Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Normally our lower pasture is bone dry and....pasture...

Here is what I found today when I came home from work:

By the way, that is Josh's calf and Ol's Bessie in the background. Somehow they found themselves separated from the two longhorns who are on the other side of the river.   

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Late Night Mowing

I got a new grease gun a bit ago and I have been searching high and low for grease zerks to use it on.  Luckily, my tractor has about a thousand of them so I have been happily greasing all over the place.  The bushog was cutting a little close to the ground and kinda scalping the turf, so I lowered the trailing wheel to keep it up a bit more and took it out for an 11pm test run using flashlight illumination.  The grass was wet, but it seemed to be working flawlessly.  And did I detect that the tractor steers more easily with its freshly greased bearings?

In Boise, I often got yelled at by my neighbors for working on my Jeep at 11PM.  Here, I can run the airtools, grinder, etc, beat on things with sledgehammers, and mow with the tractor running a 540 RPM PTO speed without hearing a peep from anyone.  I like that.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rogue Cow

Since my last post, I did get that lawnmower running, was called as EQ Pres (which is severely cutting into my shop time), got my bushhog into and out of the shop with a new trailing wheel and a chain in place of the top bar to allow it to follow the contour of the land (leave a comment asking for info if you really care about that), installed a starter on the Metro and drove it to Bonham where I concluded that the transmission is certainly going out and found this:

It is two bags of cattle feed that was left on my tailgate with this note stapled to it:
Thank you - Hope we did not inconvenience you too much with heifer
Interesting...apparently the guy whose cow got loose and that ran with our herd for a week or so dropped it off for us.  It's a nice thought, but honestly, I wish he would have just fixed the fence that his cow ruined while she was here...or maybe replaced the extension cord they ran over with their 2-ton truck.  I guess it is better than nothing though...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Part 2 of the Adventures

Turns out, the pull-start wasn't pulling backwards...turns out, the valves on the engine were so out of adjustment that it was "kicking back."  Long story short, I had it running tonight and it seems to run least it did until the carb started leaking gas due to some questionable threads on the carburetor bowl that ended up disintegrating when I tried to tighten them.  So, now I am back to square-zero with a non-runner and I need a small solenoid to put the carb back together.  At least it isn't as bad as I originally thought!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Adventures in Small Engine Land

So, I have never really been a small engine mechanic and I have to admit that some of the automatic throttle controls on these things are still voodoo to me, but I felt pretty good after a successful installation and modification of that parking lot sweeper that I installed a new engine on.  Lately, the big project has been to try to resurrect an ancient riding lawn mower that Neil Rugg and I picked up on a little jaunt in days past.  It is a major peice of junk, but I have been confident that I knew what the reason it would not run was (the starter-mount was broken off the engine block.  Usually, if you can find out why the motor was knocked out of service, then you know that everything else was most likely in running order at the time it kicked the bucket.  In this case, with a motor that still freely turns and a broken starter, I was optimistic that the engine would still be good.  I never really figured out how to repair the damage though...until I came upon another freeby...

The other day, we cleaned out a suite for a customer and removed an old lawnmower.  I figured maybe I would resurrect that motor and use it for a go cart for the kids.  Well, I was rebuilding the carburetor when I accidentally lost my mind and used compressed air to blow the 'seat' (a small ring the size of the tip of a pencil eraser) across the yard with 120 psi.   Well, since that motor was now officially a lost cause, I started thinking - what if I were to somehow install the pull-cord from the 5hp lawnmower on the big 14.5 hp riding lawnmower engine?  Surprisingly, that actually worked, and so after CAREFULLY rebuilding the carburetor on the riding lawn mower and welding the pull-cord starter on it, I found myself facing the inevitable snag that you knew was coming.  Apparently, a Tecumseh 5 hp engine rotates clockwise where a Briggs and Stratton 14 hp rotates counter clockwise?  Yeah, that is right, I got the thing to actually fire by rotating it backwards (I knew it when it fired because it just about jerked my arm out of its socket.
Where does that leave me?  With a rebuilt carb on a nice 14.5 hp engine with a starter welded on it that starts it in the wrong direction.  Now what?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Bug

