Monthly Archives: February 2012

Not to Worry

This is just a quick post to provide you all with another video taken yesterday after Gene and I got the engine going a second time.  Seems all your positive thoughts and good wishes served the old Pony well, as it appears he is still puttering along just fine.  Next, we’ve got to get to the bottom of starting and compression issues and some hydraulic oil leakage.  Here’s the link:
http://youtu.be/f4ujlw01cQg

Not movie stars…yet…but wait until the old Pony starts doing “talkies.”  Acadamy awards here we come.  Thanks for viewing!

Twelve Hours of Happiness

I received the missive below from that “crackpot” Dr. Fullofit shortly after the last post went out.


He’s a pip isn’t he?  I would have just thought Doc was having a little fun and moved on, but then I heard from Doc’s alter ego, Dr. Gloom and Doom.

Gene and I were so happy.  A year and a half of hard work and after the three tries the old Pony started.  What a thrill, right?

Then the emails started coming in from Dr. Doom saying he thinks we ran the engine too long before putting water in it.  Thinks we may actually have cracked the head.  Says when he saw the video of us running the engine he kept yelling at the computer, “shut it off, shut it off!”  Says he was so upset he woke up thinking about the engine at 2:30 in the morning.  Jeez Doc, lighten-up,  I don’t even think much about it a 2:30 in the afternoon.  He actually has ME worried now.  I emailed back, “Can’t you even let me have 24 hours of happiness?”

Could Gene and I have worked a year and a half , got the engine to run for 2 minutes and then killed it?  Well, yes, but we don’t think so.  Tomorrow we’re going to go prime the engine with oil and gas, say a little prayer and smoke up Gene’s garage again.  You just watch.  Everything is going to be just fine, hope, hope, hope.

Every post ought to have a picture.  I took the shot below with my phone.

This old log cabin showed up on the “morning 40” last fall after the leaves fell off the trees.  I prowled around it a bit this spring, found nothing, but did wonder, who planted those daffodils and when?  Did she think they’d be blooming for me?

Please everyone, I’m serious, think good thoughts about the Pony tomorrow, maybe even send him a good luck comment to the blog.  But don’t lose any sleep tonight, and thanks for reading.

Day 553

A week’s gone by since the last post.  People start to wonder, did he finally lose the battle with the microwave?  Is the new bed so comfortable he just decided not to get up again?  Maybe he’s invented a new “morning 40,” instead of 40 miles, 40 years like Rip van Winkle.  Or, after trying to shock the Pony to life one too many times, perhaps it reared up and kicked him.  Maybe a new infestation of something (vampires?) took over his body.  Don’t worry, none of that stuff happened.

Fact is, it’s been a slow news week on all fronts…until today.  Today was pretty special.  It was 553 days ago that the tow truck driver followed me deep into the woods, winched the Pony up on his flat-bed and headed out to Gene’s.  You all have followed the story, but I’m not sure if I’ve recounted that in the last month, there have been three attempts at starting the Pony’s engine.  Each time, I’d set up the camera on a tri-pod, start recording and then run around behind the engine and push the starter button.  Each time we cranked the starter until it got hot, but the engine just would not pop.

Not meaning any disrespect to people who suffer true depression, but I told The Princess after the last failed engine start that I no longer felt quite so depressed as I had after the earlier failed attempts.  I guess it shows that you can get used to anything, even feeling bad.  Now THAT’S depressing.  Anyway, we really were running out of ideas, when Doc Fullofit suggested, that we squeeze some motor oil in the spark plug holes over the top of the pistons and follow that with four teaspoons of gas.  Well, that sounded a little scary, and  reminiscent of that old “Fire in the Hole” recommendation we got way back when, when we were trying to free-up frozen pistons.  Doc felt that the oil might improve compression (which had been low) and that the gas might “prime the pump” so to speak, as it seemed we were having trouble getting gas up into the firing chambers.

