Category Archives: Transportation

A merry little dumpster diving year-end adventure

Hi readers:

When I left Andrews on Christmas Eve morning a cold fog wrapped the RV and a tasteful bow atop kept it all together for the felines and me until I reached Big Spring.  That’s where the brakes on the RV failed.  Roughly 100 yards before the entryway into the parking lot for a chain store for auto parts.

Great, helpful folks there while I was diagnosing the cause of the problem, feeding brake fluid to the pre-Christmas Universe.  Determining the next best guess to be a failed master cylinder.  And me with almost no tools along.

Ordered the master cylinder inside the store, arranged with them to park in their lot until it arrived the day following Xmas.  They showed me an electrical outlet where I could plug in to keep the heater and lights modern.

Hydrox, Tabby and I watched a store employee carrying boxes past us to the dumpster straining to get them over the side.  One plastic box appeared to be a great possibility for a litter box, so I went over to retrieve it.  I was astonished to observe the dumpster was home to several boxes with taped label, “Manager Disposal”, the contents scattered among the lowbrow cartons and candy wrappers.

The contents:  open end wrenches all sizes, box end wrenches, socket sets, miscellaneous other tools, a couple of which I’d surely need for the master cylinder replacement.  So early Christmas morning I climbed down the chimney of the dumpster and began digging out every tool I could bring myself to save from the landfill.

Finished in time to have myself a nice Christmas dinner of something-or-other, cuddle a cat, watch a vintage movie.

Next morning the master cylinder arrived, I installed it with the dumpster-tools, ran the RV around the parking lot a bit to test the brakes, and headed off to points south.

Easily the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever been blessed with.

Old Jules

Cargo trailers, self-imposed deadlines and season changes

cargo trailer2

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

That cargo trailer’s being a Communist.  Not a Joseph Stalin, more on the order of, say, Fidel Castro.  But enough to force me to think up all the ways I’m grateful for having it, repeating them to myself.

That rear door, the first time I fixed it, decided to show me why it had a problem in the first place.  Explained to me that the bottom frame member and the bottoms of the two vertical side frame members were rotted badly.  Not rotted enough to make them easy to remove once the bottom piece fell off when I opened the door after the first fix.  Just rotten enough to justify another fix.

Been working on that, trying to do it without pulling the door off to make it easier because I figure getting it back on will be a bear if I do.  Lots of hours and needs to remind myself how grateful I am to have that trailer.

Meanwhile the earth reached the place on its circuit around Old Sol, started throwing rain at me.  I’m not one to ever complain about rain, but I do enjoy avoiding working with extension cords and power tools when I’m likely to fry myself.

I’m still thinking I’ll make my self-imposed deadline to get out of here before October takes a bow to the audience, but time’s squeezing up on me, conspiring to make it more a challenge than I figured on.

Old Jules

Furshlugginer trailer lights

power supply

Sheeze.  These old original equipment lights on this trailer Gale abandoned forever ago appear to have had the problem of a short in the license tag light.  But the harnass was cut off up front I’d guess because it was blowing his fuses in the vehicle, and he’s been using add-on magnetic held lights.

harness

So what I’ve got is four wires up at the tongue, a brown, white, green and yellow.  The white’s ground as nearly as I can tell.  The green and brown are both somehow significant because combinations of them with one another and each of them with the yellow will do things.

left bottom trailer light

One combination lights all four tail-lights, one lights both bottom ones, one lights right-bottom, one lights left bottom.

Your average 21st Century man ought to be able to conclude something from all that besides the fact the lights get juice from the tongue to the rear and that all of the bulbs are good.  Ought to be able to say, ahh.  Now I know where to go from here.

But I’m damned if I’m that 21st Century man.

Old Jules

Denouements

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Certain types of problems seem to follow us through life, probably so’s the Universe can teach us whatever lessons it is we’re supposed to be learning during this one.  Frequently we’re slow coming to an understanding as to what ours are.  Mine, I suspect, probably are a consequence of karma acquired during a previous lifetime involving motor vehicles.

