Sunday, December 13, 2015

Moving on down the internet highway

OK - so I wrote up a short little rant yesterday morning which I am reproducing here for your reading pleasure (or annoyance, depending on your socialist persuasion).  But this will be the last post on this location.  I have put up with a lot of irritation from this weblog service (Blogspot/Blogger) and I no longer am interested in enduring the irritation.

That doesn't mean that blogging by Bob will cease but the location will change.  More on that later - first the rant which I titled "GREEN SPEAK"  ............

In the category of “No sacrifice is too great for my readers” I provide you with the following simple chart which will enable you to speak with authority to the greenest of listeners.  As the techno-guff emerges from the so-called Climate Summit in Paris this weekend you will need to be prepared to discuss it intelligently with any socialist friends you encounter.  I’m sure you will find this tool sufficient to create enlightening conversations with even the most dedicated green loon. (you'll have to click on the graphic to get it big enough to read unless your eyes are a hell of a lot better than mine.)


Simply select an adjective phrase from the first column, a target noun from the second column and a mandatory action from the third column.  Feel free to use big words like “and” or “however” to create run on sentences because lefties believe that the longer and more convoluted the sentence the more likely it is in fact accurate.

Future posts will occur here:

Take note that is a "DOT CA" address.  Trying to get to us using dot com simply won't work.  If you typically access this bit of nonsense via Facebook or Twitter then nothing will change for you.  If you have a browser bookmark that you use then you may want to update that bookmark to reflect the new location.  Sorry for that inconvenience but its a lot better option for me and I think you will see that it offers a lot more functionality - ie more pictures - for you.

See you at

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It looks like shit but it works

When I wrote last about how simple it is to change hubs on a Superduty Ford that was the voice of inexperience speaking.  In theory its simple.  In practice there was a gotcha.  That gotcha is a serious snap ring, or more properly a circlip.

IMG_9283 That’s the famous circlip to the left of the two pairs of snap ring pliers.  Or maybe “one pair of snap ring pliers and a homemade abomination”.  That is a very solid snap ring.  Its size belies how difficult it was to remove.  It doesn’t help that its buried deep in the hub.  I raised a couple of blood blisters on my palms trying to get it with my 7” pliers.  There was no hope for 2 screwdrivers.  Monte’s pliers were no better than mine, although in fairness to Monte he couldn’t find his big set.  I finally ordered a 14” set of pliers from Princess Auto online but then I couldn’t sit still so I built Version 1 of my pliers.  They were so fugly they made the truck cap look attractive.  And they didn’t even come close to working.  But I learned enough from building them to try again. 

I built Version 2 last night and actually they didn’t work either.  This morning I went to work on Version 2 with the angle grinder and after I got them trimmed down I finally got the passenger side circlip free.  You can see in the photo how long the nose on the “pliers” needs to be to reach in to the recess where the circlip sits.  The problem is that there isn’t much room to expand it – initially the prongs on my pliers were fat enough to prevent them from spreading wide enough.  The challenge was to grind off enough metal to let the pliers work without grinding off so much that they would just bend under the strain.  By some freak I got it right and, once the first circlip was free, I knew it was only a matter of time until the second one had to admit defeat as well. 

I was by no means certain that I could put the new ones back on but I had my Princess Auto set (which still haven’t arrived) as a backup plan.  As it turned out getting them back on was much easier than getting them off.  Late this afternoon I got the wheels torqued up and took the truck for a spin around town.  I was pretty sure the 4WD was locking up when I left the alley – I thought I could feel it fighting the steering but just to be sure I went over to the little house and deliberately got stuck in 2WD.  Sure enough the auto hubs locked as soon as I turned the little button in the cab and I walked right out again.  That auto lockup hasn’t worked for at least a year now.  I’ve been running with them manually locked whenever I thought I needed 4WD so my repairs have been a success. 

Fixing the 4WD evidently isn’t the end for the Ford repairs.  On my way to the little house I noticed that the battery icon on the dash was lit up.  When I got back to the shop I confirmed that the genuine piece of shit NAPA rebuilt alternator that I put on 2 summers ago in Shaunavon has quit.  Bastards.  The NAPA rebuilders were so ashamed of their work that they didn’t bother to put any identifying marks on the alternator. None. Nothing. Nada. Zip.  I took it off  before I phoned my terrorist friends at Karam Automotive thinking that I could give them a part number but there are no identifying marks of any kind on the alternator I bought from NAPA in Swift Current.  Not even a casting number.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, SWMBO has been busy.  Last week she was particularly busy as her art group got ready for their show and sale last weekend.  In between baking things that I wouldn’t get to eat and setting up art that I had never seen she got the tile finished up in the bathroom and started work on the counter by the freezer.

