My Sky Color

A forty something Dad, Husband, Engineer guy living in Western Oregon. Reflections on all things in life. A few technical things and whatever else comes along.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hot Wheels
-All good things must come to an end. We turned in our 2002 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Pre-Runner. We had no complaints about the service and places that truck took our family. Our replacement new car search started about two months ago. Our track record with buying cars hasn't been the greatest. We have bought the last two vehicles under desperation or a momentary lapse of reason. This time it was going to be educated and logical. I'm pretty good at that...
-We had some basic criteria: 1) Better gas mileage tha our current 16-18, 2) Out of the weather cargo space, 3) Good rear seat leg room for the growing boys. So going to the source of all information, we started with the WWW. I also talked to a few respected friends. We narrowed the choices down to several: Subaru, Toyota, Honda, and Jeep. For S. we liked the Forester. T. had three options of interest the Camry, RAV-4 and Highlander. In H. the Accord and Element. Yes the Element... In J. it was the Liberty. And the Hummer H3.
-Subaru was eliminated because of the high price for what you get. Their engines are interesting and typically long lasting but if anything goes wrong they are done.
-We drove the Toyota RAV-4 and liked it. But it is small in the rear leg room. The Highlander is the right size but gets less that 20 MPG and the Hybrid is too much money for the benefit.
-The Jeep Libery with the V6 doesn't get very good MPG's. We drove the diesel which is nice and gets the right MPG. Jeep wants 32k for that puppy. I don't think so.
- I fell in love with the H3. It has an off-road option that gives bigger tires, Bilstein shocks and 4:1 low range gears in the T-case! The price was a bit high for the budget at about 30k and the improved MPG not.
-Cami felt we needed AWD due to the ice and hills we have where we live. So that eliminated the sedans.
-So we looked at the Honda Element. We drove an automatic 2 wheel drive on a really steep grade and were impressed with the powerplant. Later we drove a manual transmission. The most impressive aspect of the vehicle is its carrying capacity and versatility, plus it has a killer stereo. It even has satellite radio. All this for right around 20k. This looks to us like the best combination of MPG, price, room, AWD, and reputation. So now we have one.
-So far it is great. It is really fun to drive, has lots of room, and the stereo sounds great. So that is how we decided to buy the toaster, the mailbox on wheels, or the cute little boxy Honda. It works and that is what counts. DMP

Monday, September 26, 2005

An Engineer Through and Through

So the wood shed is coming along good but has now come to a stand still due to a lack of building materials. For the record... I love free stuff!

So my parents just reworked the deck in their backyard. The 2x4 decking they removed is good and available. So now I have a line on a total of 100, 10 foot and 12 foot 2x4's. Whoo Hooo!

Oh crud I traded my road worthy pickup for a new vehicle. The new wheels (I'll cover the new car soon) doesn't have a trailer hitch... So how do I haul all these 2x4's? Calling in a favor and getting Dad's help has the logistal plan is coming together. Hmmm now for 6 sheets of plywood for the roof.

The image above is a 3D solids model of the shed. It really isn't required to get the job done, but having a plan makes it go faster. Once I have worked in out in ProE I know which direction to go.

I figured out the other night that I starting building the shed too close to the barn for the overhang I intended. The "mobile shed" concept will get tested sooner than planned. DMP

Friday, September 23, 2005

This is worth checking out
American ingenuity and too much time. I love it. DMP

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Charitable Destruction

So that is me at the top of the pole in the picture. The pole was a cedar tree like the one on the left. They are both 3 inch stumps now.

One of the things I taught myself is tree climbing and removal. It is a handy skill in Oregon. It is the most tiring sport I have ever played. It is the full body workout and sweat.

I got to see one of my Tualatin friends and be a help to the betterment of a community. This is the guy with the really tricked out CJ7. The block cracked on his 450 HP 383 stroker engine. When he tore down the engine there were some other issues. A word of caution - Do your internet buying research carefully. The lowest price isn't always the best deal. I'm tired... DMP

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mobile Wood Shed Step 1
So you need to build a heavy duty frame if you want to move this thing around. I used what I have in my free wood supply. The runners are ground contact 8x8 and the corner braces and front and rear cross-members are 4x6's. I sloshed a little diesel on the cut ends and the underside of the runners for extra protection from bugs and weather. The runners are 12 feet long. The shed will be 10 feet long and 8 feet wide. It will have an 8 foot high wall on one side and a 7 foot wall on the other. The roof is going to be a single pitch.
Okay so every picture that I upload goes to the top of the page. It will just have to be both pictures at the top until my younger sibling gives the instructions on how to put pix where I want them.
So the 4x6 members are all attached with 5 inch long 3/8 zinc plated lag bolts. When a person pulls a big sled like this it never pulls equally from both sides especially when turning corners. It takes a tough base frame to hold up to the wracking. Stay tuned for building progress.
Looks like I have a big tree removal job this weekend. We shall see if we can come up with a good action photo. DMP

