John (Nicho) Nichols

“It must be tea time, Nicho is headed for the Tea Room”, was a familiar cry at the Men’s Shed until Monday last week when he passed away, after a short period of illness.
A much loved gravel voiced, cheerful grump is one description of Nicho. A good friend, good mate, likeable, practical joker (according to Gary) are some of the terms suggested by other shedders.
He was a wizard with matters mechanical, a better welder than Neil (he claimed) and a very proud Grandfather. He was also very modest but champion shooter with a shotgun.
Unfortunately his death was sudden and now involves a Coronial inquiry, so that his funeral will be delayed for many weeks. I will email members when we know of the funeral details, so we can give him a good send off.
On behalf of all Shed members our sincere condolences to Berneice and all of Nicho’s family.

Farewell Lyndon

Lyndon Field
10/07/1950 – 15/06/2015

Lyndon inspects a sick rotovator while the late Barry Orth looks on.

Good, conciliatory, gentle and wise.
If any of us can be called that when our hour is up, then we have truly lived a worthy life. Lyndon was such a man.

1950 was a good year for Penfold’s Grange, (I think Barry O’Farrell said that), and it was a good era for the baby boomers, post war growth, innovative society, bikinis, The Stones and Eric Clapton.
Lyndon was a deep thinker, he came from a background of deep thinkers. His Grandfather was the Manager of Grace Brothers, his Father, born in Dubbo, was a Prosecuting Police Inspector. Lyndon was born in Sydney and grew up around Middle Harbour, after leaving school with the HSC he did Geology at University before moving into Automotive Engineering.
He was a deadly tennis player, an accomplished sailor, most notably the Moth Class out of Middle Harbour Sailing Club and loved his cars, particularly MGs. He has two, a TC and a TF. (don’t Quote me). Both have been on the “to be rebuilt” list for a few years, I did say he was a deep thinker.
His wife Sue is the daughter of a Police Sergeant, you would expect that they met at a Policeman’s ball, in fact it was at a Policeman’s picnic. They have three children/adults if you meet them they are a reflection of their parents. When they moved to Mudgee, in the early 80s, he was the teacher in charge of the TAFE Automotive section and after training generations of motor mechanics, retired from the Mudgee TAFE about 9 years ago.
Lyndon’s involvement in community is as varied as his knowledge, he was deeply involved in TAFE at the Field Days where he developed the famous “Engine Building” competition, a crowd favourite. He was involved in Community Cars, “driving miss Daisy” he says with a dry smile, and Mudgee Arts Society, where his staring role was the props he made. In this endeavour he was anal, as with most things close enough was not good enough, if you saw his shed you might wonder, but I believe this is all his sons junk and the Mudgee Men’s Shed where his knowledge was always in demand (as we know).
Lyndon, as most Shedders, is not of the computer generation but certainly embraced it more than some. Given a passing query he could be relied on to research and document (with pictures) the operation of the Falkerk Wheel, or some other obscure issue. We will certainly miss those exchanges between his intellect and my head muscle.
Most of us don’t achieve astounding things in our life, “e=mc2” etc, but live our lives and leave as good a legacy as our God given gifts allow. Lyndon’s legacy is not only the fine family he and Sue gave breath to, but also in the many apprentice mechanics he trained during his career and with their apprentices when they say “This is the way Fieldy said to do this”.
So hail and farewell (Vale) Lyndon.

Road Rules

When the Men saw the bright coloured Chrysler cruiser pull into the car park and noted it was the Highway Patrol, some were glad they left their trailers at home.
Sergeant Matt Adam, in charge of the six patrol cars based in Mudgee, came along to give the Men of the Shed a refresher on the changes to the traffic laws, and while old men don’t like change there have been a few since 1960. After listening to Matt I’m thinking they should initiate a new licence “L”, “Ps” and “O” so the highway patrol can give us a bit of sympathy.

Oddly the first topic covered was caravanning, something very relevant as the winter approaches Mudgee. Some of the GMVs were a bit wasted on us but given the mirror laws and the tray back laws about load security, I suspect that there will be a line up at Super Cheap next week.

