Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Winterizing, Part II

Been pretty quiet here as the wife went to Kalifornia for a week to visit with her three best friends, all of who had birthdays over the weekend.

So, it's just me and the dog until she gets back Thursday night. I spent today cleaning the bathrooms, and then sweeping and mopping all the ceramic tile in the entry way, kitchen, and sunroom. As hard as I tried, the dog got away from me once when I let her back in, and she almost got out of the tiled area with muddy paws, so that's why all the tile need cleaning. I'll do the heavy duty vacuuming Thursday, and the place should pass muster for her when she gets back home.

Outside the house, we have a backyard full of leaves.....

And a side yard full of leaves.....

All from this one tree, in slightly less than 24 hours.

Just amazing how some freezing rain, and below freezing temperatures, can shock the trees into dumping their leaves. We weren't in this house yet at this time last year, so we missed the first snow and freeze, and the attendant leave drop. There were two snows and freezes last year between when we got here, and when we moved in, so the trees were already pretty bare when we looked at the house, and while we were moving in.

The maple in the front is still holding on, but not for much longer.

When the sun hits the multicolored leaf litter from the maple, it looks quite pretty, much prettier than what I can capture with the puny little built-in flash on my camera. All quint and rustic and stuff. Guess that's your reward for having to clean it up!

And while I was out in the back, I noticed all these little dead dudes on the patio table.

The dark pole going up through the table is the umbrella mast. I thought I'd seen some wasps ( ! ) crawling up in there a few weeks ago during the last warm spell. Guess the freeze nailed 'em, so I'll have to open up the umbrella and clean out any critters that sought a winter home there, as we're planning on moving the umbrella to the basement before the next snow. Would have been really bad news to have those suckers wake up inside the house!

So, all the hoses are coiled up and stored inside with the sprinklers, the little styrofoam "hats" are over the outdoor spigots, and I picked up the foam board insulation from Home Depot. I'm thinking of going back to get one more sheet so I can make a "blank off panel" for the outside of the basement egress window just like I'm going to make for the inside. I can't see doing both sides of the windows in the front of the basement. The two of them combined are less than 25% of the surface area of the big window, and the window wells for them are much shallower and smaller. Plus that side of the house is in the house's 'wind shadow', so those two windows never get hit with strong winds, like the huge window in the back does.

I suppose there'll be a post or two coming about the windows.....

Friday, October 12, 2018


For the CSU Rams!

No, I'm not turning into a football fan, but hey, hometown stuff and all.

The only reason I mention it is I heard some racket coming from outside, and stepped to hear quite a fireworks display. It was coming from the North-Northwest, and while I could see the flashes and hear them, it was all low-level stuff.

The only thing up that way is CSU, so I wondered if maybe it was homecoming weekend for them. A quick check of the schedule shows that yep, this is Homecoming Weekend, with all the traditions that go with it in the Midwest.

Homecoming was a Big Deal when I was in high-school, but not so much at the community college I went to for two years after high-school. The Junior College football team was pretty mediocre, and with most students staying a maximum of two years, it was hard to build any kind of momentum.

I'm just glad I wasn't planning on heading up that way tonight, as I'll bet the students are having quite a celebration of it.

Good to see young people upholding traditions here in Free America.....

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Soyuz to ISS Booster Failure, Crew Safe

Latest from SpaceNews.

Fixed the link. Appears to be a 1st-2nd stage separation problem around 120 seconds into the flight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

First Snowfall

And I didn't take any pix because it didn't stick around very long.

Got about 2" of big, fluffy flakes that melted almost as soon as they hit, only piling up on the grass and trees.

Going down to 27* tonight, and predicted 20* on Sunday night. Then it goes back into the 60's so I can finish up all the winterizing here.

Ordered one of these from Home Depot:

Which was pretty much my last Big Item to buy for here. It's a 24", dual-stage, self-propelled model, that comes with two 40V, 5.0AHr batteries and charger.

Yup, it's electric, and it's battery powered. The "Self Propelled" feature was a must-have for the wife to use it. She's never muscled one of these around, so I want it to be at least "usable" for her. No, I'm not going to stand inside with a hot cuppa and watch my poor little wife do the driveway and sidewalks! But knowing her, there's times she's gonna get all wound up tighter than an 8-day clock if I haven't cleared the sidewalk and driveway in a "timely manner". Hey...the city gives you 24 hours to shovel! I know, I a good neighbor and all, and do it reasonably fast, but I think noon is "reasonably fast" most days.

And I do very good work.....

Anyway.....the thing got good ratings, and I don't want to take on another Infernal Combustion Device that I'M the one who has to maintain and make run. Small engines can be a major pain to get running at 10*, BTDT, don't need it any longer.

I don't know how much snow throwing and self-propelling time 200 WattHours is good for, but we're gonna find out.....

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Groan......What Hit Me?

Really under the weather today. Not sure if it's something I ate or a nasty bug.

Didn't even crawl out of bed until 2030 tonight.

Back later.......

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Set Material Condition YOKE!

