Monthly Archives: September 2012

Little Dutch Boy

Leaks, leaks, leaks, if something isn’t coming outa one place its coming out of another.  I’m gonna have to get that Pony a giant oil resistant diaper.  But, good news, we got those leaky head bolts fixed.  That was my biggest worry.  Here’s some video just posted to YOUTUBE.  The camera work was supplied by one of Gene’s son’s, Allen.  You may have heard me say over the engine noise that I found a new leak coming from the oil filter canister.  Then too, my newly assembled and filled steering box has a slow leak, poop!  No, no, no, just oil.  Pretty soon we’re going to have to get our own oil well over in the Mid-East.

No more to add right now, but with as confusing as all the Ryder Cup scoring is, I knew you would want to take a break and see this video.  Thanks for watching!

Fall, 2012

All the signs of Fall are here.  The Vidalia onions are gone, the blueberries too.  It’s funny how you can watch the seasons move by checking the origin of the blueberries you’re eating.  First they’re all coming from south of here, then ours come in, then its New Jersey, Michigan and finally the Canadians let a few cross the border.  When the “blues” are gone, well that’s just sad. 

An upside, the apple crop is in…made the first apple pie of the season today.   Of course, The Princess’s birthday looms bringing the usual pressure on me to come up with something special for “The Princess who has everything.”  Suggestions would be appreciated.

And with Fall it’s cool again out in Gene’s garage, so working is much more pleasant.  Spent quite a few days out there in the last few weeks.  I did a lot of work hopefully plugging leaks coming out of various places on the Pony’s engine.  Then I put the steering box back together and installed it and the tool box/battery cover lid.  Here’s a little slide show.

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As Gene and  I struggled yesterday trying to figure out where a few of the remaining pieces go, I remarked that it was a lot like putting a puzzle together.  But our puzzle is all red and where those pieces go and how they’re adjusted will make a lot of difference in whether the Pony runs.

That’s an original decal on the deck.  The new body work is only “finger tight” right now, but I trust you see some progress here.  Gene’s wife, Lynn, was in the garage on Sunday.  She said, “Why is the deck so much smoother and prettier than the gas tank.”  I said, “Well that’s because since I did that gas tank I’ve learned how to use 1500 grit sandpaper and rubbing compound to bring out  a real “professional” finish…ok, semi-professional.

Just to finish up on the Pony, we’ll be doing another engine start soon.  We’ll be checking a couple of “crucials.”  Have I fixed the engine leaks…and have I got a functioning clutch and transmission?  Oh mannnnn, I’m scared!

Yeah, Fall.  The Phillies are now thinking about next year and the Eagles are showing signs of an early season meltdown.  The hummingbirds are fattening-up for the trip to Mexico.  And there seems to have been a change in players, so that now, although skirmishes continue, more than one of the little stinkers gets to ease up to the trough.  Next year may be a challenge.  Today we saw one of the bluebirds that lives “downstairs” sitting on the railing by the hummer feeder.  Both these breeds being very territorial, next spring when the bluebirds move back into their house things could get very interesting.  Stay tuned for the Spring Season with new episodes of “Upstairs Downstairs!”

Speaking of the animal kingdom, geeminee, we got a thing going on in NC, and all of it over Possums.  For twenty years, out in the little burg of Brasstown, NC they’ve been lowerin’ a possum in a plexiglass box on New Year’s Eve, just like they do up in NYC with the apple.  I don’t know about you, but droppin’ a wild-caught, live possum in a plexiglass box sounds way more fun and exciting than dropping an apple.  Others seem to agree, so that each year thousands are drawn to this small mountain town.  There’s a beauty pageant, a Possum Queen, fireworks, and, of course, the possum drop.

Want to move up from Princess to Queen”?

Enter PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, oh brother!  They’re suing to get the possum drop stopped.  In a nutshell, PETA believes that since possums are very shy, the little fella is being traumatized while he’s in the box, and that this could lead to nasty consequences once he is returned to the woods…might even need weekly trips to the possum “shrink.”  The News and Observer that reported the story here locally quotes a PETA representative, “To us, it’s clear that the possum suffers.”  When this thing goes to court, the Brasstown folks need to argue strongly that they’re doing the little bugger a favor.  By keeping him in the box for a few hours, they’ve kept him off the local roads, where he would most assuredly be flattened into a little possum cake, or worse yet be “winged,” and wander off into a ditch to die a slow, agonizing death.  I’m pretty sure that any “thinking” possum would choose the box over the road.  I’ll keep you posted as the litigation proceeds.

