I first met Roy Underhill at a UCLA chapter meeting of the Trilateral Commission. (That’s the Upper Chatham, Lower Alamance Counties chapter.) He was on the steering committee. I was the bartender. You might think it odd for a non-drinker to be the bartender but it’s not. Trilat’s, as we call them, like their drinks the way they like their members, neat and powerful. Ice is provided if accompanied by a look of scorn and derision. Water is available in the men’s room. Or women’s room. A member was once banned for life for ordering an umbrella drink. On appeal, it was reduced to a six-month ban, a fine and three years probation.
Since then, Roy and I have become close friends. We are now to the point that he allows me to take classes at the Woodwright’s School if there’s room and I pay list.
While I was in Louisville in March for the opening of the expanded Speed Museum, I made some time to visit a few local antiques dealers. It’s not often I get a chance to look at antiques. In Louisville. I was last there in September of 2013 when the Speed Museum closed. I remembered a large, multi-level shop in an old meatpacking facility on the east side of town. It was still there. I went.
Among the amazing things there was this device, The American Sash Trimmer:
It says so right here on the nameplate:
Knowing that Mr. Underhill has a fondness for foot powered tools and now teaches a window sash making class, I sent him some pictures and asked if I should pick it up for him. My belief was that I would be well on my way home before he got back to me.
On opening weekend, the Speed Museum was open for 30 continuous hours. There were two curator led tours I wanted to attend. One was at noon in the Kentucky Gallery discussing the furniture collection. The other one was at midnight by the same curator in the restored English Renaissance Room. I stayed there taking more pictures thinking there would be fewer patrons there at midnight. I was wrong. Families had been replaced by serious party people. Most were gone by 2:00 AM. I went back to my hotel room around 3:00 AM having lost the will to photograph.
At 6:30, my technology informed me I had e-mail. I looked. It was Roy and he wanted it. He must have been online all night researching it. He was quite excited at the prospect of owning it. I should have slept for a few more hours but I just lay in bed trying to figure out how to get this thing into my Hyundai Sonata. The problem was that the long dimension of the head is perpendicular to the foot pedal.
I waited until the shop opened at 10:00 AM and drove over to start the process. Turns out it was on sale for a mere $125 plus tax. When I went to claim it, I was joined by three shop employees all conservatively in their seventies. I mentioned I might need to find a Lowes Depot to get a wrench or socket set when I was assured they could find appropriate tools. As they started rummaging for tools, we were joined by a fourth geezer. They found a ratchet in one toolbox and some sockets in a second. The third toolbox yielded an adjustable wrench.
Now there were five old men (me included) each with his own absolutely foolproof way to remove the base. One of the gents won by virtue of the fact he had the ratchet and socket and refused to give them up. His system was not as good as mine but it worked well enough.
We then turned our attention to getting it in the car. I brought my car into the loading dock and the Fantastic Four started a debate as how it gets in the trunk. I explained my theory and they reluctantly agreed. We had to place the trimmer into the truck flat until the head passed through the folded down backseat then rotate it 90° so the pedal was laying flat. It looked like this:
On Monday, I got down to the Woodwright’s School just before class started. This meant that there was a good supply of younger, rested hands eager to help Roy with his new toy. Quickly, the trimmer was out of my trunk, in the school and reunited with its base. Other than opening the trunk, all without my assistance.
Here is Master Underhill examining his new tool and briefly ignoring his class:
Here is another view of the head showing all its adjustable presets:
A reverse view of the head:
And finally, two picture of Roy. One pose is his choice. The other is one that was kinda sorta as I wanted him to pose: