The impossible question, when do you start to get rid of your machines? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    I’m 69, retired @ 67. Like many, have decades of machines, tools, electronics, hobby stuff, etc.
    Family & friends have no interest in any of it, as no one seems to like to work with their hands any more.

    My disposal timetable was moved up after I obliterated both left and right shoulder rotator cuffs.
    Because I am an idiot, lifted things an old man should not. Lower spine is mangled for the same reason.

    So anything too heavy to lift or that I don’t use any more has been or is being sold.

    Am doing it in phases, 80% of the firearm collection went to an FFL for consignment sales, all but one of the motorcycle collection was picked up by a guy in Ohio, who sent a van to collect it.
    HAM radio gear is next. I also put things on eBay, and if they don’t sell, to the metal scrapper or trash bin they go.
    Machinery and tools will be last, as I still use them.

    Wife retires in 2022.
    Hoping to have most of these things sold before I am unable to tell the difference between a micrometer and a dog.
    Frank

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  3. #22
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    I was in the estate cleanout business for a while and I saw it over and over again where a person would not part with anything and the house or buildings were cramed full of junk. This leaves a big burden for the heirs of the estate which is not fair, especially when half of the stuff ends up in a dumpster.

    My advice is pare down while you can like parts and accessory's or things that are in the way but keep good things that are complete. Then since you do not have children, do what a friend of mine did. He got sick unexpectedly and died quickly and had no immediate family except a cousin. Before he died he told his cousin that he wanted a few things to be donated to one of several museums if the museums wanted them. If not then he had a list of his friends, with one friend in charge and the friends on the list could just take whatever they wanted. Anything left over would be auctioned off. That worked well in his situation.

    Household goods are another thing to consider getting rid of. Nobody wants old household items and it ends up being a huge amount of work and expense for the heirs to clean out.

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  5. #23
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    I would agree with others that say what is valuable to you is probably nothing more than junk to later generations. Having said that I would sit down and decide exactly which machines you intend to use and which are no more than "nice to have eye candy". Those that get put in the eye candy category should be disposed of. You are probably more knowledgeable than anyone you know concerning the value of the machines, and who would be interested in purchasing and using them.

    Your heirs probably don't know the first thing about any of the machines and would in all likelihood call the scrap man to haul them off. You on the other hand probably have a professional or social relationship with a number of people who would love to have them or know someone who would.

    As for the machines you use regularly I would casually mention to the wife or significant other that you intend to keep them until someone comes along to pry your cold dead fingers off them. I would also reach out to your network to a couple close aquaintenances and ask them help dispose of the machines when you are in the hereafter.

    I personally haven't gotten into the mode of "collecting eye candy". I do however have a number of large machines that will need new owners once I'm gone. To that end I have spoken to a friend who owns a machine shop, and another friend that owns a used machine tool business. They will be more than happy to assist my wife as to the pricing and disposal of the machines when the time comes. With those arrangements made I can happily use them to my last day and be assured they will find homes in my absence.

  6. #24
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    Household goods are another thing to consider getting rid of. Nobody wants old household items and it ends up being a huge amount of work and expense for the heirs to clean out.
    My parents both died within the same year. Brothers and sister and I had to clean out the house. My rule was "If I can buy it at walmart, it's not worth saving". I was bagging and trashing cleaning supplies and old towels. My brother would go through the trash bags and keep the stuff I wanted to toss. We had quite a conflict. I wanted to get it done and back home. I had work to do. I went back home with a truck bed of stuff I wanted to keep. Sentimental stuff. My brother went home with a large u-haul full of garbage. Cleaning supplies and other crap that wasn't worth transporting. I visited him not too long ago a couple years later. His garage is still full of this junk.

    If you ever watch "Hoarders", one of the recurring themes, especially with the men, is that they have an inflated sense of what their stuff is worth. It's not low balling if people aren't offering you what you think your gear is worth. It's only worth what you can actually get for it.

