Making: The Decline of Surplus Stores

Surplus stores have dried up across America and it has resulted in something of a problem for those of us who are “makers” – that is, people who can pick up bits and this and that and turn it into something useful.

My first experience with surplus stores came on Saturday in Seattle in the mid-1950’s when I was still not into even into junior high school.  Pappy said “Come on, we’re going to the surplus store,…”

“What’s a surplus store…???”

Being young it was easy to ask dumb questions, right?

On the way to the surplus store in our old dark green 49 Chevy 4-door, I got the whole story…and it was a dandy.

You see, once upon a time, America didn’t just make a few things…we made everything.  American was the Big Dog.  Not China, not Europe, and not Japan.  The reason the (ungrateful piss-ants) of the European Union even have a chance at their nuevo socialism is because the USA during World War II produced so much more than the Axis powers that we simply swamped the world with Made in America whup-ass products.

Donald Trump tapped into that with his  MAGA-speak.

We made jeeps, we made airplanes, we made guns, we made ships,m we made electronics, we made clothing, we made rations, and we made cookware.  I bet most people under 50 can’t even remember a good surplus store..but it was a thing of beauty for 10 or 15 years following WW II..

Our first stop, this particular day, was a place way down 4-th Avenue South out toward Boeing Field.  It was called “Black and Tan” as it was founded by a black man and his hispanic partner.  The place had everything you needed to build just damn near anything.

Need block and tackle for some logging operation you’re planning to start?  No problem, that was out in the north building.  In the middle yard, there was all manner of aircraft tubing.  Good 6061 aluminum tubing, too.

So good was it, that when I got my first ham radio license, the Japanese fellow next door, Tom T (who retired from United Airlines SFO, last I heard) gave me a 20-meter vertical antenna that he’d designed and built using some of that B&T sourced tubing.  Came in lengths up to 20-feet.  Can’t count the number of Seattle area hams who made large mono-band Yagi beam antennas from that store.

Of course, the name “Black and Tan” didn’t last long – it had been a street slang name for the place.  Seattle was a progressive place, too, so within a few year it was universally referred to as Aircraft Equipment and Salvage – and the pickings kept getting better.  Because not only did the aircraft industry spillovers show up, but a lot of marine supply overflow was there, too.

The smell of used industrial equipment shames any Park Avenue frou-frou.

A few years later it was either here. or Northwest Salvage, that Pappy picked up his first 1,000 foot spool of nylon gill netting twine.  Used for net repairs in Alaska and in Washington waters (these were Pre-Boldt fishing decision years) this big roll of heavy cord is where dad’s first forays into macrame were launched from. He made knotted grocery bags you could carry an Oldsmobile in.

Throughout my youth, we spent lots of time in various surplus stores.  Not only did they traffic in  aircraft leftovers, but some, like the place right across from Aircraft Salvage  – was a good military surplus store.  Pappy was a fire dispatcher at Pearl harbor during WW II, so he was interested mainly in things like the big, handle-less, navy mugs and watch caps.  Great for fishing – mug of coffee and a watch cap – just the thing in an 8 foot boat chasing salmon around Elliott Bay.

There were some great ship-breakers, too, feeding into the surplus markets.  One of the biggest of these was Zeidel’s in Tacoma on the Hylebos waterway.  Here, crews worked steadily “decommissioning” many of the old Liberty ships that were used to transport goods during WW II.

One of my uncles picked up some dandy teak (decking) this way and turned it into great furniture.  Did real quality work. too.

On an particular day, we could walk in and be guaranteed there would be all kinds of treasures.  How would you like to buy a genuine, once used on a freighter, solid bronze port hole about 12-inches in diameter?  It was $10 bucks.  Big money at the time. AYFSM?  Just the glass today would be $40 bucks – over an inch thick.

Seems like all of us Seattle boomers, when young, would go on the “regular circuit” with our dads on weekends because that’s what dads used to do.  Sure, there was time for T-ball and such, but things like gymnastics?  Not if there was a home shop, a few tools, dreams, and a surplus store around.  No way.

People didn’t mess with building departments then, either.  You bought materials and if it was on your own property, you pretty much did what you wanted.  I suspect this is one reason I like living in Texas, so much.  Where we live, there is no building department.  Imagine that!

