That’s All Folks

I wrote the first post to this blog back in the summer of 2010, and that was 242 posts ago!  I don’t know about you, but I certainly had no idea back then that it would take me this long to get out from under all that Pony business.  The blog has been so many things to me over the years that it is now as hard for me to let it go as it was to see the Pony itself go down the driveway for the last time.

This blog has served as my diary, my means of venting and crowing, a lifeline (for the Pony and me), a place to write things and share thoughts that would otherwise have just stopped inside my alleged brain.  You know, if a tree falls in the forest…if a thought stays within a brain.  I’m sure there were times when you thought, ok, he didn’t need to share that!  Remember my ill-fated attempt at shaving my butt?  Now that was an idea that should not only have stayed within my brain, but certainly should not have been acted upon.

When there wasn’t enough Pony news to write about I digressed to just about any time, place or subject, even to poetry.  But mostly the blog was about human connections,  staying connected with family and friends, rejoicing in old friends refound, and in new friends drawn-in, and sometimes having to mourn those who were lost.  And since all of this was the Pony’s “fault,” it is only fitting that I close the blog out with a slide show featuring him.  Be sure to click “full screen,” when the video shows-up, and when it’s over you can hit your browsers “back” button to return here.

The Pony Years, 2010-2017

My very profound thanks to you all, not just for reading, but for having been a part of my life, and for having been the best reason to have done this.

What Happened to Bruce?

My apologies.  It’s not that there hasn’t been a lot going on, but more a case of writer’s block and laziness.  But I do owe you all an update and just a couple more posts before, yes, I’ll wrap this blog up for good.  We’re closing in on six years since, with the help of my friend, Gene, we first pulled the Pony out of the woods and began the job of restoring him.  Many of you have followed the story from the beginning and a good portion of you have asked me, “What will you do with it when you’re done?”  I always shrugged off those questions, because for years it was all  about just getting the Pony restored.  So my answer was always, “I’ll worry about that when the time comes.”

After Christmas, the longer the Pony sat out in the garage like a big, shiny red, Christmas ornament, it became obvious to me that the time had finally come.  At the same time, The Princess and I had come to a decision.  We decided that it was time to end the Carolina chapter of our lives and move back north to Philly, a town which we came to love during our years there.  The move will bring us closer to our son, Andy, and put a lot of things literally right at our doorstep which will be handy as we move into our 70’s.  These decisions made some months ago, got me started mulling, what would the Pony’s new chapter look like?

For years I’ve ridden my bike past a place called Learning Outside at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s (TLC) Irvin Learning Farm just 3 miles down Jones Ferry Road from here.  I had never looked into what they were all about, but with the Pony in mind, I wondered if he might be a useful addition to its operations there.  I went on line and learned that they run outdoor learning programs for children (emphasizing programs for underprivileged kids), they have a preschool program, they’ve got goats and chickens, so…why not a Pony!
I wrote them a letter offering to donate the Pony, and long story short, I heard back from them that they would be thrilled to have the Pony and use him to do chores around the farm and for hay rides, etc.  I met with Wendy Banning from Learning Outside and also with Walt and Kyle from TLC.

Then about a week ago, under a rock on our front stoop I found the change-of-ownership documents that Wendy had left for me while The Princess and I were away from the house.  Talk about “full circle.”  Some of you may recall that back in 2010 after waiting for months, I found a letter from the land owner (where the Pony had been resting) wherein he turned ownership over to me!  How appropriate too, that the Pony will be playing out his later years only 3 miles from where I found him in the woods.

Yesterday Walt and Kyle came back with a trailer to haul the Pony out to the farm.  Here are a few photos The Princess was kind enough to take of the load-up and send-off.

Don’t forget, you can click on any of these if you want to see a larger image.

