The stars at night are big and bright...

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Gods are against me.

Truck's still in the shop (it's only been 1 day) and I had to pick up fertilizer I already had ordered. I had to have a 2" ball to hook up to the sprayer and the only one I had available was welded on my boxblade, so I hooked to my small tractor and went after it with that. It was a short trip of a couple miles so it wasn't too bad except for the worn out steering box on my Massey 235. It's not too bad running around the field, but dragging a tanker with 1500 gallons of fertilizer/weed killer mix is a different matter. I was praying not to get hit by a truck or run off in the ditch and flip over. 

As soon as I started spraying I smelled raw diesel. Checked everything and the piece of vacuum hose patching my broken fuel line had rotted out. It's been like that since I bought the tractor in 98, so I guess it lasted longer than it should have. Quick fix. Cut off the fuel supply, ran to town and bought a new piece of hose and some new clamps. Easy peasy... until I went to turn the fuel back on and the butterfly valve came completely unscrewed. Fuel starts pouring everywhere including the exhaust which thankfully had cooled off. Thank God it was diesel and not gasoline. Of course the valve is hidden underneath the hood and you have to work it by feel with 2 fingers. Meanwhile fuel continues to flow out onto the engine, exhaust and me. 

I finally get it in the hole and threaded up on the 5th or 6th try and the cap nut tightened, all while covered in diesel. Did I mention the tractor was low on fuel to start with? Now I have to siphon fuel out of my big tractor to put in the small one. The only part of me not covered is diesel are internal so we might as well give that a dose while we're at it.

After refueling and a quick shower, I'm back at it and finally spraying fertilizer and weed killer. I get both fields done and still have a little mix left so I hit the area around the house. I'm making my last pass when I feel the tractor suddenly sink and I can't get on the clutch fast enough. I'm buried to the drawbar. %&^#@!!!!

 I bust out the chains and crank up the big tractor. If I sink it, I'll have a permanent anchor so I can't get too close. I'm also doing this solo, so there's nobody to drive the small tractor, I'm having to drag it as dead weight. It won't budge and I'm digging a hole with the big tractor so bad I have to use the bucket to push myself out. Call my Brother Inlaw and he's not answering his phone. 

I unhooked the sprayer and drug it out of the field so I can at least return it. Also in the process of getting on and off the tractor and walking around the sprayer I get the spray all over my shoes and the surficant is slippery as snot. I managed to slip not once but twice while climbing on the small tractor and scraped/bruised the fool out of my right ankle and shin.

One bit of good news, I finally got in touch with BIL and we got it out this morning. He got it out all by himself while I was getting the Allis ready. The ground had died up quite a bit overnight, but of course the way he tells it superior skill was involved.

Oh well, I just keep chuggin' along. Toot, toot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who's keeping an eye on the Feds?

Thank you, Sir. May I have another?

Put the F-350 in the shop to have the leaking wheel seal fixed. I had a full set of Powerslot rotors & pads sitting in the garage and this looked like the perfect time to install them along with new wheel bearings.

Showing a little love for my truck with some well deserved periodic maintenance most others would ignore. So how does it reward me? I picked it up from Chico Auto Parts and drove to Brookshire's in Bridgeport to grab something for dinner. When I came out it would turn over, but wouldn't start. Not enough oil pressure on the high pressure side to turn the injectors on. It takes a minimum of 500psi and I was only getting 350.

There are 3 possible causes. Broken STC fitting, standpipe / dummy plugs or the actual high pressure oil pump itself. The first two are internal plumbing and the pump is, well... the pump. They are all located in pretty much the same place in the back of the engine and not easily accessible.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Great Harold Taft's Ghost!!!

Massive storm that nailed Stephenville last night.

This one came from a Facebook feed. There were even more impressive pics streaming live on I'd show those except it would violate copyright and you can just click the link and see for yourself how cool it is. Let me tell you online storm chasing is highly addictive, especially when you have dozens of feeds to choose from.


Watch live video being streamed by storm chasers nationwide. Pretty cool stuff! (Unless you are the flying cow.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oh my aching back... and wallet!

Made the trip to pick up the tractor just South of Kansas City, Mo. Borrowed a trailer from Brother In Law and was going to follow him up to their place in Misery Missouri right after lunch last Friday. Unfortunately, I found out my fan clutch was out late Thursday night. Had to run up to Patterson's in Bowie and get that fixed.

