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View Full Version : The smell of my home shop, is it odd?



JRouche
05-26-2012, 01:48 AM
Is it odd that I like the smells? Makes me comfortable. And it depends on the weather sometimes.

Warm weather will bring out certain smells and the cooler weather will let some of the trace odors present.

Tonight I got a whiff of old 1950s wire insulation when I fired up the old 10ee. It brought back some memories when I would sit next to my Dad in the living room while he worked on the back of our old tube TV.

Then other times if its warm in the garage I get the scent of some old but not rotten smells from my old bridgeport and the oils it had when I bought it 15 or more years ago.

Im prolly a bit of an oddity but I love certain smells and they bring me back. Umm? One? Raw oil. Like whats pumped right from the ground. It has a certain organic smell. Some say rotten eggs, some say sulfur and gas. I LOVE that smell.

Brings me back to my childhood I guess when Long Beach was still moving oil. And walking the beaches and seeing globs of oil.

Dunno, I like the smell of raw crude right out of the ground.

So anyway. I smelled the common scent of hot 1950s wire insulation just now and brought me back and love it. I think Ill fire up the old monarch just for the smell. Odd right?

But old time smells are some of our basic memories. I think they can invoke some deep seated memories that vision and sound cant. Then they bring up ALL the additional parts of that time.

I shouldnt get into it but a "smell" memory still hits hard and strong for me. Its the time when my Dad (and my parents were still married) took me and my Sister fishing at the local reservoir. He set us up and left. I didnt know where he went, he was just gone. It seems like a couple of hours past and he was back. I was prolly 7 or 8 and my sis was 1-1/2 years older.

The only thing I remembered was the smell of Ketchup. He was gone and I was afraid and the smell of Ketchup (as in eating fries) was all I remember.

Yeah sure, he was prolly cheating on my mom. But I was young and didnt get all that. What I did get was Dad left us to fish and I was afraid and when he came back all I remember was the smell of old ketchup in the car. Weird RIGHT... Smells will bring you back. Yes? I dont like the smell of ketchup if you were wondering.

So?????? Is this the place to go to air my deepest issues? YUP!!! I cant deal with going to a professional. So my next best avenue is YOU guys. Got to spill the beans to someone right?? Cant hold it ALL in forever.

The beans? My Dad was an alcoholic (so am I) and he died driving while drunk. But thats besides the point.

Smells? Do you ever get out into the home shop and get some "remembrance" of some history? I DO and love it. It actually motivates me to cut some metal and make something.

Solly for the family history downer. Sometimes I NEED to vent. JR

Frank46
05-26-2012, 03:10 AM
I don't know about aromas from 1950's wire, but the TV went blooey the other day and there was a strong odor of "oh crap now I gotta gen another one". Frank

darryl
05-26-2012, 03:22 AM
Smell is a very powerful thing, psychologically. At one time in the history of the human race it was a very necessary thing to have in order to survive. It's still important today, but mostly for different reasons.

Things that are committed to memory usually have several factors present which become part of the memory, and smell is one of them. Stimulating the olfactory sense (I think that's right) can and does evoke memories of things seemingly unrelated, although a person can piece together the factors present and thus improve the recall.

I suppose you could list the 'classical' odors that we might generally associate with things in our lives- the list would include old car interior smell, dusty air smell after a shower, various solvents including gasoline and oils, cooking smells, mold and mildew, etc. One that took me back just today was the dusty air smell. It reminded me of how fresh the air was way back when there was so much less pollution. You could actually take a full breath of air and it felt clean.

Freshly cut wood also is strong for me, and so is electrical arcing. For some reason I also like the smell of burnt toast.

camdigger
05-26-2012, 04:20 AM
I don't know about aromas from 1950's wire, but the TV went blooey the other day and there was a strong odor of "oh crap now I gotta gen another one". Frank

Funny how the magic smoke out of electronics always smells expensive.

MrFluffy
05-26-2012, 04:25 AM
Smell of cutting oil as it gets hot. Takes me back to being a kid at school on the lathes of the machine shop doing shop lesson. No pressures, no work, no taxes to worry about and a big room full of well maintained machines to do with how we wanted provided our design called for it.
Still use water based flood coolant, as much for the smell as any other reason...

flylo
05-26-2012, 06:25 AM
i never thout about how smells bring back memories but your right they do. Good post,Thanks! :D

aboard_epsilon
05-26-2012, 07:11 AM
I added citronella oil to all my machines oils..about 1/2 a teaspoon to a gallon ratio .

that's what they add to 3in 1 oil.

