John Striker’s business was “booming.” He had orders for three
new threshing engines, one water wheel, ten brick machines, and
a lot of shafting. Striker had twenty men, and wanted more.
Times were picking up, men getting scarce, and good hard to get.
One day a chap walked in and wanted a job.
“What can you do?” said Striker. “Most anything they do in any
shop,” said the tramp machinist. “Where have you been to work?”
“Oh, down to Racket’s, and Parson’s, and Quimbly’s,” said Tramp.
“Can you file up connecting rods?” said Striker. “You bet I
can,” was the reply, and Striker set Tramp to work at the old
vise by the north window.
Tramp unrolled his overalls, laid his hammer on the bench, and
fished out two pair of calipers, a scale, square, dividers, and
“scriber” out of the sleeves of his blue jacket. He cleaned a
miniature junk shop out of the drawer, packed in his plunder,
and looked at his vise.
Poor Tramp! He felt tired when he looked at that vise. The
corners were knocked off the jaws, it was sprung, the spring had
taken a set, and the vise jaw required to be “yanked” every time
he unscrewed it. The boys had been cutting 2" steam pipe in that
vise, and it could be twisted around that bench like a button on
a school-house door.
Tramp took in the whole business, and then sat down on a nail
keg. It made him feel tired. Striker came along and asked, “What
is the matter, hain’t you got straightened out yet?” Tramp got
up and gave the vise a shake. “Fix it,” said Striker. “All
right,” said Tramp, and he did fix it. He yanked that vise off
in a hurry, tore down the shackly bench and built it up new.
Striker has built all his benches over since then. He put a 2"
casting, 10" wide, in place of the usual front plank. It works
nicely. It is always true, solid, and handy.
Tramp took that vise by the leg and run it out to the blacksmith
shop. “Don't it hold?” said a cub. “Yes,” said Tramp, “just
about as much as I can hold between my knees.”
How the grease sizzled and smoked as Tramp took a heat on the
jaw of that old vise. Down by the pin it seemed about all
Tramp welded a piece of steel to each jaw; in fact, he “new
laid” the vise, and built up the jaws square and true. He heated
the spring, bent it back into shape, and just as it got cooled
down to a dull, shiny red, he dumped it into the oil tank.
When Tramp put than vise up again he bolted it to the bench. No
screws for him. He put the vise up to stay, not to swing back
and forth like lazy tongs, as it did before; and when he put a
connecting rod between the jaws, he was sure it would stay put.
Striker brought along a rod. It was about 11-1/2” x 2-1/8”, fiat
sides, round edges, and 29” long. There was a “flaw" in each
side about 10" long. Tramp “goes for it" with a cape chisel, and
cuts a clean, smooth channel. A piece of the same kind of iron
is nicely fitted in the channel, and “peened” until it fills the
hole chuck full.
Tramp files it down smooth. The flaw on the hack side of rod
will be out of sight. Striker says “Lead it,” and Tramp drives
in a strip of lead instead of iron.
“Go to the office and get some files,” said Striker. Tramp went
up and got a 12" “bastard,” a “second cut” with 44 teeth to the
inch (the “bastard" has 32, and a “rough" 22); two “smooth cut"
files having 68 to the inch, and a “dead smooth" with 120 teeth
to the running inch.
He will rub a little oil on the “bastard” and “second cut"
files. It prevents the teeth from “cracking” while they are new
- that is, it keeps the delicate, sharp edge from splitting off
when first used. He uses those files very carefully for the
first hour or two. He lifts them up clear of the work during the
return stroke. He knows that if he drags a new file backward he
is liable to wear it out more than the cutting does.
When Tramp gets the planer tool marks about out, he takes his
fine file, rubs the teeth full of chalk, and goes for that rod
with vim. He squints along his file, finds a rounding spot
thereon, and works with that spot. He knows that a file will
spring. He knows that files don’t get made straight; so he takes
advantage of the crooked places.
hollow places he will use when draw-filing the round edges of
the rod. Tramp knows that chalk will prevent chips from sticking
in his file. He knows that chips will play mischief with his
work; they will make a big, nasty scratch, and he will have to
work that place all over again.
Tramp keeps his hands off his work. He knows that the sweat and
grease from them don’t help his file any. He knows that he must
keep his file clean. He has not got a file cleaner, made of a
piece of card clothing glued on a stick. No; he uses a little
pine stick to clean his files with. Ile rests one end of the
file on the bench, strikes with the corner of the stick at an
angle of 20°, and follows the cut of the teeth. Tramp cleans his
file a dozen times while he would be finding a cleaner once.