Monday, July 16, 2018

Dinner With The Kids

In between tour-guiding and tinkering on misc stuff, we found time tonight to take the kids and my wife's visiting friend out for dinner tonight.

We went to Austin's American Grill, a Fort Collins favorite. The service is excellent, the food is very good, and they don't rush you at all. I had the Bison meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, and it was great. The salad had the best blue cheese dressing I've ever had, and the croutons were made fresh.

Tomorrow we're going to The Swetsville Zoo, a local attraction with "dinosaur" and "monster" sculptures made from scrap metal and various bits of machinery.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Excursion To Viginia Dale

I've always tried to learn some of the local history and geography of wherever it is that I'm currently living. In Dayes Of Olde, I'd get maps and charts of the area to learn where various highways and rivers were located, and then I learned how to refine that skill when I took ground school. Reading maritime charts is very similar, but also has notations of where Underwater Nasty Stuff is located so you don't run aground and/or tear the bottom out of your hull.

I was snake-fascinated when Google Earth came out, and nowadays I use Google Maps quite a bit.

Between Wikipedia, and Google Maps, you can plan some nice little trips to nearby places that are interesting.

Since I'd already pretty much run out of places I found "interesting" in SoCal in the 35 years I lived there, moving here was a welcome change of geography, with lots of new things to see, like Ghost Towns! So with that in mind, I picked a "Beginner's Object" and we drove up to Virginia Dale, the site of (supposedly) the "Last Complete Stage Station For The Overland Trail Stagecoach Line".

Geez....The Overland Trail Stage Line! We read about that, and the Pony Express, back in grade school American History! Wow...real "Wild West" stuff! Let's go see it!

At the time the Wikipedia article was written/edited, the property was up for sale:

The buildings and road are now marked as Private, with plenty of KEEP OUT signs posted, so we stayed well away from the buildings out of respect for property rights.

The turnout on Highway 287 is quite wide there, and could easily accommodate several big rigs, so I parked at one edge while the girls looked around a bit.

I wish this picture could capture the majesty of looking down this valley while the lightning flashed down from the storm clouds in the distance, but it can't. It was 85* in Fort Collins when we left, and we hit some good rain on the 287 North. By the time we got there, the outside air temp was down to 63*, a breeze was blowing in from the Northwest, it had just rained, and all you could smell were pine trees and wildflowers.

So besides lacking in visuals, the picture lacks the "being there" factor.

Looking a bit further North.

And a look back South, from whence we came.

We looked around for this plaque, but couldn't find it. Turns out it's "A few hundred yards North" per the Wikipedia article, and we didn't walk that far North.

So Virginia Dale as a "Ghost Town" was kind of a bust, but at least the building is still there.

I found this website about ghost towns by state, and it has clickable maps of the counties in Colorado, along with a few pictures. Mostly you just find foundations, fireplaces, and the occasional run down looking building. Not quite what Hollyweird portrays them as, but then what is?

I've read there's a couple of old mining places near Laporte, and I think an abandoned saw mill, so I'm going to scout those out on the old Interwebz, and plan a better trip.

And I finally had a good chance to get a solid look at Goat Hill from the East side.

This is part of the Dakota Hogback that runs from just North of Cheyenne, all the way South to Northern New Mexico. The Cache La Poudre River runs along the base under the cliffs, and the the trout farm and Watson Lake, where we spent a pleasant Father's Day are also at the base of the cliffs.

What makes this a "Eureka" moment for me, is that the cliffs of this formation are what we saw every morning when we left the little apartment in Bellvue to go house hunting.

I took this picture the first couple of weeks we lived here, mostly to comment on the radio antennas.

Yup....those are the cliffs in the above picture, but seen from the West side of the Hogback. I had no idea there was a valley with a trout farm, lake, and river living down at the base....

So even though the Virginia Dale visit was kind of a bust, we saw some beautiful scenery, got to witness a big thunderstorm come roaring in out of the hills, and had a nice drive.

And I got to connect some dots regarding local geology and geography. I get a big kick out of actually seeing some of the things I've been reading about.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hot Weather and Visitors

One of my wife's BFFs is coming out to visit, and since it's been so uncharacteristically HOT here lately, the wife decided we needed some air conditioning.

I was originally going to buy a pair of 10,000 BTU portable units. These are the kind that you vent outside through a flexible duct that attaches to a window adapter.