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  8. #25
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    Oh boy I kinda wished I'd never seen this thread. Your comments about losing interest scare the crap out of me. The one constant in my life from about age 13 is machine, machine tools, etc...I'm 58.

    Right now I am at a crossroads, I am in process of changing my job from working at a university mechanical engineering school to the machine shop in the physics department. The job will be fairly different, going from heavy student interaction to much less. I don't make many parts now and I will do primarily that in physics. It is a significant pay bump and I feel my skill set has been not been put to use much. This was the most difficult decision I have ever made.

    The point of mentioning this is I am very active in my home shop and have been for many years. I wondered if going to making parts all day would kill my interest in working in my home shop. I have done it before and it didn't but I was younger then. Despite the many years of running machinery and making stuff I still get a thrill even just watching a lathe take a cut. Even more a thrill when you put all the parts together and you have a finished product. What if that goes away?

    Maybe about 10 years ago Rivett and I had a conversation where he pointed out to me the difference of "working ON your shop" and "working IN your shop" I have had the tendency to get enamored with machines and have bought many and fixed them up only to wind up selling them and getting others. About 2 years ago I picked up a lathe and spent 18 months fixing it up. In the end I have a nice machine to use now but it pretty much turned me off to doing that again. While working on the lathe I kept thinking: I want to be working IN my shop! Rivett's words have stuck with me all this time. And I have another lathe to finish, one I have had for 10 years or more. I see no sign of of losing interest, but I am starting to wonder if I will be able to do this work(at least to the level of quality I want) when I am say 10 or 15 years older.

    Another factor of this job change is I am going to need a bunch of tools for the new position. Right now the school supplies everything I need but the physics position will necessitate getting some stuff. That has sparked an older interest of mine in measuring tools. I don't have much of a collection, and I use what I have, at least mostly. But now that I need some new stuff I am trolling ebay like a maniac! I picked up some cool stuff and lost some bids too. But I'm getting a good bunch of stuff. Will I ever be the level of collector like Rivett? I seriously doubt it, and my primary area of interest(at least right now) is much different and newer, say 1930's to the end of the American makers. I'm fascinated by the post war boom stuff. Learning about the companies is always fascinating to me too.

    I hear Rivett mention the collection of machine tool trade catalogs and I start to salivate, the slightest mention of the Rivett 608 lathe and its tooling(I've owned 5 of them over the years and Rivett and I have bought and traded parts for them, going back 20 years) gets me thinking "where can I find room for that in my shop!!"

    So lots of food for thought here and I look forward to more thoughts from others.

  9. #26
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    I am 68, retired for 5 1/2 years (if you can call it that as I am active as a consulting engineer, welding inspector, and machinist). My rules are loose and simple:
    If I don't need it and can't see a future use for it, don't drag it home. If it's in the shop, it has to be a running machine tool or good tooling. I am culling years of accumulation, stuff left to me by my father, and stuff I just accumulated along the way because it was there and offered to me or was too good a deal to pass up.

    I have a reasonable library of older engineering texts and trade catalogs and similar, but nothing overwhelming. Unfortunately, there is a lot of clutter in smaller items that just seems to pile up like snow drifting into odd corners. Another fault of mine was hoarding pieces of good stock for future jobs. Drops of steel, bearing bronze, reinforced phenolic, aluminum, and similar. I'd make something from those drops, and wind up with a smaller scrap and save that.... and sometimes make something from the remnants which would give me justification for filling old olive oil cans with these little "scraps of scraps". Of late, I am sorting the materials and organizing them in bins. Some is being thrown out.

    As for my machinery and equipment, it is obvious no one in my immediate family is remotely interested in it. My son is pursuing an entirely different path in life, wanting to be an attorney to advocate for immigrants and working people. Noble goal, for sure. He did ask for a box of mechanic's tools to do light repairs on his car and around his apartment. I got an old hip-roof Craftsman toolbox for 5 bucks at the industrial surplus store and filled it with a mix of old US made wrenches and sockets, punches, pliers, and the usual things one has in a real toolbox rather than one of those new blow molded plastic took kits.

