Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘solving problems

Fly South

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Cyndie made plans to spend a couple of weeks with her parents in Florida long before the details of the latest snowstorm had materialized and didn’t guess that her planned departure would be timed smack dab in the worst of the wind and snow. Luckily, the impending weather allowed for a no-charge rescheduling and she nabbed a seat a day earlier, right as the heavy weather was beginning.

That just meant a little delay while the ground crews worked frantically to plow runways and de-ice planes. Not unsettling at all for wary travelers, I’m sure.

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Cyndie is a seasoned airline passenger and has been through this routine multiple times, so I’m sure she was able to take it in stride. I can’t honestly attest to her level of confidence because I was not there. No, I am not in Florida today, unlike her and our two adult children visiting their grandparents over the MLK holiday weekend.

More power to them.

While they were enjoying the bocce courts under beautiful blue skies, I had a day filled with a fair amount of folly. I had hoped to swiftly plow, shovel, and rake snow off the roof so I could also entertain the pooch who was otherwise woefully neglected in the warm confines of the house. When I left her tethered outside with me where she could watch, Delilah just sat forlornly.

If I have to ignore her while I work, I decided she might as well be inside where I don’t have to witness her sad face every time I pass.

When I started up the ATV for plowing, I discovered one of the front tires had an audible air leak. It was spitting out some of the green sealer that had been an earlier attempt to solve the problem. All that did was delay the inevitable, it seems. Short of a quick fix to remedy the situation properly, I opted for frequent returns to the shop garage for added air from the compressor.

Worked well enough to get the main driveway open for travel. I would come back later to plow around the barn and hay shed.

After walking Delilah and eating lunch, I raked the valley of the roof over the front door and then unburied the steps. By leaving the rest of the roof for today, my hope was to quickly finish plowing before needing to tend to Delilah’s dinner.

Then the cable that lifts the plow broke in the middle of pushing a deep pile of snow at the edge of the driveway turnoff that drops toward the barn.

The hour before the dog’s dinner was spent rigging a way to lift the blade so I could drive back to the garage so I could work on reattaching the hook to the next section of cable. That’s a project that needs three hands, so with my two cold hands (and one bloody finger) I dragged it out long enough that dinner ended up being late.

Yes, I was thinking about my family who all just flew south.

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Messy Calamity

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I had been told about just this type of disaster, but filed it away as something that happens to other people, not me. Saturday, I joined the dubious club of tractor owners who’ve experienced a catastrophic failure of the valve stem on a large rear tractor tire filled with corrosive calcium chloride.

It actually started calmly enough. I stepped in the garage to do some organizing and discovered a small puddle under the deforming sidewall of the tire. Now, this was an issue I’d been hoping to address before it reached this point, so I did have a plan.

First, I wanted to remove the weights bolted to each rear tire. Next, I hoped to jack it up enough to take pressure off the tire and rotate it so the valve was at the 12 o’clock position. Then I would try adding air.

The only other time I had tried to add air, the pressure of fluid was greater than the compressed air I was trying to add, and escaping fluid corroded the air chuck fitting something awful.

Worried that the tire needed air, I asked around for advice. I was repeatedly told it looked fine, so I kept pushing the issue for some future day.

Well, that day arrived and I needed to take action on the plan I had contemplated. I grabbed a big wrench and a hammer and started turning those bolts on the weights. It didn’t take long to realize they were just spinning because there was a nut on the other side that needed to be held.

That required getting Cyndie for help, because I couldn’t reach both at the same time.

Then, calamity.

As I reached behind the wheel to put a wrench on the nut, the valve stem let loose from the rusting hub and the gallons of calcium chloride began spraying out all over everything. At first, there was no putting a bucket under it, because it was shooting everywhere.

All my brain could come up with was profanity. I paced around in a total useless panic because I had no idea what to do while that yucky fluid was quickly making a mess of everything.

Eventually, I noticed the spray had turned to a flow and it might be possible to catch it in a bucket. Then it struck me. I could put my finger over the hole and stop the leak while we figured out a plan.

We tried, and failed a few times to plug the corroded hole. A foam ear plug worked for a while, but for some reason it got sucked inside. I had already jacked it up a little to keep the weight from pushing fluid out, which made sounds of pulling air in, but that didn’t stop the flow.

For some reason, there was a pulse to the continued escape of fluid.

In the end, we used a tampon to slow the leak to a manageable drip, while I lifted it as far as my inadequate equipment allowed to put blocks under the axle. I’ve removed all the components of the 3-point hitch, and detached the loader bucket from the arms in preparation of whatever happens next.

That will be determined in a call this morning to the service department of the local implement dealer.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2018 at 7:00 am

Sand Box

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IMG_iP1467eAfter work yesterday, I went outside to play in our sand box. It wasn’t pretty. There were a few expletives expressed in the execution of the task.

We had an extra load of lime screenings dumped beside the hay shed for use in filling low spots and rills in the paddock. The horses kick constantly in response to flies on their legs and their doing so digs out the area around their hay boxes. The rills on the slope are created by water runoff from heavy rains.

Both issues require trying to get the tractor up the incline to the barn, with a heavy bucket load of lime screenings. I have yet to acquire the skills and knowledge to efficiently navigate the 12 forward gears of the New Holland to get it to go where I want to go and do what I intend to achieve without spinning the wheels and creating almost as much damage as that which I am trying to mend.

It’s crazy-making.

It should be fun, playing in sand with my big tractor. Problem is, it is also a bit dangerous and can be costly.

Right off the bat, with the first scoop of screenings, I got stuck at the bump built up to divert water runoff at the gate into the paddock. I didn’t approach with enough momentum to get over it, and since it is downhill from the driveway, I suddenly couldn’t back up, either. The rear tires just spun when trying both directions, digging me deeper into being stuck with each attempt to coax out some progress of escape.

I ended up dumping the bucket right there and using the hydraulic loader to pry my way out of the predicament, as I have learned to do from my farmer neighbors. It would be nice if I took it as no big deal, but it pissed me off something fierce and set the negative tone for all my subsequent struggles of getting up the slopes to where I wanted to drop loads of screenings.

I couldn’t figure out the right combination of speed and power to make it up the hill with all the weight in the bucket. Halfway up the slope the rear wheels would start to lose grip and I would try to solve it with cursing.

Okay, cursing isn’t an attempt to solve the problem, it is a venting of frustration over having the problem and not succeeding in achieving a solution. But it feels like it helps.

Eventually, enough material was moved close enough to areas where it could be tossed by shovel to the spots most in need. The divots created by spinning tractor wheels were filled in and smoothed. The tractor didn’t tip over or smash into the fence, the barn posts, or the tree.

I got “back to grazing” pretty quickly and shed the negative vibe.

I suppose it’s not all that different from any kid playing in a sand box. Sometimes fun is mixed with frustration. The trick is learning how to deal with it constructively and come out ahead in the end.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2016 at 6:00 am