Tuesday, October 16, 2018

First dig at a 1700s farm house permission

I got permission to dig on a property with an original 1700s farm house and barns that were added and moved in the 1800s.  I had high hopes for finding cool coins and relics, but so far nothing too exciting, but I'll be going back there to explore further.
I found a few modern coins near where they park their cars - several rotted Lincoln pennies and 3 dimes.  Lots of bits of copper and lead roof flashing and a big nail.  And not shown are a steel plate about 3x5" and a 2ft long piece of steel pipe.  These are typical finds around old farm houses.

The interesting items are this handle that has a slot down the middle and what appears to have been part of a hinge.  This looks vaguely familiar, like it could have been a handle for a milk jug and the hinge would open the lid.

This tiny lead weight is interesting too, at first I thought it was a musket ball but it has a distinct hole and casting rim.

And I almost dismissed this little 1.75" diameter dish because I had not noticed the fancy pattern.  I think it's made of lead or pewter and bends easily.  Perhaps it is doll house scale?  Or maybe a decorative holder for small items.

10+ hours in my National Geographic rock tumbler with aquarium gravel, water and a drop of Dawn.  It's cleaning up nicely:

I think it is either a doll house saucer, or an incense burning plate.

Incidentally, the rock tumbler I use is a small hobby unit made by National Geographic.  It has an internal timer that lets you set DAYS, and I need HOURS.  SO I built a timer box from stuff I got at the hardware store so now I can set 1,2,4 or 8 hours:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Digging around old 1940s cabins and dump

Today was another perfect crisp fall day - ideal for digging in my neighborhood.  There are some cabins nearby that were built in the 1940s from locally milled logs and I walk by them often.  Today I decided to detect around them.  I actually found most of the metal items on the long private dirt road.  But I also wandered off into the woods where the old dump is for the cabins.  That's where I found the bottles and jar.

Here's a view of one cabin and part of the road where I dug some of the coins:

The most interesting item is this "I.C.A. ELECTROSTATIC ARRESTER". Labeled on the bottom: "INSULINE CORP OF AMERICA NY.  APPROVED CAT NO 340 MADE IN USA".  I guess it was used to protect tube radios from lightning coming in from the big outside antenna that they used in those days.  The company made tube radios in the 1930S.

I also found this large steel spike in the road about 6" down.

I had explored the dump before and found the "Zonite" bottle earlier (on the right in the picture above).  Apparently this was a bottle of "feminine hygiene product".  I think this bottle is from the forties.

I looked up some of the old ads for this stuff - pretty scary!

The other bottles are neat, the clear one is dated 1953 - a couple years older than me!

And the 1950s white jar of Dorothy Gray cold cream may have contained their famous radioactive mud - check out this old TV commercial where they wave a Geiger counter near the woman's face!

There are more bottles out there, but they all seem to be more modern.  Maybe I'll go back and haul them out for recycling.  Glass is one of the most recycled materials on the planet!

Mystery objects in a friends yard

It's mid October and a fall chill is in the air and the leaf colors are peaking along to coast of Maine.  Yesterday I visited a friend in Cumberland, Maine who let me spend an hour detecting on her property.  It was a pleasant day for digging and the dirt was very damp from recent rain.  I wandered all over the front half of her 1/2 acre lot and found a few odd items, some modern coins, and some larger pieces of scrap steel not shown below.

As I moved around the yard I was aware of the differences in the quality of the dirt.  The back lawn was dark, soft loam that was almost fluffy.  Below that was a layer of packed sandy dirt.  In other places, I found a lot of charcoal and nails, indicating that an earlier building may have burned down.  There is an old wood garage with a workshop shed in back, and another shed beside it.  Apparently a previous owner had worked on cars and was quite a craftsman tinkerer, so I expected to find odd items related to vehicle repair.

There were 2 mystery objects that seem vaguely familiar.  The first seems to be a radiator plug.  I think you would insert the plug an pull down the handle to expand the rubber plug that holds it in place.  If anyone can identify this - let me know:

update . . . So according to Frank on Facebook, its a snap-handle drain plug for a boat!

This knob-like item also seems vaguely familiar, but I can't place what it is:

update . . . some detectorists on facebook think it might be a "suicide knob" that people used to attach to steering wheels back before power steering was common.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Lovely fall day for hunting in the field

I have not had much time to go out detecting lately, plus we have had a few much needed rainy days.  But this afternoon was nice and sunny with temperatures in the 50s.  So I walked across the road into the big hayfield.  Last time I found an axe head and a large bent horseshoe along the edges, so I picked up where I left off staying very close to the edge of the field.  