Yeah, so I have been sick this past week and got pretty close to nothing done. This was in stark contrast to the week before where I felt like I had accomplished quite a bit. Anyway, today we got things back on a roll by finishing off the pool fence welding. I also brought in spring with a bang and a real nice start to my farmers tan with a red neck.
Here's a cute one of the twins on their first foray out into the pasture.Justin is the background watching over things and Josh's calf and the twin's mama are also seen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

....We Salute You!

Good news on the farm yesterday. What better way to end a somewhat sad kidding season than with twins!

For Those Who Are About To Rock....

Here are some pictures of the fantastic bending device in action - and a recipe for bending success:

First, you'll need:

  • 1 Satellite dish base (the grey ring)
  • 1 bike tube reinforcement piece cut from a bike that was already chopped up for this project
  • Rebar bracing to help the satellite base hold it's form
  • Seatbelt
  • 2x4 lumber
  • Propane torch
  • Wood with 1" groove in it (this was from a pallet that had the wood bracing on it and the 1" groove was conveniently pre-cut in it)
  • A square
  • Gloves
The seatbelt holds the 2X4 lever in place on one end and the satellite dish had a bracket to brace the other end against, you heat up the tubing (held to the ring by a welded on little bracket - see the pic above)
Then you pull down on the 2X4 and you get this:I guess the images aren't that great, but you can imagine...See below for the finished result. The tube is bent in a nice radius that very closely (out of sheer dumb luck) the radius of the bars on the trailer. What is truly amazing is that the tubing didn't fold, kink, or anything. The bends are literally perfect. Not even I expected that! I figured I was going to have to weld on bracing along the sides of the tubing to keep it from deforming the tubing.
BTW, it turns out that to get the bend I need (90 degrees and 14" high) you need to measure out the actual length you need and add 9.25" for the bend. So, yesterday I knocked out about half the hoops that I will need for the stock trailer project.

PS - in case you aren't picturing what these hoops I am making are for, this is an image taken of the stock trailer and if you look closely, you can actually see where the hoops have rusted out:

See the rounded bent "hoops" that form the "roof?" Those are them.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This has been a real honeymoon style of a week here in TX.  The sun stays up late, the temperature is absolutely perfect (t-shirt in the shop is just right even until 11:00pm) and there are no mosquitos.  Perhaps it feels so good because I know 2 out of those 3 things are going to change drastically over the next month or two.  The result of this awesome weather is that I have been having some real productive time in the shop.  Besides getting the metro project well on it's way (just waiting on me to buy a new starter for it now,) I also got the litter vacuum all wired up with its safety interlock switches (so that if you partially disassemble it by removing the bag or the nozzle while the engine is running, it will kill the engine) and the shop is partially cleaned/organized enough that I have room to work.

Tonight was metal night and I finished the work on my steel bender.  Here's the background: I need a large radius (like 15") bender to bend 1" square tubing to replace some rusted out "bows" on the top of my stock trailer.  I tried farming the work out and the shop totally botched the job and I am stuck doing it myself.  That is a fairly relaxed bend, but the metal shop only had 14 gauge stock, so although that is comparitively pretty thin, it makes for a very stout 1" square tube.  My first attempt at a bender resulted in a slightly bent tube and very bent bender.
I spent about 3 hours shaping and fitting reinforcements onto the bender to make it stronger than the tubing and I borrowed a small propane torch from good ol' pops for a little extra persuasion on the metal.  It worked!  After a whole evening in the shop, I now have a single 90 degree radius!
OK - now for the hard part - to perfectly measure the other end to know where to start the second bend.  I'm off to Pirate4X4 to try to figure out how to do that with their awesome tutorials.