Monthly Archives: June 2011

Attack of the Dust Bunnies

It all started innocently enough, but as the weeks have gone on I can see now it’s going to get nasty.  A few weeks back there was some kind of falling out between our maid, Streeba (what the hell kind of name is that) and The Princess.  I guess I should have seen it coming; Streeba’s rather high-strung, confrontational and let’s be honest, does not like to work.  And The Princess, well…let’s just say they are not a good fit.

I remember coming down the stairs and just catching a glimpse of Streeba’s rather imposing hind quarters heading out the front door.  “What’s up,” I innocently asked The Princess.  “Oh for God sakes, I just offer her some constructive criticism and next thing I know it’s, I don’t have to take this, I’m outahere.” 
“Ok, I don’t know what you said, but you’d better get her back; we got no other options.”
“No way, if she comes crawling back here AND apologizes, maybe. 
So we got ourselves a good ol’ female stand-off here, and I’m worried.  No one wants jobs like this anymore, you know, the one’s where actual work is done?

So now things are getting ugly, literally.  We got dust bunnies  the size of well…bunnies.  There’s one, I’d swear it was in the living room last week; now it’s upstairs!  Last week the pest control guy came in here, saw one, and asked if we wanted him to go out to the truck for a “live trap.”  Everyone’s a comedian.  The neighbor’s dog saw one, cornered it in the garage and barked at it for 10 minutes.

Man, I hope those women call a truce soon.  There is some hope though of finding different help.   I’ve been thinking…maybe we could put an ad on Craig’s list looking for a “bunny farm worker!”

While we’re on the subject of the home premises, I know some my neighbors read these posts, so I’ll just apologize here for the funny smell out front.  We think some cat has decided that the bushes in front of our garage belong to him, so he keeps spraying there.  I’d say that next to a dead skunk, that’s the worst smell there is.  After considerable research I’ve found something even more obnoxious to spray out there that’s supposed to take care of the cat spray odor.  I’ve also bought a “boundary spray” which, for some reason, when the cat smells it, he’s supposed to think “Ew, that’s awful, I’m movin’ on.  So, sorry about the smell.  But listen, if this isn’t a cat, and some neighbor is just peeing in my bushes, as some kind of a comment on my performance as president of the HOA, message received;  no need for a follow-up!

Great tractor news.  Remember how in the last post I mentioned I needed to find a professional welder to fix the oil filter bracket?  It finally dawned on me that Dr. Fullofit possesses this talent.  I popped that thing in the mail Friday via Priority Mail (yes, $5.20 on the Cost-O-Meter) and got it back Wednesday, yes another $5.20 on the Cost-O-Freaking-Meter.  But I’ll tell you, don’t ever pick on the U.S. Postal Service in my presence.  Where else could you get something like that out to the West Coast and back in less than a week for 10 bucks and change?  No where!  Oh, and that reminds me…I know…I’ve got outstanding jam orders I need to mail…but don’t pressure me.

So here’s a shot of Dr. Fullofit in the clinic working on the bracket.

(Photo Courtesy of Nurse Minnie)

And here is a before and after sequence for you on the whole oil filter unit.

What do you think, Dr. F, she look good enough to fit on that fire truck you’re restoring?  By the way, in the picture below you can see the bracket that Dr. F welded.  It’s behind the canister and attaches it to the head.

Thanks again Doc for your speedy work.  By the way, normally the canister would be red like the rest of the unit, but I decided to shine up the aluminum and put a couple a coats of polyurethane on it instead.  I like the contrast.  Now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the bracket Dr F worked on.  Since he bead-blasted it, it’s silver now too.  I think I’ll probably paint it red, even though it looks pretty good the way it is.

I’m gonna wrap this up, as I wanted to get something out to you faithful readers before the long holiday.  Just a brief, final comment though.  The holiday weekend always serves as a reminder to me of what a great year 1969 was.  The Princess and I got married on July 5th, and (God knows why) she’s stuck by me ever since.  This event was followed by the U.S. manned space flight to the moon.  And then to put the icing on the cake, in December, in the first ever military draft to determine who would serve in Viet Nam, my birthdate was picked out of a hopper at the Selective Service in Washington DC, number 351 out of 365.  I remember like it was yesterday, The Princess and I sitting in the kitchen of our first apartment, listening to the radio and waiting, and thankfully waiting for my birthdate to come up.  From that year’s lottery, they went through 25o birth dates in the call-up, and I think not infrequently if my date had come up earlier, what if?

Happy anniversary Cindy, and you others, have a wonderful 4th, and thanks for reading!

Pokes You Owe Me a Coke!

I wrote a few posts ago about the theory and practice of calling “dibs” on something.  Although that practice was and remains of key import in determining ownership rights, there was another key practice that sometimes came into play as a necessary adjunct to calling dibs.  Here’s how it would work.  Let’s say The Princess and I are both peering into the freezer looking for something for desert.  As an aside, here are the things that at anyone time one might find in our freezer:  ice cream (usually two to three flavors), pieces of blueberry buckle, slices of pie (usually a couple of different types), cookies, Klondike bars, and frozen fruit.  Then there might be a token package of chicken and a bag of shrimp.  Finally, tucked here and there are hermetically sealed bags of garbage that if put in the trash 5 or 6 days before pick-up would reek to high heaven from our constant, low to mid-90’s weather.  That makes a pretty packed freezer, and in this case led to our pawing around doing a shelf by shelf examination when “bingo,” we both spied the last piece of peach, blueberry pie at the same time and simultaneously called out “DIBS.”

Now, since calling dibs is supposed to solve problems, not create them, another practice was developed to deal with the occasional simultaneous calling of dibs, or anything else for that matter.  The simple solution was the invention of “Pokes you owe me a Coke.”  Following the simultaneous “dibs,” the first party to call out Pokes you owe me a Coke was not only awarded dibs rights, but a bonus.  The bonus could vary depending on neighborhood custom, but as the phrase implies, the loser had to buy the winner a Coke.  In our neighborhood, where no kid had much money, the Pokes winner instead of getting a Coke, got to take a free punch at the upper arm of the loser.

Now don’t forget that Pokes could apply to any word or phrase spoken simultaneously.  So you can imagine, with the popularity of words such as “neat,” and “cool,” where practically entire conversations would consist of those words, there was ample opportunity for Pokes.  Consequently, every kid was on the alert for this potentiality and ready in an instant with that phrase.  This led to the ridiculous scene you might come across where two kids on the sidewalk are shouting Pokes you owe me a Coke at each other over and over again, because in addition to the initial simultaneous phrase, they had also simultaneously spoken the “pokes” phrase.  They were so hair-trigger good at it that they continued to yell it until one of them ran out of breath and finally (and literary) took his lumps. 
In our case, The Princess was a little slow on her “pokes,” and I got the pie.

Another subject.  The Princess is absolutely “hell on wheels” when it comes to examining and paying the monthly bills.  This week she caught Time Warner once again trying to pry a few extra bucks out of us on our cable bill.  When you go through those bills you can never figure them out.  There are incomprehensible charges, fees and taxes and then when you get to the end, nothing adds up.  The Princess is convinced that they have a secret program (I’ve dubbed it “The Weasel”) that just slightly scrambles-up every bill by some odd little amount like $2.15 with the hope that people will not notice, or even if they do will consider it to small an amount to spend half an hour on the phone arguing about.  Unfortunately, The Princess only finds the errors.  I’m the one on the phone for half an hour.  The call this week was typical.  I would state the case, the TW person would give a nonsense answer, I’d restate the problem, another nonsense answer and so on.  In the end, the TW person backed down and agreed to remove the charge.  So, fair warning, watch out for the “weasel!” 

