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Guest Writer's Cabin

This is a story presented to you all to enjoy by a feller goes by the name "Two Blankets" And please respect his copyright and don't take any or all of his story thanks and enjoy!

THE Chainsaw Revisited

A more or less academic approach to remedying the various ills 0f recalcitrant labor saving devices, lame shootin irons, and other such notable problems.

To begin with, ya gotta understand there are people in this world who've got nothin better to do with their time than solve other people's problems. Not with practical experience, nor with usable examples no sir, these sorts just spend their dadblamed life thinkin up solutions. Sometimes they even have to invent a problem to fit their solution.

A spell ago. it came to the attention of some, that there was a serious problem at hand, in the form of unreliable chainsaws. Evidently quite a commotion was set up by the ladies whose husbands had thoughtfully provided them with these costly labor saving devices. Now that's gratitude for ya! But come to think on it, probly would be an advantage to fix this problem. so's to have a bigger woodpile for the winter. Might not have to send her out to cut before next spring if she lays up nough now. So with the idea of savin you fellers some inconvenience (remember -someone has to fetch the mail in and stoke the stove while she's out in the woodlot all day), we fiqured to turn the problem over to the committee. for the past few months they worried it over, and I'm just pleased as a hound with his belly in tickle grass to announce that a solution has been found.

Now here in this neck of the brush, we have a gathering of people collectively referred to as a Shootin Club. Nice enough folks, although they do tend to use howitzers that load through the front end. And they occasionally go about saddled down with dead animal skins 'stead of reglar clothes. But for the most part they seem a pretty tame bunch. Within this group, there exist several specialized types of shooters. The account you're about to read deals with the fine folks I hang out with; Bench Shooters.

Understand now - we're Bench Shooters. I don't rightly want anyone to mistake us for bench Rest shooters. Them bench Rest shooters are wierd.They favor guns that takes three men and a stout young mule to carry. They spend their lives trying to put five balls into one little bitty tight group, or hole, out around 75-100 yards or so. Personally, I think they most usually put two balls in the target and then put the rest into the dirt. But to hear them tell it, they got all of 'em through that one raggedy hole... leastways that's what they always tell the scoremaster. They do tend to carry around a lot of fancy gadgets too. Things that tell the wind, and the time of day, and how fur away the target is : all sorts of stuff. On a personal level, they tend to be a perculiar sort of animal. Mostly they don't amount to much of nothin in perticlar. 'Bout the only thing they seem good at is getin elected to public office or attending them TV preacher seminary schools.

Now a real Bench Shooter is a whole nuther breed of cat. They're generally professionals within their area of business, skilled craftsmen, that sort of thing. We don't favor much gear. Look, if you unpack it and carry it away from the truck ya just gotta carry it back later! Right? 'Bout all a bench shooter needs is a shade tree and at least one other bench shooter; or a greenhorn. And it's a right smart idea to carry along at least one woman to fetch stuff and keep the fire stoked. Our rules are right simple -You don't interrupt the shooter who's talking more than twice, 'less he's a good deal smaller, or unarmed! And we don't reckon we need to put a time limit on our relays, 'cause necessary trips to the hooter pretty well takes care of those who would tie up our range all day. And we don't pay much attention to the regulated "positions" used to shoot most matches. We figure squatin, sittin, laying down or leaning against a pickup door ought to be up to the good sense of the shooter - and his relative sobriety - not some goldanged rules committee.

Over a time, this perticlar gathering has come to be known as "The Loose Group". Before ya get the idea that the Loose Group is just a bunch of derelicts, let me tell you; we got some real fine civilized people among us. Just as a sample fer instance we got us a surgeon, an officer of the court, and a leader and elder of a native american group Lots of right smart thinkin power there. Naturally enough, with all that unused intelligence just layin around, people tend to hand off problems to the group. And occasionally, we do hook one of our own choice; tho maybe not exactly waitin to be asked.

