Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘winch cable

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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Prudent Preparations

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I did salvage my pride on Sunday by getting out in the warmth to knock off a few more winter preparation steps. After getting the Grizzly back from the shop with fresh fluids and cleaned up brakes, it occurred to me that I had yet to install the new beefier cable on the winch. That’s a chore that would be much nicer to do when it’s not freezing cold outside.

The primary use for that winch is to raise and lower the snowplow blade. That involves a heavy repetition of back and forth on a very short length of the cable. The original was old and brittle which made it susceptible to breaking, which it did, frequently –almost always at an essential time while clearing snow.

Fixing that usually involves working in the cold and after dark. A broken cable is always an unwelcome incident, but at a critical point in plowing, the impact is intensified.

When all else fails, get a bigger cable.

I hadn’t been working long when the chickens showed up to see if my project involved anything they could eat. I’m guessing they were disappointed by not finding anything. I stepped into the shop for a second and when I returned, there was a fresh pile of chicken sh*t on my pliers.

That’s a skill, dropping it so squarely on the tiny surface of the tool. I was duly impressed and totally disgusted.

With the new cable installed and ready to lift the plow, I moved on to the swapping out the summer tires for the winter set. That beast is now ready for the snow season.

Before we even get to that, the ATV and its trailer will be put to use this weekend transporting chainsaws, ropes and gear down by the road. It will also be hauling loads of cut wood back up to the wood shed, and picking up the inevitable forgotten tools that were missed the first and second trips of the day.

If a winch and heavy-duty cable turns out to be needed, it’ll be ready for that, too.

I just hope the more aggressive winter tires don’t completely chew up the not-so-frozen ground. I didn’t think to prepare for top soil that has been re-melting in the late November 60° afternoons.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

Taking Action

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After getting home from the day-job yesterday, I went right to work on the ranch-job. This time of year, I don’t get much time at home that isn’t dark, and I wanted to clear snow while I could see well and get it done before temperatures head for the deep freeze.

Light snow fell on and off for most of the day and the thermometer revealed a 39° (F) reading as the high. It made for some sticky-snow plowing. On the drive home, anywhere that had been plowed had pretty much melted clear of snow and the roads were just wet. Our driveway had a thick accumulation covering it.

First things first. I needed to repair the broken cable from the Grizzly winch that lifts the plow blade. I had held off on the fix because I was intending to buy new cable. Searching online I discovered the existence of a short cable made to take the abuse of the constant up and down that occurs to lift the blade, and that they are available not just as metal, but fiberglass, too.

I like the thought of flexible fiber, but then my mind pictured the rollers on my well-used winch setup. The frequent broken strands on the abused cable have scuffed up the rollers a bit and they are getting rusty. I want new rollers if I’m going to get new cable and I haven’t had time to look into what that will take. I don’t know if I can even get the existing ones off without a fight.

Remember how much I struggled to remove the broken bolt on the hitch in back?

So, the first order of business was to head down to the barn and remove the hook with the dangling fragment of cable still hanging on the plow blade. On my way past the shop, I grabbed the battery charger to hook up to the truck that was sitting in the middle of space needing to be plowed.

DSCN4331eI lucked out. My plan worked pretty much as I intended. I got the truck battery charging and then wrestled the blade out the narrow front door of the barn. It fought me a little bit when it came time to lay in the snow and put pins through precisely sized holes of the plow frame and the under carriage of the ATV, but I had a few extra curse words that hadn’t been used yet, so things balanced out.

It was definitely snowman snow, but I just rolled with it as it rolled off the blade in giant chunks. It was well after dark when I finished, but I got enough done that I am comfortable that we are ready for everything to freeze solid as it sits.

I was intent on making sure I was clearing the snow far enough beyond the edges to leave me space for the rest of the winter of plowing. Setting the edges at the beginning is the most important because it will freeze and form the solid boundary for the rest of the season.

I’m satisfied I took appropriate action and achieved that goal. The driveway is clean, the truck started for me and is now parked where I want it by the shop garage and everything looks like a perfect winter wonderland.

Bring on the Arctic cold blast.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2016 at 9:30 am