Thursday, December 15, 2011

Makin' stuff move

I work as a marine diesel and generator tech. Lots of the work is challenging troubleshooting. But some is mundane.  Lots of times it boils down to making things move that are stuck and making stuck things move!

Last week we pulled two heat exchangers from an older large yacht with a pair of 12 cylinder Cat engines. They were located under deck plates in front of the engines, and each wieghts about 500lbs.  Using a small chain hoist I got them up above the deck plates (some lumber was involved as well!)  and with help we got them to the back of the engine room. There is a ladder and a hatch above that opens up into a small area with a door. A large pipe above gave us a place to hook a small electric hoist and lift each up to the next deck.

Now the way one gets in the engine room is normally by walking through the boat, down a semi circular stairway into the crew quarters, then down a short compainionway (hallway to landlubbers) and through a door. Not the best means of getting the equipment OUT however.

At that point, we had to get them on a hand dolly and wheel them through the main salon (called the living room if it was your house) to another area, down three steps, and out a door, where we got a hook from the small crane used to lift the waverunners and "tender" as it's called off the deck and lower them into the water. In this case we used the crane to lower them on to the dock and wheeled them on the dolly to the truck at the end of the dock.

However, the two wheel moving dolly did not work so well, and the cheif engineer asked us to make a dolly just for them.

Here it is-  2" x 3/16" angle and 2" x 3/16" flat bar, with four swiveling casters with semi soft wheels.

It still needs some wood blocks around the edges.  The coolers and dolly are getting painted in white polyurethane before getting reinstalled.

The coolers themselves were removed to be cleaned, the engines had been running hot. Dissasembly found they were clogged with what I must describe as muck on the jacket water side. The sea water side had some shells clogging the tubes inside and sea grass in the end caps.

When I can dig 'em up, I have some pics of a job we did removing engines from a boat that required taking them down to the bare block and extracting them through a doorway about 1/4" wider than the engines on a ramp and skateboard system.

Meanwhile, here is a youtube video on a job I did in St. Thomas, USVI two summers back.  The link is hard to see with these back ground colors but it is there!

Click for video!   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Archeology of my teen years in scrap metal!

Back at the home place in "God's Country" (central MN) I found a couple things!

First off, the bed from the first pickup truck this guy ever owned!  Now you ask, what horrific chain of events caused this?? Well, the fact is, I never DROVE this vehicle.... we lived near a lake (hard not to in that part of the Gopher state) and some folk with a mobile home on a lake lot a ways down from us had brought a very very rusty '60 Chevy "Apache" half ton truck up from "da cities" as we called it. Now this thing sat a year or so. It was given to a then 14 year old me to haul off. I recall taking dad's 1941 or so John Deere B and a chain and pulling it home, dad on the tractor, and me steering my latest prize. 

The trucks' brake and clutch had hydraulic master cylinders, they were both dry, and as we said "shot". Or more aptly, I had no money to invest in parts. However, I was able with some gas down the carb of the 235 CID inline six engine and a borrowed battery to get it to start. But with no clutch and no brakes, all I could do was run it in place. The body was so rusted out, the doors dropped an inch when opened, the floor pans were MIA as were the rocker panels. Not a great candiate to make road worthy.

So much for my teen dreams of installing a Hurst floor shifter and some straight pipes on the six banger along with some cool bucket seats.......

Some how, the rig was towed to my good friend Tony's, where he took his Lincoln 225 arc welder to it. The front clip was torn off, the cab removed, and the frame cut just behind the front end components. A trailer was made from the back half.

This is a pic of a '60 Apache 10 I swiped off the 'net.
I put an ad in the local "Peach" which is what ya did before the internet and Craigslist! Sold the engine and three speed manual trans for $40 to a guy that came in a VW but with a HERBIE vanity plate. Don't recall him coming back to pick the stuff up but age 14 was 30 years and a lot of vehicles ago for me. :)

NOW! When turned in to a trailer, it looked like THIS-  'cept it wuz red.  We never used it as an "on highway" rig, it was always pulled via an old farm tractor into the woods to haul firewood as we heated our home with wood to the tune of about 10 cords an average Minnesota winter. Ya know, the ones you walked uphill through the snow barefoot to school in!