Ole Doc Farqstartter is usually the one who brings new problems to the attention of the general membership. He can read, and he's some nosey I guess. Anyway, he comes up with some dillys. Now we all calls him "Doc" cause he says he does surgury for some fancy hospital down in the big city. There has been some doubt cast on that tale. 'Bout a year back, Ole Doc done Cloyd a bad turn. Made a promise to Cloyd and then backed out on it. I hear Cloyd came up to Doc in an awful dither. "Doc, I need you to do somethin about that female of mine." "I got too dammed many kids". "They're just overrunin my place, eatin ever thing in sight, and I just can't afford to feed any more!" So Ole Doc says, "No problem Cloyd, you just bring her on up to the city hospital next Tuesday, and I'll sterilize her." "Won't take hardly no time at all." So Cloyd chews on that idea for a bit, and allows as how he figures a bit of cleanin up and a bath might not hurt her: "But what I really need Doc, is for you to fix her so's she don't raise no more of them kids"

Well, the time come, and Cloyd hauled his female clear up to the city hospital. But there and then Ole Doc done him a bad turn. Seems Doc not only refused to operate on her, but got downright bristled up at Cloyd. Just my own personal opinion ya know, but I hold it was Cloyd's fault. He oughta known better than to haul that old Nannygoat clear up to the city in a rainstorm without a tarp over her. Now if you ain't had the experience of smellin a wet nannygoat, you may have trouble figurin the whole thing out: but you'll just have to trust me on this one - no doubt about it - it was the rain that caused Ole Doc to act a fool like that. . Anyways , there are some who sort of take Doc 's qualifications with a grain of salt after that little dustup. Probly violated his hippocritic oath to boot...

Now I got to explain a bit about our legal council; Al Capon. And be sure to get the name right. He's right sensitive about it. Seems he had the "e" dropped years ago all legal and proper. Well Al don't amount to much at all as far as shootin irons go, and to tell the truth - he's a little strange around the edges - that earring bothers me some I reckon; but we need him. Or I guess we do; he keeps tellin us we do. Besides, he can write, so's we let him hang around just in case we feel the need to fire a letter up to the statehouse now an agin. Folks don't let him get in the shootin matches much. He's right fond of that there Eyetalin pasty, and lordamighty he can put away a bunch of it. Why, his belly is out so fer it's a natural rest for his squirrel gun... some folks object to that as bein a artifical violation of the Off Hand rules. Al's been lawyerin for most all his life I guess. Must be right good at it too. He's got a purtnear new third-hand Buick with this year's license, and most of the lights work! Even got a fancy business card. One of them that has ten or so phone numbers on it. Bad thing about that, is that you gotta call near't ever one of em sometimes to catch up with him. And lotta times it's blamed hard to get someone to answer one of them payphones...

I wouldn't usually mention Chief Bear Ash, but he figgers prominently in the solution we come up with, so I guess he deserves an introduction. Bear Ash is a full-blood Fugowee and hereditary Chief of their reservation. Most of us let him hang around simply because he's a mechanical injuneer, so we let him sort out problems with shootin irons when it comes to measurin and cuttin and such. Bear Ash was the one who came up with the idea of sendin off fer a goverment grant to fund a study of this chainsaw problem. Seems the people up at the statehouse, and clear on up to Washington D&C, have hard money to give away to folks who study on problems! What with Bear Ash being a token minority an all, we figured as how our problem study was a leadpipe cinch to get some of that money. Wish we had a known about that years ago. I had me a cousin once't that did a lot of studyin on problems. Most all his life I guess He shoulda got one of them grants. Of course, I spect all that goverment money would have probly made him quit studyin, cause he never did hold much with havin a reglar job.

