Sunday, November 19, 2017


 Texture- the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface. I like texture. Texture gives a surface character and a personalized feel. Texture hides flaws. While certain textures do require some skill to get right, for the most part smooth surfaces require much more skill and patience to look good. There are a lot of textured surfaces in my projects for all of the above reasons. Look at the fuel tank on the Rat Turd. Brushed on bed liner was easy, required the skill level of a monkey and in my opinion looks good. Yes a flawless smooth paint job looks good but I'm not at that skill level and those paint jobs don't feel as inviting as a textured finish.
 I'm not just talking about bikes. I mentioned in a past post that my wife and I are picking away at remodeling many rooms in our old house. To try to make crooked and cracked walls straight and flawless would require a huge investment in time and money and in the end I don't think we would be happy. We're just keeping things old school, clean and simple. We just had to replace my wifes car so any budget we might have had is now parked in the garage and has a BMW emblem on it.

 My wife and I had many "discussions" about how to finish the walls in this room. We considered everything from wall panels to recycled wood pallets. There were a lot of trips to Menards for ideas and prices and in the end I was able to convince her to let me try skim coating the walls. I had never done this before but figured it fell into the skill set of that monkey again. Believe it or not the room looks a lot better in person than in the picture. I like the look and feel and we've got positive feedback from others that have seen it. I learned a lot and am excited to move on to the next room and do things a little different and possibly get some interesting results.

 Someone was about to get painted into a corner but then I realized she was doing the hard part so I backed off.

 We still need to do some trim/moulding work along the base board and around the window. A few other details like a door stop, closet door hardware, curtains, replace an outlet and install the heating register still need to be done. We're also keeping a piece of door moulding that has hash marks on it from when the girls were growing up and keeping track of their height. I think it will give the room a more personal feel. A large throw rug or two will be the only other addition to the floor. The hard part will be to take apart the spiral staircase so we can move furniture up there. For that I have a plan to enlist the help of two other monkeys. They don't know it yet but if you're dating one of my daughters and plan to eat my food at Thanksgiving then you can assume you are one of the monkeys I'm referring to.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Ride Or Not To Ride

 That really is the question. This post will be written in two parts. This first paragraph is being scribbled down on Tuesday night. I haven't been following the forecast much but I've been told tomorrow may be my last decent chance to ride the bike to work. Its nice to have so many people looking out for my motorcycling welfare and they've told me temps may climb to the upper forties. That's doable. I can't remember the last time I rode but I'm thinking three weeks maybe. I'm a little excited and I've made arrangements to make sure it can happen. I plugged the trickle charger into the bike and was happy to see the light went from orange to green in about half an hour. I also dug out my heated jacket liner and put the battery on its charger. I've got clear glasses for the pre-sunrise ride in and for the dark ride home. Other than grabbing some warm gloves the only other task should be giving the tires a squeeze to see if they feel soft. It may seem like a lot of dickin around for a 40 mile round trip but as many of you with the sickness know, its worth it.

 Wednesday morning. I opened the garage door and walked outside to find a light rain coming down and everything wet. I've been out there three times checking the weather, nobody said anything about rain. A check of the radar shows it may end by the time I'm ready to leave for work, then some more chances during the day. The ride home would be in 36 degree temps. My excitement to ride has dropped considerably. Not because of being uncomfortable. The temps and light rain are in the acceptable range and ten or twenty years ago I wouldn't have even checked the forecast. No, the problem is with me. Something doesn't feel right. The older I get the more I analyze these things and consider my safety. Deer traffic has been high and its hard to forget the week long stay in the hospital when I hit that deer seventeen years ago. Rain reflecting off a windscreen or glasses make for crappy visibility and then I have to ask myself if I want to rewash the bike before storage.
 Its official. I just switched from a helmet friendly dew rag to a knit hat. Its a sad day because I'm gonna puss out and not ride. May God have mercy on your soul if the sun comes out and you ask me why I didn't ride today.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Long Week

 This week seemed to have gone on forever. As you know we have been busy used car shopping and were considering a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. On our second visit for a closer look I discovered that the techs at the dealership had replaced the front tires but not the rear. I'm not sure what they were thinking but we had them correct that along with ordering a few other pieces such as a special light bulb for the halo ring headlight and a cracked rear view mirror. Its a used car but getting them to agree to replacing items is an easy way to help get the bottom dollar down closer to where it should be. One of those agreements was knocking off the cost of buying a spare tire. The car originally came with run flat tires and an inflator kit. There is no kit in the trunk and the tires they just installed are not run flats so they gave in to my logic.
 We bought the car and after running it for a few days now it seems like it should fit our needs. My wife keeps saying I like it more than she does but the fact is I just like it because it handles so nice and I think it should be a safe car for her. Getting out of my truck and then driving the BMW is like getting off a boat and into a slot car. Whats not to like. The other thing that intrigues me is the engine. My past experience with inline six cylinders has been with the likes of the Mercury Comet or maybe my old '51 Chevy pickup. They always vibrated like they were only hitting on five cylinders unlike the smooth power delivery of this BMW.  It was a little greasy yesterday and I pushed it a bit to see how the Xdrive worked. It must work fine because I couldn't get myself sideways. This should be a good winter car for my wife.
 I ordered some Weathertech floor liners for the front of the car. I had heard a lot of good things about them and figured that if you're gonna drop a nert on floor mats it might as well be for a BMW. Let me tell you that when they say they are laser measured they ain't kidding. These floor liners fit perfectly. I was concerned about how they might feel slippery underfoot but was quite surprised at the amount of gription they offered. Thats right, its my blog and its ok for me to make up words as needed.

