Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Working Weekends

What's that smell, my co-worker asks. I answered with a smirk on my face, it's a combination of jet fuel and Calvin Klein's Obsession mixed with grease. Working heavy maintenace now since I forgot to bid my days off and crew assignment, we have to get close to each other working. One night I helped a coworker change a nose landing gear. The nose wheel well is, at the most, 28 inches wide. So we work elbow to elbow getting the gear in and out. The next night the whole crew worked to install both main landing gears in another plane. 4 mechanics per side. It isn't hard work, but it wears you and your body out. The gear is on a dolly that can jack the gear into place, but everyone pitches in to man handle the dolly in place. The gear, if positoned correctly, goes on smooth as silk. But that "sweet" spot is hard to find and requires major finesse. The front mount of the gear, called the trunion mount, is like your shoulder. It is a ball in a socket with a 4 inch diameter pin sticking out of it. The gear has to slide onto this pin. Once it is started on this pin, it has to travel uphill, as the back mount of the gear is lower to clear the back side of the opening in the wing. We have a 15 pound dead blow hammer on a 4 foot long handle that we use to tap the gear up than inclined pin. I did this tapping last Saturday night. Did I mention you have to strike it overhead about 7 feet off of the floor? It usually takes at least two different mechanics tag teaming the hammer. During this tapping exercise, the rest of crew wiggles the gear. Once the front trunion mount is in, we man handle the gear and dolly so the aft trunion mount is lined up and then we slide a 4 inch diameter pin out of the gear casting and into the aft trunion mount bearing. This bearing moves all around like a ball, so it takes a precise eye to get it lined up. Then a 4 foot long slide hammer is supported over the flap to pull the aft pin into the aft trunion bearing mount. Sometimes a bur is all that keeps this from going smoothly. That is when one mechanic stands on a ladder behind the flap supporting the aft end of the slide hammer and a mechanic on a ladder in front of the flap really bangs the slide hammer with all their strength. Once the pin is in postion, a one inch diameter bolt goes through it to lock it in place. Most all the pins that hold the actuator that retracts the gear have nuts that are big enough to use a smaller bolt and nut to lock in place. After all this labor, I am ready for a hot bath. Make that two hot baths. I take one after work and before I go back in the evening.
Rebecca and I had a wonderful time at the George Strait concert in Austin. I went over the evening before and we hit Doc's Sports Bar for some Mexican food and drinks. Rebecca had some problems with a continuing education course she was taking on campus, so the afternoon before the concert found me sitting in my truck watching all the campus activiety while Rebecca visited with her counselor. As usual, we got to the concert late and missed the female soloist opening. We did find out seats in time to catch all of Little Big Town. They played for 1 hour. Then King George came out and entertained us for over 2 hours. We had nose bleed seats as we were sitting in the next to the top row in the Frank Erwin Center. I didn't forget the fact that a month earlier, Rebecca recieved her dipolma there. I took a few videos of the concert at Rebecca's request. I haven't watched them, but I made a copy for Rebecca. She told me she is going to start calling me Shaky, as I didn't hold the camera still enough! After the awesome concert, Rebecca bought her a George Strait shirt and cap. Anyway, I did get a good photo of George taking his hat off to the crowd. Well, I was a little early and caught him just as he started taking his hat off. Oh well, maybe next time. On the way home we drove by the Texas Capital, as Rebecca's apartment is dircetly south of it. The pink granite Capital is taller than the U.S. Capital in Washington D.C.!
The granite came from right up the road in Burnet and Marble Falls. The next day Rebecca invited her best friend to join us for lunch at Joe's Crab Shack on Town Lake. Austinites call it Town Lake, but in reality it is the Colorado River, and it looks like a river to me. Anyway, it was too cold to sit on the patio at Joe's, so we went inside where I stuffed myself on King Crab. The crab was delicious and as usual, everyone was waiting for me to finish.
The following week I did get a chance to finish trimming the expanded steel for the Big Red Beast's bumper and grill. I did such a neat job on it, the welder asked me if the factory sent it in two pieces! That made me feel good. Anyway, he tacked it on for just $10. What a bargain. With the grill finished to my liking, I decided to make it easier to work the 6520's backhoe after dark this spring and summer. I installed two lights on the canopy and wired them into the Mahindra's plow light. I removed the plow light as it would shine on my left elbow while running the backhoe lights. That took almost all day as I didn't have the right size drill bit at home and had to go to town not once, but twice. My drill wasn't big enough for the bit, so it was back to town to buy a bit that fit my drill chuck.

