Day 10292

The thaw is coming. The first trees are starting to bud, after a series of snowstorms brought us a second winter. My cabin fever will soon be cured by sunlight and 40 degree weather.

Over the past few weeks I have been working primarily on the backhoe, making a lot of progress on the warm days.

On a cold, sunny day, I took a torch and penetrating oil down to my stuck swivel piston bearing on the old backhoe tower. I knocked the 500lbs of steel off the blocks for easier access, and heated it for several minutes with a gas torch. Using a densely packed snowball, I cooled the bearing. After a few sequences of heating and cooling, I was getting half a turn out of the bolts to pull the bearing out. Once it started going, the stubborn bearing came out relatively easily.

Zeke was less than interested in being a sled dog, so I ended up pulling the heavy, greasy piston up to the backhoe for installation.

 Going for a walk out back was fine, though.

After a lot of cleaning, I got most of the dirt/grease/hydraulic fluid mix out of the tower. I lubricated the bearings with red axle grease (nothing special about it, just something to keep water out) and installed them with fresh bolts and lockwashers. The hydraulic lines to the swing cylinders and stabilizers were all pressure washed, and any with defects (coating worn through to metal fibers) were replaced. 

With the swing and stabilizers pinned and plumbed, as well as the engine oil changed, I cranked the machine over and tested those parts of the system. I made it a point of not touching the middle three sticks on the control tower, as they were just open ports that would have sprayed brown, murky hydraulic fluid at me!

Continuing on, I replaced all the lines leading to the backhoe, and started removing the leaky loader dump pistons so they can be repacked. I'm having trouble with the hardware, which is all (3/4 of the bolts) stuck. Now that my backhoe is repacked and leak free, the loader will be doing the leaking! The Gremlins have migrated. An old Royal Air Force trick was to place first class postage stamps on their airframes; the Gremlins would eat those instead of control wires or fuel lines. I'll have to find out what construction equipment Gremlins like to eat.

Meanwhile, on the F350...

I have to pull some Apollo 13 White-team fix to get a metal fuel tank fuel sending unit to fit a plastic fuel tank. Maybe if I do an orbital sling shot I can get the new unit into the old tank... or use a Sawzall and a lot of sealing compound...

I did get a package for the F350 last week, too.

I bit the bullet on a dump hoist for the F350. It's a Pierce 5-ton electric/hydraulic lift. Not only are they amde in the great state of Texas (with a pump that appears to be from Michigan,) but they've posted install videos on YouTube. Very helpful.

Once the backhoe rolls out of the shop, and the imminent threat of winter storms is past, I'll drop off the plow and roll the F350 into the shop for a dump kit install. I'll also be wiring in soem LED brakelights, and beefing up the existing pintle plate. Still on the search for a flatbed for the one ton.

Nakahla and I went to the Colonial craft show in Portsmouth this weekend. In addition to muskets, ceramics, and tin cookware, was this impressive model of a timber frame house in Rollinsford, with all the pieces labeled.

My dad gave me chainsaw lessons this weekend as well. I'm not too comfortable using the chainsaw yet, but getting better every time. Like any good training event, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Pictured above is his pinched chain, and my pinched handsaw blade, both detached from their motors and handles to cut our losses. The tree settled onto one, then the other trying to free the first one. We managed to free up both using a wedge and an axe to fell the tree. The chainsaw was undamaged, and we continued with some scrawnier trees! My sawblade was severely wounded in the altercation. Flawless.

Lastly, I toured a property up north with my grandfather. Plenty of room, great location, stream going through it, a spot where I could drive the bus in, and it's in my price range. We'll see where this goes.

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