Friday, July 12, 2013

TODD Goes Down!

Yesterday was another frustrating day.  Nothing seemed to be going right.  As usual.

Oh c'mon Dave.  Cut the pity me crap , you're thinking.

No, seriously.  First off, Bessie the Tractor wouldn't start.  Bessie always starts cold.  Always.  Not yesterday.  She just sluggishly turned over.   Wah... wah... wah... wah.   Her little six volt starter never spins her up quickly, but she always starts.  Not yesterday.

Earl hadn't arrived yet.  So what to do?  Well, I needed to fill those big ruts we made with the backhoe the day before with rocks.  With Bessie not cooperating, I decided to do it the old fashioned way.  I'd pick them up by hand and drop them in.  Only what to carry them in?  I didn't have a bucket or anything.   But necessity being the mother of invention, I invented the Pebble And Boulder Stowage Tote, or PABST (patent pending).

PABST worked well.  It is rugged and durable, and disposable.  After use, it can be used to start a campfire.  There's a photo of it in the first photo, below.

It took many, many trips.  First, large rocks went into the ruts, and then gradually smaller and smaller ones.  After a couple of hours of fetching rocks, I collapsed into the site's lawn chair.  That's where I was when Earl came by on his ATV.

"What's this shit?" he asked.


"You're not gonna get nuthin' done sittin' on your ass like that!"

Then I showed him the rock filled ruts.  He wasn't impressed.

"Those little rocks aren't enough."

"That's only the top layer.  Underneath are many large rocks.  Those ruts go down two feet."

Earl puffed on his pipe and nodded approval.   He then walked over to the backhoe.

"Well, we don't need this shit!"

What?   I walked over.  The big rear starboard tire was as flat as a pancake.

"It's only flat on the bottom", I offered.

Earl puffed on his pipe and gave me the look.

It was decided that the little portable air tank was too small to inflate a backhoe tire, so we took the ATV to Earl's to fetch the air compressor and 4000 watt generator to run it.  The generator hadn't been run in ten years and it took some doing, but after a couple of hours we had it running.

Earl fired up the backhoe (no, it doesn't have a name yet.  It will soon.  Be patient.) and put down the starboard outrigger and lifted the tire off the ground.

We pumped up the tire and spun it around, looking for a puncture.   We didn't see one.  We decided we should move quickly because it wasn't raining yet and we didn't know how long the tire would last.   We fetched a bucket full of coarse sand from my "gravel pit" and dropped that on top of the stones and smoothed it out.   Earl drove the backhoe up to the trailer.  I attached the chain from the trailer's gooseneck to the bucket's frame.  Earl picked TODD up (Trailer of Doom and Death), stuck the backhoe in reverse, and pulled TODD down to where it needed to go.

No, it wasn't quite that easy.  The backhoe's big tires spun, looking for traction, and kept on wanting to bury themselves, but the rocks and sand held while the tires spun.  The rig stalled a few times and Earl had to rock TODD and the backhoe, but down TODD went.

TODD's final resting place.  In front of TODD's back doors will be the barn, and so TODD won't be visible when the place is complete.  But in the meantime, he'll be a great storage unit for our stuff and building materials.

I walked back past TODD to congratulate Earl, and he was already out of the backhoe, surveying the situation.  The backhoe was pinned in front of TODD and buried in the woods and needed to come out.  

"We need to move the trailer about six inches to the left", I told Earl.  I won't print here what he told me, but it was short (two words) and to the point.

"We need to get the backhoe out of here now, before that tire goes flat again," he stated.   He took his pipe and gestured to the right.   "I'm going that way."

If you don't know, a backhoe is heavy.  Over 7,000 pounds.  Two Buick's worth.  It not only sinks in mud, it sinks in dirt.  A backhoe is also not a four wheeler.  But this is Earl we're talking about, and he didn't need this shit.

It took about an hour, but Earl got the backhoe out.  He used the front bucket to knock down small saplings, and when he got stuck in soft soil, he'd push himself with the rear bucket.   He had one problem when he hung up on a stump.   He managed to pull himself off with the rear bucket, and I took a chainsaw to the stump.   After that, Earl just four wheeled it out of the pricker patch.

So that's it.  The backhoe is safe, and TODD is positioned where we want him.  I only need to level  him up a bit and put cinder blocks under the frame for when when the tires disintegrate.  He's an 8 x 48 foot storage building.   Next week, Pam and I will rent a truck and empty out our Johnstown storage unit into TODD.  That will eliminate a $110 a month bill.  And we'll have a safe and secure place to store building materials and tools.  Once our building project is done, TODD will be used to store hay and such, connected to the aft end of the barn.

Enjoying our victory beers, I told Earl that maybe we could go into business moving trailers for people.  Again, I can't tell you what he told me, but it's not even physically possible.

This was a community effort.   Thanks to Dave at Schoolhouse Transport for selling me the trailer.  To my buddy Gary in Connecticut, in CDL school, for steering me as to how to release TODD's air brakes.  To the loggers from years ago who left that old logging road that TODD now sits on.   And to Earl, to whom which no job is too big, and for which he has all the tools.

I think TODD will be pretty much out of sight once the barn is built.  If not, I'll paint daisies on it or something to camouflage it.  I don't know, and I don't care at this point.   TODD is moved.   It is done.    On to the next project.    The foundation of the house.

I feel like Sisyphus has pushed the rock to the top of the mountain.


  1. You do realize that you could have avoided this whole exercise if you had simply waited until your land could sensibly allow a tractor trailer to enter? But what fun would that have been?

    Now you can sit back and watch those rocks disappear into the earth. Be sure to save some for next time. :)

    1. If you recall, I gave instructions not to deliver the trailer if it was raining. They showed up anyway, promptly got stuck, and left the trailer in the middle of the property. It needed to get moved out of the way.

      The rocks are already disappeared. They're now a small roadbed.