Saturday, August 18, 2012

MORE POWER!! (Poles that is)

Mrs. Teknosmurf and I were driving some time ago and the topic came to the front drive and what we are going to do with it.  After driving by some local properties we saw something we both like.  It was a ranch style entrance made out of old telephone/power poles.  Since then I have been on a quest to find something similar and suitable.

After acquiring the proper truck (an older Ford F-250 flatbed), a triple axle trailer, and a chain saw (wow...this is an expensive project already!  Just kidding...this is all stuff I wanted to get anyway) I finally found someone that had a bunch of poles he was getting rid of, and he was 20 minutes away.  As it turns out, the owners of Sossaman Farms (at the corner of Ocotillo and Sossaman roads) acquired these poles when they were doing some street widening.  They were willing to cut me a discount if I purchased all of them.  Of course I had LOTS of projects in mind, so I told them I would take them all.

So then came the logistical part.  That is a lot of poles, and they are HEAVY!  I asked if I could come after work the next day to take a look.  Of course the answer was: "Well...can you do it tonight, or early in the morning?  We are heading up north and won't be back until Wednesday."  My response was: "Sure...but I will have to take the day off tomorrow, and you are going to have to have a tractor or something to help us.  I can't do it all by myself and I won't be able to get help.  I do have a chainsaw to cut them."  "Yes, I have access to a front loader that we can use". we have a deal!

The rest of that night I get the trailer hooked up, air up the tires, get all of my tools that I might need, and heavy duty straps and what have you.  By the time I was done getting everything together, it was 10:00, and I had to be at the guys house by 5:00am.  I also realized that with this load my truck lights wouldn't be visible.  So maybe I should get some magnetic lights tomorrow at Walmart.

I get up early and start to head out.  Of course, it's raining pretty good.  Great, this is going to be FUUUUUN!  I get to Walmart and park on the side of the building (because of the trailer) and of course, all doors are locked. around to the front...still says 24 hours, are you kidding me!  Then the guy gathering carts points to the other door.  By this time I am soaked and it is 10 min. to 5:00 already.  I text the guy, and he was actually relieved because now he could get his cup of coffee while he waits for me.

I walk into Walmart and get to the lights...sure enough, $50!  Really? These silly things are $20 at the other store...what gives...isn't this Wally-World!  I relent and decide that I can bring them back if I don't use them, so I will do everything I can to not use them.

I finally get there and we head back to the poles.  Hmmm...this doesn't look to bad.  HA HA,  famous last words!

The guy calls in one of his off-duty farm hands.  This guys had plans this afternoon, and was sleeping in because of the rain, but he finally reluctantly came in.  Turns out, he was the PERFECT guy to drive this front loader!  He was a native Arizonan with a Native American ancestry.  He was VERY dark skinned from working in the sun, on this farm, for the last 20 years.

The front loader already had hooks welded to the top of the bucket, and the chains were sitting in the bucket.  Hmmm..maybe they have done this before?  I guess so...they had so many tractors, both "normal" sized and VERY VERY LARGE ONES!  I about wet my pants when I saw all this hardware!  I was like a kid in a candy store...only it was like mom being there telling me to keep my hands off.  Oh well I still had a blast!

So we start loading these things on the trailer and it becomes apparent very quickly that we will have to make multiple trips.  The guy decides to get his truck hooked up to his car hauler and we also load that trailer.  Great, he is going to follow me down, now I don't have to worry about the lights.  The only problem is I will have to come back and get the last of it because they didn't even fit on two trailers!  BTW, did I mention it is about 9:30 at this point?  He has to leave at noon and his farm hand has to leave at 1:00.

So, we get down to my place with the first run.  Now the fun part.  How do we get those logs off his trailer with no tractor!  Well...this turned out to not be a big deal either as we had a Bronco and some chains.  Yep, you guessed it, a redneck moment is about to hit again!  Wrap the chain around a log and yank!  We got them all off and headed for my trailer.  Mine was MUCH easier as it is a flat bed.  They just rolled right off!