 In other news the bedroom remodel is back in gear after a week off dealing with the car issue. The walls are all skim coated now and some paint has been applied. Nothing fancy is happening here and it almost feels like we're just taking the shortest route to get the room done. Thats fine because its looking pretty good and we have plenty other projects to complete.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Used Car Shopping

 I last reported of a blown engine in my wifes Subaru Outback. We've been going back and forth on what to do about that situation. Do we fix it? That ain't gonna happen overnight and carpooling together won't fly once the snow falls because we would then be leaving for work at much different times. We really need that second vehicle right away so last night we went car shopping. At one of the dealerships I was talking with the salesman about utilitarian, practical 4wd vehicles when I heard a squeal coming from the other side of the showroom. I pretty much knew I was wasting my time with the salesman because my wife had already found something she fell in love with.

 The car is a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. That Xdrive was my only real requirement for her because I truly believe if you live in Wisconsin then you should have all wheel drive. If you don't then you are slowing me down or creating a safety hazard for the rest of the folks on the road.
 The list of options is impressive to include a heated steering wheel. I've not been around many luxury cars and certainly no German engineered ones so shucks BillyBob, this is a new one to me.
 I never even considered such a vehicle as her replacement but why not? A used luxury sedan with all wheel drive and winter package is really ideal for our situation now that the kids are out of the house. She deserves a new one but this particular Ultimate Driving Machine is in our budget. We put a thousand dollars down to hold it and are going back today to take a closer look. My only concern is cost of ownership/maintenance but really its a crap shoot with any used car. Besides, if the lady likes it then she should have it.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Groundhog Day

 This past week had me stuck in a rut.  When asked "How ya doing?" I'd reply "Its Groundhog Day again". The difference between my week and Bill Murray's adventure is that I didn't try to create the perfect day. I just trudged through waiting for things to change.
 Well something is very different this morning. I woke at my usual time, 0-dark thirty, and noticed that it quickly got light outside. Thanks to the wonders of the modern smart phone there is no setting the clock back but only acknowledging that daylight saving time has ended. Something else is different. Today my wife and I are faced with a big unexpected financial burden. Last night we were on the interstate when the car engine killed. A lot of things go through your head when these things happen and I immediately realized a tow truck might be in my future. I was doing 70 (ish) in the left lane and needed to get to the right shoulder before I lost momentum. I know I pissed one guy off who probably thought I was just an a-hole cutting him off but shit happens and there was no left shoulder. Once safely on the shoulder and having answered all my wife's questions I made an attempt to restart the engine. The starter engaged and the motor spun but there was clearly no compression. I was pretty sure the timing belt checked out and there is no fixing that on the side of the road on a rainy Saturday night. Even if I had the tools and parts there is no fixing it. See this Subaru engine is an "interference" engine meaning if the timing belt is out of time there can be contact between the valves and piston. Based on the two loud bangs from under the hood and the feeling at one point that the drive train momentarily locked up I'd say there was not just contact but an all out brawl.

 Out of curiosity I popped the hood but there was nothing to see. I got back into the relative warmth of the car and my wife handed me the phone number for road service that she had found in the glove box. After a long conversation with the roadside assistance rep we came to an agreement as to where I was located. A tow truck should be to our aid in half an hour. We sat in the car being blown around by the wind blasts from big rigs and came to the conclusion that seat belts might be a good idea even though we weren't moving. About ten minutes into our adventure we had a state trooper pull up behind us and I was actually happy to have his reds blinding me through my rear view mirror. Our flashers weren't working and with just tail lights on a rainy night we were feeling a bit vulnerable. The trooper made the usual drivers license check but didn't even ask to see insurance papers after we explained that they had a truck in route already. He offered to hang out until we were off the hiway.
 If you don't know what your roadside assistance covers then maybe its a good time to check your policy. I found out mine covers the hook and ten miles. We were sixty miles from home so there would be some out of pocket expense. The towing service showed up when they said they would despite one more phone call and two text messages. They actually made a miserable situation somewhat palatable.

Safely back home but not under its own power.

