Thursday, February 28, 2013

Removing the Tire from the Rim and the Taste of Failure.

Let me start, dear readers, by saying that today, was extremely, really, a whole lot, magnificently, ball shitingly cold. Let me put it this way. The high for the day was 21 degrees with a 40 mile an hour wind with a wind chill factor of 16 degrees. Oh and it was snowing.


Out adventure to remove the tire the other day had only resulted in cursing and swearing and accusing each other of doing it wrong. If I had thought that removing the tire from the backhoe was the hard part, I had no idea what was in store for me now.

This is what failure looks like.

Now, when ever I had seen someone pry the tire off the rim, they were using something called a tire spoon. Which I do not own. Also, as I mentioned before, tire spoons for backhoe tires cost around 200$. Which means I am never going to own one.

Which meant that we were trying to pry the tire off the rim using, two huge pry bars meant for digging, a large but weird squarish pry bar meant for who knows what, a crow bar, two smaller pry bars, a mallet and a sledgehammer.

We coated the tire rim with hot soapy water like the videos had showed, shoved the pry bars under the tire rim, lifted one small section of the tire up, and proceeded to make no progress whatsoever at all ever.

So today we awoke, the taste of failure still lingering in our mouths, and we came up with a plan. And by we I mean Scott. And by plan I mean that he walked into the living room where I was cleaning up something, and told me we needed to build a forge.

His plan in a nutshell, was to take the weird ass square pry bar that we have never used for anything, and make a goddamned tire spoon. I said okay we can do that. Because if there is one thing I've learned it's when life gives you land, you put a forge on it. Except of course that it was 16 degrees outside and snowing sideways. Scott suggesting using the wood stove, I suggested not making the house smell like ass. So we came up with a new plan, a better plan.

We would just grind the pry bar down, into the shape of a tire spoon.

There was no way this could go wrong!*

So we put on our war outfits. We needed not only to be wearing safety glasses, and dust masks, but also needed to be as warm as possible without wearing anything that we couldn't clean right away because metal flakes.

I am not proud. I am ninja.

You know what, this is one of those pictures that really defines my life. I look like a hobo from the poor planet in outer space, wearing a hat that looks like it belongs to a blind 12 year girl, preparing to go outside in the middle of a shit balls cold winter to make a tool I can't afford to do a job that I don't fully understand so I can fix a piece of machinery I can't even drive.

You know, I have lived this life and even I have trouble understanding how I got here.

So anyway we get ready and pumped up and stagger to the shed against the wind and prop the door open and fit new disks into the grinders and I hold the bar while Scott works. All in all it went pretty well, even though the wind was the coldest thing ever in the history of ever and the shed doesn't have windows so we have to keep the door open both because the lights inside the shed are kinda shitty and also because our old school safety glasses fogged up to the point it looked like we were trying to work in Silent Hill.**

I also became intimately aware that when your hands stop that burning feeling and go kinda numb, you can't really use them for things anymore. Which you would think would be a no brainier, except that I kept trying to use them for things because my brain refuse to believe in the cold. Also if you are wondering why I wasn't wearing good gloves, I was wearing good gloves. Carhart super insulated outdoor work gloves. And they still let me down. Even if I refused to acknowledge it.

Which is also how I dropped four eggs on the floor this afternoon.


We got it done and sanded it down and it...actually looks like a tire spoon. Which is kinda amazing if you think about it.

Also dust masks? Itchy. As. Hell.

Now if you excuse me I have to go drink hooch because the past two days I have been the coldest in the history of ever and I think I need alcohol to fix it. It's like remember all those failed invasions of Russia in the wintertime? New appreciation for that.

*This is a lie.

** This was a horror game that took place in a town that was always foggy. It was also a movie but I pretend it wasn't because the movie was pretty goddamned bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Backhoe Lug Nuts are the Devil.

Well, we lucked out because yesterday it warmed up to a balmy 28 degrees instead of a frigid 27! The first thing that happened was us snapping one of the extensions my uncle had lent us with his pneumatic tool.

