Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oh geez, what now?

I've had my '84 190D for just about 6 years. In that time we've driven it just over 40,000 miles which realistically isn't all that much. Since we've had the Jetta I've been driving that a lot and the poor 190D has sat. Angie drives it some but when compared to the other vehicles in the fleet its really slow and sadly it handles poorly. A 190D thats correctly set up is quite spritely and handles nicely, mine never has done that even after replacing all the rubber components in the rear end.

So since neither of us really liked the car and since the tin worm was really getting its claws into the car I decided it was time to move on. My first step was to email Tom who sold me the Jetta. He runs a program for troubled teens and gets cars donated, because they didn't pay for the car and because they have no history I can generally get a really good deal. Tom had a 2005 Golf TDI with "a transmission problem." that nobody really knew anything about. We agreed on a price and the 190D went onto a UHaul trailer.

The minimum tax deduction I'll get from the car is just slightly less than the amount I would have asked for the car but its much easier to just haul it down to Tom than to have a parade of tire kickers come to my house and offer me their sympathies but no money. Also it'll help Tom's program do their good work so I feel good about that.

Then we returned with a Golf:

Its actually both better and worse than I'd expected.
The good:
Good tires, perfect interior, good running 150,000 mile engine, very little rust

The bad:
Bent/rusted front fenders, bad transmission

The transmission is the really bad part. When we picked it up I backed the car up about 4 feet and the transmission locked completely. Fred thinks its probably the output shaft bearing on the transmission which has failed and is causing the transmission to lock when torque is applied, if the car is out of gear it rolls nicely. I hauled it directly to KMH Motors in Lowell and let Keith have his way with it. He's going to put in a new transmission, clutch and flywheel. These cars came with a dual mass flywheel (DMF) that is known to fail prematurely so we're going with a single mass flywheel (SMF) instead. This might give some clutch chatter but its probably a good choice, its cheaper too.

You might wonder why we're doing a clutch. As far as I know theres nothing wrong with the one in there but since the engine has to come out anyway this is quite an inexpensive time to do the job. He's also going to replace the rear main seal on the engine, again something smart to do while he's there.

At the other end of the engine he'll replace the timing belt and water pump. On a diesel engine if the timing belt fails the engine is junk. Since we have no history on this engine I don't want a failed timing belt to ruin the engine after putting all this work into the transmission. The water pump is driven by the timing belt, if it seizes it will ruin the timing belt and the engine and its another one of those things that should be done at this time since 90% of the labor is already taken up in replacing the timing belt.

The front fenders will want to be replaced, I need to get a price from a shop on this before I decide if I'll do it myself. Fortunately the parts are relatively cheap. If I had a shop do it we'll use new fenders, if I do it myself I'll get used fenders. My worry doing it myself with brand new fenders is that they won't fit correctly and I don't have the proper skills to get them just right. With luck I'll be able to get the right color in used fenders but even if I can't they should be relatively easy to paint.

Anyway I'm excited about this car, its engine is the Pump Deuse type which makes around 100hp stock compared to the Jetta's 90hp so it should be a little quicker than the Jetta at the cost of a little fuel. For about $300 I can raise that to 124hp just with a computer upgrade which will make the car even faster and might actually get a little of the fuel economy back. Making more power generally means raising efficiency which generally results in increased fuel economy, especially if I can keep from driving too fast. Once more into the breach!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The good and the bad

Weird day yesterday...

Figured I'd get to work on the second BQ lamp I bought in Ohio. I'd bought this one from Warren who took advantage of me being half in the bag ;). Actually I'd offered him a deal that I didn't expect him to take. Oh well right? I got the burner all cleaned up nice and then went after the fount, you might remember I had it passing air the other day. I dunked it into the citric acid bath and started scrubbing with a piece of steel wool:

The nickel was worse than I'd hoped for and I was debating if the fount was nice enough to re-nickel when I found:

My first ever stress crack. Actually theres 2 if you look close at the picture. These are pretty bad as stress cracks go. In retrospect I should have expected them, when I pressurized the fount to test the generator I noticed it didn't hold pressure very long. At the time I figured it was probably the gas cap. I put out a WTB ad on the CCF, we'll see if somebody has one. If not maybe I'll try the Caswells treatment. Thats a fancy sealant folks are using in this kind of situation, apparently the results have been excellent. This is probably a good candidate for the treatment since the cracks are in one place, and theres no pump tube to worry about. I'd have to shoot some air down the pickup tube to keep it from filling but my new air compressor will regulate down pretty low.