Finally, an update on the Ozone Experiment.  I’ve had my “training” and am scheduled to go into the “chamber” for the first time next week.  Wow, steel walls, floor and ceiling, an air-lock and a big glass window covering the length of one wall where people sitting at a control panel monitor the victim, umm “study participant.”  It made me a little uneasy when it was explained that the chamber was actually intended to be a meat locker.  I said, “You’re joking, right?”  But no, there’s the logo, “Zero King,” up on the wall.

By the way, I don’t think I mentioned that money changes hands as this moves along.  Each time I visit, they hand me a check.  I’ve decided to run an Ozone-Meter alongside the Pony’s Cost-O-Meter and see if we can get O-Z-M to cancel out the C-O-M.  After the first two visits, the O-Z-M reads:  $150.  Got a way to go I know, but be patient.

Fall, it used to always make me think about going back to school.  When I was two years out of college, sitting at a desk and stuck in a low-level insurance underwriting job, the thought of quitting and going back to school sounded sooo good.  Then another guy in the office actually did it.  It was kind of funny actually; he said nothing and gave no hint, he just didn’t show-up one day.  When they went through his desk though, they found he’d left a rather cryptic poem of explanation.  I left soon after him to get my MBA degree (no poem), and even decades later, that step always made me think…is the this the Fall I should chuck it all and go back for a PhD?  It’s wonderful how retirement has cured me of those longings, so that now I watch the students over in Chapel Hill and think, glad I’m not one of them!  Thanks for reading.

Woah Pony, Woah Boy

First things first.  I seem to have worried some folks perhaps by my use of some hyperbole as I discussed the upcoming ozone poisoning.  Listen, they’ve promised that if I start to pass out they’ll lower the dosage.  No, no, no, seriously, here’s the deal.  What they’re going to do is stick me in a room three times for three hours (half of which time will be spent walking on a treadmill) and expose me to three different levels of ozone.  One of the three times there’ll be no ozone at all, just purified air.  Another time it will be at a very low level that causes “no noticeable effects,” and the final exposure will be at a level that most of us “…are frequently exposed to especially during the summer months.”  Since, when there is an air quality alert in our area, I go out and do the “morning 40” anyway (for three hours), this little experiment, well, it’ll be a “walk in the park.”  Y’all are sweet, and thank you for fussing for me, but this is NOT dangerous.  Now I’ve kind of ruined the fun of this for you, but I’ll still try to spice it up in future reports on this project.  For example, Friday I’m going in for a training session where I will have ECG leads plastered to my chest.  Because the technician only uses a dry razor to remove chest hair, she suggested I shave my chest before coming in, as it’ll be less painful if I do it.
24 hours later
Jeez, I musta spent an hour last night shaving my chest.  What a mess.  Now looking at my bald head, you’re probably thinking he’s not such a hairy guy, but you’d be wrong.  First I used my old beard trimmer kind of like a weed whacker to clear away the heavy brush.  Then I lathered-up and took it right down to the skin with my Gillette Sensor razor.  Only two blades folks; you can’t tell me that any more than that (they’re up to 4 now) is necessary. 

Holy cow, what an adventure.  I really found some stuff.  I found a thing growing in there…thought at first it was a third nipple, we’ll have to keep a close eye on that thing.  I was wiping the hair out of the sink and found a tiny lock washer in there.  I’m pretty sure I lost that thing a couple of months ago while working on the Pony.  The big shocker came this morning though.  I left early on the morning 40 when it was just 54 degrees.   I dressed the way I normally would for that temperature, but  I’m telling you, shooting down that first hill…whooee…that cold wind just went right through me.  Apparently chest hair has a purpose!   Anyway, I’m all set for my Friday training session, I mean “walk in the park.”