Which meant that the day was already off to a great start. He had also lent us a ¾ breaker bar and ratchet. However, we made the decision to go get our own breaker bar and ratchet, because I was afraid if we broke too many of his things my uncle would never talk to us again which can never happen because my aunt makes, like, really really good desserts.

Now the thing is, many, many places sell 1/2 breaker bars and ratchets, or 1/4 breaker bars and ratchets, but not many sell 3/4 breaker bars and ratchets. And by not many I mean two. Only two places sold them within driving distance. So we hopped in the car and sped off to the store that's like, too damn far away and I almost feel asleep twice during the drive because breaking other peoples things is hard work.

Well we get to the store in question and we go in and lo and behold they have what we need. So we sped back to the house, slapped our brand new breaker bar and extension and socket onto the lug, grabbed our 6 foot long pipe (the persuader) and began. We heaved and grunted and cursed at the cold uncaring universe.

And then we bent the head of the breaker bar. 

This, this is what trying looks like. Also, failure.*

We went back inside. Did I mention that it was 27 28 motherfucking degrees outside? We called my uncle. He said to heat the bolts up with a torch.


So after some digging around in the shed we found a rinky dink little propane torch. We lit it off, and the wind put it out. We lit it up again and the wind really put it out. We lit it again, sheltered it with our bodies like it was our own infant, and got it into the tire well and we were in business.

Imagine standing outside, wearing two sets of thermals, fleece, insulated gloves, a hat and wool socks, hunched over holding a propane touch up against a lug nut in 28 degree weather with wind gusts of up to thirty miles an hour and you will not even come close to imagining how much this sucked.

It really, really sucked.

After a while the oil we had placed on the lugs began to bubble up and then we placed on the whole breaker bar/extension/socket/persuader combo again. Using a stump, some boards and a jack we were able to support the whole rig to allow me to keep the torch focused like a fucking laser beam on that lug. 

If you ever wondered what sadness looks like, this is it.

So with me holding steady Scott put his entire weight down onto the persuader. And there was an almighty sound. At first we thought something had broken. I was looking right at my uncles breaker bar, thinking that he was going to kill us, because my eyes refused to believe what they were seeing. Everything was intact. The lug had finally loosed.

Quickly Scott pulled the pipe off and cranked it loose and then I moved the torch to the next one and then we repeated the process until the second to last one when the propane torch started to die. Then we freaked out and did arcane things to it and lit it again and again and then I had to hold the can at some bizarre angle to keep it going and freaking out that it would fail on the last lug because of course we didn't have any refills for it because that would be the smart thing to have.

Yet, somehow, somehow the torch lasted until we were able to loosed the last bolt and then pull the tire off and set it on the ground to wild applause.

Pictured: wild applause.

And then we went and became flushed with our own success and then we tried to take the tire off the rim and failed magnificently and said aw fuck it and I went inside and drank the rest of that bottle of wine.

*Scott took all of these pictures. I was gripped too
deep in the throws of holy shit balls it's cold.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Quest to Fix Our Backhoe Continues.

I am drinking wine right now, as I type this. That should give you an indication of how today went. Events were set in motion when the inner tube for the backhoe tire arrived. We gathered around, unpacked it, and immediately realized it was huge. Like ridiculously huge. You know back when you were a kid and you got a flat on your bicycle tire, how you would have to take the inner tube out and replace it?

This is just like that. Except that inner tube is like the size of a cat and this inner tube is the size of a rhino.

So you know, a tad bit heavier.

Then were all like, yay we can install it! And then we were all like, how do we install it? So we watched two Youtube videos of people taking backhoe tires off of the rims. One was of a group of fat guys in some sort of auto body shop where they jumped up and down on the tire and used this special magical tool and cursed a lot and giggled at each other like little school girls when one of them fucked up.

The second video we watched was in Spanish.

A group of Hispanic guys, still using there magical tire taking off and putting on tool, wrestled the tire off of the rim. One guy was dressed really, really, well. Like dress shirt and vest well. Scott kept making comments like, “look right there, they are using the same pry bars we have” or “Look how hard he is struggling with that” or “I think we will have to use a mallet to take that off as well.” While I kept saying things like “Why is he dressed so well to take a freakin tire off?” Along with “I don't speak Spanish, but I just know what the camera guy is doing is giving them unnecessary advice” and “stop filming his ass and film the tire FOCUS! FOCUS!”