Now we head back up to his place.  I stop by the bank on the way because I haven't had time to get the cash yet.  I pay him and we get to finishing up.  We start cutting the first log and would you believe the newly sharpened chainsaw chain is dull again.  Crap, now what do I do.  I convince them to take me up to True Value down the street, and sure enough, they have 3 brand new chains for my saw in stock!  I bought the farm hand a coke and took the entire stock of chains.  Yep...I'll just bring back what I don't use, but I can't afford to have this be a problem again. is a good point to tell you that all morning I have been having problems getting straight cuts.  I told the farm hand after the first cut that I must need some coffee or something.  He said: "Yea, I know, there's a McDonald's down the street to get an ice coffee at".  Of course I answered something to the affect of how "anti productive" THAT would be...first off, it's an ICED COFFEE.  That in-and-of itself is an oxymoron in my book!  Anyway the second cut was also crooked.  This time I blame it on: "my eyes must be crooked".  To that he was just about rolling in the dirt from laughing so hard.  Then the third one and I start blaming it on the chain being dull or something.  Any bets on if he bought that one or not?  Yea...I wouldn't take that bet either.  Anyway, after we got the new chain I had a particularly crooked cut.  He comments: " least the cuts are getting straighter!"  Of course I immediately come back with: "Either your eyes must be getting crooked too, or you are getting more full of sh*t!"  He just laughed and walked away.  I am beginning to really like this guy and his sense of humor.

Anyway, this new chain cuts like butter!  We get it done and load up the last of my trailer.  By the time I am done, the new chain is almost dull again.  These things are not very gentle on chains!

The guy offers to follow me down since I don't have lights, but I assure him that hand signals will be fine, and I take my chance.  Sure enough, I have no problems.  As a matter of fact, I absolutely love my new truck, trailer, and saw!  These things perform very well, and this truck is a hauling monster! You can hardly tell there is anything connected back there (until you try to stop, but who needs to do that ;) ).

Anyway, now I have a stack of poles as you can see below.  I am about as sore today as my muscles would allow (a good hurt).  Now I have to figure out what to do with all of these!  I do know we want the entry, and maybe even 3 entries.  I also know I want a gantry at the entrance of my shed.  This is to hook a block and tackle up to for lifting things off the trailer.  It will also make a good door stop for the shed doors, and provide a little bit of personalization to the property.  Finally, we are going to line the drive with them to help keep water directed away and also provide a more "homey" feel.

Here is the picture of most the days stash (note there is another pile on the other side behind the trailer): big job leads to another set of big jobs!  I can't wait to start placing them!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Angels are looking after you

This story actually started a couple of weeks ago when I found out about a website called  I'm not advertising for or against this site, but in this case it worked out for me.  When I first signed on, I ran across an old post advertising mobile home wheels for free.  Since I use those on my water trailer I decided to pick them up...the worst that could happen is I would have to get rid of them.  I got them home and immediately threwthem in the shed, not needing them right at the moment.

Well...a couple of days ago I traded my Chevy Astro for a Ford F250 flat bed truck.  In the course of doing the transaction, and talking a LOT (we are both chatter boxes apparently), the guy mentioned that I could have an old water storage tank he has sitting around, and that he had an old towing receiver hitch for the F250, and that he would simply give those to me if I could use them.  SCORE!

Well...we continued talking and discussing things that we could trade.  He mentioned a big ol' trailer that he has, and I said...hey...wanna trade it?  His wife was standing right there and lit up.  Apparently this trailer has been there for quite some time, and her and their son were ready to get it out of there.  He was hesitant, but I sent him my list of stuff, he picked out an old utility trailer, a cargo carrier, and an air compressor in trade for the trailer.  He was also willing to give me a brand spankin' new 10,000lb winch for it for $300.  Hmmm...let me think about that for all of about....oh....1/3rd of a second!  HECK YA!

So this thing is a triple (yes 3, not 2) axle trailer that has mobile home wheels on it.  He is pretty sure 4 of the wheels are good, but 2 are questionable. comes and I load up any decent spare mobile home wheels/tires, all of the things he wanted, my bucket of tools and my bucket of tie downs and head over there after work.

I get almost to his place and to an ATM for the cash part, and I get a call from him.  He says he has been working all day to get that out of his yard (he had various problems) but he succeeded and got the 5th tire to hold air.  The 6th one was in decent shape, but the bead was broken, and he can't get it to seat. matter, we'll see if mine fits, and if not, I am sure it will be just fine to get home on 4 tires, or even two.  Well...low and behold, mine actually holds air, and is the correct size!  I let his son slap that puppy on the trailer and it looks great!  I actually have all six tires usable!

We get all the formalities taken  care of, titles swapped, cash traded, etc, and he says that I can keep the tool box that's on the trailer (SCORE 2).  It fits nicely on the tongue.  Next he has his son, and a couple of friends that happened to be over at the time, pull all of this pool fencing out of the back yard and load it on the trailer (SCORE 3).  Mrs. Teknosmurf wants it for her garden.  Then, he says his neighbor down the street is getting rid of one of those 1-Step slide/playground things for free.  Guess where we headed next...SCORE 4!  I tell you what...this guy is really making my week!  At the very end he comes out with a brand new, heavy duty trailer jack AND a rotating mechanism for it, and hands it to me.  Really?  THANKS DUDE!  SCORE 5!

