Alan is a part gentleman, part teacher, and the rest showman. He helped me to learn how to safely run my saw and at the same time entertained the crowd (you don't see engines cutting wood much at shows, so when it does happen you really gather the folks).
Alan had some spare combs, and decided to show the folks how to repair a flat belt using only the tools a bush wood cutter would have used, namely an axe, a knife, a wedge and of course some fencing wire (after all, there is ALWAYS plenty of fencing wire in Australia). Alan's friend Graeme Reid showed up and helped out.
The first thing to do was to select the right size comb for the belt. Too big and the comb will slap the pulley causing undue wear and noise. Too small and the teeth will not hold the belt and the two ends will go the way of a modern marriage.
Once the right comb had been selected from Alan's box of stuff, he trimmed the ends of the belt square using a small axe. This was done by simply placing the belt on the log and hitting it in just the right spot with a seriously sharp blade.
After trimming, Alan closed the teeth of the comb by using the back of the axe head to force the metal through the tough leather of the belt. Care was taken to ensure none of the teeth ended up bent or crooked. Needless to say, this was repeated for the other end of the belt. When doing the second end, the combs were lined up and held in place to make sure the finished belt would be straight.
Alan and Graeme forced the combs together, then slipped some corrugated fencing wire through the round part of each comb to join the two ends together.
Thanks to Alan and Graeme for kindly getting me going again and at the same time showing me the old "right" way to fix a belt as well as entertaining the crowd who gathered to see the fun. Right through the whole procedure Alan explained exactly what he was doing in lay mans terms keeping the crowd interested. The show where all this happened is the best Australian show that I go to. There is a possibility that 1999 may have been the last one but hopefully a new venue will be found (the owner of the current venue died and there are some problems with the new owners - his family) and the show can go on. It has the best atmosphere of all the shows I go to. Everyone is ready to help and lend a hand. The show is held in a huge treed estate and attracts a good cross section of community.