Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Dog And His Boy

One of the reasons I started this blog so many years ago was not only to tell tales of destruction for fun and profit, but to write down all the stories I've collected.  After 600 blog posts I've told quite a number of my stories, so I thought it was time to write one about someone else.  Namely, my Father.

It was the summer of 1957.  My Dad was almost ready to turn eight years old.  He lived in the backwoods of West Virginia, so with the exception of automobiles and a black and white television, life still closely resembled 1857 in some ways.  I can hear his voice saying, "Come on, it wasn't that bad!"

There aren't many pictures of my Dad from that age, and the ones that exist are in rough shape.  But the first time I saw a photograph of my Father from that age I immediately said, "You look exactly like Timmy from Lassie!"

As was the norm back in those days my family had rabbit hunting dogs, namely beagles.  Now my Dad was not allowed to hunt until he was sixteen, but he did take care of the dogs as well as other duties on the farm.  So even though he hadn't quite turned eight years old, the duty to build a doghouse for his dog Penny fell to him.

You have to remember the times.  My Dad didn't have access to power tools.  If he wanted to cut a 2X4 he had to cut it with a handsaw.  If he wanted to hold the wood together he had to either drive a nail with a hammer, or use a screwdriver to run the screw through the wood.  He didn't have a power drill to do the hard work. 

My Grandfather had access to a lot of scrap wood from whatever carpentry project he was working on at the time (namely houses and bridges.)  That meant my Dad didn't have to chop down a tree or anything like that.  But when it came to the actual work, my Dad put it all together with old timey hand work.

Just for comparison, if you know a seven year old (going on eight,) ask what have they done lately?  Does it involve playing Pok√©mon?  Does it involve watching TV?  Or have they performed any old time carpentry lately?

So Dad finished building the doghouse for Penny.  He was proud of his hard work.  But dogs and especially beagles are finicky creatures.  Remember how Snoopy liked to sleep on top of his doghouse?

Well, Penny decided to dig a hole underneath the doghouse and sleep there.

That's right.  She completely avoided the nice living space that Dad had built, and dug right underneath the doghouse to create a little den.  Penny must have thought she had a little wolf in her.  Honestly though, if you've never encountered a hunting dog, they are a bit different than a house dog.  They have a bit more attitude and aggression than your cocker spaniel house dog.  

Most people, especially kids, would have been discouraged or mad.  But that's never really been my Dad's style.  He just had to laugh about it, and realized a beagle is going to do what a beagle wants to do.  If Penny wanted to sleep in her little den beneath the doghouse then he figured she had made up her mind to do so.  Nothing he could do would change that. 

Also, could you get mad at a face like this?

Nah, didn't think so.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Hunting/Camping Trailer Day: It's About Time

All the way back in 1987 my Dad along with his friend John W. bought a 1966 17 ft. Shasta trailer.  It was worn, smelled like dog, and needed a ton of work.  But it only cost $500.  So, it was kind of a fair trade off.  Over the years we've repaired and added things like new refrigerators, A/C units, and a bunk bed.

But it's now been 30 years since it was bought and 51 years since the trailer was manufactured.  When we took it hunting earlier in November we discovered rotted wood, holes, metal that was crumpling.  Not to mention it's always been a bit small for three full sized men.  Basically, it was time to buy a new camper.

I had been looking at different types of campers for months.  Craigslist is a great place to look for them since it covers a wide area, and I could put in what I was looking for.  Namely, manufactured year and price.  I had seen a number of trailers that were great buys, but they sold before I could even call or see them in person.

The hard part in trying to buy a trailer was buying one that the three of us could agree on.  I wanted a longer one (27-29 feet long,) but Dad wanted a shorter one (20 feet long.)  One thing we had to be careful of was the weight.  Neither one of us could haul a heavy trailer.  The perfect trailer also had to have a layout in which the three of us wouldn't be tripping over each other.

So when I saw a 1996, 20 ft. long Mallard by Fleetwood trailer I knew I had to give it a look.  The pictures on it looked great.  I loved the layout in that, the three of us could easily sleep in it, and wouldn't be stepping on each other all the time.

Basically we drove to Zephyrhills, and looked at the trailer.  The seller had multiple people looking at it.  We looked it over, huddled, and agreed to make an offer.  We agreed to a price with the seller, and drove to our bank.  We ran into horrific traffic due to an accident, so it took a while to make it back, but we bought the trailer, and drove it home.

Let's go to the photos!!!

Here's the side view.

