Saturday, April 5, 2014

Time runs out for Monson No. 4

Monson No. 4 pulls cars on the two foot track in Portland
Photo: Troy Bennett Maine Today Media
  Monson No. 4 the steam locomotive for the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad must be pulled from the track, it's Federal license has expired.  It needs a new boiler.  It was built in 1918 and was the last working locomotive on the Monson Railroad carrying slate to be loaded on Bangor and Aroostook RR in Brownville.  The Monson RR was called the "little two by six" for it's two track that ran only six miles; it's last commercial run was in 1943.
  Bridgeton and Saco River's locomotive Number 7 is currently being restored to replace Monson 4, but in the meantime a diesel engine will haul the load.  The line is being moved to Gray, and that move will be complete before Number 4 is fully restored.
  For more information, a video and more photos go to:

Monson No. 4 rounds the bend
Photo: Troy Bennett Maine Today Media


Friday, April 4, 2014

Time on the road

  Ah yes!  The unlovable pothole!  The roads in Maine are full of them this year, they live in families and move around.  One of them bit me!
  On Tuesday, which would have been my first in town since Saturday, I went down Hermon Hill it's long and quite a grade.  At the bottom there's an area about 7 feet across where a culvert sunk in and created a frost heave.  At the end of the heave and toward the middle of the road was a pot hole the size of a bushel basket.  As my car launched over the frost heave (I was going too fast) my right front tire landed in the "basket".  The tire blew out the sidewall - and the fun began.
  I called AAA who said help would be sent, they called right back to let me know someone would be there in forty minutes, FORTY MINUTES!.  I guess given the time of day, 3:45AM, and location, in Hermon but could see the city limit sign, that may have been reasonable.  So, I waited, flashers blinking in the darkness, with the engine running to save the battery (possibly) and for the heat.
  I called Miles my 4:00AM rider and he said he would find other means of getting to work.  Miles is a friend who walks to work 3 miles and in cold weather I was helping out, we walk together when the ice is off the sidewalks.
  The help arrived as scheduled, the spare do-nut was in place and I was off to coffee with the guys and made that on time.  I ran a couple of errands and went to Sullivan Tire in Brewer to have a chat with Peter who manages that garage.  I've been a customer of Sullivan for about 12 years and they know me and my habits.  The tire needed to be replace, that's obvious, but the other three had about 1/32 of an inch left to use under Maine Law, and I have an inspection due next month, so what the hell replace all four.
  Now, these are those "lovely" little low-sidewall high-performance tires.  I don't like them anyway but on the model it's required.  I bought 3 and got the 4th on free, I had a $30. coupon Sullivan gave me for my birthday - so 4 tires, with new modules for indicating low-pressure etc. and an oil change with synthetic oil the bill came to $594.00!  Oh, I get a Forty dollar rebate.  I love pot holes so much so that today I'm taking Hollie to Augusta!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Falcon and Thunderbolt - Ford names or ?

  Ford Motors made the Ford Falcon, a small sedan, for quite a while, no longer produced they're still sought after as collectables.  Ford also had a model of the Fairlane, I think, that was named the Thunderbolt - kind of a factory hot rod.  But Ford wasn't the first to use either model name.
The Chrysler Falcon
  The Chrysler Falcon would have been the answer to Fords Thunderbird and Chevrolets Corvette but only three were made, one still exists.  It was nice looking but underpowered with an inline 6 because it was meant to be "a gentleman's car".

The Chrysler Thunderbolt
  The Chrysler Thunderbolt was a concept car and a few were built in the 1950's.  Aerodynamic I suppose for the time but kind of ugly too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Good morning! Coffee?

click to enlarge
  I would imagine that almost every McDonald's in the country has a group of geezers waiting for the door to open every morning.  Here where I am that's 5:00AM, and that's me and my coffee-mates in the first panel.
  We each have assignments, Paul orders the coffee, Roger gets the napkins, and I take care of making the payments, or bringing the newspaper.  It's all pretty simple, unless of course on of the following happens.  Steve shows up on his well lit bicycle even when it's 15 degrees and snowing.  Norton shows up, not his real name but he's just a parrot who repeats what someone else says.
  That's what it's like in Bangor, Maine on Union Street each and every morning, weather permitting, where we go for our morning coffee.
  I promise that tomorrow I'll have something more interesting, maybe.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's April?

click to enlarge, it's a poster!
  It's April, even though it's icy and cold here and in a lot of other places.  It's time for baseball too if the snow is just pushed over a little.  And, it's Autism Awareness Month - and I've even furnished a poster for you.
  My daughter Hollie will be calling soon to remind us, as if we need it, that this is the month.  It's not as important to her as Presidents Day (the biggest holiday of the year), or her birthday.  My birthday was important to her this past year because she got "my present for your birthday"!  Go figure.
  Kids Hollies age (29) used to be diagnosed about 1:10000, but the new number is 1:68! Go figure.  It's really because a lot of people who used to be diagnosed as MR really were autistic, or they were just a little different, and it may be that the spectrum is larger, I can't explain it fully.
  So, Happy April!

Monday, March 31, 2014


click to enlarge
  Madness's?  That's  a real word, uncommon, but I'm going to use it anyway.  There's the NCAA basketball madness and there's the weather madness.
  This will be day two of staying home.  We are having freezing rain periodically, I could go to town, but couldn't get home safely, so I'll just stay here and bother my wife (who isn't up yet).
  So, the cartoon is partially right, the nap time is real.  But. But. But today is March 31st, and the Red Sox play in Baltimore at 3:00PM!  That's right!  The real, honest-to-goodness baseball season is here!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


How and where we spend our time - click to enlarge it's big
  I would have guessed the most visited place in Maine would be Acadia National Park, but I was wrong.  Two million people did visit Acadia but they were out-done by LL Bean.  More people will visit a store in Maine than the shore.  Go figure.  Take a look at Vermont, a place with outstanding beauty, but the ice cream guys get more visits.  Take a look a Minnesota, you guessed it.  Mall of the Americas was a big winner over those 10,000 lakes.  The other states were move civic minded.