Monday, September 18, 2017

Chippin' away...

Back when I was working full time, we decided to get more attachments for the tractor so I'd have the equipment to run a small landscaping outfit. So every few years until I retired, we bought something new. So much so that several don't get used much. One is the chipper-shredder. Can't remember the last time it was on the tractor, but since there were more that a few piles of brush to chip, figured it'd be good to hook it up and use it. Since it needed to be greased, went ahead and also greased the tractor and pickup. That way I won't have to crawl around on the gravel driveway at near freezing temp's in Oct like I usually do when I've put off the fall maintenance.
The fall colors are still decent, though the leaves are dropping fast.
Andy got involved, speeding up the process. Now there's enough chips to cover the worst spots on the trail down to the garden.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another fine day...

Been trying to finish up some carpentry projects around the house. But when the sun comes out and the leaves are close to their maximum fall color, it's just gotta be time for a bike ride.
The pull off at the Little Chena bridge has gotten so over-grown, you can hardly see the river.
The sun filtering through the trees brightens the colors so much it almost hurt the eyes
The colors usually max out in mid-September, so it's right on schedule this year.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


After several days of cool, rainy weather, the winds shifted to the south and the downslope effect from  the Alaska Range gave the interior a chinook. The temperature rose from the forties this morning to near seventy by noon time. So of course had to take the bike out for a ride.
The pull off near the Nordale bridge was a good spot for some photos.

The light frost from the other morning has turned the leaves golden in the flats.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The ever popular NWS August weather summary for Fairbanks Alaska...

August 2017 was a warm and slightly wetter than normal month in the Fairbanks area. Overall the month was tranquil with no dail ytemperature or precipitation records set. The warmest temperature was 83 degrees which occurred on the 6th. The coldest temperature was 40 degrees which occurred on the 31st.

The average high temperature was 67.2 degrees which was 1.3 degrees above the normal high temperature of 65.9 degrees which ranked as the 43 warmest of 111 years of record.

2.15 inches of rain fell at the Fairbanks airport in the month ofAugust which was 0.27 inches above the normal rainfall of 1.88 inches and ranked as the 39th wettest of 105 years of record.

Looking forward to September, possible sunshine continues to decrease by nearly seven minutes per day with possible daylight decreasing from 14 hours and 35 minutes on the 1st to 11 hours and 22 minutes on the 30th.  The average daily high temperature decreases from 60.5 degrees on the 1st to 46.2 degrees on the 30th. The average daily low temperature decreases from 41.3 degrees on the 1st to 30.1 degrees on the 30th. The average rainfall at the Fairbanks airport in September is 1.1 inches and the average snowfall in September is 1.8 inches.

September can be a month of extremes. The warmest temperature on record for the month of September in Fairbanks is 84 degrees which occurred in 1957. The coldest temperature on record for the month of September in Fairbanks is 3 above which occurred in 1992. Measurable snow has been observed in September about 2 out of every 3 years. Heavy snow events are infrequent but are not unheard of. Long time residents will recall 1992 when over two feet of snow fell during a 10 day period and more recently 20.9 inches of snow falling during the month of September in 2015.

The forecast for the month of September from the Climate Prediction Center calls for increased chances for above normal temperatures and increased chances for below normal precipitation.

September brings dark nights,  cooler weather, and the leaves they are a turnin'.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Goodbye Barney

About twelve years ago, got a call from Lynn who had a sled dog rescue kennel out in Two Rivers. She asked if I was interested in a young dog. Well a big male, sure, I remember saying. So I went out there and there was this small, scruffy dog, maybe forty pounds, and so wild she could barely catch him. But I figured I could always bring him back, she was good that way, and besides, maybe he'll grow. So I brought him home. Kind of crazy on his chain, always running around and did he bark, if he wasn't barking, he was either eating or asleep. When Andy got back from her field trip, it was kind of clever of me to get a dog when she was gone, she couldn't believe it, "This is the most worthless dog ever!" And when he got loose and nearly killed the cat, well he was almost "unrescued" as she put it.
But as time moved on, Barney grew into a strong, sixty pound sled dog. And because he was so crazy to hook up and run, I started putting him up front, since that often quiets a rowdy dog down. And darned if he didn't turn into a lead dog. When it was time to retire Springer, my old leader, Barney stepped up and became the main leader. No matter how bad the trail or steep the hill, Barney was up for it. He didn't like to stop for breaks, after a few minutes he was whining, ready to go again.
Barney (Rt) and Spuds (Lt) in better times. They ran together so often, I called them Barneyspuds.

But like all good things, they come to an end. First I noticed he had trouble with the speed on the downhills, so tried to keep it slow. Then he started limping occasionally, but always wanted to go again. Last fall he did fine on the early training along the highway but when we switched over the more remote trails that were soft and punchy, he struggled to keep up. Finally decided to leave him home and he was fine with that, happy to just run around the yard and bark a lot. He started having trouble jumping up on his house, then quit eating all of his food. When he didn't eat at all this weekend, well it was time. Took him into the animal shelter where he was euthanized. I know it was for the best, but it's like losing a good friend. Well if there's a dog heaven, he'll be up there, barking and running around like when he was a pup. Good times again.