With the BQ off the table I went back to my third Tilley lantern. I'd traded a 202 for this lantern and an AGM but had never been able to get it to light bright and steady. Recently I bought a replacement vaporizer but that didn't seem to help. I figured maybe a good cleaning would at least make me feel better about the lantern so into the soak it went. The nickel on it isn't very good but after its bath it was presentable. I put it back together with its broken globe and played with lighting it.

At first I got nowhere which turned out to be a failed pip in the pump's non-return valve. The NRV keeps pressure from bleeding out of the tank through the pump. In this case the pip had swollen so bad I couldn't pump and pressure in.

I'd had this happen on another Tilley last spring. I'd bought a gasket set off eBay and when I messaged the seller who basically shrugged and suggested it was my fault. Fortunately for something like NRV pips I have a punch set and a sheet of Buna-N rubber which works well and doesn't swell.

This was when I realized the pressure pip in the lantern worked. I'll write more on that some other time but Tilley lanterns have a little gauge that tells you when they're fully pressurized. Well when this one was fully pressured it was tricky to light and wanted to flame up badly but once it settled down it was nice and bright. I've had trouble with the pump on this lantern, its got a pump cup from the kit I mentioned earlier and those cups seem to be made out of really cheap leather so I don't think I'm getting full pressure. Actually now that I think on it I KNOW I'm not getting full pressure because I could pump even when the pip wasn't admitting any air.

Anyway, the result:

Finally I decided to play around with my Mil-spec. Mines a 1982 SMP (State Machine Products) and while I'd had it lit it had given me a bunch of problems. It was always very difficult to light which is common with Mil-Spec lanterns but it was much harder than normal and the last time I'd had it lit it wouldn't shut off, it popped and spit for an hour or more before it ran out of air. I'd taken the valve out and polished the ring off of it. The ring occurs when somebody tightens the valve too far and puts a groove into the valve which then won't seal anymore. I'd also pulled the FA tube out to try and make it light easier. The next time I tried to light it I held my torch in one place on the generator too long and ruptured it which was VERY exciting but not what you'd call fun.

So now I try to light it with just a butane lighter. After a couple false starts where the pump wouldn't work and I was trying to light the lantern without any fuel (DOH!) I finally got it to hiss and gurgle like a normal lantern does. this was a first for me on this lantern so I figured it was a good sign. With the butane lighter preheating I looked away for a second when "WHOOMP" it lit.

Pretty exciting eh? No worries, close the valve, wait while the flames burn off, then crack the valve, it flames up, close the valve and wait, etc. I'd probably over pressured a bit since back in the old days this thing wanted quite a bit of pressure to get burning. Most folks suggest starting one with very little pressure, like 5 pumps. This is another lantern with pump problems so even then I'd figure 8 pumps on this is like 5 pumps with a good pump.

Anyway after a little bit it settled down:

It burned pretty nice, its loud but I didn't put much pressure in it since it doesn't really need much. I sat outside and read until it started to rain. This was a good test of shutdown and while it did pop and spit and complain some it finally settled down and went out.

So not the best day I've ever had lanterning but certainly not my worst. 1 broken, 2 fixed. I guess at that rate I'll call it progress...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Passive agressive lawncare

Our neighbor Bill's yard basically surrounds ours on two sides like an L. He's a terrific neighbor but this year he's been really outdoing me in the lawn mowing department. A lot of it is timing, remember that trip to Asia which actually came right on the heels of a week in Burbank. Also Angie has had terrible trouble with our lawnmowers. Twice now I've been on trips and she's been unable to start the Snapper and once she ran the Cub Cadet out of gas and was unable to get it to re-start once it was refueled.

So I was delighted yesterday to mow our lawn BEFORE Bill got a chance to mow his. I'd been debating if it needed mowing for a couple days, in the depths of summer like this it requires mowing less often.

Clearly it needed it, I was taking off almost 4 inches.