Fan Clutch: $750 (Yes, that's American Dollars)

Patterson's got me in/out toot sweet and only 4 hours behind schedule. I got to Sis's around 1am. Saturday morning BIL unloaded the hay rings and gates I hauled up on the trailer, then took me on a little tour of their place and I am very jelly. There is water everywhere. They have several artesian wells, creeks and ponds. You have to be careful not to break the crust on top of the ground or you will get a 4 wheel drive stuck. I haven't seen ground like that around here since the 90's.

We all ate an early lunch at a Mennonite Deli in Lead Mine, MO. I mentally blotted the name of the area out. If that's what lead tastes like, I'm a willing participant! Man, talk about good! Everything was raised and or handmade on site. BIL pointed out the ceiling fans that were compressed air powered. They would allow an electric air compressor, but everything else was pneumatic from the ceiling fan to the meat slicer. They had a little store there and everything was hand measured/weighed from bulk and hand labeled. Have to admit I was confused, amazed and impressed all at the same time. We also saw several teams of draft horses plowing on the drive there. They were all out of the field taking lunch when we left. I bet both men and horses worked up a powerful appetite. That's shore 'nuff hard work.

After lunch I got to watch my niece compete in a sanctioned barrel race. Come to find out she's qualified/been invited to the NBHA Youth World Championships in Atlanta later this year. She placed 2nd in her class and they had a pretty darn good turn out, too.

I was impressed with the Highway 38 Arena. It was a bit narrow, but plenty long. More conducive to roping than barrel racing. A very nice indoor arena and even had several hundred plastic stadium seats with cupholders. One thing they did need to work on was parking. They need to get that act under control. People were just parking wherever they came to a stop. No rhyme or reason, just "this will work". Needless to say leaving was a mess. Remember that off road crust? How many horse trailers can you sink on a Saturday night?

I overslept Sunday and didn't get up until 10. Loaded up my stuff, gave everybody hugs and hit the road. The Ozarks are beautiful this time of year and the weather was cloudy and cool that morning.

A portion of Harry Truman Reservoir. The thing is huge and it's well developed. Looks like a great place to be in the summertime.

Made my way to where the tractor was. I was expecting a trucking yard, turns out it was a front yard. A front yard in the middle of nowhere. I had serious concerns my GPS was sending me on a wild goose chase down gravel County Roads until I saw the tractor sitting in the yard. I had to use 4 wheel drive to get up the muddy driveway. At least leaving was going to be downhill.

After clearing the cab of a battalion of wasps, I loaded up and headed out.

I made it a short way down I-49 before I blew out the inside left front trailer tire. No probs, I got a jack and a spare. What I didn't have was a lug wrench that fit the borrowed trailer.

Road Service Call: $135 (Yes, American)

After regaining my composure from the roadside raping I got rolling again and made it 5 miles down the road before I blew out the inside right. No more spares and no way I'm calling Schadenfreude's Road Service again. I limped at 20mph to the next town 30 miles away. I got to Nevada, Missouri Misery the same time the thunderstorms did. Unfortunately we were both 5 minutes after the Walmart tire shop closed.

Opulence, I haz it.

Motel: $65

Bright and early Monday I found a tire shop with 16 ply tires and busted out the plastic.


Visualize 2 more just like it on the other side.

Tire Shop: $750

I also picked up a 4 way lug wrench that fit the trailer in case I did have another blowout.

Lug wrench: $130

I somehow managed to make it out of Misery without spending any more money.

 I took my time and ran 55 all the way back. 69 is still as rough as a corncob and I had to tighten chains in McAlester. But this sight never gets old.

Unfortunately, my adventure was not yet complete. When I turned on to FM1810 in Decatur I saw a cloud of smoke. My first thought was my oil cooler blew, but it wasn't coming out the exhaust. My rear wheel seal gave out and I slung oil all over the brake rotor. I limped the rest of the way home at 20mph, but I made it home.

Guess It's back to the shop for rear wheel bearings and getting those new brakes after all. I hate to admit it but the guy at Chico Auto Parts warned me about the seal when I had the carrier bearing replaced before I left, but I didn't understand what he was telling me until it failed. Now I do.

Oh Yeah, Carrier Bearing : $285

So far I've spent $2115 and change (not including fuel & tolls) getting the tractor from Misery to here and I still have another $400 or so repair to do. I could have had it shipped straight from Montana for less.

I still have to weed kill, fertilize, plant seed plus work on the baler and swather and find out what needs to be done on the tractor.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

I hear there's crazy little women there.

