Monthly Archives: May 2011

Twelve Bucks?

Dear Dr. Fullofit,

Where the heck have you been?  I tried calling, but only got Nurse Minnie.  She said you had left the day before I called.  Dang it, how did you know I was going to call?  She told me you’d be out for three weeks?  Something about a trip to Africa.  Ha, that’s pretty general, you know, like saying you’re on a trip to North America.  I could tell she was trying to protect you when she refused to give me your pager number.  Come on man, every doctor leaves a pager number.  To top it all off, Doc Deadrick, your “on call man” was nowhere to be found.  Well, I just want you to know that that is no way to run a clinic, and that I am gonna be reporting this to the AMA, that’s American Mechanics Association, in case you’ve forgotten.

I trust that after three weeks you are still of healthy mind and body and haven’t forgotten everything you allege to have known before you left.  Because I’ve got questions here that someone needs to answer.  You might want to review some of the posts I’ve done while you were out, so that you can see what I’ve been up to.  That’s right, time doesn’t just stand still back here in That Idiotic Tractorland, just because you’re away.  Well, I take that back, time does stand still here, but progress has been made.  So, to the point, when I was out at Gene’s last weekend we were just hangin out, keepin the Pony company, you know knockin a few back and havin some smokes when Gene looked down and sees this pipe laying in the gravel.

We weren’t sure what it was, but I dragged it home just like a dog with a new bone, not to bury it, but to refurbish it like everything else.  From looking at Pony pics, I identified it as the air intake tube to the carb.  Here’s a photo of it on another Pony.

That one sure looks nice, but typical for my rotten Pony, mine has a few problems.

All those little areas circled in yellow are holes caused by corrosion.  So Doc, what is your recommendation?  I’ve stuck an ice pick in the holes and expanded them out to make sure I had areas of thin metal removed, so I think we’re looking at the full extent of the damage in that photo.  I’m a bit leery of just glopping a bunch of JB Weld on there, because I can’t reach some of the interior of the tube to clean it and/or place more loose change in there.  I’m hoping that since I “rounded up” to one dollar when I put that 50 cents inside the oil pan,  I can invest 50 cents more in this tube (maybe five dimes), and the old Cost-O-Meter doesn’t budge.  So anyway, once you’ve recovered from the jet lag I’d appreciate your advice.

Now, about this next little story you’ll probably think, that wasn’t the idiotic author’s finest hour.  Remember those hub caps?  Well, I put em on Ebay for a one-week auction with no minimum bid.  Bear in mind, this was the first thing I had ever tried to sell on Ebay.  I decided I wouldn’t peak during the auction period, but I lost track of how much time had gone by, so when I thought the week had expired I checked to see if they had sold.  Turns out there was a little over a day left and no one had bid above one cent.  That’s right, some knucklehead put his bid in at the lowest possible amount and after almost six days, no one had outbid him!  While I was scratching my head I heard an email pop into my intray, and I took a look at it.

The email was from a guy who’d seen my ad and wondered why there was no photo.  Huh?  I was positive that I’d put a photo in there, but sure enough, when I looked at the ad as posted, NO PICTURE.  I don’t know what went wrong, but obviously my photo had failed to upload, so everyone was bidding on something about which I had said “as is and as pictured…no warranty, no returns.”  Well, poop, I wouldn’t bid on something with no picture and that statement either.

I rectified the situation, and waited for the last day to expire.  I don’t know; I guess justice was done in a way.  Those hub caps that I stole, some guy stole em from me… for just $12.  There’s a lot one could say about this whole business, you know, like some kind of moral to the story.  I guess what I’d say is:
Crime does pay, but not very well. 
There may be ticks involved…
and a whole lot of I told you so’s from The Princess.
Friends, it just ain’t worth it.

Thanks for reading.

ps:  Always double-check your Ebay ads BEFORE posting them.  Sheesh!

Four Hours

Housekeeping.  For those of you who monitor the Cost-O-Meter, it’s been ticking up a bit.  There haven’t been any significant purchases, just things like paint, gasket sealer, cotter pins and cork for gaskets, all just examples of how the Pony can nickel and dime you to death. 
That reminds me, I made my first gasket this week, and The Princess was kind enough to take these shots of me working on that.  This gasket is for the hydraulic fluid tank and fits between the tank and its cover.

