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Two Books For The Gulch Library

Posted by DaveM49 6 years, 4 months ago to Books
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"The Amateur Scientist", published I believe in the 1940s. A series of articles drawn from "Scientific American" which detail how to use basic technology and materials to build all manner of scientific apparatus, much of which can be adapted to useful purposes--an x-ray machine, to name one example.

Also "The Boy Mechanic", issued by Popular Mechanics in different versions with different contents over the years (starting in 1915). STUFFED with plans on how to make almost anything you can imagine. A boat, a motorcycle, a wind sled, a car, your own tools, paint, varnish, and anything you might need to make for yourself someday. Need an engine or a generator? "The Boy Mechanic" will tell you how to build one. How about a welder or other machine tools? They're in there. The plans and descriptions are a bit cursory but overall the sheer volume of information is astonishing.

"The Amateur Scientist" (available in several editions) tends to be quite expensive. Most editions of "The Boy Mechanic" are in the public domain and "new" editions can be had for very little.

The main thing about both of these titles is that most can be constructed using available materials and simple tools. In effect, these are guides to surviving as a technological society should one be unable to purchase a ready-made item locally or order it online.


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  • Posted by robgambrill 6 years, 4 months ago
    I agree, Both these books belong on any self reliant persons bookshelf.

    My antique copy of "The Boy Mechanic" shows a young man building a wright glider, jumping off a cliff and landing in the town square.

    Nowadays they would never publish anything like that because somebody would sue them. However, in the age the book was published, the message to young men was "Dream Big!"

    I love both these books. Thanks for recommending them!
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    • Posted by LetsShrug 6 years, 4 months ago
      And THAT is precisely why I'll get them for my grandson. :)
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      • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
        You might also want to try "The Golden Book Of Chemistry Experiments", available inexpensively on CD. Original copies are expensive due to an urban legend that it is a "banned book".

        Obviously aimed at the under-10 crowd, it details 200 "experiments" which range from very basic to processes using nitric acid and carbon tetrachloride. Want to synthesize Nylon? It's all there in detail.

        The remarkable thing about it all is that children were trusted with this material without question 50 or more years ago. We have lost that at our peril. Children who are treated as if they are not trustworthy tend to behave as they are treated. So do adults.
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  • Posted by Ob1 6 years, 4 months ago
    One of the books that got me going in this direction years ago is LUCIFER'S HAMMER by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It revolves around civilization ending massive meteorite strikes, and the aftermath. One character salts away a vast library and heads into the hills with "THE WAY THINGS WORK volume 1"

    Another great addition is CONNECTIONS by William Burke' (found initially via PBS series) also wrote THE DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED
    There are a great many useful late 1800/ early-mid 1900s technical volumes on everything from steel furnace construction to motor winding. Gone now, but remnants findable are books republished by Lindsay Technical books http://www.lindsaybks.com/

    Note to Gulch librarians, one of the best ways to preserve any book is to protect the spine. Especially these days, most hardbacks, all paperbacks are no longer sewn signatures. They are ironically termed "perfect bound" which simply means they are chopped single pages with a glue spine. The thing you want to avoid doing with any book is to crack the spine.
    Do the following with clean hands: 1 set the book on its spine on a solid surface. 2: open both the front and back covers; lay them flat.
    3 taking a few pages at a time from the front and the back, lay them open; carefully fold the line where the pages meet the spine. Run your index finger down the length for front and back pages.
    Repeat this last step a few pages til you have come to the center of the book.
    You have now created a spine fold that will allow the pages to open more fully without damaging the spine.
    Years ago I bought a technical book for $150 on battery technology. Since the publisher printed and assembled the book with the grain( curl) of the paper on the wrong axis relative to the spine, within a short time all the pages started falling out!
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  • Posted by freedomforall 6 years, 4 months ago
    Haven't updated my library database in years but I think these are representative of those relating to liberty (and available for research in Atlantis):
    Economic Harmonies by Bastiat
    How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Browne, Harry
    Debate on the Constitution, by Founding Fathers
    Federalist, The by Founding Fathers
    Capitalism & Freedom by Friedman, Milton
    Money Mischief by Friedman, Milton
    Conscience of a Conservative by Goldwater, Barry
    Errors of Socialism by Hayek, Friedrich A
    Road to Serfdom, The by Hayek, Friedrich A
    Economics In One Lesson by Hazlitt, Henry
    Failure of the New Economics, The by Hazlitt, Henry
    Time Will Run Back by Hazlitt, Henry
    Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, The by Heinlein, Robert
    South Was Right, The by Kennedy, James & Walter
    Guns, Crime, and Freedom by LaPierre, Wayne
    Anti-Capitalistic Mentality by Mises, Ludwig von
    Critique of Interventionism by Mises, Ludwig von
    Human Action by Mises, Ludwig von
    Manipulation of Money and Credit by Mises, Ludwig von
    Notes and Recollections by Mises, Ludwig von
    Socialism by Mises, Ludwig von
    Theory and History by Mises, Ludwig von
    God of the Machine by Paterson, Isabel
    Ayn Rand Letter by Rand, Ayn
    Anthem by Rand, Ayn
    Atlas Shrugged by Rand, Ayn
    Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal by Rand, Ayn
    Fountainhead, The by Rand, Ayn
    Objectivist by Rand, Ayn (one original copy plus one hardback)
    Objectivist Newsletter by Rand, Ayn (several original copies)
    Philosophy, Who Needs It by Rand, Ayn
    Sanction of the Victim by Rand, Ayn
    Virtue of Selfishness, The by Rand, Ayn
    We, The Living by Rand, Ayn
    Conceived In Liberty by Rothbard, Murray
    For a New Liberty by Rothbard, Murray
    Man, Economy, and State by Rothbard, Murray