As for the Pony?  I should never write things like “next I’ll be torquing down the head bolts;” it’s a jinx.  That statement first led to the need for all new head bolts.  Then I found that in addition to the air filter and the spark plug wire guide, the oil cleaner is also attached to the head.  So that led to the cleaning, wire-brushing, sanding and painting of all the parts to the oil cleaner.  But when I got the canister’s bracket clean, I noticed it had a crack in it, so now I need to find a welder, someone other than the hack who fixed the bracket on the air cleaner.  Hmmmm, who do I know that is a professionally trained welder?  So, the long and short of it is that I have not torqued down the head bolts (hell, I’m not even close), but I am making other progress.

Hey, and look at this.

When I got the radiator back, I noticed this tag, but it was half-peeled off the radiator and covered with black paint.  On one corner I noticed a little gleam that looked like brass.  And sure enough, after a bit of elbow grease the tag shown beautifully and boasted its Canadian origins.  Ahhhh, those folks up there could really make a radiator.  “Cool!”…Pokes you owe me a Coke… and thanks for reading.

AARP Sells Out, and The Pony is Livid!

The Pony is so mad that he is seeing even more than his usual red.  I was reading the Wall Street Journal Friday, and the Pony was looking over my shoulder.  All of a sudden he spies the article that relates how AARP (American Association of Retired Ponies) is dropping its opposition to cutting Pony Security benefits.  “Holy Moses,” shouted the Pony too close to my ear, “I can’t believe I’m reading this!”  But it was true, this stalwart organization, this gigantic protector of retired Ponies was changing its stance.  In spite of the overwhelming objection of its 37 million members (didn’t know there were that many Ponies out there), AARP decided that in order to play a meaningful role in the debate on Pony Security it needed to take a more flexible position. 

This decision was made by a few “big wigs” at the top of the organization.  They decided to sell-out the membership without giving them a say in this “sea change” in philosophy.  As the Pony and I read the article though, it started to become clear why the decision was so easy to make.  The biggest reason is that AARP has become a conglomerate.  It now makes close to 50% of its $1.4 billion in revenues from selling AARP branded health-care, financial products and other junk.  Well sure, those red, Pony-logo baseball caps were pretty cool, but the bottom line is that AARP can now thumb its nose at its retired Ponies and not worry about losing a bunch of members if they take a controversial position.  The article said AARP lost 300,000 members when they took a position backing President O’Bama’s (The Pony insists the President is Irish) health-care law, a law that cut medicare benefits by a half-trillion dollars and mandates the purchase of health insurance, which coincidentally (ha!) AARP sells. 

The Pony asked me to write this little something in the blog, hoping in spite of scuttlebutt to the contrary that it will be read by the “high and mighty” at AARP.  The Pony want’s it known that its fine for there to be people and organizations that are willing to negotiate and compromise, but that should not be the position of the AARP.  AARP must stand fast and oppose any and all benefit reductions (including the rumored reduction in free oil changes after age 65).  Whew, where’d that all come from…oh, of course, the Pony is now 59 and closing in fast on the Pony Security “gravy train.”  I’ll tell you this, as we move closer and closer to engine start-up, I can’t take a chance on the Pony overheating again and literally blowing a gasket.  So, no more WSJ reading; that’s off-limits from here on out.

Here’s a first, an idiotic recipe!  Over 25 years ago the Princess and I (our son too) regularly visited a little restaurant called The Buggy Wheel in Shipshewana, IN.  It wasn’t all great food, but they did have some dishes that became favorites of ours.  In particular, we loved the broccoli salad.  It took me a while, but after many visits and many small bowls of broccoli salad, I finally got up the nerve to ask for the recipe.  The recipe is a little strange, because it is for a restaurant-size batch, but it is easily divided to one-third size.  Since summer is in full swing, and this salad goes great with a lot of casual summer meals, I thought I’d share it with you.  Don’t worry about not being much of a cook; if the Princess can make it, anybody can.  Below is the actual recipe as written out on the back of a restaurant place mat over 25 years ago.
 