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Marilyn bought that little tile saw at the Re-Store in Regina while she was doing the tile in the bus.  She bought a new blade for it this week because its got a lot of tile cutting ahead of it.  This little project on the bathroom and hallway is just a prelude to a much bigger flooring project next fall.  She intends to lay ceramic tile in the kitchen, part of the dining room and in the bathroom.  The rest of the upstairs will get redone with laminate flooring.  Getting rid of the disgusting carpets can’t happen soon enough as far as we are concerned but we need to work from the ceiling down to the floor.

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IMG_9281 I haven’t posted any pictures of the outside of the shop for a while.  I got it wrapped with building paper before it got really cold outside.  I never had any intention of getting the tin on the walls this fall – I need to finish up the electrical before I do that.  I’m still not 100% sure but I think I will tin the outside and inside next fall.  The advantage of tin on the inside is that it is finished but its not cheap.


That’s what $2200 worth of Ford front end parts looks like – not much to look at is it?  2 hubs and 2 lockers.  I kept them all but – unlike my dear buddy George – I did not repack them in the new boxes and seal them up so that from the outside they look like new parts.  I still occasionally get fooled on the boat by some derelict part that he carefully boxed up in the box that the new part arrived in.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Kids and trucks

So our most exciting news from yesterday is that Marlan and Jenna got engaged.  In other words, there’s hope for grandkids on the horizon.  Last spring when the kids were all here to pick up the Malibu Jenna made it clear – no rock – no kids.  Meanwhile Marlan’s twin brother says he won a bet with RJ regarding the timing of the announcement so maybe that twin link isn’t a myth.


I got my not too ugly truck cap out of the shop yesterday morning but I’m sad to say it turned out pretty fugly. It may only ever get used for this one trip so I’m not really concerned.  On the other hand, if it appears that we might use it more than once, I can always sand it down and shoot some more paint on it.  Painting is all about the prep and I simply didn’t do anywhere near enough prep.  My main focus was hitting the weather window for painting and – let’s face it – I’m not the most patient guy so getting it done trumped prep.  It needs a good sanding followed by a couple of coats of high build primer with heavy sanding in between each coat.  Then it might be ready for a repaint.  As it is it will look OK from 100 yards and vehicles approaching from behind likely won’t really notice how ugly it is until they pull out to pass.  By then it won’t matter and we’ll probably never see them again anyway.  There’s also an element of security in having the ugliest truck in the parking lot.  That approach has served us well with our dinghy – having the crappiest dinghy at the dinghy dock eliminates the need for elaborate dinghy security arrangements.  So perhaps having the fugliest truck in the parking lot will offer some security to whatever is covered by the cap.


From this distance and with this lighting the fugly truck cap looks passable but trust me – up close it looks like shit.

With the truck cap out of the way and sitting on the truck I was able to finish up the wiring on the trailer and get it moved to the little house for winter storage.  Then I put the truck on the hoist to get some winter oil in it and that’s when I discovered a disaster waiting to happen.  My front hubs were likely original which means they have roughly 340,000 km on them and they were showing their age.  The seal that initially caught my attention turns out to be a notorious Ford POS that fails within a few thousand miles of installation and really doesn’t matter because its just a dust seal.  But it got me poking around the 4WD stubs and it quickly became obvious that the driver side bearings were really bad and the passenger side wasn’t far behind. 


Somewhere I’ve got a set of straight snap ring pliers but the key word is “somewhere” so I wasn’t able to finish pulling the hub.  The pliers I can find have a bent nose so they won’t reach deep into that hub to remove the circlip which is all that is holding the hub on now.  I went through this with my 2001 Superduty but I didn’t do the work myself that time.  Ford front bearings are not replaceable on these trucks – you have to buy the complete hub.  That increases the cost but it makes the bearing swap pretty simple – you pull out the old hub, slide in the new one, tighten four bolts and replace the circlip.  No bearing pre-load to set – Q.E.D. as father liked to say.  I’m going to replace the locking hubs at the same time because the old ones are pretty tired.  That will make the project a fairly expensive one because I am using genuine Motorcraft parts but I shudder to think what it would have cost if one of the hubs had failed on Roger’s Pass or worse on Vancouver Island.  When I went through this on my 2001 I first noticed the bearing failure going through Claresholm on the way to Calgary.  As I recall that was roughly a $3,000 bill by the time I got the truck back from Marlborough Ford and we didn’t replace the lockers that time.  That was over 10 years ago so its not likely that the cost has decreased in the interim.