The deal is done! You're looking at the proud owner of an Allis-Chalmers 7000 series. I even got them to toss in shipping.*

*(to Kansas City)

Hey, Kansas City is a heck of a lot closer than Bozeman, Montana. Plus I now have a good excuse to try some Oklahoma Joe's BBQ and see if it lives up to the hype. If anybody has any other KC 'cue suggestions, I'll be happy to try them out. Just keep in mind I'll be dragging a trailer so, need lots of parking.

I'm hoping it will be there by Friday, but won't know anything until they get it loaded.

To be completely honest, as much as I would love the roadtrip to Big Sky, I didn't really want to drag a 12,000 lb tractor all the way back in my F350. It's a good stout truck, but it's 8 years old and the high country is serious business. An F450 or F550 would be more suited to the task. No point stressing my truck any more than I have to. KC and back will be tough enough.

I had a new carrier bearing installed in anticipation of the trip. I picked up a pretty noticable vibration the last few weeks and it wasn't getting any better. I started to have a complete brake job done. I've had new rotors and pads sitting in the shop for 2 years, but doggone it the old brakes just aren't worn out yet.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chalmers, Allis-Chalmers

No, not that Chalmers.

I think I have my new tractor found. Two slight problems. First, it's a 1981 Allis-Chalmers 7010. Not a huge brand round these parts. Now that doesn't mean it isn't good equipment. It just that they never had a wide distribution network in North Texas. Parts are available thru AGCO dealers.

The tractor also looks to be in good condition, The salesman was honest enough to admit the hour meter was wrong and guestimated it at 7000 hours. That's a lot, but the machine appears to have been well maintained and lightly worked.

Cold hard Nebraska Test facts:

Drawbar (tested):
89.10 hp
PTO (tested):106.72 hp 


Transmission:Allis-Chalmers Power Shift
Type:partial power shift
Gears:12 forward and 2 reverse
Oil capacity:29.6 qts [28.0 L] 
Six gears in two ranges. Power shift between gears in range.
Speeds:With 15.5x38 rear tires.
7010 Power Shift partial power shift speeds

Page information:

Nebraska Tractor Test 1346:

7010 fuel use from test 1346
Test Date:May 2 - 14, 1980
Type:Diesel 12-speed 2WD
PTO power (rated engine speed):106.72 hp [79.6 kW] 
PTO fuel use (engine speed):7.0 gal/hour [26.5 l/hour] 
PTO power (rated PTO speed):106.33 hp [79.3 kW] 
PTO fuel use (PTO speed):6.9 gal/hour [26.1 l/hour] 
Drawbar power (max):89.10 hp [66.4 kW] 
Drawbar fuel use (max):7.2 gal/hour [27.3 l/hour] 
Drawbar pull (max):9,516 lbs [4316 kg] 
Max pull gear:3S
Test report:PDF file

Bottom line it these 7010 tractors are badasses that get decent fuel economy. It's slightly higher than a 7710 Ford, but it's a 6 cyl with more power. The scale below spells it out pretty plain. The Ford has lower fuel consumption, but it also has much less power.

Nebraska Tractor Test 1432:

7710 fuel use from test 1432
Test Date:April 14 - May 10, 1982
Type:Diesel 16/4 4WD
PTO power (rated engine speed):86.95 hp [64.8 kW] 
PTO fuel use (engine speed):5.6 gal/hour [21.2 l/hour] 
PTO power (rated PTO speed):86.79 hp [64.7 kW] 
PTO fuel use (PTO speed):1.0 gal/hour [3.8 l/hour] 
Drawbar power (max):74.08 hp [55.2 kW] 
Drawbar fuel use (max):5.5 gal/hour [20.8 l/hour] 
Drawbar pull (max):8,804 lbs [3993 kg] 
Max pull gear:3L
Test report:PDF file

Yes, I see your tractor data tired head. How the heck do you think I feel? I've been looking at this stuff for months! And, I hate to bring this up but, I haven't even got around to Point #2! You forgot all about Point #2, didn't you? Yes you did. Now stop lying about it and pay attention.

Point # 2... ahem...

It's in West Montana. Yo habla Yellowstone? Seriously, if I just got on 287 and followed it North, it would lead me within 20 miles of this tractor. It's density...

Beyond density, it's logistics. More specifically, a 2800 mile round trip with some serious high desert climbing involved. Fortunately, most of the climb will be empty leg of the trip, but still. I'd rather not make the run if I don't absolutely have to. It's backbone density...