Now why is the bed lying upside down in the brush? Well as rusted as the truck was and the fact the bed in those years was wood (that was rotten) the bed began to sag and when you opened the tailgate the sides would flop outward- so it was eventually flipped off where it sits.

The frame is still around! After I flew off for what I thought was a summer job in the south and never returned permanently, dad had a guy take out the springs (a control arm had rusted through) and just weld the axle to the frame, lowering it, and put some stake pockets on the frame, so he could haul 6-10 foot small logs on it.
And here the remains sits today. Air up the tires, and cut some saplings away, she's good to go!
Even back then hauling firewood, we were STYLIN'! Look at the whitewalls and chrome caps. :)

And here is the hood, too bad we used it to drag rocks off the field, it may have been salvageable at one time, oh well, the emblem is still good :)

More to come as I revisit more treasures. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall colors on the Georgia/South Carolina coast

This year in particular has been beautiful for fall color. Sycamores turning golden, varieties of Oak and Eastern Hornbeam (ironwood) turning red.  Here are just a few random shots I took today on  short trip for work going over the bridge from Savannah en route to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!

No long winded stories on this post, just colorful trees. As always, "Click any pic to enlarge" :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Minnesota meanderings

When I last blogged I was en route to Minnesota. Well, I made it there and back.  Had a great time, saw some old friends and bagged a decent buck in the woods behind the home place to boot.

Here is the town I went to school in grades 1-12 in the same school. Could not wait to get away from the place when I turned 18 and moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Now I realize 27 years later it ain't so bad :)


Dad and I went to a local watering hole, the Burtrum Saloon. Hard to miss, it's the only thing in town!

Went for a walk the day before the deer season opener in our woods, out of the 40 acres all but a few are wooded. Rolling hills, hardwoods, some slough (swamp if you are not from the midwest) and all very good deer habitat. Bordered by another 40 to the west.  Here's dad standing next to one of the large maple trees on the property tapped to make maple syrup.

The farm fields are usualy bordered with rocks in this part of the world, the glaciers that formed the area dumped lots of suprises that the frost in winter pushes to the surface.

Here we are looking south over the neighbot's fields.

 And another pile. I recall moving the big rocks, you had to dig and pry them up enough to get a chain with a choker hook around it, and pull them out with a tractor. The smaller ones down to softball size we would toss on an old car hood, flipped over and dragged behind the tractor.

 You can see where the old, barbed wire fence had grown through the tree in the above pic.  Below? A woodpecker condominuum!

In a day or two, I'll sort many other pics and decide what to put up,  as always, clik a any pic to enlarge. Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

737 Comin' out of the sky........ en route home to see my folks in MN

Well I stole a line from a CCR song. But I was on a Boeing 737, or so the nice pamphlet in the seat pocket said.

My parents live in central MN out in their 40 acres of woods, in an earth sheltered home they constructed mostly themselves save for things like plumbing, wiring and excavation some 25 years ago. I'll save that for a future blog entry.

The cost of airfare to fly from Savannah to MPLS has skyrocketed, I used to get round trips for $350-$375  but now it is up to $570 not including taxes or fees. Delta and US airways are the only options from Savannah to Minneapolis out of Savannah. However, Southwest airways flys out of the Jacksonville FL airport which is 127 miles away, the round trip was $295 including all fees and they allow a free checked bag, something Delta wants $15 to do. So you can guess my choice in air carrier!

The disadvantage? Delta has more flights and I could have left Savannah at 6am with an Atlanta connection and been on the ground in MPLS at 11am. With Southwest, the options are less. My flight went from Jacksonville FL, stopped in Ft.Lauderdale where you stay on the plane, then on to Denver, CO.

Now my 7:15 AM departure meant I wanted to be at the airport at 6:15am.  Sooooo, leave my home at 4am to allow for this normally 2 hr, 127 mile run......I set my alarm for 3:50am, had myself all packed and the S10 gassed up.  However, I forgot to TURN THE ALARM ON!!!