I saw the display at HD the other day when I was buying some (more...) 5/8" garden hoses. I had the model number and SKU on my clipboard, so I told the nice young guy who was ringing me up to add two of the A/C units, and then he helped me grab two (at 70lbs each, "grab" becomes relative), load them on the cart, and even put them in the Jeep for me.

Got them home, unloaded them, dragged one into the living room and unpacked it only to realize I hadn't checked the boxes we put on the cart, and I'd brought home two 8,000 BTU units.


While I went ahead and finished up installing it, she called the store, who said no problem getting it squared away if I brought back the receipts.

She went out this morning and got the 12,000 BTU unit for the living room. The 8,000 BTU unit made quite a difference, but I told her we really needed the 12,000 BTU one for the living room.

SO.......back to HD this morning to unravel the CF I caused. They took back the unopened one, credited me the price difference between what I'd been charged for vs what I took home, and then they went and got me a 10,200 BTU unit for the same price, as both of the ones I wanted originally had been sold.

So I've been fabricating adapter panels and installing portable A/C units all damn day. The Kids brought the little one over so they could hang out at the pool, and my weight-lifter stepson literally did all the Heavy Lifting getting the two A/C units up the stairs. He could probably taken one in each hand if he could have gotten a good grip on them!

So here's the Three Amigos sitting in the garage.

And the Big Bruiser in the living room.

The 8,000 BTU unit went in the guest room, and has enough capacity to bring the room down to 70something.

The 10,200 BTU unit went into our bed room, and appears to be large enough to cool it adequately.

And the 12,000 BTU unit seems to cool the living room acceptably well.

One thing about A/C is that even though it can start blowing cold air immediately, everything else in the room is hot, and it takes a while to get this "Latent Heat" out of the furniture, carpets, walls, etc.

The two rooms upstairs are now 20* cooler than they were, which will definitely make sleeping much nicer.

So down to DIA tomorrow to pick up our guest for a week. There's some abandoned towns around here that we're thinking of heading out to see, and the wife has a nice little itinerary planned for the two of them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Night In The Garage

it's 2000 and my wife is attempting to get the little to go to sleep. His Mom and Dad start work at Oh-Dark-Thirty, so 2000~2030 is the family bed time.

And he's teething again, which means Captain Crankypants is manning the bridge tonight.

And the Old Man aint movie? Geesh. Next thing you know you'll be accusing somebody of stealing the strawberries......

So I'll be out in the garage rectifying a problem of my own making. When I sanded/primed/sanded/primed and then painted the rear edge of the spoiler assembly, I waited three days (80*~90* weather) for the paint to cure. Then I flipped it over on the saw horses, making sure to use an old towel so I wouldn't scratch the new paint, and proceeded to work on the bottom of the rear edge, which had some dingleberries in the paint because....Garage Paintjob! That took me a week or so to clear up by carefully wetsanding the crud out of the paint. Fortunately, I'd put a fair amount of paint on it, so I had plenty of paint to work with. After I was satisfied with that, I began installing the bottom half of the spoiler, which involves screwing in the thirty-four screws that hold the two pieces together.

As I was installing the screws, I had to move the spoiler around a bit so I could get good purchase on the screw head, and I noticed the towel was moving with the spoiler as I maneuvered it around. Hmmmmm...shouldn't do that. I lifted up the spoiler clear of the saw horse, and the towel came with it. really shouldn't do that.

Yup....even after three days of high 80* weather, the paint wasn't fully cured, and the weight of the spoiler pushed it down against the towel just enough to make the semi-solid paint flow around the towel fibers, and the towel was stuck to the new paint.

RATS! I HATE it when that happens.....

So, I peeled the towel off the paint as gently as I could, and surveyed the damage.

Yup.....the paint's pretty bad in a band about 2" wide and 14" long. SO....I grabbed my flexible sponge, a piece of 600 grit, and my bottle of Windex, and started sanding. I wasn't trying to get it all off last night, just wanted to see how easy it came off, and it'll be one of those sit-there-for-two-hours-listening-to-the-radio while I carefully sand it out with a round sanding block that fits the contours better than a flat sanding block.

And then I'll have to spray it again to blend it all in.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Neighborhood Independence Day Activities

The kids and grandson are over today for some 'pool time', along with DIL's sister and  our little one's cousin. Since we have to pay $350/yr to the pool people, whether we use the pool or not, we're making sure we use all the Family Passes we have!