I like the number of windows.  Not too many, not too few.

Here's the side by side with the old trailer.

Here's the corner/side view.

When you walk through the door, the couch/bed is directly to the right.

As you sit on the couch you can see the table on the left (turns into a bed,) and kitchen on the right.  In the back left is the bathroom.  On the right are dual bunks.

Another nice thing about the trailer is how tall it is.  I was close to brushing my head on the top of the old Shasta trailer all the time.  I don't feel so cramped all the time in the Mallard by Fleetwood.

Here are the dual bunks in the back.  It will be perfect for our hunting buddy John W.  He can sleep in the bottom, and put all his stuff in the top.  He usually keeps his things in black garbage bags so that setup really works for him.

Now, the trailer will need some work.  The lights need repaired.  And we need to add tie-downs to the propane tanks and the propane cover.  There are always going to be "surprise" things that will be discovered, and need to be repaired.  But overall, there doesn't seem to be that much that needs repaired.  (Famous last words.)  If there is you can be sure that I will write a blog about it.

Go Truck Myself! Part 3, Urban Warfare

Here's a little light reading before you read this blog.  Since this is part three, I will post the previous chapters.

Go Truck Myself!

Go Truck Myself! Part 2

When I bought my truck I knew I was going to have to upgrade it.  The first thing I did was add a trailer hitch.  That wasn't hard since Dad had an extra one he bought at a yard sale.  I just needed to buy the hitch pin.

The second thing I did was buy and install new tires.  Even though the existing tires only had 33,000 miles on them, they looked like they would only run for another 5,000 miles tops.  So new tires were bought and installed.

The third thing I did was purchase a toolbox.  Since my truck is a single cab I didn't have a backseat to hold things.  So I really needed a toolbox.  I managed to find a great Husky brand toolbox on Craigslist.

Now comes my final addition, a brush guard.  I had been searching Craigslist for a while for the perfect brush guard.  Ford F-150 trucks from 2009 to 2014 could use the same model of brush guard.  While I had seen a fair amount of brush guards for sale, I hadn't seen one that would exactly fit my truck.

I had checked Craigslist, again with no luck.  I kept scrolling down to the (nearby items) section.  I couldn't believe what I saw.  In Arcadia, Fl., roughly 100 miles from me, a seller had the perfect brush guard.  It was Chrome, and made by "Go Industries."  When I looked them up, I found out that the guard normally cost $650 plus tax.  The seller was selling it for $250.

Long story short, I gave him a call and told him I'd meet him the next day.  I drove to Arcadia, and made it to his house fifteen minutes early.  He had a small cow farm on lots of land.  His wife was the Ford truck driver.  She had sold her truck, and aimed to install the brush guard on her new truck.  However, since her new truck was a 2017 the guard wouldn't fit.

Since I didn't try to argue or dick him over on price he offered to install the brush guard on my truck.  He said he had power (air) tools, and I told him,  "I was no glutton for punishment.  I would gladly accept the help."  I'm glad I did.  It took him, his wife, and me to install that thing.  I'll tell you this though, I'm really happy with the air powered drill.

When you tighten metal bolts, you have to do it bit by bit.  You tighten one, then the next, and do it all over again.  So we went around a few times tightening all the bolts with the air gun.  Once everything was repeatedly tightened down it was completely locked down.

So onto the photos!

You can see just how thick the metal bars of the brush guard are.  They are heavy duty.

Honestly, it looks like my truck is wearing glasses.

Down at the bottom it has tow hooks for towing someone, or someone towing me out the mud or sugar sand.

I feel better having the brush guard on my truck.  Not for country driving, but for city driving.  They drive like crazy here in Tampa.  So if they want to hit me from behind they have to go through my trailer hitch.  If they want to go through the front of my truck, they have to go through my brush guard.

I never felt safe on the roads when driving my Saturn or Ford Focus.  I've noticed folks tend to take you a little more serious when you are driving a truck.  Seriously, it's like urban warfare out there on the roads.  But now I feel pretty good.  I've managed to upgrade my truck how I wanted, and keep the price very reasonable.  Now, the good part.  I get to drive it the next twelve years.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Turning Back The Clock: Adrian Photo Edition

Back in 1993 my parents bought me a 1985 Ford Ranger.  It was the best truck in the world to me.  It was fun, easy to drive, and most of all, I had a truck!  Everyone at school even knew my truck.

One Sunday I realized I didn't have a picture of my truck.  So I had Dad take a picture of me in my suit in front of my Ford Ranger.  The original photo was taken on 9MM film.  So it looks a little fuzzy when scanned to a gif.

