Bob and Marilyn's Weblog
August 2016
Herding cats
August 30
Mara Lake redux
I loved that clip when it first came out. And I couldn't help thinking about it the last couple of weeks.  Over a year ago now Marilyn booked a condo in Sicamous and we invited the boys to come spend the September long weekend with us.  We made it clear that we would be there and that they were welcome to join us (or not) but obviously we hoped they would come.  As it turns out at least 2/3 of them are planning to come and in fairness one of the three was pretty clear from the beginning that he would be there.  The other two - - - not so much.  Hence the cat herding reference.  

More to follow after the weekend but as we get ready for the weekend, here's a trip down Mara Lake memory lane.
The evening tractor ride at Whispering Pines never seemed to grow old.  There's some pretty big "kids" on that wagon and you don't even have to look close to see them.
They were so cute ........  when they weren't fighting.
That's a pretty fat stick I'm riding.  I was never as good as I thought I was but I had a lot of fun. The real question for this picture is "WTH was I doing skiing off the tower?"  That's just dumb.
We were pretty cute too.  Some may recognize this from a Christmas letter.  Many years ago.
Pretty boat.  Beautiful location.

Kids + boat + water.  You can never go wrong with that combo.

Stupid - Stupid - Stupid
August 20
When I built the addition on the garage my intent was to have a 13 x 16 foot overhead door on the east end.  And I do because I bought a 13 x 16 foot overhead door.  Unfortunately when Mike and I put that wall up we only left a 13 x 14 foot hole in it.  Stupd, stupid, stupid.  

It was a huge decision point when I started installing the door - take it back - fix the hole before doing the installation - live with it.  I opted to install the door and I don't think anyone but me ever noticed that on the one side the door extended 2 feet past the hole.  But it was wrong, it bugged me every time I looked at it and it was 2 feet less opening than I wanted and paid for.  The only time it was even remotely relevant was when I put the fifth wheel in the shop which doesn't happen very often but Friday afternoon I launched into fixing my f***up anyway.
Lots of Things to Fix
It looked really stupid with the door being bigger than the opening but only when you looked at it from the inside.  And its all good again now.
It wasn't really that big a deal to fix - just time and a bit of lumber.  The gable wall is actually a truss rafter anyway so there's no weight carried on the beam over the door.  Once I figured that out I decided I could get away with splicing an extension onto the existing beam.  Fortunately the way I installed the door allowed me to extend the beam and widen the door opening without disturbing any of the door mounting hardware.  I'd like to think I planned it that way but I honestly can't remember and it seems more likely that I just got really lucky.  

I've also started phoning metal suppliers in preparation for ordering the metal sheeting.  MelView, which is where I bought the roof sheets, said to send a drawing "and they would get back right away".  So I did and they didn't.  When I was in Canora picking up a long 2 x 10 to extend the door header I asked the owner of the lumberyard about siding and he assured me that he could beat anyone's price by a lot.  But it was apparently a big secret as to exactly what "a lot" was because he also said he couldn't give me a price "for a week or so".  I'm learning as I go though so it wasn't a wasted conversation.  I came home and figured out exactly how many square feet of metal I need.  I should have figured that out earlier because I know that the way to reduce the price of everything is to reduce it to a commodity and what better way to do that than by talking per square foot pricing.  
Have I mentioned how much I hate gas engines?
For a while there it appeared that I might get through a whole post without the need to rant about gas engines.  

My Genie lift has been running remarkably well since it sat for two weeks with injector cleaner in the carb.  I was using it to rebuild the beam over the door and it was running flawlessly - revving up like it should, starting easily and idling immediately after starting.  There must have been a spec of something in a jet somewhere that finally got dissolved by the injector cleaner because before we left the last time it never made quite as much power as it should have.  It was usable but the engine would always labour under load and it wouldn't rev out properly under a heavy load.  I should have known it was too good to last.  Out of the blue it started randomly dying.  Of course my immediate suspicion was a return of my earlier fuel related problems.  But it seemed that the carb was OK - at the very least there was still fuel in the float chamber.  And the way it just cut out without any hesitation suggested the problem was electrical rather than fuel related.  

