Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Long Sit is Nearly Done... Two Weeks and It's Down the Road One More Time...

Yeah, this has been the longest time in one place for some few years... and honestly... I don't like it. I'm too  accustomed to movement I guess... buuuuut... I think it's probably done it's job... and the "numbers" are looking a lil' stronger for the future.

As is usual... Got diverted from my current task for a couple days... and today it's spittin' rain again so unlikely that I'll get that last brake done until maybe tomorrow. Wrenching in the rain just don't tickle my fancy.

I wonder if the weatherman ever looks out the window before he makes his daily predictions? He could save himself some embarrassment. Sure glad he was doin' better when I was layin' out the roof maintenance!

Only have but one wheel left to R&R the brakes and bearings on ... then a quick brake test/adjustment and that'll be ready to roll... a few other odds and ends to get locked down to be ready to haul out probably on the 15th... heading for Sydney Montana and the Beet Harvest.

I'll be leaving the bike sitting in Evin's garage while we go north. Load her back up on the way south in November. Be the longest we've been apart in all those years as well :-P

No sense in hauling her up where she'll only sit on the truck. There won't be any riding up there... just piling beets. I'm hoping for no big loss of work there either. There's been rumors of a lot of lost fields from excessive rain this summer resulting in root rot and other beet maladies.

What the rumors don't say is if that's over on the Minnesota side or the Montana side of North Dakota... Guess we'll find out when we get there...

So... it'll be however long to get the work done...

Then it'll be south, hopefully ahead of the snow. Last year, while we were doing our work in Sydney one of the worst blizzards in a long time roared through two or three hundred miles south of us and wiped out thousands of cattle in South Dakota. All we got was three days of rain in Sydney...

I got here to the farm in the spring, in time for the last snow storm... I'd just as soon be out of here (here being far enough north for significant snow) to miss the first snow storm of the coming winter.

My tolerance for cold and snow got used up chasing cows into the wind... pushing them where they really didn't want to go... at 15 below.

This ol' buster follows the wisdom of the Geese... whose pea sized brains are still wise enough to figure out; North for the Summer... South for the Winter.

Ready for the Road... and miles of miles

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making Solid Progress With the Bearing and Brake Rebuild...

I suppose a guy could just pay somebody to do the work... but there's a confidence that is a good feeling to have when you remind yourself every now and again that you're not at the mercy of mechanics...

But, it's been a while since the last brakes and bearings I replaced. The first wheel went fairly slow while I figured out what I was doin'... while trying to avoid doin' something that shouldn't get done! It's still a fairly simple task.

... Even when you do it dodging the weather. Yup... surest way I know to make it rain, and have six other things jump up all demanding attention is to dive into something that really needs finishing before you can move on to anything else! ;)

Well... There's but five bolts on the backing plate and only two wires really to deal with... well... if you discount changing out the bearing races with a couple of hammers, a screwdriver, a piece of PVC, a chunk of 2X4... because you're doin' this job without a press ;)

Now the quickest way is to jack up both axles and pop both wheels on a side at the same time... I thought about trying that... and then chose to be juuuust a mite more conservative and do one at a time. That-a-way if Murphy come around and knocked a jack out, I'd still have one wheel holding up the rig! ;)

First thing right off I realized I wasn't gonna be able to use a jack stand under that lifted axle. They're just too tall. I'd have to jack the trailer up way too dang high. So, I opted to use two jacks. One hydraulic floor jack and a screw type. I figured that if one failed I'd still have one under there.

I also set the jacks on heavy wood plates to keep them from sinking into the soft ground...

With the tire lifted off the ground I quickly found the next weak spot in my system... My compressor. That lil' compressor I have on the truck is great for keep tires on the rig and the bike aired up out in far country... buuuuut... good as it is... she just don't make enough air to operate an impact wrench much :)

*Truck Mounted Compressor Compartment*
So... I had to use the old fashioned lug wrench and cowboy muscle a little more than I'd hoped. Yeah, it's a rough life. But that went quick and I had the axle stripped to replace the backing plate with the new brakes in no time...