I'd ought to mention that Bear Ash don't have no real sheepskin degree, so's I reckon the moniker of Mechanical Injuneer is sort of an honorary degree, kinda like one of them Doctorate of Humanities things: big differance is, Bear Ash earned his. Seems the Fugowee have quite a spread over near Seaport Kansas. They got a hunnerd or so acres of scrub brush and trailers. Ground won't grow nothin but rocks, so they're a mite poor. Figurin to increase the tribal larder, several of the ones that been to school decided to take on the goverment folks a few years ago. They come up with some old treaties that says Washington promised them a reservation boundary a mite further west than the one marked nowadays. They figured if they could get The Great White Father to honor his treaty, then they would have a few hundred thousand more acres to raise goats and potatoes on. I reckon things were comin along nicely until that local bureaucrat got all bristled up at 'em. Guess that governor feller made it plain that he weren't about to give up Topeka without they come up with some real impressive trade goods... Hell, that ground they got now is real poor. It'd take them wimen forever and tarnation to trap enough groundhogs and pelt 'em! Since that deal fell through; Bear Ash got together with some more of the boys and decided the thing to do was to get into the railroad business, in order to raise some cash money.

Seems like a sound idy to me, seem as how several of them Right coast fellers had made a pile of money runnin railroads, and then sellin 'em back to the government. So, Bear Ash and the boys eventually procured a steamtrain from the Goverment Department of Surplus Commodities and Used Postholes. On the big day, they all piled into the car that started, and set off to the railhead 'bout thirty miles down the crick. Well, everthing went fine cause they by chance had brought along a youngin who could sign his name. Once they had the bill of lading all signed up, the Fugowee Short Line was in business. Now Bear Ash, seem as how he was the one who knew how to drive, figured he would just naturally enough drive this steamtrain. They got her fired up right off although there was a mite of excitement for a short time. Skunk Breath figured this thing was about the biggest danged woodstove he had ever lit a fire in, so he really dosed her with a big charge of that toxic waste the Fugowee make for drinkin likker. After they spread out and found the firebox door and got her wired back on, it did finally settle down some. By the time Bear Ash got her backed down off the blind siding, all present were properly impressed with his skill and mastery of the white man technology, so they figured he earned the Mechanical Injuneer title.

It pains me some to report that the Fugowee Short Line didn't pan out though. Seems those injuns Just got no luck a'tall. It was bad enough that Bear Ash used up most of the day gettin that steamtrain turned around in the parking lot but then he missed the proper off-ramp and ended up on one of them six chute cement trails headed West. Afore things got too out of hand, they decided to stop and ask directions. Right smart thing to do under the circumstances. Unfortunately when Skunk Breath pulled the big lever back thinkin to set the handbrake, everyone disembarked leaving the old gal all to herself. Of course even with the throttle pulled clear back into flight gear, it takes a steamtrain a sight of time to gather up any real speed. They run after her a couple of miles or so and finally give it up as a bad deal as she was gamin steadily on 'em.

After a mite of rest and a smoke, they reached the conclusion that most likely the thing would run out of gas about twenty miles or so down the road, so they would Just lay a camp and go round her up next mornin. Their plans sorta took another turn though. Come sunup, the early edition of The Seaport Lookin Glass had a front page AP wire story about this mighty peculiar accident over in Pagosa Springs Colorado. Seems some steamtrain come down off the pass and exceeded the posted residential speed limits by a considerable bunch of knots. What really set their noses out of Joint though, was the fact that it fetched up and died right on top of the mayor's outhouse. Guess there was some talk of Federal Warrents and such. Somethin havin to do with air quality or ozone depletion or some such nonsense.

The semi-permenant temporary appointed Pagosa Town Marshal and Annual Rendevoos Organizer allowed as how he would not rest until he had the guilty as sin vandals behind bars; just as soon as he evicted that herd of hippies he'd been keepin for a spell. After all, you just can't sweep it under the rug when someone desecrates the town memorial: especially when it was up for consideration to be classified a County Historical Monument and Photo Opportunity Site.

