The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Friday, August 31, 2012

More F-350 Goodies

After spending the better part of 5 minutes trying to hook up to my gooseneck a few days ago I decided it was time for an upgrade in the seeing what the hell is going on department. My radio already is set up for a rearview camera, all I needed was the camera.  It was surprisingly cheaper than I was expecting. I found one on Amazon for under $15. SCORE!

Since I saved about $50 from what I was expecting to spend, I decided to use that for a new XM Xpress receiver. I hate to admit it but I've become kind of spoiled with the Sirius radio in my car. It's nice to be travelling and not constantly searching for or trying to milk the last bit of signal out of a good station. I wish they had this back when I was trucking. But then I would have never heard the guy that barricaded himself inside a Wyoming radio station. That was entertaining, unfortunately I lost the signal before I found out how it ended. Small market radio, gotta love it.

Mounting the camera was a piece of cake. 2 screws in the toolbox, string the wire alongside my CB coax and plug into the radio. Done.
Somebody needs a spray-in bedliner...

The XM was a bit more complex. I decided right on top of my Scangauge was the perfect spot. Didn't block my view and I could route the wires alongside my GPS coax. Getting it mounted on top of the Scangauge was going to be tricky. I couldn't use the mounting screws without destroying the Scangauge. Velco or 2-sided tape was an option, but both have a tendency to come loose in high temps leaving a sticky mess behind and Lord knows a black truck in the Texas sun never gets hot.

That's when I remembered I had a tube of 3M Weatherstrip/Gasket Adhesive and it just happened to be black. That stuff is better than Super Glue and a little dab will do ya. 5 minutes later, TA-DA! I even managed to get it centered and the edges aligned. Good thing because it ain't moving from there.
Not bad for a one eyed fat man...

Now if it takes me 5 minutes to hook up to my trailer, it won't be because I can't see what the hell is going on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Big Wheels Rollin', Movin On...

I can't think of where to start this. Was it the first time I traveled coast to coast in a truck? The first time I drove a truck professionally? The first time I drove my own truck?

There's a lot of ground (literally) in between those events.

Guess I'll start at where I can remember... Sherman, set the WABAC machine to 1966!

My first cross country trucking experience was bouncing on top of the doghouse of a White Freightliner with a 318 Detroit. Dad drove for Walter Hales and his trucks were leased to Leonard Brothers. They hauled a lot of military freight. I got on the truck with Dad in Bridgeport and the load was going to an AFB in Maine. We got there, smuggled me on base (this was way before 9/11) and unloaded then went to New York and loaded a crane gear going to California. I distinctly remember a massive traffic jam going thru New York City. I had never seen that many cars (or people) in my life.

We had to gateway (drive thru) Florida which made the trip much longer and this was before the days of Interstates. There was more interstate "under construction" than constructed. You still drove the old US highway system thru towns. Most roads ran right thru the middle of town and you actually saw what each city was about instead of 2 exits and a chain truckstop. Think "Cars and Radiator Springs".

This was also long before CB's. A system of hand signals and light flashes was used back then. Not to be confused with a system of hand signals and light flashes used in a rest area or truck stop today. Two completely different things. Trucks weren't as lavish inside as they are now. It was all business. Mostly metal and glass with no built in refrigerator, walk-in sleeper or television. You were lucky if there was an aftermarket air conditioner on the truck. Even luckier if it worked.

 It was also several years before Will & Sonny and their fancy big rig.

I still remember playing in the surf on the beach in Southern California. This was 1966 and I wasn't even in school yet. My Dad may have been a lot of things, but in this case he was a very cool and it obviously stuck with me. Not many people get to travel coast to coast, play in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the same week or experience the trip the way I did on the road before they go to 1st Grade.

Now if you want to hear about the time I was dumped off with a stranger at a New Jersey truckstop and smuggled 100 miles away into Delaware after a company driver snitched on Dad... that's another post.

No wonder I still get "itchy feet" to go back on the road.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Shocked! Shocked I Say!

A three-judge federal court Tuesday found the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature guilty of discriminating against Latinos and blacks in the drawing of new election districts and threw out its redistricting plans for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the state Legislature.

Citing the Voting Rights Act, the judges said the state’s new election districts deliberately undercut the voting power of the growing Latino population. And while the GOP Legislature shored up the districts held by white Republicans, it “removed the economic guts” of the urban districts held by black Democrats, the judges said in a 154-page opinion.

The Texas population grew by 4.3 million in the last decade, and 89% of the growth was made up of Latinos, blacks and Asians, the court said. Yet, minority lawmakers were not likely to win even one more seat in Congress under the plan struck down Tuesday.

The decision, if upheld on appeal, will force Texas lawmakers to redraw the districts to elect a greater number of minority legislators.

Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project that worked on the legal challenge, called the decision “a damning indictment of (Gov.) Rick Perry and other Texas Republican leaders who, in a cynical attempt to hold on to power, engaged in intentional discrimination against Texas Latino and African American voters.”
Now how could a plan that drew districts resembling a corn maze possibly be gerrymandering?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So who's going to be there for the NFC?

Yeah, yeah... it's only Preseason. But... Peyton still has "it" and is in a much easier division. 
Let's see how the Pats feel about playing at Denver in December.

Sometimes, you get more than you pay for

I recently had a friend over for dinner and was asked why I spent extra for the spaghetti sauce instead of buying what was on sale.

Because it's worth it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Godspeed Neil Armstrong

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
A true hero not just for America, but all mankind.

I have to admit I teared up whenever I heard the news. He was a modest man "just doing his job" that never understood his unmatched glory and remained intensely private until his death.

There will be no asterek next to his name in the history books.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Been making lots of improvements to the F-350. The latest is installing a CB. I wanted to use my old President HR2510 and Texas Star DX667, but they have been sitting in a closet since I quit trucking in the mid-90's. The old skipshooter had a wee bit of dust on it so I figured a trip to the radio shop was in order. Luckily one of the best in the nation is in Weatherford, Clay's Radio Shop.

I bought the radio from Clay when his shop was out on I-20 in Gorman. He's since downsized his operation and is right down the street from the Courthouse doing mostly mail order work now. He's also working with Harley-Davidson developing a new communication system for their touring bikes. Sadly, he spends all his time behind the bench now and no longer does installations so I had doing that myself to look forward to.

As my luck runs, the old President was sick (bad processor) and they don't make replacement parts for that model anymore. I looked at his selection of 10 Meter and CB radios then decided on a Galaxy 939. Good solid radio albeit a tad more expensive than a Cobra or Uniden. He tuned and matched the radio and amp for me then I had Clay fix me up with a bed stakehole antenna mount, coax and some quick power disconnects. I'd already bought a Wilson 5000 antenna off eBay.

Next, a trip to Lowes for some 8ga wire and O'Reilly's for a 90amp fuselink and I'm ready to start installation.

I put the fuselink between the battery and power cord in case it developed a short anywhere along the way then routed the wire along the fender and thru a grommet near the passenger door and into the cab.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? My hands looked like I had been wrestling with a Honey Badger when I was done. To make things worse, right after I took this picture I decided to pull the wire out and wrap it in foam shipping material and electrical tape to prevent the insulation from rubbing against the fender. So... Honey Badger x2.

Now I was ready to mount the radio and amp, except I didn't have a mount. But I know a guy... Hellooo, Brother In-law! He had a small piece of aluminum diamond plate and a metal break. We managed to come up with a pretty snazzy little mount in no time. The only thing left was bolting it to the floorboard. Here's where Ford's engineers screwed me. Instead of rubber insulation, they used fiber and it wound around the drill bit like spaghetti on a fork. I tried to cut a clear path with a box cutter and pushing the material out of the way with a screwdriver and after enough attempts managed to get all 4 holes drilled without destroying the carpet. I needed a leather punch to do it right.

Getting the sheet metal bolts to thread up was a different story. The fiber would foul the threads and cause the bolt to pop out before it could get a firm bite. Again with the screwdriver pushing the matting out of the way then trying over and over again we managed finally to get 3 out of 4 to bite and tighten up. The 4th one is still mocking me but at that point I didn't care. It was solid and I'll fish the other one in the hole someday when I'm not feeling frustrated enough.

Here you can see the back of the radio and the quick disconnect for the power. I can pull the radio in under a minute if I have to. 1 power plug, 1 coax and 4 thumbscrews. I need to come up with a way to tidy up the wires. Thinking about finding a matching piece of carpet and some Velcro.

Here's a closer look at the stake hole mount I used. It worked like a charm. I put the plastic stake hole cover back over the stainless steel mount to prevent the aluminum toolbox from rubbing against it.

Running the coax was the simplest part of the whole procedure. There's a grommet in the lower right of the rear cab wall. Setting the SWR's (tuning the antenna) took about 10 minutes and VoilĂ ! I'm back on the air again and it looks like a professional installation.

You'll notice in the top pic I made sure to leave enough room to use the powerport and open the storage compartment/ashtray. More importantly, the radio is secure and not going anywhere in case of an accident. The last thing you want is 10 pounds of angry electronics flying around inside the cab after some idiot plows into you.

Hurricane Isaac to Visit GOP Convention?

I can't help but think of this image.
And wasn't Pat Robertson saying hurricanes were "God punishing the guilty" a few years ago?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So Easy, A Chevy Guy Can Do It.

I just learned a very cool mod on a Ford forum that is factory installed but rarely used on Ford Super Duty trucks. The High Idle modification. All it takes is connecting 1 wire to a power source and you have 1200RPM idle on command. Took me all of 5 minutes to connect on my '06 F-350.

