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!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Roof Got Done... Now It's Time for the Brakes and Bearings

Been sittin' and waitin'... plenty of work to do... But I got to wait on income to arrive to do it. Still in that livin' this month with what I made last month style of goin' ;)

The brakes were found to be awful weak on the 5er when we hauled to Red Feather in June... but I wanted to start at the top so recoating  the roof came first! and of course the Wasp Wars interfered there. With the final defeat of the buzzing hordes and a few days of hot and dry that finally got done.

"Payment is in Progress" is the statement I see when I checked my account this morning... so shortly... I can get on to that next project.

That bein' that I've got to R & R the brakes. Since the wheel bearings are nigh on to 14 years old and, honestly, haven't been given the best of care... I figure it only makes sense to just replace them too and call it good... Better than bein' half way between nowhere and somewhere and hearing nasty noises and seeing bits and pieces flying around in the mirrors.

Yeah... good... Bearing replacements can be easy - or - they can be a misery. You got to get them set juuuust right to put 'em in place. Not a problem with the rig parked in a field... right?

It's a greasy messy job with my not bein' a lover of grease and mess... plus you have a 11,000 lb rig jacked up with at least one leg in the air.

A shop can just lift up the whole side and do two at a time. I don't believe I'm THAT confident. Think I'll leave one sitting on the ground... just in case the axle I've got the wheel off of... decides to part company with the jackstand.

Since I'm living in it... and am known to be slllllllloooooowwwwwww ... with repairs to begin with, not to mention the constant, repeated and apparently unstoppable application of Murphy's law... it could get interesting...

Anyhoo... I've got my impact wrench, jack stands, jack, wrenches and misc. junk and nonsense waiting on the arrival of my digital income... then it's off to Red Neck Trailer... just north of Denver for the parts to replace the Bearings and Brakes...

Shouldn't take but a few hours right? and we're not leaving for the Sugar Beet Harvest in Sydney Montana until the middle of September... right? so No Problemo... right? What are you thinkin'?

... yeah... Ya'll been 'round here long enough to know that jackin' up a concrete slab with a rubber hammer is possibly my greatest skill!

Ha! and the rig... is now parked a lil' bit away from where it's spent the summer by the Wind Break... Mostly under a tree now... capturing all the cool the tree has to offer.

So I guess that'll make me a gen-U-whine "Shade Tree Mechanic"! and I got my screwdriver and wire cutters all sharpened and polished up too! :)

Gettin' Ready for makin' some Sparks and Smoke

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Wild Animal Sanctuary at Keenesburg Colorado

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720-acre  animal sanctuary located near Keenesburg Colorado.

The sanctuary specializes in rescuing and caring for large predators which are being ill-treated, for which their owners can no longer care, or which might otherwise be euthanized.It is a  nonprofit organization and a state and federally licensed zoological facility.

Created in 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is situated on grassland North of Denver and has helped over 1,000 animals since it first opened. As of 2012, it was home to over 290 animals.

We'd heard of the wild life sanctuary for years but as is common, we'd not been to the place so near to where we'd been living. The thing is, this is a sanctuary and not a zoo. Hard maybe to see the difference... but... the idea is, as I see it, to give these once abused, rescued, captive animals a decent place to live out their days in relative peace... rather than being entertainment for people.

I'd not call it a Picturesque spot... but considering the alternative for these critters... it's a pretty fair deal. Most of them are animals that were confiscated from people who held them as "pets" chained to trees in the back yard or penned in cages.

Some were held in horse trailers for years! or the garage... what can I say... if you want to experience what was done to these animals... try living in a closet for a month...want it more real? Have someone come and beat you with a bat because you're not "gentle enough"... yeah... shiny.

One novel sort of thing here is that you're up above their fields on an elevated walkway...

From the entry center and gift shop area you walk up a ramp at the start of the mile long elevated walkway... The theory is; These animals don't have any natural threats that come from above... so if you're up there... they don't notice you... you're not "in their space"... and so stress is lessened.

They also request very clearly, no running, squealing, throwing things to the animals etc. It's all set up to, as much as possible, reduce/eliminate the stresses of captivity for these animals.

*Entry ramp up onto the walk way*

*Looking back toward the Visitor center and the Socialization building*
Most of these animals were kept in solitary situations and had never even seen another of their kind, before they were brought here. Consequence is they haven't a clue how to get along with each other...

Compound that with the space... Most were held in cramped, closed cages for years. Simply simply having this much space is a shock they need to adjust to... They need time...


*Wild Animal Sanctuary "Socialization Building*
What they do is start them out in smaller enclosures, with neighbors on the other side of the separating fences... over time they "buddy up" with a neighbor... at which time the keepers/volunteers will move them in together... their solitary lives are expanded in as normal a way as is possible...

... as they gain "social skills" they are turned out into the "group" enclosures that run from ten to twenty acres a piece. For an animal that's spent it's entire life chained alone to a tree, that must seem like heaven.

One lil bit I thought kind of hilarious was; They warn you in a short little introduction, that if you drop your camera, your phone or whatever... off the walkway... it's gone... they won't and can't go get it... sooooo...

