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Archive for September, 2012

Cammie is a Hammie!

September 30th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

As mentioned in a prior blog, I recently obtained my “General” Ham Radio License (Amateur Radio).

That was a pretty exciting landmark for me.

And in mid-August, there was another landmark, when I purchased a glorious eight-foot Diamond X-200A (dual-band vertical antenna).

And my newest “landmark” was last week, when my 2012 Camry Hybrid became the proud owner of a new antenna, thanks wholly to the kindness of a fellow “Ham.”

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In mid-August, this fine-looking antenna went up at my house!

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At a recent RASON (Radio Amateur Society of Norfolk) meeting, I was lamenting the fact that I had hoped to find an unobtrusive antenna for my shiny new 2012 Camry Hybrid and yet, I wasn’t sure where to find one at the last minute. Hubby and I were preparing for a road trip to Elkins, and I wanted to be able to use my hand-held transceiver on the road.

A few hours later, one of my RASON friends called and said that he had a diminutive antenna that would work on my car, and it would be ideal for my five-watt Wouxun radio!

And Jim even offered free in-home delivery of the free antenna!  :)

My husband is now becoming more and more interested in Ham Radio. His reason: “Well, it is interesting, and the people that you’ve been meeting in that Norfolk club are incredibly nice.”

And generous, too.   :)

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antenna

This small antenna was a perfect match for my needs. I wanted something small and unobtrusive, because I didn't want to diminish the look of my new car. And I also didn't want to damage the paint job!

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New car

My car is still so new, and I didn't want to damage the paint job, so I turned to Ultra-Shield (in Chesapeake) and asked them to provide this small disc of 3M Ultra-Shield to protect the new car's finish.

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hammy

The 3M Ultra-Shield does an amazing job of protecting the car's paint job from all manner of evils. This car has 3-M Ultra-Shield installed on the bumpers, hood, mirrors, fender, trunk and more.

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Ham

The antenna wire is threaded through the trunk and into the backseat, and is used primarily for my little Wouxun radio.

To learn more about RASON, click here.

To read more about the amazing Camry Hybrid, click here.

To learn more about the protecting properties of Ultra-Shield, click here.

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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Elkins Vintage Trains: Picture Perfect!

September 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

To their credit, Elkins has done a first rate job of restoring their early 20th Century train depot in the downtown area.

And I surely do hope that some day soon I can return to Elkins and be one of the lucky souls that enjoys one of the excursion rides offered on vintage passenger cars.

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This train does excursion rides down to Cheat River Junction and Durbin.

This train does excursion rides down to Cheat River Junction and Durbin (West Virginia).

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Heres a picture of the Western Maryland Depot.

Here's a picture of the restored Western Maryland depot in Elkins, WV. The view is so perfect it looks like something from a model train set - but it's the real deal in Elkins, WV.

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Where Art Thou, Hamilton? (Part II)

September 20th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

The Sears Hamilton is one of those Sears kit homes that I have never seen. And yet, while looking through the catalogs I came across this note listing a specific address for a Sears Hamilton.

Who can take a picture for me?  :)

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Mr. Thornill built a Sears Hamilton in the 1910s.

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The Hamilton, as seen in 1916.

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The Hamilton looked a little different in the 1908 catalog.

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Floorplan for the Hamilton.

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Surely this house can't be hard to find in Mingo, Junction!

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To learn more about the Sears Hamilton, click here.

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Where Art Thou Hamilton?

September 16th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

When Dale and I visited Bedford, Virginia in 2008, we drove around for some time, striving to find the Sears Hamilton that (according to the Sears catalog) had been built there in the mid-1910s.

Dale drove slowly and methodically throughout the county (and the city) while I scoured the landscape for any foursquares with a hipped roof.

We found many kit homes along the way, but we never found our Hamilton.

On my various hard drives, I have about 35,000 photos and yet I don’t have any photos of a real live Sears Hamilton.

If anyone has a photo to share, I’d be very grateful to receive it.

As a side note, The Hamilton was also the name Sears gave to a modest bungalow with clipped gables (circa 1930s). The Hamilton I’m looking for is a large foursquare.

Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

Sears Hamilton, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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By 1916, this had already become a popular house! But where are they now?

By 1916, this had already become a popular house! But where are they now?

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Nice floorplan, too.

Nice floorplan, too.