The tool for the job was my 1965 Snapper 308X, I looked back in the blog and realized I'd hauled it home back in 2008 which I think means I got it running in 2009. Its still got one original '60s vintage tire, the engine is from an '88 model, I replaced the belt, drive wheel and blade when I first started using it back in '09 and in fact the blade and drive wheel are probably due for replacement again, reverse is a little iffy. Otherwise this thing has been OUTSTANDING. I've done very little to it for 6 years of regular use. For me it always starts on the first or second pull of the rope and cuts all the grass on our quarter acre on less than a quart of gas. Once in awhile it throws the belt but thats really the worst that happens other than the time the last original front tire came apart while I was mowing. I finished mowing the lawn rolling on the tube which didn't steer very well...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Uh oh, I might be a lampie!

A collector of lamps that is. This is the enclosed porch on our house, they all Coleman here, right to left we've got a 117a, CQ, 152 and a BQ.
Now that I look at it I think the 117a actually has a CQ burner, its fitted with an R55 generator which doesn't make sense, the 117a had the new roto type burner assembly that used a 220 type generator with built in pricker. The 117 had a slant burner assembly that could potentially have sported an R55 generator but not in the orientation this one has.

The BQ is probably a little bent, the shade tips way forward in the picture and at first I thought it was just that the hook is too far from the wall, which it is, but no even with the base tipped out the shade still tips way forward. Theres a solder joint at the fount where somebody has obviously repaired a leak of some sort so I'm hesitant to mess with the tube since the lamp does burn nicely.

I just finished the CQ today, I'd pulled the burner a couple weeks ago to clean it and managed to bust the stud that holds the shade holder to the burner. I got a replacement burner from a nice guy on Facebook, then drilled and tapped the nut that holds it on. I cut the head off a 10-32 screw to use as a stud and it works fine. It burned good before I started, I should have left well enough alone.

Not in the picture is the Kerosafe lamp which started all this obsession or my other BQ which is on the bench now as my next project. It passes air through the R55 generator so I don't think it will take much to get it running. I want to polish up the nickel before I go too far getting it going.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Garden of wonder

I don't think I've talked about gardening before. We keep a couple gardens, in front of the house I've got an asparagus patch with some potato plants growing in textile pots (more on them next time) and in the backyard I've got a little patch of vegetables:

Theres 2x 3'x5' beds with a dry laid brick walkway up the middle. Lets look at the right side first.
In front theres a tomato plant, I don't remember the variety since I don't eat tomatoes but its grows grape size tomatoes that Angie likes

The tomatoes are formed but haven't started to turn red yet, we're getting some warmer weather lately so I expect these will ripen pretty soon. Behind the tomatoes we've got some basil, lady bell peppers and lettuce I didn't get pictures of. At the rear of the right side we've got cucumbers, by accident we ended up with 8 cucumber plants so pretty soon we're going to be swimming in cucumbers. Cucumbers take a lot of space if you let them grow along the ground so this year I'm training them up poles. What started as an experiment with one plant has now become most of them:

I was a little dubious of the idea at first but I'm sold now, I've been using baling twine to attach them to some sticks I pulled out of the woods and we're finally starting to see cucumbers. The other nice thing is that the cucumbers are easy to find and pick with this method. I've also been careful to cut all the suckers the vines produce which is supposed to force them into more useful growth rather than trying to strangle each other.

Back on the left side of the garden we've got kale:

Oh boy do we have kale! Last year our garden sucked due to some weak fertilizer that I under applied and about the only thing we got was kale. We had 4 plants last year which produced about one meal of kale a week. This year we've got 6 plants which produce about a meal every other day which is a problem as we're both already tired of kale...

Behind the kale and in constant danger of being taken over is the swiss chard

Its also doing real well, producing a meal every 3rd day or so. If I had a preference I'd rather get more chard and less kale but what are you gonna do? Just to the left in the picture you can see the butter crisp lettuce. I like this lettuce because it doesn't head so when we want some I just go cut some of the outer leaves off. This should give us lettuce all summer.

Behind the lettuce and chard is the bean trellis,

The frame is 3 pieces of fencing in a triangle shape. The picture is a few days old and the plants have gone crazy in the meantime, you can barely see any of the horizontal strings anymore. I expect we'll start getting beans soon. These should be Kentucky Wonder yellow wax beans and if the bean production meets the vine production standard we should have a ton of them.