SWMBO has been in a baking frenzy for the last few days.  Mind you, the baking frenzy will in no way benefit the residents of this house – her art group is holding an art and bake sale as a fundraiser.  So I get to smell the baking but if I want to eat any of it I’ll have to buy it back this afternoon.  In between episodes of baking she got the ceramic tile mostly finished up in the bathroom and it looks really good.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Truck caps that don’t look too ugly

I wrote here that I might have to build a truck cap out of 1/2” plywood in order for us to have a cap in time to take it back to the boat.  Then almost immediately I found a very old fibreglass cap about an hour away from here.  So last Sunday I drove to Churchbridge to pick it up, brought it home and promptly cut into it with my Sawzall. 

IMG_9225 IMG_9226 IMG_9228 I was too busy sawing and gluing to be buggering around taking pictures but you can pretty easily see what I did from these early stage pictures.  The cap is roughly the right width at the back but was about 3 inches too narrow at the front.  Which worked but it looked REALLY goofy.  I may have succeeded in trading “goofy” for “ugly” but its too soon to tell.

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The little 2x4 bumps on top are the mounting points where I will attach a set of cross bars that we originally bought to put on the Exploder.  They didn’t fit and we never ended up using them but they’ll work just fine for this purpose.  When we come back we want to bring the two Hobie kayaks with us.  They’ll ride on top of the cap on the roof racks. 

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Right now it looks pretty ugly (and it may very well end up looking ugly when we finally use it) but a coat of paint hides a host of sins.  I’ve got some gray metallic paint left over from the bus painting project and the weather forecast is unseasonably warm for tomorrow.  So my plan is to sand the hell out of it in the morning and blow some gray paint in its general direction tomorrow afternoon.  Followed by some clearcoat.  It will be whatever it will be but I think it may end up not looking too fugly and being really useful.

IMG_9249I finally got around to mounting the pushbutton switch for the lift and hooking up the safety switch.


You can’t actually see the safety switch in this picture – its on the back of the column and is activated by the horizontal bar that is visible under the top frame member.  That octagon box gave me a dose of peril when I was mounting it.  Not too much peril mind you but a bit of peril nonetheless.  My shop floor is smooth trowelled – the contractor and I had a big discussion when we were pouring the floor and he warned me that it would be slippery in the winter.  I wanted it shiny because they’re easier to keep clean but when I stood my extension ladder against the lift upright I didn’t consider the implications of an aluminum ladder on a slippery shop floor.  A few minutes later when I was dangling by one arm from the top cross member looking down at my runaway ladder I was acutely aware of how bad a combination that really was but it all worked out OK.  And the bruising is already mostly going away.

Monday, November 30, 2015

This is awkward

As we were bombarded all day with climate crap from the so-called “summit” in Paris I had this strange feeling like I’ve heard all this before somewhere.  Sure enough, a little searching turned up this gem:

“….then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. ………….”

Does anyone recognize that little bit of hyperbole?  Think back 7 years.  If you puked your way through the big zero’s acceptance speech when he won the Democratic nomination then you may recognize that clip from the closing paragraph. 

So to summarize what the chosen one announced today in Paris “my climate policy has been an abject failure for the past 7 years but its all good from now on”.  Mind you, he said it a little different – it was all about how the oceans are relentlessly rising and small countries are submerging on a daily basis but it seems to me that either we turned the tide in 2008 or we didn’t.  And according to the Pres today, we didn’t.  

He’s in great company mind you – our nitwit PM, dizzy May, BanKee whatever from the UN – they’re all a bunch of Polly Annas.  Anyone who believes that any of the hot air generated in Paris over the next 10 days will result in actual productive effort is every bit as much a nitwit as the leaders themselves. 

If there was a serious commitment to reducing the use of fossil fuels they’d be talking about nuclear power.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for that conversation to start.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Close quarters


That’s my trailer mover.  It started out life as a quick attach plate on a pallet along with another one like it at a Ritchie Brothers sale.  It was cheaper to buy the pair of plates than it would have been to buy a single pre-built trailer mover.  A few bits from Princess Auto and an hour or so of welding resulted in a perfectly functional trailer mover.

