Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs!

She's two years old, predominantly American Staffordshire Terrier, aka "Pit Bull". She was surrendered to the NoCo Humane Center by a young couple who are expecting their first child, and decided they couldn't handle a young dog and a new infant at the same time. The first dog we looked at wanted absolutely nothing to do with us, which is surprising, as we're both People of the Dog, and most dogs like us. I mean growl, turn her back to us, and stare out the window until the staff person came to collect her.

Luna was very happy to meet us, and took to us immediately. She responded properly to several commands we gave her, and seemed to be a very good natured dog.

I tried to get a good picture of her, but the Big Black Nikon camera I have spooked her, and when I clicked the flash up, she backed off. As soon as I took this picture she came back wagging her tail, but I've never seen a dog get spooked by a camera.

And she loves exploring her backyard. I'm sure she'll love the trails here, too.

We get to see how she does with other people tomorrow, as The Kids are dropping by for a bit.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

For Phil......

 My buddy Phil from Bustednuckles brought up a good point on my previous post.

Since I have things on the engine torn down this far:

It would be (take your pick) foolish, stupid, and/or Just Plain Dumb to NOT replace the $35 water pump while it's out there right in front of me.

To which I wholeheartedly agree:

These are all new, bought on "Wholesaler Close-Out" from Rock Auto. They're all Made In Japan, and look identical. These haven't been available for quite some time from Toyota, so we're forced to use aftermarket for replacements. The pump in the car is fairly new, isn't leaking a single drop, and the bearing rotates freely with zero wobble, play, or noise or grittiness.

Since the water pump is right in front of me, the cooling system is completely drained, and I have the parts and gaskets on-hand, it a no-brainer to swap it out. Since I'm ditching the engine-driven clutch fan, the bearings in the new pump should last a good, long time.

Annnnnd......Since it appears to be weeping a bit, a new front main seal will also be installed.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

YAY! Harmonic Balancer Off The Engine

 The special tool I ordered worked like a charm after I bought some longer bolts. Since the tool is listed as for a Lexus, which used this basic engine, I guess the harmonic balancer isn't as deep as this one on my Toyots.

Tool on Balancer:

 Big Bolt removed:


Puller on Balancer:

Balancer off car:


It's a Good Thing I'm doing this, because even though the belt looks fairly new, the tensioner is shot. Hard to rotate, gritty feeling, and most likely the one the car was born with.

This will be my play room the next few days while I clean this up, and install the new parts.

Next thing will be to pull the lower intake runners, followed by more cleaning of those parts and the left side of the engine.


Then I can start on the wiring upgrades......

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Spring? Is That You?

 You jest can't never tell 'bout Spring In The Rockies. It's been stunningly beautiful the last few days, with blue skies, and temps right around 60 or so. Both the weekend, and the coming week, look to be Really Nice Weather in the mid to upper 70's.

And we'll get clobbered with snow at least once more (Never plant before Mother's Day!) before things stay nice. Our new yard service has been here the last two days. They mowed, aerated, de-thatched, fertilized, and seeded the front and rear yards, and I've reconfigured our watering system to make it easier for SLW to do the crack-of-dawn watering. After our preparing and seeding some big dead (as in "dirt") areas in the backyard went so well, we decided to get some Professional Help for everything else. These guys are on the ball, on time, do an excellent job, are friendly, and their charges are very reasonable.

Work is continuing on the Supra. The tool I bought to pull the harmonic balancer included bolts that were too short. Correct length bolts are on the way, as I really, really, really want to get the cam belt and ancillaries changed as they're an "Unknown Time In Use" part, and have definite life spans.