Sometimes it's amazing we get anything done at all.

Now, lest I have confused you, the videos were about taking the tire off the rim. Not removing the rim and tire from the backhoe. Removing the rim and tire from the backhoe should be easy, just like taking a tire off a car right?

Ha ha ha huaaugghhh.

Yep. Also, about this point it started to snow. Not ones to be intimidated by a little thing like the weather, we trooped outside and began. First we found the correct socket, and a breaker bar to go with it, and went out to the tire. Optimistically we put the bar onto the bolt and heaved.


So we sat and looked at it for a while. Then Scott went and got some sort of oil in a can that is supposed to be magic at loosing bolts or some shit I don't understand, applied it to the bolts, and then went and got a six foot long schedule 40 pipe. So we put the breaker bar back on and put the pipe on the end of the handle because leverage motherfuckers. So we got out our fucking grrrr faces on, and pushed.

Annndd nothing.

So then we repositioned the bar so that we were pulling down, and he held the ratchet while I hung my entire body weight off of the bar. Which did nothing but threaten to break the ratchet. So we stopped.

Then we went back inside where it was not snowing. Then we cursed. Then we called my uncle. Who said we could borrow a few tools. So we drove to his house, in the snow, got the tools, got a run down of how much this was really gonna suck, got back in the car and drove home in the snow.

So tomorrow, in the snow, in 27 degree weather, we are going to attempt to take the tire off of the backhoe. Oh you know that magical tool they were using to take the tire off the rim?

It's 200$.

Which means that Holly is never going to own one. Which means that even if we remove the tire and rim from King (I named my backhoe King) we will be trying to pull the tire off of the rim with pry bars and wishes and cursing and tears of poverty.

So, ah, may god have mercy on our souls?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

So King the Backhoe has a Flat Tire.

Sometime during this arctic snow filled winter, we looked out the window to discover that King the backhoe was leaning a whole lot to the right. When the snow finally melted we discovered that the right rear tire was flat. You know, the huge rear tire that backhoes have, right? The one the makes you question who thought it was a good idea in the first place to make a tire that size?

Yeah that one.

So then we were all like fuck. Then Scott reinflated it with fix-a-flat and did some other weird ass shit to it that I didn't understand and probably involved sorcery somehow. You know, because if Scott had magic powers he would totally spend them fixing tires. Because healing and lightning hands are over rated. Anyway, we were all like, whelp that solves the problem.

Until a week later, when it was flat again.

So then Scott was like, we are going to have to buy another tire. And I was all like, how much do tires cost? And he was all like, I dunno. And I was all like, to the Internet!

So then we discovered that they START at 400$. START. As in the lowest price you are ever gonna see. As in you will never see one cheaper then this that is usable. As in there goes your food budget for like, two fucking months hope you enjoy your off brand Raman Noodles.

So after I blacked out from price overload and woke up on the floor, we decided that we needed to come up with a plan. A better plan. So we started to ask around. Anybody. Everybody.

Then we asked my uncle. Who asked his friend who also owns a backhoe. And he said to just to buy a inner tube, and stick it our currently tubeless tire, and then do some shit I don't understand that involves patching the tire from the inside* and then do some more shit I really, really don't understand**, and then we will have a fully functional tire!

So we went online and looked up the price of tubes. Have you ever done that thing where you do a search and then you lean really far back from the monitor because you are kinda afraid of what you might see there? Well we did that and then we found out the price.

It was 64$. Not six thousand. 64 freakin dollars. Thank the dear lord sweet baby Jesus.

I would also like to take this moment to point out that my uncle should be made a saint at this point. Or maybe we could all get together and try to make him the pope. Except that would cut into his life of delivering mail and watching movies with explosions in them.

Anyway, stay tuned for updates as do terrible, horrible arcane things to our backhoe tire.

Really, from your end, it only gets better from here.

*This sounds like a nightmare to try to do.

** This sounds like the kind of nightmare where I have to lick Satans butthole.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I am the Champion of the Washing Machine.