So this morning Gene squirted in the oil with a syringe, and then this afternoon I went out and we poured gas in the four spark plug holes.  No tripod, no camera, but I’ll tell you what, I checked for the fire extinguisher for sure before this engine start.  I won’t drag this out anymore, so just click on the YouTube video link that follows.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1oftr-xkvc&context=C30079ffADOEgsToPDskJ1ERdSwkGqNHShZFwWIh64

Woo hoooooo!  You saw it, and you heard it folks.  It not only ran, but at ran pretty smoothly.  On the video, you may have seen me point to the radiator and comment that we needed to put water in the radiator.  So we shut off the engine, filled the radiator with coolant and put more gas in the gas tank.  Of course, then we couldn’t get the dang thing to start again.  But, hey, now we know it does run, hope is alive, and I’m happy, happy, happy!

Thanks for sticking with me for the past 553 days everyone, and thanks for reading.  CONGRATULATIONS PONY!

Thank God “I” Wasn’t Driving

Several weeks back, it was the night before Gene and I tried to start the Pony’s engine for the first time, I had a nightmare.  The Princess and I were out in California.  We were driving some place, in a convertible, and she was at the wheel.  We got to a point where there was a steep hill.  It was so steep that as we approached the crest you couldn’t see what awaited on the other side.  As we crested the hill I thought, Holy Moses, the other side descends almost straight down…and then suddenly, it was straight down… and the car just began plummeting through the sky toward the earth far below.  That’s where the nightmare ended.

Alright, lets analyze this.  First, was it significant that The Princess was driving?  Well sure, although she’s a great back seat driver, come on, we all know she can’t handle the real thing.  Then too, it probably says that deep down she scares the crap out of me, and I need to be wary.  What if, some night while I’m sleeping in my lovely NEW bed, and driving my convertible safely through the mountains, she sneaks up, gives me a good hard shake and says, “Wake up, that damn teenage girl next door is playing music so loud I can’t sleep.”  Thanks Princess, now we’re both awake, and you’ve ruined a perfectly good dream.

Is it significant that the dream took place in California?  Well, lets see, the Idiotic Brother lives out there…ok…that is significant.  There was a trip we took, with our lovely wives, along the Pacific Coast Highway many years ago.  Knowing my fear of heights he intentionally drove very near the edge for the entire trip, often pointing out the relatively insignificant guard rails, the potential for falling rock and the sheer 500 foot drops.  MOM, Jim’s picking on me!

Did it make a difference that the car was a convertible?  I like convertibles, so all I can think of is that God, or somebody (the devil?) wanted me to get the most out of the nightmare, and to be free-falling in convertible is  definitely scarier than just free-falling in a hard-top.  And anyway, we were buckled in, so, hey, no worries.

Finally, should I have taken this nightmare as a forecaster of doom?  Should I not have gone out to Gene’s the next day?  If I hadn’t gone out that day might the timing gear magically have been set properly rather than 100% wrong?  Naturally these are all good questions for the good doctor, so I called Doc Fullofit and asked him.  “Nah,” he said, “that was a dang good nightmare, but you’re just going to have to live with the fact that to err is human, and you are probably the most human person I know.  What a “quack!”

On to tractor news.  As the last post went to press, the team was looking at the possibility that the timing gears had been installed incorrectly.  Dr. Fullofit, our left coast advisor, went out on a limb and said that we had the crankshaft gear one revolution off as respects the camshaft gear.  This did seem to fit, as when we had the No. 1 piston at TDC, both its valves were not closed as they should have been, and we were only getting modest compression.  Neither could we see the D/C (indicating Top Dead Center) on the flywheel when those valves were closed.  Gene did some figgerin and declared (I hate to say this) that Jim was right, so last Saturday we drained and removed the radiator, drained the oil, pulled the timing gear cover off the front of the engine and made the necessary adjustment.  Here’s a shot Gene took with the timing gear exposed.

We turned the crankshaft gear one turn, again lining up the two dots incised on the camshaft gear with the single dot on the crankshaft gear.  The gasket around the cover was all torn up when we pulled the cover off, but to test whether we had fixed the problem we temporarily tightened everything back down and tried a couple of things.  First, we turned the engine over, found what we thought was top dead center on No.1 piston, with both valves closed, then peaked in the porthole to the flywheel.  Voila!  There was the D/C mark.  As a second test, using the battery to turn the engine over, we checked the compression.  Sure enough, now all cylinders were showing some decent compression.

So, we’re back on track, and barring another frightening nightmare, another try at starting the engine isn’t far away.  Once again, as I say to the Pony’s engine, stay tuned.

Do you ever think about your mortality?  I think about it all the time.  It hits me at the strangest times.  This week I was sitting on the throne.  You know what else do you have to do, so I was just letting my mind go.  I was staring at the bathroom scale.  It’s one of the kind that magically comes to life when you turn on the light in the room.  I thought, how nuts is that?  Long after I’m dead that stupid thing is going to just keep winking on every time some other fool turns on the bathroom light.  It’s not only going to keep working, but it’s going to keep telling some other poor shlunk exactly what he doesn’t want to know, and on top of that it’ll out live him too.  Sheesh, how long can that go on?”  I think I’m going to have to kill it.
Have a lovely week everyone, and thanks for reading.

Scout to the Rescue, The Goldilocks Buys a Bed Prequel

After trying to start the engine Saturday, and again on Sunday, and not having any success, Gene and I have come to the ugly conclusion that somehow we messed up the timing process.  Maybe it’s the timing gears, maybe incorrect positioning of the flywheel, could very well be both, maybe something else.  Consultations with the usual suspects are ongoing.

So, although by now I know your patience must be wearing thin (I know mine is), you’re just going to have to wait a little longer while Gene and I come up with a repair strategy and implement it.  But Sunday night, I tell ya, I felt just like Charlie Brown does after Lucy pulls the football away.  Argh!

Here’s one nice little set of tractor pictures to keep you interested.  They are “before and after” pictures of the Pony’s newly painted mid-section and dashboard.

After all this disappointment probably the only thing that will cheer you up is a good story, and even better, one where I’m the butt of the joke.  Remember the post I did a while back called “Goldilocks Buys a bed.”  There was even a follow-up, Goldilocks Buys a Bed, The ‘Rest’ of the Story.”  Did any of you ask yourselves at the time, why does he need a new bed?”  Well, to answer that question, here now is the “prequel” to that story.  And by the way, this is one of those stories that is so painful (both literally and figuratively) to tell, that only this passage of time has made it possible.

Last spring The Princess and I took a trip out to the Midwest.  It was 2000 miles roundtrip.  This naturally involved overnight stays in motels, hotels and inns across half a dozen states.  The Princess is a stickler when it comes to hotel rooms, so we’re always pretty darn careful to stay in above average places, and only after she has seen the room and given it The Princess Seal of Approval (PSOA).  So, although The trip was grueling, we always had a nice place to lay our heads at night and mostly good meals.

When we returned home I began sleeping alone in the guest bedroom on a regular basis, because the bed in the master bedroom had been giving me back aches.  A couple of weeks after the trip I woke up one morning with a cluster of what appeared to be insect bites on my leg.  They burned, then itched and in general looked pretty nasty.  I didn’t think too much of it that first morning, but when a few days later I got another cluster of stinging, itching bumps on the other leg, I quickly put two and two together and got six, hell maybe eight!  This was the start of Phase 1, Fear.  I thought, ok, something is biting me while I’m in bed.  We’ve  just been traveling and staying in all kinds of different beds from here to Timbuctoo.  Oh my god, it’s BEDBUGS!

And so the saga began.  The Princess was horrified, immediately laying the blame on the one historic inn we stayed at where the person showing us the room said, “We had a woman claim once that we had bed bugs, but that was baloney; we’ve never had ’em.”  We flew into action, gritted our teeth and did a thorough search of my mattress, bedding, and everything else in that bed room.  On one of my sweaters, sitting near the bed we found a tiny dead bug, which heightened our concern.  Like an idiot though I flushed it down the toilet, and there went any forensic proof we might have had of what?  Not taking anything to chance we emptied that entire room.  The mattress and box spring went down to the garage, and all the bedding and clothing went into Hefty bags, also out into the garage.  I vacuumed that room “six ways to Sunday.”

