Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hutch Update

 Earlier this month I made a post about a toolbox hutch I want to build. I've had the shell of this thing sitting in my shop the last three weeks and its been driving me nuts that I haven't had time to work on it. Yesterday after a half day of snow plowing I had the afternoon to putz in the shop. I say shop but none of the putzing occurred in there. I had a bunch of welding to do and I'll do that outside in the garage but not in the heated shop. The problem was that the temperature was zero. Ya you just heard me whine a little but really, who likes freezing their ass off?
 Cold sucks but how cold you feel seems to depend on what you're doing. Many of you don't mind a cold bike ride, skiing or snowmobiling but working in the same temps isn't much fun. Well this project is kinda fun so I was able to keep my mind occupied on things other than frozen feet or arctic denutification.

A sunny pic on a cold day.

 I had to work out some details for the rails of the roll up door. I was gonna build the tracks and just weld everything in place but then a revelation came to me. What if I had to remove the door or replace parts of the door? The design didn't allow for disassembly so the other day while I was taking a dump I realized what needed to be done. One half of the rail system had to be removable. After I built it I came up with another way to do it but its too late for that. No matter, the way I made it will work just fine.

 So this is where I quit for the day. The cold in my feet caught up with me as the vision started becoming a reality. Its really just all about getting the ideas out of my head. I know its just a simple roll up door but there are a lot of unknowns that can't be answered until they're tried. Will the door slide smoothly in the rails? How sharp of an arc will the door follow without binding? Those questions were tried and answered on the first attempt but if they don't work its kinda a deal breaker. I still have to make a stop on the bottom of the door, add a lock, lighting, power strip, a shelf, peg board and then wrap the whole thing in sheet metal. I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Awww, Nuts

 Sometimes things go as planned and other times ya can't catch a break. Yesterday I had a project at work that should have been as simple as tightening four bolts. Instead this will be one of those life lessons that somehow I've never been stung by before.

 What you see in the picture is the side of a stainless steel salt spreader. That pad is about 4" x 6" and is the mounting point for an electric vibrator. All I had to do was install the bolts and tighten them up. The bolts went in about halfway and started getting difficult to turn. I got that WTF feeling and tried to back them out. Nuthin doing. One twisted off. The second twisted off after applying some heat. I cut the third and forth off with hopes of welding a nut on and backing them out. Nuthin doing.  I drilled one bolt out and then broke off a tap trying to clean up the threads. You can see the broken tap still in there. I guess thread galling on stainless isn't uncommon but I've never had problems with it before.
 This morning I was gonna finish this post but I won't have time as the furnace in my shop is out and needs attention.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Half Day Off

 I worked yesterday morning till noon. When I got home my wife and her sisters Terry and Brooke were at the house playing games. I had a plan to finish up a few things on the upstairs remodeling project then I'd have the afternoon to dink around in the shop. Maybe work on that tool hutch or even blow the dust off the BSA. Phooey. The women were having so much fun with their game and shenanigans that I decided to join in. Getting them to not act like knuckleheads for a pic was impossible and this was the best of the bunch.

 I guess I just need to lighten up, its Christmas!
 Merry Christmas everyone! I wish you all a safe, happy holiday.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cat Toys

  I wonder if cats think we put up trees for their amusement. Thats normally the way it unfolds around here but our tree is up and the cats haven't destroyed it yet. Not a single ornament is out of place. There is no evidence of kitty kat tether ball, ornament punching bag or "sending" any decorations croquet style. I've knocked more ornaments on the floor just turning the lights on and off. Nobody is looking so I figured it would be ok to give Oliver a few scratches as a reward. I'll pet the kitty.

 Uh oh, denied. He shook it off. I suspect this spawn of satan just tolerates me until his evil plan unfolds. Maybe a gift unwrapping session while we sleep or a Mount Everest climbing expedition right before guests arrive. Hes up to something and the other cat is in cahoots with him. I know this is true because typically she would approach the tree like, "oh look at this, something shiny. I must swat at it and not stop till someone freaks out at me".

