Thursday, February 19, 2015

Its a conspiracy

I swear the world is conspiring to keep me from blogging, sat in my chair with all good intentions last night and somehow couldn't get Safari to let me in, Chrome would let me in but I use Safari on my laptop because I keep Chrome logged into a different account than the one I blog with. Tonight Safari will let me into Blogger but Chrome won't play nice with Photobucket so I can't show you pictures aaaand I can't remember what I was going to write about yesterday...

So lets talk about the Project for Awesome. Its no secret that I'm a bit of a YouTube addict and one of my favorite channels is the vlogbrothers. If you haven't checked them out John and Hank Green have been vlogging at each other for around 6 years. In that time they've built a whole community of nerdfighters. One the yearly things they do is the Project For Awesome where they raise money for worthy charities. nerdfighters make videos about worthy charities and upload them to Youtube, the videos get watched and the brothers and friends do a 24 hour life feed during which donations pour in. nerdfighters also get to vote on how the money gets dispersed. Its a pretty big deal, this year they raised just over $1.2 million which is pretty amazing for an all volunteer online thing.

Angie and I were watching the live feed and all of a sudden I decided I ought to donate. So I looked through the list of gifts. Don't lie, when you donate you look through the list of gifts. One caught my eye, a "Pizzamas gift pack" every year John and Hank celebrate Pizzamas which is like Christmas but with pizza and of course I consider pizza the perfect food. So anyway I donated the money and the other day (its a charity, don't rush them) my gift pack arrived:

Theres a lot there so I'll help you, in the foreground at the bottom of the pic is a cool little notebook, then a box of pencils, a BUNCH of stickers, a frisbee and a mug. The mug is my favorite, I love that its black on the outside and red inside. Yeah its all the same picture, its that famous author John Green after all. I'm thrilled, I'd expected just one thing like the mug, never did I dream of the whole lot of it.

Okay, one other thing I wanted to show you, totally unrelated to the P for A, since the weather was bad for Valentines day we cooked dinner at home which worked out since I didn't book anything. For dinner we had steak and, get this, mini tater-tots.

Honestly they're not that much smaller than regular tots but they're like a magic size that cooks perfectly, the outside is just slightly crisp and the inside is still soft and perfect. If you haven't tried 'em you really should, I'm two thumbs up for those.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Curt's Snowblower repair service

Sure looks like I've got a new career huh? With all the snow we've had its not surprise really.

In reality last night Angie's grandparents mentioned that they were giving their snowblower to her parents. Angie's folks have never had a snowblower before and its really time, they're not getting any younger... Since the machine in question hadn't been run in a couple years I offered to haul it to our house and get it going. It turns out that this snowblower is the exact same model as our snowblower, they're 849 apart by serial number. How weird is that?

The first part was easy, I changed the oil, it must have had conventional oil in it, the stuff was thick like honey and dirty too. I put some good Mobil 1 5w40 in it. I pulled the plug which looked perfect, then pulled it over a few times to prove we had spark which we did. With the plug back in I hit the electric starter (110v electric starters are awesome) and while it would spin over good it wouldn't fire. I squirted some gas into the carb and it fired right up. I think it would have fired eventually but this was easier.

On a trial run the transmission was slow to respond and the lever was sticky, it also didn't seem to want to pull strong. I tipped it up on the auger and took a look inside. The transmission system in these is pretty simple, theres a flat disc which is spun by the engine, a wheel pushed against the plate in a perpendicular plane (like a T) takes that motion and uses it to spin the axle. Speed is adjusted by moving the wheel farther toward the rim of the disc. Reverse happens by moving the wheel to the other side of the disc.

The whole system is visible here, the disc is at the bottom of the picture, the wheel is above and to the right, in its fastest forward setting. The axle the wheel rides on drives the chain which comes to the gear in the foreground on the left which drives an intermediate shaft which turns a smaller gear at the far left. That gear drives another gear which turns the axle which is at the bottom of the picture under the disc.

The sticky transmission turned out to be a lack of lubrication where the wheel sides on its shaft . I greased that up with some Mobil 1 synthetic axle grease. The lack of power was slack in the cable that pulls the wheel up to the disc. This took some thinking about, there are two adjustments, one for the cable to its attachment point, then you can rotate the attachment point itself for a finer adjustment. It boils down to how hard you're willing to hold the lever, theres a spring inside (visible in the pic above just to the right of the big chain gear) that actually pulls the wheel up meaning you can't really over tighten the cable. So I got that to a point where it wasn't too hard to hold and still provided plenty of go.

With that snowblower all worked out I turned my attention to our snowblower. We got it when we moved into the house, Angie traded massages to a couple who were moving south. It was barely used when we got it and now I see it has a 2006 manufacture date so we got it the year it was made. Ours had been a little finicky about reverse lately so I wanted to tighten up the cable a little, that was the easy part. I also found a grease fitting that lubricated the intermediate shaft which makes it WAY easier to move the machine when its not powering itself.

