Friday, June 22, 2018

Getting thrashed like a rented mule in the hot sun

A project came to me recently that apparently no one else would tackle .
The cedar clapboards on south facing wall of this house built in the early nineties were having some issues . A lot of the siding was curling off the wall , and needed replacing . Seems that the original builder did not bother to nail the siding in to the studs , and most of the nails were simply in the sheathing . So twenty five years of weather were taking their toll on it . So after coming up with a price estimate , I got roped in to doing the job . So last Monday I bought and delivered eighteen hundred dollars worth of new premium grade pre-primed cedar clapboards .
 By the Tuesday we had the bottom stripped off and resided . It was about ninety degrees and about sixty five percent humidity. Not fun at all . Got burned to a crisp too , as I forgot to bring any suntan lotion .
Wednesday was also a slow going and we did not get that far . Got the pump staging set up and made it to just above the first story windows .
By Thursday afternoon we got above the second story windows .
Friday we got beyond the use of the pump staging , so I took it down first thing in the morning , and used the ladders instead . By noontime I got the peak on the gable end done . That's my friend and helper for the week , Jonathan filling in a clapboard we had left out for the pump staging braces .
Friday afternoon we tackled the dormer side . Did I mention I hate heights ? That's me about twenty eight feet in the air . I had to struggle real hard to overcome my sense of vertigo and keep pounding away in the blazing sun while the occasional horse fly  tried to bore a hole in my leg .
It don't seem that high from down below , but I can assure you , from up above , it looks like a long way down to the ground .
By four thirty we had it all done and cleaned up . Someone please kick some sense in to me the next time I agree to take on such a project . I am way too old for this sort of monkey business . And right  now I am sore all over and my body aches like a thrashed rented mule .

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Went to see a man about a tractor

My friend Benjamin has been looking for a tractor to mow the eight acres of fields he has . Since I have been playing with dad's old 1952 Ford 8N he sought my advice on the matter . After a week of perusing Craig's List we narrowed it down to a couple and agreed to go look at the closest one in Freeport on Saturday .
This one is a  1948 model
Ben gave it the once over while I discussed the particulars of the brush hog with the sellers .
Took it for a spin after unhooking the PTO drive shaft  so I could work the three point hitch without flinging rocks at the audience .
Sure seemed light on the front end compared to ours with the muck bucket
I asked the boys if they had a means to deliver it up to Richmond for Ben and they agreed to throw in the delivery for the $2500.00 asking price along with a three point hitch skidder post and some additional accoutrements . Trading tall stories and shooting the breeze with the sellers , we learned the tractor actually used to belong to Charlie DeGrandpre at Wolfe's Neck Farm just down the road from mom and dad's . Thus making it the exact tractor that inspired my dad to buy ours . With that sign , and given I could find nothing wrong with it , I knew this was The One , and advised Ben that he should buy it .  But he wanted to go look at a Farmall up in Phipsburg next so we left without an agreement , and after swinging by mom's place for a short lesson on ours , Ben went off to Phipsburg .
But by next morning I had an email in my inbox with this photo of it sitting in front of Ben's house .

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New Log Skidder Post for the Ford 8N Tractor

After my struggles moving the trees that fell at my parents' property from last October's storm , I had some ideas on how to improve the use of the old Ford tractor . . .
A proper log skidder post allows us to use the power of the three point hitch on the back of the tractor to pick up logs and move them where they can be parked and worked on .
So after some surfing on the web for some ideas , and a scrounge through the scrap steel pile  . . .
. . . and a bit of cutting and grinding the idea starts to come together .
Some drilling .
And some more serious drilling with a three quarter inch drill bit .
 A few tack welds to square it all up .
After a solid day of grinding and welding we arrive at this . . .
Sometimes I even amaze myself . . . yea I know , it don't take much .
And it even fits on the tractor like it was meant to . . . .
It works too . . .
 . . .  almost like I knew what I was doing
That log is about fourteen feet long and about thirty six inches in diameter at the base . If my contraption did not bend or break under that load , I am pretty sure it can hold up to normal abuse . The three point hitch could just barely lift the log about four inches off the ground and it maxed out .
I love it when a plan comes together .

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Honda Odyssey sway bar bushings and moments of sheer panic

The other item that failed the van inspection was the worn out sway bar bushings .
From a quick check on you tube I knew they would be a royal pain in the ass as the rear bolt on the strap that holds the passenger side of the sway bar is impossible to access and is typically rusted out from the AC condenser drain that sits right above it .
However while contemplating the problem, I find this absolute catastrophe .  And that shot is taken after some cleaning . That is the support bracket for the right side of the steering rack , it is completely gone . As in rusted out through and through . That will condemn this car permanently . OHH CRAP!!!
The dreadful pit in my stomach grows . . . .
I try cleaning things up a bit in there to assess it better and can't seem to get to it with tools as it is way inside of the suspension and hard to reach . So I come up with a pipe inside a pipe that can hold a cold chisel , so I can knock off the rusted pieces of the lower part of the bracket from the chassis . A  plan slowly develops . . .
Once I manage to knock off the lower shreds of steel from the chassis and have clear mating surface , I make a pattern out of cardboard of the needed patch .
And fabricate a patch out of thin gauge steel . Enough fretting for one day , it is half past beer time . Need to take a breather and contemplate the situation before I make a bigger mess of it than it already is .
After sleeping on it I reconsider and figure the sheet metal I used was too thin . Found some heavier gauge 4130 steel I had in my pile of junk . So I make a new and improved pattern .
Mark out the piece . . .
And cut out the piece with my angle grinder .
It results in something that looks close enough after a couple trashed cutting disks .
A bit of grinding, and some heavy persuading with a portable , manually operated , optically guided , inertial impact delivery device  . . . never hit it harder , get a bigger hammer . . .
. . . . and some drilling , we arrive at this random art form .
Seems to fit the spot reasonably well .
The split where I bent and flared it needs to be filled , so I cut and fit a tiny wedge .
Then hit it with the MIG welder and fill it in .
And some work on the grinding wheel gets me close enough .
Not bad for a hack .
Some contortions with the MIG welder , and some heavy clamping in order to overcome the warping as I weld  . . .
Yea , if that rack ever has to come out I will need to cut the spot weld on the strap that holds it .
Not pretty but it is strong enough and will have to do .
Now back to the original task of replacing the sway bar bushings .
Back bolt on the strap was totally roached out and the fourteen millimeter socket would just spin on it .  No room to work . After a visit with my friend Gregg Allen for some moral support and encouragement he provides just the tool need to extract the offending bolts . These sockets have counter clockwise spiral cuts so they dig in to the bolt head as you ratchet out the bolts . This will be my next purchase . They truly saved the day .
Had to use every extension in my box , probably twenty six inches in total , and reach in from the top behind the engine using a swivel to get it to break loose . All the videos about this repair on you-tube  show them coming in from underneath . I just don't know how they did it as there is no room to fit a socket and ratchet over the bolt down there . This seemed to work much better .
The damaged bushing now replaced , this shot shows the tangled deep location we are operating in .
I installed the new bushing and using a new bolt with a seventeen millimeter head only in the front as it won't fit in the back . I simply could not make the seventeen millimeter socket fit between the strap and the fire wall . I find one reasonably good fourteen millimeter , one and a quarter pitch bolt in my collection of saved bolts that allows me to tighten it with the corresponding socket in the back .
Hit my patch with some undercoating to extend its life a bit and hide my ugly welding .
And proceed to the driver side where we have a lot more room to work and can actually get a ratchet in . The Steering rack mount on this side appears intact .
Twenty minutes later, success.
The appearance of competence is intoxicating .