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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Yes, We Have No Delvac, A Tale of Two Oils...

Back in the day when I worked land surveying, one of the guys on the crew had an older brother who apparently was a perfectionist. One of his quirks was to get his old engine oil tested after changing it. After trying many different brands, he decided that Mobil 1 Delvac synthetic was the best oil. That got me started using it in the old Volvo wagon where we had just replaced the engine. So when we got the tractor, it got the same oil.  

This spring when I went to change the oil, there was less than half a gallon left and it takes five quarts. The bulk plant, where I usually get it had been closed, so I called first. Well it turned out they're open, but all out of Mobil 1 Delvac. So I checked the local auto stores and they were all out too. But then I noticed that one store had Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck oil. What's the difference? Here's what I found on line...

Mobil Delvac 1 ESP 5W-40 is an advanced full synthetic oil specially fomulated for diesel engines that works to extend engine life, fuel economy potential, and deliver long drain capability for modern diesel engines operating in severe conditions. Rating CH-4, CI-4, CI-4 Plus, CJ-4, CK-4, SM,SN

Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40 is a full synthetic heavy duty diesel engine oil that helps to extend engine life while providing long drain capability and fuel economy for modern diesel engines operating in severe applications.  Rating CI-4 Plus,CJ-4,CK-4,SL,SM,SN

So they sound the same. Checked the operator's manual for the tractor and for diesel engine oil: API Service Classification CE or CD. The API oil classification system lists backward compatibility for current types of oil and CH and CL are compatible with CE and CD. So apparently both Mobil 1's are compatible, which begs the question, why have two oils that are so similar, they're seemingly for the same use. Then we see the labels on the containers...

Apparently the Delvac oil is for the big rig eighteen wheel truckers.

While the Turbo Diesel is reserved for monster pickup drivers towing huge trailers.

So I bought the Turbo Diesel, but it'll just have to remain incognito since it's for a compact utility tractor. BTW, the arrow points to the oil filter, easily accessible with side panel removed. I always fill the new filter half way up or so when changing the oil. This was another tip I got, from a Harley rider, hard to believe, and it keeps the engine from running without oil for the first few seconds when starting it up right after the oil change.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Dandelion don't tell no lies...

It seems like just last week that I was scraping snow off the road, but now the snow's all gone, the garden's rototilled, Andy's got the starts planted, and the grass is high enough, at least down by the dog yard, to be cut. So today the flail mower's on the tractor and after the usual greasing and gear oil check, it's time to mow.

The area where we had Macs puppy pen (Here and Gone 6/28/20) has turned into a dandelion jungle. Those weeds must really love puppy poop, cause they're growing everywhere around here .

While not real obvious, the area in front of the tractor is a solid jungle of dandelions, right where the puppy pen was set up a few years ago. I suspect we'll be looking at them for a while now. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Birthday Boys...

 Most of our dogs are rescues of one sort or another, like Tambo who came from the animal shelter, Missy who's owner had died, or Rudy the meathead, who had an injury when the owner was taking her team out of town. We have no idea when they were born, but we do know that Macs birthday was May 7 and Earl was born "in the spring when there was still some snow around." So while we didn't throw a big party, the two boys did get some extra treats this month.

Here's Earl after he got his treats, he's grown a bit since we got him last fall (My Name is Earl 11/17/21).

Mac getting his pets; all the dogs get treats on "free run" days, so it's not all that special. but they always act like it is, so that's what makes it fun.

Tambo likes to give paw (One Trick Pony 7/7/21), so we're teaching him to give both and sit up. Gus watches intently, cause he knows Tambo gets a biscuit afterwards, so he expects he'll get one too. They get trained, one way or another, whether you want them to learn something or not!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

A Bikers Farewell...

