Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dumpy, Part Two. Time to Man Up.

Yesterday started out promising.  Puss-Puss the cat was sitting in the cat tree.  She was staring at me, plotting my demise I think.  But at least she was out from under the bed.  Her daughter, Sassy, who is in heat, is always out yowling at us.  You can't touch her, but she wants you to know that she needs something.  What, I don't know.

It was then off to the property.  There he was, Dumpy the Dump Truck Who Doesn't Dump.  Earl and I would be tackling that.

The first thing we did was to remove the 80,000 pound tailgate.  We don't need it.  I was up in the dump bed inspecting things when I noticed that one of the hinge pins holding the tailgate was loose.  All we needed to do was to lift the other end of the tailgate with the backhoe and we could get rid of it.   Which we did.

And living in Bleecker, we did what Bleeckerillians do.  We tossed it in the bushes.

In order to get Dumpy to dump, we needed to add hydraulic fluid to the cylinder.  In order to do that, you have to raise the dump bed.  How do you do that when the truck needs hydraulic fluid and the dump bed won't raise?  I know.  Probably the most stupid engineering design in the history of all things automotive.  I would have thrown in the towel long ago, but not Earl.  

First he got rid of the plywood box on the side of the truck, cutting it off with a grinder.  Yeah.  I see a cartoon moment here too.

With the box out of the way, it was a simple, but tedious, matter to lift the box a few inches at a time with two hydraulic jacks, one on the port side and one on starboard.

I know it looks precarious.  And it was.   This side (my side) kicked out the stack of cinder blocks once.   I learned to jack from the side, out of the way of flying cinder blocks.

We got it jacked up enough that we could get to the fill plug on the hydraulic cylinder.   It was getting late, about 5 o'clock or so.  I figured that this was a good quitting time.  I was wrong.

Beer time, Earl?

"What, quit?  Are you kidding?  I don't need this shit.  C'mon, let's get it done.  I want to see this thing work.  Your problem is that you're not used to working 14 hour days like me."

Earl would be mostly correct.  Although I did work long hours in my computer business, I was mostly sitting on my ass, building computers or talking on the phone.   This is manual labor.  I'm not used to this shit.

So we used a garden hose with one end stuck into the cylinder and a funnel in the other raised up to the top of the dump box.  Earl held the hose while I poured in hydraulic fluid.  This was a long tedious process taking about an hour and a half to get in a couple of gallons.

"Let's fire it up!" said Earl, anxious to see if it would lift.

I hooked the negative battery cable up under the hood, climbed inside the truck and turned the key.


"What's the problem?" said Earl.  He's hard of hearing from years of doing things like grinding boxes off dump trucks without ear protection.  He didn't hear the click click click sound.

We have a dead battery, said I.



"Dead?  How can it be dead?  We just charged it.  It started and ran fine!"

Well, it could be the voltage regulator, or the alternator, and we've been running off the battery the few times we ran it.  Or, it could simply be a bad battery.  In any event, I fetched two victory beers and we sat down to ruminate on things.

"I'm disappointed," said Earl.  "I really wanted to see if it would dump."

Tomorrow.  I'm whooped.  I don't know how 83 year old Earl does it.  Or the almost 90 year old logger, Mr. Bleyl.  I'm 62 and I'm having a hard time keeping up with these guys, and I don't consider myself to be in bad shape.

Maybe once we've been living on the mountain for a spell, I'll hardy up a bit.  But for now, every bone and every muscle I have aches.  I'd call in sick today, but Earl really wants to see if the dump truck will dump, and he'd be over there working alone if I wasn't there.  Time to man up.  And maybe take a few pills to help things a bit.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dumpy Doesn't Dump

Yep.  Yesterday was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right.  I wonder why that is?

It started off with Olivia.  She got into a hornets' nest or something.  She came in from being outside covered in welts.  Pam made an appointment at the vet for Wednesday.   Three dogs, two cats, and a horse.  Something tells me that our vet is going to be on a first name basis with us and our critters.

