Saturday, July 14, 2018

Finally reported..

Spent the last two weeks reviewing, checking, and summarizing filed survey data from a project that I worked on years ago. Seems like there's a potential for a lawsuit, so they want all the information verified in a final report. But for me, reading the notes is like a time machine, bringing back memories. While I don't remember everything, there's 20 field books that cover over 15 years of survey work, there's still a lot of remarkable things.
There was the time we almost sank the survey boat. We had just finished the cross section and while unhooking the boat from the tagline, it swung side ways to the current and started to tip over as it filled with water. The woman working with me immediately jumped overboard, but I was finally able to get the line freed up before it sank and motored the half filled boat to shore. Poor B. had to wait on the far bank, soaking wet, while I bailed out the boat and retrieved the gear that went overboard. She probably still hasn't forgiven me. Too much fun.

Then there was the winter trip when, after s series of landings to drill the ice and get water measurements, the battery apparently died and the plane wouldn't start. We took turns hand cranking the motor, but it didn't even fire. After discussing options, the pilot tried one more time and wonder of wonders, it started. It apparently was flooded, so just needed some time to clear the carburetor. Kind of an exciting take off, since by then it was almost dark on the river, but a lot better than sleeping out at twenty below.

Then there was Larry, river guide extraordinaire, who was always ready to get us to a remote survey site, help fix some broken equipment, or put us up in his cabins down by the river. He had a quick smile, a funny story, and a strong opinion on most everything. Larry passed on a few years ago and is missed by all who knew him.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

June weather...

Fairbanks June 2018

Mean monthly temperature was 58.8°F, which was 1.6°F below normal. The observed maximum temperature was 86.0°F on the 21st of the month, the minimum temperature was 36.0°F on the 12nd of the month. The total monthly precipitation was 0.6", which was 0.8" below normal (Alaska Climate Center).

June started out warm, then had a week of cool, rainy weather. Didn't break any records, but the usual cold spots reported frost. That was followed by the warmest day of the year so far. Crazy weather, you'd almost think there was some kind of climate change thing goin' on. Fortunately our great president is right on top of things. He's sure that it's the Chinese causing all the weird weather, manipulating the jet stream, so in response he's imposing the Trumpian tariffs. Surely it'll make America great again!

Finally got the 850 Moto Guzzi out for a ride. Switched out the battery from the 650 and headed away from town on the Hot Springs Rd. Unfortunately, everybody must have left work early, it was real busy, but nobody was in a hurry, so traffic was going around fifty. Maybe Friday afternoon's not the best time to take a ride? Kind of ironic cause when I take the pickup into town, it seems like everybody wants to go 70-80, so get tail-gaited and passed a lot. Anyway, once I got turned around, had a good ride home, as all the traffic was going the other way. Having an open road with "clean air" makes all the difference!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

More Odd Jobs...

Back to cutting wood this week after Andy pointed out several dead spruce that needed to go. While we did get a couple of cords of firewood hauled in this spring (Gettin' Wood Enough...4/15/18), it's all bucked up, split, and stacked now, so it's always good to have more ready to go.
Unlike hauling wood with the Ski Doo, it's a lot less work using the tractor.

The pile of logs slowly turns into stacks of firewood.

The other job comes from the proposal that was submitted a while back. It was accepted, so now I get to collate, review, and summarize fifteen years of hydrology survey data. While I don't mind doing this in the winter, just finished a similar project last year, it's not my idea of the ideal summer job. So be careful what you wish for, I guess.
It's a lot more fun to go out in the summer and collect survey data than to analyze it.

And then took the 650 Moto Guzzi out for a ride and, big surprise, ran out of gas again. That machine really needs a gas gauge.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

May Weather...

Better late than never, the Alaska Climate Center finally posted their May weather summary...

Mean monthly temperature was 49.7°F, which was 0.3°F above normal. The observed maximum temperature was 72.0°F on the 10th of the month, the minimum temperature was 28.0°F on the 6th of the month. The total monthly precipitation was 1.1", which was 0.5" above normal. One inch of snow fell during the month, on the first.

May started off cold, then warmed up into the 70's, melted the last of the snow, then turned cool and rainey. June was also cool until yesterday when it got up to 79 and then into the 80's today.

This is the first 80 degree day since last August. Summer truly did arrive on the solstice.

Looking out into the dogs yard, it looks like a bunch of dead dogs, trying to find a little bit of shade, lying on the cool ground.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Odd jobs...

Lately it seems like I'm doing a lot of odd jobs. This week it was shocks, proposals, and dog houses. The Ford pickup has well over a 100K miles on it, so it always needs maintenance. This time it was shock absorbers. Driving around on our frost heaved roads, it wallowed around like a boat in a storm. Would that make me a drunken sailor? The truck also seemed to settle a lot with the dog boxes on it last winter. Thought it'd be a good idea to beef up the springs with load leveler shocks. Of course nobody up here carries them in stock so had to order online. They were shipped and arrived promptly, so that's something. The only problem was that the spring on the load levelers extends the shock's mount down, well beyond the bracket where the old shock mounted. So had to jack the axle down (away) from the frame to get enough separation to fasten the lower shock mount. On the rear ones, the brake drum was almost touching the ground before the bracket and shock aligned close enough to thread the bolt. Once the shock was hooked up and the truck jacked back down, the shock springs compressed quite a bit and the truck height was only about an inch more. And while the ride is OK, it's noticeably stiffer on bumps.
Didn't think to get a shot of the floor jack balanced on the axle to force the bracket down enough to align with the new shocks. Probably looked pretty weird.

Then I got a call from a former colleague at work, who was concerned about a project he thought was  being mismanaged, so wanted my input. After talking to him for awhile, did some research online, then wrote and sent off a proposal outlining suggested work. We'll see where that goes. I expect nowhere.
Also been working on dog houses. It seems like the last few dogs we've taken in are quite long bodied, so started making longer dog houses. That's left several old ones not being used. So rather than keep building new, longer houses, decided to try and lengthen the older ones. Since it would take a major disassembly with lots of newer parts to do it right, got the idea of just taking the front and back off and adding spacers that'd make the house several inches longer without so much extra work and materials. We'll see how that works out.
The spacers (scrap 1x2's) extended the length about an inch at each end. It'll be interesting to see if the dogs like this house any better than the older one

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Back to the Black...

It was time for the semi-annual trip down to Black Rapids to help my friend Mike do his surveys on the the Delta River.
The lower reach of the river was quite high this year, so we just did that survey from the shore. The doppler meter doesn't work so well in turbulent, silty water, so Mike needs a better system here.
The upper Delta site was also high, but not too high to do the river survey.
Mike got the doppler meter working pretty well this year, so there were no problems getting the river surveyed here or at Paxson Lake.
Had a moose come by, but he kept his distance. which was fine with me after last year's close encounter (Back to the Black 9/30/17).

The last stop was Paxson Lake where we launched the boat, then headed out to survey the outlet at the far end of the lake.

The lake was so calm, it was a mirror image of the clouds. Kind of disorienting at first. On the way back, the wind picked up and blew the shore ice out into the middle of the lake. Had to play dodge the ice flows all the way back to the boat ramp.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Free wheeling...

Late May is the time when traditionally the garden goes in. This year it seemed like it'd be June before any gardening, since there was still a foot of snow in places in early May. But then we had a week of near seventy degree weather and the snow was gone before the end of the month. After finishing the roto-tilling, we were getting stuff moved to the garden when the wheel barrow broke down. Hard to believe that something that's been used for forty years, stored outside, and never had any maintenance would break, but there you go, they just don't make'm like they used to.
So instead of buying a new one, that'd be too easy, figured it could be fixed. Thought that just the broken part could be replaced, it was a short piece of wood that had dry rotted, but between the rusted nuts and stripped out carriage bolts, wound up having to use the saws-all to cut out most of the bolts to get it apart.
Didn't get a photo of the broken part, but here's the disassembled pieces ready to be worked on.
So after replacing the broken parts with some scrap pieces of all weather wood, sand blasted and painted the metal body. Used the left over paint from the walking tractor rebuild (All carted up...7/24/17) and some old deck stain on the wood pieces.
So here's the pieces fitted back to the body of the barrow. Will head into town tomorrow, pick up some new bolts and get'er all back together.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Heads Up...

Got the Triumph head back together, then cleaned up the rocker boxes and checked the fit,

Everything looked good until it was time to mount the head on the cylinders and noticed there was only one push-rod tube. Went thru half a dozen boxes of parts, but no luck. So had to order one on eBay.

So while waiting, started to fit other stuff, such as the tail light. The one that was on there before is now on the 650 Moto Guzzi  (Retired and Refendered...6/20/17), so dug out an original tail light from a box of 71/72 parts. Now I'm trying to straighten it out, it'd been banged up at some point, so it'll fit again. Too much fun.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Finishin' one thing, startin' another...

Almost finished splitting the wood that was hauled in last month. Should be at least a couple of cords, so that'll help keep us warm next winter.

The next project'll be putting one of the old basket case Triumphs back together. It's been more than a little while since there's been any work done on them, but hopefully can at least get one back together this summer. They've been ignored ever since the Moto Guzzi's got here, so they're way over do for some work.
The first step has been to disassemble the head, clean it, and then lap the valves. After another good cleaning, should be ready to put back together soon. It' s a real challenge, since the Triumph's have sat for over twenty years; really have to search the brain cells remembering what's to be done.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

April Weather Summary...

Here's the NWS summary for April...
Mean monthly temperature was 31.3°F, which was 1.2°F below normal. The observed maximum temperature was 54.0°F on the 23rd of the month, the minimum temperature was -4.0°F on the 3rd of the month. The total monthly precipitation was 0.1", which was 0.2" below normal. Snowfall totaled about 2 inches.
Chart from Alaska Climate Research Center (
The month started off cold, so was able to run dogs and haul in firewood. But then it warmed up into the fifties and softened up the trails. Eventually it cooled off enough to haul half a dozen loads of wood over the hill. Now it's still kind of cool with patches of snow and ice hanging on, so it's a good time to put the splitter on the tractor and get the logs split into firewood.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cat Uh Tonic...

We've had a few cats over the years. The last one, Ruty, who was named after the rutabaga, had to be put down last summer after developing feline oral stomatitis, an auto immune disease with no known cure. Andy wanted to wait awhile to get another cat, but after missing the sound of little cat feet all winter, decided maybe it was time to look for another one.  So I checked the local animal shelter, Pet Pride, and finally Craig's List, where we saw an ad for an "aloof, yearling male, friendly but doesn't like to cuddle." Well that sounded like Ruty when we first got him, so answered the ad. When they responded that they still had him, Andy went and brought him home.
Kind of shy at first, he spent most of the first week under the couch, but now has pretty much made himself at home.

He's apparently fascinated with the toilet, we have to keep the lid down to stop him from crawling into the bowl.

It's like he thinks it's his personal water bowl. "What's your problem? I'm busy here!"

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Last load and then some...

Yesterday was a great day to haul wood over the hill. It snowed a bit over night and the temps dropped down into the low twenties, so the trail set up and the snow crust hardened enough to work without snowshoes.  Finished up the spruce tree from the other day, then dropped and bucked up a dead birch that fell right next to trail. So had it loaded and back home before noon.
Today not so much. It was near thirty when we got up this morning and mid forties a few hour later. So since the trail'd be too soft to haul loads, decided to drop some of the dead trees near the house. There's a birch right behind the tool shed that lost it's top a while back, so figured it was time to go. Put a rope and come-along on it and Andy cranked away while I got the chain saw going and cut'er down. Unlike the last time (Aspen Errors, Part Duce...10/6/17), there was no near miss. The wood's a little punky, should have dropped it a few years ago, but like most of the trees here, it'll burn.
The birch dropped right where it was supposed to; no "near death experience" this time!