So now, in 2017, I wanted to recreate that photo now that I have the first truck since that Ford Ranger.  So here I am in a suit, in front of my 2014 Ford F-150.

Pretty awesome, right?  Maybe I'll have another picture taken in 15 years or so?  Who knows?  But I'm sure it will be an awesome photo.

Woodworking: Wax Ecstatic

Dad recently found a shortcut when processing wood.  When the wood is rough cut, it is still wet and prone to cracking.  For this reason woodworkers put a seal on the ends.  There are a few products on the market, but Anchor Seal always worked well for the woodworkers I knew.  The only problem was that it was so sloppy to put on.

Dad was checking some woodworking forums, and they told of an ingenious way of sealing wood and not spilling sealing wax everywhere.  Basically, you take an old fashioned crock pot, fill it with water and wax, then heat it up.  The wax will float on top, and the water will keep the temperature down low enough so the wax doesn't catch fire.

Here's a photo of what I'm talking about.

A lot of woodworkers like using a mixture of mostly paraffin wax mixed with a little bit of honeybee's wax.  However, I was lucky enough to find a box of red sealing wax free on Craigslist.  What I didn't know was that it was about 50 pounds of wax.  Great find, huh?

It came in small pencil sized pieces.

Due to the sealing wax being so hard, you can put mineral oil in the mix so the wax will be softer when it hardens on the wood.  We haven't had this problem since we mixed paraffin wax with the red sealing wax.

Once the wax is soft and in a liquid state, you can then dip the ends of the wood in the wax.

As you see it makes it easy to dip the wood in, and looks professional.  It also keeps the wax from spilling everywhere.  It's a win/win!

So, if you ever need to seal the ends of your wood/lumber, remember this way of sealing it.  Oh, and for those who didn't get the title reference.  Take a peek at this.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Make a Little Birdhouse In my ... Backyard?

A long time ago in a backyard far away....  I put up a bird feeder.  It was really successful.  As in, the birds were eating one pound of birdseed a day.  In other words, one 20 lbs. bag of birdseed wouldn't last a month.  Sometimes it would barely make it to two weeks.

This lead to problems.  Namely, the squirrels started to take over.  They would toss all the bird food on the ground except the sunflower seeds, which they would eat.  But they wouldn't let the birds have any of the birdseed.  So I did what any angry American would do.  I started shooting the squirrels out of the bird feeder.

This lead to more problems, as in, what is the legality of firing a 12 gauge shotgun within the city limits of Lutz?  After I'd shot the tenth squirrel it really dawned on me that they were coming as fast as I could shoot them.  Also, thanks to all the practice I had out duck hunting, I'm a pretty good shot.

Now for those who would say that I killed those furry rats for nothing, know this.  I took them over to the bottom of the tree where the hawks had their nest.  That way, the didn't go to waste.  And the hawks had some nice squirrel to feed their baby hawks.  And for those who think I'm having a bit of fun by saying a mated pair of hawks lived in a tree just off our backyard, well, take a glance at this.

In this next picture you can actually see my birdfeeder, and the hawk flying right by it.  They did their best at keeping the squirrels honest.  The birdfeeder is in the lower left of the photo, and the hawk is the giant blur in the middle.

In this photo you can see the hawk giving me the, "What are you looking at chowderhead? look."  I know it looks like I am far away in this picture, but remember when I took my camera was not near as nice as the ones they have now.  Yeah, my camera took floppy disks.  I'm not making that up.  So the quality of this photo is not great, but the hawk is actually pretty close to me.

Back to the birdhouses.  During this same time I bought and painted a few birdhouses.  When one would rot and fall apart, I would buy, paint, and hang up another.  I had the birdhouses hanging from a limb in one of the oak trees.  I've had a number of birdhouses, and as far as I know, I've had four families of birds live in them over the years. 

I just learned not long ago that the proper name for these small birds is a "Tufted Titmouse. (I'm not making that up.)  One time I had a pair of red cardinals raise a family in one of the houses.  That was really neat.  What I thought was weird was that, they only stayed for about three weeks, and then everyone was gone.  The babies had grown up, and moved on.  

So due to the cost of the seed, and multiple problems with squirrels I gave up putting bird food in the bird feeder.  I also gave up hanging my last birdhouse since it kept falling down.  I wasn't sure if it was the rubber string dry-rotting or the squirrels chewing on it.

