Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I made that

Earlier this week the mayor and I were disassembling the “turn control valve” off his grader.  That’s a very simple hydraulic valve that performs a very complex function on the grader.  The circle – the part the blade attaches to – needs to turn so you can angle the blade.  That is accomplished with two hydraulic cylinders each working a bell crank that drives a gear that in turn drives the circle.  The cylinders are timed such that one is fully extended while the other is halfway extended but in order to turn the bell crank they each need to cycle repeatedly in and out in perfect synchronicity.  The valve that accomplishes that duet has been leaking and the mayor has struggled valiantly for the last year to get the leak stopped. 

In the course of disassembling the control valve I recall saying to myself “Self, I should have a brass hammer.”  Since I had no such hammer we resorted to the old “hold a block of wood against it and whack it with a ball peen hammer” trick.  Which worked but wasn’t elegant.  So yesterday when I was in Yorkton I looked at brass hammers but at $45++ they were too rich for my blood.  Particularly so when I remembered that I have a couple of bars of 1.25” brass stock.  So tonight I sacrificed a cheap 3/8 swing handle, made a pile of shavings and ended up with this perfectly functional little brass hammer.


We spent last weekend in Saskatoon being proud parents.  Marlan is finishing up his second year in the College of Agriculture (actually the proper name now has something to do with Ag and Bioresources but its still the College of Agriculture as far as I am concerned).  He’s a very smart kid and a hard worker which we knew already but which was further confirmed by his receipt of a scholarship.  I didn’t recall that the Bean Feed supper was the occasion where scholarships are presented but I think that was because when I was in the college there just weren’t that many scholarships (and I didn’t get any).  Friday night we joined Marlan and Jenna along with a few hundred others for the Bean Feed in the Centennial Auditorium (which is called something else too now).  We got all fed up and then watched a never-ending parade of kids getting scholarships.  There must have been over 60 kids and 100 awards (some of them got several).  We were pretty proud parents and it was a fun evening. 

And no, we didn’t just eat beans and wieners, despite the fact that the Bean Feed did in fact start out with those two items as the only thing on the menu.  There’s a lot of things have changed around the College since I was there, not just the name of the College or the menu at the Bean Feed.  The most obvious change is the gender of the protagonists – the Dean of the College, the President of the Ag Students’ Association and a majority of the students are now women.  We used to have to import nurses and home ec girls in order to have someone to dance with but clearly that is no longer the case.

20151120_204400 I very stupidly failed to take a camera with me so was forced to use my cell phone.  My apologies to everyone concerned, particularly Marlan.

We used Saturday and Sunday to do some power visiting around Saskatoon including a supper with some of my agro classmates.  The group of us that has been getting together the 3rd weekend in July ever since grad got together for a supper Saturday night.  Then we did some power shopping and came home with the Lincoln loaded to the roof with paint, lights and Costco food.  Its a good thing that car has air ride because it would have been seriously dragging its ass without the air levelling.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Putting stuff away for winter

Yesterday I finally hauled the little hoe home from the drainage project I’ve been poking away at for about a month now.  I’d been dreaming that we might get some dry weather but finally gave up and just barely got it out ahead of some forecasted seriously cold weather. 

The poor little thing wasn’t very happy about climbing back onto the trailer.  My trailer is really too high to be hauling equipment on – the deck is entirely above the wheels and those are on 16 inch rims so the deck is seriously up there.  On dry days the hoe will just barely climb the ramps but when its even a little wet it spins out about the time it gets 1/4 of the track sticking over the top of the ramps.  Then it can get exciting depending how straight back it wants to slide.  My usual solution is to put the deck up part way which lowers the back of the trailer and makes the ramp angle less steep.  Yesterday even that was barely enough.  Several times I got partway up the ramps before sliding sideways off the ramps or all the way back to the mud.  Pushing with the hoe always helps but yesterday I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to dig some trenches to lower the trailer.  The problem with that plan is that there is no guarantee the truck will pull the trailer out of the hole when I’m all done.  As it was I got the hoe loaded and then had to unload and do it all over when the truck wouldn’t climb the first little muddy incline.

When I got home I spent two hours washing.  The hoe still isn’t clean but its a hell of a lot closer than it was when we first arrived in town.  I left it on the trailer because it will just get slimed if I unload it now.  We really haven’t had any seriously cold weather yet so the ground is just barely frozen on the surface.  This week is supposed to change all that but so far its stayed pretty warm.  Not that I’m complaining about the warmth but the mud is a serious PITA. It never warms up enough to dry anything out – just enough to turn the surface to snot.  In that sense it will be a relief when it finally does turn cold enough to freeze the ground.