It's much easier to get at the wiring harnesses I'll be working on with the radiator, and all the air conditioning equipment off the car. The plastic "Split Loom" tubing was so far gone that it was crumbling away. The plastic retainers used to hold the split-loom tubing to the chassis were either broken, or broke when I released the harness from them. The wires inside the tubing are being cleaned, and then they'll get wrapped with a special tape, and new split-loom installed. The battery cables and cable from alternator to battery are being upgraded to suit the new high-output alternator. I'm really getting to know the engine bay wiring quite well, as I have to remove the old cables, measure and photograph them, and send that to the vendor for a quote. The positive cable needs to be slightly modified, as the original way the battery was connected was a mess. The extremely corroded "Fusible Link Box" is being replaced with a new assembly I fabricated. 

 This required a minor change in the cable from the battery, adding an 8 gauge wire from the battery to the new Fusible Link Box, rather than having them mount directly ON the positive post of the battery.

Friday I go see a specialist about my neck issues. Seems I have a bulging disc, and some congenital spinal issues.

I'd post something about the State of the Union, but I don't like elevating my blood pressure. Nevertheless, I sense something coming our way, and it won't be good. Whether it happens before or after the election is unclear, but I think something's going to pop.....

Enjoy your upcoming weekend, keep your head on a swivel, and have a Blessed Sunday.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Wind Storm AAR

 Other than the wind howling all night, and a backyard full of Nature's Pruning of the Trees, we got through things alright. There were about a dozen semis blown over on I-25 North of Wellington and then CDOT closed the road to large vehicles.

The area where The Kids live was powered off, and they just now (1530 local) had power restored. 

Trees down, power lines down, vehicles blown over, roofs damaged, and wind gusts here in town of 60+MPH.

Things are back to normal, and the temps will be in the high 60's, low 70's this coming week.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Spectacular Weather.....Followed By Storms.....

 The weather here has been Fan-Freakin'-Tastic for the last four days. Beautiful blue skies, temps in the 60's~70's, and just all around pleasant.

That's going to change in the next 12 hours or so. There's a big front coming in from the North, as usual, bringing cold weather, rain/snow, and very high winds. The forecast is for sustained winds of 35~45MPH, and gusts as high as 70MPH. That's some serious wind, so I went around the yard today sheltering the patio furniture, and checking my antennas for tight mounting hardware. All was good, but I slackened my radials a bit to allow for a bit more sway.

Spring Cleaning has begun in the "Hangar Bay" (my garage), and the tables cleared (mostly), parts arranged, and I'm waiting for a tool to be delivered so I can finally get the Harmonic Balancer removed on the Supra. The Big Bolt that holds the balancer on the crankshaft is torqued to One-Hundred and Sixty Foot-Pounds of torque, which is a fair amount of twist for an old geezer like me. I was going to fabricate a tool, and then one of my Extended Toyota Family clued me in to this tool. $22 delivered in two days from Amazon.

This bolts into the center hub of the balancer, and allows you to hold it while you apply copious amounts of torque to loosen the bolt.

For leverage, a 1/2" drive breaker bar plugs into the end of the tool like so....

And your choice of breaker bar length determines how much torque you have to exert while the impact tool rattles away.

This one is about 16" long, and I have a 26" bar, with a two-foot length of pipe, in the truck, if needed.

Once I get the timing belt, tensioner, and tensioner spring replaced, I can put this task to bed, and move on to the electrical upgrades to make the most of the new 95A alternator.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Handy Desktop App for Hams

 Sent to me by a friend, and now added to the "Link-O-Rama" section.

It's called the "Hamshack Dashboard", and provides quite a bit of info at your fingertips. Or a mouse click.....

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Gloomy, Gritty, Grey Day

 At 1700 local it's as described in the headline; 30*F, 88% RH, completely overcast, snowing like crazy (small flakes, but lots of them), and the wind is whipping it up at about 25~30MPH. It's a good night to stay inside, have a big Mug-O-Joe, and listen to the scanner. I get near real-time updates on the road conditions from the snow plows and deicing trucks, and this storm is getting nasty. When you hear a plow operator say "Yep, it's started. They're already crashing...", you know the roads are slippery.

I got the garage swept out, and put SLW's car inside, and then retreated back in here. I've been cleaning up my old paper files in the basement, and I've just about filled two yard-sized trash bags with shredded paper. And I FINALLY went through, cleaned out, and organized, my two-drawer filing cabinet.