I don’t remember the exact timing, but after taking refuge in Cindy’s bed, one morning soon after the last batch of bites, I woke up with the now familiar stinging sensation, and sure enough a new cluster, this time on my thigh.  This is where we entered what I’d call Phase 2, All Out BedBug Warfare.  I had consults with my doctor, a phone conversation with a bug specialist at NC State University and a visit from a highly recommended exterminator.  During this period, I moved out of the marital bed and began sleeping on the living room couch.  But strangely, as days continued to go by Cindy never got any of the red clusters of bites.  The Doctor and Scientist both waffled, saying you can’t tell by looking at red spots, what caused them.  The exterminator examined the rooms and beds and came up with nothing definitive.  He even had an explanation for why we could have bedbugs even though only one person was being bit.  The answer?  Bottom line, the buggers liked me better, great!

In terms of treatment, he explained that even though there are a bunch of “quack” remedies out there, the only thing that works is heat treatment.  In the heat treatment you have to vacate the rooms, one at a time, raise the temperature very high for a fairly prolonged period and put loads of cash into his wallet.  This will kill the offending critters and your budget.  Making me feel worse, he did a lot of nodding of his head as I described my red spots.  “Yeah, yeah sounds a lot like bedbugs.”  Crap.  He did offer one ray of light.  He said that since his visual inspection was inconclusive, we should go the next step and bring in a K-9 unit that’s trained to sniff out bedbugs and bedbug feces.  I know, yuck!

So that’s how we entered Phase 3, Scout the Wonder Dog.  The exterminator got hold of Jeremiah Smith, head honcho at LogosK9.  On his business card it said “NESDCA Certified Canine Bedbug Inspections.”  My goodness, did you ever dream?  When he showed up, holy Moses, The Princess practically swooned.  Her words, “I thought he was a real nice piece of wool!”  In advance we’d been given a full-page of does and don’ts for the inspection, stuff like don’t cook anything strong smelling the day of the inspection, don’t leave pet food out, and don’t interact with the dog while he is sleuthing.  Right, “Hey Scout, you find bedbug feces, I’ll hit you hard with the heel of my shoe.”

The inspection began with “hot stuff” talking soothingly to the Princess, ostensibly to calm her down, while his partner brought Scout, a nervous little Jack Russel Terrier, into the house.  They covered all three floors including the fourth floor attic.  We could hear his little claws clicking on the hard wood floors, up, down, into the garage with the mattresses and Hefty bags full of bedding.  Jeremiah said that the dog’s sense of smell is so acute that we didn’t even have to open the bags.  If there were bedbugs in there, he’d smell them right through the bag.  This went on for an excruciating amount of time.  We heard the front door open and close a few times, more clicking paws, more time.  Sheesh!

Jeremiah and his partner finally came back into the dining room where we’d been sequestered.  “You don’t have bedbugs and you never did.  Scout doesn’t make mistakes, but to be doubly sure we brought in our back-up dog and he didn’t find anything either.  You guys are clear.”  And with that Scout was out of our lives (and sadly for The Princess, Jeremiah too), and Phase 3 drew to a close.

But in Phase 4 we consider, What the Hell Was That All About.  I came up with one more cluster of red, burning, itchy spots while sleeping on the couch, but just as mysteriously as it all began, it all just went away.  A theory that appeals to me, which was suggested by my doctor and found plausible by the scientist, was that these things I was getting were a delayed reaction from the tick bites I’d gotten earlier, remember…while I was stealing the hub caps?  They called it urticaria, saying it can take a lot of forms, but it’s essentially hives.

With nothing better to explain it, that’s the diagnosis we’re going with, and we move on to Phase 5, What Have we Learned Here.  First, never throw-out the mattresses until Scout’s been out to see you.  Second, sometimes two and two add up to nuthin.  And third, never steal stuff, it’ll generally come back to haunt you.
Thanks for reading…jeez my ankle itches…what the….