    There are machine tools, anvils, forges, welding equipment, a compressor on a 120 gallon air receiver, all manner of hand tools and machinist tools... I know my son will get my oak machinist chests. Whether he wants to keep a few of my mikes or similar just to remember me by, or whether he fills the chests with keepsakes of his own is his to determine. My old tools have stories of the men I got them from and the places I was working in. I did take a paint marker and write the "provenance" on each machine tool: date I got it, who I got it from, where it came out of.

    As for the disposition of my shop, I told my wife that if I predecease her, she is to call my buddies and tell them to help themselves to whatever they like and to put a post on here. There is a gantry in the garage with a chainfall to get the machine tools up from the basement. My buddies can figure it out from there.

    In our family, we tend to be long lived. Mom died in November at age 100, simply fed up with a quality of life that was rapidly diminishing. Mom drove into her 99th year and used a computer right to the end. Mom took digital pix of everything she had in her home and designated who got what and left the rest up for grabs for us to dispose of. We divvied up what we wanted beyond what Mom had already listed. After that, Mom's old condo unit was in demand (she'd been in it for over 30 years). Rather than take a gamble on paying an inferior decorator or similar to spiff the place up for sale, we were in the process of cleaning out the place when a flood due to a plumbing leak happened. We got the remediation crew in and plenty of odds and ends of furniture and belongings got dumpstered. The realtors found a "flipper" who met out asking price with no negotiating, quick closing and wanted no further repairs or improvements done as they were going to do a complete renovation. As I pointed out to my siblings (I am the oldest), a lot of what our mother treasured and kept in her unit was stuff that had meaning to her. She might have associated it with a trip abroad with us kids or our late father, or meeting the artist or craftsman who made it, but it had no such attachment to us. I found no compelling need to build a physical shrine to my late parents. It was a lesson to me. As I told my siblings, it is wrong to try to perpetuate ourselves by binding our heirs to our earthly posessions from beyond our graves. What we leave our heirs or people we've touched along the way in the form of wisdom (or learning from our mistakes at least), values, skills, tricks or methods of doing different jobs, etc is the best legacy.

    Even contemplating how to dispose or thin down the contents of our shops is confronting our own mortality. It is not something everyone is comfortable in doing. If we have lived a good life and done some good for those around us, we may be better able to confront our mortality. Starting to part with machinery and things like motorcycles and firearms means realizing we are possibly no longer able to do the physical activities we once enjoyed and took for granted. It is a hard call, for sure.
    I likened my mother's passing to someone who was a crop "gone well beyond harvest time" at age 100. Mom was slowing at what seemed an exponential rate and she prepared for her end. Mom's mother made it to 102, living in her own apartment to her end. In both cases, it was a graceful and natural process. When the time comes for all of us to make the call to start paring down our shops or collections, I hope it is made in the same manner, not under duress, not with sadness, but with the feeling that "all things in their season" or however the Bible (Ecclesiastes, I think) phrases it. We need to be at peace and "it has to be right" so passing along, selling, or however we dispose of our shops and collections is neither sad nor painful for us.

  10. #27
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    Iím making a book(with pictures) that has realistic ( sell quick) prices for my machines, and a list of what goes with each machine. I also gave my wife contact info for a good rigger that I have used.
    Iím not very old , but you never know when the asteroid or bus will hit you. Made my wife feel a lot better



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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  12. #28
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    No matter what we do or don't, take comfort in the words of my dad, "I've never seen a situation fail to work it self out, one way or another."

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  14. #29
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    Thank you all for the discussion. Itís great.

    You all make me think thinning out stuff might not be a bad idea. My shop is different than all you guys would describe. I do miniatures and all of my machines are small. No cranes needed here. My material stock is well organized as it the rest of the shop. The stuff I have is either nice or rare that Iím thinking about getting rid of.