Then I hied myself over to our property.  My foot was healed up good enough that I could operate farm machinery, so I dragged the smoother around parts of our land that I couldn't get to before because it was too wet.  Everything was going fine until I buried Bessie up to her axles AGAIN in a low wet spot.  It took me about an hour, but I dug her out just as Earl arrived to start digging the foundation.  Yeah!

I moved Dumpy the Dump Truck a little closer to the backhoe so Earl could fill it.  After about an hour, he had it full.  I drove it over and backed it up to where I wanted to dump it.  How does this thing work anyway?  I recognized everything in the cab but two levers.  Those two levers must operate the dump.  I pulled the red one and I heard gears grinding.  That must be the PTO for the hydraulic pump.  I pushed in the clutch and put the pump in gear.  The other lever had an arrow on it marked "raise", so I moved it.  Nothing happened.  

After some putzing around, Earl came over.  I told him the problem.  Earl had never operated the dump truck so couldn't offer any advice.  We decided that it must be low on hydraulic fluid.  We searched all over Dumpy but couldn't find anyplace to add fluid.  We even crawled under the truck.  We found the pump, which had only two lines, both running to the hydraulic cylinder.   No fill. 

Deciding that we needed help, we drove over to see Mr. Bleyl.  Earl bought the truck from Mr. Bleyl several years ago and maybe he could tell us.

Mr. Bleyl is 89 years old.  He was in his side yard cutting logs.  He had gotten his chain saw stuck in one and was just climbing out of his log loader after picking up the log to reduce pressure on it.  We exchanged pleasantries.

"Do you remember that Ford dump truck you sold me?" asked Earl.

"A Ford dump truck?  I don't think I've ever owned a Ford dump truck.  Chevies, no Fords.  Of course, my memory ain't what it used to be.  Are you sure you didn't buy it from my brother?"

"No, I bought it from you.  Your brother is dead."

"I know my brother is dead.  I don't remember owning no Ford dump truck."

"Well, maybe you can help us anyway.  Do you know how to add hydraulic fluid to a dump truck?"

"Sure," said Mr. Bleyl.  "You add it right to the hydraulic cylinder.  You raise the bed and make sure you prop it up good.  A lot of people have been killed adding fluid when the bed comes crashing down."

"Well that's as stupid as shit," said Earl.  "We need to add fluid because the bed won't go up, and in order to do that we need to raise the bed?"

"Yep.  Oh, I remember that truck now.  I sold it to you for $2,200.  You jewed me down from $2,500."  Sorry for the "jewed" comment, but that's what he said.

"Do you want to sell that log skidder?" asked Earl.

"No, I need that."

"Did you cut all these logs by yourself?" asked I, waving to an immense pile of logs.

"Yep.  Got no one to help me."

"Aren't you too old for this shit?" asked Earl.

"I'll be 90 in a couple of months, but it gets me out of the house.  Otherwise, I'd just fight with the wife."

"I think I'd rather fight with the wife." offered Earl.

"Maybe next year I'll stop."

And with that, Mr. Bleyl jumped into his log skidder and drove off into the woods.

To say thanks, Earl and I used a wedge and got Mr. Bleyl's chainsaw unstuck for him.

Back at the property, Earl and I had to figure out our next step.  The dump was full of rocks and dirt.  We decided we needed to unload it in order to raise the bed.  First Earl tried to lift the corner of the dump bed with the front bucket but it wouldn't budge.  I suggested that we lift the whole truck from the front.  I wrapped a chain around the front leaf springs and hooked it on the bucket, but it still wouldn't budge.  How much does this thing weigh?  The bucket was able to lift the front end of TODD the Trailer and that weighed 13,000 pounds.

Earl and I devising a plan.


Finally, Earl used the backhoe to scrape most of the load out of the bed.

I had climbed up on the truck to survey the situation.  On the dump body, over the cab, is a lifting hook.  I had Earl pull the backhoe up to the side of the truck and I hooked a chain from the lifting hook to the backhoe's hook.  It still didn't budge.

