Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 1-10, 2013 - Wood cutting, winches and snow.

I need to begin taking more photos!  Winter is finally upon us in earnest.  We've had snow off and on for the last week.  The temperature hasn't been that low so it's kept melting away until yesterday.  We went into Kalispell on the 7th to visit the new Cabelas store there.  It's grand opening began at 11:00 am and the traffic was backed up for a quarter mile on the highway.  We did a drive by and the line was about 200 yards long so we went shopping other places for awhile.  We revisited the store later that day and made a few purchases.  They had begun with lots of ammo but almost half had been sold by the time we got there.  It wasn't a big deal since I don't really need any but other shelves were emptying at a rapid pace as well.  We spent a C-note plus but $25.00 of it was ammo for a neighbor.  We had other stops to make and by the time we left town it had been an expensive day.

Scott has a new toddler bed complete with Cars (the movie) blankets and pillow case.  Obviously he knows what its purpose is!

He did a test walk in the snow and spent some time getting used to it.

He finally figured out that the white stuff was cold!

I took out another small tree that was blocking the solar panels.  Scott's checking out the stump while I had been busy cutting it into stove length pieces.  It's green wood so I set it aside to dry.  I'll burn it next year.

Here he's showing his new movie before putting it in the Blue Ray player.

He still wants to be in the center of whatever is going on.  Here he's helping grandma make some rolls.

I bought a winch for my pickup.  It's primary duty is dragging trees I've dropped for firewood to the road to be bucked into firewood length pieces and loaded on the truck.  I thought about ordering the mounting kit but that cost more than the winch so I did some scrounging in the heavy scrap metal pile and came up with the ingredients to make a mount for the winch.  First, I took the bumper off and did some measuring.  I use three inch angle iron for most of the project.  I used a metal cutting wheel in a circular saw for most of the cutting.  Then I used my wire welder for the welding and assembly of the pieces.

I clamped it to the frame and marked the holes I needed to drill then took the mount off and drilled the holes.  I'll be purchasing some more bits next time we're in town.

More checking before drilling the holes just to be sure that the winch has enough clearance.  At this point the brackets are clamped to the frame with Vise Grips.  I set the winch on the platform then maneuvered the platform to the place it provided enough clearance.  I then clamped the  platform to the brackets, removed it from the vehicle and did some more welding.

Tada!  I still need to finish the wings on the bumper but that'll have to come later.  I needed to cut wood the day after the this photo was taken!  The winch performed flawlessly and pulled several downed trees to the truck.  It saved us a lot of work cutting up the trees in the woods then carrying the pieces to the truck.  It worked well especially considering that it was purchased for $299.00 from Harbor Freight Sales.  Before purchasing it I read the reviews on it and it was rated high.  Mine performed very well.

The big one!  We'd had several snows before this one but they all melted within hours the next day.

This one however spelled the beginning of winter!

The wood shed is full enough to make it until we head south to Nevada (our winter home) sometime in December.

This is the time of year for the Bolete mushrooms to be appearing.  This one had a piece broken off after having been stepped on by an animal.

We put new struts on the rear of our daughter's Subaru.  The old ones (especially the passenger side) were completely worn out.

Scott is surveying the job to see that we're doing it right.

The view from the corner of our property.  This is the most colorful time of year!

Scott entertaining himself on the way to Kalispell.

I bought a smaller chain to use when cutting firewood.  I have several chains but they're all big and heavy.  I purchased this one because it's smaller, hence it's easier to carry through the woods.  It weighs about half of what my other chains weigh.

The door handle clip broke on the driver's side door on the pickup.  That meant I had to roll down the window and open the door from the outside when I wanted out.  We purchased a new plastic clip which I'll put on in the next couple if days.  Sometime in the past the inner plastic barrio under the door panel got wound up around the window crank.  Guess I'll have to fix that too while I have it apart.

We've been so busy we got behind on the wash so we spent the afternoon in the laundry mat.   We were somewhat amused by the sign.  Just where are you supposed to keep your pets and why are they sorry you can't keep them in your shoes or shirt?

New Book Out

I have a new book in print title The Greenhorn's Guide to Chainsaws and Firewood Cutting.  It's available in print form or Kindle versions at:

This book is for the person who is new at or just now entertaining the thought of cutting their own firewood. In fact, (if you haven't already!) don’t even purchase a chain saw until after you’ve read the first chapter because that’s where I tell you what to look for to get the saw that’s best for you. After that, there will be chapters on using your saw safely and effectively, a chapter on properly maintaining your saw and another chapter on sharpening the chain so it cuts like it did when it was new (in some instances it will cut better!) After learning about chainsaws and how to use them we’ll go on to chapters about which wood makes the best firewood and how (and why!) to season green wood properly. From there we’ll look at splitting firewood (including “problem” wood with knots or twisted grain), and the tools you’ll need to accomplish that. Safety is stressed throughout.