Once the beans get rolling we'll freeze a bunch of them for the winter. In 2012 we froze a bunch of fiddleheads with Ziplock brand vacuum freezer bags that worked out really well so we'll try those again. Sadly it looks like our local stores don't stock the bags anymore but fortunately Amazon has them. I was momentarily tempted to buy a Foodsaver but we really don't freeze enough to warrant it and I hate having extra junk around the house that we don't use a lot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

4th of July fun

I wanted to have a big light up for Independence day, I don't do fireworks so this was my way of celebrating.

As I lit the Tilleys I had an idea, I'd recreate the Revolution in lanterns:

Beginning with the British Overlords

A small American contingent arrives, the Limeys are not amused.

An injured American soldier

The surgeon is German, his work is excellent!

American artillery arrives, the Brits begin to fear

An encircling maneuver begins

The charge of the Turd brigade

Faced with an overwhelming force the British retreat

In the end I had 26 lanterns lit making this the biggest light up I've ever had. This is something under half the lanterns I own although a large proportion of the lanterns I consider light-able. After lighting we cooked some popcorn on my Optimus Hiker stove and enjoyed some Mt Gay "Extra Old" rum we'd brought back from Barbados. That rum is smooth and drinks more like bourbon than rum which isn't terribly surprising considering its aged in bourbon barrels.

I should also point out that this was the number of lanterns I could light without adding fuel although I did refuel the Vapalux from the British contingent at one point. One of my goals in this project was to run some of these lanterns out of fuel which actually worked out pretty well, we had several dead soldiers by the end of the evening.

Friday, July 10, 2015

ICCC Convention 2015!

Yup, another International Coleman Collectors Club convention, this year in Walnut Creek, Ohio. This is Amish country, hilly, south central Ohio. Its a strange land I tell you, the roads are narrow, they twist around, they're full of Amish folk in buggies and the speed limit is 55mph!

As always the convention was interesting but the camp ground was where its at. A couple quick shots:

Ryan warming water for the ladies. Thats his Peak 1 stove but my Optimus hiking pot and pickup. That pot got worked a lot over the weekend and is terrific, actually the combo of Peak 1 and Optimus pot work really well together and boil water super quick.

Bugs love to find their way into lanterns and die.

This is the second of two light ups, I don't remember why but we couldn't get our act together to make it to the first one. The layout looks weird from this angle but the other way up it would be a kero-lite lantern. There weren't all that many lanterns, maybe 50-60 but I didn't count or hear a number.

The light up was at the convention hotel which made for good viewing stations.

For me this was the big deal of the whole convention. Greg had this hollow wire setup with 5 or 6 lamp heads attached to it all running off one tank. Back around the turn of the 20th century these hollow wire systems would be in people's houses with 1/8" copper tubes running through the walls of the house. The thing is that the fixtures are all torch-lite so you'd have to preheat the fixture to get it lit, if you didn't preheat enough or the generator was dirty or whatever you'd have burning balls of gasoline falling on the floor of your house. Sounds exciting right?

The last and probably most important piece of news is that after a close vote Angie and I were chosen to host the 2017 ICCC convention here in Winchendon, MA. In the weeks since the convention I've been scrambling to lock down a location, we're still kind of up in the air about that for now, I'll let you know when I've got something firmed up. Right now it looks like we'll be sending campers to Lake Dennison and Otter River state parks and hotel folks to the Colonial Hotel in Gardner, MA or the Woodbound Inn in Rindge, NH. Not sure yet which will be the better hotel, it depends on where the convention actually ends up, as I say I'll let you know when I know.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wrapping up the Asia trip

After I got sick the rest of my trip was basically about surviving, I went to work, went back to the hotel and slept, then repeat. The worst was that the housekeeping people insisted on cleaning the room after noon each day despite my asking them to take care of it earlier. If I left the "do not disturb" card up all day they'd call around 4pm to see if I was okay and wanted the room cleaned. This waking up at 4 to answer the phone was hard on my sleep schedule.

One thing I really want to comment on was my experience leaving Manila. Remembering that I travel a lot I was very impressed with the whole experience. Upon arrival at the airport I went through a metal detector and my stuff through an x-ray. I was immediately met by a JAL representative who took me to the ticketing counter and handed me off to a nice lady who offered to switch me to an aisle seat instead of my window seat on the Japan to Boston flight. She then handed me off to another nice lady who took me over to the security line.

This is where I realized I should have been taking more pictures...