One of the Ure family axioms was that “iIf someone could tell you what to do on (or with) a piece of property, you didn’t really own it.  Someone else did…”  Texas still has this clear-headedness about it.  Up north?  Fading fast, my friend.  Mostly gone from both coasts already.

Lat week, checking with my ex-Seattle buddy Gaye Levy, who writes Strategic Living over here, she remembered doing the same kind of “surplus route” with her dad.

“Except we usually went to the places closer to our house which was what…down at the end of Empire Way around the south end of Boeing Field..umm….JACK’s Surplus…that was it!”

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some damn fine surplus operations around, but they aren’t being “fed” like they were back when we still had large-scale manufacturing on the ground in America.  Nowadays, if you want a small gas engine for some hare-brained scheme, you hit Harbor Freight and hope they have some of those 6 HP Chinese engines in stock and on sale for $99.

Material from Tractor Supply is good – but the prices would never match surplus prices.  Sure, McMaster-Carr is great, too, once you figure your way around.  And yes, you can find sheet and fiberglass bar stock and such (antenna insulator, lol) but it’s not like finding thick military surplus fiberglass for a nickel a foot.

eBay – if you’re looking for metal and such is good.  But, you can buy 10-pounds of lead ingots on Amazon for about the same price as eBay and get it with Prime free shipping, too.  (Everyone should pour lead and concrete for weights sometime!)

Back then?  It was a different world.  You’d go to Northwest Salvage or Aircraft Equipment and Salvage and you’d find a piece of  [whatever]   with an engine of the right size on it.  You’d haggle on the price, strike a deal, and take off the engine plus parts you needed.  If the motor was on a pump, or something that might have value on its own, you could leave that out.

Going through surplus stores is one reason Pappy always carried a box of tools in the car.  You never knew when that “Got to have it” item would pop out of a pile of scrap.  We used to be able to head out into wrecked car yards and pull what we wanted, too.  Lawyers are gonna save us al from ourselves, ain’t they?

The Mother Giant of all the Seattle surplus operations was Boeing Surplus.

You can still find some damn interesting things on sale, but now it’s been “sanitized” as Boeing “Investment Recovery.”  Once again, bean counters, huh?

Then there was Washington Liquidators down by the old Seattle Rainer Ice Plant in Georgetown, just south of where I grew up.  My buddy, the major and I were not yet old enough to own cars, but we would make the short bike ride down to Washington Liquidators with some frequency because they had some of the absolute coolest electronics. We got wire, tubes, and some components at “such a deal” pricing.

A few transmitters I saw there?  I wish I had ’em today.  Many an ART-13 and such (BC-610’s?), but the real gems to my eye were the refrigerator-sized main shipboard transmitters that came of the ships being broken up for scrap at places like Zeidel’s…  It was living in steampunk and a feeling that is comparable to anything that’s available today.

Pappy managed to throw cold water on a number of near-purchases of these thousand pound behemoths.  “Where, exactly, are you going to get 400-cycle AC power, if you don’t mind me askin?”  He’d already run my own 220-volt circuit to my downstairs  had radio/bedroom and a line had to be drawn.

That didn’t stop me and I have been looking at 400 Hz rotary converters ever since. Don’t see ’em much, lol.

And that, my friend, is why now that we’re older, we are able to clearly behold the huge loss of  creativity we’ve brought upon ourselves as a Nation.

If I was Ure President, I’d make sure we got back into the surplus sales business and with it?  I’d make sure that every child coming out of school could cook, cast metal, saw wood, solder electronics, read a schematic, read an auto shop manual *(not Chiltons.. I mean the Factory manuals) and tune up a car engine.

Which is precisely why my kind of thinking is so dangerous to the “Specialization of Labor” crowd.  Some things are special, sure.  My corneal doc, for example.

But changing the oil and resetting the idiot light? Pah-lease! Laying some Formica or building a cabinet?  As a nation we need to fall in love with hard work again…and with surplus stores.

I believe you can’t buy happiness.  That’s something that has to be built.

Write when you get rich,


39 thoughts on “Making: The Decline of Surplus Stores”

  1. George, I would like to suggest that Sunday be devoted to the analysis of religion. After all, it is Sunday. This could include all types & comparison of each.

    When Major Ed Dames remote viewed Satan, he discovered there is no Hell. This corresponds with Jehovah Witness who do not believe in Hell because it is not mentioned in the bible. Hades is a reference to the burning of bodies upon death, like cremation. Those not in the Book of Life will be destroyed & not enjoy eternal life. But no eternal punishment. PS: Jehovah Witness is only used as an example.