Well, we're finally at the stage where we have to start kid-proofing the house. He's not only curious, but he's gotten fast! He's way past just walking around, and when he decides he wants to get from Point A to Point B, he takes off at max thrust and can really cover ground fast for somebody with such short legs.

We bought the white gate about two months ago when he learned he could crawl up the steps, hang a left down the hallway, and skidaddle to his room where lots of his toys are kept.

The brown gate went up tonight when the Little Guy and his Daddy came over for dinner, and between cooking dinner and trying to keep an eye on him, it got a bit much.

See, without the brown gate, he can (attempt to) go down the stairs into the den!

And while it's only five carpeted steps, he's at the stage where he's trying to walk down the stairs, rather than turn around and slide down them on his tummy, which he's very good at.

So between these two gates, and another wood one to block the kitchen/dining room door, we can keep him corralled in the living room/dining room area.

I'll be shopping/installing kid latches on all the kitchen and den cabinets this week, something I last did in 1987. He has very good Garage Discipline, as he doesn't touch or grab things like a lot of little kids do, and we've spent hours looking at tools, parts, and equipment, and learning their names. He did NINE laps of my wife's car Friday night, patting it fondly and saying "G'Ma", which is as close as he's come so far to saying "Grandma". And he's starting to say things that make sense. It's amazing to watch his speech develop. When he's playing with his toys he has 'conversations' with them. Occasionally you'll hear a distinguishable word or two, but mostly it's gibberish. The wondrous thing is that he has the cadence, inflection, and apparently the syntax down pat, and I swear I'm starting to understand him. Must be all those years of pulling signals out of the noise!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Love The Smell of Wrinkle Finish Paint In the Morning

It smells like Ham Radio!

Wrinkle finish paint has quite a history in high-end radio gear and test equipment going back to the 1930's, and probably earlier. Wrinkle finish is different than "Hammertone" which is more of a "splotchy" looking metallic paint. Wrinkle finish takes longer to dry and cure to full hardness than enamel or lacquer normally used, but it can be accelerated with heat.

And once it's fully cured, it's durable! That stuff is like shark skin, and just laughs off bumps and scuffs that would mar other finishes. I used it on the valves covers for my Firebird, and after a few heat cycles that stuff was vicious if you slipped and scuffed your knuckles against it. It felt like about 60 grit, and acted the same.



So anyway, it's durable, and all the "real" radio gear I saw as a kid was wrinkle finished. If you've ever seen any WWII radio gear from an aircraft, you know what wrinkle finish is. And it has a very distinctive odor to it, unlike any other paint or solvent I'm familiar with. Even years after it's been painted, if you have "The Nose", you can still smell it. Not unpleasant, but distinctive. Part of the allure of old vacuum tube radios is the way they smell. The hot tubes with dust and other dirt on them, the big power transformers, the paint and plastics used to make the radio; all give the radio a unique aroma, like that "new car smell", and the heat they emanate make them seem alive. All the Ham Radio projects I home brewed back-in-the-day were wrinkle finish black. It just looked so cool! So professional.....

I'm not sure when car manufactures started using wrinkle finish paint, probably soon after it was invented. The famous "Red Heads" on the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa were wrinkle finish red, giving the car it's moniker.

A REAL Testa Rossa:

Usually the fins and lettering are brushed after the paint is sanded off to make them stand out.

So with my fascination with wrinkle finish paint, and cam covers that woefully needed refinishing, I set off to refurb the set of covers I had collected. In previous episodes here I talked about using paint stripper to get the crud off the insides, and then I block sanded the fins and lettering to get all the corrosion removed. I solvent cleaned them, and took advantage of today's 80* weather to paint them.

Intake side cam cover:

Exhaust side cam cover:

After the paint cures, probably a week or more in this weather, I'll store them in the basement until Spring, at which time I'll bring them out, and sand the fins and lettering back to nice and clean, paint the lettering, and then shoot a coat of hi-temp clear engine enamel on them to keep them nice and shiny.

Should improve the view here considerably.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Forty Degrees and Raining.....Beginning Winter Preps

And we started bringing up the heaters after I vacuumed the dust and other stuff out of them. The new heater I installed down in the basement is working fine, and now the chill in that room is gone. From some reason, I get creepy feelings down there at night, so I'll see if this makes that space more user friendly.

I pulled the vent piping out of the window and took it apart for the portable A/C unit in the guest room, collapsed the hose, and stowed it all in the room's closet. We're not expecting any visitors for a while, and we won't need the A/C in that room. And removing the vent allows us to fully close that window, making that room "winterized".

I haven't drained and coiled up the garden hoses and put the 'freeze protectors' back on the outdoor spigots yet, but that's coming Real Soon Now.

One of the things I'm planning on doing before winter really sets in is to get some sheets of the R-13 foam board from Home Depot. One sheet will go in between the storm door and original exit door in the garage, and the other sheet will get sectioned up so I can put pieces of it in the basement windows. If I cut them to fit snugly, it should cut down on the heat loss through the windows, and keep the basement warmer with less energy input. We have a quote from Renewal by Andersen to replace these windows, but it was deemed "Not Critical At This Time" by SWMBO, so they're still the aluminum framed Heat Pipes like we had topside in the rest of the house.