I kept using it and it kept starting eventually but finally it let me down completely.  Fortunately it was in a relatively convenient location.  I had a few instances where it quit while I had it parked so close to a wall that I couldn't get the access panels fully open.  The final time though it stalled immediately outside my newly renovated door and I really didn't want to leave it sit there while I diagnosed it.  If for no other reason it would have attracted the attention of the lookie lous who regularly travel through the back alley to see what I am doing.

I immediately suspected the coil and thought that maybe sitting overnight would, at least temporarily, cure the problem but no such luck.  First try in the morning got a couple of fires but still no start.  The coil on my little Kohler in the 444 garden tractor looked similar enough to try and sure enough, when I swapped it in, the Kubota fired right up so for sure there's a replacement coil in my future.  Along the way I had to learn about externally regulated coils which evidently are just a hangover from 6 volt ignition days.  Apparently an externally regulated coil is in fact just a 6 volt coil with an ohm and a half external regulator.  I also learned that some early 12 volt ignition systems bypassed the external resistor as a way of heating up the spark for more reliable starting with a weak battery.  Leaving the externally regulated coil in a system without the external regulator wouldn't be a good idea because the current draw with half the ohms will be double what it should be which in turn will lead to problems with burnt points.  But it did get my lift moved indoors so that's a good thing.  And it forced me to learn a bunch more about GGEs (goddam gas engines) so that's something too I guess.
Here's the coil in its original home mounted on the little 444 Case.  I took several pictures of it because I have learned that - no matter how obvious it looks to me at the time - I will invariably forget where everything goes by the time I get around to putting things back together.  The camera phone solves all that.
This is not a sport - I don't care what CBC says
Evidently Canada lost a medal in "Race Walking".  Memo to the doofus who lost the medal: RACE WALKING IS NOT, NEVER HAS BEEN AND NEVER WILL BE A SPORT. He should watch an episode of Monty Python's ministry of silly walks.  Maybe he could start a movement to get underwater basket weaving included in the Olympics.  This guy should regard the medal loss as a blessing.  Nobody in their right mind wants to be known as the guy who won the medal for stupid walking.  As a country we should all be ashamed that we sent someone who is obviously a lunatic to compete in Brazil.  The poor SOB clearly should be institutionalized - in short we should feel sorry for him BUT NOT BECAUSE HE HAD HIS STUPID MEDAL TAKEN AWAY.

And how about that American dude Lochte who trashed the washroom, pissed on the petunias and then claimed he had been mugged?  All because he was afraid to admit to his coach that he got stinking drunk all night and made an ass of himself.  Then to cap it off the scummer skipped town and left his buds to face the Brazilian music.  Or how about the Irish dude who got dragged out of his luxury suite in his bathrobe at 4 in the morning?  I hope he took his toothbrush and some lube because his next night was with a room mate named Juan and he sure as hell didn't get room service that morning.  

The best thing about  Rio is that it has exposed the Olympics for the massive fraud it really is.  The only dopes in the Oympics this year are the dupes that watch (and pay for) this humongous scam.  The sooner the whole mess is consigned to the dustbin of history the better off we'll all be.
On the road again
August 13
We're well into our annual Saskatchewan road trip, coming to you from scenic Cabri regional park today.  And it really is a scenic spot albeit a little difficult to get to located as it is at the end of 20 miles of gravel road which terminates in about a mile of particularly undergraveled trail into the actual park.  Don't come here when its wet.