I climbed off the truck and went over to the backhoe.

"That's enough for one day.  It's time for a beer."

And with that, we left everything where it was and discussed the situation sitting in the shade and drinking beer.  Pam and Bill came by and we all drank beer.  Everything comes into focus when you drink beer.  

"Tomorrow, I'll bring my 20 ton jack over.  That will do it." said Earl.

"20 tons?   That's like 40,000 pounds, ain't it Earl?" said Bill.

"I'm too old for this shit." Earl replied.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grand Hollow Old Time Power Association

Yesterday Pam and I headed to Saratoga Springs to look at a vintage gas stove for the Unabomber Cabin, but first we stopped at Coon's Crossing for the Grand Hollow Old Time Power Association's vintage tractor and engine show.  Just to cut to the chase, it was very cool, combining my love of antique and classic cars with my newfound obsession with tractors.

The business end of a tractor, the three point hitch and PTO (power take off) used to drag and power farm implements. 

Notice the two gas caps.  One is for gasoline, the other kerosene.  You'd start the engine on gasoline and when its operating temperature reached 170 degrees switch it to run on kerosene.  Back in 1941, gasoline was 14 cents a gallon, while kerosene was 7 cents.

Instead of pulling a plow, this tractor had them mounted underneath.

A portable engine to run whatever.

I'll bet OSHA would have a field day with this.

Not all John Deeres were green

???  Why was the case on this PTO cut open?

Then I looked at the engine and noticed that half of that was cut open too.

This note explains it.

A manure spreader.

We then drove to Saratoga to look at the antique kitchen stove.  Man, it's massive.  There's no way we could move it ourselves.  We'd have to hire a moving company.  Pat, the fella selling it, was very nice.  The stove has been in the house for almost 100 years, he said.  It would be fine if we left it there until our place was finished and we had somewhere to put it.  

Pam likes it and wants to buy it, but I told her she should contact a moving company first to get a price on transporting it, and to call a gas company to see what it would take to convert it to propane.

In critter news, one of the cats that Pam brought home is in heat.  What a racket.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saturday in a Small Town

Towns don't get much smaller than Bleecker, population about 550.  Bleecker is so small that it doesn't have a downtown.  If you want to conduct town business, you hie yourself to the Sawdust Cafe.  R&R Firewood is across the street, but that's it.  I guess that's downtown Bleecker.

But we do go off the mountain to the city.  The city being Gloversville, population about 15,000.  Pam was going to a flea market/craft show to sell her sea glass jewelry and I tagged along, bringing my camera. The local Boys & Girls Club was having its annual car show too. Those of you who followed me here from our Drift Away blog know that I love taking photos, especially candid shots and still lifes.  So that's what I did.

This fella is 83 years old.  He lost his wife a few years ago.  He says he's ready to die now, very matter of factly..

The next batch of photos, including the one above, was taken from my folding chair in Pam's booth using my 300 mm zoom.  In the pic above, I just liked the light and shadows.

Here's a closeup.

A customer came by with these two adorable Chihuahuas.

Jim Taylor's Jag.

My old computer store, now owned by a church who is going to make it a soup kitchen and use it for services.

They've completely gutted it.

A Animal.  I'll bet it needs those wheelie bars.

The blower on A Animal.

I met and spoke with the new executive director of the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club, who have helped open and support the Gloversville club.  Gloversville definitely has the need but not the finances.  This club is in trouble.  After five years, it's not self supporting, and that's a bad thing.  And now I'm torn.  I'm retired, and kinda busy, but this club is Pam's and my baby.  Do we step in to help?  Not financially, since that ship has sailed (literally), but to fund raise?  I need to ponder this more.

Judi, Pam's mom, came by Pam's booth and invited us over for dinner.  It was great.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and salad.  Now I know where Pam gets her cooking skills from.  Earl was his usual fiesty self, but then Bill stopped by.  Earl and Bill remind me of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Two Grumpy Old Men.