Which I hadn’t realized until I began looking at all the posts here involving transportation during my stay here.  One piece of that saga was the Toyota 4 Runner that carried me to this piece of real estate in 2008.  And became a subplot microsaga:

 Got me a new truck!

 Confession Time

The New Truck Resurrection

The Communist Toyota 4-Runner

A long one.  And one I’m finally going to apply a razor to.  I’ve found a guy who’ll follow me back out here next time I go to Kerrville, and put that 4 Runner onto a car dolly, pull it out of my life.

I went out and put the wheel back on it, took it off blocks and pushed it up the hill with the Toyota RV far enough so’s we’ll be able to get it onto the dolly.  Gale and the guy up the hill came out and improved the road enough yesterday with some machinery so’s a regular person will be able to get in and out of the valley without blowing a tire.

It’s not easy for me to part with that 4 Runner.  Lots of life history events trapped in it, but it’s clear enough the time’s come for a denouement.  Turns out I’ll be doing something similar with the Toyota RV, because Jeanne’s son, Michael’s decided it’s not the best option for him.

I’m willing to believe, for the moment, that when the 4 Runner goes out of this valley I’ll have poured enough of the life-ingredients into it to have filled whatever hole it was the vehicle challenges demanded of me this lifetime and I can have some other kind for a while.

Gracias, Jack

A place to live if the RV breaks down

Hi readers. I swapped Gale for this trailer, finalized it yesterday.

In addition to giving me the means to get my stuff out of this valley and into storage in Harper, I can live in this thing if the RV breaks down somewhere up the road. It’s light enough so a half-ton junker pickup truck can pull it.

It takes a considerable load off my mind. Both Gale and Raymond, the guy up the hill have pointed out if that RV quits I’ll be dead in the water. I tried not to let it bother me, but couldn’t help it nagging me some.

But with a Coleman stove and oven, my diesel burning heater, a bunk, I can live in this thing. Better than almost all my ancestors almost certainly lived before they left Europe. And certainly better than any Native American ancestors did.

The DuoTherm heater began life in the late 1940s or early ’50s as a kerosene trailer heater. The man up the hill had it, but we couldn’t get the carb to work. Eventually replaced the carb with a needle valve and converted it to diesel fuel, which is cheaper and more easily available.

Besides, if a person doesn’t have much he doesn’t have much to lose.

Old Jules

Should’a done its

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

The last post about creeping cowardice was going to have some of this as a part of it, but became too lengthy so I saved it with the thought I’ve got a while to live yet and might still work it in somewhere.

I believe one of the ways a person might attain valid perspectives about himself and his life events is through hindsight.  Might be the only way.  If a person can look back and seriously say to himself, “I should have done it,” probably he should have done it.

I can’t say that about those two mine shafts because I know even now I’d have done them if I could, and I recognize for whatever reason, I couldn’t.  No ‘should have done it’ hidden in there.

But around 2002, 2003, there’s a should have done it I still occasionally experience a flash of regret about.  Just until my insistence about not to regret anything in my life kicks in to trump it.

There’s an airstrip, or was an airstrip parallel to the old highway running between Belen, Los Lunas, and Isleta Pueblo I used to always swing into when I was in the area.  A number of old airplanes to walk around and look at, wonder about, kick the tires of.  The airstrip was gradually becoming inactive.

But at one end there was an old Cessna 140 tied down.  I’d always go over and walk around, check it out.  Sometimes sit inside it.  Watch the tires gradually lose their air and grass get taller around it.

I asked the guys running a motorcycle shop that used to be an airplane related business about it.  The 140 belonged to a man who lived in the neighborhood adjacent to the air park.  He’d been experiencing advancing dementia … quit flying the plane a couple of years back.  One of them heard he was in a nursing home, and that his wife had died.  The house and plane were in an ambiguous ownership state as a result of complicated family matters.