R2D2 is hard at work pulling in news and the occasional movie.  Internet access is a whole other story.  Unlike the days when we carried a Hughes dish for internet we now depend on cellular connections for our internet.  Despite the fact that we could see the cell tower maybe 5 miles south of us as we entered the park our connection is tenuous at best and usually non-existent.  The booster we have in the trailer helps but even with the booster a lot of the time we don't have any internet connection.
This and That
Southwest SK is poised for the harvest.  There's a few combines going on peas but most guys haven't started yet.  We came by a yard yesterday with 9 new bright red IH combines lined up waiting to go.  In that circumstance I happen to know that we were only looking at a portion of the equipment fleet and more importantly that if anything was ready those machines would have been at work.  Its been fun to watch some of the young farmers who have made big moves in the last 10 years.  The Bible story says 7 fat years followed by 7 lean years.  If that's true we must be set for at least 10 lean years because the last 10 have been really good to the average grain farmer.  When the average guy does well the really good guys do extremely well.  I've been fortunate to be able to meet some of those guys in various parts of the province.  It doesn't matter where they are - Cadillac to Carrot River - the one common denominator is that the really good guys grow really good crops.  Bushels matter and getting the job done right is key.  Some of them get the job done right on a really big scale.
Dumb and dumber
I bought us another Towncar Saturday afternoon.  I've been looking for one for a couple of years now but contrary to what you might expect, I was shopping for an older model year than the one we've got now.  4 years older to be exact.  My first Towncar was a '79 and I loved it.  That was the last year of a body style that started sometime in the late 60's but in those days sheet metal changes happened pretty regularly with body on frame construction.  I traded that '79 on an '85 model and by that time Ford was into standardized platforms that carried through several model years.  There were modest sheet metal changes each year but that basic body style carried through from 1980 to 1989.  The next Towncar body ran with virtually no sheet metal changes from 1990 to 1997 and it was the last dedicated Lincoln platform.  Starting in 1998 the Towncars were built on Ford's Panther platform which was an incredibly successful platform also used for the Crown Vics and Mercury Grand Marquis.  In 2011 Ford dropped the Panther platform completely - a huge loss to anyone who wants a large rear wheel drive chassis.  

Our 2001 Towncar is a wonderful car.  The Panther Lincolns got subtle improvements over the years but nothing substantive and some say that 2007 was actually the best year because Ford started to dumb them down after that time.  So on the surface there's no good reason to get rid of the car we have, maybe a reason to move up 4 or 5 years but certainly no reason to go back 4 model years.  On the other hand, I've never owned a Lincoln of the 90-97 body style and they're dirt cheap because most people see them and think "big car bad mileage big expense".  In fact nothing could be farther from the truth. 

The car we just bought has 140,000 km on it so that's roughly 100,000 less than the one we're driving now.  In limo or taxi service those cars routinely go 500,000 km so we're nowhere near its life expectancy, probably not even halfway there.  The last two years of the 1990-97 body style got 4.6 Modular engines which was a phenomenal engine for Ford.  There's some known issues with them but there were so many built that parts are easily available and all the problems have been well known for years with internet support to cure them.  That's why it was imperative that I find a 1996 or 1997 model because the earlier ones had the old 302 engine.  That would have been a serious step backwards.  

Now ... if someone out there is looking for a creampuff 2001 Towncar just give me a call.  I'll be the guy driving the Panther Towncar with the big "For Sale" sign in the window the next couple of months. For the time being our "new" Towncar is in Surry, BC - we'll probably get out there to bring it home in early September.

R2D2 was on duty in front of us at 16 West, north of the Saskatoon airport
At Lucky Lake the little guy was hiding out behind the tree row.  I should have a longer length of coax and a power cord extension because it just barely worked on this one.
And if you look really close at the back of the trailer up on the roof the little guy is on duty again at Cabri Regional Park.  Its so sheltered here we thought we could probably get away with leaving the awning out.  Prairie winds and awnings don't go well together.
I visited a client down by Mankota who was putting up silage. That is one big ass pile of silage.  Those tractors up on the pile are way big, no matter how tiny they look in the background.
The blade on that John Deere is huge.  That's a monster tractor to begin with and that is easily the biggest blade I've ever seen on any farm tractor.  It wouldn't look out of place on a D8 cat.  That's a huge blade on the Case in the background but its just a toy compared to the one on the John Deere.
The joys of property ownership
August 3
The nicest part of living full time on the road was not having property to look after.  The downside of course was not having a shop or any place to call "home" but there's no denying that NOT having to look after property was a serious plus.  Whatever RV park or campground we were temporarily staying in had to worry about mowing the grass and keeping the water flowing - not our problem.  But not anymore.  Whenever we go away now the grass keeps growing.  

My little Case tractors are wonderful machines but they are all over 30 years old - some of them well over 30 years old.  Before we left for Nipawin I blew up my prime mover.  I pushed it too hard into some bush and broke a shaft in the main pump - the only pump for that matter.  