At 4:45am my eyes opened. SHIT! I leapt up, threw on jeans and a tee shirt, kissed Kristybelle on the cheek, grabbed a cup of jo (the coffee I had however managed to turn on) and jumped in the truck, pump the gas a couple times, hit the key. My S10 has an old skool carburetted V8 under the hood. In this age of EFI, who knows the fine art of motorboating the footfeed to keep the cold beast rumbling until manifold heat builds, or the art of setting the choke?

At 4:55 I was a mile and a half from the house passing the time and temp at the Badger Rental store. I managed to get to the long term lot in 1hr and 38 minutes. Rand McNally's says it's 127 miles. I tore in to the economy parking lot and the shuttle driver motioned me to wind down my window (no power windows either) and said in a middle eastern accent "You park by fence, I follow you!" and so I did. Hopped on and was dropped off at the curb by the Soutwest gates.  I walked right up to the empty counter, it was 6:48am at this time. Got my tickets  Breezed through security and got to the gate area in just enough time to walk right on board.

Here are a couple shots I got leaving the airport in Ft. Luaderdale- over the wing!  In this shot we are headed due east, taking off in to the wind. The beach as you can see has a surf breaking on it, the canal to the inside is the Atlantic Intercoastal waterway.
     This next pic is after the plane circled and headed back west, coming back in. Too many clouds but I couldn't tell the pilot to drop lower.
Next, you see the edge of the Everglades against the edge of the city. I lived in Broward county, in and around the Ft.Lauderdale area from 1985 to 1996. In that time the city boundries exploded to the west, and can not go any farther. Well, if it was up to the developers they'd fill the whole thing in. It's a fragile ecosystem stressed by the ever expanding population.

Now I have a shot over Oklahoma on the route to Denver. I only knew we were over Oklahoma as I had my hand held GPS to show me. That picture of the screen with map position did not turn out, but the one showing out speed and altitude sure did.  451 mph and 36,146 feet altitude.

Coming in to Denver!

The leg from Denver to MPLS I did not have a window seat and the folks in the window seats were sleeping.  So no pics! More to come from this adventure!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free firewood part deux - Click any pic to enlarge!

I came home the next day after my last post and loaded up all the "small" stuff.  My s10 had all it wanted, but I only had to drive 300 yards or so.

I'll make a blog post about the S10 one's been in my life since virtually new as a delivery truck at a former employer. Then it was sold to me very cheap, the original 4 banger expired so a V8 was swapped in... anyway, back to the firewood..

The little saw in the truck bed is a mid 80's Poulan 2000, a small saw with a 12" bar. It was given to me in pieces in a box. Still had the original lettering on the bar and I don't think it had much use. The gas line had disintigrated from age but routes through the handle. I put new line on, but could not get it to stay running. A carb kit later, we were flinging sawdust. I have $9.00 in it. Great for bucking up small wood into stove or fireplace size pieces and general limbing/trimming.    

Look at the grain on this cross section, it's a shame I could not have gotten the entire trunk milled in to lumber, the planks would have made a fantastic Adirondack style table!

Then I quartered and split the rest of the big chunks, after unloading the small stuff. I would cut 1/2 way throught and then I could split it the rest of the way with a maul. Another truck load!

Cam approves!

I finally got it all stacked up, I had some dry wood that I moved aside as I can burn that now, this oak is going to take awhile to dry. Now if I can just keep the termites out of it!  

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The preacher next door at the adjacent church seems to dislike trees.  The church owns a home behind the church, and they have bought three very run down properties in recent years, which I have no issue with.  They had the local fire department burn two of them for practice, which entertained the kids greatly, then demolished the rest, smoothed the areas out and planted lawn.  On which the preacher practices his putting and chip shots each afternoon.