We fixed the washer. As we all remember, I had order a direct drive coupler from the Lowe's sight unseen. Meaning that we had not actually looked at the machine to determine what was wrong. Like you do. I had just made a guess based on what the symptoms were. And then I prayed. Well, yesterday we came home to find that the coupler had arrived. Which meant that today we had to install it.

The easiest way to take the washer apart of course being the drag the entire thing out onto the deck.

Did I say easy? First off being in a tiny mobile home hallway means that we couldn't open the door because the washer was in the way. Even if we pushed it up against the wall. The only way we could make this work was to remove the shelf beside the washer and then slide it into the corner. Scott decided that we should also use the hand truck to move it so we wouldn't tear up the shitty vinyl flooring that I hate.*

Of course both the tires on the hand truck were flat because life. So while Scott went to reinflate the tires I cleared off and moved the shelf. I found things on that shelf. Things. I had thought the shelf was mostly cleaning supplies, but I also found two things of spray paint, about six tubes of caulk, lamp oil, paint stripper, a cardboard shoe box filled with tiny bottles of glue, and a mason jar filled with some unidentifiable liquid. Fun. Of course this being a mobile home, I just shoved all of this shit into the closest available room. Which was of course the bedroom. Because when I think sleeping, I think dangerous chemicals.

I didn't realize until I had cleaned off most of the shelf that maybe piling all this shit along both sides of the bed was a bad idea because guess who was sleeping under it.

Yup. The dog.

My solution was to tell him not to eat or lick any of it.

Which is why I can never have children.

Anyway, it was at this point that we realized that if we unhooked the water drain tube thing from the washer it was going to flood the room. Luckily Scott found out that you could remove the tube from the wall, and hook it over the top of the washer. Less lucky was the tube flying off the top of the washer at our first attempt to lift it with the hand truck. So of course we had to drag the washer out onto the deck in super fast motion. Once it was safely outside I ripped two towels out of the cabinet and threw them on the floor and smeared them around. Then I realized the towels were not really that wet. Then I noticed that there was a forth of an inch gap between the wall and floor. Which is where all the water had gone.

Motherfucking great. That won't come back to haunt me at all.

Then we watched the repair video I had found for direct drive washers, assembled the tools and began. It was pretty easy to do, although for me, the whole time I was concerned that the suspiciously together looking direct drive coupler was not in fact the problem. It wasn't until we took the pump off and the shattered plastic pieces that was once the coupling fell into Scott's hands that I realized that I had been right.

I am not sure, but angels may have appeared at that moment.

Putting the new one in and putting the washer back together was surprisingly easy. Most things were held on by clips, not bolts, and it acted like it was designed to be taken apart and put back together. So In no time we had it reassembled, cleaned and ready to go. There was a brief break in which I had to vacuum out the dryer vent since it was RIGHT THERE, and then we put the washer back into place and reconnected it.

It was the moment of truth.

We put the towels we had used to clean the floor in it set the settings and turned it on.

And it made another terrible noise.

You know that feeling where optimism and hope come crashing down around you like panes of glass and the metaphorical shards cut you up? I pretty much had that feeling. Then we had to lean it up to make sure that Scott had reconnected the wiring to the motor. Then we looked at it some more. Then Scott went “oh shit” reached over and turned the water valves back on.

Let's just leave it at I didn't murder him and bury his body in the woods.

Anyway it worked just fine after that.

For once.

*It's right up there with carpet, in flooring that Holly hates with an oddly large amount of passion.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Washing Machine has Died a Tragic Death.

This morning I got up, determined to have a productive and busy day. So me and my foolish optimism changed the sheets and put some blankets into the washer and put some pillows in the dryer with some dryer sheets so they would stop smelling like drool and hair and then went about my day.

Until that is, the washer started making that noise.

Now, when you are like me, and have a somewhat limited but pretty functional knowledge of how machines work, there is a sound. I cannot really describe this sound. It is, quite frankly the sound a motor makes when it is trying to turn but can't. It is the sound of death. A machine death rattle if you will. If you here this sound and ignore it, you will burn out the motor. Which in every day speak means that the motor is dead and is never ever coming back to life and you might as well bury it in the yard and get another one.