Almost finished with the reorganization of the "Electronics" bench. Moved the test equipment to be more usable, and moved around the work surface and anti-static mat top eliminate the dead space between the work surface and edge of the table it sits on. That worked so well that I'll do the same over on the "Mechanical" workbench.

So if you live out here, keep warm and dry. If you live elsewhere, act appropriately. And regardless of your locale, keep your head on a swivel. I think we may be in for a Long, Hot Summer......

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

One Year Ago Today.....

 I fell in the garage and broke my hip, beginning a year of hospital visits, tests, and other procedures.

And the speakers I had just started building? Sloooowly nearing completion. They would have been finished by now, but I missed on two holes used to mount the speaker grill, so now I have to plug, sand, and re-drill them.

This one came out just fine.

It looks a bit off, but it's mounted into a rubber mount, and I didn't push it down all the way. I still have to do the final fitment, apply glue, let it cure, and then SLW is going to help me cover them with speaker grill cloth.

So the odd one is plugged...

Then trimmed, sanded, and filled. Ill sand it tomorrow so the filler has plenty of time to cure.

Since it's going to be in the 60's this week, and clear, I'll be out in the garage bringing that whole system back on-line.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Annnnd.....We Got Zip.....

 Total snow was about 6~8", but half o0f it melted as soon as it hit, and we never had more than 3" on the ground at any one time. All I had to shovel were the front steps, and a path down the driveway.

The streets are dry now, and it's forecast for 50* on Sunday, so most of it will be gone, and all of it by Friday.

And the Ariens still slumbers..

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Batten Down The Hatches!

 Looks like a Big One coming in. I-70 is already closed, and parts of I-25, North and South of here, are likely to be closed.




So far, we've received a little over 1/8" of rain, and the rain stopped about 2130 local. It's 2250 now, and the back patio is sloooowly drying.

The worst of it will be South of here, with Denver getting clobbered, and some places in the Rocky Mountain Nat'l Forest, and the Front Range, are expected to get up to 48" of snow. We're forecast at 3~6", but we'll see.

The Weather Radar from Cheyenne gives a good picture.

So stay warm and dry, stay off the roads, and if you have to be out in this weather, you have my sympathy. I've worked outdoors in this stuff, and it ain't pleasant.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

My Friend Has Passed....

 It's with a very heavy heart that I have to report that our beloved dog and faithful friend Pebbles quietly passed away today at 1745 local time. She was surrounded by her family and the Veterinary Staff.

She was born eleven and a half years ago in Long Beach, CA, and had a very unique personality. She loved people, was very friendly, fiercely protective of us, and a trusted companion.

I took a couple of pictures of her today, but I'd much rather remember her with this one.

So long, my friend. I hope and pray our paths will cross again, and we can resume our journey.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Preparing for "The Last Ride To The Vet".......

 Little Miss Pebbles is getting close to her time. She's been off her feed, coughing/hacking, and her breathing has been raspy the last week. We had her in about three weeks ago, and they gave her a shot of Prednisolone, the same steroid I had in the hospital, and sent her home with some Prednisone, also what I came home from the hospital with. It worked fine, and her breathing was much better, and she was very playful, like normal.

Then late last week, she started being lethargic, watery eyes, and coughing/hacking (Think "ACCCK!", like Bill the Cat), and a bit more "needy" (wants pets and hugs while licking me)than she usually is. So we took her in today, and the consensus was "Soon". If the meds she's getting now don't help her, then we're left with no choice but to take that last, sad Ride To The Vet, and a very lonely return trip.

SLW and I are both distraught over this, but it's part of life. Pebbles is the first dog I ever bonded with to this extent, and it's going to be pretty tough saying goodbye.

OldAFSarge lost his cats a while back, and I deeply sympathize with him.