My first find was a length of chain and then a large steel ring with a few links attached. Possibly a ring from an ox yoke?  Then I got a pair of very rusted pliers - I bet the farmer really missed those!  I have put both in my electrolysis tank to clean them up a bit.

There is a hill in one spot that was clearly used for both picnics and hunting based on the pull-tabs and shells I found.  Another live shell.  I find it hard to understand how hunters drop live rounds.  I'll be dropping them off to the local Sherrif's office later this year for safe disposal.

As I crested a slope I came across one of the flocks of turkeys that roam my neighborhood.  As you can see the fall colors are really coming in.

And here's the view toward my home from the picnic hill.  

The land around here reminds me a lot of where I grew up in Yorkshire, England - it is New England after all!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Succesful field work

Today I decided to stay home and work the large 50 acre hay field across from my home.

I got out there about 3:00pm and just wandered around - going where it "felt right".  Pretty quickly I found a bunch of rifle shells - about 6 in one spot.  Clearly someone was standing right there doing target practice.

Then I spotted my friend John headed out into the field for a walk and invited him to join me on my hunt and and found another 3 shells including a live round.

We decided to walk down the road to a spot where there is a cellar hole across from the field and started detecting across the road from that foundation.  I don't yet have permission for the cellar yet and it is pretty overgrown and hard to detect.  But along the verge of the road I got a few big signals - a soda can and a carburetor.

We decided to re-enter the field and work our way around the edge and the next good signal also had a big footprint.  This time I found an axe head in pretty good condition.  It must be nearly 100 years old.  This is my first axe head and I'm pretty pleased.

By coincidence - or synchronicity, I had just built a large electrolysis tank from a 5 gallon bucket in anticipation of finding large rusty items that might need cleaning.  Life often works this way for me.  So I hung the axe head on a chain connected to the negative terminal of a 12V 3Amp power supply with the positive side going to the 6 heavy steel bar electrodes around the sides.  I filled the bucket with water and some white vinegar and added some baking soda and turned on the power and pretty soon the axe head was bubbling.
This is a sure sign that the rust is being cleaned off.  After an hour the water was brown with rust and gross yellow foam.  I'm planning to restore this axe head and make a new handle for it - so I'll blog about that later.

But back to the field, I found another large signal that turned out to be a horse shoe with all the nails still in it.  It is badly twisted and we both were baffled as to what could bend a heavy piece of metal like that.  It will go in the electrolysis bath next.

It was a great day to be outside in the warm, brisk fall air and I'm very pleased with the finds for the day and it was great to share the experience with John.  I'll go back around the field more now that I can see there is potential to find more cool relics.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Some days it's mostly junk

I'm just catching up on my blog.  I've been too busy to write up my dig from last Thursday, September 27.  Nothing exciting.  Bits and bobs and scrap metal.

Lots of half rotted zincolns!  The area I was detecting has sandy soil and that seems to rot these junkers faster than good dark loam, but I still dig them because you never know!  Here's some examples.

 There was this goofy keyfob that is chrome plated zinc I think.

And yet another Christian bookmark, I have several of these now.

This might be a buckle from either horse tack or a shoe, not sure, but I found it near the barn.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Interviewed for the Bangor DaIly News

A reporter named Aislinn Sarnacki contacted me recently to see if she could interview me about Metal detecting for the Bangor Daily News.  Click on the image above
 to see the article.  She found my blog and figured I'd be a good person to talk to.  I invited her to join me on a brief hunt at my favorite spot.  We spent over 45 minutes and found a few interesting items as I explained the process and let her have a go swinging the detector.  We found a few neat items.
At the top is a steel metal punch - the signal was distinctly long and narrow and it was only a few inches down.  Also the usual assortment of nails and hardware, the ring is a key ring.  The best find was from a coin spill on the surface that includes a few clad pennies and an MTBA token (Massachussetts Bay Transport Authority).  This is the second one I have found at this site.

We also found this decorative metal bow that rang up in the 40's so I had hoped it might be silver, but it did not test as sterling.  Probably plated tin.

I took Aislinn back to my house to show her my finds and how I clean them, and we did the interview in my living room.  She's a smart and interesting young woman who has written a couple of books about hiking trails in Maine:
"Family Friendly Hike in Maine"

"Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path: 35 Trails Waiting to Be Discovered" (Kindle Edition)
I'm going to get this one!