Monday, August 4, 2014

Little house on the prairie

We finally got home just about dark Friday night.  Mind you “just about dark” is a lot earlier now than it was even a month ago.  It felt good to get home so I guess it was time.  No more Ford incidents – so far.  That little 6.0 litre diesel may be a rolling grenade but ---- dayum is it ever fun to pull with.  So far I can’t see much difference in fuel economy pulling or empty.  That translates into relatively shitty mileage empty and really good mileage under load.  We regularly get 18-20 MPG (real, genuine Imperial gallons), towing or empty.  My old 7.3s used to get as high as 25 MPG empty but our last rig – the 2001 7.3 pulling our 30 foot Savanna used to average 11 MPG on our Mexican winter trips.  That combo was a little heavier and had more frontal area than this one but still – 7 to 9 MPG is a big difference.

No Ford incidents but the Case garden tractor is another matter.  When I bought them I intended that they would be projects – I’d spend some time tearing them apart, cleaning them up, fixing whatever problems I identified.  Yeah right.  My big mistake was getting one of them running.  Then I naturally thought I could use it.  But it really needs some serious TLC.  Putting it to work mowing the yard at the little house is not what it needs.  I think the real danger is that I will wear it out driving it back and forth to the other place.  Generally I drive it over there, something goes sideways, so I drive it back here and fix for a while and then I do it all over again.

They have a really stupid arrangement for the mower drive and of course this one is pretty well worn out.  I’ve cobbled it together a couple of times now and it sort of works but the first time I got it working, after about 30 minutes the transmission oil up and expanded.  Evidently I overfilled the transmission reservoir because it was burbling out the top, blowing back on the engine and smoking like a slow moving forest fire. 

That time I finally had to quit because a lot of the oil ran down on the mower deck and when the belt on the deck got slobbery enough it jumped off the pulleys.  I figured out what had happened when I noticed that I was only mowing about a 16 inch swath with my 42 inch deck.  It was smoking so badly that I was embarrassed to drive it home so I walked home while it cooled down.  After supper it had cooled down enough that it didn’t lay a smoke screen on the trip home.  However, on those brief occasions when it is mowing, it does a very good job of mowing. 

After I got the oil that was slobbering out of the hy-drive reservoir under control I discovered that it was also puking a bit of oil out of the crankcase.  There can’t be whole lot coming out of there because it’s not using a bunch of oil.  However, judging from the smoke screen it lays down, its puking enough crankcase oil as well.  There’s also a lot of blowby which is bad.  It means that the rings are worn out and letting too much compression into the crankcase from whence it escapes by pushing oil out every possible gap. At one point it built up enough pressure to blow the dip stick tube clean out of the block.  That gave my right foot a hot oil bath – not good considering that I was wearing sandals at the time.


Sorry about the blurry shot - its pissing rain & I don’t want to get wet so I shot this through the screen.  It should be really clean because every time it takes an oil bath I pressure wash it and now its getting rinsed with rain water.

On another front, for some unknown reason, we seem to be attracting wasps.  Before we left 3 weeks ago I zapped a nest directly over the door on the little house.  For that one I used Brake Cleaner with the extension nozzle – it shoots a long way and evidently it was volatile enough to euthanize the wasps immediately.  There wasn’t a single one came out the hole after I blasted that nest. 

Saturday morning Marilyn spotted a wasp nest under the eaves on the east side of the new house and then almost immediately I spotted another one in the elm tree at the back porch door.  That one could have been really bad.  We’d both been working around it and the residents there were big black hornets.  They’d have really hurt.  I filled it with some kind of spraycan weasel piss that was close to hand and then lit it with the propane torch.  Then we had about an hour of mopping up with Raid and they were tough devils.  You pretty well had to score a direct hit from no more than 10 inches away in order to kill them with Raid.  That night I used the garden hose to flush the yellow jacket nest off the eaves.  They were pretty pissed but I also soaked the patch where their nest was attached with silicone spray.  That took away their enthusiasm for the eaves but they simply relocated to the remains of their abode which were lying on the ground under the eaves. 

Marilyn initially voted for lighting the nest under the eaves on fire and that’s absolutely the best way to deal with a wasp nest.  If you hold a torch under the hole at night then when they try to fly out their wings burn off and its all over really quick.  You want to do it at night and ideally while its raining because that will guarantee that everyone is home.  In this case it seemed to me that there was too much risk using a torch under the eaves so I vetoed that idea. 

Its a lot of work having a house – we had kind of forgotten how much and now we’ve jumped back in with two houses.  Between my smoke screen adventures and Marilyn’s efforts with the weed whacker we’ve kind of got both places looking presentable.  Our goal is to not look noticeably worse than the neighbours but some neighbours are harder to exceed than others.  We’ve got some pretty fastidious neighbours at both locations. 

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