When I heard that I began to realize that old plane needed to be taken around the patch a few times before it rotted to the ground.  Or before it found its way into Trade-A-Plane and got sold to someone in Alabama to fly off or be hauled off.

I did a lot of planning about that plane.  The battery was going to be dead, and maybe the fuel would have gone bad, but probably not.  Avgas tends to last a long time in a tied down airplane.  But there’s probably water condensed inside the tank if it wasn’t left full.  Water under the gas that would be drained off before the engine started.

I borrowed an air bottle and brought the tire pressure up on one of the trips, checked the oil, got inside and tested the controls.  Everything hunky dory.  Just needed to draw the water off the fuel tanks.  Fuel guages showed one full, one 3/4 tank.  The 3/4 tank would be the one most likely to have water in the fuel tank.

I never made a conscious decision not to take that old bird around the patch, do a few touch and goes.  My bud in Belen,  Deano, died and other matters kept me from going into that area without a special trip.  I suppose it just slipped my mind.

Which didn’t keep it from creeping back into my consciousness for years afterward, including now.  I can tell you today, I should have done it.  The way I know I should have is that I can’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t have.

I’d be remembering that as my last pilot in command this lifetime, if I’d done it.  And instead of a sense of loss when it sneaks into my head, I’d be remembering those touch and goes in a Cessna 140.

Old Jules

The importance of being insignificant

N90172a

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

President Jimmy Carter was scheduled to visit Fort Hood.  The First Cavalry Division [my old unit in Korea] was to stage massive war games and tank maneuvers and culminate the affair with a chemical substitute for a battlefield tactical nuclear weapon.  Because the President was going to be there, FAA closed down the airspace over Fort Hood for civilian air traffic.

Pissed my old buddy Phil Washburn  

Afterlife of One Hero – Sex, Violence and Crazy Love

  and me off something awful.  We were taxpaying citizens.  Who the hell did they think they were telling people they couldn’t fly around not bothering anyone watching how our tax dollars were being spent?

So when the day arrived we gassed up the old Cessna …. 100+ F on the runway, and began the long climb outside the forbidden airspace.  Burned up a lot of avgas and an hour getting up to 8000-9000 MSL.  Clear day though, and the temperature became comfortable somewhere above 5000′.

We circled at the edge of the airspace boundary watching the specks of gathered tanks and massed troops a few miles to the north waiting for the show to start.  Suddenly, hundreds of roostertails of dust obscured miles of landscape as the tanks charged forward.  Then the sky below us filled with helicopters.  Wow!  Wowowowowow!

I gradually eased us north until we were almost over the action, but still far enough south so’s we weren’t trying to see straight down, kept circling.  Powered back enough to hold the altitude, savor the cool, and watch what a major wartime battle must be like viewed from the air.

Finally, toward the north beyond all the tanks the substitute battlefield nuke sent up a heluva pile of smoke and fire into the sky, rising rising rising until we were looking up at the top.  It kept rising.

Turn off the lights.  The party’s over.  The roostertails behind the tanks had all faded, everyone down there was taking a break, having a drink of orange KoolAid or something, we reckoned.  The helicopters were headed away where ever helicopters go when the shooting stops.

Time for us to get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge before the high sheriff and POLice come gunning for us.

I pointed us back toward the Killeen airport and as we neared the edge of forbidden territory I shut down the engine, pulled up the nose to stop the propeller windmilling.  The old Cessna had a 20:1 glide ratio, so we were a long while circling over the airport just listing to the whisper of the wind over the surfaces of the plane.

I’d intended to push the nose down to re-start the engine when I got on final approach, but I’d never landed dead-stick and figured this was as good a time as any to do it.  Got the numbers and came to a dead stop 50 feet beyond them, restarted the engine and taxied over to the FBO under the admiring stares of everyone who never landed an airplane dead stick on a public air strip. 

Naturally we did a lot of bragging at the FBO, and a lot of people were shaking their heads in various attitudes of disapproval, horror, and awe.

Hell of a fine day to be an outlaw.   I recommend it.

Old Jules