These Fugowee could see the handwriting on the wall. (and one or two could read it) ... So discretion won over. They decided they probably didn't want to claim the wayward engine after all, and anyway it probably would'a just got stuck on some of the reservation's dirt roads. Then there was the problem of building another still so's they would have enough extra elixer to light her off ever mornin. Just one fool thing after another, until it began to look like it was more trouble than it was worth. I understand they eventually sold her back to the Federals; and did finally come up with a sum of hard money, by tackin on several pages of cost overruns and research and development fees. Come to think of it, I believe Al was in on that. Someone got it all haywired anyhow, and that sounds like Al. Heard the Feds screamed like a mashed cat when they were forced to call in a bunch of them toxic waste cleanup fellers so's they could retrieve their steamtrain. Al had a bit of trouble divertin that Treasury check too. Nobody could locate the Fugowee Research and Development Installation account for the Pagosa Springs branch...

What with all that experience in things mechanical, we pretty quick figured Bear Ash might be handy to have at hand when such problems came up. So we let him hang around. Mostly we decided that, after Al said we had to keep him. Federal Goverment says so. Him bein a minority an all. Don't make no difference if he don't contribute a dern thing, they say we gotta keep em. Besides, when we can tap off a little bit from the Jug, that stuff he carries around makes right fine borecleaner. Just don't want to leave her sit too long unless you figure to start shootin in the smoothbore matches.

Now a little spell ago, an assortment of these fine specimens were gathered around the stove at my place. The gathering of The Loose Group had been called because of a problem what needed some study. Come to recollect, it might'a been called cause Slack Jaw come across a real buy on some recently discontinued Grain Belt that didn't have hardly no rust on the cans.

Howsomever, we were gathered up and lookin over Slack Jaw's old frontloader. He'd recently struck up again a problem with this thing shootin strange. Seems about ever other shot, the roundball would keyhole. Well, with shootin iron problems, there has always been an orderly progression when it comes to identifying the cause of problems with accuracy and function. In order of most likely causes you have. " Worked fine until I let that dimblasted gunsmith touch it"... Then; "Must be them German Silver sights. Whatinhell the Germans know about gunsights anyhow? You'd think they'd had sense enough to make em able to adjust with a reglar ballpeen." And so on down the list. Somewhere near the bottom you find "Operator Error", but so far as is known, no one has failed to solve a gun problem before reachin that far down the list.

Necessarily, we commenced to work on the most likely cause of the problem; but shortly had to admit that since Slack Jaw had had that run in with the gunsmith over five years ago, maybe it might take further consideration after all. Old Slack Jaw hasn't had much use for them gun mechanics since that one over in Tequila Flats refused to doctor his favorite frontstuffer. When it was right new, Slack Jaw took her to the range to set the sights. Turns out she shot a bit low. Now it's a bunch easier to adjust the elevation by dumpin in a smidge more powder, as opposed to whittlin on the sights That course of action did bring her up some, but after a time that target paper looked like a handgrenade went off in front of it. One of them Bench Rest Shooters come wanderin over and allowed as how the ball weren't patched tight enough and was probably undersize anyway. "If you want it to shoot right, you gotta pack her tight so's the pressure can come up" "gotta use a hard cast ball too"......

Upon returning home, Slack Jaw rooted around in the shed and come up with some not too badly rusted wheel bearing. Had a fair bunch of'em: Farmall, Nash, Binder, a resonable good selection of sizes. Figured they was about the hardest cast ball he ever tangled with. Took em all down to the basement, selected a large enough hammer and a good screwdriver and proceeded to chisel the cages off. By trial and error he come up with a 49 Cadillac ball bearing that was just about plumb close to right. Next week at the range, Slack Jaw came up to the line all smiles and full of good cheer (no doubt due in part to the Rosey O'Grady he soaks that Redman leaf in). He sets out to take that Bench Rester's advice. Figuring that the bearings bein so hard and such, maybe he'd ought to allow for that and increase the powder charge just a mite more than what that feller suggested. So he proceeds to employ that age old scientific method of makin up a load. Just hold the ball in you palm and pour powder over it until it covers the ball. Some say it works ever time. Course Slack has some mighty awful big hands, so the pile of powder had a good deal of space to spread out in before it covered the ball... Having dumped the handful of powder down the hole, he then realized that piller tick was all he had aboard for patchin. Well if it has to be tight, he guessed maybe a hunk of that doubled up ought to be about right. After some amount of struggle he did get the ball started down the hole, but broke a couple of ramrods trying to get her rammed home. So taking a cue from the Bench Rest feller, he hunted up some rebar and a fair to middlin large hammer. Worked real slick. Of course since he hadn't had the chance to mark the new ramrod, it was kinda hard to tell if the ball was seated or not. Just to be on the safe side, he gave her another lick or two. He said, "Figured it was seated cause it sounded kinda like when you finally get a bearin race seated into a hub, you know." "Had a nice ring to it".....