I'll keep you all posted.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Bob Heil, K9EID, SK

 I just heard that Bob Heil passed away a few days ago after a years long battle with cancer. Bob was responsible for bringing high-quality microphones to Amateur Radio, along with many audio accessories. He was a world-class organist on the huge pipe organs that were popular during the silent film era. He was also the audio engineer for Dolly Parton, developed the Wall-of-Sound that the Grateful Dead used for their tours, and invented the "Talk Box" that Peter Frampton put to such good use.

RIP, Bob. You will be missed.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Still Here, Just Busy, Busy, Busy......

 Doing mostly home owner stuff. Cabinet hinges, hanging things for SLW, and trying to knock out a bunch of "little things", like mount the toilet paper holders with better wall anchors so they don't keep coming loose, and installing a new porch light fixture to replace the ancient, crusty, rusty one.

The recent storm that went through only gave us a few inches of nice, fluffy snow, which was gone 24 hours later. They got hit with 9" out in Greeley where my son lives! Melted pretty quickly, and he kept working right through it. What a trooper!

So more to come, and with pictures, too!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Griswold faces crushing defeat to ban Trump from ballot

 Griswold is our Secretary of State here in Colorado, and she's so blue you wonder if she's getting enough Oxygen.

Most of us thought she was NUTZ in banning Trump from the ballot for the upcoming elections, and it looks like the USSC is going to smack her down. Even the libtard justices think she's bat-shit crazy to suggest such a thing.

Read all about it here, on Colorado Peak Politics, a site I visit daily, along with Complete Colorado.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

What's Up NOW, Doc?

 Been home about 10 days, and feeling much, much better.

So what happened, or more accurately, what did I let happen this time?

Well.....I have an aversion to Dentists. It probably comes from the Dentist I had from "first teeth" until he retired. He was the brother of our Family Doctor (good old "GP"), and was a Navy Dentist. He didn't use any local numbing, so I had to sit there for cleanings and cavities. Sometimes it felt like that scene from "Marathon Man".

So, I just "let it go". BIG mistake. All four molars (18, 19, 29, and 21) in my lower left jaw went nuclear overnight. I woke up that day, looked in the mirror, and my eyes got about as big as dinner plates. I was having problems swallowing, and my neck under my jaw looked like I had a muffin on one side, and a biscuit on the other. So I got cleaned up, hit the "MAYDAY!" button, and had SLW take me to the ER. A dentist wouldn't have touched me, Urgent Care would have told me to scoot off the ER, so we saved some time and went straight there.

SLW dropped me off at the ER at 1100 local, and went on to one of her Doctor's appointments. I was checked-in, and seeing a Doctor in about 20 minutes. A staff person came in, and started two IV lines, and then sent me down the hall for a CT Scan of my jaw area. Then it was off to a room in the ICU where I gowned up and  waited for the Surgical Team to assemble.

The Doctors were quite concerned they wouldn't be able to get an airway into me for breathing gas, and they went through the procedure for a Tracheotomy with me. They would prefer NOT to do so, as it adds another layer of required medical care. I told them to do what they had to do, and gave them my consent, signed a form (by now I was getting really out of it due to the infection), and told them they had my complete trust, which seemed to break the ice, and we moved forward.

They put the mask on, I took some deep breaths, the Fentanyl came next, and it was lights out. The operation was completed by 1900 local, and I was out all night. I barely remember SLW being there, but I was drifting in and out of consciousness. And I was pretty out of it the next day, too. At least they were able to get an airway in, so I didn't need any holes put in me. I could barely talk the next two days, and was using a dry erase paddle to communicate. I told SLW I should have helped her get her Morse Code speed up past 5 words-per-minute so we could converse, and she cracked up.

The Oral Surgeon said he'd never seen FOUR teeth abscessed so bad. He said it was more of an "excavation" than an extraction, and he was amazed at the amount of "stuff" that was suctioned out.