"Am I in your way, Earl?  Can you see the TV?" said Bill.

"Don't matter.  I can see right through you." replied Earl.

"Have you always been this grouchy?"

"I was born this way."

"You were born this old too, I'll bet."

And on and on it went.

I need to get busy over on our property, but there's a tractor show of some kind that I'd like to go to today.  The weather forecast is for scattered rain and thundershowers, so if  it rains, it's the tractor show.  If not, work on the property.  Or, I could make horseradish.  I started, but the blender died and I had to buy a replacement, a Black & Decker food processor.  Decisions, decisions.  Whatever we did will be in tomorrow's blog.

Oh, and no, I haven't heard from the fella who wants to buy Drift Away.  Not in a week.  But that's OK, sometimes these things take time.

And my foot continues to improve, although yesterday it started to swell up again and throb a bit.  I need to keep it elevated as much as I can, I guess.

Sassy and Puss-Puss, the cats Pam brought here from Connecticut to terrorize our cabin's mice, are still living/hiding in our upstairs bedroom.  Maybe today we'll try coaxing them out.  Cats are such pussies.

And so that's life in a small town.  Flea markets, car shows, Boys & Girls Clubs, and grumpy old men.  Can it get any better than this?  I don't think so.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Additions to our Critter Crew

Let me set the scenario.

Pam and I are both animal lovers.  This can be both good and bad, especially  because Pam worked as a vet tech for several years.

Pam had two cats when we got together, an old lady named Smudge and a three legged Snowshoe Siamese named Charlie.   We were living in a tiny two bedroom apartment in Stamford, Connecticut.  No pets allowed.

Ruby came to us as a puppy when a neighbor's dog had a litter.

NO!  I said, referring to our lease.

Then came Tony the Guinea Pig.  A fella came into the vet's office and said he was moving back to Ecuador and needed a home for his pig.

We moved onto our boat, Drift Away.  Spacious by boat standards, small by house standards.

Then came Chevy.  A woman called the vet's office and said she had a dog she needed to have put down.  What's wrong with him, asked Pam?   Nothing, said the caller.  My son found him in a warehouse in Bridgeport and brought him home.  He moved away and no one wants this stupid pit bull.

NO! I said, pointing out the obvious, that we live on a boat.

Smudge passed away at the age of 21, and Charlie was given to a nice family in Annapolis because he hated the boat.  It probably had something to do with his head injury and only having three legs.

Olivia came to us in Savannah.  A German Shorthaired Pointer, a high energy dog that needs to run.  And run.  And run.

NO!  I said.  Are you seeing the pattern here?

We're now living in a small cabin in Bleecker.  If we don't get at least our foundation in this year, we may be moving back to the boat for the winter.  Three dogs makes it very difficult to live on a boat, to say the least.

And then, of course, Pam bought Jeremiah the Horse.  I don't know how he'd get on and off the boat, especially if we anchor our and dinghy in to shore.

Pam went to Norwalk, Connecticut to visit friends.  One of those friends is Christine who works at Park Animal Hospital.  Wait for it...

Pam arrived home yesterday.  Chevy and Olivia were ecstatic!

And then I saw it.  No...

One's name is Puss-Puss and the other is Sassy.  I forget which is which.

Pam says we need cats to get rid of the mice in the cabin.  Personally, I think the mice are less trouble.

Puss-Puss and Sassy were living in a crate at Park Animal Hospital for the past year.  For safety, one of the cats immediately ran into the dog crate.

The pit bulls are fine with cats, but not Olivia.  Cats run, and to Olivia the hunting dog that means they're prey.  So for now, the cats are safely ensconced in our bedroom.  We'll introduce them to the dogs gradually.

On a final note, in the pic below, Pam says this is just wrong.  I think that when you reach a certain age you can dress any way you darn well please.

The warmth of socks and the convenience of flip-flops.  Makes sense to me.