When I lubricated the other machine it was difficult but possible to squeeze grease into the zerk fitting. When I tried it on this one the fitting came off. It turns out the fitting is just press fit into the intermediate shaft, there are no threads. The problem here is two fold, the fitting has to go in after the shaft is put into position and I was unable to get that wheel off my snowblower. This was extra funny because I was unable to get the right side wheel off the other machine. In both cases I think with a little heat the wheel would come right off but it was so cold out I couldn't get my propane torch to come out. As I write this I realize another thing to try would be to pull the pin that holds the wheel on and run the machine around a little, maybe the motion of turning the shaft in the wheel would slide it off, at least it would work some penetrating oil in.

Anyway I managed to get some grease into the intermediate shaft and wedged the fitting back on. I have my doubts that it'll stay where its supposed to be. At some point I need to pull the shaft (again), thread it and put a proper threaded fitting in place, but that can wait for another day, I was freezing and as the sun was going down it was rapidly getting colder.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What is beauty?

Like many people I struggle with the idea of beauty. I look at my wife and I recognize her as a beautiful woman, thats a good thing too, I'm married to her and intend to stay that way. For the most part Angie doesn't wear makeup and for the most part I don't care. On some special occasions she'll wear some lip gloss or eye makeup and I think thats great too, whatever she wants to make herself feel special.

Our society, and in this case I really mean our global society places a high premium on perfection for women and they are encouraged through a million images every day to strive for that perfect look. Over the years I've subscribed to several automotive publications where you'd expect the objectification of women and I'm always kind of disgusted to realize that the real objectification of women is in WOMEN'S magazines. Pick up "Women's Day" or "Redbook" or even "Prevention" and you'll see all the ads for makeup and support clothing suggesting how much better your life would be if you used this or that product.

Anyway whats gotten me on this maudlin topic is a video I caught today on BuzzFeedYellow. I'll admit I'm a bit of a BuzzFeed junky, the short vignettes are mostly easy to digest fluff so this one caught me off guard.

I'm pretty much disgusted that the United States artist created an image so far from reality but honestly I'm not that surprised...

Monday, February 9, 2015

That was scary

It was a day of things where I should have known better. First of Angie was all hot to clear the driveway and although the storm hadn't finished and I almost never clear the driveway before the storm is finished I decided to appease her. Then I caught two wooden blocks I'd been using to hold up the snowmobile trailer in the snowblower breaking both shear pins for which I had only one spare. So it was down to the plow to finish the job. Sadly that thing is getting harder and harder to start, clearly the old K161 is on its last legs, this summer I MUST do something for it.

Then around 4:30 she suggested we go to the park. She'd walk the dog and I could ride for an hour. I should have known this was a bad idea, it was too late in the day, the trailer wasn't hitched, it was covered with snow. Anyway I managed to get it hitched up myself which is not something I'm good at but in the process I broke the welds holding the trailer jack. Looking critically at them there is decent penetration on the jack but zero on the trailer tongue. I'll have to cut the weld back off and really put the burn to it. I've also been fighting the tilt pin. The trailer is held down by two tabs with a pin through them under the tongue. One tab has a broken weld and has moved so its difficult to get the pin in and out which makes tilting the trailer a pain. My old trailer had a much better tilt mechanism. In fact other than the fact that it was only six feet wide (oh and its broken) my old trailer was much easier to live with, it was lower and had a less steep tilt too.

We headed out at ten minutes to five knowing we didn't have much daylight. Our neighbor was just starting to clear his driveway so I had to sneak around his car in the street. The street is really narrow with all this snow. Finally on our way we made the turn to head to the park and the trailer slid into oncoming traffic! Fortunately it didn't have enough mass to drag the truck with it but it was pretty scary for a second. I was extraordinarily lucky that it didn't sideswipe a truck coming in the other direction. I'm not too proud to say I freaked out and turned around at the next opportunity. Got home, got in a fight with a guy delivering a snowblower. Got the Jag unloaded, got the trailer parked and rode the Jag and Cobra around the yard to let off steam.

What a day!

Monday, February 2, 2015

New Toy

I don't remember if I've talked about Tim before, he's my neighbor Bill's brother in-law and is a self-styled picker like the guys on TV. I met him a couple years ago at a party at Bill's place and brought him over to see the lanterns. He figured he could make some money trading in lanterns but quickly got hooked. Now he's got a collection bigger than mine. Occasionally he runs across something he's not into and I get the chance to grab it.

Most recently he put a post on Facebook of a bunch of stuff he'd bought which included an Aladdin lamp. I've got an Aladdin lamp and they're very cool so I told him that if he didn't want it I'd bite. So a couple days later (after a small monetary exchange) this shows up:

The fount is aluminum and theres no mantle but the glass is perfect. I broke out the Mothers Polish and managed to produce:

The aluminum polished up pretty nicely, theres one scratch I can't do much about and without a buffing wheel it'll never be great but right now its a fine five footer. I put some kerosene in it and it lit right up although I forgot to get pictures. The next step is to buy a mantle and it'll be ready to go.

I also picked up some lamp oil from my local hardware store, supposedly it'll burn cleaner and help prevent flare-ups. I'll give it a try over the next couple days.