Leading the team home. While Spuds was a little better on commands, Barney likely was the hardest working dog we've ever had. He was an animal!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

More dog daze...

Not weather wise, it's rained every day this past week and barely hits 60° in the afternoon. You'd think summer would last a little longer, but up here, fall usually begins in mid-August and this year is no exception. No, the dog daze now is the new dog in the yard. We had gotten a sled dog last winter from the Sled Dog Sanctuary ( Mia was seriously shy and while she was a good working sled dog, she wanted nothing to do with my wife and I. So after several fruitless months of trying to get her to warm up to us, we decided to send her back. So in exchange we got Rig.

A little shy at first, Rig (the all black dog) soon warmed up to us and now gets plenty of exercise. He's already dug a hole about three ft deep. So he's now known as Rigger the digger.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July Weather, the dog days...

Here's the ever popular National Weather Service summary for July, the dog days of summer up here...


July 2017 was a warm and slightly dryer than normal month. While no daily temperature or precipitation records were set, wind from a strong weather front on the 23rd knocked down trees and caused power outages in the local area.

The average mean temperature for the month was 65.7 degrees which was 3.2 degrees above the normal and ranked as the 5th warmest of 111 years of record. The warmest temperature for the month was 86 degrees on the the 6th. There have been eleven 80 degrees or warmer days in Fairbanks this summer. Normally there will be around 12 days per summer where the temperature reaches 80 degrees or warmer. The lowest temperature in the month of July was 49 degrees on the 22nd.

1.94 inches of rain fell at the Fairbanks airport in the month of July which was 0.22 inches below the normal rainfall of 2.16 inches and ranked as the 47th wettest of 105 years.

Looking forward to the month of August possible sunshine continues to decrease at nearly 7 minutes per day with daylight hours decreasing from 18 hours and 7 minutes on the 1st to 14 hours and 41 minutes on the 31st. The average daily high temperature decreases from 70 degrees on the 1st to 62 degrees on the 31st. The average low temperature decreases from 50 degrees on the 1st to 41 degrees on the 31st. On average 1.88 inches of rain falls at the Fairbanks Airport during the month of August.

The forecast from the climate prediction center calls for increased chances for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.

In other news, we picked up a dog from the local animal shelter a little while back. Pretty shy when we got him, but several boxes of dog biscuits later, he's started to come around. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to know how to jump on his dog house. Most of our dogs spend a good part of the day sitting or sleeping up there. But with some encouragement, he's slowly figuring it out.

The black dog on the right, Tamarack or Tambo-Rambo as he's now known,  is a house dog now. Well at least when he get's excited enough, he'll jump up there. The goal is to teach him to jump up and then sit on the dog house so I can put the dog harness on him. That's how I train when harnessing them up for a dog run. Makes it a lot easier to get the harness on and gives my back a break, not having to bend over so much.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Michigan Madman...

The other night we were sitting out on the deck and a couple of my neighbors stopped by for some beers. We got to telling stories, as is often the case, and I talked about growing up in the Midwest. There was a guy named EJ Potter, aka the Michigan Madman, who did drag racing exhibitions, first on a series of V-8 engined motorcycles, then put a V-12 in a '57 Plymouth. It was the latter machine I saw when I went with my older brother to the locally world famous US 30 drag strip, "Drag Racing Capital of Chicagoland". I almost never went anywhere with him and it turned out the only reason he invited me along was that he was broke, so I wound paying for everything. There's nothing quite like growing up as the kid brother. Anyway, my brother's buddy was so excited seeing the hot rod Plymouth smoke it's tires all the way down the track, he kept jumping up and down, yelling "didya see that? didya see that!" Incredible.
Starting off with a small block Chevy, Potter built increasingly bigger-engined drag bikes. Eventually he graduated to a V-12 Allison airplane engine in a '57 Plymouth.

After he retired from drag racing, Potter put the V-12 engine in a tractor and entered it into tractor pulling contests. That led to a double engined tractor with 3400 HP!

Bert, one of my neighbors who had raced a Harley engined dragster himself, was quite impressed by the V-12 power plants. "Yeah those Allison engines, they sound like nothing you hear today, the sweetest sounding engine ever."  And the conversation moved on to old airplanes.

So never did get to the point of the story; that this self styled madman spent most of his life riding crazy fast motorcycles, never was seriously hurt, and built some pretty fantastic machines by himself, with no sponsorship or engineering help. Amazing. EJ Potter died in 2012 at 71. He supposedly was planning a comeback on the V-8 motorcycle just before he died.

Monday, July 24, 2017

All carted up...

