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Weekend rewind

It was a tiring weekend actually. They always seem to be tiring when Deb doesn't come along. I tend to stay up really late because not having someone to sleep with screws up my routine. Funny that doesn't happen on the road. When I'm on the road, I go into road sleep mode. I fall asleep when I want to and wake at a specific time without setting an alarm. I'm just a driving machine I guess.

It's funny how different the weather can be between the City and the Farm. I mean, it's only 80 miles or so but a world of differences. We got 6 inches of snow here Friday but as soon as I cleared the metro area Friday night, it was like it hadn't even snowed. That or the rural road departments had done an extra special good job of getting the roadways cleared. When I got to the farm though, you could really tell the difference. Apparently there was as much snow there as there was in the city. But unlike the city, the snow had blown in on a hard wind.

There was an inch thick layer of ice on the driveway and an inch of snow over that. Nice and slick and dangerous. All the rest of the snow lay in thick drifts up against the barn and barnyard fences. I'll bet the woods are crazy with drifts. My big thing to do over the weekend was to install the new drive axle in my car and with the driveway all slick, it was going to be darn near impossible to get all the vehicles rearranged without screwing something up.

So first priority Saturday was to get the tractor started and plow out the driveway. It was actually a nice day for working outside. Not too cold or windy. Temps were around 34 and no wind to speak of. Of course the tractor wouldn't start, even when I too two spark plugs out in shot fuel down into the cylinders. So I said screw it and brought in a box of my uncle's tools to sort through.

Something I really like is sorting through old things and tools are the best. Especially when I come across really old and unusual tools that make you wonder what they are used for. I found a complete set of Craftsman standard, box end, offset wrenches...sweet. Two of the largest ones were bent at weird angles and I wondered at the torque it would have taken to bend those like that. Those things are made of drop forged steel and it takes a lot to bend one permanently like that. It must have been one of those deals where you've got a really tough nut and you put the wrench on and then attach a pipe for more mechanical advantage. That's the only way I can see to do that. What I really like about old tools is the smell. I know, steel is not supposed to have an odor, but it does. And when you couple that odor with the smell of old black grease, it just makes the memories come flooding back. I wondered how many hands had used these tools and how many projects they had fixed. I remembered all the times dad showed me how to fix things on a car or around the house. It's things like this you want to preserve and pass down to someone else.

I was able to sort out two complete toolboxes with the tools from just one box and I've got three more boxes to go. I can't wait.

Sunday, I knew I had the car to fix so I headed out to the barn with a battery charger and some of my new, old tools, determined to at least get the tractor started. Wouldn't you know, as soon as I got outside, it started in with freezing rain. I went back inside to check the weather and they were actually predicting an accumulation of freezing rain. Up to 6 inches of ice...fun! SO back outside I went, newly bundled up. It had gotten colder, about 25 degrees and now we were getting hail and snow at the same time, lovely combination. I got out to the barn and just for a lark decided to see if the tractor would start on it's own. Of course it did and hauling all the tools out there was for naught.

So I got the driveway all dug out and a bunch of salt spread so it wouldn't get too slick with the freezing rain. Then I decided to take Jake for a run in the fields. He loves to chase the tractor. So we went barreling out there and wouldn't you know as soon as I got to the middle of the field, the wind shifted and it started to snow with these big wet flakes blowing straight at my face and inside my hood. Yikes, cold wet flakes sneaking in around my neck. So we cut the run short. He still enjoyed rolling around in the snow and getting all wet in the melted parts. I put the tractor up and headed for the garage to work on the car.

I brought out my kerosene heater and also hooked up a heat lamp since I was going to have to be laying on the floor for the next 4 hours or so. Even with a creeper, it can get pretty cold. Changing out a drive shaft on a front wheel drive car isn't really that big a deal, it's just time consuming. You have to loosen certain bolts while the tires are down so nothing can turn, then jack the car up and put it in gear for a couple bolts. Then take it out of gear so you can rotate the shaft then put it back in gear so you can loosen the other bolts. Needless to say, it's a lot simpler with two people but I managed to do it with a minimum of scraped knuckles and cussing. And when I got it apart, I got to smell lots of that wonderful black grease smell. It was all over the place. Putting everything back together again involves some minor acrobatics bringing both hands and feet into play as well as a well aimed hammer blow or two. I'm sure those flange bolts are supposed to be torqued to 32 foot pounds or something too but for in lieu of a torque wrench, "tighter than shit" was going to have to do. At least I didn't twist any heads off or strip and edges and I was damn glad I'd been smart enough last time I had this apart to not put things back together with an impact wrench.

Got everything put back together and it was getting dark so I headed in to eat and shower so I could head back to the City. It was about the time I was in the middle of my shower I remembered I had forgotten to tighten back down the bolt that holds the left front ball joint together. So after getting dressed, I was going to have to take the front wheel off again. Luckily, with a floor jack, it doesn't take too long and I didn't get too dirty doing it.

The roads home were just soooooo fun. Where there wasn't a solid sheet of ice, it was slushy and slippery. Deb kept calling me on the cell for updates. Mostly it was like "OK, I'm approaching Lewistown and the roads are still slicker than snot and I'm only going 35. Good-bye!" It took about 3 hours to get home last night where it normally takes an hour and a half. I called Deb from the driveway for the last update. I told her I was stuck and she would have to come get me. She was going into a panic until I told her I was in the driveway. She locked the front door and wouldn't let me in for awhile but finally opened it up and let me in.

This morning I awoke to the sound of freezing rain and of course the office was open so out in the weather I went. The streets in Peoria suck for various reasons at all times of the year. In the Spring they are so ruined from the winter, it's like driving on a gravel road and the construction begins. Then it rains and the streets flood and fill up the pot holes so you can't tell if you are going to hit one. In the mid summer, it gets so hot that the roads explode. I'm not kidding. The original streets were constructed with this steel rebar and when they pored the asphalt, air pockets formed. So when they heat up, moisture condenses on the steel and heats up and turns to steam which explodes upwards leaving huge 10 foot holes that swallow cars. The explosions are like mini earthquakes that wake people up in the middle of the night and throw asphalt shrapnel hundreds of feet. Then in late summer and fall, the rains come back and flood the streets once again. I've driven home through 6 inches of water before. It's like one of those new car commercials where they are trying to demonstrate wet road traction or something. Then in winter, it gets so cold, the pavement breaks up from constantly expanding and contracting with the ice. Plus all the snow plows and salt don't help either. Right now the roads are full of potholes and they are awash with rain and freezing rain. Not fun at all.

So now I sit here at work, staring out my window at the nasty white an gray world outside. Spring cannot come soon enough.

Peace,

Wander

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wander
Wander aka StoneBear
Bear Dancer Studios

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