Saturday, July 28, 2012


Anybody who grew up listening to the radio in Saskatchewan has heard:

Transmitting on a frequency of five hundred and forty kilohertz powered at 50 thousand watts ……..

My grandmother always referred to CBK 540 simply as “Watrous”.  I thought they had lost their transmitter tower – in fact I’m sure it did blow down several years ago – but they must have rebuilt it because there’s a very tall stick behind the radio shack. 


This week we’ve been staying at Manitou Regional Park and I have driven by the old studio every day on my way to Lanigan.  It doesn’t look like much happens there anymore but there was a car parked on the approach one afternoon – a technician checking something I assume. 


We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this bulletin from the US presidential election race:

Obama’s famous quote that small businessmen aren’t responsible for their own success is creating quite a stir.  Whether it will gain enough traction to derail his floundering campaign remains to be seen.  But there was an interesting comment on one of the posts at Small Dead Animals that got me thinking.  If government is ultimately responsible for small business success then who is responsible for small business failure?  Its common knowledge that most small businesses fail.  So are their owners absolved of responsibility for that failure?  Where’s the compensation when they lose their life savings or their homes due to pursuing their dream?  If those rare occasions where they succeed are due to Obama’s governmental largesse then when can we expect to see him take responsibility for the ones that fail?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A pretty spot at the end of a wonderful weekend

We’re parked tonight in the Arm River rest area which is just north of #11 highway on the east side of #2 highway.

Map picture

We spent a wonderful weekend with about a dozen of my classmates from the Agro Class of ‘79.  We got together for a 10 year reunion and some subset of about 15 couples has been getting together the third weekend in July ever since.  This weekend I think we had 13 couples showed up.  One of our group have just become grandparents and another couple is close behind so I guess we’re all about to enter a new phase. 

Everybody slowly drifted away today and we hung out until absolutely nobody was left.  That was pretty well the only way we could get out but it was no hardship.  We were in a pretty tight group site at Palliser Regional Park and it was just a whole lot easier to move the frenchy-bus once everyone else had left. 


Last night we rented the local pontoon boat for our version of a booze cruise.  The tour started at 6:00 and we got fed steaks not too long after we got onboard.  Evidently the cruises have been known to go on past midnight if bar sales are brisk but we must not have been drinking enough because we were back on land before 10:00.  Which was plenty long enough as far as I was concerned.  We were cruising on a the reservoir behind Gardiner Dam which was completed in 1967 and is still one of the largest earthen dams in the world.  Lake Diefenbaker was formed in the old river valley and as southern Saskatchewan lakes go, I’m sure its just a fine lake, but its still a southern Saskatchewan lake.  Which means there’s not much other than bald ass prairie to look at along the shoreline.  So four hours of that briefly interrupted to eat a steak was plenty.

In addition to the steak though we were treated to some homegrown entertainment.  There’s a couple of members of our group that provide pretty well non-stop entertainment and this year was no exception.


We haven’t been the most regular attendees at our reunion weekend and we’ll probably miss next year which will be more of a loss to us than the rest of the group.  We’re a pretty good bunch and its hard to believe that its close to 40 years now since we all first met. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Closing in on the end

We have to be on the road Friday morning.  There’s about 20 couples from my grad class of 30+ years ago that have got together on the 3rd weekend of July ever since we graduated.  The exuberance of our weekend celebrations has changed over the years and we haven’t been nearly as regular attendees as some of my classmates but this year we’ll be there.  We missed last year but I think we were at the one prior. 

So the bus absolutely has to move Friday morning.  The weather this week has been crap for somebody painting outdoors under a hard deadline but I got it done today.  Actually I got more or less done yesterday but I really wanted to fix the graphics on the curbside and today I was able to get that done.  I did the curbside first and I got a lot better as I went along so I wanted to have another go at the curbside but I left it until last just in case I ran out of time or materials. 

I’ve also still got the bedroom window on the roadside that needs the frame painted black.  I’m not real happy with the single stage black but I don’t know if that is the PPG paint that the assholes in Yorkton sold me or the fact that it is single stage.  I discovered that the can they put the paint in is labeled for some different PPG system than the one they sold me.  That makes me suspicious that they may have sold me some bastard system that they couldn’t palm off on any real bodyshop but I suppose I’ll never know.  That’s been a real revelation during this project – the bewildering variety of chemistry sets that go into auto paint.  It shouldn’t be any surprise I guess – its big business so there are bound to be many marketing flavours but I was still surprised.  And there’s no way I saw any more than the tip of the proverbial iceberg so its hard to imagine just how many different systems must be out there.

If I get a chance later this summer I’d still like to put two more coats of clear on. Right now I figure I’ve got between 2 and 4 coats over everything.  I put extra clear on the high traffic areas around the door, around the engine access and on the forehead (where all the bugs hit).  Now I’d like to sand it with 1500 grit and then recoat everything with 2 more coats of clear.  That should last longer than we’ll be around to use the bus.


