Funter Bay History: Cannery Stencils

May 20, 2020

The beach at low tide is a great place to find all sorts of treasure. When I lived at Funter Bay we would search the mud around the cannery site for old bottles and artifacts. Recently Scott and Denice McPherson were visiting Funter Bay and pulled some brass cannery stencils out of the beach mud.

These appear to have been for marking crates for shipment to wholesalers. They probably date from about the 1930s. The “A&L Brand” Sockeye stencil is for No. 1 or “picnic” cans, which held 10-12oz each. The “Health Brand” stencil is for Tall cans which held 1lb each.

A photo from another cannery (not Funter) shows how crates were assembled from flat-packed parts and marked to contain various brands and products.

Making boxes at Clark’s Point, Alaska 1918 – John Cobb Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Scott & Denice McPherson for sharing the photos of their great find!

 


Funter Bay History: Water and Hydropower Part III

April 14, 2020

As I’ve noted in several previous posts, hydroelectric power was a big part of industrial development at Funter Bay. The availability of water in useful quantities and at sufficient elevation meant that electricity or mechanical power could be generated “for free”. In this case, “free” meant no ongoing fuel costs for diesel, coal, or wood. The initial development of water power sites, such as building dams, digging ditches, and laying pipes, still took time and money.

Despite being a rainforest, Southeast Alaska has a lot of variation in water availability on an industrial scale. Winter can freeze pipes and reservoirs, and mid-summer can dry up small streams. Most small industries like canneries and gold mines were able to operate using small ditch and pipe networks, but they did sometimes run short of water. Over the years there were several proposals for larger, more reliable hydroelectric systems at Funter Bay.

In 1931 the Admiralty-Alaska Gold Mining company used at least seven small to mid-size water power systems to meet their needs. These included the following:

-6ft Undershot Pelton water wheel, driving mill equipment via belt.
-4ft Undershot Knight water wheel, also belt-drive to mill
-24″ Pelton water wheel running a 5KW D.C generator for lighting
(All of these were under 60ft of hydraulic head, meaning a 60ft vertical drop from the water supply ditch to the wheels).
-Auxilliary lighting generator of 1KW, also operated by water wheel (size not listed).
-5.5ft water wheel under 359ft head running a Chicago Pneumatic 24x18x14 air compressor.
-6ft Pelton water wheel under 57ft head, running a 14×16 Ingersoll Rand compressor
-24″ “Water Motor” under 357ft of head, operating an exhaust fan.

All of these water-power systems were unreliable enough that the mine also had on hand two 100hp MacIntosh Seymour “Full Diesel” engines to run the mill and compressors. In addition, there were several steam engines in use on the property, including an 8-ton steam locomotive and a 90hp logging donkey.

The 1931 company report proposed a major hydroelectric development to replace these smaller systems. This new project was to cost nearly $800,000 and would have included the following:

-New dam with conduit tunnel and pipeline to power plant
-Four 2,500KVA Generators and related transformers.
-Twenty miles of transmission line on 50ft high steel towers, with dual 4,000Kw circuits. (Other documents say a 30-mile line would be needed).

This project would have been built South of Funter Bay at Lake Kathleen. I’ve previously posted some maps of the proposal here. For various reasons including funding and mine productivity, this was never actually constructed.

——————————————————

Another hydroelectric proposal surfaced in 1979 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The full published report can be found here.

This proposal was never fully fleshed out, and included a lot of wild assumptions. For example, the project assumed that Funter Bay’s population would grow from an average of 14 year-round residents in 1979 to 17 in 2000 and 23 in 2030 (actual year-round population was around 8-10 in the year 2000 and is around 3-5 as of 2020).

The engineers proposed a 5′ tall cement dam at the site of the former Dano Mine adit, a 150kW turbine, and 4.5 miles of transmission line circling the bay.

A map of the proposed setup can be found here.

