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04-12-2016 20:30:51  #1

That Old Coffeecan

You've seen it so often you don't see it anymore.  It sits on the corner of your repair station, or up on a shelf, or somewhere out of the way.  Yet you go to this one thing, and almost always find something that will complete a repair, or come closer to its completion than anything you've tried thus far.  What is this amazing item, you ask?  Well, that's what I'm here to tell ya.  That item is (wait for it wait for it)--the ubiquitous coffeecan!  Yes, this former container of that ground bean that wakes us up in the mornings now holds everything from small nuts and bolts to parts removed from old typewriters (and presumed not needed anymore).  In fact, half the fun of repairing typewriters is spending a few minutes rummaging around in the pile of nuts, bolts, and parts you've just created by pouring this can's contents out onto the table.  Oh, you never know what you'll find.  "Hey, I could have used that in the last repair," or "My friend said he needed one of those and I told him I didn't have one.  Oh well."  I don't know where I would have been in the last thirty-five years had it not been for my trusty coffeecan.  In fact, I've been at typewriter repair so long I have several coffeecans.  Oh, I've tried organizing everything:  Nuts, bolts, washers, and miscellaneous.  Most of everything I had one time was under the last catagory so I just decided to go back to the old coffeecan system.  Used it for years.  That and tranny fluid have both pulled me through many repairs, let me tell ya.

Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness

05-12-2016 00:18:23  #2

Re: That Old Coffeecan

I remember a science fiction story about colonists on another planet and the protagonist is trying to fix something and remarks "Now if I were back on Earth I would be able to rummage through a drawer and find something that would help me repair this". Or words to that effect. I am sure I am nowhere near as resourceful as you but my general household coffee can is a green metal toolbox which used to belong to my parents - that tells you how long the thing has been kicking around. All hope of neat organization in its little metal cubbyholes is a pipe dream and always has been and all it has probably ever been is a junk bunker. But if there is a minor mechanical repair to be made and I rummage through its junk I almost always am able to find something to further my purpose. And when I have some small metal doohickey, thingamajig or gizmo and I don't want to throw it out but there is no logical place to store it, we know where it is heading.

Humans are just mechanically ingenious, that's all.

"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".

05-4-2017 22:03:49  #3

Re: That Old Coffeecan

To think our proclivity to clutter and to organize a "mess" is a remarkable and sometimes regretful phenomenon. I call it controlled chaos, like the mad, slapdash pianist and the white and black candy keys that belong to him. It reminds me of the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Then time and happenstance leaves you a sentimental and nostalgic gift from the past somewhere in the future and the familiarity and unfamiliarity strikes you all at once. I tend to be a pack rat myself, but I make my belongings and environment as minimalistic as possible. It can be a fun surprise to come back to the things we never thought twice about initially. Love those moments! Read between the lines, I'll be there.

10-4-2017 15:24:30  #4

Re: That Old Coffeecan

The thought that we need coffee cans of parts to continue on in life is a reality few realize.  Seriously, from the software/ firmware driven machines of today to old school busted knuckles with the limited talent available that actually knows how it works; our modern life truly hangs by a thread of luck and competence.  "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology; in which hardly anyone knows about science and technology" Carl Sagan


10-4-2017 15:44:04  #5

Re: That Old Coffeecan

Folger's Hardware & Supply has saved me umpteen trips to Ace or Wallyworld over the years. The trick is remembering  what you've got, and where it is. 
I organize fasteners, washers, etc., in a divided plastic storage box, and electrical stuff gets two drawers in a recycled dresser. 
At yard sales, in addition to useful tools, I'll pick up consumables if they're cheap, and they usually are.
Another good source is the Habitat ReStore.


15-4-2017 23:12:56  #6

Re: That Old Coffeecan

I have a lot of "stuff" hear and there around our few acres of land and old farm buildings.
It's not so much that I am a pack-rat, as I just lack confidence in what passes for "new goods" these days.
This is not to say that I buy everything used/second hand or that everything made 40-70+ years ago was better.
Many times, when I need to fix something, I don't need a brand new replacement part. Often times, I'll look at the broken what ever and decide to make an improvement so the thing won't break again or maybe at least it will last longer.
When my wife and I moved onto the old farm we now live on, there were bits and pieces of things left over from when it was an operating farm and some of it was discarded and some was put to use or used for repairs to something else.
One of the best things was a good size box of odds and ends and do-dads left in the basement .
Some junk but also much good like old window latches for the screens, the special square bars for old interior door knob sets and the small brass set screws that hold the knob secure the bar, parts for the very old light fixtures used through out the house, not to mention two full boxes of 15 amp screw in fuses needed for the fuse box.
Over the past 18 years we have lived here I have used up most of the good stuff but when you are 6 miles from town and the nearest hardware store and twenty miles from a good farm supply/building store, those little odds and ends can save a good part of the day running there and back. 


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