Not sure if any of you have checked the web page lately, but for a couple of months the COM just sat there at $1800 and change.  I wasn’t trying to keep anything from you, honest, just lazy really.  If you check it today you’ll see that I’ve added $128 which accounts for numerous items, and brings the new total to $2056.  I’ll admit it did hurt a little to watch that retched thing click over the $2000 mark, but in order to make my self feel better, I’ve taken to looking at it another way.  I’ve had the Pony for two years now, so the monthly “run rate” (as we used to say back in my old finance days) is a rather modest 84 bucks.  I’m not saying that I view that as acceptable year after year after year, but I do view it as a pretty cheap hobby.  Heck, I’ll bet there are some folks who spend that much on their hair each month…eh Princess?

On the subject of those items in the COM, I want to show you what 60 bucks went for.

That piece of tractor is known as the “bell crank,” and it’s attached out on the nose of the Pony.  It turns when the steering wheel turns, and the tie rods which attach to it, extend out to the wheels and make them turn.  The folks at my “non-engine” machine shop are incredibly nice and just as importantly, good at what they do.  A week ago they managed to get that shaft out of the hub of the crank, but in the process everything (the shaft and the bushing) was ruined.  They were going to charge me $35 for getting the thing apart, but felt bad about how it had come out, and I said I really couldn’t use the thing in the condition it was in.  They said don’t worry, they’d make it right, and would “work with me” on the price. 

Well what they did was just beautiful (it’s on the right in the photo), and let’s face it, the new shaft they made is probably, no certainly, the nicest thing on the pony.  They also put a new brass bushing inside the hub.  The young lady, Kristin, who works in the office said they’d take $45 for the job, but I said, “No you won’t, you’ll take $60, cus the Pony accepts some of the blame  for this debacle.”  Heck, their hourly rate in the shop is $75!  So, to my new friends at P.B.E.M. in Durham, NC, you are now officially FOP (Friends of the Pony).

Moving on.  If Gene and I ever get the Pony to move, we will now be able to make him stop.  Last week we finished up all the brake work.  When we first opened up the brake compartments, out poured a good quantity of ice-cold, rusty water, so you can imagine what the inside looked like.  I’ve mentioned in earlier posts how we managed to get enough good parts together to fit back inside the brake housings.  There’s a drum inside each housing, and belts tighten up against those drums when the brake pedals are pushed.  Following is a slide show  of the work on the brakes.

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I think that may be my first attempt at a slide show, and somehow that bell crank shot snuck in there where it doesn’t belong.  We jacked up each side of the rear end to adjust the brakes.  What you do is tighten the belt down until it hugs the drum, and then back it off until the wheel spins freely.  Then you set the brake linkage on each side, so that the two sides will brake in tandem.  I think we really did get them right.  I’ve had those nice, red covers done for months, so it was fun to finally see them installed.

So, now that we can stop the Pony just fine, ALL we need to do is get him going.  I’m working right now on conquering some leaks back at the engine.  I should complete that work this week, and then it’s on to the steering.

In the meantime, don’t shave anything you don’t have to, and thanks for reading!

No Fly Zone

I have a favorite “Get Fuzzy” cartoon.  You have to imagine that Bucky Cat is The Princess when you read it.  Here’s the link:  Get Fuzzy.  Of course, I’m the dog.  I thought of this cartoon again recently as The Princess was once again trying to convince me to whiten my teeth.  Of course she’s trying to shift the attention away from the fact that in the month of August she had three teeth pulled and  a bit of gum surgery.  I’m telling you, just in “tooth fairy”  payments alone that woman is bankrupting me.  That reminds me of a little story from Andy’s youth.  He was always a sharp little bugger.  He was at that age when his baby teeth were dropping like acorns from an oak tree.  We were putting him to bed one night, once again with a tooth under the pillow, and he said, “There  really isn’t a tooth fairy is there?  He caught me off guard, and not being prepared, I admitted that, no, there was no such thing, not unless you named my wallet, Tooth Fairy. 

We said goodnight, but before we could get out of the room he made the next logical jump and said, “And I suppose there’s really no Santa Clause either?  And like that, the innocence of childhood was over.  I remember feeling a bit sad that those sweet days when I could feed him any load of BS and he’d believe it were over, but at the same time, I was relieved.  First, we’d raised him right, he’s a real skeptic.  And second, finally that fat old man in the red suit would stop getting all the credit for the Christmas presents.