For the last few days, I’ve been back down in the garage, cleaning and painting parts.  The bolts that held the two halves of the Pony together are particularly bad, and I’ve spent a couple of hours on those alone.  Judging by the fact that the bolts aren’t uniform in appearance, I’d say the Pony has been taken apart at this particular place before, and that, therefore, it’s likely this isn’t the first time it’s lost its drive shaft, cotter pin.  I’m guessing that on this almost sixty-year-old Pony anything that could go wrong has gone wrong at one time or another.

You can do a lot with four hours.  It takes me a little under that to complete one of my three regular bike rides each week.  My twice-a-week volunteer gig, again is just under four hours.  It took me four hours on Sunday to put the second coat of paint on the Pony’s engine compartment.  I used the new can of paint I bought at Tractor Supply, and I don’t think I’m mistaken in thinking it covers better than the stuff I bought earlier over the internet.  Here’s a shot Gene took of me applying that second coat.

It was a drive out to Gene’s that got me thinking in four-hour increments.  The road between Gene’s house and mine, one of them anyway, is Damascus Church Road.  There’s a beautiful old church on the north side of the road, not so coincidentally named Damascus Congregational Christian Church.  Here’s a photo.

I mention it, because last week on the way out to Gene’s there was a funeral going on in the church when I drove by.  There were a lot of cars there and a canopy set up in the cemetery over an open grave.  I didn’t give it a lot of thought and proceeded on to Gene’s where, as previously reported, we did some pretty good work getting to the bottom of the Pony’s drive shaft issue.  I was there about 4 hours, and it was probably after 5:00 pm when I drove home, passing the old church one more time. 

The church was closed, the were people gone, and the parking lot empty.  Out in the cemetery the canopy still stood over the now closed grave, flowers heaped over the mound of earth.  As I continued on my way I thought about what a difference four hours can make.  A former loved one, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, that person had been among the living, but was now gone never to be heard or seen or felt again.  In the days ahead, the canopy will come down; only a stone will mark the place where the physical remains of that person lay.  Then after a time the cemetery will become peaceful again.

And for those who attended the funeral, memories are all that remain.

Thanks for reading.

Shafted? No!

Last November, yes that long ago, Gene and I began wondering why, when we grabbed hold of the engine end of the drive shaft it just flopped around and did not engage with the transmission.  I got some good advice from the tractor forum on the issue, but before Gene and I could look into it any further, winter weather, shoulder surgery (mine) and hernia surgery (Gene’s) stopped us in our tracks.  Well, having run out of excuses and seeing as it was a beautiful day yesterday, Gene and I decided it was time to play “Stump the Tractor Chump.”

First, here is the suggestion I got last November 16 from Miner 09:
“If the shaft came off the transmission shaft it will turn freely.  The shaft has a cotter key that keeps it on the transmission shaft.  The key may have come off; that is why it turns freely if the transmission is not in gear.  Take bolts out of transmission housing and it will slide out about 4 inches to replace key or take housing off transmission and tractor apart.    Miner 09”

Not knowing what the tractor might do when we literally broke it in two we shored up the two halves with one of my saw horses and a couple of two by sixes.  Next we removed the four bolts from the transmission housing (see picture).

By the way, every nut and bolt we removed during this process was a nightmare.  Even though Gene had occasionally squirted Kroil on these since last fall, many required the use of a breaker bar (pipe extension) on the ratchet.  After removing these I’m able to say that my surgically repaired shoulder passed the test and is now 100%.

Next we used Gene’s cutting tool to cut some lengths of threaded rod these would be used in place of the transmission housing bolts in order to allow the spread we needed to get.  Gene allowed me do the dirty work and he took this great shot of me shooting sparks at my private parts.  Jeez, hope I’m ok down there!

We took the lengths of rod and inserted them, so that the rigged-up area looked like this.

With the housing now stabilized by inserting the rod pieces, we removed the four bolts holding the two halves of the tractor together.  I circled one of those bolts in the first picture.  This then was the moment of truth.  At the joint in the transmission housing Gene inserted a pry bar, and without too much effort we were able to separate the housing (picture below).

And then for the peek inside.

What you see here is the transmission shaft (the male end of the coupling).  It is in perfect shape, no teeth missing, not even any rust.  And sure enough, there is a small hole in it (empty of course) for a cotter pin.  What you can’t see is the end of the drive shaft (the female connection),  since it is laying down in a dark, disgusting mess of acorns and transmission fluid.  We pulled the drive shaft up out of the muck and tried to shove it on the transmission shaft, but it wouldn’t go.  I stuck a finger inside the drive shaft and found the reason the two shafts wouldn’t join, more acorns and muck!  We worked a while cleaning that out, tried the join again and “ta da!”