The whole process of leaving the Philippines was pretty easy, no big deal. I got a massage while I waited for my flight. A very small Filipino woman broke me on a very low table, it took days for the soreness to pass. I did feel quite flexible on the flight though...

In Tokyo I found this:

Its nice when the airport has something to look at while I'm waiting.
Actually Japan is really good for that,

The pink stuff on the left is picked ginger, the stuff on the right is somewhat like cucumbers, so basically normal pickles.

Yeah, its juvenile but I couldn't avoid a taking picture of Pocari Sweat. Its a sports drink like Gatoraide, it shows up pre-mixed in bottles too...

I bought a bunch of snacks to bring home but also:

This little beauty is a single use ice cream cone, the machine takes a little cup and makes one ice cream out of it rather than the ice cream machines here which process ice cream in bulk. It was a very good ice cream, very smooth and creamy. Cheap too, it was around 300 Yen so with the Yen at 127 to the dollar it was under $3, for airport ice cream thats basically free.

Heres the haul of foods I brought back from asia, Ding Dong is snack mix, peanuts, peas and little crackers. Theres 6 kinds of Kit Kat, Giant Pocky the size of pretzel sticks, almond crusted pocky, 4 kinds of dried mango, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered marshmallow, graham pinnapigs which are weird chocolate covered graham things and other stuff I don't even remember. So far my favorite is the giant Pocky, all the good from Pocky in a larger size...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I mentioned in my previous post that I lived on ramen and oatmeal and that the Ramen in the Philippines was really good, here's a couple examples:

Here I wanted you to see that this ramen came with both a spice packet and an oil/soy sauce packet. The oil is what really adds to the taste of the noodles, here's another:

This one dispenses with the oil and gives a packet of FAT. I don't know what the fat is but its very tasty and makes for a ramen more like what you'd get in a restaurant.

Theres also this:

I was super surprised when my ramen came with a little fork but it makes good sense, if you're eating on the go you probably haven't brought utensils. The 7-11 I bought my ramen from had spoons available but I found that my willingness to slurp the broth plus the little fork got me where I needed to be, which is to say it got that tasty noodle goodness in my mouth and headed on down...

Back again

Welcome back, sorry for the delay but for the rest of the Filipino adventure I was mostly working or sleeping. My schedule was 10pm to 7am which is sort of normal working hours here in the US but the inverted nature of it versus local time raised holy hell with my body. Also I managed to get sick, but more on that later.

Lets start with this:

Its not surprise I like snacks and I like foreign snacks even more, double plus if I can't guess what its going to be be like when I buy it.

Voice Overload was one of those snacks. Think of a chocolate saltine with a thin chocolate coating. Weird but good. I didn't get a picture of the other one I bought at the same time, it was literally like two saltines with a thin layer of fudge between them. I've made similar things with crackers and Nutella.

Also as promised heres a banana. Starbucks sells these, individually wrapped for P20 which is about $0.50 US.

As I mentioned I got sick, I had kind of an ongoing fight with housekeeping about getting my room made up real early so I could go to sleep but never really got them onboard. Finally I just asked them to cancel housekeeping, otherwise I'd leave the "do not disturb" card up all day and they'd call at 4pm to see if I needed anything. This would wake me up and make me irritable...
Anyway one day I decided I'd let them clean the room so I stayed up. The guy finally came around about noon (midnight for me) and got to work so I went out for a walk. I stopped at "The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf" and had a cup of disgustingly sweet tea. Apparently disgustingly sweet tea is a Filipino thing. I was told "Its what makes Filipinos so sweet" HA!
So between the the sweet tea at "The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf" and another disgustingly sweet tea from "Subway" I managed to ingest some of the local bacteria which had a real fun time in my gut and resulted in my having to clamp myself to the toilet. Fortunately the office could provide Imodium enough to get through the day at work but it was several days after my return before my digestion was back to normal. Angie gave me some probiotic pills and I ate a bunch of yogurt both of which helped or at least made me feel better.

Sadly this being sick meant I was in no mood to eat much and for the last couple days I existed on Ramen and oatmeal. The oatmeal I got at Starbucks and is much like the oatmeal you'd get at Starbucks in the US other than the fact that they'll put steamed milk in it for you. I like the steamed milk although they usually put too much unless I specifically asked for less, then they just think I'm crazy.

Anyway, I like to keep these posts short so I'll pick up some more later...