Bradford White

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From far back, I’ve heard the brand Bradford White repeated daily.  Plumbing distributor purchases.  Installations.  Pre-internet, the boss tracking down warranty information.  Visiting BWC’s distribution warehouse.  

Home Center mania pushed into the contractor supply business, selling cheaper and more expensive water heaters.  No qualifications required to buy, install or repair.  What could possibly go wrong?  Ask yourself that the next time you hear of a residence completely obliterated in a gas explosion.

It is Bradford White for me.  Manufactured with superior components.  The best controls in the industry with readily available parts.  All-brass drain valves.  Sturdy packaging.  Integrated piezo igniters, which means no more matches.  Fantastic performance, strong warranties, and world-class support.

Bradford White makes products for the professional.  You won’t find our water heaters, boilers or tanks at the local retail center where unsafe, corner-cutting installations frequently occur to save a few dollars. – BWC

Headquartered up the road, Pennsylvania is proud to host Bradford White‘s corporate offices in Ambler.  Manufactured in our heartland,  Middleville Michigan produces the final product.  Excellent distribution.  Any size, any feature, it is only hours or perhaps a day or two away.  Professional engineering and manufacturing for the plumbing professional.

Ettore Squeegee

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Almost three decades ago this young pup was called upon to clean some windows.  An idea blossomed to do my cleaning the way professionals do theirs – with professional-quality implements and techniques.  Storefront windows are large expanses of glass.  A large squeegee was wanted.

Within a dedicated commercial cleaning supplies company, choices were examined.  Brass components seemed best.  I chose an 18″ model which looked fully serviceable.  Sleek, elegant, well-balanced.  Excellent duty this squeegee did.  After proper scrubbing a streak-free glass surface was obtained.

Eventually I left the storefront.  The squeegee tagged along, to be rediscovered years later.  A glass shower enclosure wanted a professionally cleaned look.  The squeegee worked before, so I tried it again.  Time had not been kind to the rubber insert.  Back to the same supply company, where they sold insert by the foot.

Not knowing any better, I took what they sold.  Which was ill-fitting, poorly formulated, immediately left streaks, and quickly began leaving black smudges.  Lets be clear.  The OEM insert lasted years of light use and performed perfectly.  The replacement never gave satisfaction.  Research was in order.

Originally purchased was the Cadillac of squeegees, an Ettore, produced by the leader in such products.  An American Dream story of manufacturing.  Immigrant has invention then is spurned by manufacturers and vendors.  Immigrant markets invention, becomes successful, dominates the market long after patent runs out.  Initially balance and design won converts.  But the streak-free glass … what was that about?  The secret rubber formula of the squeegee insert!

Back to OEM I go.  For about the SAME cost as a cheap import squeegee insert, I buy a genuine Ettore insert.  My 18″ Ettore is back to full function.  A perfect product.

Buy a flute and you own a flute. Buy a professional squeegee and you’re a professional window washer.   Abraham Lincoln, 1853

Fiebing’s Saddle Soap

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Rehabbing old properties sounds glamorous but it’s dirty business.  Smacking everything apart and returning it to rights makes of mess of clothes and boots.  Clothes go into the Maytag.  The boots?  Special care is required.  Like we learn in the Army, you gotta take care of your feet.  That means taking care of your boots.  When the dust settles, I return my boots to factory specification.  A good cleaning, then boot oil.

For cleaning,  I continue a family tradition, trusting the same company my great-grandfather trusted with his farrier business.  Since 1895, the Fiebing Company has been manufacturing high quality Horse Care, Shoe Care and Leather Care products in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. – Fiebing

First a strong hose to remove mud and concrete dust, blood and sweat.  An old kitchen pad rubbed about in dampened Fiebing’s Saddle Soap gives me a hearty lather for sturdy scrubbing.  After a good rinse and a day for the leather to dry, its time to hydrate.  

Red Wing Boot Oil came with the Red Wing boots.  It sat for years as earlier boots crumbled into tatters.  Finally Redfern explained to me in simple terms I could remember. “You’ve got to keep the leather oiled”.  My current #1 pair of Red Wings are over a decade old, factory-resoled once.  The #2 pair, still almost dressy, six months.