Roundabouts have been a topic of Smoko for some time, it was enough to drive you to three biscuits with tea, but Matt’s explanation was pretty simple: first on has right of way and if in doubt indicate out, that is indication is required at all exit points. It seems Neill will have to move on from hand signals and start using his indicators. That’s the little stick on the right of the steering wheel mate.
Interestingly enough no one mentioned traffic lights, if they ever have to, I for one will move to Coolah.

A big wake-up call for all those members with cross hairs on their bonnets, and a sigh of relief for all those push bike riders in the Shed. As Matt said, have a little patients and respect for cyclists, give us the metre the law allows. OB1 means One Big metre.

Consternation even dismay crossed some members expression when Matt discussed demerit points. It seems that while the points only last for three years before they get wiped, your driving record stays from the beginning. So the offences of your misspent youth can be looked up any time. No good saying you only had one ticket Chris.

The 40k speed for emergency vehicles was discussed and while this law is under review and not completely what the services requested, it is for safety of all services that it was introduced. There is a little common sense applied and even the worst drivers should know to slow down when they see the flashing lights.

So, hands up if you learnt something you didn’t know from the session. The wife is right, we don’t know everything. What a great session, our thanks to Matt Adam and the Highway Patrol.

Check out the following road safety link for a refresher.

Go have a look and learn more.

Defibrillator Training

Defibrillator Training Session

You should have been there, if you weren’t you missed out on a great afternoon.
You could call it a near death experience, because that’s what it will be if we don’t follow Karl’s advice on using the Shed’s defibrillator.
Karl Fletcher gave a pretty inspiring talk on heart attacks (Cardio something or others) how to recognise them and what to do when they occur.

He started off by explaining Fibrillation, how the heart flutters instead of pumps, and of course this makes you fall down, (almost dead). Then he outlined the process of not having blood pumping to the body; the brain needs oxygen within 3 minutes or it will die. He called it brain dead, the rest of the body can survive and still have muscle function for about 8 minutes. Does that remind you of anyone at the Shed?

The first step is to check for breathing by noting the stomach, if it’s moving he is breathing, if not have someone call 000, and call for the Defib, and start cardio compression.
Cardio compression is pumping the heart so blood flows to the brain.

Be aware that a person in our peak physical condition could only do compressions for about 30 seconds before someone else needs to take over. If you are by yourself then you need to get a beer from the fridge and sit and talk about old times, because it’s all over unless the ambos are next door.

As compression continues the Defib should be connected, it’s not rocket science, it is written on the defib pack, follow the instructions and the machine will tell you what to do, just like home. The machine will deliver the shock if needed and compression continues unless the machine tells you to stop while it does the procedure again. Continue until the Ambo’s arrive and then sit down and have that beer.

Many questions were asked and answered, as Karl completed his demonstration. I would say that we are more comfortable using the Defib pack than we were prior. It now sits in the First Aid room, on a bracket, within easy access of the 20 or so Shedders that attended the session. Thanks Karl.

A Trailer by Committee

How many Men’s Shed members are required to build a trailer? Quite a few more than John Porch expected.


In February 2018, John began building a trailer at the Mudgee Men’s Shed to convey his vintage Farmall tractor to machinery exhibitions around rural NSW.  His vision was clear. He wanted a robust dual axle trailer, the plans for which he had mulled over for many months and consolidated with first hand inspections of building methods used by others in Mudgee and beyond. As an ex-farmer, John had the skills and know-how to achieve a professional result.


Well prepared, John set to work at the Men’s Shed on what he thought would be a simple solo construction effort. The Members however had a very different view. From day one his detailed plans were scrutinised, dissected and debated in detail from which flowed a plethora of suggested modifications and ‘improvements’. Robust discussion followed not just for the odd hour or two but for days; a process that became a trademark for every stage of the project.  This was John’s introduction to how things were done at the Shed where every project provides an opportunity for members to share their considerable knowledge and become engaged with the outcome. No idea is sacred. Every outcome is a collective effort.