All through the book I’ll keep an eye on expenses. There’s a big difference between the equipment requirements of the professional woodcutter or logger compared to the homeowner just getting a few cords for the fireplace every year. Likewise I’ll bring up options for the more diminutive woodcutters among us. After all, not everyone is a testosterone driven, Paul Bunyan wannabe!

Keep in mind that this is the beginner’s course in woodcutting. I’ll tell you some ways to spot problem trees and then advise you to leave them to professionals. I have no desire to delve into the more advance techniques of woodcutting. Sawing on trees can be very dangerous work. Leave the risky trees to professionals until you’ve had a lot of experience and training. By the time you’re that good you’ll have the wisdom and knowledge you need to tackle the big jobs.

Monday, November 4, 2013

October ... Road Time - 4500 miles

On the road again ....  We took the motorhome to Nevada to put it in storage.  We thought it would be easier to drive it down in October than to wait until the dead of winter to take it down.  By doing so we missed the cold, snowy roads.  Now it's already there so all we have to do this winter is drive down in the car.  The storage fee is only $15.00 per month so it's cheaper to leave it there than to drive it back and forth twice a year.  We spent a couple of days in Kalispell visiting kids before we hit the road.  The brakes started making noise in our car and our daughter's car so I ended up replacing the front brakes on our Cherokee and her Subaru before we left.

Our first stop for food and gas was in Missoula.  The motorhome did better on gasoline than expected, getting nearly ten mpg on the trip.

Of course no trip is without vehicle problems (it seems!).  We replaced the starter twice on the way down.  The exhaust is burning holes in the starter solenoid.  It sounds like the exhaust gasket needs replaced.  I'm assuming that's what's burning up the starters too.  The worst problem though was that one tank has dirt in it and plugged up the lines and filter from it.  We ran the main tank about half the way there but that left the auxiliary tank full of gas (about $200 in gasoline in it!) so we'll have to take care of that when we get back. this winter.

The last leg of our journey caught us in some high winds in Nevada.  (Actually we had high winds all through Idaho and Utah too.)  We were greeted at our destination with a full-blown sandstorm.

My bicycle tire was about worn out so we purchased a new one for it.  I installed it once we got to Overton.

We spent a few days in Overton (Nevada) then put the motorhome in storage and continued on our journey.  As we were driving out of the storage lot I noticed steam coming out from under the hood.  The overflow hose from the radiator to the fill tank had broken.

I was about ready to hit the car with a sledgehammer but the fix was an easy one.  It's not a pressurized hose so I bought a hose splice at the parts store and we were on our way again.

This is a rest area we stopped at in New Mexico.  They had mile after mile of road construction going on and very few rest areas.  The wind was howling and the only thing that kept it where it was were the rebar stakes driven in the ground to anchor in in place.

We finally reached our destination in Texas where we met some friends for a weekend at the lake.  We left our motorhome in Nevada and were now down to using our tent.  We did take advantage of the electricity in the campground by running an extension cord in to the tent so Scott could watch movies on the DVD player.

This guy met us the first morning we were there.  We don't have them at home.

I opened the door to get something and while I was rummaging around Scott spied his cookies.  He grabbed the bag and ran around to the front of the car to open one bag.  He must have thought we'd have said no.

Susan planned ahead and packed a small wading pool for Scott and his friends to play in.

Which they did!

From Texas we went to Kansas to see my mother and sister.  The morning we left Texas I got word that my mother-in-law had broken her hip and was in the hospital.  She's doing very well for someone in her nineties. 
In the photo above Scott is clutching a skateboard he found in the thrift store.  He loves anything with wheels, wings, rotors, or propellers.

He's giving his skateboard a run on the ramp at my mother's.

On the road home now.  We spent the night just inside the border of Wyoming due to a snowstorm that closed I-80 to the west of Cheyenne and I-25 north of there.  Here we're near the Montana border on I-25.

Coming into Billings about the time the sun was setting.  We still have 500 miles to go!

Back home harvesting potatoes.  Scot is enjoying the freshly turned soil!  (Don't look at the weeds!)
Now we have firewood to cut, hunting season (and hopefully venison to can) and getting the place ready for winter which in our neck of the woods is almost here.