    As with many, Hell exists in the mind if you let it. But those religions that live in the present (the Now), & don’t concern themselves with the past or future, are not subject to this mental Hell. In redneck areas there is a saying, “S__t Happens, Move On”.

  2. Ah, George- you are so right…
    Back in the day we had Sunny’s Surplus in the town I grew up in. This was the 60s, and WWII and Korean War surplus was still available. My friend and I used to go there, just looking for interesting “stuff” to do something with. Once in grade school we had to write an essay on what we did on weekends. I wrote “my friend and I go down to the surplus store and find things to build things with”. A classmate of mine wrote that he watched “Mighty Mouse” and other cartoons all day on Saturday. At the time, I thought he had a cooler answer than I did. Looking back, it was I who had the coolest answer…
    73 de N3DRA

  3. It saddens me that the “Maker Movement” has developed so slowly — around here, anyway. I still think it’s one good way out of the repulsive fact that schools killed off woodshop, metalshop, auto mechanics shop, and Home Ec.

    An entire world of personal hands-on skills has not been addressed or honed for several decades. Some blame lawyers, some blame PC-driven shift away from such “menial” things in the mania for “everybody-gets-a-Master’s-degee.”

    Near-useless degrees, and Basic Inabilities to function, and heavy long-term debt to start out your adult life with… That’s a crappy result.

    Our Nirvana was “Vulcan Scrap Metal,” and they had metal stock in all imaginable sizes, and tons of optics, partially-completed brand new electronics assemblies and surplus test instruments, and the occasional Truly Fabulous Find For Dirt Cheap. Stamford and Norwalk Connecticut were hot-beds of high tech with dozens and dozens of small and large high-tech companies making stuff for all imaginable markets. Their cast-offs and liquidation lots were the stuff of Ham Radio Legend. *sigh*

  4. George

    “Sure, McMaster-Carr is great, too, once you figure your way around.”

    You would always see lots of McMaster-Carr items on Bill of Material lists in our drawing when I was working in an engineering department.
    Anyone who had a McMaster-Carr catalog kept it under lock and key!

    I still use them but their shipping prices can break the bank.

    Another outfit that’s useful is They stock a huge selection of steel, aluminum, brass and will cut to size if you have the money.

  5. Other categories that are seeing its end of days…

    The outlet store. Same concept as your salvage stores, but with clothing and accessories. People don’t need to travel to the outskirts of a metro to get a deal…when they can go on Amazon, e-bay and such get the same thing.

    Remember the old S&H stamp concept? Long gone…with on-line concepts like eBates, cash back infinity programs and such taking that fulfillment concept to our phones.

    Big boxes…with Lowe’s closing hundreds of stores and Orchard supply closing down altogether, we are seeing the big box concept waning. Best Buy is having it’s struggles, ToyRUs is kaput, and unlike the Suplly savage concept, Big Boxes were born just in the 70’s and 80’s and lived a relatively short life…proof that technology’s Moore’s law theory is having an affect on the analog retail community as well.

    McDonalds/Burger King/Wendy’s…As Amazon continues to mainstream the Whole Foods lifestyle to the masses, you will see the Big three burger joints dry up. We are already seeing McDonald closures left and right out in my neck of the woods. It’s not the burgers though…Burgers are still popular, but are being replaced by the millenials own healthier, fresher, and trendy burger craze..Shake Shack/Five Guys/The Counter and a newbie…at least in California…Habit. McDonalds today is depressing. It’s the hang-out for the down and out and near homeless vying for items on its dollar menu.
    That dollar strategy was the beginning of the end for McDonalds…there’s no margin on those items…not to mention they scream unhealthy.

    There;s probably a dozen more categories…Time for my honey do’s though.

    • The growth for fast food chains is China. They can’t get enough Taco Bell & McDonald’s, although the China slowdown has hurt sales, but that is not because of a taste change (their Millenials haven’t gone crazy yet because they will be jailed & most aren’t overweight). They still yen for burgers, chicken, & tacos. I have been a YUM shareholder since Pepsi spun them off & China has driven their sales so much that they spun off YUM China.

      • My god ECS…. How could you forget the totally awesome McDonald’s French fries or chicken nuggets…I’ll drive out of my for the fries and nuggets.. As for a great burger..Wendy’s hands down..

