MARCH 2015

MAY 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It was bill-paying day, with some done online and the local ones by check. With that out of the way I began my back porch masonry, mixing up some mortar and putting the first stones in place. I put up one big one and several small ones around it. I'll let that set up until tomorrow and then put on the next large one. After delivering the checks for water, insurance, and the clinic, I went back to work on the truck. I tried bleeding the brakes but couldn't get the master cylinder to pump. I'm afraid I may have to take it off and take it apart to see what the problem is.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

One job leads to another. My original aim was sandblasting. I loaded the parts in the wheelbarrow and hauled them to the sandblasting area east of the barn. I turned on the compressor and started setting up the equipment.  I didn't get much setting up done before I heard the squeal of the compressor belt slipping. When I went to deal with that I found that part of the barn so dark that I stopped to do another job, changing bulbs. Little by little over the months, the barn has got darker as one bulb after another has burned out. I figured if I was going to change one I might as well do them all, so I got the ladder and replaced the nine dead ones. Now that I could see what I was doing, I gave the compressor a good dose of belt grip and turned it on, and went back to setting up for blasting. But then I found that one of the sawhorses I use to hold parts for blasting was finally past the wobbly stage and into the falling apart stage. About that time I heard the belt squealing again. I looked at the compressor again and found the belt loose enough to slip even with dressing on it, and no more adjustment to be had. So I put a new belt on my afternoon shopping list, put away the sandblasting equipment, and set about building a new sawhorse. I wasn't terribly disappointed, because today's high was in the eighties, and tomorrow is predicted to be about twenty degrees cooler. That will be much better blasting weather.

Friday, April 3, 2015

After a few days in the eighties, a cold wind from the north made this morning's project, finishing that new sawhorse, a pretty disagreeable pursuit. Watery eyes shedding tears on my glasses, and my nose acting as a snot fountain, took a lot of the fun out of it. But I did finish it, and set up the sandblasting equipment. I installed the new belt on the compressor, and it worked as it should. I spent about three hours blasting, and finished an oil filler cap, a front wheel hub and plate, a speedometer gear, and most of one rim. The rims are slow work, because you have to go at them from several angles to reach everywhere. I was hoping to get all the wheel parts done and sent off to the wheelwright this week, but didn't make it. Maybe next week.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I ventured into Okieland for an auction in Ponca City this morning. For the first time in a long time, I found some interesting things to keep me there most of the day. I ended up a big spender, squandering almost $200 for an ice chest, a pair of jack stands, a portable soda blaster, a sand blaster, and a blast cabinet. Now I'll be able to blast smaller items in the shop and won't have to set up the outside equipment every time I have a small blasting job to do. I was home by 3:30 and had time to mix up some mortar and add another large stone to the back porch. Little by little, it's going back together. I'm putting the large stones back in the same order and in approximately the same position, but I'm improvising with the small ones wherever they fit.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A high about 50 isn't terribly cold, but deliver it with a 20 mph wind and you have a good day to stay inside. So that's what I did. I prepped some of those newly blasted parts for painting, then adjourned to my office and spent most of the day sorting papers, cleaning off my desk, and getting documents ready for doing taxes. I'll be doing my own this year. Two years ago I fell for all the baloney about how easy it is to file online. I tried it, and found out after the deadline that the IRS had refused my online return and I ended up paying a penalty for being late. So last year I decided to use one of the preparation websites to do the figuring, then put the work on paper forms and mail them in. This time I had to pay a penalty because the online website failed to tell me I had to file a self-employment form for my farm income.  So this time I've downloaded the 1040 instructions and I'll do it all myself. I figure I can't do much worse than the online "services".

Monday, April 6, 2015 

Time out to do laundry ate up the morning. In the afternoon I set up the equipment and did some sandblasting. It was going OK until moisture in the air line started clogging the hose with wet sand. I'll do a bit of simple plumbing and add a catch pipe or two. If that doesn't cure the problem, I'll have to add some more elaborate air-drying equipment.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