So my whole workshop smells of that, nothing else .
if smelled something like old tv's smell i would be worried ........that to me, would be something arcing and making ozone ..or a transformer burning out .

all the best.markj

DougA
05-26-2012, 09:12 AM
I always like the smell of a bodyshop. Fiberglass bondo, and paint. Reminds me of high school days hanging out with a bunch of guys and we would do bodywork on cars drink beer and not a worry in the world.

oddball racing
05-26-2012, 09:33 AM
I don't know about aromas from 1950's wire, but the TV went blooey the other day and there was a strong odor of "oh crap now I gotta gen another one". Frank
That was the smell of the 'magic smoke" that makes the TV work. If you were there to capture it, you could have put it back in and the TV would work just fine.
Mike

customcutter
05-26-2012, 10:04 AM
JR

Good Post. It reminds all of us that confession is good for the soul. No I'm not Catholic (Southern Baptist actually). I gives us a chance to reflect on things and sometimes work out solutions.

Sorry about your father, but I'll tell you about mine. I've never met the man and tell people "I wouldn't Pi$$ on him if he were on fire". My mother went with her sister to act as a chaperone to a drive in theater. There was another man there 6-7 years older than my mother. One thing led to another. My mother had me when she was 13 years old.

I was told when I was 8 that my father was my adopted father. I've suffered with depression and migraines since 20. I think a lot of it can be laid at his feet.

My mother passed about 10 years ago, and lately I've been thinking about contacting the Authorities and seeing if they can find the SO* and press charges for rape, child molestation, etc.. I don't even know his name or if he's alive. My mother and grandmother both wanted to tell me his name before they both passed, I wouldn't let them so they told my wife.

Thanks for the post, and my opportunity to vent a little also.

Ken

Steelspinner76
05-26-2012, 10:34 AM
smells trigger memories for me too. Many are mixed up with my dad too but in a good way. He taught me a lot of what I know. And is a big reason I am who I am today. And he's still around to bs and go fishing with.

The woods was my second home so the smells of spring and winter and fall there have strong memories attached.

The smells of cleaning solvent grease and starting fluid bring back memories of working in the Garage on motors go karts and cars sometimes with my dad and sometimes without.

Fresh cut grass and new mown hay. hoppes #9 and gun oil. line dry laundry

Ahhh yea I think i'll confess to memories and smells being connected

Wayne

Abner
05-26-2012, 11:27 AM
Well here I am thinking of smells and how my wife likes Wd-40 and also the combination of chainsaw smoke and alder sawdust. I like the smells of certain plants when cut, dislike others, maple is acrid. All that was fine, happy.

Ken - Hey guy, that's the toughest spot to be in. I unfortunately know....Here is something that really helped me, it hits all relative points, and there is no fluff and psychobabble.

http://www.doiohm.com/healing_sexual_trauma.htm

My 'no stone left unturned' attempt at justice failed. There is law and there is justice. It can be somewhat(?) healing to take a swipe at those who have harmed you. Attacks against male children by male adults was unfortunately quite common. Males are less likely to talk so it was kept more secret and these perpetrators instinctively know this. This helps no-one, and most importantly does nothing to protect the next little boy. The negative effects are often life long. I understand why prisoners kill child molesters, the anger can be all consuming. Child sexual abuse is about inflicting harm. Many get caught up by the sexual nature of it and miss the 98% bigger point - abuse.
The 1 st rule in talking to survivors is to never give advice, I hope I have not broken it.

Carld
05-26-2012, 11:28 AM
My sniffer doesn't work like it used to. I guess it's been around to much diesel fumes and other shop fumes that has damaged it. If the odor is strong enough I can smell it and shop odors are pleasant to me. I also love fresh cut grass of all types, a wood fire, food cooking on an open fire and good whiskey and beer. There are many other odors that give me pleasure but those top the list.

Oh, one more, I especially love the odor of the old tube type radio and TV that is given off while they are operating. It's not strong and you have to stick your face into the cabinet to smell it but it's a pleasant odor.

I sure miss having a good nose to enjoy all the faint pleasant odors. We ignore the unpleasant odors.

vpt
05-26-2012, 11:32 AM
I love the smell of a freshly opened up motor after it has been beat on in a race for hours on end! Race gas, and red loctite!