If you try it out, let the Pony and me know how you liked it.  Next subject, the interminable Midwest flooding.  It just goes on and on, year after year, and every year, month after month.  I really feel for those folks, a lot of them farmers with Ponies, but I think I came up with a solution.  Last week I wanted to bake a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  I love the combination of sweet and tart flavors, but don’t like the way it always comes out runny, you know, too much juice.  I found the answer to runny pie and Midwest flooding at the same time, when I tried a new recipe that included tapioca.  I wasn’t too wild about the little beads of tapioca you end up with in the pie, but by golly, those beads each ate up 100,000 times their volume in juice.  So, I’m proposing that each spring we dump a few truck loads of tapioca at the headwaters of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and I’m pretty sure there’ll be no more Ponies up to their axles in mud out there.

I know, I know, this blog has been all over the place, and you’re wondering where in the hell is the tractor news.  Easy, easy, learn some patience; sheesh, it’s only been 10 months.  Wow, I guess when I see it in print like that, it does look like an awfully long time.  But, progress does continue to be made.

This week I got the gas tank sanded and primed.  I’ve also placed a four-foot length of chain inside and I periodically sit for a while whirling the chain around in there.  That is supposed to loosen rust and other garbage in there, so that it is relatively clean when I put the liquid, fuel tank liner inside. 

Then Saturday I went out to Gene’s, and we spent about an hour pushing, tugging, jockeying and juggling the two halves of the Pony back together.  Below is a photo of the gap before we got ‘er closed-up.

I’m calling this series of photos, Mind the Gap, you know, like the PA announcements on the London Underground.  I’ve circled in the gap above the pinion cap I installed, complete with my home-made gasket and “black velvet” gasket sealer.  Yes, Dr. Fullofit, I did clean the surface thoroughly with lacquer thinner before the install.

In the photo above, Gene is using a Channel Lock to close the new cotter pin around the drive shaft.  Finally, with the work done in the gap, we were ready to close her up.

 No, Gene isn’t trying to milk the Pony (although it sure looks that way); he’s fastening one of the bolts that will hold the Pony’s two halves together.  Don’t worry, I fastened a few too, so after about an hour’s work, we had the job done.  With that little job behind us, I’m going to focus more on the engine.  Hopefully, any day now the new engine bolts will arrive, and I can torque down the head. 

In the movie “What About Bob” the Richard Dreyfus character is a psychiatrist, and he writes a book called “Baby Steps,” explaining to his patient, Bob (Bill Murray), that it’s ok to progress with small baby steps.  I’m taking his advice too and progressing with baby steps…of course in the movie Richard Dreyfus ties Bob up with explosives and attempts to blow him up.  Sure hope it doesn’t come to that with the Pony.

Thanks for reading.

And now, a Few Scores…

PONY 1, OSCAR 0
DR. FULLOFIT 23, SQUIRRELS 0
BLEEPING BUG 8, IDIOTIC AUTHOR 1 (lump)
BLUE BIRDS 1, CHICKADEES 0
_____________Game Summaries____________________

Pony v. Oscar
In the game that pitted the Pony’s radiator against crack radiator technician, Oscar, at Bull City Radiator it was in the end an upset victory for the underdog Pony.  You may recall that in last Friday’s post Oscar had taken a firm position after a purely visual inspection that the Pony’s radiator was a leaker.  Oscar proceeded to give that radiator everything he could, including a thorough flushing, and a pressure test and in the end the shop had to give in.  There was a phone message waiting for me Monday afternoon from Corky at the shop stating almost apologetically that they couldn’t get the radiator to leak, and that I could come pick it up.  I headed right over to the shop, backed the car in and out came Oscar cradling the winning radiator.  I told him that since he called it wrong he had to have his picture taken with the winner, so here you go.

I probably should’ve taken a “before” shot, but rest assured this radiator looks a lot better here with Oscar than it did when I dropped it off.  As you can see it’s even been given a shiny black coat of paint.  Cost-O-Meter impact:  $77.00.

Dr. v. Squirrels
For the Dr v. Squirrels game, Dr. Fullofit was kind enough to send the following game summary.
The Last Resort Pony Clinic is nestled in a small grove of pine trees.  The birds love it in this area, and we decided to put out some sun flower seeds for all birds to enjoy.  The birds took to the seeds like camels to water and unfortunately, so did the squirrels!  In one week we went through 25 pounds of seeds.  Ethyl Gotgas, my anesthesiologist, suggested we invest in an animal trap, so she could send them off to the clouds via a bottle of chloroform she keeps in the cupboard.  Other staff members explained to Ethyl that our clinic is here to save lives and therefore, we invested in a small animal trap and initiated our official “Squirrel Relocation Program.”  Within a week, we took 22 seed eaters for a five-mile ride in the clinic’s brand new 2011 Honda CR-V hatchback (shameless, unpaid product placement) and released them at Ethyl’s dad’s old rutabaga farm. 
One enormous squirrel evaded capture for another five weeks, but, today he took the bait, and we all celebrated with high-5’s.  I’m sure this guy had been pumping iron and taking steroids his whole life, lacking only a Spandex suit!  I spread out a plastic sheet in the CR-V cargo hold (so he couldn’t get even with a pee job), plopped in the trap containing Super Squirrel, and it was off to the farm.  Super’ was not a happy prisoner, squawking and squealing all the way and driving us crazy.  At the farm, Ethyl put the trap on the ground.  Super was running around in there like a caged animal (what else).  Ethyl opened the trap door a quarter of an inch and Super blew out of there like shot from a cannon, toe nails burning,  and beatin’ feet like a scalded dog.  He covered about 20 feet and, I swear, we all heard a squirrlic boom (like a sonic boom only fuzzier).  Super flew over the furrows like a blazing rocket, and this is the truth, after covering over 100 yards, we all heard a second boom as he decelerated below mach 1 to take his first breath.
We’re all back at the clinic now, celebrating our victory and enjoying the birds.
Truth be said, the relocation program was a blast and in a way we’ll miss our furry little friends.  Still, we’re crossing our fingers they don’t have “spd’s,”  (squirrel positioning devices) to find their way back.

Bug v. Idiotic Author
In this one it was really no contest, as the IA had no defense.  About a mile from home on the “morning 40” bike ride Sunday, I felt something itching inside my jersey.  I scratched for a while, but in the end forgot about it.  I didn’t think more about it until Sunday night when I took my shirt off and saw a bunch of red dots.  I’m not sending a picture, but these babies continued to redden and itch and eventually looked a lot like the constellation Andromeda and covered about eight inches around my waist.  By Monday night I was concerned enough to do a full body inspection, and when I peered around in the mirror to my back, saw a soft, swollen area.  What the $&^%?  Tuesday, off to the doctor first thing, but not to worry said the Doc (not Fullofit).  Those red dots, yup, insect bites, and the puffy swollen thing, a lipoma (fancy word for lump of fat).  This really explained a lot, as I’ve always wondered where all my fat was.  I’m apparently wearing it in a hump on my back.  I’ll let you know when it begins to affect my aerodynamics on the bike.

Blue birds v. Chickadees
Remember this one?  Back in the spring there were skirmishes between these competing teams over which would get residence in our bluebird house.  This one was up for grabs for a long time, and we didn’t really know what was going on until fairly recently.  But a very persistent and crafty pair of blue birds now reside in the house and are busily bringing insects (not enough though) to their babies.

So that’s your sports report for today.  But in late-breaking tractor news, on this gorgeous 80-degree day, I took a trip out to Gene’s to do a little work on the Pony.  I installed the pinion cap and new gasket on the transmission face, applying liberal amounts of “black velvet” gasket sealer to both sides before the tighten-up.  Next trip out, we’ll install the drive shaft cotter pin and try to pull the Pony’s two halves back together.  That may be a testy job, so stay tuned.

Thanks to you “Yankees” up north for sending us three days of dry, cool air and hey, thanks for reading too.

Bull City Radiator

After getting a recommendation from the machine shop over in Durham, I headed out Friday afternoon to drop-off the Pony’s radiator at Bull City Radiator.  Although it has a Durham address, the shop is really out in the boonies a bit west of Durham.