After my three mile morning jog, breakfast, and a shower, I spent way too much time playing online. I finally went to work about eleven. The first order of business was to mix up a batch of mortar and add another big stone to the back porch so it could be setting while I worked on something else. Something else was the sandblasting equipment. I dumped all the sand out of the blaster and spread it out on a tarp in the sun to dry. It turned out that most of it was already dry. The wet stuff clogging the works was in the pipe under the tank.  The next chore was setting up  something to trap condensed moisture and keep it from reaching the blaster.  Instead of adding a vertical pipe trap to the line, I decided to make a much bigger trap.  That's the old water heater I replaced in February.  I had to replace it because the burner went bad, but the tank is still good. So that will be my thirty gallon moisture trap.  I  went to town and got some pipe fittings, and spent the afternoon washing out the tank and installing air hose connectors to the inlet and outlet.  It was a sunny afternoon, and I remembered to take a few minutes to shoot a spring portrait of the roadster  with blooming lilacs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

This morning I finished my new moisture trap, adding a drain valve. I took it to the blasting area east of the barn, set up the equipment, and gave it a go. The tank worked perfectly and I had no more trouble with wet sand. I spent a couple of hours blasting, and the only reasons I quit were the heat and not being able to see what I was doing. All I can do about the heat is wait for a cooler time to work. The vision thing calls for a new sheet of clear plastic on my hood. Eventually the plastic gets so scratched up you can't see clearly though it. That's when I tape on a new piece. Tomorrow is supposed to be a clear day, so I'll get out there in the cool of the morning for another blasting session. I have all the wheel parts done except the three rims. One of those is almost finished, with two left in full rust mode. The rims are slow going, so I probably won't finish them all in one session. After a shower to wash off the sand, I went back to work on the back porch, adding another big stone and some surrounding smaller ones. Waiting for the mortar to set before adding another big one, I expect the stone work will take at least another week.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lots of huffing and puffing, but not much to show for it. The overnight storm brought strong winds, a lot of lightning, and a trace of moisture. I don't know if there was even enough of it to qualify as rain. It was all over by daylight, and this turned out to be a good day for sandblasting. It was fairly cool, and mostly overcast enough to provide even lighting. I taped a new sheet of clear plastic on my hood and got started about ten. I kept at it until 2:30, finishing up the rim I started yesterday and doing another one. I also blasted the yard light fixture that will go on the back porch when it's done. I had all the equipment put away by three. A shower to wash off the sand and a trip to town for groceries and another sack of mortar finished my day.     

Friday, April 10, 2014

My proposed constitutional amendment: Every member of congress shall prepare his own tax returns with no help from any person or device. You can bet your sweet burro that if they had to deal with the current complex mess themselves, they'd simplify it PDQ. I spent all morning getting a start on my 1040, and it will take more than one more session to finish it. In the afternoon I blasted. I spent the whole afternoon at it, and now I have all my wheel parts done. I hope this weekend I can get them packed and ready to ship to the wheelwright.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

First thing today I mixed up a batch of mortar and added another of the large stones to the back porch. Actually, it was two batches of mortar. I didn't realize how much this one would take. I went to check out an auction south of Chilocco, didn't find anything to keep me there, and came home. The main job of the day turned out to be changing front wheels on the roadster. The old wheels that came with the car are unsound, so I'm putting on some incorrect later wheels that are in better shape. I'll use those until I have new wheels of the right kind made.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm watering. This winter seemed colder than usual, but was also drier. That's continuing into the spring. The ten day forecast will show 80% or 90% chance of rain a week away, then as the day gets closer it becomes 70%, 60%, 50%, etc., and when the day comes the actual rain turns out to be little or nothing. So this morning I was glad, with a prediction of 0%, to hear rain on the roof. There was enough to wet the ground and maybe be of minimal help to the grass, but again it wasn't much. Looks like I need to continue running a hose on some of the seedlings. I did a little work on some front wheel hubs and other parts in the morning, but I spent most of the day finishing my federal taxes. For the state taxes I have to wait until business hours tomorrow to find out what the hell my "access code" is.