I was getting a vial of Ampicillin every 3 hours, and an injection of Prednisolone (a powerful anti-inflammatory corticosteroid) about every 6 hours, along with so many blood draws and finger sticks that I lost count. I was on a liquid only diet for four days, as the swelling was so bad that my epiglottis wasn't working properly, and there was concern I'd get some food in my lungs that I couldn't expel. Then I was on a "Minced and Moist" (pureed, actually) for a couple of days, and then the "Soft and Bite Sized" diet for the last two days. Just about back to a normal diet, but still haven't tried certain foods. Plenty of pasta, rice, meat sauce, Jimmy Dean sausage, scrambled eggs (SLW makes killer eggs!), and a couple of 30g protein shakes a day. I have to mix the protein drink with about 40% milk to be able to comfortably get it down as it's a bit too "Clingy and Coating" for my taste. The mixture also makes very good soft-serve from our little ice cream machine.

So far now, "That's All, Folks", and I'm feeling a couple of orders of magnitude better than when I went in.

And I'm getting pretty good at finding things in my little Bible........

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Doing Fine, AAR To Follow....

 Pain down ~90%, swelling down ~90%, no jaw pain, swallowing ability significantly improved. Lymph nodes mostly back to normal, indicating we've got the infection about beat-down, and mobility returning. Leg muscles are stiff and sore, and I'm looking forward to working with the OT/PT staff. I feel confident that the Speech Pathology staff will be pleased with my progress, and clear me to the next Diet Level. I'm still eating conservatively, and following their guidelines, but boy....does it feel good to be able to eat Mac-and-Cheese in a normal manner, and be able to swallow it without any difficulty.

I have to dig up the #1 CT Scan when they brought me in, compared to the #2 CT Scan taken several days later.

Peace, have a Blessed Sunday, and be aware of your six.....

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Home Again, Home Again, Jig Jiggedy Jig!

 Released at 1500 Local, and back home again by 1600.

 The swelling and inflammation have dropped significantly, my "Cerivcal Lymph Nodes" have pretty much returned to their preincident condition, no more pain when swallowing, and the area of my jaw where they "excavated" the four abscessed molars has transitioned to being "just a gum line" again. There's still a few small fragments that will have to be addressed, but nothing like when I went in.

Still have to be on a semi-soft diet until the Speech Pathology people clear me to resume a normal diet, and the PT/OT people want me in a few times to make sure nothing else went South besides the teeth.

So now I'm "In Search Of....." a good Dentist, after which it'll be open the wallet, let the moths out, and pay the man. I need some other Dental work too, so I'm pretty sure we'll burn through our Dental Allowance at an astonishing rate.

The hospital food was OK, considering it was all pureed, but the coffee was #1 or #2 on my list of "Worst Coffee In America". First thing I did after I got home and got things squared away was make a decent cuppa, and sat down to enjoy it.

Thank you all for the encouragement and support. Infected/impacted teeth have killed many people in the past, and will continue to do so. SLW was told by the Doctor that I was in "serious trouble", which I don't remember her saying before tonight. Considering that they did the surgery several hours after I checked-in, I'd have to say "Yep".

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Brrrrrrr! It's COLD Outside!

 First major winter storm heading in tonight. It's currently about SIX degrees, and it'll be -10* or colder at night during the coming week.

It's supposed to bring ~3" of snow, which is a pittance compared to what we've had in the previous years since we moved here. My electrically heated gloves are charging, I finally have a good stocking cap, and I serviced the snow blower last year in between hospital stays.

If you live here I don't have to tell you to watch out while you're out-and-about, and to pack an emergency box sufficient to keep you alive for (minimum) 48 hours. I really feel for the ranchers, farmers, and everybody else who has to work outdoors in this weather. I've done it decades ago, and it was brutal. I remember having my flashlight die out in my hand because the batteries froze. I had to keep it in my jacket, but I didn't want to open my jacket!

Anywhoo.....Keep your head on a swivel, and watch out for frostbite!

Monday, January 8, 2024

What's Up, Doc?

 Not much other than the progression of days....and work!

