct Tape Test Results

While we was deciding what kinds of things we could use fer retaining walls, I saw an old beat-up car with the back seat window made out of duct tape, so I jest natcherally thought that maybe we could make a retaining wall out of duct tape, cuz it's reely sticky.

Well, the results were very disappointing, to say the least.  I tried 2 kinds of duct tape, the regular and the exter shiny, then to make a fair test I also used some electric tape and masking tape, as shown in the photo below:

This picture shows the 4 different kinds of tape we tried

Then I waited about 10 minutes and went outside to check on the results.  The photo below shows what happened.  For that reason I will tell you that you should probably avoid using any kind of tape to build retaining walls.

Photo showing duct tape test results

I didn't try putting the tape in the other direction, so I can't promise you that it wouldn't work, but I got some of that tape and dirt all over me and in the house, so I don't like working with tape of any kind.  And also, when you try to pull off that tape it  sticks to your paws, and it will pull out some of your fur as well.

I also found out about tome tape called "Gaffer Tape," and it is available in all sorts of pretty colors, but based on my extensive testing on the other kinds of tape, I believe it would perform very similar to the tapes actually tested, but in case you're a glutton for disappointment, you ken jest click below for more information on all kinds of tape:

Gaffer Tape Info. 


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Copyright (C) 2004 by James J. Meagher