Rich Carlstedt
05-26-2012, 12:36 PM
As I walk through the shop this morning, memories spring out.

I can still smell the acrid smoke that came from the cutoff saw,
when the Phosphorus Bronze Bar stock locked the old blade into a pretzel shape .

I smell the cutting oil by the old Bridgeport, left over when the quill return spring failed in a boring job
and the cutter sat at the bottom of a counterbore for 2 minutes and forced the part to send forth smoke signals
like a Indian communication center.

The fragrance of tar eminates from the pedistal grinder where my neighbor used the wheel
to fix his kids rollerskates.

The Maple top workbench has the aroma of Laquer Thinner that spilled onto the wood
when I was cleaning my wifes sewing machine drive.

My lathe has that distinct smell of nylon plastics ,
which came from last weeks efforts in fixing my friends swimming pool pump.

The belt sander still smells like varnish from the furniture repair.

The trash can eminates the sweet smell of a half eaten Snickers bar that fell off the mill table,
and the delicious scent of coffee grounds

The still cool air in my Wisconsin shop, conveys excitement and the tang of mosquito repellent as I recall the battle
that occured last night when working late on a rush job, only to find others also at work----on me

Ah Yes, you have two choices..The smell of cosmoline and protective oils,
or
The smell of every day shop enjoyment !

Thanks for the wake up call JR !

Rich

JoeLee
05-26-2012, 12:56 PM
I've found that different smells in the shop become prominent at different tempreatures throughout the seasons, not that I ever gave it much thought but I have noticed it.

JL.................

gcude
05-26-2012, 01:28 PM
I've found that different smells in the shop become prominent at different tempreatures throughout the seasons, not that I ever gave it much thought but I have noticed it.

JL.................

Yep, the rats that have partaken of the green pellets from the brown boxes sure smell more potent as they decay in the summer time. :eek:

cuslog
05-26-2012, 02:24 PM
I've been doing some work on my sawmill lately.
Been milling up some Western Red Cedar, jeez I like that smell.
Came in the house after a day of milling that, got my arm and leather watchband up around my nose, got a whiff, smelled of sweat, and Cedar sawdust . Thought to myself "jeez, I stink" then changed my mind "No, I actually like that, that smells like good old fashioned honest, WORK".:cool:

customcutter
05-26-2012, 02:50 PM
Abner:

thanks for the reply and the link. I didn't really know what happened until I was in my 20's, and then the rest of the story in my 40's. I grew up very introverted, shy, and wondering what I did that made my father leave and abandon my mother and I. Only later did I find out that he was told to leave or someone would kill him. I'll be 58 this year and to my knowledge he's never even tried to make contact. I'm sure I'm better off without him, but would still like to see justice done for my mother.

thanks again,
Ken

Boucher
05-26-2012, 03:13 PM
My fondest memory related to smell is that of gunpowder that hung in the damp air after the first covey rise in the morning.

Pherdie
05-26-2012, 04:02 PM
I have an acute sense of smell, sometimes a blessing, normally not (Phew!). Everything around me has a unique smell, providing daily confirmation the world is still in order.

That being said, I also sometimes smell scents that evoke strong memories, almost always of times and places long ago, seldom remembered. When I can, I savor those moments, those little mental treasures and roll them over in my mind. I know those memories are always present, but it takes the 'key' of the right smell to 'unlock the door' (they're probably stored right next to the Deja Vu storage area :D ).

Sometimes I renew my "memory bank" of smell; every time I stand at the edge of the ocean, smell the oncoming rain on the wind or hold my wife close. All evoke emotion in the core of my soul.

vpt
05-26-2012, 06:36 PM
My fondest memory related to smell is that of gunpowder that hung in the damp air after the first covey rise in the morning.


Ah yes the smell of gun powder and fireworks. I used to pick up spent shells just the smell them.

sasquatch
05-26-2012, 07:55 PM
Agree with many of the smells posted,,, one of my favourites right now at this time of year is when the breeze changes and blows the fragrant smell of lilacs around my shop door.

Daminer
05-26-2012, 08:24 PM
In the late 40's, at about age 10 an "army surplus" store opened in town.....First time I walked in the smell of cosmoline and canvas struck me.....Long before modern fabrics web belts, holsters, rucksacks and ammo pouches were made from tightly woven fabric that was treated to resist mold and rot.....Whatever it might have been it was pungent.....I came across some of those items a few years ago that had been stored in a closed container.....One whiff and I was taken back to that surplus store in Hammond, IN.....I guess you could call that nasal/mental time travel.....