One of the riders in our sometimes biker group passed away this week. While I didn't know him that well, I saw him at many of the occasional group rides and knew him as a friendly, soft spoken guy who always seemed fine with everything and everybody. When someone you know passes it certainly gets you to reflect on your own mortality and how life is short, enjoy it while you can. So I was glad to hear that another friend was organizing a ride out to Chatanika Lodge, one of our all time favorite ride destinations (Back in the Day...8/17/18), for a celebration of life, as he called it, for friends and family. The highway to the lodge passes over a steep ridge north of Fairbanks, Cleary Summit, with several switchbacks and s-curves that provide some of the best riding in the area.

Here's the bikes parked at the lodge. There was quite a crowd there when we arrived, so I waited until pretty much everybody went inside before taking some pics. But my skill with Andy's I-phone are limited at best; next time I'll bring my old digital camera. There were at least a dozen bikes and the one that led the ride was a Ducati owned by the deceased, ridden by his best friend. A fitting send off for fine fellow!

Here's a pic of the Guzzi parked at the far end of the line. I usually ride near the back at these events to avoid the crazy racers who often ride near the front of the pack. I had the I-phone camera on video, by mistake, so it took a while to get it converted to a JPEG.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Decked Again...

 As noted in the previous post, the deck railings were pretty much wiped out by the snow/ice that avalanched off the roof this spring. Here's what it looked like after some of that snow melted...

When we first built the deck, it didn't have railings, cause I was afraid this might happen. But after a few friends almost fell off, we decided the deck needed something. The railings were built in stages, after each winter, they were improved a little so that the final result seemed pretty sound. But of course nature rules and just the right combination of snow, ice, and temperature created the perfect storm of ice fall that came off suddenly, in one whole section of roof, that shot out far enough to do the maximum damage to the railing. So rather that repair them, they're just being removed for now, maybe figure out something temporary later on.

While most of the screws and bolts came out OK, some were bent or jammed and had to be cut out with the Saws All. Andy bought it for me years ago and while I don't use it much, it sure comes in handy when you need it.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Ice Fall...

 After all the snowfall and rain this winter, the snow and ice had built up in extensive layers on the roof of the house and garage to near three feet thick (Snowshoes... 1/3/22). When it started to warm up this past month, it all started to slide...

When it finally came down, it made quite a mess...

And in the case of the deck, lots o' trouble for the railing...
I guess I know what I'll be working on this summer!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Gettin' Woody...

It's the time of year when the trails are too icy to run the dogs safely, but they're still good enough for gettin' wood. There's a number of fairly large spruce in the valley that have died off. Not sure why, but most are bigger than the average black spruce down there, maybe they're just timed out. Many have the bark starting to peel off, so they're pretty dry already.

 Here's one of the larger dead trees on the left with some smaller ones on the opposite side of the trail. I try to find groups of trees that can be bucked up and loaded on the sled in the same spot.

The trees are dropped next to the trail and bucked up into six foot lengths that'll fit nicely on the sled.

Here's another load ready to go. My "sled" is really a home-made trail groomer with steel runners bolted to one side, so it takes lots o' ropin' to secure the load. We burned a lot of wood with the cold winter we had this year; it'll help to have plenty of dry wood ready to burn again next winter.