I still have to put the fender flares on but other than that I’m pretty well done putting things back together. I’d be done that too but my Phillips bit for my Makita cordless impact broke. I only had one Makita bit because I hate Phillips screws but I found another bit that would fit and then promptly broke it too. And I flat out refuse to fight with Phillips head bolts by hand so the fender flares will just have to wait until after I get back from the hardware store in Canora tomorrow.   After I get that done I’ll do a thorough pre-trip inspection. The bus has been sitting here for a long time now and there’s nothing mechanical that ever improved from sitting idle. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

More of the same

I’m sorry – if I don’t write about bus painting I’ve got nothing to write about.  It feels like that’s all I’ve been doing for months but I think its only weeks. 


I got Marilyn to take a few pictures with my camera earlier this week while I was shooting the silver on the roadside.  The weather has been pretty well ideal so I have been pushing to get it done.  Its hot but if I get the paint on before noon its not too hot and we usually have a slight breeze to keep the buggers at least confused if not completely away. 


Neighbour Michael figured the pattern on the tape looked good enough to leave.  Its actually kind of fun on the final day.  It starts out being mainly brown paper and tape.  Then it gets to the stage in the picture above and then everything gets revealed when the masking comes off.  The paint I am using cures so fast that I have been putting 2 coats on, peeling the masking off and immediately shooting 2 coats of clear.  That’s if I have the energy for all that.  I tend to wilt by noon and sometimes I have a bit of a nap after lunch which seriously cuts into my productivity.


Today I started putting some of the clearance lights back on so that feels like I’m getting close to done.  The front is taking a long time.  I did the graphics on the forehead at the same time I did the bits over the ticket window and entry door but the lower portions are taking longer.  The beige guck on the bottom behind the bumper is rocker guard.  Its some kind of rubber in a can that I hope will reduce the shot blasting that area takes. I’ve also got some ideas for graphics between the headlights.  I keep changing my mind about exactly how it will end up but by tomorrow night I should have something finalized.  

I also still have the window trim (black) to paint.  We were in Yorkton earlier this week so I went to York Auto Supply to get some black single stage paint.  I expected that to turn into an ordeal and I wasn’t disappointed.  One of my early sales calls many years ago was on that place – they were assholes then, the same asshole still owns the place and they’re still assholes now.  But I didn’t have any choice – they are also the only game in town if I want genuine body shop supplies.  I already had a can of Tremclad black but I had decided the work I have invested already warranted something a little better than that.

Me: “I want some single stage black paint.”

Idiot behind the counter: “What code?”

Me: “Black.”

I.B.T.C.: “There’s hundreds of different blacks.”

Me: (thinking “hundreds” might be an exaggeration) “I just need a gloss black.”

I.B.T.C.: (gesturing) “She does all our paint mixing.”

“She” seemed to have a functioning brain – I can only assume she concealed that during her employment interview.  She said that XXX code was what “they” usually used and I agreed that was likely a good colour.  I have no idea what it looks like but I assume it is black.  It’s a whole new chemistry set compared to what I have been using because it is PPG Paint and what I have been using was Sherwin Williams.  The black is also single stage and what I have been using is base/clear.  I read somewhere that single stage paints are for more experienced painters which I guess I are now.  I’m definitely more experienced than I was 2 weeks ago.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Painting progress

Big visible progress yesterday.  I had near perfect weather – warm but not really hot (maybe 75 or 80 max) and a hint of  a breeze to keep me cool and the bugs away.  I finished up taping the gray in the morning, taped all the windows and then started throwing silver paint at the curb side.  That took a lot of paint but I had already figured out that the whole bus was going to take more than I had so Marilyn was online to bring some back from P.A.  Once the paint was on I stripped the tape and covering on the stripes (see photo below) and then started spraying clearcoat.


I could have done a better job on the clear if I wasn’t so paranoid about making runs.  I should be putting on a slightly wetter coat because what I am getting is a very lightly stippled surface.  Tonight I’ll find out if I can buff that out with 1500 grit – I believe I can in the places where it is worst and overall the clear is pretty good just the way it is. I put extra coats on the door and around the entryway where little dirty greasy fingers like to touch and I wet down the lines between the 3 colours so that the ridges between the colours pretty well disappeared.  Of course spraying the clear revealed that I had nowhere near enough of it either but fortunately Marilyn was still in P.A.


The right way to do those lines between colours would have been to lightly sand them by hand until they disappeared.  The problem with that is twofold – first it takes a lot of time and its really effing hot right now; second if I go just a few thousands of an inch too deep with the sanding then I lose the line and have to reshoot the paint.  Not gonna happen.  At some point I may – in fact very likely WILL – resand the whole bus lightly to scuff the clear and smooth the lines and then add a couple more coats of clear.  I figure after we’ve used it for a year or so there will no doubt be some road dings to touch up and I can already see how I could improve the graphics with very little effort.  By next summer I’ll no doubt have forgotten how much work this really is and maybe be ready for round two.