        (Please don’t tell me how they’re made.. A guy told me about hot dogs once and I couldn’t eat one for a couple years)

    • So true Mark.. Even the big box stores are gearing up for it.. one check out the rest is check out on your phone with an instant check.. walk in scan the item pay for it.. then walk out the door.
      Walmart.. its hard to even find a clerk or someone working the Isles.. major complaints from me.. no helpful service there anymore.
      But then when I talked to an employee they had mentioned that the family sold out..

      the same thing with a lot of companies around here.. they are being bought up by other countries..Now big question do they have to pay taxes since their corporate headquarters is in another country.. I know wealthy people that pay way less in taxes than I do on what i make and they would consider lunch money..when I worked grocery part time.. it was the standard joke on how much they would try to get away with in free food.. LOL.. it was horrible .. us older guys still around still joke about it..

      isn’t it funny.. while congress was asleep at the wheel just approving anything at all that the puppeteers have asked for and even coming right out and saying they don’t have to read that shizt it would take to long for them.. that foreign companies have slowly been acquiring american companies that deal with essentials .. the list is pretty extensive just toss a dart at the chart of essential services

      the comment i read someplace said this read the bills act was laughed off of the floor of congress..
      now.. think about it.. and Congress is trying to see if Russia colluded with DJT so that they could tell me that our politicians TOTALLY SUCK and are being controlled to do nothing at all for the people….. hmm…. nope it didn’t take anyone from russia to do that .. I had figured it out long before DJT decided to run for office.
      I have no faith in any of them.. except maybe Rand Paul and of course he has been in office long enough to have been corrupted he to should be voted out of office..

    • Adding to your ‘eBates’ comment I see the evolution.

      Before the stamps one would go to a movie theater as example, and get handed a plate or bowl on the spot with the ticket purchase. The ‘value’ of the movie ticket eventually diluted and the ticket purchase would only buy an increment of plate. The consumer would keep track of their plate increments with stamps. Inflation made stamps obsolete.

      With the stamps, the merchants knew eventually someone was coming for the plate. Due to inflation, the first stamps now had less value than the later.

      Receiving the first stamp, the purchaser started saving for a nice China dinner set…. but after the years of saving the stamps… the China set was too expensive for the merchant so they was handed a Melmac dinnerware set…. and felt ripped off.

      The S&H stamps concept was then modernized and labeled differently so everyone can do it. Computers keep track of it all.

      Airline miles is a good example.

      Macy’s has “Macy’s Money”.
      Kohl’s has “Kohl’s Cash”
      Kroger has fuel points.

      The beauty of the examples and the eBates to them is that their ‘electronic stamps’ have a shorter life-cycle, typically 30 days.

      Pay for movie ticket – free plate.
      Pay for movie ticket – increment of free plate.
      Pay for movie ticket – claim eBate immediately for increment of cash to buy your own plate, or lose it.
      Pay for movie ticket – plate eliminated – get an increment of next ticket reduced, but you must remain in the eco-system (30 days) or you lose your increment.

    • Not sure where you call home Mark, but unfortunately McDonald’s is ever present in Tennessee. I guess that is because Tennessee, at last count, leads the nation is per capita consumption of sugar and fat. Probably heart disease as well, and obesity.

      Personally don’t care for the fast food joints, but they always seem busy around here.

      Mark is correct about the disappearance of the true outlet store. I used to work as an engineer for a garment manufacturer. All of our overruns went right across the street to a factory affiliated outlet store. Same store carried goods from manufacturer’s other divisions. There was everything from lady’s clothing, to kids, to men’s, to camping supplies, and the list goes on.

      That company is gone, outsourced to China, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. Along with the manufacture of those goods, went jobs and many small town economies. Little town I grew up around (never more than 1500 population) had 5 grocery stores, a clothing store, 2 five & dime stores, an auto parts distribution business (not current chain stores), and a movie theater. All gone except the neighborhood pharmacy, and that is on a wing and prayer.