Monday, April 13, 2015

I was not a happy camper. I had my federal taxes all done, then did the state taxes online this morning. I had written a check for the federal and was about to put the returns and the check into an envelope when I looked over the papers one more time and noticed that I had copied the wrong number from one form to another. That changed the result for both federal and state taxes.  So I printed out a new form 1040 and made the necessary corrections, tore up the first check and wrote a new one, then set about correcting the state form. All went well until I was informed at the end that corrections can't be made the same day the original returns are filed. I have to wait and make the state corrections tomorrow. Grrrrr... I guess I should just be glad I caught the mistake before putting everything in the mail. All the tax drama stretched well past noon, but I did get a couple of other things done. One was painting the light fixture that goes over the back porch door.  It will be dark green. The reflector will be white, of course. I'll paint that after the green has had several days to dry. There's no rush. I'm nowhere near being ready to install that fixture. My other afternoon job was mixing up a batch of mortar and adding one more of the large stones to the back porch. When you're putting stones in a stack like this, you can't do them all at once. You have to let each one set before adding another to the pile. I'm putting the large stones back where they originally were, but  improvising with the small ones that fill in gaps around them.  It looks like I'm a week or two away from finishing the masonry and being ready to build the new roof,  but the ten day forecast is showing several days with an 80% or 90% chance of rain, so it may take longer. I'm not complaining about that. We really need the rain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Well, it's done. Taxes are out of the way until next year. I like how the ks.gov website saved my corrections from yesterday and I had the state filing done in a few minutes. With that adventure over I could move on to something worthwhile.  In this case it was a bit of yard work. I took a day off from everything else to dig and pull weeds west of the garage. I wanted to get that done and plant some hollyhocks in there before the alleged rain arrives, if it ever does. I think I'll water that area tomorrow to get the seeds started, then any rain that does arrive will be a bonus.  In the afternoon I drove the roadster into town to buy printer ink and pick up a couple more packets of seeds and send some mail. My fresh engine is getting easier to start, usually firing on the first or second pull of the crank. It's getting broken in, and I'm learning its little quirks. What works best for one Model T might not work so well for another. No two are exactly alike. One feature of driving a 100-year-old car is that it attracts attention. Wherever you go you are your own parade, and wherever you park you are your own car show. The most popular question, of course, is "What year?"

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More gardening started my day. After planting hollyhock seeds along the west side of the garage yesterday, this morning I planted nasturtiums, which don't grow as tall, in front of them. One feature of yard work here is finding prairie ringneck snakes, and I uncovered three of them today. These harmless little critters don't get very big. One I found today was about a foot long, which is an unusually large size. Most of them are just a few inches. After my nasturtium seeds were in the ground, I mixed up a batch of mortar and set another big stone and a few smaller ones on the back porch. That brought the corner column up to where I'll start laying them across the top of the window frame next time. With my masonry finished for the day I got back to yard work, digging and pulling weeds in front of the front porch. I'll plant some flowers there, but I've decided that when I go to town for groceries tomorrow I'll get some tomato plants to go there too. I don't know when I'll ever have time for a real garden, but maybe I can at least have some nice home made tomatoes this summer. While I was digging in front of the house I had the sprinkler going on those new seeds west of the garage. The last job of the day was cutting a piece of rubber to fit in the bottom of my running board tool box. I've made mounting brackets for it that will make it easy to move from one car to another. It's really needed on the roadster, which has pretty limited trunk space.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My morning job was updating tool boxes to carry in cars.  One is the running board tool box. It will carry Model T-specific tools like the Ford jack and wrenches, brass polish,  jack blocks, high pressure tire gauge, etc.  The mounting brackets will allow it to move easily from T to T. The other box is smaller and  rides in the trunk. It carries a full set of combination wrenches, 3/8" sockets, screwdrivers, pliers,  and other tools for both Model T's and postwar cars like the Suburban and the pickup.  The next accessories I need to  get ready for Model T driving are running board cans for extra gas, oil, and water, and a  running board luggage rack.  I have to fabricate a carrier for the cans,  and I have to straighten a carrier.  There are a lot of them around, and I have at least three, but it's rare to find one  that isn't bent and needing to be straightened. So with the tool box situation settled for now, I drove the roadster to town for shopping. In addition to groceries for the week, I got a dozen little tomato plants. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon planting them in front of the house, and planting flower seeds too. I noted that some seeds are much more expensive than others. A pack of nasturtium seeds contained seven, and the same size pack of zinnia seeds had over fifty. Cosmos and petunias were somewhere in between. All the seeds I planted today were two years old, so I wonder if any of them are still good. We shall see.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Excellent! Rain arrived in the wee hours of the morning and I awoke to 1.38" in the gauge.  The forecast claims that more is on the way. I'd better get the mowing equipment ready to go.  My only venture off the place today was a couple of miles east in the roadster to deliver some mail that came to me by mistake. With its fresh engine the car easily takes the little hills, short but steep, in high gear. One of these days I'll take the time to drive it over to Horseshoe Hill, which is long and steep, and see how it does there. I did get a little done on the back porch today. I mixed up a batch of runny mortar and poured it  down into the open space between the window frame and the south wall. It was too narrow a crack to use thicker mortar and work it in with a trowel. I'll be able to do that on the upper part where the opening is wider. This afternoon I got back to work on the pickup. I need to get those brakes working so I can use the truck. I pulled the master cylinder out and took it apart, and found that a bit of the rubber diaphram was stuck in one of the holes. I don't know if that's what's been keeping it from working, but I'll see if I can put it together with the diaphram positioned correctly. Maybe that will make it work. I'll bench test it before I put it back in the truck to be sure.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Today I went to an auction a few miles east. I spent $2 for a box of trowels and miscellaneous other stuff, and bought over a thousand good street bricks for $10. My offer of $10 for the bricks was the only bid. I might have got them for less, but that's still a fantastic price.  It will probably take me a few days to bring them home between rain storms. Saturday evening ended with a nice gully washer soaking the area, and more of the same in the forecast for Sunday. After a dry winter, it's nice to be getting some normal moisture.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I lit a fire in the living room fireplace this evening. After another inch of rain during the night it was cool all day, and this afternoon when the wind turned around to come from the north it got downright chilly. I got a little more done on the back porch today. I finished filling the space down the south side of the window frame with mortar and small stones. Next will be putting the steel bar across the top of the window frame and laying the stones on there. Maybe I can finish the masonry this week and start building the new roof on top of it. I'd like to have the porch done this month, but there's so much else to do that it probably won't happen. One of the other things I have to do is bring home the bricks I bought yesterday. I fetched the first hundred today. I weighed some of them and figured out that I can haul two hundred at a time. That's slightly over half a ton.

