Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We Don't Need No Stinking Engine Hoist

Yes, my friends, pictured above is me...with a bad haircut...holding a car engine.  Yes, before you ask, I have been working out :p

Reviving the Metro

I was in town today on business and stopped by at a motor shop and picked up a new engine for the metro.  It was only $290 for the engine!  I still can't believe how cheap that is.  Of course, the whole buying an engine thing just underscores the serious case of scope creep we are experiencing....

We started out pulling the head to see if it was warped.  It was and the middle piston was completely full of water so I took the head down and had it machined.  

Since the head was off, and that required pulling the timing belt, we figured we might as well get a new timing belt, and since that was off we figured we might as well do the water pump (actually, I think I verified that it was leaking - it may have been what caused the overheating in the first place)

Then, I figured with the head off, I might as well hone the cylinders and install new rings.

Then the guys at the auto shop convinced me that if the engine was overheated to the point where it quit running (it was) then it would probably be a good idea to have the entire block rebuilt and they pointed out to me that I could buy the engine at City Motor in Dallas for super cheap....so I figured they were right and did that.

Of course, now with the engine out, I can see that the clutch is wearing and so we might as well replace that, so I need to buy a new clutch.  Also, since the oil pump has to be pulled to install it on the shortblock, we might as well go ahead and get a new one of those too right?

Oh yeah, and with the engine pulled, now would definitely be the best time to replace the CV shafts/boots that are totally ripped, worn and popping.

What else?

One more cool thing - we removed the engine with no hoist - Jessica and I just lowered it down to the floor by hand and slid it out from under the car.  That's alot different than back when I was dealing with AMC V8s from Jeeps - those things could kill you if they leaned over on you.  Getting the engine back in should be even easier because we can go in from the top (something we couldn't do on the way out because I hadn't taken off a few brackets yet and with them, it was too tight a fit.

It was a fun night because Jessica came out to the shop and painted the pool fence (hanging from the rafters in the shop) while I worked on the car.  It is nice to have some company (and occasionally a spare hand) while working.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike Brings Lovely Weather to N. Dallas

We knowed what that the storm was a comin around Satidy afternoon so I figured I'd spend the mornin on the tractor hacking down the weeds out in the lower pasture that have been really getting high.  It was a great morning for it.  There was a nice breeze and a lower temperature.  I got several acres mowed.  

Sterling got to go to his first B-day party at a friend's house in Leonard.  He had a blast.

The rain started around noon and steadily increased up until around 3 or 4 or so where it peaked and dropped down a bit.  The winds were pretty good and I think they must have peaked in the night.  It definitely was not the worst storm we have had out here.  The worse this one did was blow a lawnchair into the pool.  Oh yeah, and our mailbox pole bit the dust.  I am not sure if that was the storm or vandals or what, but it looks like there is going to be a need to go borrow the neighbors PTO-operated post hole digger to make a better hole and plant a better post for the mailbox.

Overall, I'd say it was a very pleasant storm.  In fact, I was out riding around in the rain yesterday on the motor bike in the full-on bn rain and was very comfortable.  You know, ever since seeing Michael Douglas walking around in the downpour out of Cartegena (Romancing the Stone,) I have always liked the idea of warm rain.  
Today, the post-storm weather is nice and cool with a light breeze, and clear skies.  We actually have our windows open today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tractor Repairs

We recovered the errant cow last night and this morning she is back over there.  I think she found the fence to be just too short to care about.  That is bad news.

Anyway, all the fence work really highlighted the need for me to get some mowing done out there - the weeds are getting up to waist high.  So I need my tractor, which has a major radiator leak.  If you care for the details of how I spent nearly the entire day figuring out how to pull the radiator on a early 60s Ford Workmaster 601 tractor, check this link out.  There a bunch of good pictures and you can read all about how tractors are not really like cars.  Things aren't as simple and easy to work on as you might think.  Or maybe, I'm just getting the hang of a new machine and am just not familiar enough with the ins & outs of a tractor yet.  Certainly the next time I get into any of this, I'll be much more familiar with what I need to do.  Here's the tractor halfway through with the triumphant proof of the removed radiator:

Anyway, the radiator is in, and aside from a fan blade that is making some contact with the fan shroud, it is basically ready to roll.  Feels good to have accomplished something without leaving it half-done (like a million other things around here) although Jessica is sure to be wondering why I wasn't finishing the metro off instead of getting into the tractor...well...because I am a guy.  At least I was doing something eh?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wanderlust Cow

The neighbors have a little bull that is coming of age. He can come right up to the fence that separates him from our cows and I guess I have been a little lax lately about keeping the fence really hot (seems like the cows would have learned their lessons by now) and it has been running about 1/2 power lately. I haven't really had the gumption to go figure out why until just recently.

One of the longhorns jumped the fence to go visit the little bull! :(

I always thought the bull would come see the cows (not the other way) but I guess longhorns are known for being a more athletic species of cattle. So I spent several hours tonight whacking back weeds and looking for shorts in the fence to get it back up to full power. Tomorrow I'll go see about luring the cow back off the neighbor's lot with feed.

If the feed doesn't work, I'm planning on using our new mini-motorcycle to "herd" her back to our place. I'm actually almost kinda half hoping that I will have to do that - it sounds like fun.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Out of the Sheepin' Biz

We bid adieu to the sheep today. We sold the ram, the whether and the 3 ewes to another family here in the Leonard area. The idea is to focus on the Angora goats. Here is why I prefer the goats:

  1. They are currently "free-ranging" around our farm with no fencing. They don't leave! They just stay close to home - it is great.
  2. They never intentionally try to kill me
  3. They never intentionally try to ruin our fencing
  4. I don't have to worry about the kids being near them (as much)
  5. Their fleeces are far more valuable than the sheep's
  6. They are not as skittish and are more friendly

I have to admit I will miss the "lanolin" smell of working with sheep, and the cuteness of the little lambs running and leaping and whatnot, but I am totally over it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sterling Paints & Winter's Buck Tooth

Check it out:

We were priming the gate-section of pool-fence after some major rust repairs. It is hanging from the rafters in the shop.
Winter in the moments before losing her first front tooth. (Thanks to a nice tug from daddy)