One especially pleasant memory was of large paper drums filled with bolt action military rifles, dozens of them, for cheap.....My dad was not at all sympathetic to my pleas to buy one or two of them.....

Jim

Oldbrock
05-26-2012, 09:15 PM
You don't get it these days at race meetings with the synthetic oils but I sure miss the smell of Castrol R that used to be everywhere on race day.
Lilac, hyactnth, wild roses. Fresh baked bread, but especially Castrol R Peter

sasquatch
05-26-2012, 09:32 PM
JackD i fully understand what you say about missing your'e wife,, i lost mine in 2000 also from ALS.

A BRUTAL disease!!

sasquatch
05-26-2012, 10:16 PM
One smell i dislike to this day is the smell of grinding cast iron.

Almost 50 years ago now i had job grinding Forklift counter weights, a stinkin dusty job.(worked at it for two nights then told them to shove it!):D

That smell i always remember.:(

JoeLee
05-26-2012, 10:45 PM
Yep, the rats that have partaken of the green pellets from the brown boxes sure smell more potent as they decay in the summer time. :eek:

Ain't no rats in my shop!

JL.............

Optics Curmudgeon
05-27-2012, 12:30 AM
One of the classic smells of old electronics is that of the dust on the tubes cooking the first time the gear is turned on after a long rest.

BobL
05-27-2012, 01:55 AM
Our 6 month old dawg decided that she will use my shop for her toilet. After numerous unsuccessful attempts at various modes of coercion I tried tabasco in a spray bottle. That got her out of the shed but then she decide on dumping on the front door step of the shop. More tabasco, then the back door, More tabasco. So now you know what my home shop smells of.

flylo
05-27-2012, 10:31 AM
I've been doing some work on my sawmill lately.
Been milling up some Western Red Cedar, jeez I like that smell.
Came in the house after a day of milling that, got my arm and leather watchband up around my nose, got a whiff, smelled of sweat, and Cedar sawdust . Thought to myself "jeez, I stink" then changed my mind "No, I actually like that, that smells like good old fashioned honest, WORK".:cool:

I love the smell when you make the 1st cut on a log & open it up, nothing like it! I used to have a Mobile Dimension Mill. Hard work & Great Satisfaction because at day;s end you could see everything you accomplished. Really miss that!

vpt
05-27-2012, 10:36 AM
Another one! The smell of bacon in the morning. Love the smell of honey maple bacon in the morning!

Ohio Mike
05-27-2012, 11:32 AM
Having grown up on farm I miss the smell of freshly turned earth. But mostly I miss the smell of harvesting corn. The smell of the crushed corn stalks and the smell of the hot corn coming out of the grain dryer. These days I'll often walk out to the shop before I go to bed to check on things. I realize now that I often stop and take a deep breath to take in all the smells.

vpt
05-27-2012, 12:18 PM
Having grown up on farm I miss the smell of freshly turned earth. But mostly I miss the smell of harvesting corn. The smell of the crushed corn stalks and the smell of the hot corn coming out of the grain dryer. These days I'll often walk out to the shop before I go to bed to check on things. I realize now that I often stop and take a deep breath to take in all the smells.


So many favorite things in this thread! Along with corn driers I love the smell of fresh cut hay/grass.

Many of my friends laugh or make fun because I smell just about everything. Any time I open a new (anything) I always smell it. They ask why I smell everything, I say because everything smells different and I like smells. Many times the smell of something will be a tell tale of whats wrong with it.

lynnl
05-27-2012, 12:35 PM
Call me peculiar, but I like the smell of a barnyard, especially where horses and mules reside.
A little dab behind each ear..., hmmm!

Now hog $hit..., that's a different matter.

If you really want to give your shop a unique smell, just clean some items with Berryman's Parts Cleaner. That odor will last for years.
I kinda like it. ...an odd chemical smell. Causes cancer in California though.

alanganes
05-27-2012, 12:39 PM
My oldest daughter who is 27 now still describes certain things (happily) as "Dad smells." As our first kid, when she was little she was always hanging out in my shed/shop while I worked, helping out, trying to make stuff or just talking. Certain things like the smell of oily rags and grease seem to provoke instant memories of those times. Great times.