When I was getting the walking tractor and attachments ready to sell (Walking tractor...7/1/17)l, it was obvious the cart was in pretty rough shape. Unlike the other parts that were stored in the shed, the cart spent the last twenty years or so leaning against a big spruce tree. The tires were flat, wheels and body rusted; it was pretty shabby. The guy who bought the tractor took one look and said he wasn't interested in it. Andy thought it should go to the metal recycling. But to me, well it was a challenge, it looked fixable.

The cart looked a lot worse than the picture shows. This photo was taken for the ad, so kind of hid the cart with the flat tires behind the tiller.

Started off by removing the wheels, they were rusted fast to the axle. While I couldn't get the tubeless tires to hold air, figured if they could be removed without damaging the bead, might be able to insert tubes. So after removing them, sand blasted and painted the rims, then ordered a pair of tubes on ebay. After the tires and tubes were on the rims, figured it was worth it to work on the cart. So spent the next several days sand blasting the rusty areas and sanding the faded paint, then primered the cart. The steel tube that they used for the tongue had split where it was flattened to meet the axle. Not sure if it came that way, but wound up welding it anyway. Three cans of Rust-Oleum blue later, it looked good as new.

The cart now looks great, almost don't want to sell it. But given that it hadn't moved in over twenty years, well maybe it's not needed so much anymore.
Update:  Sold the cart. It's always a little amazing when someone buys something that others consider junk. It just goes to show the value of a little spray paint.

Monday, July 17, 2017

June weather...

Here.s the June weather summary from the Alaska Climate Research Center:

June 2017 marks 18 months out of the last 20 months with mean statewide temperatures at or above normal. The mean monthly temperature for June was 53.5°F, 1.8°F above the normal. This is 0.6°F below the June 2016 mean of 54.1°F. The first eleven days of the month were above normal, followed by ten days of below normal temperatures, then the month ended with nine more days above normal. The greatest positive deviation occurred on the 8th with 7.5°F above normal, and the greatest negative deviation occurred on the 13th at -2.0°F. 

The highest daily maximum temperature for June was 90°F reported at Fairbanks on the 9th, a new daily record, breaking the 1957 record of 87°F. This was the second earliest 90°F daily high on record, after the 90°F high on May 28, 1947, as well as the first 90°F in Fairbanks since June 2013. Fairbanks also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 62.8°F.

June's precipitation was notably below normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 17% below the average;  24 days of the month reported below normal values. This is drier than June 2016, which reported a precipitation surplus of 21% A limited number of daily precipitation records were set this June. Fairbanks on the 11th broke a record set only the pervious year with 1.09", topping the 2016 record of 0.95".

Fire activity was moderate with the somewhat drier weather. Smoke from the South Fork Salcha fire, north of the Pogo Mine, reached Fairbanks on the 9th. It ended the month at over 8,000 acres. A small wildfire temporarily closed the Richardson Highway near Fairbanks at mile 308 on the 9th.  By the end of June there had been 165 human caused fires that burned about 6,000 acres and 90 lightning caused fires that had burned over 183,600 acres.

And here's the stupid cat picture for the month. Ruty's apparently decided to become a lap cat after ten years of mostly ignoring us.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ridin' the 650...

So after finishing the work on the 650 MoGu (technically it's a V65 Spada, or sword in English, but seriously, who rides a sword?), took it for a ride to see how the new tires worked, Well to be honest, there seemed no difference. But the speedometer was working now, so the worm drive mechanism was fixed. I was happy there were no problems, since I wasn't sure if the axles were assembled with all the spacers in the correct order. At least I was until I came to the junction with the Steese Hwy and the motor died. Didn't think I was out of gas, since I'd added what was left in the poly gas can, maybe half a gallon. Then I remembered last fall running out of gas (Last Ride #3....). and never did fill it up again. So then switched to reserve and it fired right up. Decided I better get to the nearest gas station and opted for one that carried premium, not all of them up here sell it. Since it was more than a few miles, there was some angst before getting there. But made it to station and filled'er up. The rest of the ride was anti climactic, sometimes it's the little things that'll make it interesting.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Walking tractors....

Back in the day when we were building our cabin, we didn't have time for a garden. But when we were finished, at least with the first part before the additions, we decided to get a "walking tractor" that could be put to multiple use, roto-tilling a garden, snow plowing the driveway, and hauling firewood. After we got one, found it was fine for  roto-tilling, but not so much for everything else.
So eventually we got a real tractor (Retired...2/22/16). After years of not using the walking tractor, figured maybe it was time to sell it. Surprisingly, it fired right up after a few pulls with some new gas. The impeller on the snowblower was cracked and bent in a few places from ingesting rocks on the gravel driveway, so had to sand blast, straighten, weld, and repaint it. Otherwise it just needed some clean up, then put an ad in Craigslist. Go figure, it sold the next day. Maybe I should of asked for more? Well it's gone now so at least there's one less thing in the tool shed to trip over or worry about what to do with it.