| September/October 1971

603 Fremont St. Middleville, Michigan 49333

The last year I farmed I had this unusual experience. Started combine at work and were in field with other tractor and wagon to be used for hauling grain to barn. Had 2 feed sacks tightly packed full of similar cotton sacks, to be used for sacking the grain. They had hung from the rafters of the tool shed since the year before. On emptying them out, found a place about 4 inches across in the center of one was all charred and burst into flame as soon as exposed to the air. Apparently spontaneous combustion of vegetable oils in the grain, though it doesn't seem like there would be enough for that. Has anyone else ever had a similar experience?

When I was a very small boy my father had a hollow wedge which he could fill with gunpowder and shoot it off to split obstinate chunks of wood. I never knew if he made it or bought it. On inquiring more recently among some old-timers who have had experience in woods, they say they never heard of such a thing. I've heard him tell it was dangerous to use. He used to light the fuse and run, and results were rather unpredictable. On one occasion he was unable to find it and after considerable looking (I really don't know how much) it came down out of the sky and went through the hen-house roof cornice. The last time he used it, he never was able to find it. Recently I read that in the west they sometimes use powder to split some of the large logs, and wondered if perhaps they meant with a similar device. Does anyone know of anything of the sort? If so please send answer to GEM.

Lloyd I. Birckelbaw passed away recently. He was born in 1892 and was a long time resident of South Lyon, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Engineering in 1914 and served in World War I. He was an original and active member of the Early Engine Club at the Henry Ford Museum and will be missed by all of us. Submitted by Thomas R. Stockton, Box 2053, Dearborn, Michigan 48121.

Matthew E. O'Brien of 1055 Hutton Road, London, Ontario, a live steam hobbyist for over forty years passed away very suddenly on July 15, 1971. He was 63.

Submitted by R. G. Thoman, London, Ontario, Canada


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