Of course, where you see the nail is where we’ll insert a new cotter pin.  When that’s done, I’ll do a thorough “mucking out” of the torque tube, and we should be able to close her back up.

So, Miner 09, you win this week’s addition of Stump the Tractor Chump.  And your reward is my heartfelt thanks for leading Gene and me in the right direction.

Gene and I did a “high-five” after our work yesterday.  This was a matter neither of us had wanted to deal with, but all along knew was critical to finding out what lay ahead for the Pony.  We’re so happy that it was a relatively easy (and cheap) fix that we’re now psyched to get on with the rest of the project.  All this once again proving that the things we fear the most in life are usually not the ones we should be worrying about.  Thanks for reading.

The Percolator Song

First things first.  There’s a post, post script to that last post.  You’ll recall my writing about finding a deer tick running around in my underwear after my venture into the woods to visit the Olds.  Well, the next day I felt kind a pinch on my upper thigh, and sure enough, there was one of those little buggers latched onto me.  Got to looking around and found another one hanging on to my back.  I called out for The Princess, and between the two of us, we tweezered them off.  Now I’m waiting around for any of the tell-tale signs of an infection or worse, lime disease.  So that’s it for trips in to visit the Olds.

Moving on,  it was 1962, almost 40 years ago.  The Pony was in the shop on its 10th birthday having its first engine overhaul.  While Buster ground the valves, the white, plastic radio on the shelf in the back of the shop was playing this song.  Click these words to listen.  That silly little song popped into my brain a few days ago.  Isn’t the brain a marvelous thing?  The Princess didn’t remember the song, but she did remember the Maxwell House Coffee commercial which inspired it.  This was the era of the gimmick song.  Remember “Telstar,” which supposedly mimicked the sounds of an early communications satellite launched by AT&T.  It made number one on the “pop” charts, also in 1962.  Man, what a low point in music!  But the brain, I don’t know, its got  a mind of its own (the brain’s brain); without regard to taste, it remembers what it wants and spits it back out randomly when one least expects it.

So back to the shop, when Buster finished the valves, and was getting ready to close the engine back up, it might have looked something like this.

Well, actually I’m guessing he was more concerned with what he put in the engine than what the exterior looked like.  But this is what the Pony’s engine looks like right now.  Yeah, it’s upside down, and there’s still some way to go, but this is starting to look like something.  That’s the “two-bit” oil pan on the top.  The photo shows a dry run of the oil pan bolt-down.

I’ve been cleaning, priming and painting a lot of parts, and the garage is starting to look like a Pony parts warehouse.  I’m pretty close to having the hydraulic pump and its associated parts finished.  Here’s some shots of that stuff.

Some of these parts need another coat or two, but while I work on those parts, I’m now also cleaning up the air cleaner and preparing it for paint.  It’s a rather large, ungainly thing.  I’ve got its cap all done and the oil reservoir is stripped but the center section still needs a lot of work.  Here’s what it looks like at this point.

Gene tells me he’s been out doing further tear-down on the Pony.  He’s got the control panel (dashboard) off, but is struggling with the steering wheel.  We’ve either had rain or a threat of rain here for over a week, with that same scenario due to continue until week’s end.  Then, I hope to get back out to Gene’s, so I can get another coat of paint on the engine compartment and we can start looking into the long neglected “drive shaft issue.”

Now what the heck is that little pinch I’m feeling in my underarm?
Thanks for reading.

Sometimes it’s The Little Things, Part 2

I stopped by Gene’s early this afternoon to see if he wanted go steal hub caps with me.  Lucky for him he wasn’t there.  One of the interesting things about biking the North Carolina back roads is the interesting stuff that sometimes turns-up.  The time to keep your eyes “peeled” is during the winter months after the trees and bushes have shed their leaves.  All of a sudden you can see way back into the woods where during the summer months all you could see were walls of green.  It was probably a couple of years ago that the I first spotted an old truck about 50 feet off the road.  It turned out to be nothing special, and after checking between the seat and the seat back for loose change that might have fallen in the crack (there was none), I turned my attention to the surrounding area.

Less than 50 feet from the truck there was a car.  I wasn’t sure what year it was, but it was an Olds and…wait a sec, I’ll let y’all guess what year you think it is.  Here’s a picture.