    I know I have a gunsmithing set, too.
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  • Posted by johnmahler 6 years, 4 months ago
    I loved the "Boy Mechanic" and inherited about every magazine published from my father. I wasn't watching and discovered to my horror, my sister had absconded with them and "donated" them to a used book store because she thought they were cluttering up mother's house. There's been a chill between us since then. She also donated a Colliers Encyclopedia from 1910. Just the antique bindings were valuable as well as what was the latest knowledge on encyclopedic subjects of the day.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 6 years, 4 months ago
    Speaking of past publishings, I own a pretty complete collection of all the Objectivist Newsletters and the Objectivist monthly mags. I wonder if it would be possible to republish them as a collection. The essays and articles are as timely today as they were in the 60's. I would make them available so that they could be read by Gulchers and others as they are a treasure of Rand comments not all of which made it into the Rand Lexicon.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      That would be wonderful. I was thinking more in terms of basic (and not so basic) skills--something as simple as "The Betty Crocker Cookbook" can be invaluable for anyone who cannot memorize thousands of recipes.

      There are compilations of Extension Service bulletins which will teach basically everything about agriculture, and in many cases explain how to make your own tools, chemicals, etc.

      Somewhere, there is a fair-sized download entitles "How To Start Your Own Country" or something like that. It details everything from getting everyone housed to creating an economy to establishing businesses and a government. In short, a step by step (albeit thousands of pages) guide to creating and maintaining a community of any size.
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  • Posted by Eudaimonia 6 years, 4 months ago
    I also have packed away somewhere a book printed in 1920 titled, An Introduction to Electricity.

    It talks about how to wind your own coils and such.

    How to make your own capacitors and resistors - probably also needed in a Gulch.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      "Bailey's Handbook" and the "Pocket Ref" would also be quite useful. They have every equation or calculation imaginable that is of use in engineering, construction, etc. Lots of tables to make solving them child's play.
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  • Posted by $ TomB666 6 years, 4 months ago
    Thanks. I found them both on line and have downloaded them.
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      There's another volume I cannot recall the exact name of: I believe it is something like "Fehlings Manual of Useful Formulas" or something similar. It used to be promoted heavily because it has "recipes" for fireworks ingredients and the like, but it also has over 1000 formulas for household products, car care, paint, bug spray, herbicides....I forget what else. Every product you used today can probably be made using basic ingredients and this book. I just wish I could remember the title precisely. If anyone does know, please clue me in!
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  • Posted by $ jlc 6 years, 4 months ago
    Thanks. Interesting books. You can get a CD of The Amateur Scientist for about 30 bucks...but that is tempting fate. Your computer would then be required to fail so that you could not resource it.

    I have an old copy of the Merck Manual. It just contains a list of chemicals and their properties and uses. But some of the 'chemicals' are things like 'oil of cloves' and some of the 'uses' are 'topical anesthetic'. This is a more limited use book than the ones that Dave is describing, but if you see a copy going for a dollar at a yard sale...

    Jan
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      Old Merck Manuals are relatively easy to find, since every nursing student used to have one (not sure if that is till true). I quite agree--they provide basic instruction in how to deal with virtually any medical condition. The old ones have an entire section on compounding medicines, usually involving basic or natural ingredients.

      My father once had a fungus infection on his hand which would not respond to any of the OTC or prescription products available at the time. He went to the oldest doctor in town, who took a "recipe" out of the Merck Manual and had a pharmacy mix it up. The infection cleared up within a week.
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      • Posted by $ jlc 6 years, 4 months ago
        Was it a 50/50 solution of isoprop. alcohol? I have heard that you have to watch out using that - if you are too enthusiastic you can get a tissue reaction that makes both your hands and feet swell up. I have not tried it personally, but I do keep it in my mental tool kit.

        Jan
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  • Posted by Eudaimonia 6 years, 4 months ago
    A few years back, I got my niece and nephew the modern day counterpart to these books.

    They don't have everything mentioned, but they have a surprising amount of stuff kids would find cool.

    http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Book-Boy...
    http://www.amazon.com/Daring-Book-Girls-...
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    • Posted by 6 years, 4 months ago
      This could be an interesting general thread if someone wants to start it: "which books would you take to the Gulch"? We all might discover some interesting titles.

      I quite agree with the person who prefers physical books. One can get the better part of a library onto an SD chip or a flash drive, but if there is nothing to plug it into....

      I will say that a basic Kindle is a remarkable device. 32 hours of battery life and an astonishing number of titles can be fitted onto one memory card (and you can always carry as many memory cards as you wish). Eventually it will fail, but do remember that batteries can be made with relative ease.
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