When I arrived I popped the trunk, grabbed the radiator and as I headed in the door with it out came Oscar, poor guy, really sweating in the heat, but smiling and saying in heavily accented English, “Ahhh, tractor radiator.  What’s it doing?”  I told him then that it hadn’t been doing anything for over 20 years.  He took the radiator from me, removed the cap, handed it back to me and waved me into the office.

In the office, the manager, Corkey said, “What’s it doing,” where upon I gave the same response I gave Oscar.  “Is it leaking?” he asked.  Again, I said I didn’t know, as I’d never seen it run.  “Oscar, is it leaking?” he asked again, and Oscar immediately answers, “Yeah, it’s leaking.”  Thanks a lot, Oscar, for that vote of confidence.  Of course, I would be shocked if it wasn’t leaking.  Everything else on the Pony leaks, so why not the radiator. 

They’re going to flush it out and test it probably Monday, and get back to me. 

I got home and the Princess asked how it went.  I told her there was no way of knowing until they looked into it next week.  She then inquired as to whether this was going to be another “big-ticket” item whereupon a bit of a verbal skirmish ensued.  I said, “You know, the fact that I’ve now spent $1000 on the Pony is only obvious, because I invented the Cost-O-Meter.  I track the cost there, because I thought it would be of interest to readers of the blog.  If we ran  C-O-M’s on other things around here, we’d be wringin’ our hands over a few other categories too.  What about that extravagant “salad spinner” you bought?”  Well, boy, that stopped her I tell ya.  Well, it didn’t really, but eventually she eased up on me for the time being. 

Meanwhile, I just have to chuckle; before dinner sometimes I can hear that stupid salad spinner whirring around for 10 minutes or more.  And when I come into the room she just swears that that thing is the greatest invention on the planet.  I’ll tell you this, its way ahead of the C-O-M, which doesn’t dry lettuce and just pisses her off!

Before I sign-off, I just thought you’d appreciate these little images off of Bull City’s business card.

Any guesses as to which one of these little guys is the Pony radiator?


Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading.

Hey, I got dibs on that!

How many times did you say that as a kid?  Two of you walk into the kitchen and there’s one Rice Crispy treat left on the plate, “I got dibs on that!”  It was non-arguable, non-negotiable and final, so simple.  The one who says it first, gets it.  Think how useful this could be in today’s overly complicated world.  Divorces would be simple, none of that community property business.  The husband just reminds the wife, “No, remember, back in 1998, the year Janie started college, I think it was in her second semester, I saw that vase in the antique store on South Brisbane and called dibs on it.”  Case closed.  Dibs would make copyright law unnecessary.  If you do something and call “dibs,” baby that’s yours forever.  I ran into a couple of situations recently where I had dibs rights and someone else horned-in.

First example, about four years ago I was out taking pictures in the woods (this is before the damn ticks called dibs on me) and thought, you know those old rusty, abandoned cars might be interesting artistically.  I could use photo shop to isolate certain aspects of the vehicles and massage them into something artistic.  So, just to be safe, I remember telling the squirrel running across the hood of one of the cars, “Hey, fuzzy, I got dibs on that idea.”  Here’s an example of one of my pieces.

I call this one “Another Galaxie,” kind of a double meaning there since it’s a Ford Galaxie and it looks kind of  “other worldly.”  Anyway, imagine my surprise when I walked into Starbucks last week and the walls are covered with very similar images.  I was outraged, but don’t worry; I got the guy’s name off one of his copy-cat images and I’m going to inform him of my dibs rights.