The Princess and  I have created a “monster.”  That’s if you can call a hummingbird a monster.  We’ve always had hummingbirds come to the flowers on our deck, so this year we thought maybe we could attract even more if we put up a feeder.  Off to Home “Despot,” hung the feeder, made the sugar-water and voila, we were in business.  It was on the second day that all hell broke loose out on the deck.  Hummers were swooping around chasing each other like fighter pilots.  They’d approach the feeder, spread their tail feathers and “peep” ferociously (if that’s possible).  If you sat out there you could actually hear the hummers’ feathers ruffle as they hit each other in mid-air.  It was pretty cool to watch. 

But after several days we began to notice fewer skirmishes and fewer hummers.  The level of the sugar-water went down much more slowly, and finally we were left with just one hummer.  Wow, so this is how it works, you know, survival of the fittest.  He (or she) is challenged occasionally, but he’s  set-up a pretty effective “no fly zone” covering an area within about a fifty foot circle.  I’m mean, what would you do if you’d found say, the eternal bowl of cashews?  You’d protect that bowl baby!  He enforces the nfz by darting out of the nearest maple tree, or from a little perch right near the feeder and chasing the interlopers away.  Now, after a couple of weeks we’ve noticed that this little “alpha” hummer is not so little anymore.  That’s right, he’s becoming a little “porker.”  A lot of lessons to be learned here, don’t you think? 

This reminds me a lot of the story one of my Grandma’s used to tell.  The story was all about a little boy who’d sneak into a neighbor’s house through the basement window and eat warm pancakes that had been left out in the kitchen.  After each visit, the boy would retreat back through the window.  The neighbor couldn’t figure out what was going on, but swore someday he’d catch the culprit and make him pay dearly for his misdeeds.  Somehow the boy eluded the neighbor over and over again and eventually after eating hundreds of pancakes he started getting quite fat.  He got his comeuppance one day when the neighbor finally caught him eating the pancakes.  The boy ran for the basement, dove at the window and to his dismay became stuck.  This is the point in the story where depending on how much time grandma had and what kind of mood she was in she could either have the boy escape, or meet some hideous, tragic end, or escape and return again…and then reach the tragic end, or, well you get the idea.  Things eventually don’t turn out well at all for the little boy.  This is why little kids love their grandmas?

Of course for our hummer, that basement window is called migration.  We’re seeing our fat little hummer trying to migrate south, alone, because he has no friends and very slowly, because he’s dragging that fat little belly along.   He might make it as far as South Carolina, and freeze his ample buns off all.  Let that be a lesson to all of you!

I finished painting the right front end and the right front wheel, so check these photos out.

Then too, I made a little addition to the Pony’s engine.  I needed a place where I could drain the coolant, because the drain the Pony was born with was (naturally) frozen.  The drain is circled in yellow in the photo below.

The idiotic brother suggested that I drill a hole near where the current drain is, tap it, and then insert a threaded plug that I can just unscrew whenever I need to drain the engine.  The series of shots that follow show coolant draining from the freshly drilled pilot hole, then the tapping of the 11/32 inch hole with an 1/8 inch pipe tap, and finally, the new drain plug inserted.

Like I’ve done all my life, I put this daunting task off for a long time.  I’m such a “fraidy cat.”  But then as I have also often found, when I got right down to it, it wasn’t bad at all.  Got any holes you need threaded?

Moving on.  I’m about to venture into a new area.  And I want you to know that I’m doing this for you, my dear readers.  Through one of my extra curricular activities, I made the acquaintance of a doctor that works at UNC.  Turns out that among other things, he conducts clinical trials involving the environment, specifically the air we breathe and its effects on our health.  He noted what a “miracle of health” I am for my age and suggested that I might be a candidate for a clinical study they are conducting.  I’m going to try to give you as brief a description of the study as I can.

It has been observed for sometime that following periods of unusually high levels of pollution, seniors with compromised health start “dropping like flies.”  So, what this study will do is subject a number of idiots like me to high doses of ozone to see if it’s the ozone that’s killing these people.  So, yes, just as some fun for my readers, I’m going to let them see if they can kill me with ozone.  I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, Pony boy, where’s that healthy skepticism you taught your son.  Hmmm, guess that skips a generation.   Anyway, over the next few months I’ll be giving you regular updates as the study progresses.  Let’s all hope that I live to include this little venture in the next segment of…”Things That Could Have Killed Me.”

Pray for me, and thanks for reading.