Things have been INSANE around here. Halloween came and went without much fanfare and, with a lot of evidence that Halloween (at least on MY block) was going to be something of a non-starter, I didn't put out the usual over-the-top Halloween display. It's been a long, difficult year and the way things continue to come my way (the latest remnants of the WWII jeep I traded for is a fine example of an unexpected intrusion) I have very little time to do all that needs to be done. With the party date growing ever closer, I am all about cutting corners wherever corners can be cut.
BUT (I like big BUTs and I cannot lie)
BUT the upcoming Christmas bacchanal has a way of demanding that I take myself away from endless and wasted hours watching YouTube and pounding out drivel for the G838 whilst watching and reading about everyone else have fun with their stuff. Couple that with The Billmeister's sudden departure for a week in order to go paddling around the Caribbean in a cruise ship filled with rum-soaked revelers, and a smidgen of (dare I say it?) food poisoning and maybe even a little touch of Covid 19, 20, or whatever number we're on at this point... Well, nothing says Get Y'seff in Gear like having the #1 Assistant take a powder with a drop dead date for a party right around the corner.
Just before Billiboi left, he and I put up the big party tent. This process is usually a big, hairy deal requiring that a small number friends and family be cleverly convinced once again that putting up the big tent will be 'fun'. Alas, I am weary and I am running out of fresh lies to tell people about how 'fun' erecting a tent is. So, I decided that it might just be far easier if Bill and I would have a go at it, alone and save all the time I would have to spend in the confessional....
if I were so inclined....
This monster gets erected over the driveway which is (this year) unusually chock-a-block full of my never-ending projects. The WWII jeep came and went. The Fairbanks Platform Scale got thrown together and now, with its mobility and utility restored, I cannot imagine what the heck I'm gonna do with it...et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The real fly in the ointment has been ol' Nickel, my 1969 Ford Model 2000 tractor which has been receiving year-long (and highly intermittent) care in having its fuel system, cooling system and charging system restored and having every other little nut, bolt and washer removed and replaced. I am presently in the final throes of it, finding out which critical parts I forgot to order. There it sits, unfinished, and right in the middle of the driveway. I haven't any regrets or embarrassment about it. This summer's weather wasn't exactly 'worker-friendly'. In fact, it was doggoned brutal.
So, we erected the tent in a most bass-ackwards fashion; assembled a portion of the frame and then walked it over the tractor and into position and from there, we added sections in situ until the whole thing was together. Then we would locate appropriate places for several mondo augers which are military surplus aircraft tie-downs. With these screwed into the planet, I have the means of firmly anchoring the tent to Mother Earth.
Nothing is quite as ungainly, yet so willing to take flight as an unanchored party tent.
Ask me how I know.
What Bill and I continue to forget is that Doc and I got a NEW tent several years ago and we cannot seem to remember that simple fact (which should tell you how our memory is slowly failing us). Or, perhaps we had been traumatized so severely by the old tent that we can't get past it. Anyhoo, this new rig has a skin that is far lighter than the old one, making it joyful AND triumphant. Memories of putting up the old one always intrude into our thoughts about how much hard work this really was or wasn't, depending upon one's point of view. The old tent was a fat lady. She weighed a LOT and unfortunately, from my wife's perspective, putting up a party tent is no more problematic than reminding her hubby that it must be done SOON and then leaving the matter for others to achieve. Happily, the process of assembling the new tent is no longer comparable to, say, putting up The Great Pyramid of Giza, chiefly because of the new, lightweight material.
But, in order to assure Doc that our labors are truly worthy of her appreciation, this time we enlisted her aid in putting up the roof 'canvas'..
In normal times (when the driveway was one large, unrestricted space) we would assemble the ridge and rafters, tilt it up and install legs on one side, skin the roof and secure it to the frame, and then lift the other side up and put the rest of the legs on and Bob's yer uncle... Easy peasy. But, as you now know.....the tractor was in the midst of things. We wound up organizing the roof skin on one side in such a way that it could be drawn up and over the assembled frame by hand ....and for once, Doc briefly got to experience what it was like to be a roustabout instead of the being the cigar-chomping Boss Canvas Man who just stands there and issues orders.
With the roof skin up and sort of where it was supposed to be, everybody ran around like lunatics, fastening the roof to the frame and the frame to the tie-downs before the next big breeze came up. The real difficulty in that process was, everyone grabbed a fistful of ball bungees, went to their own corner and began fastening the nearest section of the tent roof down. Well, let me tell ya, friend...
it don't work that way!
