Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Man, that is one sweet tractor. I dont know how I ever lived without one. I have so far mowed the entire front -- which is probably only 2 acres, but on a steep slope and terribly, awfully overgrown. I also have leveled out a couple of holes and hills with the bucket. I probably would have done more, but several family medical scrapes kept me visiting hospitals for a couple of days. I have easily done more in 3 days with a tractor than I have done the whole time I have been here.

Now, for those that have requested it, the lowdown skinny:

L3400 DT - marketed as "34 HP" but that is marketing talk. That is 34 HP at the wheels. It is about 30 HP at the PTO. Its 4WD with a constant mesh (i.e. non-synchro) standard gearbox. 8 forward gears and 4 reverse gears. I opted for the Ansung (i.e. generic store brand) front end loader, Bush Hog 5 ft cutter and a Bush Hog 5 ft box blade. (I havent experimented with the box blade yet.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sigh. I am totally against buying new vehicles. I really think it usually makes the most sense to buy used. I also already own too many vehicles. I have 4... for 2 drivers. I have an average aged of 19.5 years for my vehicles.... Until today. I broke down. I now have WAY too many vehicles. And I have dropped my average down to 15.6 years by breaking my own rules and buying new. And the worst part is that my newest and most expensive vehicle has a top speed of 13 miles per hour.

Now, by popular demand, here she is...

Ok, I tried to buy used. I really really did. I went to tractor auctions. I went through want ads. I went through Thrifty Nickels. I called phone numbers posted on bulletin boards in feed stores. I even tried to prey on poor helpless widows. (This was a shame actually, the tractor was a steal, but it was too big for me.) But it turns out that tractors hold their value reallyreally well. In fact, a used Kubota costs damn near what a new one costs, but without all that warranty stuff. And oddly enough, a smaller tractor than this -- the BFLMs -- cost even MORE.

I have pretty much shopped for a year. I asked every geezer with a tractor everything I could think of. I pretty much decided to go with one of the big 3 -- Deere, Kubota or New Holland. There are lots of cheaper tractors out there, but I am pretty gosh darn sure that there will be parts for this still in 30 years. I cant be so sure about the others.

All the geezers on the net pound it into you: do not shop around for price, shop around for a good dealer. Being a cheap ass bastard, that is a hard pill to swallow. But the JD store really didnt want to talk to me if I was buying anything less than 100HP. (For you city folks, that is a really big tractor.) The New Hollands are pricey (as were the Deeres). The Kubota has a pretty solid reputation... so I set off to the 3 closest dealers.

It turns out the closest dealer is an old geezer (ok, he probably isnt that old, but he is crusty) that is just full of opinions. And he is a good 20+% cheaper. And instead of trying to talk me up into more expensive models, he says "bah, that model is junk. I wont sell it. The lower model is much better." All said, I am pretty much sure I got a new tractor for the same price I would have paid for used.

Am I a country boy now?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

State of the Onion

It's hard to believe, but its been a year. I had sort of expected to have gotten a job by now, but then again, I cannot say I have spent much time looking. On the other hand, finances seem to be holding out in spite of the recent stock market pull backs. On the other-other hand, we have been living extremely low. So while we could probably maintain this level indefinitely, I dont think it is really where we want to be forever. It would be nice to eventually have a house... and a house implies more expenses than, for example, a tin shack.

I am also pretty firmly convinced that ten or twenty years in the future I will look at this time of my life as the best time of my life. While the pay is crap, I am working for me. I work when I want, I work for how long I want, and I absolutely enjoy seeing what I have done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How to replace a power steering pump

  • If you notice the inside of your engine compartment is black with slime and you add power steering fluid every time you use the vehicle, maybe it is time to replace the pump.
  • Pumps come without the reservoir and without the pulley.
  • If someone gives you a pulley puller that is generic and not made specifically for a GM car, you will pull the ears clean off the pulley and be left without a pulley.
  • If someone suggests that you have to remove a set screw before you pull the pulley off, then you will have to buy a huge ass allen wrench set.
  • If you buy a huge ass metric allen wrench set, you will find that the allen screw on the end is actually the one and only SAE fitting on the pump and you will have to buy a huge ass SAE allen wrench set.
  • If you buy a huge ass SAE allen wrench set, you will quickly realize that allen screw has absolutely nothing to do with anything and is probably used in the assembly of the pump itself and should be ignored. You just need a GM pulley puller.
  • If you remove the reservoir from the pump with a big enough hammer, you will bend it up so much that it is not worth putting back on.
  • If you want to buy a pulley and/or a reservoir from a junkyard you will realize they dont sell them. They only sell pumps with the reservoir and pulley on them.
  • If you buy a junker pump with a reservoir and pulley on it and a dude that looks like santa claus tells you all GM reserviors are exactly the same, you will find out that they are not. Some of them are missing a bolt hole and some of them have the low pressure return line pointing the wrong direction.
  • If you buy 2 feet of 3/8 inch power steering return line from a parts store, you will realize that it takes 2.5 feet of hose once the return line is pointing the wrong direction.
  • If you go back to the parts store to get 2.5 feet of return line, you will realize they are out of 3/8 inch hose.
  • If you go to another parts store, you will find that they actually sold you 3 feet of 5/16 inch hose and you will have to go back and get 3/8 inch hose.
  • It will take you 45 minutes in the hot sun at 105 degrees Fahrenheit to fit the last bolt into the engine block without dropping it.

Bottom line: if you take it to a mechanic, he is likely to charge you for 1.5 to 2 hours of labor. If you do it yourself, be prepared for a 4 day turnaround. Have a spare car ready.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

She can claim that 2 times is a coincidence, but now the count is up to three. Apparently she put this one in my pants, then they got into the laundry by mistake.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Twice. Two times in six days. Today I felt the tiny hairs on the back of my neck prickle as something tickled my chin. I looked down only to see Ellie had planted a second scorpion on me. The first was large, black and crunchy. This one was tiny and light colored. I can only assume it has a more deadly sting than the first -- though I was able to smash it before it got me.

Monday, August 6, 2007

I think Ellie Mae is trying to kill me. Now, before you tune out, listen to this:

First off, for years she has been making me eat really good food. I am convinced this is purely an attempt to create hardening of the arteries and to weaken my heart.

And yesterday, sensing my heart was in a weakened state, I am pretty sure she put a stinging scorpion in my shorts. This is an obvious attempt to have it sting my naughty bits, cause a heart attack -- and the entire Stump Farm would be hers.

Fortunately for me, it missed my naughty bits and stung my inner thigh. And when I went to her to get a little sympathy, all I got was "You shouldnt leave your clothes on the floor." If that isnt an admission of guilt, I do not know what is.