      Sad to watch the little town die by degrees, but to some extent the city “fathers” were to blame. Used to be, they did not want “outsiders” to open a business in their town. Would do anything they could to run them out, because those people weren’t part of their inner circle. Southern “good ole boy” politics at its worst. They could not stand for anyone but their chosen few to make a dollar in “their” town. I know this for a fact, because my family lived it. My Dad ran an Exxon (Esso back then) bulk distribution plant. He was an independent operator, just sold those products. Since Dad was from the rural area outside of the town and not part of the “inner circle”, city management made business life much more difficult for him. Dad never flinched, made a success of the business in spite of the politicians. That is probably why I have have a certain disdain for politicians, no matter as to which party they belong. I consider politicians, not statesmen, be a worthless drag on society. They fail to listen to the voters, because They know what is best for us and their pocketbooks.

      I never really agreed with former Senator Tom Daschle, but I will give him one thing. He did not get rich at the expense of the taxpayers. He left office with modest net worth, unlike some of the so called “leaders” of both parties that consider themselves above the peons they represent.

      Had the unfortunate experience of working in the campaign of a candidate for our governor several years ago. It opened my eyes to just how shallow these people really are. Only thing they want is the power to feather their own nest.

      I have gotten off track, but yes it is sad to see the Outlet stores go away.

      Lloyd Snider

      • You know Lloyd people may say what they want about TD but..years ago one of his staff ended up crossing my path..
        Everyone was being critical of him…but.. He flew thee quarters around the world just to make absolute sure his employee was properly taken care of…
        My response to them was..quick run outside and throw yourself on the parkinglot lets see if the boss will stand up from their desk and look outside to see if your ok..
        That ended the discussion because they knew what would happen..

  6. Wow George, brought back memories of the surplus store my granddad took us cousins to in Mississippi. Saturday morning heaven for kids like me who enjoyed dismantling and reassembling Mom’s toaster. Got me looking for surplus stores in Austin, a few do still exist. Stumbled on the Univ. of Texas surplus auction site. Whoa, a time-sucking discovery, pallet of lab equipment (function generator, signal analyzer, micron pump) bid at $25, go-cart kit (frame, axles, tires, motor) for $50, the list is endless. Always fun to look…..

  7. “Surplus stores have dried up across America and it has resulted in something of a problem for those of us who are “makers” – that is, people who can pick up bits and this and that and turn it into something useful.”
    Boy have you got that right.. a store chain that i use to be a department head with..( worst company I ever worked for.. it was horrible what they did to the managers and workers.. so bad I quit after six months and never crossed their doors till yesterday when I picked up a commercial popcorn popping machine for ten bucks new)

    My wife seen a small pump I was carrying around.. she started to question what I was planning for valentines day.. My favorite holiday besides thanksgiving.,. but like religious holidays the story I tend to want to admire may not be the one you might like.. it was a holiday close to my father and myself..
    I usually don’t just give a bunch of flowers or go out to eat.. you can only have so many bud vases.. I look for something different.. and I go to the second hand stores..
    she is thinking I am going to do something like what I did years ago.. I bought a toilet bowl brush holder.. sea shell design tall neck with brush.. put the green foam in the center bottom cut out to hold a pump up to the front then up to the top.. ran the hose under the foam and turned it into a lit water falls.. two love doves on the center and flowers and greenery throughout.. when the flowers were all dead the toilet brush went in every time she would brush out the toilets she would remember the water falls with lights.. it was beautiful.. another one was the quartz crystal ball and then a small bird cage with butterflies in it and flower arrangement around.. etc.. I will miss the one though they had the cheapest Waterford crystal anywhere..

    Now She is expecting something different.. and because of our budget nightmare I haven’t begun to give it much thought yet.. dang..

  8. Military Surplus has disappeared because of violent computer games. Why dress up to kill when you can do it online. Plus today’s parent shun toy guns for kids; it is easier to get them out of your hair & quieter to let them anniliate the world online while wearing headphones.

    Also, if you check out your area, you will see the growth of thrift stores. They provide goods to our now growing poor class of minimum wage earners, & below, if you are undocumented.

    This creates an opportunity to buy goods at thrift store prices & resell them on ebay into today’s electronic world, & not have to sell them at flea markets. The good old days may be gone, but In the USA, another opportunity always crops up.

    • “Military surplus” was radios and electronic gear, Jeeps and trucks and their spares, mess kits, Ka-Bars, belts, backpacks, boots, blankets, sleeping bags, and uniforms and insignia. People didn’t generally buy apparel, other than boots and Army field jackets or Navy CPOs. Firearms and bayonets were generally not sold by surplus sellers. When George says “surplus,” he’s referring to military, but also to scrap, wrecking, and breaking yard, product.