Just before this action took place, I’d been at a going away party for me at Cardiac Rehab, my volunteer gig for the last seven years.  It is bittersweet to celebrate friendship and be saying goodby at the same time.  Then the Pony leaving, well, that was the same kind of thing.  I know he’ll be happy at his new farm, but I felt wistful as I saw him go down the road for the last time.  I texted Andy the events of the day and told him that after the Pony was gone, I went straight into the house, took a shower, and poured an oversized shot of 21-year-old Scotch.  Good luck Pony, Im sure you’ll make lots of new friends.


Stay tuned.  I’m going to do one last post which will include a retrospective slide show capturing the entire Pony restoration.  Until then, thanks for reading!

Christmas, 2016

Nice going Pony.  You’ve wheedled your way into another blog post.  We were in the Walmart a few weeks ago, and I saw plastic wreaths for $2.49, so picked one up (not charged to the C.O.M.) to decorate the Pony’s grill.  Then I added a gold bow that kind-of matches the wheels, and voila, Christmas Pony!

Version 2So this is your 2016 holiday card from The Princess, the Pony and me.  May peace, health and joy be yours during the holidays and throughout 2017.  Thanks for reading.

The Pony Lives!

So, when I left you last it was with a plea for a solution to the Pony’s starting difficulty.  I thank all who took a shot at solving my perplexing problem.  You’ll recall that in my lame effort to fix the problem I removed the carb, took it all apart, cleaned it, checked the float, reassembled it and then reinstalled it.  All this went for nothing, however, as the Pony continued to sputter at best, and then finally I was left with the starter motor grinding away and no ignition at all.

Well, I designated Saturday as Pony day, went down to the garage and brought the Idiotic Brother up on the “horn.”  “All right,” I said, “What do I do first?”  He said that I should start at the spark plugs, checking for spark and if there is spark there, to keep working my way back from there to a point where there is no spark.  “Ok,” I said, “Now, you understand you are working with a total idiot here, right?”  He laughed, and explained that I needed to remove a spark plug wire from one of the plugs and touch it to ground, like one of the head bolts or to the manifold.  I tried this and I saw maybe one spark, but not much activity at all.  He then said to remove all the plugs and do the test again, explaining that this would remove compression, allow the engine to turnover faster and, if there was spark, I’d see a lot of it.  I’m telling you, when we were kids, there was no way I would have taken orders from my brother like this.  But in this case I had to recognize his vastly superior knowledge, but most of all I was just plain desperate.

Anyway, I followed orders, touched the plug wire to ground and I saw absolutely nothing.  “Alright,” he said, “The next step back from the plugs is the distributor.  If the points don’t visibly look damaged, remove the condenser and replace it.”  I can’t tell you how skeptical about this I was, because the the condenser I had in there had maybe a total of 25 hours of operation on it.  But as luck would have it, because Maggie Simpson (Parts Detective) had sent me a replacement distributor kit a while back, I had right there in the garage a condenser to slip in.  So, without too much trouble I was able to make the change.  I then did the spark test again holding the plug wire to a head bolt, and Holy Crap!  There was spark!  I hastily put everything back together, turned on the ignition, pulled out the choke and hit the starter.  I mean just bang, on the first try, the old Pony fired right up.  Hallelujah!  I called Jim back, let him hear the Pony’s little engine putt, putt, putting away, thanked him and then immediately went out for a spin around the block.

Alright,  there was one person, my friend Joe Strain, who mentioned the word “condenser” in his email to me following the last post.  But I don’t know, Joe, you mentioned so much stuff that I felt like you were just kind of throwing mud up against the wall and hoping something would stick.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to (grudgingly) admit that my brother “nailed it,” and in light of that I am hereby declaring him “HORSE WHISPERER TO THE BLOG.”  Regrettably, family members are not eligible for the jam, so Joe, you get the jam.  There may be a supply issue on that jam, Joe, so if I can’t scrounge some up, you’ll get a jar from next spring’s batch.

There’s more good news too.  In extended operation on Saturday, neither the radiator, nor any of it’s fittings leaked a drop, so the Pony now has another of its issues behind it.