Today I taped the graphics on the rear and road sides and shot the gray on those sides.  Tomorrow – weather permitting – will be another big day which should see the silver and clear on the back and road side.  Then I’ll just have the front and the forehead portion over the ticket window and door to deal with.  The front doesn’t have a lot of surface but it will be a major PITA to mask and paint.  The graphic on the back and front will be the same so I wanted to do the back before I did the one that will show in every campground we park in.  Getting rid of that stupid “Freedom” across the forehead was just an added bonus from doing this whole project. 

There’s also a bit of stainless above the bumper that has been painted red.  The red looks good there but doesn’t stick very well because it gets shot blasted with road gravel.  My solution to that is some spray-on rocker guard with red over top of it but that will take some time.  I have been deliberately ignoring the front until everything else is done but I think I can get that panel off so that I can work on it on the flat.  Then I’ll have a couple of days of putting everything back together and I’ll likely have some lights that don’t work when I get all done.  The nice thing about a bus (or a boat) is that you are never short of something to do.  Sort of like owning cattle in that respect but without the shit to spread.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Too important not to share

I’m a fairly regular visitor to Kate McMillan’s Small Dead Animals.  Today when I checked in I saw the following table. 


Equalization payment total


$ / person













New Brunswick




Nova Scotia








A couple of things leap out at me:

  • Quebec is the biggest recipient of Canadian largesse.  Make that WESTERN Canadian largesse.  No surprises there.
  • Look how far the mighty have fallen – Ontario is on the list, albeit at the lowest per capita level.
  • Our last western bastion of leftwardness – Manitoba – is the only province west of Thunder Bay on the list.
  • And finally if those lazy, layabout, lunatic protesters in Quebec ever figure out that PEI gets 2-1/2 times the per capita payment that they do god help us all.

Someday when I have nothing better to do I should correlate this chart over the years to the 5 preceding years of provincial government.  Anybody care to guess what that would show?

Slow day in Buchanan today.  This morning I threw some more paint at the frenchy-bus despite the howling gale that is blowing outside.  If you’re going to work outdoors in Saskatchewan then you’re going to work in wind.  That’s a fact.  At least is (sort of) keeps the bugs away.  Yesterday I had to make a run to Saskatoon to pick up some more red paint.  It is taking a lot more than I expected – like maybe 4X as much as I thought it would.  I hope that doesn’t follow through to the silver and gray.  I don’t think it will and I haven’t bought as much extra in those colours as I have in the red although I have bought some more of them as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Several years of separation

We’re supposed to only be separated from anyone else on the planet by 5 or 6 connections.  The theory is that everyone knows someone who connects them to their connections and if you follow the web you can go around the world in 5 or 6 hops.  Families on the other hand get increasingly separated by time.  You may know your cousins but how many of you know your second or third cousins? 

A little digression is in order because many people think that anyone they are vaguely related to must be a cousin and the less they know that “cousin” the more likely he/she is a 2nd, 3rd or higher order cousin.  It doesn’t work that way.  Quite simply 1st cousins have parents who are siblings.  2nd cousins have grandparents who are siblings.  It gets more complicated when you introduce degrees of removal.  As you count ancestors to the common siblings if each leg of the family tree is of the same length then you just have plain old 1st, 2nd, 3rd or whatever cousins.  On the other hand if you count up one leg to a common ancestor in 2 generations and the other leg only has one generation to a common ancestor then you are dealing with 1st cousins once removed.  Q.E.D.

OK – back to the story.  It’s a natural progression that we move apart from our formerly close relatives.  No matter how well you know your first cousins chances are you can’t even name your 3rd cousins let alone pick them out of a lineup.  So last night it was fun to put some names to faces that I haven’t seen for a long time and even learn a few names of the kids that those long lost cousins have generated.  Those would be 1st cousins twice removed if anybody really cares.

Don and Alice wedding

Yesterday afternoon we drove south to Kennedy which is about the same size as Buchanan.  The occasion was (1st cousin) Donald and Alice’s 50th wedding anniversary.  They were pretty young when they got married which is why I sort of think of Donald as a contemporary.  There was a large family supper in the local hall last night and then a come and go tea this afternoon in the local park. 

Eventually we all will look around the family gatherings and realize that we are the old ones in the room but I was relieved last night to see that we’re not there yet.  We are however closer than I’d like to be to that point.  We’re definitely going to have some much less joyous family gatherings to attend over the next 10 years and after those are behind us we will be the oldsters in the room.

We also used the trip to get reacquainted with Dave and Elaine who we met years ago at Kino Beach on the north end of the Gulf of California.  They live at Kenosee Lake and spend their winters in Lake Havasu so we generally see them at one or the other of their residences at least annually but it had been a few years so we had some catching up to do.  It was good to see that Kenosee Lake is starting to fill up again.  Its been steadily dropping for the last 30 years but the past few wet years have finally reversed that dismal trend.  We didn’t bother taking the Malibu this time but another time it might be worthwhile because there’s almost enough lake there to ski on again.

Tomorrow – painting begins.