Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tip of the Cap, Rain Cap that is

Remember that sleeve the guy at the muffler shop made for me?  I hadn’t thought of it, but in order to be able to tighten the clamp and the sleeve around the muffler pipe it needed a slit cut into it.  I found this out when I tightened the clamp and all that happened was the clamp tightened the new stack to the sleeve, but not the muffler pipe.  Of course Gene had just the tool for cutting the slit, and here’s a photo he took of me at work on the job.

Version 2

Sparks a Flyin’

I was scared to death using that thing, but managed to get through the job without injuring myself.  I used the same metal cutter to cut a little steel off the clamp.  After using a file to neaten-up my work, I re-tightened the clamp.  This time everything snugged right up.

While I was working on this little project I started wondering after all this time whether I had the rain cap on correctly.

In the event you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a photo of the rain cap that I bought from All States Ag Parts.108631-2

Before reading further, take a guess as to which way you think this doohickey should be attached to the stack.

In the past I have always attached it with the hinge and “tail” toward the rear as shown in the photo.  I mentioned this to Gene, and he went to his computer, checked some old photos from a tractor show and said it looked like they were mounted with the hinge to the front.  When I got home I checked some photos on line, and from those there appeared to be no consensus.  As a final check I Googled “rain cap direction.”  Whoa, back in 2009 some guy was dumb enough (like me) to put the question to the Tractor Forum, and holy cow, what a barrage of responses (over 40).  After going through them all, I can report that even among “tractor nuts” there is no agreement, roughly equal numbers voting for hinge forward, backward and believe it or not, sideways!  Then too there were just as many voting to skip it altogether in favor of a can, soup, dog food, Nestle’s Quick and coffee cans were among those mentioned.

Those arguing for hinge back said it helped send the smoke a few inches higher.  Those arguing hinge forward said that that direction made it less likely the thing would get snagged in tree branches.  More importantly, in this position the cap remains closed when the tractor is being “trailored.”  Those voting for sideways claimed that this helped send smoke to the side and away from the driver.  The guys arguing for soup cans, etc seemed to be a fun-loving, contrary type.  They loved the fact that on occasion if one forgets to remove the can when starting the engine, it can get pretty exciting, blasting the can up to 40 feet into the air.  Along those lines, one guy suggested a new contest at tractor shows where a prize would be awarded to the tractor that could blow the can the highest!

Of course, there was a voice of reason in the group, “There is no right way, just whatever you prefer and makes you happy.”

But I’ll leave this subject with this colorful comment:  “Someone just told me all that diesel smoke I’ve been getting in my face over the years is going to give me cancer.  ‘Son of a gun’ I told them, ‘Then I may as well take up smoking, except I already do.’  I’m a gonner, that’s for sure.  Coal dust from the power plants when I hit them, diesel smoke in my face, Marlboro Lights in my pocket…I am in big trouble.  May as well take up drinkin’ and women too.  Oh no, I already do that too.  I am toast!”

In the “It’s hell to get old” category, I offer this little story.  In the last post I bragged about putting up a whole bunch of strawberry jam.  Turns out that even though I have been doing this for at least 25 years, the memory failed me this year and I put one cup too few of sugar in all those jars I did that first day.  Argh!  After making a couple of more batches (the right way) The Princess and I sampled the two batches.  We decided that they were both pretty darn good, the one that was short on the sugar was still sweet, it just didn’t set as hard.  I’m calling that “Jam Lite,” and recommending it for folks that would like to use it  as an ice cream topping.  Since I have a little extra of the “Lite” sitting around now, I’m offering to send a jar (free of charge) to the first person that sends an email to me “off blog” requesting one.(1)  You may send your email to: and, of course, include your mailing address.

Good luck!  And as always thanks for reading.

(1)  Those who already receive jam from me (you know who you are) are not eligible.

Pony Driver’s Stop Smoking Plan

The Princess and I were up in New York City last week, and on the train up I noticed that folks were out in the strawberry fields picking.  So, as soon as we got back I headed out to the usual patch, picked three buckets of berries, and brought them home for jam.  By dinner time Friday I’d made 15 jars of jam, so I think if I just make another five-jar batch next week I’ll be good for the year.  I made a strawberry pie yesterday and hopefully still have enough berries left for a few portions of strawberry shortcake to0.  After OD-ing on all that, I’ll probably slow down a bit and just have them on my morning cereal for a while.