Monday, April 20, 2015

After working unsuccessfully on the master cylinder for my truck, I moved on to other things.  I called a local garage to see if they have anybody who knows how to fix brakes, and waited the rest of the day for a call back which never came. The main job of the day was bringing home another load of bricks.  I stacked over two hundred, a bit more than half a  ton, in the back of the Suburban, and it was riding mighty low. I made it home OK,  but I think the next loads will be smaller. I'd rather make an extra trip than break a spring.  By the time I  finished unloading and stacking, there wasn't time to fetch another load,  so I finished the afternoon collecting construction scraps from the yard east of the house so I can mow.  The grass is getting rather tall in some places, so it's past time for mowing season to begin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It was laundry day. That ate up my morning. In the afternoon I hauled home another load of bricks, then drove the roadster into town to  get some tortillas. I'm still working on learning to start the car on magneto. It starts on the first or second pull when warm,  but takes several pulls when cold. I haven't figured out that part yet. On today's first start I cheated and used the battery, but all other starts were on MAG.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh joy! Oh rapture unforseen!
The cloudy skies are now serene!

What inspires me to invoke W.S. Gibert? After two and a half years, once again I have a truck. It was November 28, 2012, that the poor old thing suffered a broken axle shaft. Getting parts for a 1951 vehicle can be tough, and it took me until last summer to find a replacement axle shaft. With that installed, the truck would move again, but I couldn't  get the brakes to work. Lying on the freezing ground working on brakes didn't appeal to me, so I gave it up for the winter. Recently I got back to work on it, and trying to get the master cylinder working was driving me nuts. Nothing I tried would make it squirt. But this morning I figured it out. With the master cylinder working again, I installed it in the truck, bled the lines, and adjusted the brakes. Now I have my truck back! I celebrated by getting a fork from the tool shed and pitching a few piles of pulled weeds and tree trimmings into the truck.  There are still a couple of minor things I need to fix on it, but they won't keep me from being able to use it. With the truck taken care of, I fired up the Suburban and fetched home another load of bricks.  My final chore of the day was a trip to town in the roadster to buy celery. While I was at it I wasted my time  stopping at auto parts stores to look for a little wire clip.  It's used to hold  a bullet connector attached to a brake light switch.  I expect I'll have to buy some online and spend several dollars to ship a few 5 parts.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Well, I didn't have that truck very long. I worked all morning and into the afternoon clearing the road to the brush pile with chain saw, clippers, and bottle of Tordon. When the way was clear I drove the truck to the pile and pitched the contents. The trouble came when I tried to drive back up the hill and got stuck in wet ground. The only movement I could get was spinning wheels. So I aired up the tires on the tractor, hitched the truck to it with a tow chain, and tried to pull the truck out of its hole. This time all I got was a spinning tractor wheel. The ground was too wet for it to get a grip, too. Several years ago the truck was stuck in the same area for about six weeks until the ground dried out enough for the tractor to move it. I guess I need to avoid  using this pile in the spring and use the south pile across the road instead. I've never gotten stuck there. Or maybe I need to start a different north pile in a place that doesn't get so muddy. I wasted an hour trying to get unstuck and gave it up about three. I drove the roadster to town for groceries, and when I got back I unloaded the bricks I brought home yesterday.  I'll fetch another load tomorrow, and I hope to get more work done on the back porch after neglecting that project for a few days.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My first job of the day was wasting a couple of hours on the stuck truck. I tried jacking it up and putting boards under the wheels. With slick mud on the tires, when I put it in gear it just slid sideways off the boards. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow with wider boards. In the afternoon I hauled home another hundred bricks. I figure three or four more trips will finish my brick fetching. After unloading the bricks I went to town and picked up a couple dozen eggs from a cousin who was given more than she could use, bought another sack of mortar for the back porch project, delivered another couple of dozen eggs to another cousin, and bought a pair of rose bushes to replace two that didn't survive from last year. Maybe tomorrow I can get somethiing done on that back porch.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Yes, I did try wider boards under the truck's wheels, and it worked. I was able to back out of the wet spot and drive to solid ground. With that feat accomplished, I moved on to the back porch. I collected small stones for the next bit of masonry, chiseled off old mortar, and put them in a tub of water to soak. I'll scrub all of them with a brush, because I want them clean so the new mortar will stick. The last job of the day was hauling home another load of the bricks I bought last Saturday. It looks like there are enough left for me to make two or three more trips.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Never made it off the place today.  I put on my winter overalls and coat and got back to work on the back porch masonry.  Specifically, laying stones across the top of the window frame. This was the most complicated part of the stone work. I had to install the steel support bar, then the large stones, then the small stones filling in around them, and get it all done before the mortar set. I did. I hope to finish the stone work this week and get started on the carpentry that will go over it. By the time I finished up around three, it was warm enough to shed the extra clothes. After cleaning my tools, I put the tarps in place in case the rain predicted for tonight actually happens. The last job of the day was yard work. I did some much-needed weed pulling in front of the house, dug up the two defunct rose bushes there, and planted the two new ones I got to replace them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

On a wet, chilly morning, I spent a big part of the day adding bearing-removal notches to a pair of front hubs, taking pictures of the work, and writing a piece on it for The Vintage Ford. In the afternoon I got back to work on the back porch, getting ready to add another of the big stones for the corner. Figuring out the best position for the big stone was no problem. Finding the right little stones to fit in around it was the slow part. That took over an hour. I didn't have time to mix up a batch of mortar and set them all in place, so that will come tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It was a shame to take a day off from the back porch and from hauling home bricks, but the five rose of sharon plants I bought recently arrived in yesterday's mail, and some of the grass is getting out of hand, so I just had to take a day for planting and mowing. I got three of the plants in the ground, but then I had to get busy clearing a place for the other two. I mowed the lane down to the wood lot, intending to clear the road to the south brush pile, but found some trees fallen in my way. So I'll need to sharpen the chain saw and finish clearing that road so I can haul the yard waste from clearing a place for those two plants to the brush pile. Everything is connected to everything else. I'll probably take tomorrow to finish clearing the road, planting, and mowing, and hope I can get back to working on the house after that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Here's how I spent today.

Thursday, April 30, 2015 

Today's big job was to finish clearing the road to the south brush pile. I spent the morning cutting and removing fallen trees and trimming branches.  With the road open I was able to get the truck to the pile and unload yesterday's cargo of yard waste. The road continues south of the pile and I still have to clear that, and there's a loop road to the east that also has a little bit of clearing needed, but those can wait awhile and I can get back to work on the back porch and attend to my mowing. I had the road clearing done by two, and fetched home another load of bricks. I was very lucky coming home. A rear tire blew out just as I was turning into the west drive. I was able to get the vehicle out of the road, and I was relieved that the tire survived until I got home. One of tomorrow's chores will be putting on the spare and buying a new tire.



MARCH 2015

MAY 2015