Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another day...

Spring is here. That white stuff is melting. We're down to an odd patch here or there; mostly on north-facing slopes and in low-lying areas in our red pine forest. Fortunately for us, though, we live on high ground. That reduces the amount of mud considerably. The only really yucky place is inside the shelter area for the animals. The deep litter method works well most of the time, but all that stuff starts to stink of ammonia when it gets wet.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. Oh well...

We have been down to one vehicle for quite some time. That old 1984 Jeep Wagoneer XJ that we paid 500 bills for a couple years ago died just before the snow came. The big 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer has been dead for years. It sat for years waiting for some guy to rebuild the engine. I guess timely work isn't his thing. I mean, this thing inhaled some hardware back in 2001, and we had to really lean on him to get the engine done in time to get it out of the old Detroit-area yard in 2003. He still didn't make it in time, so it sat in an expensive storage locker for a few months.

But enough of this angst stuff. He did finally get it rebuilt, and our favorite mechanic back home stuffed it into the Jeep. We drove it up here, and used it for a while.

Then, the transmission failed.

Whoops, sorry. Didn't I promise that there would be no more angst?

Along came tax return time this year (we filed early for once). Down to the tranny shop goes our Jeep. I actually almost made it there before the thing totally refused to budge another inch. No biggie -- they were only too happy to tow it in.

Yep, the tranny (Chrysler TF727, if you're interested) was toast. So was the transfer case. Somehow, all the oil got up and ran away, leaving it clean and dry with little bits of bearing littering the bottom.

But heh... that old '84 XJ has exactly the same transfer case. All I have to do is crawl under that dead hulk and get it out of there. heh heh

Now, since we live in the country, we have to have the right ambiance, right? I mean, what would a proper country abode be without a car on blocks in the front yard? We don't really have a front yard, but the part where the driveway splits (so anyone driving in can see it) will do fine.

Besides, what Jeeper can possibly get along without a proper parts vehicle?

Anyhow, the first thing I did was to go to the local Family Dollar store and get a high-lift jack. The Jeepers call it that, anyhow. I think it was labelled "Farm Jack", or something like that. In any case, it's heavy, and takes some grunt just to operate it. It's a real manly man device. Tim the tool man would be proud. So would those two dudes on Saturday Night Live.

But I digress...

After a few tries, I finally jacked the thing up and placed some truck tires under the front bumper for safety. I have a friend who was working under a car when it fell on his head, so I use him as my role model on what not to do. That isn't the only bad thing to have happened to him, but it has to be near the top of the list.

So, tires under the front bumper, jack stands under the frame, and I'm relatively confident that my head will be safe. The fact that the jack stands ended up a bit tilted dashed that confidence, though.

But do I really want to detail the fun and games? I started to pull some bolts, and one let all the brown stuff (it's supposed to be red) out of the transmission. Luckily for me, I have experience with this stuff, so I didn't end up with fried tranny fluid running down my arm and into my armpit. It just made a mess on the ground.

After looking at the diagrams in the service manual, some struggling with various linkages, and the like, I finally got that heavy piece of metal loose and managed to ease it to the ground. Later, I heaved it up into the back of our one working vehicle.

All of that to save five hundred bucks...

So now, the t-case has been properly cracked open, inspected, fitted with a few of the not-so-identical parts from the original t-case, and mounted to our big 1989 Grand Wagoneer.

And today, we drove over there and picked it up. Freshly rebuilt engine, freshly rebuilt transmission, properly serviced t-case, five new u-joints...

It Lives!

Now that winter is over and there is little chance of snow, we have our big Jeep back. It's the best snow car I have ever driven, by the way.

But that isn't the only reason we are anxious to get that thing going. It is also going to be pulling trailers full of hay, feed, and stove pellets. It's going to be pulling a horse trailer as soon as we get one. It's a big beefy vehicle that will pull tons of stuff without complaining.

Of course, that isn't quite the end of the story. I mean, what would a trip back from the shop be without some slight mishap like running out of gas? I had just taken the gas can out of the van and put it where it belongs, too. Then, when we got back there, it didn't want to start. It has a problem starting hot. I was blaming the programming of the fuel injection, but I now think it's the ignition system. The Jacobs ignition system had died last year, and the stock system seems to be going. I think I need to find the plans for a good capacitive discharge system so I can build my own system.

Oh, I suppose I ought to mention that the engine was originally carbureted. I added the fuel injection after it was rebuilt the first time. The new rebuild uses a stock cam instead of that lousy racing cam (I had asked for an RV cam, but someone didn't listen), so I have to reprogram the Holley Pro-Jection system that I had added.

Wait a minute... I think I got lost here somewhere. I'll balme it on being up too late. My wife is in bed waiting for me, so I really ought to get off the internet and go do something more important.

But she said that I should talk about the other stuff that happened today, too.

Remember the horse that we got last week? Well, we called a ferrier, and made an appointment for him to come today.

Is that how you spell it? Ferrier? Anyhow, it's a guy who comes out and trims the horse's hooves. He has these big clippers and a huge file. He gets the horse to cooperate, and he does all that stuff to her feet. He had to get stern with her, but he got it done. The chickens came and picked up all the filings. I guess they like fingernail clippings. Plenty of protein, I guess. Of course, chickens will eat just about anything that doesn't eat them first.

Then, it was our turn to be cutting and filing on hooves. The goats needed to be trimmed really bad. They were even more ornery than the horse, though. Luckily for us, they are smaller. I ended up holding our noisy nubian in my lap while Mary did the clipping. She was so mad that when the little baby buckling came around, she bit his ears. I wasn't paying too much attention -- I was just holding the two of them. She ended up biting a chunk right off of his right ear. Now the little thing is lop-sided. He was not too happy about the process, by the way.

But, like I said, things are shaping up for spring. I hooked up the hose, so we no longer have to fill up gallon jugs in the bath tub in order to water the animals. I knocked the stuff out of the 40 gallon stock watering tub that the cats have been using as a litter box, and it's now soaking. Tomorrow, it's going down into the animal run so that the goats and horse can drink from it. Hopefully, the chickens won't drown in it. The ducks will probably mess it up, though. Such is life...

We also had our first weenie roast of the year. We burned up some dead limbs that I had cut out of the red pine forest, and roasted hot dogs.

Spring is here.... lots of stuff to be done. I guess that means that there will be lots to write about. The next step is to prune the apple trees. That's not all that exciting, but getting good apples that I can actually reach will make it worthwhile.

Time to go to bed, but I think I'll leave you with a gratuitous picture. Maybe I'll do a gratuitous picture of the day -- depending on how much stuff I can store before having trouble.

Anyhow, today's gratuitous picture is a nice spring time picture because I'm really in the mood for spring.


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