The high idle setting is intended for PTO use, but it comes in handy for warming up, charging or (as anyone who's sat in a Super Duty on a hot Summer day knows) getting that A/C to cool properly while sitting still. But besides the creature comforts it also prevents "Wet Stacking" in diesel engines. At idle a diesel engine can over-cool it's self...thus not all the fuel injected "burns off" (you need compression & heat to burn diesel). The fuel will condense and work it's way past the piston rings and into the lube oil, diluting the oil and wreaking havoc with your lube oil system.

Here's how it's done... I found the orange PTO wire that is located behind the emergency brake in a bundle of wires (mine was factory labeled) and stripped the end of it. Next, I took a short piece of 14 gauge wire and connected it with a solderless connector and crimped/taped it. I ran that wire to the fuse box where I found an empty slot. I took a 10a mini fuse, wrapped the bare wire around it and plugged it in.

Done. It was just that simple.

Now all I have to do is set the emergency brake and it bumps the idle up to 1200 rpm no muss, no fuss. Release the brake and it drops back down to normal. If you don't want it e-brake actuated you can run a hotwire from a toggle or upfitter switch and connect to the BCP (Battery Charge Protect) wire instead of the PTO wire (all the wires in the bundle are color coded and labeled). But wired this way it's impossible for me to forget to turn it off.

I'll find a better keyed power source than a wire wrapped around a fuse later. I really didn't feel like dismantling the fuse box and running the wire in from behind. But this worked in a pinch. All you need is to get power to the PTO or BCP wire, the ECM (on-board computer) does the rest automatically.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Billy Wilder, James Cagney, Greatness

I don't expect you to watch all three clips all the way thru... but you should. There are a few times when everything just clicks. Lightning in a bottle. This is one of those times and thank God it was captured on film and fully restored.

Kudos to TCM for including it in their Jimmy Cagney Night. Double kudos to DirecTv for upgrading to TCM-HD. Triple Kudos to the Coca-Cola Company without whom, none of this would have been possible.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

Not exactly the cowboy way I learned growing up on the farm.
But talk about having your finger on the control button. 
I bet you could have that cow doing Michigan J. Frog impersonations. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Spurs and Latigo

Nothing quite like spending a Saturday night watching small town rodeo. My niece was competing in Jr. Barrel Racing in the Forestburg Riding Club Rodeo, so you know I'm going to be there. She came in 4th. Not too shabby in my book. Her time was .4 seconds faster than than her last race. Keep that up and she'll have a buckle collection before long.

It was actually an impressive turn out. First time in my life I've ever witnessed a traffic jam in Forestburg!

Being the well connected kinda guy that I am, I was invited to watch the Bull Riding from above the bucking chutes. They had a fairly rank bunch of bulls, too. I still need a lot more practice with my camera. I tried the Sports setting hoping to get some clean shots, but they still came out blurry. I'm thinking the bulls might possibly have had a little bit to do with that.

Clown: Hey, you got any nekkid pictures of your Wife?
Announcer: NO! I don't have pictures of my wife naked!!
Clown: Ya wanna buy some?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monday, Monday...

If I've read my calendar right, it's 2nd Monday Weekend in Bowie.

I need to walk a few hours in 100+ heat to reduce my gut-comference anyway. Plus, you never know what little hidden gem you are going to stumble across at a Second Monday booth. I've got a set of oversize wrenches I bought nearly 30 years ago at 2nd Monday for $20 and they haven't broken yet.

Warning: Not all transactions will have similar results!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cool Dad Tunes Son's Ride

Did you see the smile on that boy's face?


No I'm not cheering for the US Olympic Team. Altho I am proud of Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas and almost all of Team USA. They've done a magnificent job and shown the world the best we had to offer. BUT, McKayla Maroney probably showed the worst of our team. Not in her performance, but in her attitude. I can forgive her missing the landing on her vault. What I can't forgive is her pissy attitude and being a sore loser.
Way to make us look like a bunch of spoiled brats McKayla...

She screwed up the landing and didn't deserve the Gold.

What I am cheering about is NASA's Curiosity rover surviving the Seven Minutes of Terror and successfully landing a rover the size of an F-150 on the surface of Mars thru what could easily be described as the "Most Expensive Rube Goldberg Device Ever". The only thing missing was "Powerhouse" playing in the background.

 I watched the landing live on NASA-TV and have to admit I felt that old twinge from the Apollo days. This wasn't Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren landing on the Moon. It was MUCH more complicated. There were 100's of things that had to go exactly as planned with nobody there to make last second corrections like Neil did... and we pulled it off!

That's pretty freaking amazing.

What's even more amazing was getting images from the surface in just a few minutes. If there was anything that could top that... how about a video if the actual landing starting with the heat shield separation?


Now we just sit back and wait for everything to power up and start exploring...