So when the washer began making that sound I am fairly sure that I must have teleported over to it and jerked the lid up. It looked like it was refusing to go into spin cycle. Great. Whoo hoo. I lowered the lid once, only to hear it make the sound again. Then I summoned Scott. He turned off the machine and pulled it forward. We looked at the back with flashlights. There appeared to be no way to get into the inside of it where the broken things were. Finally I had to tilt the whole machine up and hold it there while he poked around underneath.*Scott admitted nothing looked immediately broken. So I did what I always do when confronted with a problem.

I went to the Internet.

The Internet told me it was probably a bad direct drive coupling. I ordered a new drive coupler from Lowes. Then I had to deal with the problem of the blankets that were still sitting in the washer, in about six inches of water that was still in the machine.

First of all I couldn't just put them in the dryer because dryers aren't made to handle that kind of thing and two the blankets were still sopping dripping wet. I also learned that wet blankets are about fifty times heavier then dry blankets. I decided to throw both blankets out onto the deck railing and let god sort them out. Except that the way my tiny mobile home hallway works, I have to pass the back door, walk into the bedroom, turn around and then open the door, because that's just how that motherfucker swings.

Which meant that the blanket had plenty of time to pee on me.

And the hallway. And the carpet. And there were two blankets which meant I did this twice. Then of course I left them for a bit to run most of the water out. Which seemed like a good plan until I got back out there to transfer them to the clothes line and found that they had frozen into giant slabs of blanket.

I hung them on the clothes line anyway, feeling like an idiot for having to forcibly bend the tops down to clip them. If you are wondering why I didn't hang them up inside the answer is mobile home, there is nowhere in this particle board wonderland that could even think about supporting two wet as hell blankets, let alone being water proof enough to hang them above.

Which is pretty much how I wound up with icicles hanging from my blankets.

I finally caved and then brought them inside where I let them unthaw on top of the washer and then stuffed them in the dryer and prayed I didn't burn that out too. Once they had mostly dried I pulled them out and draped on my living room chairs so they could remind me of my failures.

Also at this point I realized that I didn't know if it was the three dryer sheets I had put in the dryer with the pillows were making the blankets smell and feel like that or whether the soap was never rinsed out of them.

It's like a guessing game where there are no right answers.

So if anyone needs me, I'll just be smelling my blankets and trying desperately not to think about the fact that my bath towel smells really weird and there's not a goddamn thing I can do about it.


*If there was ever a greater trust exercise...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things I Have Learned After Watching Star Trek Drunk.

So the other night, we decided to sit down and watch Star Trek the Original Series in honer of my birthday. I also printed out a set of rules we had to follow, such as, 'drink every time a red shirt dies' or 'drink every time Spock says logical' or 'drink every time a system is offline.'

Needless to say I got drunk pretty damn fast.

What really did me in though was that the first episode we watched, the whole damn ship went offline, so it was like going from zero to drunk in about half an hour. Anyway, here are some important observations about Star Trek.

Bones is like, a really crappy doctor. I said it. I'm sorry. Look, I like Bones, and he also will prescribe alcohol to you if you are depressed. Which is great, but he will also kill you space dead if your name isn't Kirk or Spock. No really. I watched one episode where a red shirt got shot, and then he dove to the ground to help him, (which was good) but then all he did was sort of lightly tap the would with his bare (bacteria covered) hand while he cut between paying attention to the DYING MAN and watching Kirk and Spock argue. So less then stellar there.

Also, I am fairly convinced that Scotty is both overworked, underpaid, and also probably having sex with the ship, somehow. Possibly through that dilithium crystal port thing. I feel really bad for him, is what I am saying.

Spock is my new favorite character because he really, really does not give a shit. Which is awesome.

Kirk is, despite acting and looking nothing like the men I normally lust after, oddly attractive. I'm saying that I would totally have sex with Captain Kirk if the opportunity came up. Then I would probably get a space STD. And then I would have to hope that I am like, really relevant to the plot or otherwise Mr. Inconsistent Doctoring Abilities up there wouldn't be any help.

All the fight scenes are the funniest thing I have ever seen in the entire history of cinematography.