    This is by no means a closing the shop deal. Anything I use, even if it is once every few years will stay. It is the extras, the spare 1/2 dozen cross slides for a Rivett. Maybe I just need 1 or 2.

    My good stuff is already part of a plan, this stuff I consider back-ups to my user tools.

    Now to start thinking of how to do this. I know many ways.

    Ps.Sandiapaul, yes thos Rivett drives are still sitting here, I had them set up but never turned them on. Since I remodeled that part of the shop and off to storage they went.

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    In thinking about this it boils down to one thing. Do I want to spend my remaining shop time fixing up more tools or using the tools I have to make wonderful little things?

    I think the answer is obvious.

  17. #31
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    "This leaves a big burden for the heirs of the estate which is not fair, especially when half of the stuff ends up in a dumpster."

    A huge burden to the heirs? Oh, excuse me for dying and leaving you something of value that you cannot figure how to capitalize upon. Will it take effort? Perhaps a few phone calls and interacting with the unwashed who respond to Craigslist ads?

    I am 72+, have a 6000sf shop full of machine tools, all working and tooled, and am unimpressed with the potential angst of my unworthy heirs and assigns bitching about having to apply themselves to see whatever wealth it will entail.

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    My Father passed 3 years ago this coming April, Depression Era man. Everything has a value when you grew up with nothing. Made me sad to have to go through his things a scrap what he treasured. Painting with a broad brush here but it doesn't seem that young people today care about the "Olden Days". Maybe we need to put a video game controller on these old machines. Shop me and my Dad once worked in has been taken over by a young CNC guy. I have nothing against CNC but I'm smart enough to know that in the maintenance shop we worked in they were a bad fit. I'm at a union meeting listening to Mr.CNC proclaim that he talked management into getting a 4" bar mill, CNC of course! He plans on putting it the Iron shop where our planer sat. (14'x48" Niles Bemont Ponds) Can't wait to hear the issues of other trades using the table for a welding, anvil, storage place. Mr. CNC had more than a few beers in him and was telling me how all the machines in the shop were junk. We had a beautiful Baker keyseater in great shape with a lot of tooling. Like new GEMCO shaper etc. I listened to his BS as long as I could and finally snapped. Told him that the old timers made great parts on that JUNK, even did most of it with HSS tooling.
    To add to today's problem, those of us with kids don't know where they're going to land. How many times have we heard tales of young people moving all over the country for work. I suppose moving life's necessities is hard enough with dragging a Bridgeport mill and a lathe behind you!
    I'm in a different place right now, I've been grinding out 60-70 hour weeks for the past 20 years getting kids through school. I've been doing this so long that I don't even know what interests me anymore. I inherited my Dad's hobby shop and have it stored because I have no where to set it up. Would love to have a shop to tinker in but do I want my hobby to be working? Like to fish and golf but my back is saying slow not so fast.

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    I'm not sure I'd cull but rather find someone to manage the distribution of your bounty if it does end up being true that you can't take it with you. There's always that slim possibility that you can indeed take your toys with you and you'd feel silly if you got rid of them all.

    In all seriousness, with the quality of your collection I'm sure you can find a company or individual that will remove and redistribute your goodies and give you family a percentage of the sales when the time comes. Arrange that now and never think of it again.

  20. #34
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    These are all good comments, here are a few more thoughts:


    Try to think in reverse; you are 88 years old, in an old age home, what is so special that you want to keep for then? If you are lucky, you will probably be in a large one-room unit with a small kitchen. I tell my wife to expect a roll top desk in the living area with all sorts of nice tools and maybe a small lathe, with a bottle of Canadian rye in the lower drawer next to the Cuban cigars. When I’m done for the night, she will roll the top down and won’t have to clean up after me. When I don’t have the strength to roll the top up, it goes too.

    I’m lucky in that I’m out of space, now one machine comes in, one goes out. Use the same mentality, if a cool piece of equipment comes in now, something has to go out.