Old Slack walks up to the line, caps her, and takes a mighty fine bead on that target. He takes a deep breath, checks the wind, hitches up his pants, scratches a tick bite and yanks smartly on that front trigger. The cap went off right good, but nothin else happened. Leastways, for a time. You know it takes that gunpowder a bit of time to build up a head of steam when you really pack her tight, or so they say. 'Bout three seconds later it finally did light off. Made a godawful noise. Cows went dry in two counties, broke windows in Omaha I guess, - even woke up the range master? Had a good deal of kick too. Didn't turn out too bad though, for Slack Jaw fetched up against the loadin bench behind him, thereby avoided landing in the crick just behind the hooters. After near thirty minutes, the smoke had cleared enough to see the 25 yard target stakes, and Slack allowed as how she did seem to shoot a mite high, but that was probably Just as well since he always wanted to try those 200 yard bulls anyway. Thing of it is, he had to retire for that day. About four inches ahead of the breech, that gun barrel was swole up like a snakebit dog. 'Bout the size of a tennis ball. Now I don't mean that little bitty thing them oriental fellers knock around a table. I mean the kind you see used where them real strange people run around in their underwear and knock the devil out of a seine net hung strung up across a pasture . Howsomever , that swelled up part - it was a dandy, but since Slack couldn't see the sights over top of it, he had to quit for the day. Allowed as how his arm needed a bit of restin too.

But anyway, we hear that gunsmith was downright uppity to Old Slack. I guess some people Just don't need the business. Sounded like a plumb simple Job to me. Slack Just asked him to file a bit off the top of the swellin so's he could see the sights... I hear some harsh words were said to our boy, and he ended up with a poor regard for gun mechanics in general. The gun did get fixed though. After due consideration we had Bear Ash heat her up in the coal stove till she was Just about red; took her over to the anvil and beat the top of that knot down near level with what it used to be. Not wanting to waste the heat, Bear rolled her over and smacked the other side a bit too. Just enough so's it wasn't so hard to get out of the stock.

Must've been a purty good job. Old Slack has shot her ever since with fair results. Course he did have to adjust the load. Since 49 Caddy bearings are some hard to come by, he has to make do with regular lead balls, although they got to be about a hair and a half oversize to get that tight fit. And since they won't go down no further than where we hammered on the swellin, he had to figure out a powder charge that would take up the excess space under the ball. But all things considered, he's happy with the way it shoots.

Only problem I can see, is that we no longer can have matches on Saturday. Slack says that the rhuematiz in his shoulder takes right at two days to settle down after he shoots her, and he has to go to work on Mondays Doc allows as how it's nothing to be concerned about as we all get those little twinges as we get up in years, and he should just learn to live with it. Bein as how the only other sensible thing to do, is to go in there and replace a bunch of stuff with .49 cents worth of plastic and a dab of roofin tar; for which he can cut Slack a deal, if he decides to have it done before the end of the hospital's fiscal year. Or before Doc's malpractice insurance premium is due. Either way, to me, it sounds like a deal too good to pass on.