Today I decided to get the Big Red Beast's loader bucket straightened and reinforced. I have bent the upper lip up from tackling large stumps. I will be getting a 2 x 2 x 3/8 inch angle welded on the entire length of the upper lip on the bucket and have 3/8 plate welded on each end. That is, after they straighten the bucket. Hopefully the weather will be nice enough tomorrow to work on the barn siding. Check back later to see if I got "red" on the sides of the barn and please check out the photos I have uploaded.

hugs, Brandi

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year

I didn't go out New Year's Eve, but made it to a social New Year's day. A friend of mine used to have a New Year's day open house. But she died two years ago, so we decided to carry on her tradition. I went into Houston and socialized with old friends. I did meet a new guy that I have been emailing, but no sparks flew, so onward and upward. I got all my Christmas decorations put up on the 2nd. Usually it is almost February before that happens.

I made a New Year's resolution to get all my small projects completed. One of those projects was a new corn feeder for the squirrels. The old one had a wooden bottom and it was rotten. The new one I made has a old window screen for a bottom. This should make it last a while longer. The squirrels seem to like it, as all the corn disappeared the first day. The little critters need all the nourishment they can get, as Booger loves to chase them when he sees them on the ground. Another little project popped up over the holidays. The Big Red Beast spent so much time in the barn, she drug her starter while starting on the bitterly cold 2nd day of January. So I purchased a trickle battery charger and mounted the quick attach wiring harness. Since the battery is totally covered and bolted in, this is necessary to make unplugging it easy. So now I have the 6520 and my zero turn mower on chargers. One other project is ongoing. Dad uses a lot of kindling in his wood stove. I have a red oak log I cut in 8 inch sections and split them down to half inch or smaller sticks. I bought them a new bellows, as the old one wore a hole in the leather and was blowing out the side more then the nozzle.

My nights off are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday now. This wasn't intentional. I was off work and missed the annual crew bid. So I lost my weekends off. Now my head thinks it is Friday when it is actually Monday. It really is messed up. But I heard at work the other night that a temporary vacancy may open up on my old crew because a co-worker is off with an On The Job injury. With my seniority, I should be able to win the bid for it. Anyway, it is Tuesday and it feels like Saturday to me. I was going to work on the barn today, but it looked like rain and I didn't want to get sheet metal and tools out when a storm in near. So I took the Mahindra down to my gully and deployed the backhoe's thumb. I spent the day cleaning out the gully of wood and debris. Four years ago the loggers I let haul off pine and oak logs left a mess and the gully has been backing up ever since. I specifically bought a backhoe with my Mahindra for this mess in the gully. Needless to say, time flew and I had fun. The Bradco/Mahindra 511 backhoe exceeded my expectations. I am totally satisfied with it. Booger kept coming up and wanted attention and to play. I was lucky enough to take a photo of him with his ball in his mouth. I have uploaded a few photos of all this activity. Take a look at them when you get a chance.

Tomorrow I will be headed to Austin. Rebecca and I have tickets to the George Strait concert on the UT campus. We have a tradition of attending his concert every year. Last year was in Las Vegas. The year before was in Indianapolis. George has a one night concert every year in Austin, but this was the first year we snagged "cheap" tickets there. So we won't have to take the company plane to hear George sing this year! Check back later to see if we got to shake his hand and to hear more about Brandi, Booger, and the Big Red Beast.

hugs, Brandi