Search This Blog

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dog Drivin' Again...

Finally got out with the dogs this week. Not enough snow for the sled so have been using the 4-wheeler and running the neighborhood roads. The first run was not so good cause Mac the pup got loose, chased us down the road, and forced me to turn around when I couldn't catch him. But he did run home with us so that that's something, I guess. Today I took him with, figured if he wanted to go, well maybe it was time to learn to be a sled dog. Except for a brief panic at the start, he did fine running with the team. Gus, the dog I got to replace Jabba our departed leader (Here and Gone 6/28/20), well not so much. He took us on a tour of the neighbor’s driveways, so I finally just turned them around and went back home. Maybe next time I’ll get around the loop! 

The team back home after a not so hard run. Mac, in the middle. did great for his first run. Gus, looking studly up front but not doing what he's supposed to, will likely be replaced in lead, but by who, well that's the question...

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

First Snow....

The NWS had predicted snow for the last few days, so we've been trying to get stuff ready. Before putting the bikes to bed for the winter, I suggested to Andy that she take hers for a ride. So she took it for a spin around "the island", the circular part of the driveway.

A little too cool for a serious ride, maybe 38°F, she got the "stink blown off her" as my grandma used to say.

And the snow finally did get here today. It was snowing lightly in the morning, but picked up a bit in the afternoon.

The roof on the workshop slowly turned white as the snow fell harder. It's cold enough, 23°F now, that it'll be sticking around for a while.

With the colder weather, Jack Black has been staying inside more. He keeps a close watch on his food bowl, letting us know whenever it needs refilling.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Had a chinook come through last week,  the warm, dry winds pushed the temps into the upper sixties and finally dried out the ground after the recent rains. Was able to get in a few rides on the Guzzi and also finished up some projects. One of them was fixing the mailbox posts.

About twenty years ago, the state resurfaced the Hot Springs Rd. One of the add-ons to the project was replacing all the mailboxes with DOT approved ones. There's apparently a whole bunch of regs for any mailbox that's placed in a state right of way. so the they figured it was easier to replace all the old boxes with new ones that were approved. So now, the boards that hold the boxes to the post are all failing. Not sure why they're so bad, maybe they didn't use treated wood for that part, since the verticals are mostly fine, but they look like the buildings you see up here in old, abandoned mining camps.

The top boards are all cracked and encrusted with lichens, they could be hundred year old relics!

Replaced the old boards with 2x4 AWW. The bolts holding everything together were 1/2" shank, 3/4" heads that were a real challenge to remove. The whole thing seems incredibly over engineered, so it's ironic that they apparently used untreated lumber that failed in maybe twenty years. 

One of the neighbors came by when I was finishing up, so told him I'd help him fix his mailbox. "Just get a 12' AWW 2x4, I'll cut'er in half and drill the holes so you can replace yours. Won't take you an hour."

"Oh I don't know" he said, "maybe I can just fix it with duct tape." 

The next day I saw him walking down the road with a rebar and a hammer. He apparently drove the rebar into the ground under the mailbox and used it to prop up the box. I guess replacing the broken boards was just too much trouble for him to bother with it. 

The neighbors solution; well like I always sez, to eaches his onus.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

More Fall...

Mostly been doing the fall chores while getting ready for winter. Got the stairs fixed on the shed; had to remove the stairs, then dig out the old footings, backfill with gravel, and then set some concrete footings I picked up at Lowes. The stairs fit just fine and the door now opens and closes without sticking. And it only took me about five years to finally get'er done. Then, while digging out a stump behind the shed, I managed to hook a root that went all the way underneath. When I picked up the stump with the backhoe, the root lifted it up enough to knock over the shelves under the overhang. So I've spent the last two days resetting them and sorting through all the crap that spilled off them. Lots of stuff going to the dump!

The leaves are pretty much down now, I'd meant to get some more photos when I went for some bike rides last week, but managed to forget the camera every time. At least I'm consistent. So here's a photo of the Mogu parked by the garage surrounded by the recently down leaves. It's called fall, after all!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Fall's Here...

It's been creeping up for awhile, cooler nights, leaves starting to turn, but Sun. turned out to be the real deal.We had our first frost, think it got down to 31° F, then we had brilliant sunshine in the afternoon to highlight the fall colors.
Spent most of the day running the backhoe. Did a small job for the neighbor, then redug some of the drainage ditches next to the road, finally dug out the approach to the old garage, buried some large rock to improve drainage, then covered it with geo-fabric and crushed rock. Today's project is to  dig out the old stair posts that have been jacking out and replace'em with concrete block. Gotta get'em all done before the snow flies!
Here's the August weather summary from the NWS...
The average temperature for Fairbanks this August was 59.7° which was 3.6° above normal, making it the first month this summer with above normal temps. The highest was 79° on the first, the lowest, 44° on the 14th and 30th. Precipitation was 2.12" for the month, which was 0.24" above normal.

Had a nice run of sunny, warm days in mid-month and rain was not so much of an issue like last month. Hoping for the same in Sept!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Northern Hydraulics...

No not the famous tool store, this is about changing the hydraulic fluid on the tractor. It was actually due last fall, but better late than never. The reason it's late is that it's a chore, and I can always find a way to postpone stuff that's a chore. The reservoir holds 5 1/2 gallons, the drain is underneath the differential, since that's the lowest part of the hydraulics, so how do you fit a large enough pan there to hold that much fluid? In the past I built up some blocking and drove the tractor on it so a 5 gal bucket will fit. But that's kind of a funky deal, since you gotta crawl underneath the tractor. A while back, years ago I'd guess, I found some built up panels in the dumpster. Part of a shipping container, IDN, but thought they might work out as a pair of risers to get the tractor up enough to fit the bucket. Well time passes, they gathered dust, in fact they had some moss growing on 'em, before I decided to make 'em work. First, had to pull out a few dozen nails that were sticking out, then put some spacers on to get the height to match on both, then ripped some angle boards to act as ramps. Surprisingly, they worked!
The tractor's rear wheels sitting on the riser panels. The hydraulic filter is cleverly hidden behind the step, so I usually mange to bang my head, smash a hand, or both when changing out the filter.

The bucket sitting underneath the differential. It fills up almost to the top with fluid, so it's a lot of fun to try to get it out without spilling it. But it's all done now, so it's good to go for another 500 hrs, or so.

Monday, August 24, 2020

End of summer chores...

This is the time of year when you realize summer's almost over and yah better get to it if you're gonna get your projects finished. One thing that's in abundance is wood to split. While I put a good dent in the spruce piles, there's still a lot of aspen left. Now aspen's different than spruce (Splitting Piss Pine 9/23/16), you need to debark it if you want the wood to dry out, so using the axe to clean off the outer bark adds a lot of time to the process.

There were several dead aspen near the house that had to go, so now the wood needs to be split.

It's a lot easier to strip off the bark if it hasn't dried onto the wood yet.

The other project is to finish painting the house. Last fall we got most of it done, but put off doing the eaves, since the gutters had to be removed. Always put off the jobs you like the least!

After painting the eaves, the gutters are reinstalled. Lost count of how times the ladders had to be moved to remove and replace them. The sanding and painting was a breeze in comparison.

A selfie of a happy homeowner who's almost finished another summer project. I'm really smiling on the inside, knowing I'll soon be drinking a vodka tonic and watching a hockey game!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Cool and Wet...

The Climate Center finally got around to posting their monthly summaries for June and July.

Not much to add, both months were cooler and wetter than normal.

While Aug. started wet, it's warmed up a bit and the forecast for the rest of the week is sunny with highs in the 70's. Can't beat that now cause this is usually our rainiest month. Starting to take down the gutters to paint the eaves. Then the cabin and garage paint job, that was started last fall, will be finished. And the buyer for the Triumph stuff sent a check, so will be loading up and shipping most the old Triumph parts and tools to Texas. Kind of sad, but most of it has been here untouched for over thirty years, as I'd moved on to working on Moto Guzzis. Did save some parts, books, and tools, so maybe will get back to it some day.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Guzzied out...

With all the rain we've gotten lately, the summer started warm but has cooled off considerably, figured it was time to get out more with the Guzzi. I've had the 850 for thirty years now and except for the initial work when I first got it, rechroming and repainting the rusty places, rebuilding the front brake and replacing oil seals, the bike has been almost faultless. I've never even had to set the points or tune the carbs, it just keeps running like the Eveready bunny!

The only thing replaced over the winter were the fuel taps. The old ones, likely the originals and 45 years old, were leaking. There was a pair of NOS taps in a box of Guzzi parts that I got with the bike, so it was an easy and cheap fix.

Since I had to remove the valve covers to adjust the valves, figured I'd add a pair of small engine head guards. I've only dropped the bike once, when pushing it into the garage when I first got it. It's a load to move around when you're not riding it, so figured the guards were cheap insurance. A lot of people install larger crash bars, but I figure that's just asking for trouble!
The day after I wrote this, the ignition switch broke, so had to order a new upgrade, the original is no longer available. This requires changing part of the wiring harness. Be careful what you write, sometimes it can come back to bite you!

Friday, July 31, 2020

All Knotted Up...

One of the problems with splitting the big spruce rounds are the knots. The larger spruce branches are 3-4"  thick where they come out of the tree and extend into the tree at least half a foot. Sometimes when the splitter hits one, it just stops. At first I tried repeating, just backing it up and splitting again, but that just got it stuck worse on the blade end. The problem, I think, is that the tractor 's hydraulic pump only makes about 14 gpm and most splitters like at least 20. The other thing is the design, the blade starts fairly narrow, then widens abruptly where they welded on an angular metal piece to expand the crack. This is where it always gets stuck.

After beating on it with a sledge to no effect, tried splitting it with an axe. After breaking two handles (note the shiny new handle on maul), started using a metal wedge. Once positioned just above the blade, it only took a few whacks to open up the crack enough to allow the splitter to pop the log apart. And do they pop, some have shot apart, flying several feet, once hitting me. It didn't hurt much, but surprised the heck out of me. Now I stand well back, it's ballistic splitting!

Sunday, July 19, 2020


Summer up here starts in mid-May and pretty much is over by mid-Sept, so I figure this is midsummer, more or less.  The big thing that's happened,  I think I've sold the rest of the Triumph  stuff, parts, bikes, and tools, are all headed for Texas!
The garage'll have some more room when all the stuff in the far corner is gone.

The other thing has been raising the pup. He's grown quite a bit, well at least his ears and feet are a lot bigger, and we've nick-named him Sharknado after the B-movie. He races around the house, like a whirlwind,  then attacks us with his razor sharp puppy teeth and claws.

Andy has to put a chew toy in his mouth to keep his jaws busy.

He likes to explore the furniture.

And enjoys chasing his new best friend Jack Black.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Here and Gone...

Well there's good news and bad. We got a puppy, Mackenzie River/husky cross, so of course had to name him Mac. We haven't had a puppy, or litter of puppies, for maybe twenty years. Most of our dogs are adult rescues, so this one is a treat.

The bad news is my old leader, Jabba apparently developed acute pancreatitis and died. The vet did his best, but he never fully woke up after the surgery. At least we were able to bring him home before he passed, so that's something I guess.
Jabba in his prime, He was a natural leader, one of the best I've been lucky enough to have. Not just a good sled dog, he was like a friend to me.

Jabba leading the team home. I had hoped he'd be able to train the new pup this winter when the pup was old enough to run with the team, but I guess some things aren't meant to be.