 This was my wifes car. The plan was to run it till summer and then get her something else. I would run her hand-me-down car and we'd keep the truck for pulling the trailer and hauling shit. Right now I don't know what the new plan is. I can't walk away from a car I still owe money on but I don't know if its a good idea to stick big money into a high mileage car. I'd have to keep it forever because there would be no breaking even by selling it. If it were a bike I'd fix it no questions asked because I always plan on keeping every bike I buy even though I don't keep them.
 Right now I need to decide if we look for a temporary beater, a permanent replacement or something else that I'm not even considering. Until then my wife will have to drop me off at work in the morning and then drive my barbaric pickup truck the rest of her way to work. It just occurred to me that if it snows and I need to leave at an odd hour, she's stranded. 
 I think I preferred the humdrum boring week I was stuck in.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Photo Dump

 Searching through my phone pics, looking for something interesting to talk about yielded the following sorry ass excuse for a blog post. I'll try to spice it up with some sparkly fireworks.

 Last Saturday night we went to Brooke and Mikes annual Halloween Bash. Food served was a chili dump. Bring your favorite chili and add it to the nesco. This years mix was delicious and I had two bowls with sour cream and fritos on top. Washed it down with some brewskis. The DJ played music I knew the words to, so that was a plus. Later in the evening we went for a hay ride and watched some fire works. It was a good show and made up for missing the show on Independence day.

 While our daughters were growing up we let them decorate their bedrooms any way they wanted to. Its an old house and its not like they were gonna wreck anything. Now twenty years later we're sprucing up one of those rooms.

 Yes those are clouds and sea gulls and yes my wife is pulling staples from the ceiling. If the final job looks decent I'll post some pics. If you never hear of it again then you know we did a piss poor job on the remodel.

 My last post was about a truck salter install. This pic is from the other truck I mentioned that got a salter and back blade. These two controllers are for that equipment. I am posting it because it was one of the easiest controller installs I've done in a while. The wires aren't tied up yet but the bracket was so simple because it just uses the two holes for the head rest on the center console. Unplug the wire harness, release the catch on the head rest holes and shazaam, the controllers pop out!

  And finally, some toilet humor. At work we rent tents among other things including porta potties. Every so often we sell them off and buy new ones, just to keep the rental fleet looking fresh. When the boss had one cleaned out and set by the road with a for sale sign on it, Al made him a bet that it wouldn't stay clean and fresh over the weekend. Sure enough someone dropped a deuce in it and the boss lost ten bucks. I guess it wasn't really humorous but we did all enjoy watching the boss have to pay up after losing the bet. I'm told there wasn't any paper in the outhouse and there wasn't any evidence of "wiping material" having been used. WTF? The for sale sign says the price and "as is". I'm not cleaning it out.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tunnel Vision

 This year we decided to put a bigger salter on my plow truck. Instead of leaving the flat bed on the truck, we remove it and bolt the salter directly to the frame rails. This allows for better vision of the back blade and also saves the aluminum bed from corrosion. Speaking of corrosion, any spilled salt lands on the fuel tank, drive shaft and frame rails. Despite being undercoated, this could lead to rust issues. For that reason we decided to dress things up a bit and prevent spilled salt from getting there.

 We had Ripon Truck Repair bend a piece of steel for our tunnel. This was a job worth farming out. We just don't have the equipment to bend such a piece and they were able to do it the same day and to our exact specs.

 Mocking things up. Yes, that salter is freakin huge. The F550 will handle it but it still looks huge. In fact the only problem I foresee is whether or not our skid loader will be able to dump into it.

 The rear valance. I have it bolted on so it can be easily removed to service the multitude of wires and connectors back there. The holes are for a trailer plug, flatbed lighting plug, back blade control plug, back blade power, and salter wiring to include a vibrator, strobe lighting and a camera. Last year all these wires were just zip tied to the frame and it was an ugly mess but it was worth it. We learned a lot about the back blade and fitting a salter to work with it. So much so that this year we tooled up another truck with that combo.

 Ya theres a lot going on back here. Another issue we addressed was the fuel filler. We had some problems with slow filling and decided to fix that by creating a new permanent mounting spot for the hose. Last year it was pretty long and we just used a bungee cord to secure it. You can kinda see it under the license plate.

 This is so much cleaner looking than last year. As a selling dealer for the salter and back blade, this project is something that can be justified not only for function but what is possible for custom applications.

 I'm anxious for some snow so I can get back behind the wheel of this rig. I like plowing and this truck with its 11 foot front blade and 16 foot back blade is a treat to use. The extra size of this salter allows me to carry twice the volume of salt which equals less trips back to the shop to refill.

 I did something different on this project. I didn't over analyze every decision and just went with the flow. I accepted things without thinking about the outcome. That experiment failed and I'm going back to my old ways. The few minutes I usually spend looking off into space is a lot less time than having to redo something because I wasn't looking at the whole picture. Thinking is working and just because it looks like I'm on break doesn't mean I'm not actually saving time and money. That wasn't aimed at anyone, its just the way I feel. Something else done different on this one was that I had a lot of help. Not in decision making but in the physical labor. Having the young guys crawling under the truck and doing the heavy lifting, welding and cutting was much appreciated.