At the end of the post I’ll supply the year.  This baby was quite a mess, and after rooting around inside and finding nothing, I noted that the trunk was still locked shut.  Hmmm, that’s promising.  Nearby I found a piece of steel tube and used it as a pry bar to pop the trunk open.  Open to view, the trunk didn’t look to promising either.  There were several full cans of Esso motor oil; man when’s the last time you pulled into an Esso gas station?   There were also a couple of bald tires in there, but nothing else I could see.  Maybe it says something about me, but before I slammed the trunk shut I thought, I wonder if that guy stashed anything under the trunk liner.  I peeled back the left side of the liner, and that’s where I found the guy’s secret stash.  Here’s a look at it.

If you’re having trouble making out the wording, I’ll help you out.  Each says, “Sultan…Thin…Transparent.”  Inside each was a mint condition (ok, not really mint, but unused anyway) condom made by the Akwell Corporation of Dothan, AL.  Wow, what a find!  I can’t believe the guy left these behind.  With those little babies tucked safely into a zip-lock bag, I got back on the bike and headed home.

This month saw me back on the bike again for the first time in 3 months, and because I’ve lost so much of the year I’m taking my rides more at leisure.  I’m not constantly “hammering” down the roads and more apt to stop and explore.  I’ve actually sworn off the odometer, which is mighty tough for an anal retentive guy.  So Thursday as I was passing the spot of woods where I knew the Olds was, I decided to stop and take another look. 

It was a beautiful day, sun streaming through the trees, the smell of the honeysuckle still hanging in the air.  Brushing back tree branches I worked my way back to the Old’s resting spot and began walking around her.  It finally dawned on me that the car still had its hub caps.  Not only were all four still there, but they looked to be in pretty good condition, which considering what the rest of the car looked like, was practically a miracle.  I thought, maybe they weren’t the original equipment, but the internet yields all, so I got back on the bike and headed home to get a little education.  Right away, I found I’d guessed wrong on the date, but missed it by only one year, and then with a little more searching found the hub caps, and sure enough, the one’s on my Old’s were original to the car.  Uh oh, notice how I used the possessive pronoun in the last sentence.

You know, there were rumors back during the idiotic brother’s high school years, that he and his gear-head friends were committing felonious acts involving automobile wheel covers.  Nothing concrete you understand, but some how they were all able to pay for beer and those packs of Lucky Strikes the kept rolled-up in their sleeves.  I’m not kidding; he did carry his cigs that way.  He was proud too of the yellow stains on his fingers from smoking the dang things right down to a nubbin. 

Unfortunately, the IB is off on his annual African safari in search of rare cactus seed and I don’t know, maybe hub caps, so I did not have him to consult on the proper technique for purloining chrome from an unattended vehicle.  So, as I said at the outset I went looking for my other automotive adviser, Gene.  Even if Gene had no prior experience, I was sure he’d have the proper tools; he’s got a tool for everything!  When Gene wasn’t there for me, I decided to go it alone.  Seeing as I was just a rookie, I was surprised at how smoothly the caper went down.  I backed into an old, grass-covered path into the woods right next to the abandoned Olds, hopped out with my crow bar and headed into the woods.  It took no more than 10 minutes and I had those things off the car, in the trunk and I was cruising back into town.  Jim, when you get back and read this, I’ll be interested to know how my technique compares to well, anyway, how does it compare?

As soon as I got home I filled a bucket with soapy water, got out the scrub brushes and washed-off probably 40 years of mud, insects, cobwebs, etc.  Here’s the result:

I ain’t kiddin when I say there is no substitute for nice thick chrome, the kind they put on those cars back in the 50’s.  I didn’t do anything but scrub these, no metal polish, no nuthin.  This is the photo I’m going to use in my Ebay ad, so stay tuned to future posts for, as Paul Harvey used to say…the rest of the story.  What I’m hoping, is that I might get enough for the hub caps to buy a new manifold for the Pony.

A postscript to this little adventure.  I went into the house after scrubbing the hub caps and had reason to take down my underwear.  Yikes!  Running around in there was a deer tick.  You’ve never seen a guy move so fast.  In a flash I was hammering that little devel to death with a sandle.  Then all the clothes out to the garage, jump in the shower, scrub from head to foot, vacuum the car, including the trunk.  Somewhere in there I got dressed in clean clothes.  So, as I said in the last post, watch out for the little things.