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The house has

The house has several distinctive features. Note the inset back porch which extends the full length of the long kitchen. Also noticed the 4/1 windows on the front. The one side (right side above) extends significant further than the left side.

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porch

Close-up on that back porch.

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The Hamilton was also offered as a wee tiny kit house for model railroads.

In the 1980s, the Sears Hamilton was also offered by "Spectrum" as a wee tiny kit house for HO model railroads. And this one has only 172 pieces! Notice that it's a little different from the house above? That's because they modeled it after the 1908 design. In 2001, I purchased and built this small model house. It took some time, but it was worth the effort because finally, I'd have my very own "Sears kit House." Sadly, it was lost in "The Great Divide" (divorce).

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1908

Here's the Hamilton as seen in the 1908 catalog. It's a perfect match to the model above and slightly different from the 1916 version. The dormers in the 1908 house are shed dormers, and in 1916, they were hipped. The front center window (second floor) has diamond muntins in 1908.

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So where are our Hamiltons? I don’t know, but I’d love to find out, and I’d love to have a photo!

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about the Sears Homes in Roanoke, click here.

To read the most recent blog, click here.

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It’s Official: I’m Now a Ham (Part III)

September 15th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

This weekend (September 15/16) there was a big Ham Fest (for Ham Radio enthusiasts) at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This morning, I was one of about 40 people who gathered in an upper room sitting for a Ham Radio licensing test.

The majority of those 40 people were taking a test for the Technician License, which is the first of the three licenses in Ham Radio. (The three levels are, “Tech, General and Extra.”)

In March 2011, I obtained my Technician’s License.

Today, I successfully passed a 35-question test and I’m now the proud owner of my “General License.”

And better yet, of the 35 questions on the test, I got 34 right!!   :)

It’s been a happy day.

With this new license, I’m now legally empowered to fiddle around on HF frequencies, which opens up a whole new world.

VHF and UHF frequencies are principally line of sight, but on HF, short radio waves can skip thousands of miles, reflecting (and bouncing) between the mirror-like ionosphere and the earth’s surface. Radios producing as little as five watts (which is very, very low power) take advantage of this “propagation” (as it’s called) and can send signals from Norfolk to London (and beyond!).

Now, with my Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) in hand, I’m free to cruise the radio bands of HF. There’s just one last little obstacle:  Lucre.

After the test today, I descended to the main hall of the Convention Center and attended the Ham Fest, which is a massive display of vendors of radio equipment. Based on what I’ve learned, I’ll need to gather up several hundred dollars to buy a new radio that complements my new radio privileges.

Until then, I’m still having a lot of fun playing around on what’s known as the “2-meter band” (VHF). Thanks to my beautiful eight-foot Diamond X-200A, a dual-band vertical antenna (standing at about 30′ high outside my brick ranch), I’ve successfully tuned in stations up to 158 miles from my home in Norfolk.

Who knew Ham Radio could be so much fun?

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To read more about my experiences with Ham Radio, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V of this series.

Click here to take a look at the General Test. As someone with no background in electrical components, I found it a bit challenging!

My ham radio station is pretty modest.

My ham radio station is pretty modest. That's a hand-held five-watt, dual band Wouxun on the table, sitting next to a Radio Shack 10/45-watt HTX-212. A J-pole antenna hangs from the ceiling. This device (hand-crafted by Mike Neal) is a little marvel. Using only this antenna, I can pick up a strong signal in Kilmarnock, about 75 miles from my house.

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The first Radio Shack two-meter radio I used was loaned to me by the RASON Ham Radio group here in Norfolk. I was so enamored of its many charms, that I went looking on eBay for one of my very own.

The first Radio Shack two-meter radio I used was generously loaned to me by the RASON Ham Radio group here in Norfolk. I was so enamored of its countless charms and ease of use, that I went looking on eBay for one of my very own. The one I found is an HTX-242, which is (as far as I can tell) identical to the 212, but maybe a little tiny bit newer. The HTX-242 is sitting atop an MFJ 28-amp power supply. A list showing the two-meter repeaters in the Hampton Roads area sits to the right.

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Ebay - how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The first lesson to learn about Ham Radio is it can be an expensive habit! Thanks to eBay, I found an HTX-242 new in box (which is pretty cool, considering how old this radio probably is).

Ebay - how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The first thing I learned about Ham Radio is it can be an expensive habit! Thanks to eBay, I found an affordably priced HTX-242 "new in box" (which is pretty cool, considering how old this radio probably is). It is a dandy! I'm guessing it's about 15 years old, but I don't really know. It's a throwback to the days when Radio Shack sold stuff that had to do with radios. Imagine!