 I know that you know that I know you're up to something so just watch yourself. Don't look so grateful you old clump of coal. Frickin cat is grumpier than I am.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

This Week Photo Dump

  Sometimes I see things that I think will make a good picture and other times I see things and think WTF? Either way, my phone fills up with pics, most of which are crap, and I'll share a few with you before I delete them.

 What? Motorcycle related content on The Greasy Shop Rag during the winter months? Yep, thanks to some brave soul on a dirt bike. This pic was taken while I was fueling my warm truck. It made me wish I had acreage and a dirt bike. 

 Earlier in the week I was painting a hallway above a spiral staircase. Before I had textured the walls I was able to use my fancy new ladder that folds into a kazillion different positions. That won't work now so I had to use a brush on a stick. If there is any painting done in Hell, I'm sure some poor bastard is doing it just like this.

 If you look at this pic and just see two trains then I don't even know what you're doing on this blog. What I see are two trains hooking back to back to see which one can pull the other. If I were running one of those, this is the day I would get fired. BTW, the train on the left won.

 Git r done! I suppose there are a dozen ways they could have routed these snow plow control cables and this may not even be the worst choice but it sure looks redneck to me.

 And one artsy fartsy pic. With its warm glow it reminded me of one of those floating lanterns. I think if I had the time and ambition and even a smidgen of photographic talent I could make this an interesting picture. Since I have none of those you'll just have to suffer with this phone pic of a skid loader in a salt shed.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snow Day?

 If things had gone as planned, I would not be posting this right now. Not because I didn't want to but because I forgot to write something last night. The weather prediction was for snow overnight and continuing all day. I was to come in early and start relocating the white stuff so people could better get around with their daily business. The storm tracked different and here I sit waiting for my regular start time to roll around on the clock. As I made my way around the internet as I usually do before leaving for work I remembered it is Wednesday and I need to make a post. The need to make a post is about me not wanting to slack off with this blog. I feel if I get lazy about doing it then maybe it will go away and I don't want that because its kinda fun to keep this journal of some of the crap I've been up to. My memory can be selective and sometimes I go back and read this and think "oh ya, I remember doing that" or "I could have done that a lot better". I realize nobody is gonna have a bad day if they don't get a Wednesday or Sunday edition of The Greasy Shop Rag.

 Look what came in the mail the other day. How long do you think I can go without removing the cellophane? That's the question I asked myself as I pondered what secrets might be written on the pages within. My curiosity got the best of me and I whipped out my pocket knife and sliced open the wrapper. The first thing I wanted to know was how many quarts of full synthetic I would need to purchase for my first oil change. It looks like I need seven of them and thats not a number I was expecting. The other day I was tagged on facebook with a chart of the most expensive vehicles to maintain and BMW was on the top of that list. I'm starting to see why.
 So far it has been a good car and the one day my wife drove "the ultimate driving machine" to work in slippery conditions she claimed it handled better than her "confidence of AWD" Subaru Outback. Maybe today she'll get another chance to try out its winter driving capabilities. She hates winter driving so I try to come up with vehicles that make that task easiest. I hope this one is a winner.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Project List Update