I am trying to get the dealer to get it ship it to Kansas as a backhaul for his trucks. (Free freight) Kansas is a lot closer than Montana. I'm also checking uShip for quotes. When I get a solid answer from any of these people, I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I wonder what the poor folks are driving?

Mercedes Benz, thru a partnership with Nissan, will be selling midsize pickups before 2020. The truck will be developed and designed by the Mercedes-Benz van division and built by Nissan. It will be based on the Nissan Navara architecture and Daimler will provide technology, including four- and six-cylinder engines. But, they are planning it for Europe, South America, Australia and South Africa. 

As of now no decision on US sales. It would need to move at least 10,000 a year to be viable. Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA was quoted as saying "Let us assess the market. If that leads to us saying ‘green light,’ then we will bring it.” A decision will need to be made by the end of this year to meet a 2020 production date. But it's a no brainer, isn't it?

I was thinking a Mercedes built diesel engined dually. MB has a loooong pedigree in heavy trucks. Getting a Mercedes turbo diesel 1 ton would be awesome. But, it doesn't look like that's the direction they are heading. Will this eat into F150 or Silverado sales? I doubt it. This will be a high end city boy truck. A damn nice high end city boy truck.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Birthday Vittles

Figured this was a good day to do things I'd never done. You never know when you'll get a second chance. Let's all be honest with each other, the odds get worse every day. I'd never tried Johnny Walker Blue before and figured today was as good a day as any to find out if it lived up to all the hype. More on that later.

I'd never done a Crawdad boil. In fact I had 2 USDA Prime ribeyes bought for dinner at Mas Meats in Bridgeport. If you ever want a great steak (not good, not pretty damn good but f'n GREAT) go to Mas Meats.

I decided to swing by Brookshire's to grab my veggies for dinner and that turned out to be a game changer. After getting my Bakers and a bag of salad I wandered by the meat market and they had live crawdads (crayfish/whatevs) while they last for $1.99/lb. Gimme 5 lbs!

Let me tell you they boiled up rite nice! I used Zatarain's Pro Boil, 3lb bag of red potatoes, 3 ears of sweet corn and 1lb of Earl Campbell's jalapeno smoked sausage (that's the secret!). There's a LOT of waste (approx 75%) so the 5lbs was just about right for 2. I forgot to mention Brother In Law stopped by to wish me Happy Birthday. So everything worked out better than planned.

Oh. I almost forgot to give you my critique of Johnny Walker Blue. Over. Rated. I haz disapoint.
I'd rather have Glenlivet 18 year old. Cheaper and better whisky. But I have to admit this bottle was destined for me.

Why Today Doesn't Suck

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What ever happened to RPM???

SALT LAKE CITY — Dan Kennedy was driving to work Tuesday morning when he saw a large orange bag spill onto the roadway from a truck in front of him.

Not wanting the bag to become a traffic hazard, Kennedy pulled over on the westbound I-80 off-ramp leading to Wright Brothers Drive, near Salt Lake City International Airport, and ran to retrieve the bag.

"I thought it was going to be light. I reached down to grab it, and I couldn’t move it,” Kennedy said.

He quickly discovered that what almost literally fell into his lap was an enormous bag of cash belonging to Brink's, a company that specializes in armored cash transportation.

Kennedy was praised by the Utah Highway Patrol on Wednesday for thinking only of returning the money after making what a trooper describes as an exceptionally rare find.

"It was clear for everyone to see that it was just wads and wads of very cleanly stacked ... $50s, $100s and so on,” said trooper Brady Zaugg, who was one of the officers on scene after Kennedy called them from his workplace. "It was not a bag of nickels, that’s for sure."

It’s unclear exactly how much money was in the bag, which was about 4 feet tall, 2 feet wide and weighed 75 pounds. The bag was full to the brim with smaller, roughly “steak-size” plastic bags, and one of the individual bags looked like it had about $22,000 inside, according to Kennedy.

He tried and failed to chase down the armored Brink's truck after discovering the bag’s contents, and then pulled into his parking lot at work, where he called police.

Three UHP troopers came to the scene and examined the cash, which Kennedy had thrown into the back of his car.

"That sack of money was sitting there, and they all just kind of just looked at it stunned for a minute,” Kennedy said. "They all stepped back and watched."

"Never in all my years have I heard of a bag of money bouncing out of the back of an armored truck,” Zaugg said with a wry smile. “That’s something that happens in the spy movies.”

Zaugg said he was grateful Kennedy’s first instinct was to promptly return the cash.