The trailer mover was pretty well essential because my gooseneck trailer is a tight fit.  I think I have close to an inch to spare.  There’s not a chance I could have manoeuvred the trailer accurately enough with the truck.  I might have got it in the door but getting it in the right spot so that I could close the door would have been out of the question.



The trailer won’t quite fit between the uprights on my lift.  Its close – so close that I thought it might squeeze between them - but there’s enough brackets and hinges protruding at the back end to just barely prevent it from passing between the uprights. 


I’ve been having intermittent electrical gremlins on the trailer so I want to figure out what is causing them before I put it away for the winter.   Then I’ve got some service to do on the hoe and I think I’m going to have to build a cap for the truck.  We’ve got a lot of stuff to bring home with us in the spring and we want to bring the kayaks back too.  That pretty well means we need a cap for the truck and I just haven’t had any luck finding a used one that will fit.  A couple sheets of plywood, some screws and some white paint should yield something ugly but utilitarian.

Peak disruption

You’ve likely heard of peak oil.  In the fertilizer industry there is talk of peak phosphate.  Two days ago I think we reached peak disruption in our home renovations.  We may approach the level of disturbance we experienced this week when we get to the flooring but its hard to believe we could be any worse than we were this week. 

I like to ease into my day with a couple of hours of news and coffee every morning but that was flat out of the question for the last two mornings.  Just navigating around the displaced furniture and boxes was a challenge – the living room was completely out of control and the TV was in the laundry.  Last night we beat the living room back into submission and cleared a path through the rubble that occupied the balance of the house. 


That’s a little better shot of the marbled ceiling effect we have been achieving as well as one of the light fixtures that have caused us serious counting challenges.

I’ve always been reasonably good at math but clearly my counting skills are impaired.  I was unaware of that impairment until this week but I can see no other explanation. 

Our reno plan has been to start at the top and work down.  The whole house needs a refresh from the dated paint to the disastrous flooring so our plan is to start by painting the ceilings, move to painting the walls and finish by replacing all the flooring.  That way the paint that drips from the ceiling to the walls and eventually to the carpet is not an issue.  Marilyn has spent the last year getting the surfaces prepped – filling a multitude of holes and patching drywall disasters.  We were finally ready to start spreading paint about a week ago and the entire main floor ceiling is now painted with our marble effect.  Yesterday we started painting top coat on the living room and hallway walls.  Once the ceiling was painted we replaced all the light fixtures with matching low profile fixtures – like the one in the image above.  And that’s where the counting issue surfaced.

First we counted all the existing fixtures and came up with 5.  Then we decided that we would use matching fixtures for 4 of them and use a fluorescent fixture in the hallway.  So we came home from Saskatoon last weekend with 4 matching fixtures from Rona plus a fluorescent.  But when I started putting the fixtures up we discovered that we needed not 4 but 6.  That was disconcerting – that our count could be out by 150% seemed impossible but it was what it was and I was going to Agribition this week anyway.  So while I was in Regina I braved another trip to Rona – I detest that store in general and the Regina store is their second worst store in Canada.  The one in Duncan was worse but it has now closed so I suppose technically the Regina store is now their worst store in Canada.  But I digress.

I braved the mental midgets in the Regina store and actually talked with the idiots long enough to purchase an additional three fixtures.  I had checked their online inventory ahead of time and knew they were supposed to have 21 of our style but of course they had them well hidden once I got to the store from hell.  We only needed two fixtures but we thought with 6 matching units we should have one for a spare and they were only $23 per each so it seemed prudent to get an three rather than the two we actually needed.  As it turned out it was more prescient than prudent because, once again, when I started putting up the new fixtures we discovered that we had again miscounted.  Its hard to explain how we could have initially counted 7 fixtures and arrived at a total of 4.  Too much paint fumes I guess.


The previous owners had a complete disaster in this area.  SWMBO says she may have pictures but I don’t.  The “cabinets” that used to live here survived about a week after we moved in and we purchased these replacements shortly after but they have remained unassembled until this week.  The master plan calls for a deeper counter top over the lower cabinets with mosaic tiles laid on the counter and a broom closet to the left of the cabinets.


SWMBO came up with a few before pictures.  Ignore the goof who is tearing the old crap out.

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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.