This project also failed to go anywhere. Like many proposed infrastructure projects in Alaska, the only result was a contract to an engineering firm and some paperwork to be forgotten by the government. I am not sure which, if any, of the hydroelectric sites proposed in this study were ever developed.


An airboat with… wheels?

March 20, 2020

I’ve been meaning to put wheels on this silly thing ever since I started building it back in 2011 (has it really been that long?). I never could figure out a way to steer the wheels that was both efficient, effective, and lightweight enough to be removable. After a few different tries I ended up just sticking casters under there and steering with the fan and rudder. This actually works surprisingly well until it’s time to stop…

And here’s the prior video of the wheel system build process:

Aaaand the video of my last ice-based test run when I managed to crash the airboat!

 


The Mini Airboat Lives Again!

March 2, 2020

I’ve finally been getting the airboat out on the water (well, frozen water) after years of it just sitting around in my garage! Here’s a recent test run video, I should have more videos up soon! Check out my Youtube Channel for more of this nonsense.


Winter Monorail!

January 28, 2020

A quick visit to the monorail in the winter. Not much to say here really!

 


Airboat Intro Video

December 4, 2019

I’ve done a quick video on the miniature airboat project (which I’m still working on, despite the slow progress!)

This is more of an intro and description of the boat, I don’t have much video of it in action at the moment. If I can get some things finished up this winter I’ll hopefully have more updates soon!


Funter Bay History: More Canned Salmon Labels

November 22, 2019

Thanks to a great Facebook group on West Coast cannery history, I’ve been seeing more examples of Funter Bay cannery packaging. These photos are courtesy of Scott McPherson, George Freddora, and Robert Critchley, and are used with permission.

An early version of the “Buster Brand” canned Pink Salmon label. Robert “Buster” Barron was the son of cannery owner J.T. Barron. I’ve written about Buster previously, his name also appeared on cannery boats and later on nearby Mt. Robert Barron.

And a later version of the “Buster” label. I’ve previously shared a black and white copy of this one.

An early “Peasant” brand can for Pink Salmon. This artwork matches the 1906 trademark filed by the Thlinket Packing Co.

Another version of the Peasant logo, probably from a few years later:

And a “Thlinket” brand label. This was also for Pink Salmon:

Suwanee Brand (Chum or “Keta” Salmon):

And a later Suwanee variant, from when the Funter Bay cannery was owned by Sunny Point Packing:

A “Tepee” Brand can for Coho ( I have also seen Tepee advertised as “standard-grade Sockeye”.)

And a “Sea Rose” brand label for Sockeye Salmon:

A well-preserved original packing crate label from Funter Bay. These wooden crates held 48 tall cans. The blank space at the top center would be for stenciling the species once the crate was packed and ready to ship.

I’ve previously posted other examples of Thlinket Packing Co labels, including “Buster” (Pink), “Tepee” (Coho), and “Sea Rose” (Sockeye). Some of these brands may have changed through the years, as I have also seen Tepee advertised as “standard-grade Sockeye”.


Another terrible boat project!

July 1, 2019

In my ongoing quest to own and/or sink as many boats as possible, I’ve done something silly with an abandoned canoe. Someone dumped this in the parking lot where I work, and naturally I had to give it a better home.

The entire stern and various other areas were pretty smashed and rotten, so this was a great candidate for a quick and dirty modification. I had an old weedwhacker sitting around, and was able to find a trolling motor prop that fit the weedwhacker with minimal effort. After that it was just a matter of bracing the weak areas, fiberglassing the holes, and painting some awful flames on the side!

You can see a video of the build process on Youtube here!

I might start putting more of my projects like this on Youtube, hopefully including some with a higher level of craftsmanship! This one was just a quick low-effort way to start. I’ll post an update once this gets out on (and hopefully stays above) the water!

 


The media has discovered my monorail!

June 26, 2019

My monorail cabin project is apparently trending online! It all started when the Pioneer Press’ summer intern found this site, and published an article in the local paper:

Whatever happened to the Minnesota Zoo monorail cars? A St. Paul guy turned some into cabins.