And as some of you noted, that can go both ways, provoking very bad memories as well. While I have thankfully never experienced any such childhood abuse myself, the mentions made of experiences suffered by some our friends here reminded me of this podcast I heard a while back. This was one of the most gripping things I had heard in a very long time:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/425/slow-to-react?act=1

non-audio print (somewhat more graphic) version here:

http://www.westword.com/2004-05-13/news/stalking-the-bogeyman/

The authors resilience is inspiring.

customcutter
05-27-2012, 04:09 PM
Fresh cut watermelon or cantaloupe. Fresh cut grass when riding the motorcycle. The ocean in the AM. But right now my favorite is Brownies, the wife just finished a great big pan.:D

thanks,
Ken

Mike Folks
05-27-2012, 04:23 PM
Slightly off topic, but mentions smells on a motorcycle:

Season of the Bike
by Dave Harlots (Found on the internet)

There is cold, and there is cold on a motorcycle. Cold on a motorcycle is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind's big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don't even feel like water. They feel like shards of bone fallen from the skies of Hell to pock my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that's just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for highway speeds.

Despite this, it's hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you're changed forever. The letters "MC" are stamped on your driver's license right next to your sex and height as if "motorcycle" was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a motorcycle summer is worth any price. A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us languidly from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets.

On a motorcycle I know I'm alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sunlight that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than PanaVision and higher than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard.

Sometimes I even hear music. It's like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind's roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock 'n roll, dark orchestras, women's voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.

At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it's as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it.

A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It's a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It's light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it's a conduit of grace, it's a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.

I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I've had a handful of bikes over a half dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn't trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride was one of the best things I've done.

Cars lie to us and tell us we're safe, powerful, and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, "Sleep, sleep." Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that's no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride.

flylo
05-27-2012, 04:33 PM
The last post about motorcycles bring baxk a smell I love. Golden Specro! I raced motocross pretty serious in the mid to late '70s & always used this 2 stroke oil. Great smell!

sasquatch
05-27-2012, 07:21 PM
Speaking of bikes, Riding an ATV along back country roads at a slow "Put-Put" pace in late spring/early summer when all the blossoms were comming out was a fragrance not forgotten.
At times i would drive through a "Zone" where the breeze was just right, and the smells were very strong, beautiful!!

customcutter
05-27-2012, 07:27 PM
Mike Folks

That was a great post. Glad someone can put into words what it's like to ride.:D I started way too late (50).

thanks,
Ken

lynnl
05-28-2012, 09:40 AM
I agree. I'm not a motorcycle person, but that is a very well written article. The writer is obviously a professional, ..or should be, if not.

flylo
05-28-2012, 10:02 AM
I used to ride big motorcycles, now I'm down to a 50cc Sukuki scooter although this thing as a Blast! 27 MPH flat out but at 22-25 you can barely hear it run & the smells out here in the country are fantastic.

vpt
05-28-2012, 10:58 AM
2 cycle oil!

Riding down the snowmobile trail I always knew when I was gaining on someone by the sweet sweet smell of a 2 cycle. I could even tell what kind of machine was ahead of me before I could see it by the different smells they all had.

I have saved some old time racing 2 cycle oil that smells just like bubble gum! Every now and then I will dump a few tablespoons in the leaf blower just to get the smell.

firbikrhd1
05-28-2012, 12:22 PM
I live in a city that has grown tremendously since I was born there. It has changed not only in size but in culture over my 59 years of life here. As a child, my parents didn't have much in the way of money. Mom took care of the house, my sister and I, while Dad put food on the table by delivering newspapers early in the morning before his regular job as a carpenter. After work and on weekends he would make repairs and improvements to the house, work on the car, initially an only Model A Ford and alter a '51 Ford, and take care of the outdoor chores. All that work brought in barely enough to make ends meet so our leisure experiences were limited to drives in the car, watching planes take off and land at the airport, an occasional fishing expedition or plinking with a .22. I was blessed to be able to accompany my Dad sometimes on his early morning paper delivery route and while he worked either at the house or on a weekend job. There as no A/C in those days, at least we didn't have it, so our olfactory sense was bombarded with the odors of all of those experiences. These days I ride my motorcycle, sometimes through the much larger city, other times out toward the less inhabited areas of the Everglades, enjoying the scents as a ride by a laundromat, Italian restaurant, hamburger joint, lumber yard, auto shop, smell of the tide, fresh cut grass, fresh turned earth, flowering plants and remember the great times as a child I spent with my poor in money but rich in love and experiences family.