    Note that museums are under no obligation to keep the stuff they get; even the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit has listed stuff on Ebay. If they need the room, or the curator does not really know what they have, it could be tossed when you thought it was saved. And some of your best stuff may only be ‘saved’ for a short while as the next person has no plan.

    As mentioned before, going through any estate is difficult and can try family tranquility; both my parents passed away in the same year. Try to make it a bit easier with a list of very realistic values, pictures and contact names. Start early with stuff you can really do without to someone who appreciates it, then your stories go with it too.

    You don't see poetry in this Forum, however this quote from Paul Bowles may be appropriate, skip it if you are not a fan of literature:

    “Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.”

    Dan

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  22. #35
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    I’m 36 and my parents and grandparents are/were horders. I’m trying to stay on the collector side the line, though, it can be a struggle.

    I’m also picking and going to auctions 1. To build my shop, 2. To resell other things to pay for #1, and 3. To keep the scrap man at bay! Few local auctioneers know much of anything about tools. A recent auction I went to had a 24” Yates 3 toe jointer and a 20” camelback drill listed as “scrap woodworking machines”. Same auction I ended up with a complete Hardinge Cataract lathe with original table. I lucked out as I was buying all the parts individually to resell, but when I realized I got all but the bed and table, I ran into the guy that bought it and got it to. Probably a keeper now…

    I also picked an amazing amount of tools from a shop that had sat a decade since the owner passed. His brother sold the land and the shop was to be torn down for a new fire department building. I had come just to buy a power hack saw. Several others had already picked it and I missed buying one of the lathes that went CHEAP… They were tired of dealing with it and just kept saying, “make a pile” when I asked prices. Finally the guy said, “The scrap guy started today. Make a pile and we WILL make a deal.” May have stayed longer if I hadn’t had the kids and it wasn’t a school night. Still, I Left with an empty wallet and a full trailer.

    Others just know “nuthin”. I’ve missed deals where I find out someone told the widow it’s only worth scrap and they will haul it off for a percentage. Once two or three people tell them that, they figure it must be true. I could have put many thousands of dollars into one widow’s pocket if she would have let me help her sell on commission like I offered. (She thought one text ad with “Old trucks, farm stuff, tools, etc.” was enough advertising!!!) I bought as much as I could, but realized afterwards I should have just lowballed her like the rest since she was taking any cash offer…

    I do okay reselling (wife says I have a knack), but it amazes me the number of people whom it seems couldn’t sell a $20 for more than $5. LOL

    With all that in mind, my advice is three fold.

    1. Document your knowledge of what you keep. What you know about what you have is a pittance compared to anyone else. Even at my age, I realize I need something I could hand my wife with pictures, description (for advertising), and realistic values.
    2. Specialty tools take time to sell, so give them that time. Hundreds to thousands of Iphones sell each day. It’s a price game. Rarity and specialization of a tool can increase it’s price. But the pool of people looking for such item is small. As such it takes time to put rare things in hands that appreciate them. Selling excess now gives that time even if you aren’t concerned about monetary return.
    3. Advertise and be willing to ship. Local ads won’t cut it for specialty items. Take good pictures, put them in a place that will be seen by a large audience and preferably a targeted audience. Even an auction can work if this advice is followed. Just saw one over the weekend in mid-MO that did fairly well on old tools and blacksmith items. It was pretty well organized, allowed online bidding, and either in person pickup or shipping on most items.

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    Oh, excuse me for dying and leaving you something of value that you cannot figure how to capitalize upon.
    That's the rub. Is it something of value or something only you value?

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    When do I get rid of my machines?......................not today.

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    This is a cool thread. The main thing is that you have some kind of plan so no one is stuck without an idea of how to proceed should you become unable to communicate your wishes at some point. That's a nice way of putting it isn't it? I am early 50's in age and just got the big lathe in the garage. My wife would have no idea of what to do with it or it's value if I didn't come home. She asks how much this or that was all the time and I used to fear that when I died she would sell my things for how much I told her I got it for! LOL

    Maybe I am not addressing the OP exactly but I think as long as you can use the stuff and it brings you joy it is OK to hold on to it if you have a plan. So what's easier? Making a plan and sharing it with your family or selling your livelihood?