      Nobody dressed up to play “war games.” Aside from CPOs, nobody outside the ROTCs would be caught dead, wearing any military garb in the ’50s and ’60s, until the Haight crowd took a liking to field jackets in the mid-60s.

      • Ray
        Girls in the South and Midwest liked the dark blue USN Pea Coats, the looked good with baggy jean’s and peasant tops. My wife’s is downstairs in mothballs with all my hunting gear.

      • I know, Al. They didn’t become popular around here until after kids (mostly, but not exclusively, boys) discovered field jackets. I lost my CPO in a fire, many years ago. ‘Still have my field jacket, and its button-in cold-weather liner, although the zipper has seen better days…

  9. Here in the Land of Enchantment, we are blessed with a couple of old school surplus stores on the east side of ABQ, and probably more that I don’t know about. We have military and National Labs to source them. There’s also a plethora of salvage yards for cars, including U-Pull-N-Pay. Some prices are reasonable, others not. There’s lots of steel scrap, and an industrial infrastructure, so finding stuff to build with is not so hard.

    Don’t forget pawn shops. No telling what they might have. Thrift stores too. The problem is that few maker types have enough free time to troll through them all.

    Ever been to a farm/ranch auction? There’s enough steel on the block to run a mill. Everyone’s leftovers, along with five figure equipment too. You’d better have at least a 3/4 ton pickup and a strong trailer, or you could just buy them there.

    Lastly, we have Craigslist, Ebay, Amazon, and even Alibaba to find stuff most of us probably don’t know even exists. Don’t give up hope, and buy wisely!

  10. My favorite surplus is the M1 from the ODCMP. Plus a crate of its favorite Danish food.
    I miss the days when most gunstores had an aisle of surplus. A paperboy could get a messkit, ruck, bayonet, and angled-head flashlight and still have enough for a couple boxes of .22 longrifle.

    • Honestly, the way I have it figured is the whole gun collecting and owning weapons is an outgrowth of the old army-navy stores running out of goods to sell outdoorsmen. To keep their doors open? Sell more guns.

      Now, try and tell that to a Peloserite…on second thought

      • It’s a matter of shrinking surplus and the lack of real “outdoorsmen”, and women. Our generation, George, was still so close to the outdoors and its unadulterated freedom that the leap between civilization and the great outdoors was a very short one. It was still second nature back then. Today the merchandising of all camping and hunting gear has become all encompassing to the point Bass Pro is really just Neiman-Marcus or any such over priced status symbol vending store. I honestly hate to go to B-P for this reason. A good military surplus rifle can take almost any but the most dangerous North American game but if you’re skillful enough and know your weapon an old 8mm Mauser can pretty much do it all for big game. Reloading is a useful skill. For other gear, and I may be wrong about this, it’s my impression that modern military wear and utensils are just a reflection of today’s throw-away society. It’s not meant to last.

      • I’ve loved B-P, the few times I’ve been — never bought anything, but the “indoor, outdoors” is a marvel to behold!

        Bear in-mind the 30-06 was the first gun in existence, to kill every major game animal and predator on the planet… 30-06, as in M1A1 and M14. Hunting a renegade grizzly or polar bear, or a mad bison is the perfect justification for owning one o’ dem ‘salt rifles. Should you ever happen to need to do so, please contact the NRA and see if they’ll pay for a junket for a gun-hating Liberal politician to go with you…

      • BTW, there’s still some good Mil-stuff – like their polar gear. Boots seem okay, but can be had in civvy form for about the same money (check manufactured location if buying Bates.) When I outfit a GO-Bag, I’ll buy Mil-Surplus from Korea through Vietnam, when I can get it. I’d much rather give someone a stainless messkit than an aluminum one, or especially an Ames tempered tool steel D-handle trenching shovel. The WW-II and early Korea shovels have straight, wood handles — not as handy. The Army spec’d the steel handle and serrated edge for Vietnam, so the shovel could fold into a pouch, and cut roots (respectively), but many GIs sharpened the serration which made the shovel both a good impromptu machete, and (with the D-handle) an awesome CQB weapon. I taught my daughter how to use hers as such, a few years ago. The kids have machetes (Ontario Knife Co., tempered and hardened tool steel) and belt-knives (SOG, both Mil-Issue), but those are GO_Bag (trunk) items, where the shovel is an under-seat item, and much more likely to see use, especially in snow country, than the blades…

      • Hi Ray,

        Don’t get the M1A1 confused with the Garand which IS .30-06. The Springfield M1A1, which is my next gottahavit rifle, is 7.62×51 or .308 or even, if you wish, .30-06 short. It has a good punch close in but for dangerous animals like bear in inexperienced hands bigger is always better. Taxidermists can always tie up the holes. I don’t know if the publication “Shotgun News” is still in print but it always had an impressive array of military surplus items, too.