“Seals (of the individual bags) were still intact. He hadn’t disturbed it at all, so he obviously did the right thing for the right reason. … It’s not like he had to sit and have that moral dilemma. … He didn’t sit and dither on it. He immediately did the right thing,” Zaugg said.

The Brink's workers in the truck consisted of a driver and a second person whose responsibility was to guard the cash. They told police they went over a bad bump on the I-80 off-ramp, but didn’t notice the back latch opening or a bag falling out.

“(Brink's employees) were quick to respond. They had several individuals come out to resolve the issue (and) make sure everything was accounted for,” Zaugg said.

Kennedy said he noticed the bag had fallen from the Brink’s truck, but never imagined the bag would be filled with money.

"They asked me a couple times if there was another bag, and I didn’t think there was. I didn’t see one,” Kennedy said. “They’re probably trying to figure out what’s going on and make sure they get the count right. … A big bag of money like that probably takes a long time to count.”

The legal ramifications would have been very complex if the bag had been hit and the money spilled all over the road, Zaugg said. The cash would have been considered discarded material, and difficult to trace to its owners depending on the condition of the bag, he said.

"It would have been difficult to prove that guilty mindset,” he said. “That’s something we would have really had to explore very carefully.”

Kennedy said it never occurred to him to make away with the money, adding he believes most people would have done the same thing.

"I didn’t really think about anything else” besides returning it, he said.

Kennedy hasn’t been approached about any sort of reward for saving the day, but that hasn’t slowed down his excitement over a bizarre discovery.

"I really couldn’t get off that yesterday. I was just jazzed all day long."
(h/t- KSL)

If you look closely you can see those "steak sized plastic bags" are cash drops from grocery stores that were headed to the bank. Armored car service usually runs every 2 days. Rough estimates is there was around a half million dollars in untraceable cash in that bag.

It takes a lot of balls to do this experiment.

That is nuts, or was anyway...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Caution, Man stuff.

When we last left our intrepid sodbuster he was struggling like a Girly Man to reassemble a simple tandem disk. Oooh, this is heavy! Owwy! This plow is sharp!

I blame the public school system myself. Not near enough toughening up and hardening of yoots for the harsh realities of The Real Word and I ain't talkin' about no MTV.

Actually, things were a lot easier in daylight. Funny, huh? I got the remaining bearing bolts installed, replaced the disk scraper and tightened the axle. I had to tighten it while it was elevated so I used 4x4 wooden blocks jammed in the new scalloped disks to hold the axle in place and snug everything up nice and tight.
Here's an exploded view of a disk axle. It's kind of deceptive because part 10 isn't a short piece like the picture implies. That's the axle and it's 5 feet long. You can see the other end at the far right. All the other parts slide onto it in a particular order.

Here's what I was dealing with in the dark last night.
You can see 2 bolts clearly installed in the 3 hole alignment. Certainly the third will just slide right in place with minimal effort... Right???

Hahahaha! Silly Rabbit!!!

What you can't see in the pic is the absolute reluctance on the plow's part to cooperate with what I think we can all agree is the best thing for everyone involved.

But with the grace of God and these two fingers!!!!!! (h/t Gene Tracy)
There's a bar of scrapers that bolts on top of that U shaped bracket. It was easier to take it off and replace it after the axle was in place than try to fit the axle back with the scrapers in place. Odd because it literally fell out as soon as I removed the bolts.

Parting thanks to PB Blaster. When you have to work on old rusty hunk of junk, don't act like a City Boy and use WD-40. Be a man and break out the PB Blaster! It's all about the penetration.
If you don't chew Big Red or use PB Blaster...

I got a late start putting everything back together because I had an errand to run before Noon. But I managed to get back in the field by 6pm and finished up by 10:30. The 15 acres I plowed was hard as a rock (and had it's fair share of actual rocks). I started going back over my rows 2-3 times and they still didn't look properly plowed. I needed to chisel plow this first to bust the ground up where a disk could chew it up. I have a chisel, but it's tiny in comparison to the disk I've been dragging.

I quit going back over the same rows in hope of going any deeper in the hard areas and concentrated on finishing the field before the thunderstorms hit. I figured any moisture caught would aid in loosening the ground for later plowing. True to form with the way my luck runs, the rain stayed in Montague County and all I got was a light show. I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled with the sound of a Massey Ferguson V-8 diesel ripping thru the rugged North Texas landscape.

Well, they should have been, because that's some awesome shit and I finished before 10:30. If I had to listen to that I guarantee you I'd have a stiffy. But then again it doesn't take much these days....