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.

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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.