Today I put most of the little Case tractors away for the winter. 


That’s the 444 that I use to pull the estate sprayer, the 155 that will eventually be a restoration project and “Marilyn’s” 118 which we’ll use to mow grass at 515 (the new place)

The little 118 is the last tractor to follow me home.  I bought it from some people south of Saskatoon who really didn’t appear to have a clue which alarmed me a bit because I only had their word that the tractor ran.  It wouldn’t even turn over the day I went to pick it up because the battery was dead.  That turned out to be because it had been boiled dry and because the engine doesn’t appear to be putting out any charge.  I got the engine running with no issues but then the tractor still wouldn’t move because it was missing a drive belt.  That wasn’t a surprise either – the previous owners claimed they had been mowing the lawn when it swallowed the belt and never moved again.  That wasn’t hard to believe when I was picked bits of belt out from around the engine shaft for about an hour this morning.  I’m a little doubtful that they did much mowing with the tractor though because the idler pulley on the main belt was not quite square but certainly closer to square than round.  The new idler arrived in the mail this morning – I already had a replacement belt.  After I got done digging the old belt out and put everything back together the tractor ran just fine and even moved under its own power over to the little house.  So I think I probably did OK on that one.  The deck needs bearings but that’s no big deal.

I should point out that I resisted the urge to phone someone in Rosetown over the weekend.  On Saturday night there were two little Cases newly listed on Kijiji.  He was asking a total of $100 for the pair and he claimed one of them was running.  Even if they were both scrap iron, $100 is a serious bargain but I just didn’t want to drive to Rosetown to get them.  It was hard to tell from his picture but one looked like a 224 or 244 with really faded paint and the other was either a 155 or 195.  I spotted them Sunday morning and they were gone yesterday but at $100 that’s no surprise either.


That’s the spare Case parts pile which is in itself another very good reason not to buy any more of the little guys for at least another 6 months.

Footing Trainers I was rooting through “stuff” at the little house a few days ago when I stumbled onto these.  They are barefoot training shoes which I bought years ago.  They will figure prominently in our activities next September long weekend.


This was an unexpected bonus.  I wasn’t sure how heavy the little Skat was and I wasn’t sure where it would balance but it all worked out.  Right now I’ve got the wheels off and the drive chains opened up because there’s a bit of chain noise that I don’t like. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Going up

I got a little tiny package in the mail today and when I opened it up this little guy was inside.


That’s the relief valve for my shop hoist so I immediately pulled the old one out and stuffed the new one in.  I couldn’t test it on the truck because it was tied to the front of the gooseneck trailer but later this afternoon I couldn’t resist even though it meant unhooking.


It went up lickety split and this time I even managed to keep it more or less level.  The front end on these Fords is so heavy and the frame doesn’t have any specified lift points so they’re a little challenging to lift.  I ended up with the front lift arms under the lower control arms and the rear arms on the frame just in front of where the frame sweeps up to clear the rear axle.  Lifting on the control arms meant that I didn’t need blocks on the front and helped level the lift.  I’m still waiting for the push button switches to operate the lift and to install the overhead safety bar but otherwise it is now fully functional. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Graders, little tractors, snow & wet paint

It may not be here to stay but then again it may be.  We woke up to about 8 inches of white crap on the ground this morning and its still there at dark.  The roads have sort of burned off but there were some bad accidents on the roads today including a woman killed about 20 miles from here.  If we really didn’t want to live in a winter climate nobody is holding a gun to our heads but its a jolt every fall nonetheless.

I finally got the little 444 that I use to pull the estate sprayer put away this afternoon.  Its got a soft front tire that never goes completely flat but always needs air and this afternoon was no different.  With all the wet snow and a soft tire I had a hell of a time getting it to even move.  The soft tire refused to turn but the snow was slimy enough that I finally got it skidding and went round the block that way.  By the time I got it to the garage door it was turning intermittently and it worked just fine once it was aired up.  Its tucked away in the barn behind the little house now. 

I also got the blade mounted on the 446 and used it to clear the sidewalk in front of our place and Keith’s.  Some Catholic doozer had already been around to shovel God’s sidewalk so I didn’t need to do it.

The mayor has had me working on the grader again so that took up some time yesterday and today.  One of the big cylinders that raises the circle was leaking.  He thought we could put a seal kit in it but I was sceptical.  It turned out that we were both more or less right.  I was arguing for removing the cylinder and taking it to Ram Industries in Yorkton.  That’s the business founded by Ray Malinowski that built hydraulic cylinders, initially for his brother Leon who built front end loaders but eventually both brothers branched out further.  I’m not sure what all they are building now but they still do cylinder repairs.  Gary thought we could pull the piston and shaft, leave the barrel on the grader and do the repair ourselves. 