This got a bit long-winded, and I apologize to my “tractor heads,” but I promise there will be tractor news in the next post.  I’ve been working a lot in the garage restoring parts and I’ve got some great photos to share.  Gene’s been working on the tractor a bit too out at his place, so I’ll catch you up on all that in the next post.

The Old’s, it’s a 1958, and thanks for reading.

Sometimes, it’s the Little Things

I gotta tell ya, some aspects of this tractor project are right up my alley.  I can sit at my workbench for hours pulling nuts, bolts and washers out of the degreaser, and wire brushing them back to like-new condition.  Of course, it helps if the Phillies are playing in the background, but I love to make old stuff look new… like the oil pan bolts.  There are 20 of them, and they’re not that big, so they’re nasty to try to hold in one hand and wire brush with the other.  As I did them I had plenty of time to study them and in the end realized that, “they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.”  To start with, each bolt has a raised capital “E” on the head.

Isn’t that beautiful, and that ain’t all.  It took me a while to notice it, but on the threaded end of the bolt there’s another “E” incised into it.  Take a look.

Go to Home Depot, Lowes, any hardware store; you won’t pull bolts out of the drawer like these.  These things don’t just hold stuff together, they’re beautiful, and just a small example of what American craftmanship could still be like back in the 50’s.  By the way, it didn’t slip past me that these photos showed a little remaining rust on a few bolts, so on top of the two hours I already had in them, I spent another hour on them today.  Sheesh, they’re just nuts and bolts man!

Today I was cleaning up the hydraulic pump and came across some more great hardware.  Take a look at this.

Another great bolt, don’t you love the “?”?  NOTE:  How the heck do you punctuate the end of that sentence?  Even though you’ve seen a couple of great bolts here, what surprised me most were the lock washers on the “?” bolts.  Take a look.

This little guy looks like a jeweler made it.  It’s beefier than a typical lock washer you might see, and the incised pattern on the edge is just “over the top” for a lock washer.  Don’t tell The Princess, but I say she gets one of these on our next anniversary.

I did finish cleaning up the hydraulic pump today.  I took it all apart, and it looks fine inside.  I was surprised to find “O” rings inside, as I thought that was a more recent invention.  Then I thought, well, maybe this was a later addition to the Pony.  But no, I pulled the pump’s cover out of the degreaser, cleaned it up and there was the date, “02 28 51.”  Here’s what it looks like.

I did just a little research, and it turns out the “O” ring was invented in 1936 by a Swedish immigrant, Neils Christensen.  In spite of bringing litigation, many companies were infringing on the inventor’s patent, and in light of the importance of the patent in producing war-related material, during WWII the government bought the patent for $75,000.  The government then gave only certain companies the right to produce and use the rings.

Yeah, the little things can make a difference, and you’ve got to have your eyes open to them, or they’ll slip right by you.  Back in the late 50’s my dad would bring home bags of coins from the bank.  We all enjoyed going through those huge bags filled with thousands of coins, touching every one so that by the end of an evening our fingers would be black.  We each had a coin collection, and it was fun and kind of exciting to open a new bag always thinking this might be the night you found one of the “keys,” that is, the most valuable Lincoln pennies.  Some of them I still remember by heart:  1909s-vdb, 1909s, 1914D, 1924D, 1931s.  To find one of these and be able to fill one of the open spaces in our collection books was our constant dream.

But there was another Lincoln cent of very recent vintage (as of the late 1950’s) that was being talked about a lot.  In 1955 the US mint in Philadelphia had put several hundred thousand pennies into circulation that had been double stamped by the die, so that certain parts of the coin (like the date) showed a visible double image.  These pennies, known as the “1955 shift,” or “1955 double-die” were valuable right from the “git go” and now can command prices in the $1000 range depending on condition.

One night the idiotic brother and I were sitting in our usual spots across from each other at the dining room table, each of us tediously sliding pennies from our bags, flipping them if necessary, and moving most over to the discard pile.  The night got long and the fingers had turned black when all of a sudden Jim kind of stuttered and shouted, “A fif, a fifty-five shift!”  These coins were not that easy to spot, and our eyes blurred sometimes with the thousands of coins passing by, but that idiot kept his eyes focussed and spotted the faint lines of the doubled date, 1955. 
Dammit, why couldn’t I have gotten that bag!

Let this be a lesson to you.  Keep your eyes open, appreciate the little things…and try to get the right bag.
Thanks for reading.