 Based on the title of this blog entry I should just leave the body of this one blank. Because this blog doubles as my personal journal and your go to source for literary wit, I'll document it. Lets start with the BSA. No progress although I did get word from Dave, our nut and bolt supplier, that he found an oddball size bolt for me that I plan to use for an engine mount. He's still trying to find the acorn nuts I requested.
 The toolbox hutch I'm building is inching along. Although its still just the frame you saw in my last post there has been progress in the design...meaning I thought about it a bit and changed the roll up door track design. You should have just interpreted that as meaning "he didn't do shit on that project either".
 I told you about the bedroom remodel in the post called "Texture". Last weekend I borrowed a spray texture machine and blasted the walls in a second bedroom and a hallway. Because those walls are old school lathe and plaster and looked pretty rough I decided to open up the nozzle on the sprayer and not just texture the walls but actually blast them with a layer of plaster. Some areas look great and some look like ass but all the walls look 100% better than they did. The fact that I'm not posting a pic of them should tell you a lot. Its entirely possible we could meet our completion goal of Christmas for this project. That reminds me of something. I ordered a mattress from Amazon. I can just hear the delivery guy cussing about all the packages he has to deal with this time of year and some schmo orders a freakin mattress. I really prefer to buy local but it can be hard to find the time and its just way too easy to order crap from my recliner.
 Project Subaru is at a standstill but as you'll see in a later post I actually did work on it a few weeks ago. I won't tease you any further and you'll just have to wait on the edge of your seats for an update.
 The sportster fuel tank paint job hasn't happened yet. I still don't know what I want it to look like. Because my airbrush sprayer tank project hasn't moved forward either it may be a long time before we see any progress on that one.
 I still haven't gone back over to the other side of the garage to look at the Ultra and see if there are any more scratches from when I tipped it over. I'm too sick about that whole deal to even think about it.
 In other news, it snowed yesterday. First that means my riding season is officially over due to salt on the roads. Second, it means I got to plow snow for the first time this year. I like plowing and this light snow was a good chance to work out some bugs. The truck I run is an F550 with a SnowEx front blade that has power wings that extend to eleven feet. The truck also has an Ebling sixteen foot back blade that makes short work of these light snows. We removed the bed of the truck for winter and installed a Hiniker four yard spreader. Its not the ultimate plowing machine but its a pretty nice setup and I enjoy running it. There's talk of more snow on Monday. Bring it. If I can't ride I might as well be plowing snow.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-Toolbox Hutch

 I told you about a toolbox hutch I'm gonna make for the top of my new roller cabinet. I had some time to kill the other night after work so I threw together a shell of what I think I want.

 Odd thing about this project is that I'm doing it without any real goals except to just do it. That means I'm just diving in head first and later after its done I'll wish I had thought it out better. Oh well, it beats sitting in the bar and getting all bent out of shape.

 I have this thing on wheels. I'm not sure what it is but when I got it years ago it was free and I decided I needed it. Hoarder syndrome don't cha know. My best guess is some type of file cabinet but it could be a feminine hygiene product storage container as far as I know. The point is that I'm gonna bastardize the thing and harvest that aluminum roll-up style door on the top. That door will be used as the front of my hutch.
 While surfing Amazon last week I found some under cabinet led lighting that I think will work great inside this hutch. I turned them on yesterday just to see how bright they were. It turns out these things have a remote control with variable brightness and some flashing and strobe features. For the life of me I can't figure out why you'd want a strobe light under a kitchen cabinet but maybe I'm just getting old.
 Updates as they become available.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tool Box Locks

 I had been thinking about picking up another tool box for work. The boxes I have now are getting crowded so after giving it some thought I had decided to get another bottom roller from Harbor Freight. These boxes had usually been priced around $369 or maybe $389 but on the day I wanted one they were $429. Screw that. The whole point of buying these is the price. I'd have to wait for them to go on sale.
 Two days later my wife and I were having breakfast at our favorite restaurant when my phone chimed. It was a Black Friday offer from Harbor Freight and among the items on sale was the box I'd been looking at. I showed it to my wife and she said, "I guess I know what you're doing today". That morning I picked up the box on sale for $349. Schweet.

 Having four different locks with four different keys is kinda a drag. I found a set of five locks keyed alike so ordered them from Amazon. Turns out that was $21 shot in the ass because the locks I ordered are physically the right size but are of the style that the key wont come out unless they are locked. Lesson learned, I'll look for the right locks. BTW, Stay tuned for a future post about the hutch I plan to build for the top of this new roller cabinet.