And staying with the “things that are red” theme, I’ve been working on a little project for the Pony.  For some time now it has annoyed me that when I drive the tractor, I’m sitting right behind the exhaust stack, engulfed in a cloud of exhaust, breathing it, and later smelling of it.  It was like smoking a pack of cigarettes, but without the pleasure of the nicotine.  My idea was to get the exhaust to pass over me by adding a “stack” to the muffler.

I measured the muffler exhaust pipe and found that the O.D. was 1  5/16 inches.  I then went to my trusty AGCO parts book to see what I could find that would fit.(1)  The closest I could find was an exhaust stack with a 1  1/2 inch I.D.  I decided on a two-foot stack and to add some class, got it in chrome.  I also got a chrome clamp and a new rain cap, not available in chrome.  All in, about $50.

The parts arrived while we were out of town last week, so I was able to get right to work when we got home.  The first job was finding a sleeve to “step-down” the I.D. of the stack to as closely as possible match the O.D. of the muffler’s current exhaust pipe.  I had luck at the third place I stopped, an auto shop that did muffler work.(2)  The guys at the desk flagged a guy down as he passed through the office from the lot, and I explained what I needed.  He didn’t say one word, just turned around and headed back into the shop.  About ten minutes went by, before he popped back out holding the exact thing I had described.  I was so happy I almost forgot to ask if he could also cut four inches off the the top.(3)  Again, not a word, he simply retreated to the shop, came back in five minutes, and this time with just a hint of a smile, held out the finished product saying, “You’re going to have to file that burr on the inside.  I didn’t have a file.”  I said, “Man, that’s just perfect, what do I owe you?”  No quotation marks necessary here, he just shook his head and turned to head back into the shop.  I said, “Wait a minute,” and slid a tenner across the counter.  He reached back, snagged it and again with something just approaching a smile went through the door into the shop.

This little experience so struck me that I just have to preach a bit about how this guy exemplified the perfect employee:
*  Most important, he was a good listener.  I didn’t have to repeat myself.  He got it right the first time, including the dimensions I had mentioned.
*  He didn’t waste time.  Nothing unnecessary was said; the dude just turned and went to work.
*  Of course, he had the expertise.  He knew what to do and how to do it.
*  He had pride in a job well done, but wasn’t a show off.
*  Finally,  he’s not stupid…he took the ten bucks!

This is a direct contrast to the desk employee and for that matter most of the other employees (not Sammy, the doorman; he was great) at our New York hotel.  I explained to the employee that because the maid had left a window open in the room, it stank of McDonald’s hamburgers (shop just below).  I explained that they should strip the beds, deodorize the room and in general do whatever was necessary to get rid of the stink.  We really didn’t want to change rooms at that point.  That room stank when we returned to it later in the day and continued to stink for four straight days.  When the hotel’s email survey arrived a couple of days after we got home…oooooo, did they hear about it!

To get back on message, here’s a photo of the little sleeve he made, shown sliding up into the bottom of the stack.


Step-down Sleeve

Photo, courtesy of Gene.  Here’s what the finished project looks like.


Version 2

New Driver-friendly Stack

I tell you what, that thing looks sharp, and after a test drive, I can say it works pretty well too.  The Pony may still be smokin’, but at least I’m not inhaling it anymore!

Hey, happy Mayday.  The tradition here is to put the hummer feeder out on May 1.  So this morning I cooked-up a batch of hummer juice and after it cooled, filled and hung the feeder, which in keeping with this post’s theme, is of course red.  The females usually get here a week or so before the males (not going to touch that), so we’re ready for them.
Have a super month and thanks for reading.


(1)  You know, that dang book weighs two and a half pounds!  It cut-off the circulation in my legs as I sat paging through it and calling in my order.
(2)  The shop is Chapel Hill Tire, University Mall location; sorry, I didn’t get the employee’s name.
(3)  I Have to step back for a second to say that in doing a trial fit on the Pony, Gene and I found that at two feet, the stack was a bit to tall to get in and out of the garage.  Thus, the lopping of four inches.