While strolling back from the pool, we saw this sign.

Sounded pretty good, and since it's very close, we headed on over.

We watched kids on bikes.....

And Dads on bikes go by.......

Followed by Old Glory in all her splendor.

Long may it fly!

We met a bunch of neighbors, one of who was the original organizer of this yearly parade. She started doing it FORTY-FIVE years ago, when she and her husband bought the house new, and they still live there. There's still a bunch of original owners in this area. Out of the eight houses on our cul-de-sac, three are original owners, or the "Senior Elders" of our neighborhood, and from talking to other neighbors, that ratio is a bit low. On some of the streets here, 80% of the houses are owner occupied by the original owners. The rest of the houses here are split between newer owners and rentals.

And the little ones are having a great time.

It's 1800 here, and we can smell the BBQ's all across the neighborhood. Pizza has been delivered, and from the looks of NOAA weather radar, we should probably batten down the hatches.


NWS Severe Storm and Flash Flood Alert.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Happy Independence Day!

Like the title says, Happy Independence Day.

NOT Happy "4th of July". 

We celebrate the event, not the day it occurred on.....

Friday, June 29, 2018

Bits 'O This 'N That

Well it's 2200 here and the Little One and the Mrs have retired for the evening. He's gotten very good at going up and down the stairs, and when he goes up the stairs, he heads directly to "his" room, and the toys all come out and get scattered around on the floor.

The downstairs family room is still foreign to him. We spent time there in the winter with the fireplace going, but I doubt he remembers it.

He did NOT like getting put on the rattan footstool and being rotated! Pilot training will have to wait a few years, I guess.

With all the heat we've had the last few days, the basement has turned into a pleasant place to spend time. It's about 72* down there, and probably a bit damp. When I was a kid growing up, one of my jobs was to empty the water catch pan the dehumidifier in the basement had. I checked it every day, and if it was more than half-full, I'd empty it. Probably be a good idea to get one for down there.

I finally decided on the workbench/operating desk layout for the Radio Room. After getting some quotes from people who build this stuff, I've decided at this point in life I don't need a custom $1500 workbench and custom $2500 desk to operate from, additional shelving optional. About $900 worth of stuff from IKEA will do both sides of the room, and give me more drawers and shelves to store stuff in. The sad/ironic part is I'll be replacing pretty much the same stuff I threw/gave away in Long Beach. Oh, well....this time I'm much more familiar with their product lines, and how to find things on their website. Everything has a part number and a price, right down to the individual bits of their knocked-down kits. You can find something close to what you want, get an idea of what makes up that ensemble, and then go A La Carte to build up something customized. I'll be buying two drawer units with tabletops, and then adding additional drawer units, tabletops, and legs to get an "L" shaped bench for the workbench, and a "U" shaped bench for the operating position. Adding a couple of riser units in a complimentary color to the operating desk will give it the functionality I want, and a semi-custom look.

And I made some rough measurements and sketches of where the cable penetration will go. I'll need about a 3" hole cored through the concrete foundation to get the pipe inside, and then I'm not sure if I'll continue the run of cables in the pipe, or break them out into a cable tray. Cable trays mounted to the walls or hung from the ceiling just look so.........Professional!

It'll come down to cost, of course. 3" electrical PVC conduit is probably MUCH cheaper than even small size cable tray. The pipe will be laid in with NO 90* elbows allowed. We'll use two 45* elbows with a foot or so of straight section between them. I've fought with waaay too many cable pulling jobs that had runs loaded with 90* turns, and NO junction boxes or "Pull Boxes" anywhere.

And while down in the basement measuring things, I went through and sorted 4 boxes of clothing. I wound up with two boxes of things that will never fit again, things that have lost their appeal to me, and some just plain weird T-shirts I have no idea how I came about owning. All going to Goodwill in the next day or two.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Chair Repair Finished

So, I had the chair apart to replace the "Rocker Bearing Assembly" after I figured out I wouldn't be able to repair the OEM assembly. It was riveted together, and some of the parts were munched up, and while it could have been rebuilt, it would have been a major undertaking.

So, Googling around found multiple choices for new assemblies. Prices ranged from $30, free shipping, for something from the WongBongBing Chair Bearing Company all the way up to a $700 all stainless steel unit made for deep sea fishing chairs.