 In other news which isn't really news at all, my truck isn't the greatest but it gets me around for now. Sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own and yesterday while rolling through town the tailgate decided to open. I pulled over to shut the gate and noticed my Greasy Shop Rag sticker on the topper window is looking pretty sad. The ink is bleached from the sun and the edges are rolling up. Time for a new sticker. I have a whole box of them so let me know if you need one too.

 Don't worry Honey. You may be vacationing in Florida right now and left me to finish the plastering in the second bedroom and hallway but I've saved plenty of work for you. I hope you're well rested when you get back because there is a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up :-)


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dropped The Ultra

 It seems nothing will get me into a pissier mood than dropping a bike. All the pecan pie and cold beer in the world won't help my attitude right now but I'm giving it a shot anyway.

 Of course I had to buy a bike that weighs as much as a medium sized elephant. When that pachyderm decides its time to lay down there ain't much I'm gonna do to stop it. Even when I was a young buck I don't think I'd have been able to keep that behemoth from tipping over. Here's where the bike was sitting:

 Well, actually it was closer to the Subaru. I was trying to roll the beast closer to the wall so I could move some crap out of that small room in the background. That stain on the floor isn't from tears, its an oil slick from my lawn mower. I really should fix that mower.
 I hate the kick stand on these Harleys. It has slop in it and will rock ahead but it always stops short of tipping forward. I get nervous every time it happens but the longer I've owned the bike, the more used to it I've become. Well guess what? I've become careless with that damn stand and this time it bit me in the ass. The bike rocked forward and tipped over. It happened fast and I couldn't stop it. The fairing rubbed along the bumper of the Subaru and settled to a stop as the handlebars came to full lock. The saddlebag guard was on the ground and I was standing on that oil slick stuck between the bike and car.
 They say that in these situations you get an adrenaline rush and have somewhat super human strength. I don't know who "they" are but I wish a few of them were here to help me lift the damn bike because my back was having none of it. I always figured that if I dropped this pig, er, elephant, that I wouldn't be able to right it. I turned around, grabbed a bar end and the seat backrest and tried to lift. Only because I was able to push against the Subaru with my legs was I able to accomplish the task. If I were alone in the wild you'd find me laying in a puddle of tears with a broke back.
 So now that the mammoth is upright and stable I nervously scan for damage. Right away I notice a long scuff in the fairing. I figure the scuff will buff out but then as I scan the surface of the paint with my trusty flashlight I notice a series of fractures in the plastic.

 Dem ain't gonna buff out. The weight of this mastodon was concentrated on that edge of the plastic fairing and it fractured. There's also a "chrome against concrete" scuff in the saddlebag protector. The fact that I had the air shocks set pretty low helped keep the bike from tipping farther to the side. I was too disgusted to look for more damage and headed into the house for the aforementioned beer and pie.
 I know it seems petty to get upset about a few blemishes on a bike. The thing is that this has happened on every damn bike I've owned and I was kinda proud of myself for not having tipped this one over yet. Now I find myself among the ranks of any other putz that has performed this act of stupidity. I need to find a silver lining and may have found a couple. If I go back and find more scratches then just maybe I can justify some sort of custom paint job. That would be cool. The other thing is that after a first scratch on a bike I've always kinda loosened up a bit with my riding attitude. You know like a little less "stick up the butt" proper riding and more "to hell with it, lets lay this biotch over and see what it'll do".
 Now I'm really looking forward to next spring.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Day Off

 Thanksgiving was on Thursday and the boss had given us Friday off, although I did work on Saturday. The point is that he picked the right day to close shop because Friday turned out to be a gorgeous day, so I took advantage of the nice weather to get in a bike ride.

  The first thing was to get the bike out. Luckily we left just enough room when pushing the dead Subaru into the garage. If I would have had to push it ahead any further it would have rolled over a small drop and the end of the concrete and I wouldn't have been able to push the car back in on my own. 

 The sun was shining and at one point the bike thermometer told me it was 64 degrees. Are you freakin kiddin me? 64 degrees on the day after Thanksgiving! I saw a bunch of riders out doing the same thing I was...taking what we figure is the last warm ride of the year. Come to think of it I saw more leather than I did blaze orange.