From there, it got picked up by car website Jalopnik:

https://jalopnik.com/meet-the-guy-who-bought-a-monorail-for-1-000-1835842056

And then the Weather Channel. Really? The Weather Channel? I even had to ask the reporter who called me, what? really? Apparently, yes, really.

https://weather.com/news/news/2019-06-26-minnesota-zoo-monorail-cabins

And so it goes!

I’ve put up a quick Youtube video with a few more details and some video of moving the monorail! If you’d like to support this site and my silly projects, please subscribe to my channel! This is my first *ahem* “real” youtube vid aside from some old junk from college and un-narrated randomness, so I apologize for all the “ums” and “uhs”. If I keep doing this, it might get better…


Garden Pond Part 3

September 12, 2018

Part 1 and part 2 detailed some of our garden pond work. Now it’s time to add some fish to this fish hole! Currently we have a handful of goldfish that were originally for mosquito larvae control. They’ve been doing pretty well and getting bigger just eating bugs and algae. We’re not sure when we’ll add more or what we’ll add, we’re taking it slow!

The pond is about 40″ deep when full. According to various books and websites, this *should* be sufficient for hardy fish like koi and goldfish to overwinter. We will likely add a heater and/or aerator to maintain a hole in the ice. We’ve put various artificial caves near the bottom so smaller fish can hide out and (hopefully) avoid getting eaten.

Another addition is something I’m calling the fishdome. These are also known as inverted aquariums or fish observation towers.

Essentially it’s a bigger version of inverting a cup in your sink and pulling it up to trap water above the normal water surface. The ambient air pressure above the pond holds the weight of the water in place against the negative pressure inside the sealed container.

An article on the physics of this can be found here: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/not-impossible-fish-tank-just-physics/

And a video demonstration of how to do this is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0njOh04cUOU

Incidentally, we didn’t really plan this fishdome thing… it came together as a result of hoarding and wasting time on the Internet. I had previously dumpster-dived a giant Pyrex bell jar, simply because it looked cool and with no plan for what to do with it. Later I came across the video above, and realized what we could do with the jar!

The dome rests on a stand made from ABS pipe. I love working with ABS and PVC, it’s like giant tinker toys for adults! I think some of my favorite uses have nothing to do with plumbing…

IMG_20180815_183451557

Shopping for stuff like this definitely confuses hardware store clerks. No one can seem to understand why I might want a 4-way 2″ ABS tee with identical sides or a 3-way 90-90-90 elbow… Since those things don’t seem to exist, I had to make do with the design above using 8x 90-degree elbows, 8x sanitary tees, and a lot of straight pipe. Everything is epoxied together so it won’t wiggle, and I drilled some holes in the final creation to let in water and help it sink. It also has some sand ballast in the bottom so it won’t float away while I set it up. I also added some bolts at the top to keep the dome in place and prevent it from slipping off to the side.

The dome does tend to get a little scummy inside, as algae grows on the inside of the glass. I’m hoping that the addition of more algae-eaters will help with this. For now I just take it out and scrub the inside if it gets too bad. I plan to remove the dome once it starts getting colder, as I doubt it would survive freezing.

Having an open body of water in the yard has immediately attracted more wildlife. We have more birds than ever visiting the garden, and the local toads and frogs are attracted to it as well.

Another update is that the pond seems to have all major leaks taken care of. Previously I had an intermittent leak that would come and go, which made locating it very frustrating. After reading about the possibility of wicking/siphoning around folds in the liner, I added sealant to all the major folds. This seems to have done the trick, as the water level is much more stable! I’ve also adjusted the edge a bit more to try and divert overflows to a specific side, and to make rock edging easier. Next up is re-laying all the flat limestone rock around the perimeter!

Since limestone can leach into the water if submerged, I’m trying not to put any directly in the pond. We’ll probably be using other rocks to create fish hides and hold underwater planters in place. Those updates will show up soon in a future post!