My "work" is mostly stuff I enjoy doing, along with the usual household chores, house upkeep, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I finally have all the parts I need (belts, idler tires, and capstan pressure rollers) to finish the #2 Nakamichi BX-300, so that will consume some time. The mechanical and electrical alignment take a fair amount of time to do, so this one is in sick bay for another several weeks.

The previous BX-30 I rebuilt is now in it's new home, and the new owner is quite happy.

Got this old Heathkit IG-37 "FM Stereo Generator" out of here to a new home and the guy really wanted it, warts and all.

And two people are very interested in the Heathkit "Harmonic Distortion Analyzer", and the Heathkit "IM Distortion Analyzer", both of which have been rebuilt and meet all Heathkit Specifications.

The "Audio Generator" I'm keeping, as it's an excellent piece of gear for doing what it does. Excellent frequency stability, and the distortion is well under .1%.

And I'm accumulating a YUUUUGE pile of clean, refurbished Toyota parts for the Supra. This is about 1/4 of what I've cleaned up this Winter.

Both sections of the Intake Manifold and all the Fuel Injection parts are (finally) off the car, and waiting their turn at "Dr. Jim's Health Spa for Decrepit Automobiles". I'll have to drag them into the basement shower to scrub them. Since I'm doing the cleaning work inside the house, the use of solvents is verboten, and I've been using Simple Green to scrub them with. It's not as fast as using mineral spirits, but it does the job, is low odor, and won't ignite. I also have some "Secret Sauce" I mixed up for cleaning things that I use.

And since it's been such a mild Winter (so far...), I've been able to work out in the garage on the car without freezing my tail off. The main thing I'm working on now is removing the bolt that holds the Harmonic Damper/ Balancer to the Crankshaft. It's a big bolt, it's in there with 169 ft-lbs of torque, and it hasn't moved in 40 years. Using my impact with fresh batteries only resulted in the crank during about 10* CCW, so I stopped. I needed a way to hold just the hub of the balancer while I let my impact worry away on it. You cannot apply any differential torque to the balancer, as in twisting the center while holding the outside. It will over-stress the bonded rubber layer between the two pieces, and lead to separation of the pieces. Trust me, you do NOT want your Harmonic Damper to come apart and exit the car while doing 6500RPM. I've seen it happen, and it ain't pretty. Not as bad or as violent as a clutch explosion, but it will most likely ruin your day. Or engine. Toyota had a 3-piece set of "Special Service Tools" to hold the hub, but good luck finding them. You can see in this shot, that the harmonic balancer has tapped holes in it. The SST attached to the bolts in the hub, had an 18" handle on it, and kept the hub from rotating while you wailed away on getting the blasted bolt loose.

I'll clean out the tapped holes with a .30 cal bore brush, as it fits perfectly, and then run a re-threading tap through them to get the stubborn stuff out.

 Seeing as the Special Service Tool is "Just a plate with two holes and a handle", I'm going to fabricate one. With a bit of clever design, I'll also be able to use it to hold/rotate the camshaft sprockets. too. No, I don't know if they were made by Spacely. There's a "scrap metal" place not far from here where I can get the stock, and I have enough tools to build it build with one exception.

If I'm going to fab metal, I need one of these:

Yes, it uses flux-cored wire which can make messy welds if you're not careful, but I've been welding off-and-on for over 40 years, so I think I can figure it out.

Be nice to have a welder in the family!

I'm well on my way to "Decrapifying" the driver's front corner of the engine bay. Since I had to dissect the wiring harnesses and move them out of the way, I had room to get into there and scrub some of the crud out. It's slow going, but I'll spend 15~20 minutes per night scrubbing away on it. I'll still have to sandblast and paint the areas with the surface rust, but it looks like that damage is highly contained to the area immediately under the battery tray. 

So that's "What's Up, Doc?" for the last week or so. Gonna get down to sub-zero temps over the coming weekend, and while there's snow in the forecast, I doubt we'll get much accumulation.

Be good to each other, and stay in Condition Yellow outside the home.

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs! She's two years old, p...