The advantage of that plan was that the shaft and piston can be (just barely) handled by one person while removing the entire cylinder would have involved heavy lift equipment.  The problem with any repairs on our part was that we would have to remove the big nut holding the piston to the shaft.  We got the shaft assembly out of the barrel without much drama and mounted it in the vise at the town shop.  Then I put my 4 foot 3/4 swing handle on the nut and pulled the vise clear off the workbench. 

At that point I suggested that maybe it was time to take the shaft and piston to Yorkton and the mayor agreed.  We made one more attempt with my 3/4 air impact but when that failed to budge the nut Gary loaded the assembly up and took it to Yorkton.  They rebuilt it pretty much immediately and this afternoon we stuck it back together.  I don’t think we spent a total of 2 hours on disassembly and re-assembly combined so it was a lot less onerous than our grader adventures last fall. 

This morning we finally got started painting our ceilings.  Marilyn has been prepping the walls and ceiling for over a year now.  We’re starting at the ceiling and working down.  Unless they turn gravity off, the paint will drip down first on the walls and then on the floor so we’ll get the ceilings done, then paint the walls and finally replace the floor covering.  Our goal is to have the ceiling and walls finished before we leave for the boat. 

Our ceiling treatment dates back to our house on the first acreage in Nipawin.  I can’t remember the local guy’s name who did the marble effect on our ceiling but he was locally famous and we loved that ceiling.  The marble effect comes from a high gloss white paint that has smoke from a coal oil lantern absorbed into the wet paint.  When its finished it has a high gloss marble appearance that cleans up easily and doesn’t show dirt.  We were in Pinkney’s house this summer which is the ceiling we originally copied 20 some years ago and it still looks great.

20151111_111109  20151111_111117

The kind of dirty looking smudges on the ceiling are the aftereffects of smoke from the lantern below.20151111_111126


My phone doesn’t do justice to how good it really looks.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Racism of the left

If someone is disqualified for any particular task based only on their ethnicity, race, sex or physical handicaps we clearly identify that as racism or sexism or illegal discrimination. 

This morning the Canadian media is fawning over the new federal cabinet, several of whose members are apparently only qualified to hold ministerial appointments by virtue of their ovaries, headgear or skin colour.  That is the ultimate form of discrimination and its the more insidious because we don’t identify it for what it is. 

  • Its racist to appoint an Indian – whether born in Canada or born abroad – simply because he/she/it is an Indian
  • Its sexist to appoint a woman simply because she has ovaries
  • Its discriminatory to appoint anyone simply because they are physically handicapped

I actually feel sorry for those persons appointed by #lesserof2trudeaus simply to fill some equal opportunity quota because they may very well be qualified in their own right but we will never know that.  That’s what happens when we tolerate discrimination – good people get marginalized.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It works


There’s been a couple of problems along the way but by Sunday night I had a functioning car lift.  I had about 24 hours where it would go up to beat hell but coming back down was a challenge, which was about as convenient as hip pockets in long underwear.  It turned out my assembly skills were not 100%.  There’s a brake on the slave side (right side in the photo above) that is designed to stop the lift from falling if the lift chain goes slack.  In order for that to work it turns out that the chain needs to be routed so that it holds the brake off while the chain is taut.  When I initially installed the chain it worked just fine and the lift would come partway down but the last 4 feet required frequent interventions on my part.  Eventually a combination of 1-800-MICHAEL calls and RTFM on my part arrived at the right solution.

I’ve still got some finishing up to do.  Right now the lift switch is a light switch.  I’ve got a couple of push buttons ordered from Taiwan to solve that.  There’s also a cross bar that sits immediately underneath the overhead beam.  Its purpose is to prevent me from ramming the top of my vehicle into that cross member, which seems like a desirable feature.  The switch that came with the lift had suffered an injury during removal or transport but less than $10 on AliExpress had 4 replacements on their way from somewhere in the orient.  The switches I ordered are SPDT so I can use one to activate the lift and another as the safety switch – I’ll just have to wait about a month for them to arrive.

