St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Minus 30 Degrees

This morning the two thermometers disagreed--  -32 and -28, so I claim -30 degrees F.   I spent the morning working on the house--the bathtub surround and the dining alcove walls.  Both need reworking. The house heats up fine, just takes a lot of fuel oil at $4.14/gallon. 
Brother Ev and I started up the Jungers Oil burner Sunday to test it as an emergency heat supply if the furnace goes out.  The Jungers is from the 1940s and probably has been in the house here since the 1970s or earlier.  It was used to supplement the wood furnace into the later 1990s until Dad finally decided he couldn't lift the wood anymore (85 and parkinsons disease).   The new oil furnace replacement heated the house fine, so the Jungers was left in the dining room for an emergency--hooked up but used as a place for nick-nacks. 

Starting a Jungers involves a thorough cleaning and then pre-heating the burner with an alcohol burn and turning on the oil at the right time.  We managed to get it to work by tapping on the carburetor to get the float unstuck (controls the level of oil in the burners).  It ran fine for about 10 hours and then sometime overnight shut down--probably oil flow problem--need to clean the carb, I suppose. 

This cold weather gets one thinking about furnaces and heating. My neighbor has had the oil furnace repair people out 4 times so far and still the ignition transformer seems to burn out after a few weeks.  It is frustrating to be at the mercy of repair people, who too often are not familiar with older oil burners and mess up the repairs. 

The car started sluggishly, but after a brief warmup was fine.  Spent the afternoon at the Luck Museum doing some work and took the opportunity to try to recall the coldest winter I can remember--January 1977 when it got really cold.  Pulled out the 1977 Luck Enterprise newspaper to see what it said. 

January 9th, 1977 set the cold temp record in NW Wisconsin with a -60F (-51C) at Rice Lake, WI. Over at Cushing, it was only in the -50s.  Luck was -43.  Several fires occurred during the cold spell--likely from heating problems. 
The bank in Cushing started in 1914--100 years ago!  Note the vault on the right side.  The building was Cushing's first tavern, located along Hwy 87 on the NE corner of John Lundgren's Marshland farms.  It was drug up to Cushing where it was a meat market and then remodeled to a bank.  After the new bank was built, it was rented as a house until it burned in 1977. 

The old Cushing bank burned in that cold spell--Jan 9th, 8 pm--a real trial for the firemen with the cold weather.  Cushing, Luck and St Croix all came out for the fire.  I called one of the firemen who had gone to that fire and asked him to remember what it was like.   

"It was so cold the flames froze and we had to shovel them into the Sterling Town Truck and haul them away and dump them onto the ice on the lake east of town.  They just lay there for a few weeks, shining beautifully in the sun and finally thawed out melting a big hole in the ice.  You know, that hole stayed open the rest of the winter, and the water was so heated up, people came from as far away as Amery to bath in the hot water."

"Ja," he concluded, "that was some cold winter."