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    It's one thing to be bitter and disappointed that the next generation has different values and world view than yours.

    But did you teach them about those things you value, ... or just expect them to crawl along in your wake ?

    Some of us simply lack ANY heirs, ... of any sort.


    I've begun culling some of the duplicates out of the gun lockers, and a few of the old tractors have found new homes where they're valued, ... but it's tough letting go.

    ( While agonizing over getting rid of "surplus", I've just completed a 1500 sq. ft. addition to the tractor shed. )

    losing interest concerns me as well.

    I haven't lit up the forge in several months, even though there are a few projects floating around that require it's application.

    But the good news, is that from time-to-time I still do see potential "projects" that pique my interest.

    And as long as that happens, I will NOT dismantle the shop.

    Knowing that so many of you are in the same boat as me, does not give me any hope, or peace, ... but it might make it a bit easier to accept as the natural order of things.



    .

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    I got a preview of this several years ago -- diagnosed with metastatic cancer in the liver, lungs, spine, mesentery -- and six months to put my affairs in order. I set about selling 19 major tools (lathes, mills, bandsaws, Hossefeld bender with most every die, shaper, etc.) to ease the burden on my wife.

    Turns out I'm now happily living beyond my expiration date (benefited from doing my homework and a long grind of trying new cancer drugs and a tour of surgery, radiation, etc. etc. ). Now 70, hiking, playing tennis, building stuff for kids' science programs, and the like. Some lessons learned in my trial run at putting my affairs in order.

    1) No one much cares about your old (sports, career) memorabilia. If it doesn't bring you pleasure in a remembrance, might as well pitch it.

    It does get tricky, though. Years ago I got rid of 700 or so CD's -- just ripped them to digital form. Recently, I came across a stash of old records and tapes. They have pretty much no value in a streaming music age -- but some value (?) in a remembrance of times when they were played?

    2) Tools I've bought new to replace those gone have been on a project basis. Need it for a project -- it gets bought. No more someday-I-might purchases.

    3) I miss using some of the 19 major tools sold off -- most better than I have been able to justify as replacements. My advice would be to hold on to any tool you enjoy using, as long as you're using it -- and not worry about getting top dollar after your death. In my case, my wife has been introduced to our local machinery and used tool dealers -- and a group of friends have agreed we'll help out each others' spouses whenever that time comes. Last guy standing . . . well his wife might be stuck -- but he also gets to live the longest.

    4) I donated valuable stuff (mostly artwork) to family and friends who would appreciate them. I'm still happy to have it at their places rather than mine. Sounds like you already have a plan for your amazing miniatures and bits of industrial history past.

    5) Back when I was really sick, one set of tool sales went to fund an engineering scholarship. People were happy to help with that -- and I'm happy to have just a thin catalog left of all that was auctioned off.

    6) Still have way too much stuff. Where I struggle especially is with projects still on the "to do" list. Example would be file cabinets of research materials for updates of a couple older books, one still in draft, and another on the want-to-do list. Cancer didn't really teach me anything about that.

    7) Easiest way for me to sort is to ask of something is proving to be more of a pain to keep around or if it still gives me pleasure to have and use. Amazing how much junk might have some monetary value, but barely worth the time to find a buyer, and no longer contributing to either a project or enjoyment day by week by month by year.

    8) If something has any monetary value, it probably will never have more than right now. Better to sell it cheap and quick now, than slow and even cheaper when it's obsolete or the mass of like-minded collectors have passed on.

    Good luck. You've got a bunch of really cool stuff both in your personal portfolio and collections. Be nice if Practical Machinist and the Way Back Machine keep it alive for some generations to come.


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