In the interim I got the car up on the lift and greased the front end.  The Panther platform which our Lincoln is built on has a well known front end noise which sounds incredibly alarming but actually is relatively benign.  I should have taken a picture yesterday but I just shamelessly stole this one off the web:


There’s a little cast ball on the spindle assembly and a corresponding steel pocket on the axle.  When the wheel is hard over in either direction one of those balls is engaged in the socket and they make a hell of a grinding noise which can be extremely alarming.  The solution is to grease the socket which is dead simple when the car is on a lift and not so easy to do while lying in the mud.  Its also one of those jobs that’s pretty easy to put off because, aside from the alarming noise, its not really mission critical.  So yesterday I squirted some grease at the front suspension parts and filled that socket with NeverSeize. 

Once I got the chain re-routed and the car back on the ground I thought I should try lifting the Exploder but that turned out to not be possible.  The running boards on the truck mean that I need extensions on the lift arms and they didn’t come with the lift.  I briefly had visions of some elaborate build involving 4 x 4 steel tubing, hacksaws, 1/4” plate and welders.  Eventually I rejected that process and ripped some 3/4” plywood.  A little epoxy, some plywood, a bit of rubber and tonight I should have perfectly adequate lift blocks.  I also tried to find blocks on AliExpress but so far I haven’t landed on the right search terms.  I’m sure they’re out there but my plywood blocks should get me going and maybe they’ll turn out to be all I ever need.  The Superduty is still hooked to the gooseneck trailer so I can’t try lifting it but I’ll need the lift blocks for that as well.  That truck weighs roughly 1000# more than the lift is rated for but this lift is so massively overbuilt I’m not concerned.  I expect it will just lift the truck without any further action required but I know where the hydraulic relief valve is located so it most certainly WILL lift the truck, it just may take a little intervention before completing the lift. 

Update – Tuesday evening

Well the relief valve was a bit more sophisticated than I had expected.  I was looking for a cap that I could remove and then tighten a spring down a bit.  Instead I found a cap that I could remove with a preset cartridge underneath it.  So I had to order a higher setpoint cartridge. 


Initially I got the big Ford clear off the ground and raised it about 2 feet but the relief was squealing the whole time.  When the oil warmed up this is as close to lifting as I could get – 3 wheels clear of the ground with the rear passenger wheel still touching.


The little gray micro-truck was a breeze to lift.  I had to pay close attention to how high I lifted it because I don’t have the switch hooked up on the overheight bar.


I built 4 extension blocks last night.  They are 8 pieces of 3/4” plywood stacked and epoxied for a total lift of 6 inches.  I think I need some longer ones for the big truck but these worked great on the micro-truck and they will suffice for the big truck as well.  Evidently the Superduties are a notorious PITA to lift and I will likely need at a minimum 2 different heights of blocks and possibly 3 different heights if I want to lift it close to level.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Back to the shop

The big project for the past couple of days has been getting the car lift moved from its storage spot at the little house and then standing it up in the shop.  Its super heavy and I was working alone so it has been a very slow project.  I’m also feeling more lethargic than usual – maybe its after effects of the flu shot on Monday 0r maybe its just normal S.A.D.  We’re seeing the sun so rarely its starting to feel like we’re already in B.C.


Moving the first post from the trailer to the shop.  As you can see it barely fits under the 13 foot door clearance.  That’s also the “heavy” side post – the one with the lift cylinder.


My plan was to set a post on each side of the Genie lift, strap them to the lift so they wouldn`t fall over and then attach the top beam.  My hope was that once the top beam was in place I would be able to run the lift up against the top beam, lift the entire car hoist and walk it into place with the Genie.


At this point both posts are leaning against the Genie, ready for the top crossmember.

IMG_6699 I didn’t take any pictures while I was carrying the lift on the Genie.  It would in fact barely raise the lift.  If you look closely at the before and after pictures you can see the yellow lift arms attached in the first picture and removed in the second image.  Those arms are REALLY heavy so I removed them and that made all the difference in how the Genie was able to handle the lift.


There’s some major drilling involved to fasten it down.  That’s a 7/8” bit and I’m using 8” Redhead anchors (wedge bolts).  I found a bit that claims to be able to cut rebar as well as concrete.  Its carbide tipped and so far it has been working well but I’m only 1/3 of the way through the holes.  Four of the holes are under the lift arms so they will have to wait until I get the power hooked up and the lift working.


That’s the power pack that does the lifting.  Its a 230 volt motor and I haven’t completely figured out how it works.  Its clear that you push the lever and it pushes the cylinder out to go up but going down is still a big mystery.  1-800-Michael has worked before – I expect I will need to call again.


That big roller chain needs to be led through the top cross member and down the far side.  The cylinder lifts the wall side and the chain lifts the opposite arm.  There’s a kind of ratchet/cog affair that keeps the arms up which has to be manually released in order to go down but like I said, getting it to go back down is still 3/4 of a mystery.