The other recent infringement of my dibs rights occurred just a few days ago as well.  A couple of times over the last few years I can remember thinking how horrible it would be to born a bird and be told, “Now junior, this is the one little tune you are going to tweet over and over again for the rest of your life.  You can never tweet anything else.”  Can you imagine having to say, “Awesome,” and only “Awesome,” for your entire life.  I’m sorry Tractor Man, those are no longer available.  “Awesome.”  I’m sorry to tell you Tractor Man, there’ll be an hour wait for a table, “Awesome.”  I don’t know how to tell you this, Tractor Man, but your illness is terminal, “Awesome.”  You can see where that would get annoying.  On two particular occasions (once on a walk when I heard the birds singing and once as we were riding in the car just recently) I remember specifically telling the Princess how bizarre this would be to be so restricted in one’s speech.  I even suggested that if I had to be born a bird, I’d ask to be a mockingbird, because they’re one of the few birds that just “let it rip” and sound like they’re really having fun.  So again, imagine my surprise when I saw this cartoon in the paper.
 Yup, my idea, that I had dibs on, again stolen by some guy named Scott Hilburn.  I’ve got a call in to him, and will be claiming this under my dibs rights.

Moving on.  I was pumping gas last week, while the Princess sat regally in the passenger seat simply observing her subjects.  She noted the following.  A guy climbs out of his car, smoking a cigarette and heads toward the door of the convenience store.  Before he enters, he throws his cigarette on the sidewalk.  He later comes out, spies the still smoldering cig on the ground, picks it up and happily begins puffing again.  Great!  By the way, he did in fact have dibs on it.

Tractor news. 
The NC summer began a couple of weeks ago, so now we look for those few days in the 80’s to comfortably work on the Pony.  We had one of those last Friday, so Gene and I pulled the Pony a little further apart, and I worked on cleaning more gunk out to the Pony’s torque tube.  The torque tube is that cast metal casing that runs from the engine back to the transmission and encloses the drive shaft.  You may recall that Gene and I were amazed on opening the front end of the tube, that it was filled with an obnoxious mixture of 20-year-old transmission fluid, acorns and other indistinguishable organic matter.  Well, on getting access to the back-end of the tube we found even greater quantities of the gunk.  The mystery to us is, how did the forest critters get all that stuff in there?  As far as we could tell, there really are no significant entry points.  These isn’t supposed to be any fluid of any sort in there, and there dang sure ain’t supposed to be acorns in there.  I’d like to hear theories on this from you readers.  How did that stuff get in there?

I spent a good solid hour with my arm curled around awkwardly inside the torque tube.  I looked like James Herriot in “All Creatures Great and Small” trying to deliver a lamb that had gotten turned around in the uterus.  The difference was that the stuff I got out, looked more like what comes out after the lamb is born.  And stink?  Whew!  It took all kinds of scrubbing and 24 hours time before I got that stink off my hands.  I believe I did get the gist of the gunk out.  I might take one more crack at it, just to do a final mop-up.

With that clean-up done, I moved to making a new gasket for the cap that was exposed when we gained access to the front of the transmission.  We suspect that this might be a source of the fluid leakage.  Here’s a photo of the cap and my new gasket.

The other potential source of the transmission fluid leak could be an oil bearing around the transmission shaft.  Changing that bearing would entail taking the entire transmission and differential apart, a daunting task, which I have decided will not be attempted unless on the ol’ Pony’s first time around the block, fluid is absolutely spurting out of its every pore.  So, my plan will be to install the new cap and gasket, insert the new cotter pin in the drive shaft and close the Pony back up.  That may be tricky in and of itself, with the two really heavy halves of the tractor now about eight inches apart and all “catywumpus.”

I made a big move in the garage too.  With the oil pan now sealed-up, the time had come to get the engine back right-side-up, so the head could be torqued down.  My plan was to attach a couple of two-by-fours to the engine motor mounts and then simply roll the engine onto a couple of four-by-fours.  I would then screw the boards together into one solid base.  This will allow room for the oil pan to set between the boards, and the boards will also serve as lift points when we move the tractor from the garage back out to the Pony.  When I finally found the motor mount hardware, I was so impressed that I had to take a picture for you.


Aren’t those “just the nuts?” 

Here’s a shot of the engine now upright and me screwing the new engine stand together (photo courtesy of The Princess).