For as old as they are, with as many miles... things really didn't look to bad. The pads are pretty cracked and glazed from... ahem... getting warm a time or two :) but otherwise... in amazingly decent shape... needful of replacement... but not OH MY GOD! bad.

*Ready to swap backing plates*
 Splicing the wires isn't/wasn't a big deal... I didn't go run down any special waterproof connectors. I just tightly wire nutted the splice. Then tightly electrical taped it...

... and then coated the whole splice with "Liquid Tape" to seal it up well and strong. I'll be surprised if there's any issues with the connections.

The other task was to knock out the old bearing races and set the new ones in place. Again, the old ones looked to be in fine shape for something approaching 75,000 miles, less than stellar maintenance and carrying a close to max load...

But, it's better on deals like this to just replace 'em rather than have a failure on the road... and have to do this job sitting in a roadside rest... or worse... the shoulder of a highway!

*First Bearing Races knocked out*

One benefit of having a flat bed on the truck is... you've always got a workbench with you!

*New Race started... still a half inch or so to go...*
I had to improvise for drivers. A piece of PVC plumbing fit the outer race perfectly... the inner, larger bearing race was a little problematical... but a combination of a chunk of 2X4 and a couple big hammers actually worked out quick and fine...

The second wheel went about twice as fast as the first... what with my memory being warmed up about what had to be done when.

Working between spurts of rain and other chores I've done one a day. Yup...really pushing hard ;)

Was gonna see if I couldn't get the thing buttoned up and do two today... but it turns out a run to Denver is in the offing... the kid has a surgery that came up pretty quick... so I'll take the day off and try and finish up tomorrow.

 I've just better than two weeks to finish it up... so it's lookin' like I'll be in good shape... but it won't pay to go and get cocky ;)


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Last Fifth Wheel Maintenance Job Before We Hit the Road for Montana

We leave for the Sydney Beet Harvest in a tad over two weeks and I've got one major project left to do before then...

* My Trailer Brake Parts, a couple bags of bearings and My workbench ;) *
I don't know for sure and for certain that the brakes are all bad. Could be there's only a part or two worn out... but here's the thing with electric brakes; If one part is bad, it's a fairly safe bet there's a few others not far behind.

The brakes and the bearings that are on this old rig are the ones that were on there when it rolled out of the factory... so I KNOW... those suckers have some age on 'em. This rig has been hauled juuuuust a few miles.

... and then the run to Red Feather in June revealed that I had very little functioning brakes on the trailer.

I've not yet even pulled 'em apart... so I don't know what's in there. I haven't a clue what's bad... but I know this from fairly long experience... in the end it'll be a lot cheaper to just R&R the whole gizmo then to try and fix something. Getting back in there four or five times to find and replace the Latest of failed parts is a waste of time.

What I've got sitting there on the truck is $385 bucks worth of parts from Red Neck Trailer Supply to get it done one time and be done with it. 

Thee-oh-retically it's a simple job... five bolts and two wires on each hub and the whole works comes off and gets replaced. quick, solid and I go back on the road with 100% fresh brakes. Also... since they ARE coming 15 years old, with a lot of abuse and precious little attention, I'm just gonna go ahead and replace the bearings too.

That's one of the nice thing about electric trailer breaks. Rather than fighting a whole bunch of miscellaneous little parts and trying to get everything adjusted up to work together right... You just unbolt the whole dang backing plate and replace the whole shebang.Zip Zap and you're done.

At least that's the way it SHOULD work.

Now, the last time I did a set of trailer bearings... was when I cooked a bearing on the road. I was sitting in a roadside rest area along the interstate in Arizona... maybe 20 miles from a small town...

I'd just as soon NOT do that again! ;)

So... I'll collect up the rest of my tools and possibles in the morning and get to swapping parts.

Now... the last job I did was that "two hour" fork rebuild on the bike... if you don't count the roof recoat ;) ... and that two hour bike job only took me what? three weeks?... so rebuilding 4 sets of brakes and bearings ... No Problem... Right? :)

Likely... since I haven't got anywhere to pull the rig inside... It'll start raining every day again just as soon as I get a wheel off :) ... nothing better than sitting in the mud working on electric brakes! :)

Gettin' Ready to Generate Some Sparks and Smoke!