Same with the garage doors. Even though there's a volume of 'dead air' trapped between the two doors, there's still significant heat loss out of that portal. I'd planned on replacing the 40 year old side door in the garage (it's half glass, the glue joints are popped open, and it's sagging) this last summer, but never got one of those circular tuits from the jobjar to handle it. It's not as bad as the original aluminum framed windows we had replaced, but if you step into that corner of the garage you find yourself in a "cold spot". And I'm also thinking of putting four sheets of some thinner stuff across the garage door on the Toyota side. Even though the doors are insulated, and extra couple of inches can't hurt. It was getting down to 40 degrees in the garage last winter, and my "log" shows 10 nights at temps below 45. When it gets under 50 out there, it starts to get hard to work more than about 30~45 minutes. Even when I was huffing and puffing scrubbing out the paint last year, under 50 was sure to make my fingers stiffen up. I *might* look into some supplemental heat if I can do it inexpensively. Since there's NO natural gas piping on this cul-de-sac, hanging a big old Modine heater on the ceiling is out, thanks to Jimmuh Cahter.

Halloween preps this year (we closed on the house 31 October last year) include one of those little stick-in-the-ground "laser" light shows, a flicker bulb replacement for the porch light, some flickering plastic pumpkins on the porch, and a couple of speakers on the front porch playing spooky music. Oh, and four big bags of candy, per our neighbors.

Snow tire swap is scheduled for sometime in mid-November, as that's when most of the tribe does it, and they've lived here for quite a bit longer than we have.

I had these things on the list for October, but waking up to sub-40 degree temps, and then the drizzle, reminded me that there's no time like the present.

Oh, and I want to get a Farmer's Almanac this year, too. I haven't had one since high-school, but Mom put a lot of faith in their forecasts.

Must be a Midwestern thing.......

Monday, September 24, 2018

One Year In Colorado

Still haven't finished editing up the list of notes I've been trying to keep the last year, but as of the 22 Sept, I've been here one year. My wife arrived a day earlier on 21 Sept.

Yeah, I'm a few days off, but hey....I'm retired and don't count 'em that close any more.

My son, Pebbles, and I left the house in Long Beach about 1000 on 20 Sept, and spent that night in St. George, UT, and then spent the night of 21 Sept in Grand Junction, CO, arriving in Fort Collins the afternoon of 22 Sept.

Took us a few days to settle in, and then "House Hunt 2017" started up. We found, agreed to buy, financed, insured, ordered cable and telephone, and closed on 31 Oct.

- WHEW! -

We moved in on 1 Nov, and proceeded to begin repairing all the little things that are invariable wrong with any "new" home you move in to. And some big things, too, like having a 65' cottonwood tree removed, the roof replaced, and all new windows installed.

So how do we like it? I love it, and my wife still misses her friends, but she's adjusting.

We were here about two weeks, and I turned to her one night and said "I'm Home".

And on my errands today, I heard a radio ad for a self-service dog wash, and they included a variety of shampoos, and all the towels you needed.

I'll try and go through the notes this week and come up with something about the culture shock of moving back to Free America. We've had some amusing incidents......

Saturday, September 22, 2018

MKII Supra Foglamp Restoration - Wrap-Up -

Groan, this turned into a project in it's own right!

For those that missed our previous installments, you can find them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Murphy Strikes

The particular problem that had me stalled was the length of the LED H-3 halogen bulb replacement I bought:

It's  bit too long, resulting in it hitting the internal light shield inside the reflector/lens, and not seating in the housing:

The "replacement-replacement" bulb is the black one in the opening photo, and it snuggles down just like it's supposed to, and allows the little wire bail latch to close:

Then connect up the wires:

Slide the weather boot back into position:

Slide the reflector/lens with the wiring attached into the bucket, and insert the parking lamp bulb into place:

Mate the pieces fully together, and get the bezel ready:

Then screw the bezel on with some new stainless-steel button-head cap screws so they never rust again:

And place it on the shelf next to it's mate:

And one of the other tasks that was staring me in the face was cleaning up/refurbishing the turn signal/side marker lamps. Since a large portion of these face directly forward, they get hit with all kinds of FOD, and were pitted from it. I used Novus Plastic Polish, which is about as good as you can get, provided you follow the directions!

I spent several hours on each lamp assembly, slowly cleaning the road film and pits off of it, and then polishing it. After the initial cleaning, I started with Novus #3, the most aggressive, and polished the daylights out of it. Then I went to Novus #2, almost a finishing polish, and then ended with Novus #1, a glaze and sealant.

I was stunned at how the color returned, and they took on a deep luster. Most of the pitting on the front surface is now gone, and the sides, which were just weathered a bit, look stunning. Even my wife remarked at how they "looked new".

And of course I scrubbed and restored the backsides as well, cleaning all the wiring, and replacing the incandescent bulbs with LED units:

So as my beloved Heathkit would say...."This completes the assembly of these two units.".

And now it's time to get back to this: