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 put it 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 the original from a parts box and am trying to straighten it up 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!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gettin' Wood Enough...

Like most every year,  it's time for collecting some firewood (Haulin' in the Wood...5/1/13). There's usually a few trees that fall on the dog trail that need to be bucked up, then there's the standing dead trees that are leaning and need to go, so there always seems to be plenty to haul back up the hill.
What makes it different this year is that there's still over two feet of snow on the ground, so it's a real challenge to get to some of the dead trees and buck them up. For the first time since I can't remember, I'm cutting wood on snowshoes. While it's awkward at first, the main problem, once you get used to having four foot long webbed feet, is not cutting into the snowshoes, since they always seem to be in the way when you're sawing up the trees. But so far it's gone well and hope to get in a few more loads before the snow's gone, the ski doo breaks down, or my back gives out; it's always a toss up which goes first.
Update:  Went out today to get another load of wood. Unfortunately forgot to check the chainsaw gas and ran out before finishing bucking up the spruce tree. Well I guess it'll still be there tomorrow. the next day. or...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Last Dog Run?...

With the temperatures climbing into the upper thirties, it looks like this might have been the last week of running dogs.
Heading out in the morning, it's still cool enough, down in the teens, for the dogs to run well.

But by the time we're heading home in early afternoon, it's getting into the thirties and that's pretty warm for these fuzzy guys. Maybe it's time to start working on motorcycles?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

March Weather...

Here's the weather summary for March for Fairbanks, AK...
Mean monthly temperature was 15.6°F, which was 4.2°F above normal. The observed maximum temperature was 40.0°F on the 13rd of the month, the minimum temperature was -29.0°F on the 1st of the month. The total monthly precipitation was 0.5", which was 0.3" above normal. Snowfall measured 9 in for the month and the end of month snowpack was still near 30 in.


In other weather news, we'd been noticing an odd pattern on the weather radar here in Fairbanks, almost the same looking screen would appear on clear days this winter.

Andy and I joked about how it looked like the old TV test pattern that stations used to broadcast back in the day. So maybe the weather bureau was saving money by not turning on the radar some days? But the NWS folks at Alaska Weather told us that it was due to the radar waves bouncing off the low temperature inversion layer that often forms in the atmosphere during the winter. So there you go, you still can learn something new most every day.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tripping Out...

For the past twenty years or so, my friend Bill and I try to do a dog trip (White Mountains Trip 3/29/09). Some years we managed two and even made it to Tanana, a run of fifty miles by dog team, after doing a tour of the White Mtns. But lately we haven't been so ambitious, old age and bad luck have combined to limit what we can still do with our dogs. So this year we planned a simple overnight trip to a cabin in the "park" (A Ride in the Park 7/8/16).
Pretty fast run into the cabin, so had lot's of time to relax while still taking good care of the dogs. Spending time at these remote cabins, with no computer, cell phone, or T.V. reception really gives you time to just sit, talk and solve most of the worlds problems. It snowed a bit overnight, but not enough to slow things down. The ride back out went great until I missed a turn and crashed about a mile from the trailhead. The only thing damaged, besides my pride, was the brush bow on the sled and that's what it's there for, to protect the sled.
Bill took this photo as we arrived at the cabin. Dogs were still pretty perky and could have run a lot further.

Bill heading out the next day. He seemed pleased with his dog run.

The dogs were furiously barking when Bill was getting ready to leave, but they all stopped at once as soon as he was gone. Then Jabba began to howl and they serenaded me for a while. Pretty much fun!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Hail, All Hail to Spring...

We'd been getting light snow all last week, but not really enough to plow until a couple of days ago when figured there was enough to bother with. After plowing the drive way and trail to the dog yard (more on that later), moved the pickup and cleaned up around the workshop. After parking the tractor, was walking over to move the truck back when it stared hailing. At first I thought it was sleet, which is pretty common here in late March/early April. but as I sat in the truck watching it come down, it definitely sounded like hail on the roof. So after it quit, went into the house, got the camera, and took these photos:
Was really glad I wasn't still out on the tractor, cause it was coming down pretty hard for 15-20 min.
Now technically, it was the first day of spring, but up here we normally think of spring starting in late April/early May when the snow's finally gone. Hail's usually associated with thunder storms, which occur from late May to early September, so it was kind of weird.
The other weird thing happened when walking our new dog. We'd been bringing him into the house to socialize him, since he's kind of shy, with a couple of the other younger dogs. Andy took the two out after a bit and I followed, giving him a biscuit occasionally to keep is interest on me and not drag me down the trail. So as I reached into my pocket, to pull out another one, then started to break it in half, since he tends to swallow them whole, he takes off full speed for the dog yard. I tried to keep my balance by running with him, but managed only a couple of stumbling steps before slamming down on the newly plowed trail. Landed on my side, knocked the wind out of me, and dropped the leash. The dog took off, fortunately running around the dog yard where Andy caught him. I thought I'd just bruised some ribs, but apparently had also hit my head on the rock hard trail, as the next morning woke up with this beautiful shiner.
After our next dog run, Jabba admires the shiner. He's probably thinking "if you had that on both eyes, you'd be handsome like me."  Update: found out that we didn't get hail, it's actually "graupel" that's formed similar to hail, but starts with snowflakes instead of rain drops and the end result is the same. Weird!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Dogs And Relatives...

Besides trying to get out with the dogs as often as possible, since spring is coming fast, the big event so far this month was having some relatives here. Got a call from a cousin in California that I hadn't seen in maybe forty years, telling me that his wife and daughter, who I'd never met, were in town. So we called them and had lunch. Great people, wound up spending the afternoon with them, it's amazing how you just hit it off sometimes. They had come up to see the northern lights, I guess that's a thing now, but it was cloudy the whole time, so they missed out.
Here's the last five dog run, Jabba's really come into his own since running him in single lead.

So now running the new dog, "Big Boy", regularly. in a six dog team.  A good puller, he's a real animal.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cuppa holder, a tale of two crimpers...

While I've owned many pickups over the years, none ever had a cup holder. Not a big deal, it's kind of an art to drive a standard shift in traffic while holding a full cup of steaming, hot coffee, Most of them were marked by occasional spills, so when we got the '96 Ford, I was disappointed it didn't have one. Figured it'd be easy to find one on line, but no, there didn't seem to be anything, so had to adapt a universal holder. The problem was that there's no flat spots on the dash to easily mount it. The holder came with sheet metal screws, but thought it'd be better to bolt it on. So finally decided to use the ash tray, since it has a reasonably flat front and could be pulled out to reach it. Thought it'd be easier to work on after removing the tray, but that proved difficult. When it finally came out, the wires to the lighter were apparently cracked and shorted out. No big deal, just splice 'em back together, I thought.
So after drilling and bolting on the holder, it was time to re-splice the wires. A while back I'd gotten an electrical kit that had lots of fittings and a crimping tool, so when it warmed up outside the other day, thought it'd be done in a flash. But after three failed tries at crimping the fittings to the wire, gave it up for the day. Then I remembered an old crimping tool that hadn't been used in years, I'd gotten it from the sale table at a parts store. So tried again today and it crimped everything first try. Almost inconceivable.
The high end crimping tool (top) failed miserably, while the bargain bin tool saved the day.

The cup holder deployed for use.

And folds up when not needed. Suh-weet!