When I explained to both The Princess and then Andy how replacement of the condenser had solved the Pony’s problem, both those idiots had the nerve to ask me what a condenser does.  Its always kind of fun to go to the tractor guys discussion board for an answer, and this condenser explanation was no exception.  Here’s a “condensed” version of the various answers:

What does a Condenser do?

1. They debounce the points.

2. A condenser or capacitor is used to promote a faster collapse of the magnetic field. Neither component will allow direct current to pass through it to ground; however, alternating current is able to pass through. A direct current that pulses very fast becomes alternating current and can pass through the condenser or capacitor. This allows the current in the primary coil circuit to pass through either of these components to ground.

3. The condenser is connected to the primary winding . Once the current stops, the magnetic field falls back into the primary winding to stabilize the current within the winding. The faster the current in the primary winding dissipates through the condenser, the faster the magnetic field will collapse. The rapid movement of the magnetic field increases the induction within the secondary winding and the current, being pushed by a high voltage of up to 50kV, will look for a pathway or circuit.  I think Dell has the best answer at least its simple enoufh fer me to understand

4. Condensers “absorb” the inductive coil magnetic field induced flow of electrons when the points OPEN. This is a normal natural coil phenomon and is actually what causes “sparkies” that make yer sparkles spark.
Without a condenser, that 0.015″ points gap will burn-out. When you really OPEN a switch (and points are a special switch) there is little/NO spark strong enuff to jump a WIDE-GAPP, but that itty-bitty 0.015 points gap ain’t wide enuff, so the electrons will JUMP the gap unless they are absorbed by the condenser.

5. NOTE: condensers are 2-metal foil conductors seperated by an insulative film. When the points close, the points actually short-out the 2-foils and DISCHARGE the condenser so there is a place ready the next time to absorb the extra electrons when the points OPEN. I went to college 4-yrs to learn that simplistic explanation.

6. I always use:  A condensor is a road block for dc current and a highway for AC current 🙂

7.  Right on Dell. That is what I learned also. I learned in addition as a side benefit that the discharge of the condenser when the points close aids in rebuilding the magnetic field in the coil.

8. Yes it prevents/minimizes the sparking at the points. How it does that is a mystery to me, I am electrically challenged as Dell puts it.

9. The condenser prevents points from burning out in a very short time.

Of course my favorite part, “This is a normal natural coil phenomenon and is actually what causes ‘sparkies’ that make yer sparkles spark.” And I like number 6 too.

I believe the stage is now set for “A very Pony holiday season.”  I’ll stay in touch as it unfolds, and as usual, thanks for reading.







The Chump is Stumped!

Sorry, that headline truly belongs to the “Car Talk” guys, but your Idiotic Author is stumped, and this is a cry for help.

To bring you up to speed, the radiator installation was successful.  I rolled the Pony out into the drive, fired it up and it ran (without leaking anywhere) for 20 minutes.  The engine then stalled, and I have not been able to get it started since.

The engine will go brrumm, but not stay running.  As one of my experts has said, it sounds like it’s “starving for gas.”  I felt that way too, so I took the carb apart, blew air through all the jets, checked that the float was set to spec, and put it back together.  Also cleaned out the sediment bowl and blew air through the fuel line.  These steps had absolutely zero positive result on the engine starting.

I’ve taken a short YouTube video demonstrating the problem, so that you can see and hear what it does when I hit the starter.  Here’s that video:

Engine start demo

I’m truly bummed and want desperately to get the old Pony going again before son, Andy, arrives for his Christmas visit.  Please comment to the blog with any suggestions.  The person or persons that come(s) up with the solution will be declared official “Horse Whisperer” to the blog and receive a jar of my home-made strawberry jam.

As I thank you in advance for your help, I am also reminded that Happy Thanksgiving wishes to you all are appropriate.  So, from the Pony, Cyndy and me to all of you,


Rigged Election in North Carolina?