However, one by one, the mature Oaks and a Pecan have been taken down. Last week, they had a service take down a very big but dead red oak.  It is the large pile in the center back ground of the above picture. Now, I thought taking out the dead tree was ok, but THEN they moved on to another living oak, and another...... one of the things we love about living in an old neighborhood are the mature shade trees.  I couldn't watch.....

The next day, Frank (well, I'll call him Frank 'cuz that's his name) asked me if I wanted any wood, so who am I to say no? I mean, no sense in launching into a tirade on how a sin was commited by taking out a living tree......  "How about this one?" pointing at a felled oak. "Why sure!" I say.  This one had some core rot but it had many, many years left in it.

The next day I pick up a gen-u-ine Oregon brand made in US of A chain for my Poulan saw. And go to work.  I had about half the trunk and most of the top cut up when I called it an evening. A couple of the older guys who showed up early for their Wednesday evening services watched me through the window of the church as I attacked the trunk, which was about 18" to 24" in diameter and hanging on both the stump and the ground, and no doubt were saying to one another  "Reckon he's a gonna hang that saw up?"  and the other reminiscing about the McColloch they used back in '64.

I undercut it and avoided bar pinching, as well as keeping the saw OUT OF THE DIRT which kills a chain quick. They don't last forever, but if you keep 'em out of the dirt and avoid nails, touch 'em up with a file here and there, you'll get good life from them.  

I used my hand truck to haul a few big ones the 200 yards from his yard to mine, but some were just too big. So I will try to quarter them with my saw. I tried the spltting maul, HA HA! So green, it just about bounces off! 

There is a decent size pickup truck load here.  We have an open hearth fireplace that unfortunately does nary a thing for the general heating of the home as it is in a den on the west side of the house, an add on we estimate to be from the early 80's with the rest of the place built in the early 50's.  However I love to burn wood, and hope to have a home we can heat with wood one day. We'll still have a backup central system, but I like the way wood smells and crackles. Warms ya twice, especially if you split and stack it yourself. :) 

Below is a link to a youtube vid of me doing the cutting. The black back ground makes it hard to see but it's there.  I love cutting with a saw when the saw is working right!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canoeing the Namekagon river in NW Wisconsin- August 2011

I'm the guy in back of the canoe.  This summer, a trip was made to God's Country, AKA Minnesota, and while there we made a dash to northeast Wisconsin, and met up with a friend of mine, Jeff Z. (not sure if I should put his name in print without consulting him first, and at the time of this blog entry, he's probably gettin' some Z's)

All the pics and the editing of same was done by him.

The Wife and I canoed the Namekagon (pronounced locally "NAM-eh KA GONE") river, we started out at Log Cabin outfitters in Trego, WI, crossed what they in Wisconsin call "the flowage" AKA the lake above the dam, about 3 miles long and mirror smooth that August day.

We portaged around this dam in the second pic, a small hydro dam,  recent heavy rains in the area had the dam roaring. Some kamakazi ducks were diving in the waters at the base, presumably to gorge themselves on stunned or chummed up small fish that had gone through the turbines.

The current was swift in parts, lazy in others. The Namekagon is part of the St. Croix national waterway, and there are only a couple cabins along the banks that were grandfathered in when it became part of the national park system in the late 60's. Othewise it is serene, and we saw bald eagles, ducks, a hawk or two, a beaver and about four canoes all day. Very relaxing to say the least.

The Wife was a trooper, having never been in a canoe before in her life we did 26 miles that day! The current helped out tremendously. I was told by my friend/guide that normally the river is much lower and we would have scraped rocks in many     spots. But not the case on this day.  Would we go back? Oh yeah!

Welcome to my blog!


I'm a displaced Minnesotan living in the south, and was given the "Jethro" moniker by some friends up in the great white north.  I'm a born gearhead, and like anything old and funky. Old vintage farm tractors and equimpent, old cars, vintage boats, old snowmobiles such as I rode (when they ran) in my get the idea.

So I thought I'd throw together a blog page to post pics and my ramblings as I often end up posting them on several different hobby related sites and I thought "why not lump them in to one"

So here I am, and will post up and add to this site in upcoming days and weeks.