I settled on this one for $55 shipped.

It had the correct dimensions side-to-side, but the fore-and-aft mounting holes were about 3/16" too close together.

45 minutes with a round file, and the holes were elongated enough to slip over the other two mounting studs.

Not the most "precision" job I've ever done, but's an old chair; it doesn't turn 7500RPM!

So after what our British cousins would call "fettling a while", the new assembly fit nicely over the four OEM mounting studs, and was properly secured with new flat and split-lock washers.

The clamp and 'load spreader' board are holding the middle piece of bamboo trim down while the glue sets. This is where I left off the other night.

My wife was helping me, and I got too involved explaining what I was doing to take pictures of how I put the base back on to the new rocker bearing, so I'll get all wordy on you....

The thin plate with long, slotted holes in the top picture bolts to the round base of the chair using 1/4-20x4" carriage bolts. Between the thin plate (which is the other mounting flange for the bearing) and the small round base is a "reinforcing plate" made of 1/2" high-density particle board. The long carriage bolts pass through this, through the plywood of the base, and are secured with 1/4-20 nuts, and "too small" flat washers that dug into the wood.

The problem is that after you install the bolts and slide on the reinforcing plate, you need to hold the top of the carriage bolts in place while you line up the bolts with the four holes in the base, and slide the base on to the looong, wobbly carriage bolts.

Only you can't get your hand in there....there's no clearance. So I taped the bolts in place with a couple of layers of blue painter's tape, hoping the adhesive would be strong enough to hold the bolts.

It almost worked. The first time I was able to get all four studs aligned and started into the base, and actually got two of the nuts on. The other two studs were flush with the base, but I just couldn't get even one thread through.

Hmmmmm........just how tight are the holes in the base? Sure enough, when I took the base out to the garage, a 1/4" drill bit dug in like a screw thread, and pulled the drill though. After making several passes from both sides, the drill bit went easily through the holes, and back in the house we went.

After a bit more "fettling" (hey...I like that word!), the base slipped on to the bolts, the washers were placed, and the nuts tightened down.

It rotates and rocks very smoothly now, and we saved this old guy from the landfill.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Chair Repair

Is almost finished. The new bearing assembly came today. and while it lined up side-to-side with the mounting hardware still in the chair, it was about 1/8" off fore-and-aft.

So out came my round, #2, bastard cut file and I elongated the holes. After about 45 minutes of filing and fitting, the holes lined up perfectly, and I attached the rocker bearing to the bottom of the chair, using flat and lock washers this time.

One of the bamboo pieces at the base of the chair had come loose, so I cleaned the mating surfaces, and glued it back on with some Weldwood TiteBond glue, and clamped it down for several hours Weldwood says you can remove the clamps after 30 minutes, but about 15 minutes after I pulled the clamps, the trim piece started to rise up a bit, so I clamped it back down and I'll wait until tomorrow to finish the project and post the pix.

And since it's supposed to be 103* here tomorrow, I think it'll be a good day to get all the items on my Home Depot list.

HD has AC, and we don't!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Field Day 2018

And I'm not doing anything this year.

I was going to set up my satellite station and run "1E CO" from the backyard, but my son, who was going to come out here for a week, got rear-ended a couple of weeks ago. His rental wouldn't insure him for a trip to Colorado, so he spent the time finding a new vehicle to replace the Nissan Frontier pick-up he had that the insurance company totaled. He got clobbered by a fairly new Honda Civic doing about 45MPH while he was stopped for traffic on the 405 freeway. The Civic was destroyed (they had to cut the guy out), and his truck suffered a bent rear axle, pretzeled driveshaft, and the rear bumper was torn off the frame, bending the frame "beyond economical repair" and ripping a couple of big chunks out of it. He's OK, other than being exceptionally upset that the guy who hit his three week old truck was uninsured, and has probably disappeared by now.

So, he replaced it with a 2010 Ram 1500 with a 5.7L Hemi, the class IV trailer towing package, and 38,000 miles on it. Sounds like a nice truck, and I suppose I'll get to see it if/when he decides to come out this way.

NCARC, the local radio club I'm a member of, will be running their Field Day operations out by the City of Nunn water tower, so I'll probably head out there Saturday afternoon to see what they're doing.