The Princess and I were so excited to get out and vote, you know, actually do something about this election, and at least get our part of it over with, that we showed up at Carrboro Town Hall on the first day of early voting.  Being the first day, there was quite a crowd, with the line actually snaking out the front door and into the parking lot.  We didn’t mind the long line, but I was somewhat taken aback when I noticed a few spots ahead of us in line, a rather large dog.  I thought “ok,” maybe Trump is on to something when he whines about voter fraud.  It could really happen here too, because the courts struck down our voter I.D. law.  I rested a bit easier when I saw the dog lift his leg to pee…and noticed it was his right leg, so certainly one of Trump’s voters.  Half an hour later though, as we were walking back to the car I saw the same dog walk to the right of a street lamp and lift his left leg.  Hmmm, I’ll bet he’s independent, but regardless, we gotta tighten up the voting process!

Enough silliness, I mean it, enough!  Let’s talk about the Pony.  Two things occurred recently that caused me to finally take some action and replace the Pony’s radiator.  First, the Pony had a rather serious overheating episode, leaking during operation and even ruining some paint.  Second, Cousin Bill declared that any future expenditures would not be charged against the Cost-O-Meter (it’s closed), but would be considered maintenance.  So I jumped in and spent the $300 for a new (Chinese) radiator.  Yeah, the parenthetical part there bothers me, but really, that’s the only option for a replacement.  Here’s a photo.


Chinese Radiator

It’s far from perfect, paint drips here and there, and a bit of rust too, but we won’t know the most important thing, does it leak? until later.  But I’m going to miss the pretty little brass plaque on the old radiator that said, “Made in Toronto, Canada.”

There are two brackets that attach to the radiator’s sides that allow it to be fastened down to the tractor and provide a surface for the grill to be attached.  Removing those brackets from the old radiator  was not easy, actually had to go out to Gene’s and get his help.  But finally, between the two of us, we were able to remove them.  I then did a “Boehmke” on them, you know, “the full deal,” that’s sanding, priming, painting and waxing.  Since I’ve been working out of my own garage, I did the painting down in the trees where the “chiggers” have gotten me in the past.  Those pesky buggers must have gotten tired of waiting for me, because they weren’t there this time.  Thank God!  Here’s a shot of those radiator brackets after the final coat of paint.


I then went to the hardware store and picked-up some new nuts and bolts, since I had to hacksaw thru one of the old boltsI then headed off to the hardware store for some new, well, hardware.  So, the next two shots show the new radiator with brackets attached, sitting on the tractor for a “test fit.”

Later, yesterday actually, I put sealer on the radiator hoses, screwed down the hose clamps and attached the the radiator brackets to the tractor.  So far, so good!  Don’t forget, if you want to see a larger version of either photo, just click on it.

Finally, I wanted to share a couple of truly frightening images with you.  Monday and Wednesday mornings I do some volunteer work, using the term, work, loosely.  On Halloween some of the staff and volunteers like to dress appropriately, OK, inappropriately really.  Lucky for you folks, today is Halloween, so I thought I’d share a couple of photos of yours truly in costume.  WARNING:  The images you are about to view could be upsetting…drink a beer first!  And I wouldn’t click on these if I were you.

Happy Halloween, and thanks for reading.

In Memoriam, Carol L Boehmke, 9/2/23-9/11/16

My Mom, Carol, passed away a week ago at the age of 93.  I did not want to let this go unremarked upon even in such a silly rag as this blog.  Mom lived in Sarasota, Florida and enjoyed going to Siesta Key beach with family (often my son) to have a glass of wine while watching the sun set.  So after the memorial service on Friday at son Andy’s suggestion, The Princess, Andy, the Idiotic Brother and I went out to the beach to honor her memory, and raise a toast to her just as the sun was setting.  Andy took the photo below.

Version 2

Carol’s Memorial Sunset

Andy took a lot of photos that evening, but I chose this one because of the symbolism in it.  The three sea gulls at the top representing my two brothers and I soaring forward while my mom’s sun is setting.

Following is the last line of the eulogy I gave at Mom’s memorial service:  “Thank you, Mom, for giving me life, and for showing me through your life, how to live mine.”

September 18, 2016