 Brown was the theme for the day. Except for a few pines, most all of the landscape was very winter-like without the snow. I pulled over a few times to take a closer look. 

 Not much to see here but sometimes just watching a river flow can be interesting. I didn't stick around long enough to get all philosophical and shit, just long enough to come to the conclusion that having a river in the back yard would be cool.

 Another quick selfie just to record the moment. The wind really raises hell with my beard. Its odd how the sun seems to make it look grey as well. Huh. 
 I didn't check the odo but I figure I rolled along for about 150-200 miles. I guess I timed things out pretty well because I pulled into the garage just before I would have had to make the switch from shades to clear glasses. I fear this may have been the last ride of the season but the bike is still accessible if we get another winner day. Of course the deal breaker is if they have to salt the roads before such a day. That salt dust just seems to get into everything and I'm not willing to ride the Ultra in it. The Rat and the Sporty are put away so as far as riding anymore this year, the end is near.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bike Storage

 Friday the temps are supposed to get up to dang near fifty degrees and I'm thinking the Ultra may have to come out and play at least for a short ride. I won't tuck that one away yet, but he sporty was drained of fuel and the tank was removed for sanding. I'm hoping I'll get to paint it this winter. What color is still a mystery.

 I was gonna store the sportster in my enclosed trailer but I have plans to use that soon so I'll just push it into a shed for now. The goal here is to clear this garage bay for my wifes BMW. The other bay will get the Subaru. The plan is to have that bay cleared enough so when guests come to visit on Thursday, they can help push the car in the garage. You wants to eat? Push da car. You may remember that we blew the engine in that car a few weeks ago. Once inside I can tear into it and find out what its gonna take to get it back on the road.

 The Rat Turd has a special spot in the living room but that spot is still occupied by furnature from the bedroom remodel. I found a temporary spot for it in the house and actually kind of like it here.

 I often think I need more garage space but then I realize I would probably just fill it up with crap and still be short of needed space. Some day I'll figure it out.
 If you're coming to my house tomorrow for Thanksgiving then plan on being put to work. For the rest of you, I wish you a happy holiday.


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.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

National Mustard Museum

 Ya I had the same reaction as you just did. It was even worse when I found out that a visit to that museum was in my immediate future.
 We were enjoying brunch at the Hubbard Avenue Diner when the request was made by my daughter asking that we don't allow her friend Chayse to buy any more mustard. Really? How bad could it be? So what if he likes mustard. Following a nice visit and meal with family, we walked next door to the Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wi. Upon entry a greeter asked if any of us had ever been here before. She then spotted Chayse and dollar signs rang up in her eyes as she said, " You, you've been here before" as if they just recovered from his last visit.

 I'm not really sure what I expected to see. A couple squeeze bottles of mustard, maybe some Grey Poupon? What could possibly draw people to this place? Upon entry the first thing I noticed was there was a definite theme here. All yellow painted walls and shelves full of different flavors of mustard. I didn't know there were different flavors of mustard and to be honest, I didn't care. I don't like mustard.

   The entire upstairs of the museum is a store. They have all different kinds of mustard in every conceivable flavor. Who would spend money on something as questionable as Raspberry Mustard or Walla Walla Onion Mustard? How about Three Monkeys Mustard or Horseradish Mustard? Well, they have a tasting bar and after a visit I can tell you that I enjoyed the Horseradish Mustard and purchased some.

  Down stairs is the museum. One wall is dedicated to all types of mustard offered in the country and its divided by each state.

 This case is mostly just Wisconsin mustard. So many different flavors. I looked over a few labels and was surprised to see mustard from towns only ten miles away from me. Whoda thunkit?

 Some of us are much more passionate about our mustard and will do whatever it takes to get their fix. All in all it was a worthwhile experience and I'll be sure to stop back for some more sampling if I'm ever in the area.