Thursday, April 7, 2022


With the temps getting up near forty some days, the trails have gotten icy on the south facing slopes where they get more sun. The trail back into the dog yard and the road crossing are especially bad now. So when I was coming home from the run last week, I was trying to slow the dogs coming down the hill when I saw a red truck on the road. I figured it'd be gone before I got there, but no, it was stopped and blocking the trail. I stopped the team, stomped in the snow hook good, and as fast as I could, unhooked their tug lines. Then I started yelling, figured I'd get the drivers attention, but as I walked closer saw that no one was in the truck. I wandered around looking for someone but nobody was around. So walked over to the nearest neighbors house and shouted out something like "is this your truck, it's blocking the trail." Well after threes or four times, a woman came out, not the neighbor, who I know, but all she did was stare at me for a minute or two, then went back inside. So I walked back to the truck, it was running now, there must have been some remote starter working, tried the door, and when it opened, began to blow the horn. I looked back and saw the woman had come back out again, so I yelled "you need to move this truck, I have a dog team here." She made a sign with her hand like a slashing motion across her neck. At first it didn't register, but then realized she was telling me to shut up. Inconceivable! Then another woman came out. didn't recognize her either, and she slowly ambled up the driveway. When I tried to explain the problem, she just blew me off with "so I didn't see your trail, I'll just move the truck," or something like that. So after she moved it, I went back to dogs. Fortunately the snow hook had held, they were barking and banging to go, then I hopped on the sled and pulled the hook. They took off like crazy, so wasn't able to secure the hook in it's holster, so was just holding onto the sled with one hand When we hit the road crossing, the sled went sideways on the ice, slammed into the frozen berm, and the handlebar broke, tossing me off the sled. Here's the result...

Except for a sore shoulder and hip, I was OK and the dogs got back to the yard just fine, so other than the sled, it didn't end too bad. I'll have to replace the handlebars of course, they're hickory, hand bent with the help of a friend, maybe 25-30 years ago, so they've served me well. But now I'm using Andys old sled and still getting out, though I'm only running five dogs in the team.

Heading home yesterday with Missy and Mac up front. Can't beat these springtime dog runs, as long as nobody blocks the trail.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Little Earl's a Lead Dog...

 When we got Little Earl (My Name Is Earl, 11/17/21), we were told his parents were both leaders. While that was good to hear, you never really know much about a new dog until you try them out. March is when, if you haven't already, you try new things in the team. So this was Earl's time to be a leader.

Earl on the left in lead, heading home from the last rest stop. That's when you'd usually put a new dog up front for the first time, cause they know they're on the way back to the dog yard. 

Here's Earl back in the yard. Missy with Gus behind her, cooling off by laying down in the snow. Mac and Earl look like they're ready to go some more! Earl's less than a year old, we're not sure when he was born, late spring we think, but he's still likely the youngest dog that we've ever tried in lead. Pretty amazing how well he did.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Ides of March and a New Leader?

The saying "beware of the Ides of March" didn't hold true this year, at least not for our dog team. When Mac was a pup,  the woman we got him from thought he'd be a good lead dog cause his mother was a natural at skijoring and he was the most fearless of her pups (Here and Gone 6/28/20). Andy often took him for walks and when he was old enough to fit the puppy harness, at 3 months, he pulled right from the start.

When he got a little older, I had to take over the walks because he pulled so hard, Andy couldn't control him. The first time I went out on the 4-wheeler that fall, I didn't take him, so he broke his collar, then chased us down the trail until he caught up, so we had to turn around to bring him home.  But without a proven leader last winter, he never got a chance up front. So this past week, it was his time to lead.

Mac, on the right, running next to Missy who has really blossomed out as a leader this winter. But she's going on eleven, so may not have many more years left in harness. Having Mac ready to run up front with Gus would be a real bonus then, a leader for the Ides!

Wanted to get a photo of Mac in front of the team, but the youngsters are always barkin', bitin', and bangin' to go, so took this one in the dog yard after we got back today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022


 Running the ten mile loop, you have to cross the dreaded overflow gulley. Not so bad as previous years (Overflow 2/16/19), but it's still a hazard to navigate twenty to thirty feet of sloping ice.

Heading back for home, the dogs still running great. It was almost thirty above, so kind of warm for these fuzzy guys.

Taking a rest before crossing the ice again, it's a treat to finally get out on longer runs.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Down the Trail...

Finally had some nice weather this past week, sunny and warm, well above zero anyway, great weather to run dogs.

But then it clouded up and snowed again today, so it made for slow run.

It's a rare time when Gus and Missy will both lay down for a rest, they're usually banging to go.

Crossing the pond before the bridge, they usually pick up speed here, so it can make for a little excitement as we go flying over the bridge.