Well...I leave to go pick up that play set, and realize that at 20mph there is a substantial bouncing from the trailer.  I slow back down and it stops.  I confirm one more time.  Then I think...maybe this is just a one speed thing.  Sure enough, at about 25mph it stops completely and is smooth sailing.  I still check the wheels when I stop at the play set...just to be sure.  It is pretty obviously an "empty trailer bounce" and at that speed, everything lines up, synchronizes, and oscillates just right.

After loading up the play set we say our goodbyes and I start strapping it down.  While doing so, some lady drives by and rolls down her window and says: "There is another one of those play sets down the street and round the corner if you are interested...go get it".  OK, cool, thanks!  Well...I couldn't stop by because I needed to get to the kids Gymnastics, followed by an appointment for Mrs. Tekno. was enough.  After strapping it down, I ease out onto the road, and increase speed slowly on the major street...yea...I'm holding up traffic...I also have a Ford Bronco and a massive triple axle trailer, what you gonna do 'bout it???

Well...everything is fine, and I even am able to basically do 60 or 65 down the freeway with no problems.  Trailer tracks straight as an arrow, it's just really friggin' heavy!  As I said, everything is fine...until...

...I get about 5 miles from the Little Tekno's gymnastics (which is clear across town at this point) and the temperature gauge on the mighty Bronco starts climbing rapidly...hmmm...that's not supposed to happen.  I immediately turn off the Air Conditioner and start to pull over to the side and the engine light comes on...hmmm..really not good.  I see a small side street ahead, so I make a bee-line for it.  Just as I turn the corner, the engine completely shuts down and I coast to the dirt side.  OK...this just got interesting.  I have a humongoid trailer attached (and did I mention the jack is broken at the moment, so I can't disconnect it easily?) a dead Bronco, and an appointment that I have to be at for Mrs. Teknosmurf in an hour and a half.  Better start making some phone calls.

I find the broken coolant hose buried deep in the engine compartment (it can't be on top of course...Murphy works very well with rednecks!) coming from a small manifold.  I get Mrs. Tekno headed this way with some extra anti-freeze while I start looking into what I can do to fix this problem.  The crack was right at a bend in the hose.  I did everything I could think of including cutting some heater core hose out and wrapping the leaking hose, plastic bottles cut into strips to wrap around the crack, shortening the offending hose and stretching...nothing was working.  By this time Mrs. Teknosmurf is here and waiting for at least I won't be eaten by vultures or something stupid, and someone will find  my body if I die of heat in this 108 degrees!

Well...I start to pack things up and close up the hood thinking that I will just leave everything and go to the auto parts store on the way back from the appointment.  I turn around, and see something sticking out of the ground.  I pull it up and would you believe it is coolant hose about 4 feet long, and basically brand spanking new!  I dig the cracked hose back out and low-and-behold it is the correct hose!  I can't believe my friggin' luck here!  I dig out my safety wire and twist pliers I have in my tool kit, and use that for hose clamps.  Apparently the clamps that were on the old hose were one-time use only as they distort when they are used.  I fill up the radiator with coolant...spilling half of it on the ground because of a lack of funnel, and fire it up.  IT IS HOLDING!  I turn the "rig" around and park it better so I can leave it for a while.  It's going to be cutting it close to get to that appointment now.

OK honey...let's go...we'll stop by afterward and pick this stuff up.  We race (and if any cops are reading, I mean we did the speed limit and no more) to the appointment.  She walks in and they tell her that the doctor had an emergency at the hospital, and is not in the plant.  We will have to reschedule. would have been nice to know BEFORE this stuff happened, but at least we can deal with the Bronco in the daylight!

Sure enough, the redneck fix holds pretty well, and gets us home (with a pit stop for some food).  The trailer is working out well...but would have been better, and actually been used for what I am intending it for if I had the receiver the guy gave me was actually ON the F250 the guy traded me, and the working jack that they guy gave me was installed so I could put the trailer from one vehicle to the other, and the winch (yep...that the guy gave me) hooked up so I could winch the Bronco onto the trailer and simply drive it home.  Oh well, I guess we will have to go that route the next time the Bronco fails (knocking on wood).

I relayed the short version of this story to the guy via text with emphasis on the whole finding of the correct hose laying at my feet.  His response was "Angels are looking after you".  I guess he was right.  Someone really had my back today!  It's just a really good thing the wife had her phone charged and actually had it on her today!  Thanks Babichkin!