Monday, September 12, 2005

Home From the Land of Cotton
So I made it home from Greenville, NC. It was a good trip. Lots to do, long days and I'm glad to be home.
Awhile back I obtained some free wood/lumber. It came from my Grandmother's house. There was an old barn there that was around 100 years old and had to be torn down. I was offered the best of the remainders and I love free stuff. This wood is mostly full dimension old growth wood. Gotta love that.
So I am building a wood shed. Yes, to store fire wood in. The trouble with a new place with space is you don't know how you want to organize everything. So why not make a mobile shed? During my time in Alaska we used big steel sleds to move things like machines, houses, etc. When a D8 CAT is doing the pulling you can move pretty big stuff. So the woodshed is going to be made mobile based on what I learned in AK. This time it is wood and won't be moved too many times. So you will get the building details in the ensuing blogs. DMP

Thursday, September 08, 2005

She's Hot and Sultry
Well you were thinking. I am in Greenville, NC for work. This is a real nice area of the country and the people are great. Came in on the red-eye Tuesday morning. The work is going pretty well.
We went and took pix of a war memorial... the Civil War. We are definitely in the South.
Off to the test lab. DMP

Friday, September 02, 2005

Chickens are Dumb
(especially the rooster)
When we were negotiating the purchase of our place there were goats and chickens as part of the package deal. I said, "No chickens they are really stupid." I had farm-sat as a teenager and knew I didn't want chickens. My wife lived on a city block her whole life so she left these farmy decisions to me as the experienced one. So within 5 months of living there my wife gets 6 chicks from the farm store. They are supposed to be all hens. One dies due to a tweaked beak. The upper beak was normal and the lower grew 90 degrees to the side. Another chick starts to look like a rooster as time goes on. So now we have 4 hens and a rooster. He crows continuously during all daylight hours. He has attacked all family members except the older boy. Due to his attacks and constant sexual harassment of the hens, he is working his way up to the top of the s*** list.
So one of my duties is to shut the chickens in at night when my wife is at work. So after getting the lads to bed last night I head out to the barn to close the doggie door for the chickens. I turn the light on, give the rabiits a heart failure, then go to the coop. I take role call and the rooster is not roosting per the normal routine. As I am looking around for him I hear wing flapping outside the doggie door area which is on the back of the barn, not visible from the house. I'm thinking the rooster has gotten himself half eaten and I better go sort it out. We have all varieties of vermin (skunks, raccoons, coyotes) in the area. I walk back to the house to get my trusty flashlight and 44 mag. Halfway back to the barn I turn on the light to find the batteries are dead. So I go back to the house for another light source. I turn this one on in the house to make sure it is functional. Then back out to the barn.
I head around back not knowing what I will find, but with my gun at the ready. There is the rooster roosting on the outside of the maximum security run. What do I do now with this buzzard that attacks regularly? I set the lantern down next to him and pick him up with both hands around his body, march him over and uncerimoniously throw in the medium security part of the outdoor daytime chicken yard. I pick up my tools and go in the barn to lock the doggie door... Where is the rooster? So I go back outside and look around the yard where I just threw him and he is wandering around looking for something. Dumb chicken!
What is missing here is with each trip into the barn I am affectionately accosted by the barn cat which wants some love. This used to be a garage cat but the foster dog chases him with a vengence. I have to unlatch and latch gates and watch out for land mines.
Back to the rooster. So I open the gate and attempt to nicely herd him into the maximum security run leading to the doggie door and finally get the chickens closed in for the night. After 3 rounds of ring-around-the-tree, the rooster decides he's not putting up with my BS and goes into assault mode. After I punt him he remembers that this is the no BS guy. After a couple more laps around the pen he goes in the run and ultimately the barn. I go into the barn, get loved by the cat on the way to the coop, and finally get the doggie door closed for the night.
So what is my wife's first comment when I tell here the above...? That was your chance to shoot him! Since moving to "the country" I have had to put down two of our goats and have discovered I don't really like shooting pets. The dang rooster is really good looking as far a looks go with chickens. They are only worth 5 bucks, so he isn't worth selling. I am assuming most readers are thinking how pissed I am after the rooster rodeo. Actually I was chuckling. I really like animals and the challenge of dealing with them on their terms. We'll see what I say after the next attack... I really need pictures with this to convey the whole scenario. DMP