*look for the red arrow...*
 yeah... OOPS!

"But Mom! I NEED a new I-phone! The lions got my OLD ONE!!!" Bwahahahahaha

The place is primarily a rescuer of  Lions and Tigers and Bears... though there are a few foxes and quite a few grey wolves.

There are some folks that think wolves make good pets... as nutso an idea as having a Tiger in your garage... or any of a myriad of other abuses of wild critters.

Yeah... they think that right up until that cute "pup" matures at around two years old and his aggressiveness as he attempts to climb the social ladder becomes frightening and dangerous...

Then... the fools think; "I'll just turn them loose in the mountains... where the totally unprepared (he never had his folks to teach him how to hunt) and also now unafraid of people critter... starves to death... or is shot attacking livestock.

Better... is when they are confiscated and placed into sanctuaries like this across the country... that also work to try and educate people regarding the cruelty and reality of attempting to keep wildlife in your basement...

The bears here are Blacks and Grizzlies. As you drive in you pass a large enclosure with several Grizzlies that doesn't yet have a walkway... on the walkway itself you stroll over a good number of black bears... and at least a pair of Grizzlies...

For shelter from both the hot summers and cold winters they've built some rather ingenious underground dens for the animals out in the open areas...

Those concrete culvert openings run about 60' back in, and then open up into a 6X12X6 concrete den. They appear to be, from a picture I saw, a septic tank overturned... It works! ;)

For the visitors they've got a couple of shady areas to sit and have a pic nic lunch or snack...

*Covered area near a Bear Pool*

Out at the far end is a Lion House... with a snack bar...

*Run Jillian RUN!*

You can have a snack and chill out...while the lions serenade you...

Like I said... it's not all landscaped and pretty. They pretty much run on a shoestring... but it's pretty cool to see animals that have been abused and alone... able to have some freedom and peace to live out their days in a decent and peaceful place...

So... when you visit along the front range... pack a pic nik snack and pay 'em a visit out by Keenesburg...  I'd suggest you go late... we got there 'bout 5 in the evening or a bit later... The animals are moving around a lot more as the prairie starts to cool off at the end of the day... oh... and leave your dogs at home ;)

Just movin' along

Thursday, August 14, 2014

See If I Can Catch Things Up on 3 Different Deals...

Sooooo... I was on the road in the wind... and then I wasn't.

I rolled up over Hoosier pass to Fairplay and hooked around to get my supper fixin's in Buena Vista. Just twenty miles or so north of town you turn off to climb Independence pass.

Just there at the bottom, before the road starts climbing into the mountains is a pair of sweet little lakes... and a hell of a nice camp at a place called Diamond Pt.

Nice breeze that kept the skeeters clear... and a nice view from my "Porch"...

Come the dawn... I was up and prepping for another day in the saddle...

First things first... and... Coffee is always first.

Lil' more problematical when some fella runs off and forgets to pack his cup in the gear... he has to have a Bowl of coffee to start the day :) ... or three...

Then it was pack up and get to rollin'... Higher in the Rockies...

I have to say, Independence Pass is maybe the sweetest ride in the state... There's several in close competition... but this one is definitely one of those top few...

*That bike makes me look like a runt!*
Reluctantly I dropped off the pass into the place that is... Aspen...

Yeah... NOT... a place that this boy fits at all well...

When you're sitting on your scooter at a red light... and some "lady" walks past in the cross walk... with her high fashion straw hat... her $400 dollar sandal shoes... yadda yadda... you a glance and then with her nose in the air and turned away... walks past with her face screwed up like she's got a sour lemmon in her mouth... you KNOW... you are not in your "home" country... bwahahahahahaha...

I rolled down out of the mountains to catch a sit down lunch in Glenwood Springs... to fuel me up for the ride through Glenwood Canyon... to find no place in the Inn... at the Wolford Recreation area outside of Kremmling...

Buuuuut... the gal there at the gate called into an RV Park in town and found me a spot... Now... I'm not the RV Park sort... but I'll tell you... I rode past the RV's belly to butt... to pitch my tent on a big grassy square with one other tent... with a big ramada in between... for $13 bucks! long about HALF what a KOA tariffs a biker for.

Nice grassy camp. Hot shower and supplies just down the road a mile... Ha! I had it better than the RV'ers! :)

Next morning I finished my figure eight ride and get back to the trailer to get to work again...

... a day and some got lost with the Robin Williams news... that touched a nerve... and then it was time to get movin' again...

I spent goodly parts of those days getting the coating on the roof. First, a second scrubbing of the old roof to prepare it for the second phase... the primer... and then two coats of Kool Seal elastomeric membrane...

Just popped a fresh refrigerator cap on this morning.

Soon as I got done with the coating yesterday... and after I got re-hydrated from bein' up there in the blistering Colorado sun... must have been all of 75 ;) ... I climbed on the scooter to meet ever'body about 85 miles or so south east.

Took the kids to the Wild Life Sanctuary out east of Fort Lupton. I'll save that post for tomorrow... It's got a few pics and a good story that deserves it's own post.

In the Morning