The Royal Wedding

Your idiotic author disappeared for over a week, so you were probably thinking, oh, he got an invitation (big shot blog writer that he is) to the royal wedding in London.  Actually, no, the Princess and I made a huge road trip to Madison, WI (over 2000 mi round trip) to attend the memorial service for my uncle Carly, who passed away a week ago Friday (Good Friday).  To my Aunt Mike, cousins Barb, Sue and John and their families, I will say what you already know, Carly was a great guy.  He was always doing something fun and interesting, cared deeply about family and the others around him and raised a wonderful family, the proof of which we saw all around us last week.  A favorite expression of Carly’s was, “Holy Moses,” and rest assured, he can now use that, and possibly even get a response.

On our way home we stopped in several cities from our past, met some dear friends, and had a chance to reminisce.  In some ways it was sad to see a decline since the old days, like the fenced-off, empty and weedy parking lots of my once vibrant, former employer, Miles Laboratories, now just a footnote on the ledgers of pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG.  But then we traveled down an old country road outside Elkhart, IN that The Princess, son Andy and I had called “the hill road.”  It was exactly the same as it was 25 years ago.  There was this one hill that went up steeply and then after the crest dropped precipitously.  When we ascended the hill last week, I gunned the engine just as we had all those years ago, and over the crest of the hill for a fleeting moment it gave us exactly the same feeling, a feeling, I suppose, something akin to the weightlessness felt by astronauts.  Andy used to say, “That makes my tummy “tickle.”  The tickle’s still there.

While I’m on the subject of driving, during this long trip I had ample time to observe The Princess’s navigational skills.  With the map open on her lap, I could ask,  where are we now?  Answer:  “How should I know?”  Another one, and this happened at least half a dozen times.  I’d ask, which exit we should take for such and such.  The Princess would commence intense studying of the map and eventually, maybe 10 minutes later, she’d name an exit that we had passed about a quarter-mile back.  God bless her, The Princess is a lot of things, but a map reader, she ain’t!  Before we undertake a trip like this again, if ever, it will be with a Princess-enhancing GPS system.  By the way, I don’t know how we could be so lucky, but on our 7-day trip, it rained on at least part of six of those days.  This was a Camry wiper system torture test, and luckily, it passed with flying colors.

A highlight of the trip was a stop in Roanoke, Va to visit the O. Winston Link museum.  If you like old steam engines, he took some of the best photos, many of them now iconic images of the age of steam.  Here’s a photo I took of a wall size blow-up of one of his images.

He took predominantly black and white photos, at night, and with the cooperation of the Norfolk and Western RR, staged them down to minute detail.  He was self-taught, but a meticulous pro in everything he did.  We spent over two hours in the museum, so had to forgo visits to the Museum of Transportation and the Roanoke Museum of art.  This shot taken through the gift shop window in the Link Museum shows the railroad tracks where trains are going by almost non-stop, and in the background the modern-looking art museum.

We loved being in Roanoke and not just because the sun decided to shine the day we were there.  We’ll definitely be making a trip back.

So, no, we were not at THE royal wedding, but you know that I am married to a princess, and of course 42 years ago MY Princess deigned to marry a mere “commoner.”  I suppose this now gives me some kind of royal status, but none of the usual royal benefits.  There is photographic evidence of the event, and below are a few shots, gleaned from 100’s.

A number of thoughts came to mind as I looked at these photos.  First, except for the fact that my Princess is prettier, our wedding was a lot like the other royal wedding.  Both involved churches, wedding parties, formal wear, kisses, rides in vehicles, receptions, cakes, dancing.  So alright they didn’t get to have a fabulous Polish dance band like we did, but still, very similar.  Second, that picture of The Princess smiling so nice with my parents, that was before she found out what a family of loonies she had married into.  Third, that stuff on my head is hair, and it was blond because I worked road construction during the summer before the wedding.  Finally, the idiotic brothers looked just as idiotic back then as they do now.

One other picture.

 This is a shot taken in a Bob Evans restaurant in Champagne, IL during the trip.  We asked our server to take a photo on the occasion of my 64th birthday.  Which reminds me, I guess I’m going to have to update the “About” page.  Although The Princess never gets older, I do!

Oops, and here’s another one.

Another thing that kept me from tractor work.  This is the first day’s production of my 2011 jam-making effort.  One more day like this one and I should be set for the year.  You may place orders now.  Price is the same as in previous years, since there is no inflation in That Idiotic Tractorland.

Alright, that’s it.  I promise to get back to work on the Pony this week, so tune back in for another update soon.  And as usual, thanks for reading.