Alternate days gets alternate boots.  They both get the same care. Keep’em clean with soap and water, and when the dirt becomes embedded, Fiebing’s Saddle Soap then a good boot oil.

Más Taco

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I’ll be back – With hopeful yet prophetic words I grudgingly exit the best taco joint west of the Mississippi almost three years ago.  But back I am!  Coming off weeks of backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park, this gem was the stuff of daily cravings.  Homeward bound, Más Taco is my first destination over Beartooth Pass within tiny Red Lodge, Montana.  The restaurant is just as I left it.

Famous for having the finest chow outside Yellowstone Northeast Entrance miles away, Mike has not let fortune go to his head.  His passion is still fly fishing.  Off-river, Más Taco gets his full attention.  Many of the same people help Mike turn out plate after plate of 100% fresh ingredients blended into a perfect meal.  Always an artful presentation.  And chaos?  Seven people working full bore in a galley kitchen.  It was like my recent trip under polar ice aboard Nautilus (upcoming article, of course).  Except for plenty of fresh air and sunshine.  On a plate.  Nature at its finest.

General Tire

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Four harsh Pennsylvania winters have come and gone.  My truck tires started to feel like I would after buried in ice and snow several months a year.  Stiff & brittle.  OEM tires on American trucks are not performance tires, they’re work tires.  And work they did, perfectly, for four years and 50,000 miles.

I’d been researching tires for the past 18 months.  With 5/16″ remaining tread and even wear, my rubber is fine on dry pavement.  But the desert deluge and spring snowstorm?  Anything can be encountered within our duties maintaining this American products online resource.

Narrowing the field is easier than expected.  Noise and traction ratings were studied.  Forums consulted.  Experts queried.  My truck’s OEM tire, General Tire’s Grabber HTS,  is better than ever.  General manufactures worldwide but my Grabbers are domestic production, Mount Vernon, Illinois.  There’s even a new Grabber HTS60 manufactured in Sumter, South Carolina.

We went with OEM.  Our local Continental dealer gave us great pricing on a new set, mounted and balanced.  Immediately thereafter we embarked on a 6,000 mile adventure.  Two-lane highways preferred.  Through New Mexico deserts, a Wyoming snow and ice storm, and wind-swept plains of Montana and South Dakota.  Perfect traction and quiet.  Six Thumbs Up experience!

Surefire

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Dave Holland said, “Go ahead and fish in the (Yellowstone) River”.  Fishing permit lacking.  His parcel abutted the old Gardiner / Mammoth pump house, he owned the pump house, and the pump house deed ran to the middle of the river.  Fish & Game could pound sand, he declared.  Sounds like he was looking for a showdown.  Which never happened.

Dave is hooking another worm with Curt.  Time moves forward.  Again I find myself along the 45th Parallel, at Mammoth Hot Springs campground.  Better equipped, this time.  Spoiled, even.  

Spoiled with the best headlamp in the world, the Surefire variable output LED.  Guaranteed forever, practically indestructible.  With a bulb life of several generations, this fine bit of engineering and craftsmanship has never failed.

Elk give me more room.  Coyotes run from Man With Third Eye Glowing. A vintage copy of Dostoyevsky can be enjoyed long after ‘quiet time’ is enacted.  A spattering of rain, wind in the trees, the distant Gardner River, and my reliable Surefire.

Bluett Brothers Violins

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Upon some of the oldest farm roads in the United States I head deep into Lancaster County.  Not for corn or melons.  Nor have I crossed the Susquehanna for grain or whiskey.

It all started in March while visiting Wintergrass, the Wilmington Delaware Bluegrass Festival.  A fella had a mandolin of pure line.  Shapely neck and smooth body.  Her voice!  Golden, well articulated, clear, and rich.  Sharp when required.  Clearly an effort from one of the best finishing schools!

Off we went to see where she was born, meet her parents.  The York Pennsylvania studio of Bluett Brothers Violins.  Chris Bluett (blu•ETTE) proudly shows me around his latest, a clean F-body mandolin with intricate headstock, the violin in progress,  a few guitars from earlier years there for a visit.

Chris has been making instruments his entire adult life.  It takes more than skill and an understanding supportive wife.  It takes dedication and respect for the craft.  Born into every instrument.  A tradition he proudly supports through an active apprentice program.  Chris Bluett, carrying the torch.