The roof skin fits the frame like a glove and it must be put on just so...because if one end is all tacked down, you'll have to pay the Devil to get the opposing side pulled down into place. The correct process requires cooperation...which is something that is always in short supply around this place. When I pointed out from atop the step ladder.. (where I was grimly struggling to get enough canvas pulled my way so as to be able to secure the peak...without falling to my death) ..that everyone needed to stop what they were doing and stop pronto, well, everyone got their hackles up. With our group's team spirit having quickly gone up in a puff of smoke, and a roof that was too tight here, and too short there...there was much gnashing of teeth, swearing, saber rattling and making overtures for a good old-fashioned dust up, the whole thing devolved into a bloody mess....as is with all things we do around here as a group. As they say....
Too many chefs and not enough indians spoils the broth....
or something like that....
So much for being imbued with the Christmas Spirit!
But, after all the oaths were uttered and after all the dust settled, the tent is once again UP. It was a rushed job and it went contrary to the normal order of things. Things, such as power-washing the driveway BEFORE the tent goes up. This neatly exemplifies how the whole year has gone. Stalled jobs, interrupted jobs, odd jobs, bass-ackward jobs, unexpected jobs, rushed jobs. But, happily, no botched jobs! As always, all this shirt gets done, sooner or later. Having things accomplished well in advance is a wasted effort when having things accomplished on time will do very nicely and is one helluva lot less nerve wracking.
Now, with Sir Billiam out on the water and with the tent up, I finally take a breath and turn my full attention to Nickel, cause Nickel has gotta be moved.
I rounded up the various bins of tractor parts and began hanging the remaining new and refurbished bits onto Nickel and I did it without rushing; working my way carefully through each process in order to put the wraps on each system in my best one-and-done manner. There are a few things I still don't understand about this tractor simply because it wasn't in great shape when I got it and remember, it was the ultimate Village Bicycle (everyone had had a ride). So much had been fiddled with that I had to figure certain things out based on experience and an ounce of common sense (and this was usually stuff that didn't appear in any manual or on any YouTube channel).
Eventually I would also come to discover that I had grabbed a few salvage yard parts that weren't quite appropriate for this particular tractor. Right manufacturer, wrong model. Working those bugs out takes time and is complicated by having to put things back together that came apart almost a year ago. It isn't always as easy as 1-2-3, brother!
A good example of this would be the throttle control rod, which is little more than a rod bent at a right angle at the top to form a throttle control arm and below that, it goes almost straight down to hook up to the governor linkage through a clever little set of Thingamabobs and Hoosiewhatsits at the end. Sounds simple, right? Well, the throttle I got from the salvage yard was from a larger tractor of the same period, using the same sorts of Thingamabobs and Hoosiewhatsits. HOWEVER.... I would come to find it was longer and I fully admit, Your's Truly had never set the two throttles down side by side. My bad. So, when I put the replacement piece in, I found that it was too long and thus, too tall, and thus-THUS, the throttle control arm interfered with the steering wheel.
In what I think was a genius move, my solution was to apply heat, put another 90° bend in it which left me with a throttle control rod that was the appropriate length and a throttle control arm that was delta-shaped, rather than straight which I still think is a very nice touch. Yeah, she's custom!
Truly Custom Tractor Achievement Badge - AWARDED!
With all this fussing, eventually I came to the part where everything (that is, everything necessary to run it) appeared to be done. Mixed up some lead additive in a can of fuel and poured it into my fully refurbished, perfectly clean, VIRGIN gas tank. Whoot-Whoot! Added a battery and with a shot from the Ether Bunny, I fired it up. It ran like crap but it WAS running. Sadly, it was running so lean that it sounded like a tin bucket filled with nuts and bolts tumbling down a staircase. Apparently, my carb had managed to find and swallow one of the tiny pieces of the crappy replacement cork bowl gasket that came in the rebuild kit.
Crud! (except I didn't say Crud)
I just glared at it. But, the immediate goal was to get ol' Nickel out of the driveway and parked elsewhere so I managed the lean condition by pulling some choke until it ran smoothly. I hopped aboard and the drive around back was as uneventful as anyone could possibly have hoped. Just like I like it.
Clear The Decks Achievement Badge - AWARDED!