Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Working on those resolutions

Remember my new years resolutions? If I'm honest I haven't been great about them. I'm probably 5 or 6 writings behind and considering I was allowing myself to make up missed opportunities thats terrible. On the other hand I lost a bunch of weight last week, just about a quarter pound a day which is pretty dang good. One difference I made was drinking a lot of water, another was snacking a lot less. Thats easy when I'm in the office and not so easy from home which is where I'm at this week.

Anyhow you might have heard that "Snowmageddon" hit the north east yesterday. We were spared the worst of the storm, it passed mostly to the east of us, but I took the opportunity to make a video!

I'm having a hard time getting used to letting the quality of the video not be perfect. If you watch this and then go back and watch my Lantern Lab stuff you can see I'm putting a lot more time into Lantern Lab which is as it should be I guess. This is more in the vlog format where good enough is good enough. I like it though, it allows me to get thoughts out without a tremendous amount of effort.

There is a little snowmobile footage in that which is the first snowmobile stuff I've put on YouTube. I have made snowmobile videos in the past but they're all on my website in a super compressed format and I didn't keep any higher quality copies which is too bad, I'd like to put them up but I won't with what I've got...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The ups and the downs

Some times you're the Louisville Slugger, some times you're the ball.
The clutch for my '71 Arctic Cat Panther 303W came in so yesterday I figured I'd get that installed along with the second crank seal. Started working on the crank seal and realized that when I'd first tried to install it not only had I rolled the seal but I'd torn it. Oops, time to order a new seal.
Then I figured I'd pull the magneto off the '78 Pantera engine. I bought a harmonic balancer puller for the Panther but the Pantera engine uses much smaller bolts. I bought the correct size bolts but just managed to ruin the bolts. Turns out theres another type of puller just for that kind of flywheel, well at least I already had to place an order...

Finally I needed to make a new pin for the Cub Cadet plow pivot lock. This allows me to keep the plow in any of 3 positions. The original bolt had broken so I'd been using a spike which finally broke. I bought another bolt and to facilitate getting the bolt back out I decided to weld two washers onto the top of it to make a handle.

You can see where I ground the threads off the end of the bolt. Thats a 9/16x6" bolt, it turns out the bottom hole is probably 1/2" while the top is rounded out to 9/16". I should probably take the plow off, weld up the top hole a little and bore it to 1/2" or just bore the bottom one out to 9/16". Either way some summer I need to replace the sheet steel of the plow body, I'll do both jobs at the same time.

Here's the bolt in place:

I should have turned it some more to make it easier to see. I should also get a washer to go under the head which would make it sit a little higher and allow it to rotate a little more to relieve a little stress. Of course if I do that I'll weld it to the head so it doesn't fall off when I pull the bolt out.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


A couple weeks ago I took the Jetta to the grocery store. When I came out there was a little pool of pink coolant behind the driver's front wheel. Whoops! It appeared to be leaking from the lower driver's side corner of the radiator. So I had the guy down the street replace the radiator with one I'd picked up.
I no sooner got it home (about 100 yards) and it was leaking again. So last week I got a Uhaul trailer and ran it in to my TDI guy. He pulled out the radiator and it turns out the replacement was leaking in the same dang place as the first one. Furthermore it turns out the mount holes were all rusted out and the problem was that there was really nothing to hold the radiator in place. The bottom mounts are just two holes and the top mount is just two pins. With the bottom rusted out the pins couldn't hold the radiator so it flopped around and thrashed a hole. The TDI guy drilled a couple new bottom holes which set the radiator over half an inch so while the bottom was held good the top pins now missed the radiator entirely.

We zip tied the radiator in place so it couldn't hurt itself and I hauled it home. Once home I made a couple brackets that slot into the top of the radiator and use the original pins so it can't move in any direction. This summer when the weather is warm I'll pull the front end apart again and weld up the original holes so the radiator can use its original mounts again. When we had it apart I noticed the frame horn on the driver's side is rusted out so I'll weld up that too.

No pictures of this sadly and I've missed a couple days of writing with all the excitement, now I've got to write a couple things to make it up...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Years resolutions

So another year, 2015. I remember as a child when "the year two thousand" sounded so far away and mysterious. Now we're at the year they go to in "Back to the Future 2".

As usual I've got a couple ideas for new years resolutions but this year I'm going to do something a little different and post them here so hopefully I'll be shamed into at least accomplishing a couple. Thus, here in no particular order:

1. Write something every day: This one shouldn't be that hard but when I look at the update gaps on the blog... This doesn't mean you'll see a new post here every day, it means I'll work on one of my various projects each day, a post here, a post on the snowmobile blog or maybe a script, short story or whatever. The point is to do some real actual work writing, not just emails and forum posts.