And for John’s project, the involvement of fellow members was far more than a talkfest. Once an improbable agreement had been reached after a long and tortuous process, the members swung into action contributing to the welding, wiring, grinding, refinement of design aspects and painting.  Before long, John was heading a team of enthusiastic constructors every one of whom had an opinion not just about the trailer but on almost every event affecting the world about at that time. Spirited and often barbed humour laced every discussion particularly by the pseudo naysayers who cast doubt about the legality, the weight, the strength and indeed the very merit of the trailer. And if John dared to differ, he soon discovered yet another attribute of being a member; the need for a thick skin and a preparedness to give back as good as you got.


As a relatively new member, it is fair to say that John was a little overwhelmed by the way Shed members embraced both him and his project. However, he is the first to admit the quality of the finished trailer is far superior to that he first envisaged thanks to the members who became involved. He built a trailer but he also built a new network of friends in the process.  A worthy result.

Street Library


Graeme with some of the boxes he has built to be used by Mudgee Street Library.

The Street Library is an Australian movement that encourages literacy and community spirit by placing these, and similar, boxes in front yards and filling them with donated books, that people can borrow and replace. The Street Library motto is –

“Take a Book, Give a Book, Share a Book”

Graeme built these book boxes from surplus timbers, mostly old fence pailings that he cleaned up by putting them through our thicknesser, and they came up really well.


The boxes proved so popular that he has an order for up to 10 more, unfortunately the old fence timbers have all gone, so it will be interesting to see his new designs.

Well done Graeme.




A New Member’s Perspective


‘Why don’t you try the Mudgee Men’s Shed’ my wife suggested in response to my quest to find a meaningful and enjoyable way to allay post retirement blues. I was immediately dismissive, conjuring the image of a bunch of old farts getting together to while away the hours by telling endless war stories, jokes and tales of fiction dressed as fact and all under the guise of doing something useful?


With no better alternative, the least I could do was see if my imagined scenario matched reality.  Traipsing through the superbly equipped metal and woodworking workshops the following Monday, I was surprised to find not a soul at work. Moments later I came across the reason why. It was the morning tea break, an event that can last an hour and around the table twenty or so members were engaged in animated discussion about world and local events and issues affecting one another.  Humour and laughter punctuated the discussion and the enjoyment was plain to see.


By chance I had discovered the heart of the Shed; a supportive network of like-minded men who were determined to get the most out of life by sharing every day experiences and by helping one another with practical projects out in the workshops. Certainly, there was no shortage of rollicking tales and recollections of humorous life experiences, but digging a little deeper it quickly became apparent why the Shed has proved to be a life changing influence for many of the members.


As a newcomer I was surprised by the egalitarian nature of the membership. Members come from all walks of life including fitters and turners, tradesmen, self-employed businessmen, consultants, mechanics, lawyers, teachers, merchant seamen, farmers and more. Collectively they bring to the Shed an immense range of skills and life experiences that are shared by the members; a rich resource that is capable of creating or fixing almost anything and providing support to weather the many mental and physical ailments common among retirees.  And despite the broad spectrum of skills, experience and levels of education, members regard one another as equals. There is no hierarchy, just a common desire to share and enjoy what each has to offer.  While most members are of a mature age, what counts above all is a willingness to engage with others, regardless of age or background.


Members cite a number of reasons for participating in Shed activities. Many of those who have retired have in common a need to feel useful or have a purpose in life and to continue making a contribution to society whether it be through creative Shed activities or the reciprocal process of supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of fellow members. The routine of attending the Shed twice per week (Mondays and Wednesdays) restores a sense of order reminiscent of working days and allows members to plan ahead with a positive attitude of achievement and anticipation. And the camaraderie and mate ship resulting from regular attendance builds a fraternity of respect and understanding which is so apparent in the way personal and general issues are discussed with refreshing candour, often laced with self-deprecating humour.


Some members have joined to address issues of loneliness and isolation; a very common situation among farmers and one that can lead to depression, sadness and other health issues. Many have found willing listeners and understanding among the Shed fraternity that has helped to restore balance, hope and happiness.


And so it is time to eat some humble pie. The Mudgee Men’s Shed is not simply a bunch of old farts reminiscing glory days. It is a haven for those who seek friendship or a desire to build their sense of self-worth through sharing experiences with likeminded individuals. And yes there are a number of old farts present, myself among them.



David B. Joined Mudgee Men’s Shed November 2017.