  11. You would think with Redstone Arsenal here in town there would be a thriving surplus industry,but I haven’t found it yet.

    Per the read an auto manual idea, I got rid of the Cadillac my mother-in-law gave us after getting the 1500 page factory service manual and finding the first 800 pages were devoted to the vehicle’s Local Area Network (LAN). I am not kidding. That was all she wrote for me.

    • As brother Art notes
      Have you ever noticed why public transit is so popular in places like Europe and big cities, and the Progressive encourage it so much?
      So the can co troll the populations by shutting down mass transit.
      No think cars dont just have electronic engine management, but EEM accessible from wifi.
      Why do you think the Government encourages that.
      Why does my LeSabre have 226K miles on it?

  12. Some of you in Florida will recall the surplus store there in Orlando. Can’t remember the name, but they had all sorts of stuff, some new in the box, some used, A to Z. When I was building my TV studio I managed to save $1,000’s by shopping there.

  13. Growing up in Wisconsin, my ham radio friends and I would drive 100 miles to Minneapolis to the Honeywell surplus warehouse for electronics galore. Found a huge brick of a 12vct transformer with enough amperage to start a truck that became my boat anchor power supply. Now in Hilo we have a military surplus store that is very well stocked. He deals in gold & silver also. I get some great fiberglass mast poles there for antenna supports.

      • I’m no volcanologist, but have studied the geology here for decades. Never any guarantees, but I personally believe the volcano has entered a quiet phase that could last decades, if past history is any indicator. And there are ‘safe’ areas that the volcano will not reach.

  14. “If I was Ure President, I’d make sure we got back into the surplus sales business and with it?”

    Only if the puppeteers would let you…..

    DJT has been trying to bring back American pride, national security from hoards of illegal aliens marching on our borders and rebuild our local economic situation by getting manufacturing since he’s been in.
    So far everything is being fought tooth and nails by a political environment filled with hate influenced by a system that only hears the messages of the puppetmasters.
    I even get the impression they would like to say he’s un American to want national security and economic stability. Jobs and pride to be an American laborer.

  15. “If I was Ure President, I’d make sure we got back into the surplus sales business and with it?”

    If y ure our president and truly thought you could get it done.. I wiuld suspect
    That Congress would be saying ure colluding with the Russians to want to do that.

  16. Every once in a while, I stumble across one of the mail-order surplus stores whose ads I used to read in comic books or the Old Farmer’s Almanac. It always pleases me to find one.

    Speaking of, the absolute best place to buy mail-order Mil-Surplus electronics was Fair Radio.

    Fair Radio IS still around, and going strong. They have one of the least-commercial websites I’ve seen this century, but if it was made for the military between 1935 and 1975, they have it. Fair Radio occupies an entire, gigantic old lumberyard, on the south side of Lima, Ohio. [How many radios whose model number ends in “URR” can one pile in a 24 foot-high lean-to, 50 feet deep and a hundred feet long? Now, how many can they pile in a couple dozen such buildings? — NOT KIDDING!]

    I “discovered” Fair Radio about 10 years ago, when my wanderings took me to Lima (pronounced like the bean, not like the city in Peru.) Hopped off I-75 on the south side of town and a mile or so in, there it was, off to the right. My brothers and I had ordered stuff from Fair Radio since I was old enough to print resistor values and cryptic notations like “1N34” or “12AX7” on an index card and tape dimes and pennies to its back, but I had no idea where those 4-cent letters were going — until that trip.

  17. speaking of car lots, back in the early 80’s i was a newly-married self employed glazier with a sideline of locksmithing. i had not intended to become a locksmith, it just grew. I was woefully ignorant of most of the aspects of the business, being in the hinterland as it were. I had need of a part for a vehicle so i headed out to the salvage yard. the owner told me to walk around, if i find it bring it back to the office to pay for it. i spent many, many afternoons dissambling doors and steering columns of cars from the 1940’s up to current, at the time. best education ever!!!!!

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