Property Ownership
When we got back home I had to wait until Tuesday to see if my replacement pump was in the mail but sure enough it was.  So I spent all day yesterday replacing the pump.  Its in a really ignorant spot and the ignorance of the spot was compounded by the fact that the replacement wasn't identical to the original.  The location is so tight that the arrangement of intake and outlet connections had to be identical and the new pump's intake was slightly different.  Only slightly different but enough different to require a run to Canora to acquire a colletion of fittings that allowed me to use the new pump.  

After I got home from Canora it occurred to me that I had dealt with two local businesses each operated by a sole proprietor who was well past his 80th birthday.  M.A.Bill Equipment in Canora is a former tractor dealership where the owner still religiously uses an index card file to keep track of his parts inventory.  The proprietor moves painfully slowly but he almost always has what I'm looking for.  Prior to going to Canora I stopped at the only remaining garage in Buchanan where Florian sold me 4 valve stems.  He figured they were worth a buck but I gave him $5.  I don't know how those of us who repair old equipment will survive once the last of these little stores built on service finally disappear.

I love my lift.  Did I mention that yet?  I serously love my car lift.  A few minutes before I snapped this picture I had the mower deck hanging at eye level while I changed the blades on it.  

Putting the mower on the little tractors is a major PITA.  In theory its straightforward and the mounting bracket is pretty good but first you have to get a relatively heavy mower underneath a very heavy tractor.  Sliding it in with the tractor on the ground is an ordeal because the deck barely clears the tires and tractor frame.  In the past I've left the mower on the tractor when it wasn't really convenient just so I could avoid taking it off and putting it back on again.  With the lift its a piece of cake.  

My whole Tuesday was consumed with replacing the pump on the tractor but after supper I stuck the mower back on and an hour later the yard at the little house was mowed and looking good again.  Part of that was because in addition to the pump my mail included replacement mower blades.  Mostly it was because - when its working - that little tractor is a serious mowing machine.  
Ignoring my father's advice
I hate gas engines.  With a diesel engine life is simple - if it turns over and it has fuel then it has to run.  If it doesn't run it has suffered some severe internal catastrophe and is now a boat anchor, not an engine.  A gas engine is a completely different matter - any number of things can prevent the miserable SOBs from running.  If the fuel mixture isn't right it won't run.  If the spark is too weak or too late or too early it won't run.  Maybe it will spark with no compression but won't spark under compression - once again everything has to be perfect or the miserable SOB won't run.  And even the gas itself has to be perfect - let it sit for too long and it will turn into something unrecognizable and non-flammable.

Unfortunately there are now many gas engines in my life - too many as a matter of fact.  The gasoline rant was provoked by my ongoing adventures with keeping my little Case 446 running.  It has mostly been running well with the new(ish) Linamar engine that I put in last year but for the last couple of days the RPMs have hunted unless its under load.  Google is my favorite shop tool and my research identified dirty jets in the carb as the most likely culprit.  Which is where we come to ignoring father's advice.  

Father told me that - if an engine runs at all (and he was referring here to gas engines) - I should leave the damn carb alone.  I broke with that advice a couple of years ago under the direction of Al Pinkney.  He told me to go ahead and adjust the carb on my little 9.8 outboard that we used on the dinghy.  I ignored that advice again this week, taking the carb on the little Case apart a couple of times.  I'm still not sure what I did but I put it away running smoothly. I'm not convinced the fix is permanent.  The first time I "fixed" it I took it to the little house and cleaned up a bit of mowing that was left over from the day before and it ran fine until I started to come home at which point it went back to hunting.  When I got it home I took the carb apart several times before it finally settled down and ran smoothly.  I certainly understand a lot better how that carb works but I'm not convinced I "fixed" a damn thing.  Which brings me full circle to why I hate gas engines - if a diesel engine starts and runs your work is over but gas engines are much more tempermental.

...... but on the off chance it isn't ............ follow this link to a survey about changes to Canada's immigration system.

I expect this is political fluffery designed to give the damn Libs cover to do whatever the hell they have already decided to do which is likely to give multi-million dollar consulting contracts to friendly ad agencies in order to build up credits that they can draw against in 2019.  But just maybe someone somewhere will read some of your comments.