But, to get back to the problem that started all this: that dadblamed chainsaw. Like I said, a lot of highpowered thinkin had been done concerning this design error. One member of The Loose Group even going so far as to suggest we might consider reading up on the subject. Of course that suggestion was hooted down right off. If a fix had been printed, then someone would've already fixed the danged thing. But as the evening progressed, we were no nearer to solving Slack's keyhole problem, and were beginnin to see a tolerble bunch of daylight around the cans that were left; so as a last resort we conceded the need to consult "the Book". Now there is The Book, and then there's "the Book". Not wanting to encumber the purpose of The Loose Group, we're reasonable carefull to keep religion out of the deal. But we have a great reverence for the Book. Actually, it's two books. Guess if you put them all in one it would be too hard to hold when yer're sittin in the hooter or somethin. They are called "Gunsmith Kinks", in two parts, compiled and written by a gentleman named Bob Brownell. (copyright 1969,F. Brownell & Son Pub.) Let me hasten to add, I refer to Bob as a gentleman simply for the propriety of this account. Now he is a gun mechanic, and I suspect a Yankee sympathizer, so we generally concede terms other than "gentleman" are more in order. Be that as it may, he's just fuller'n a tick of all sorts of ways to operate on shootin irons.

So we got down my pair of well-thumbed greasy copies of Bob's books. Couldn't a been a minute before Old Slack Jaw up and let his chaw of Redman fall out by accident. Never one to waste a hardly used chaw, he made a dive to retrieve the mess off the floor, and in the process managed to knock one volume of the Book slap off the table. 0 course that jerked my chain somewhat, for I set great store by those books. You ever try to scrape off a mess of used Redman? I sure didn't want that chaw to eat a hole in my bookt 'Specially since I got such a good deal on them Traded Ole Squint out of 'em. Cost me a whole bag of them fancy new alunium pistol shells; and them emptys only been shot once. Worked out good for Squint though, since Squint can't read worth a dern anyhow. He had picked them books up down in the big city at one of those pornographic stores. Guy had'em in a plain gray cover. Told Squint they's full of stuff and pictures about kinky gunsmiths. Ole Squint thought that'd be alright, so he trades some hard money for em and goes back home with a big grin on his mug. He's a fair bit disappointed to find out they's not many pictures in 'em; and he couldn't make heads nor tails out of what they were anyhow, and they weren't a dadblamed one of 'em havin to do with nekked wimen!! Needless to say he jumped on my offer to trade. Even apologized later for takin some advantage of me. Went so far as to offer me a share of his reloaded pistol shells, but out of good conscience I felt obligated to turn him down. Wouldn't want to take advantage of a man.

Anyways, providence sure does work in some strange ways. As I made a stab at keepin that chaw from eatin my book, it fell open. I believe luck had so~ethin to do with it, but however you cut it - there she was. Page 408 of Volumne II... The original patent drawing for the Ladies Model Chainsaw. And since it was upside down to where we was lookin from, the solution was immediately apparent to all. Whoever printed up that book originally is responsible for the wimen doin a heap of extra work all these years. And of course he's also guilty for inakin all of us listen to them complain all these years. You see, he "flopped" the golderned drawing, so's the thing ain't right when you look at it. THE CHAIN IS DRAWN UPSIDE DOWN... No damn wonder the thing wouldn't cut but a cord a day.

Now lookie here; do your woman a favor, take her saw and take the inclosed revised drawin down to the local machine and weldin shop. Give the feller a day or so anyway to study on it, and I bet he can have her saw runnin just fine in no time at all. Probly get her up to two cords a day, and plus you won't have to put up with her crankin about fixin that dammed saw ever again.

If you really want to go to all the extra expense, on page 410 there's a patent drawing of the saw with an add-on electrical do-dad. But that seems to be kinda too fancy fer most the female sorts. Sides, you'd have to buy a passel of extension cord to reach the recharger way out in the woodlot. Appears that the chain is drawn upside down on this picture too, so take care to allow for that.

Now I know you all are Just grateful as the dickins over this wonderous solution we come up with. But we don't want nothin for it. Just proud to have The Loose Group be of service to our fellowman. But next winter, as you sit by that roaring fire, sippin that belly warmer and thinkin about all that wood the woman has put up for you: ya might offer a toast and a bit of thanks to Old Al, Doc, Bear Ash, Slack Jaw and Two Blankets.

Shinin times y'all

The Loose Group
Written by Fred Haggard aka Two Blankets and is © 1993

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