Lindsay's Technical Books

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grindingandlapping.jpgIf our civilization ever disintegrates ala Mad Max, I hope that someone has had the foresight to have bought one each of the entire Lindsay's Technical Books Catalog. From an 1901 how-to on building your own car, to "modern" locomotive construction, to the art of casting iron, this is a techie's dream.

When I first thought about writing up Lindsay's, I thought that it might be too much a guy-thing. That came mainly from the overwhelmingly male feel to all these books. But then I realized that (most of) these manuals were written many years ago and that, if written today, the appeal would be geek, not male. These were all written by folks who actually built things like carbon arc torches and have all the seriousness of any modern book on programming or computer graphics. That's not to say that there aren't scads of really funny titles and subjects sprinkled throughout (check out the I Love to Fart Cookbook ). The illustrations alone are a hoot.

lindsay_2.jpg

What appeals to me, though, is the idea that the info is waiting out there for us if we want to convert wood to charcoal and electricity, make a whistle, or construct a large format camera. We spend 99% of our lives acquiring things that other have made for us. There is a deep satisfaction in "making your own", whether it is a home cooked meal or a windmill. More of us would be happy with our lives if we could point to something tangible once in a while and say, "I made that." It needn't be a Tesla disc turbine engine. It could be a planter, a drawing, or a ham radio. It could be a cake from scratch, a coffee table, or a flower arrangment. Creating the tangible gives us meaning. It is the ultimate human endeavor.

A NOTE: The web site doesn't actually sell the books directly - you have to have the paper catalog in front of you when you fill out an on-line order form or you can call to order. But the web site does have some reprints of the book descriptions and some articles about people today who are doing things like building their own circa 1900 steam runabout .

Order a catalog and be entertained by how far we've come from actually building things. Order a book and learn how to make your own plastic vacuum forming machine, make homebrew root beer, or preserve the dead.

You'll be better for it.

4 Comments

Perhaps the "someone" should be you...

Ixnay on Preserving the Dead. I believe I may have (unintentionally) dated some of these preservees and I think they should be left in their crypts.
On the other hand the Mathot's Producer Gas is a handy dandy device. I just may get myself one of them there catalogs and geek along. After all, my Con Ed bill isn't getting any lower.

Good God man! I've been perusing the Lindsay website and and and--please tell me you're not
Bandaging Your Nose With a Jockstrap. There are Fist Meds in the North Country, right?
:)

I mean, does this guy have cool books or what? When I'm ready to repair that locomotive that's been sitting out on the front lawn for the past four years, I know just where to go to get the know-how....

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This page contains a single entry by published on February 6, 2004 11:22 AM.

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