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My friends at RASON tell me that part of the reason my signal is so good here is proximity to the water. We live on a finger of Lake Whitehurst.

My friends at RASON tell me that part of the reason my signal is so good here is proximity to the water. We live on a finger of Lake Whitehurst.

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And this helps with the good reception, too!

And this helps with the good reception, too! Since this photo was taken, we've raised the antenna another four feet!

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Now I ask you, did you ever see a prettier antenna?  :)

Now I ask you, did you ever see a prettier antenna? :)

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To learn about RASON, click here.

To read Part I of this blog, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

To learn about the many pretty Sears Homes here in Norfolk, click here.

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Gosh I Wish I Could Find This House! (It Might Be Ohio Somewhere)

September 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

More than 10 years ago, I was sitting in the basement of my home in Alton, Illinois looking at photos of houses on eBay when I found a picture of a Sears Modern Home #106. The picture-postcard was being offered for $3.00.

There was no mention on the listing that this was a Sears House. I suspect that part of this card’s history had been long forgotten.

I bid $25.00 on the card. I really, really, REALLY wanted to win that postcard.

And I did!

The card was supposedly found at an estate sale in Ohio. That was all the information the owner could share. Unfortunately, the back of the card is completely blank.

It sure would be fun to find out where this little house is now. And what a genealogical boon that would be for the descendants of this family to have a picture of Great-grandma and Great-grandpa with great Aunt Alma in the front yard of their newly built Sears Home.

Back in the day, Sears asked their customers to take “a snapshot” of their newly built kit home and send it into to them. Some of these photos were then featured in the catalogs. I suspect that this was the reason this picture was taken.

Each month, more than 30,000 people visit this website. Have you seen this house, or these people?

If so, please leave a comment below!

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

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house

I suspect this photo was taken soon after the house was built. Sears asked new homeowners to send in pictures of their newly built Sears kit home. This photo may have been a response to that request.

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people

Close-up of the little family. Father looks rather ill. Mother looks very well coiffed.

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catalog 1908

Modern Home #106 as seen in the 1908 catalog.

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lfoo

Floor plan for Modern Home #106.

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dlowe up

Close-up of the dormer with its marginal lites.

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Full

The full image of the post card. Note the house next door.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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“One of These Things is Not Like the Other…” (Part III)

September 1st, 2012 Sears Homes 2 comments

As the song goes, “One of these things doesn’t belong.”

In Hopewell, they’re really struggling with this concept as it applies to Sears Homes.

Here we go.

Learning how to distinguish subtle differences in physical objects can be tough.

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Lets try it with houses now.

Let's try it with houses now.

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One of the houses above is different from the others.

If you guessed the brick house wth the metal casement windows, you’re right!

In 2003, Hopewell was promoting a brochure (showcasing a driving tour of alleged kit homes in Crescent Hills neighborhood) that identified this brick house as a Sears Dover.

Whoopsie! That’s not a Sears Dover!

The other three houses (that look just alike) are the Sears Dover.

More recently, Hopewell has modified this statement and now claims that this brick house is a Sears Maplewood.

Let’s see how that works.

Ruh-roh!

Ruh-roh! One of these homes just doesn't belong! Which one is it? If you guessed the brick house, you're right! The other three homes are the Sears Maplewood.

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Heres the lovely brick NON-SEARS HOUSE in Hopewell.

Here's a better view of the lovely NON-SEARS HOUSE in Hopewell.

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And heres a Sears Maplewood (1930).

And here's a Sears Maplewood (1930).

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Do these houses look anything alike to you?

Well, they both have windows! And a roof! And  a door!

But that’s about it.

You know

I don't know who's promoting this false info on these non-Sears Homes in Hopewell, but perhaps they need to give a little thought to this "not like the others" concept. I highly recommend these Sesame Street videos for people who think that the house in Hopewell looks like a Sears Dover or Sears Maplewood.

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To learn more about how to distinguish differences in certain objects, click here.

Thanks to Rebecca Hunter for the use of her photograph above (the blue Maplewood). You can visit Rebecca’s website here.

I’ve written a great deal about Hopewell.

Read Part I here.

Part II is here.

And if you want to read about the eight real Sears Homes in Crescent Hills, click here.

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