Now, the emphasis turns to closing up the top, or “head.”  I went out to Gene’s, because he has a wire brush attachment on a bench grinder.  With 20 head bolts to clean, I made fairly quick work of getting them all rust free.

Unfortunately, my next move was to email an image of the refurbished bolts to Dr. Fullofit.  First, let me say that Gene had already said that if the Pony was a Jaguar (which it ain’t) the specs call for replacing all the head bolts on an engine rebuild.  After a thorough review of the bolt photos, and a consult, Dr. Fullofit stated that Jaguar or not, “…those bolts are nasty, and you must replace them all.”  Dr. Fullofit revels in this.  He asked that I put The Princess on the speaker phone and then said, “Can you imagine how many earings you could have bought with the $1000 your idiotic husband now has invested in this debacle?” 
Not helping me here Doc!

Thanks for reading.

From A to Pork

I’ve been working on the Pony’s air cleaner off and on for over a month, but it’s finally done.  Today I took a picture for all to enjoy.

There’s one coat of primer (hand brushed) and 3 coats of Pony Red (sprayed, at least a whole can).  Before painting I had to have one of those eyelets welded back together at a “hack” shop about three miles from here.  Yeah, the $10 from that is in the Cost-O-Meter.  Of course there was the usual degreasing and wire-brushing too.

I also closed-up the oil pan a few days ago by applying the “Black Velvet” gasket sealer to the crankcase, laying the gasket over that and then screwing down the 16 refurbished oil pan bolts.  Let’s hope we don’t have to go back in there again soon.  When I get a few extra hands and I’ve adjusted the engine table, the engine can then be flipped, so that I can work on getting the head bolted down.  In the meantime I’m refurbishing the 20 head bolts and continue to work on filling those holes in the air intake tube that was shown in the last post.

Man, speaking air intake tubes, I had a nasty respiratory infection last week that really set me back.  I didn’t feel like doing anything but cough, lay around and do cross-word puzzles.  The daily crossword supplied by our local newspaper is the only reason we subscribe anymore.  Well, no, I like three comics too:  Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy and as long as I’m on the page anyway, Dilbert. 

And speaking of the newspaper, and humor, remember that story I related  back in March about the five pigs that fell out of a truck on the local interstate highway (click these words to view the March 31 post).  Well, the celebrity pigs got to stay for a couple of months in a “swanky” animal shelter before recently being auctioned-off to some animal lovers who drove up all the way from Florida and will place them on their animal rescue farm.  Those little porkers brought $3200 at auction, with an amazing $1500 paid for Babe, the “runt of the litter.”  I don’t know about you, but I’d watch out for the “litter of the runt”!  This whole deal just seems to run contrary to logic.  Who pays a premium for the smallest pig?  I’ll bet Jimmy Dean is rollin’ over in his grave right now.  My Mom is down there in Florida.  I’m thinking maybe she should check that place out, you know, just to make sure there isn’t a fragrant aroma of pulled pork wafting out of that animal “rescue.”  Folks around here refer to having eaten some good “cue,” why not resCUE?

Mentioning the cross-word puzzles earlier reminds me.  I’ve decided to wage war on the letter “A.”  It struck me as I was working a puzzle a while back that the cross-bar in the A is superfluous (fancy word only English majors are allowed to use).  It isn’t needed to differentiate it from some other letter, and the cross-bar takes extra time, pencil lead and/or ink.  So, I’ve sworn off using the cross-bar.  All my A’s now look like upside down V’s.  According to one study*, in the US alone, $56 million in ink could be saved by simply removing the cross-bar of the A.  And think about this, do we really need the straight line in the letter “B?”  Bang, there’s another $56 million, and the straight line in the letter “E,” yet another $56 million.

If you think I’m on to something here I’d like to here from you with more suggestions.  If you think this is just stupid, I don’t want to hear about it.  But just imagine, with all the millions we’ll be saving, we could resCUE a whole bunch more pigs.

Thanks for reading.
*That study only exists in the idiotic authors mind.