So the other day I was looking at my old birdhouse.  It was still in good shape.  I decided to do something about it.  I decided to hang it ... somewhere.  That's when I looked over to where my birdfeeder still was.  "Well, that could be an easy solution," I thought.  I'd just take off the birdfeeder and put up the birdhouse in it's place.  Way back when, I intentionally put the feeder on a metal galvanized pole to keep the squirrels at bay.  It was somewhat successful doing that.  So I figured it would be a good spot to hang the new/old birdhouse.

Here's the birdhouse.

As you can see I painted it a dull green/gray so it would blend in with the oak tree.  Here's a picture taken from a bit further away.

I realize that birdhouses are supposed to be up a little before springtime, so that either makes me half a year late or about half a year early.  Either way, I hope that some birds find it as a nice little place to live.  I hope it will be birds and not wasps.  They have a way of getting into everything down here.

If anything moves in you can be sure I that will take pictures and write a blog post about it.  And if any squirrels come near it...  Well, I can't talk about that.  Also, that was a car backfiring.  Or fireworks.  Or something.

If you didn't understand the pop culture reference in the title, give this a listen.  Also, you may contract an earworm.  Be warned.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Rick Bass Project, Part 2: The Boat Anchor

Here is the first part of the Rick Bass blog post:

So things haven't gone so well on the Rick Bass project.  Not only was I unhappy with the wood the body was made out of, something on the body kept the stain from really soaking in.  The C.A. glue wouldn't even let any stain go over it.  Then, when I put the Odie's Oil over the body, the Odie's Oil wouldn't stick to any of it.

So I just decided to make my own bass body.  This way, I could decide what wood I wanted to use, and make it my way.  First off, I had to be reminded of some rosewood that I had hidden.  I had used this piece on an earlier project.  So yes, it's that big of a piece of rosewood.

I'll skip a lot of the steps since they are somewhat redundant.  Basically I took the piece of wood, cut it, and glued the outside edges together.  The outside has the sapwood which is white colored.  When I glued the edges together it made a lightning streak down the middle.  Here's the photo of it so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Here's a picture of the wood wetted down so I could have a better idea what it would look like when it would have finish on it.

Here's the back.

Here's where I traced out the old body on the rosewood.

And once I took the wood to the band-saw this is what I came out with.

Not too shabby, huh?  Again, please note that this took some time and very careful cutting on the band-saw.

Here's another photo of the wood wetted down.  It really makes the color pop.

Next I used a spindle sander to smooth out the sides of the body.

I have to say, that's some of my best work.  I do have to give credit to using really high quality sandpaper on the spindle sander.

Next came the hard part.  I had to mark out the lines where the routs would go.  Again, I'm making this short, but I really had to take my time on this.

Here's where I have laid out the lines for the neck pocket and control cavity rout.  I also used a forester bit to cut away some of the wood for the control cavity.  Doing that will make it easier for me to work the router.

And the question, "Does it weight a lot?"  Oh yes.  It can double as a boat anchor.  It's insanely heavy.  But I have a feeling that it will have tone for days.  It will as long as I can stand it hanging on my shoulder.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

So Chewbacca Has A Guinea Pig Now?

Like everyone else on this planet I saw the "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," trailer.  Forget all the light-sabers and space battles.  What we really want to know is why Chewbacca has a guinea pig?  For those who don't know what I'm talking about, look at this.

I can only imagine how the meeting went when a writer brought this up.  Here's how I imagine it went down.

Writer:  Here's the thing, and you're going to love this.  Chewbacca, right?  He has, and get this, a guinea pig.

Hollywood Big Wig:  Wait, what?  You mean like my daughter has?  So you're saying the big hairy dog now has a guinea pig?

Writer:  Yes and no!  He has a guinea pig, but it's a space guinea pig.

Big Wig:  Well, how's that any different?

Writer:  We won't call it a guinea pig.  We'll call it a Porg.

Big Wig:  You mean like the fish?

Writer:  No, that's a Porgy.  This is called a "Porg."

Big Wig:  I don't know about this.

Writer:  Hey!  You wanted the next Ewok!  Here's your #$%^ing Ewok!

Big Wig: (10 seconds of silence.)  Can it be ready by Christmas?

Writer:  You bet your sweet @#$% it can!

Now I can't be sure if that's exactly how the meeting went, but ... Of course that's exactly how the meeting went!  But who cares.  You know come this December we are all going to the theater to see it regardless.  And if you have kids be prepared to purchase some serious stuffed toy Porgs.