Being drunk also makes me, way, way too involved. I found myself yelling shit like “this is creepy” and “no get up Kirk and punch him in the nuts!”

Remember how I totally ragged on the movie TIMELINE for just, you know, shitting all over science? Yeah well, let's just say the episode where they find the planet full of immortal Mongolians that have an EXACT copy of the US Constitution AND an exact copy of an American flag, literally broke my brain. No like, really. Even through my blurry haze of alcohol.

Mini skirts are, apparently, the wave of the future for every female everywhere ever.

Back when I used to own a flip phone, I totally missed my chance to end every conversation with “Holly out” and began every conversation with “Holly to Enterprise.” All those wasted years.

Setting phasers to stun, is like, 99% effective in almost every problem.

I also learned that if you stay up till the middle of the night getting drunk and watching Star Trek you will be really, really hungover the next day. Like my whole body hurts like I have been in a badly choreographed fight scene all night. A fight scene against the booze. So my day consisted of dragging my bloated corpse body around and eating aspirins and swearing never to drink again and feeling like my headache was beating in time to techno music that only I could hear. Which is, now that I think about it, probably exactly what it is like to be Capitan Kirk.

So in conclusion, Star Trek is fucking awesome.

*Holly out.*

Friday, February 1, 2013

Moving the Wood Stove.

So yesterday we moved the second wood stove because there was snow. Okay, let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

So you remember that we put in a power pole near the house site so that we could get temporary power for installing the septic system and for running our cement mixer. Now, since the second older mobile home I have is for storage it doesn't really need power, we decided to run the power drop to the furnace shed right behind it, because that is a permanent structure that will become a garden shed since our old garden shed collapsed during a snow storm because nature is a bitch like that.

Which was a great plan, except for the fact that we still had the wood stove in the shed. Which we were going to have to move to the porch of the mobile home to await the day we can install it in the garage.

Well, how we got the stove over there was to sled it on a children's plastic sled. It worked once didn't it? It should work again right?

Ha ha haaa.

So we emptied everything we could have out of the stove and the shed, and then Scott got behind it and shoved while I lifted up on the front and then we pushed and shoved and cursed and fought the damn thing partway out the door. Then we found a sled, and then filled the bottom with wood and boards so that the stove would not just crush the sides of the sled out, and then we fought the thing onto the sled.

Then the fun begin.

What we had failed to take into account was that we were going uphill. And do you know what else was uphill?

If you guessed the giant pile of dirt we used to to put the electric pole in the ground, you would be right!

Preemptively I had a moment of foresight and had shoveled snow in front of the loose mound of dirt to try to make a ramp. Let me tell you something right now, trying to wrestle a giant metal wood stove that is precariously balanced on a sled that is filled with wood over a pile of dirt on the ground uphill is like trying to shove a dead baby elephant up a parking garage ramp.

And really, it's just about as bizarre.

Once we hit that dirt pile the sled came to a dead stop. We tried pushing and lifting on the front of the sled. We tried lifting the stove and pushing it. We tried switching places. We tired accusing each other of doing it wrong.* Finally Scott used his brain power and we turned the stove ninety to the sled, so that it was hanging off each side like whoa, tied a stronger rope to the front of the sled and tried again.

Have you ever watched one of those movies or read one of those books about the old timey arctic expeditions where the great ships would get stuck in the ice and then have to wait for the summer to become free again? You know the part where the ice begins to break up and shift and then the cold water is visible until at last one day the ship gives a great shuddering heave and breaks free of the ice and the crew rejoices because they are at last free of it?

It was like that. Only with a wood stove.

Once we felt it moving we pushed and pulled like mad until at last we had heaved and pushed and fought the dame thing up that goddamned motherfucking hill until at last we were on the level and could glide up to the door where we stopped and panted like winded racehorses.

I am also fairly sure that the neighbors think we are really, really insane now.

So then it was a simple matter of shoving it through the doorway and into it's storage spot. I would like to say that we high fived for victory then, but at that point I realized that it hurt to breathe in and that it felt like someone was punching me repeatedly between the shoulder blades. So we crawled back to the house and drank tea.

Victory tea.

*This is a necessity in any project.