2. A video every month: I failed to make any videos in 2014 yet I still made $150 from Youtube and increased my number of subscribers. My Curtludwig-too channel still only has one video even though it should be much easier to make videos for there since its a "vlog" type instead of the more polished (well polished for Youtube anyway) videos of my main channel.

3. Under 200#: This has been a goal for years now, in fact I wrote about it back in 2008 when I was 218#. I was 209# yesterday which seems good compared to 2008 but bad since I went through all summer around 204. Of course my 20th high school reunion was last year and I did spend some effort getting into shape for that and the holidays are hard on weight loss. Still all that is just excuses. 10# shouldn't be hard in a year, less than a pound a month but of course it is hard...

4. A better garden: Last year's garden was dismal. Little planning, no innovation and not enough fertilizer. Well I think the problem was not enough fertilizer. The poison potting soil didn't help either. I've been looking at Youtube and found somebody doing potatoes in pots which makes me think I ought to try some container gardening this year. His results are quite impressive so I'm going to give it a shot.

So there you have it, if I can come through on those 4 it should help make for a good year...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

RIP - Compressor. All hail the new compressor!

I've had my compressor long enough that I don't even remember how long I've had it. Its a 1hp, 2 gallon Harbor Freight portable. Its been a good compressor for maybe 5 or 6 years now. Then for Christmas I got an air impact wrench which really sucks down the air and the 2 gallon capacity wasn't really enough. Oh it'd work but I'd zip a bolt and have to wait a minute for the air to recharge, very annoying. So finally I was trying to pull a snowmobile clutch and had the compressor working hard for maybe half an hour and it started making a funny noise. So I shut it off and though "geez I don't know the last time I changed the compressor oil" and you can guess the rest. Turns out there was no oil in the compressor at all. Apparently compressors use some oil in normal operation and I didn't know it. I topped up the oil and flipped the switch but the damage was done, the motor couldn't turn the compressor. With nothing to lose I tore into it.

Turns out the connecting rod bearing at the crank was seized. I put some oil on it and after a little rocking it came free but the damage is done, it feels gritty and makes a terrible noise even just moving by hand.

So Sunday night after visiting my wife's uncle for his birthday we stopped at Harbor Freight:

Yes another Harbor Freight compressor. Normally I don't buy Harbor Freight tools with more than 1 moving part but since the first one lasted so well I figured I was safe to go again. This one is a 2.5hp, 21 gallon unit that cost $100 more than the first one but its a way better compressor and weighs about 3x as much.

Sadly I'm going to have to get some electrical work done in my garage, 2.5 HP is 1875w (1hp is 750w) which is 20a which is all the power I have in my garage. Using the long extension cord I've always used the compressor won't start. At first I thought it was because its cold out so I brought it in the house and let it warm up. Inside and warmed it ran fine (although its very loud) so I took it out again where it again failed. Then I had inspiration and put it on a short extension cord (the outlet is blocked by a snowmobile) and it ran. With only one outlet in the garage this is a problem. Realistically I'd like to have 220v in the garage and existing wiring is also just barely adequate for my welder so I need some more power out there.

I'd like to have 220v run to a sub panel with a couple 20a circuits so I could run the compressor, welder and some lights at the same time. Someday I'd like to have a 220v welder and compressor but if I'm dreaming I guess I'd start with a pony...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

190D back to legal again

Since I haven't been driving my 190D it's legally inspected status had slipped so yesterday I set out to wrest it from its sleep and get it inspected. It was a mere 25F when I went out but the car started nicely enough. Unfortunately there was some ice on the inside of the windshield so I let it run while I scraped the outside, then left it running and went inside to warm up.After the ice had some time to melt I started checking all the inspectables, lights, horn etc. everything was good until I tried the washer and found a no-go. Started digging in and found the whole system was frozen up solid.
I dug out the bottle and brought it in the house. It took a lot of hot water to melt the green Rain-X out. Apparently its not rated for below freezing...With the bottle clean and charged with good orange Rain-X I could finally hear the pump running but now water was spraying out from a white thing in the line, is that a check valve? Turns out its plastic housing wouldn't stay clamped, a couple zip ties fixed that. 
Finally the last few inches of hose had to spend a few minutes inside my coat to melt an ice plug.

Only took an hour an a half but we finally passed inspection. Then made a run up to Keene to get coolant for the Jetta's radiator replacement. I'm going to let a local guy do the replacement, its gotten all the way up to 12F today and since my car has AC the whole front bumper has to come off for the job, not a big deal but not something I want to do outside in the cold...