The coolest tech video I've seen in ages

The coolest tech video I've seen in ages

The most interesting tech video I’ve seen in a while is this one and I’ll tell you why:

For background, this YouTube channel is run by a tow truck guy from Bend, OR. I like the guy and his channel because in the past I learned a bunch of safe ways to use the winch on my jeep to rescue myself and others in trouble and it's come in handy the dozens of times I've gotten to pull people from snowbanks or myself up a rocky cliff. I still watch the channel even when he posts simple towing runs of semi trucks and trailers because I've always wondered how on earth you tow an 80,000lb truck safely (it's all about weights and leverage and physics).

This video starts out with Casey showing off a car he recently bought off Facebook Marketplace that was a 1990s Chevy S10 truck frame, engine, and chassis but with a 1930 Dodge body bolted on top of it, which is quite cool and surprisingly reliable compared to the original. The builder of it must have put a lot of effort into it since all the tedious things like the gauges and heater and blinkers work, and it's kind of an awesome one-of-a-kind custom car to own.

So, the premise of the video is that he shows it off to a bunch of old farmer/mechanic guys that make up a "Central Oregon Model T car club" that all build and drive 1920s Ford Model Ts in the present day. A couple guys mention they drove a classic Model T from Oregon to Maine to Florida and back, which is absolutely wild.

The video is almost two hours long and I won't expect everyone to watch all of it, but I saved it to my iPad on a recent flight and ended up watching the whole thing since I had a few hours to kill in the air.

Scrub past the first 20min and jump around to anything that looks visually interesting and let it run for a few minutes and I bet you'll find something cool like I did.

The first thing that caught my eye was when they played with an old steam-powered engine. I had no idea you could make old steam machines run on compressed air, but it makes sense logically since that's how 1800s steam engines were designed. So an old guy has a bunch of old steam equipment he can load up with an air compressor and run off that to demonstrate how they used to work.

Then it's a tour of a windmill and how they use straps and gears to power small shafts like an engine and how you can run a sawmill and cut logs from pure wind power.

The back half of the video is walking around one guy's farm and looking at all the classic tractors and odd builds made out of spare parts, and the tractor made out of wood that works. Then there's the pre-war airplane just sitting there, then discussions of how farm equipment like wheat threshers from the 1800s work.

The wild thing is most everything fires up and runs whenever they try to play with something, then eventually they take some Model Ts out for a drive on gravel roads, and I forgot how complex the driving is on those cars. There are two sticks on the steering wheel, one controls a throttle (like how a tractor operates) and the other controls the ignition timing. There are three pedals on the floor but the first one is the brake, the middle one is reverse, and the last one is for shifting from high to low using a lever and your foot.

The Model T was considered a breakthrough in its day for how easy it was to drive.

I kind of live in the middle of nowhere and my neighbors all seem to be weird old guys with a deep knowledge of how classic things work. I've lived in Oregon for 20 years and gone to my county's historical farm fair every few years, where they do demos of 1800s farm equipment that runs on steam (actually slightly dangerous since the boilers are almost 150 years old and the metal does fatigue and sometimes explode under intense pressure), they have a steam powered sawmill where the smell of fresh cut cedar is intoxicating, and they do a parade of 1930s tractors that make me wonder who in the heck still has parts to make them run.

1930s Ford Tractor at the historical farm show ten years ago, I love how they resemble 1930s Ford cars so much

I sometimes feel like a weird old guy about internet things. I remember when going online required a phone and knowledge of long distance rules to avoid extra charges. I had a modem so old it conformed to the ear and mouth cups of our landline handset. I had a CompuServe account in the early 1980s. I know the story of how JPEGs came to be, I remember when JavaScript was invented by Netscape folks, and I have configured my own Gopher server from scratch to run on the public internet.

All that knowledge is mostly useless now, and when I worked at Slack it was kind of a running joke for younger staff to ask me if I knew the people behind internet inventions or the origin story of major internet memes, and I often had a history lesson for every question.

These days I don't find much excitement from Apple Keynotes or Google I/O launches. Instead, I love stuff like this video. It’s rare to see very old tech that still works and it's great to get a tour of their collections and then you think about all the obscure knowledge they have to know just to operate and repair these things and it's kind of mind-boggling.

Anyway, I really loved the old tech on display in this video and now I kind of want a classic windmill in my backyard too someday.