Monday, January 26, 2015

Sh!t falls apart at Falling Downs

The lead vehicle in our fleet here at Falling Downs for the past few months has been a Pontiac Torrent. They stopped building those about five years ago, so I know it's older than that, but by golly, it's been a flawless ride... until shit falls apart!

In hindsight, I should have realized that shit was falling apart even as I bought the damned thing. It looked good and ran mint except for one little thing; there was a slight vibration right around 25 mph. It wasn't there at 20, it wasn't there at 30, but right around 25, there was a slight vibration.

This is an "all wheel drive" Torrent, so you naturally figure the premium you pay for all wheel drive is gonna be made up by the savings accruing from never having to plow your driveway again. And for the first few months, that was looking good!

I'd made a couple of strategic gambles with my snow-plowing technology this year. I scored a sweet deal on a ten year old Craftsman snow-blower over the summer, owned by a auto mechanic, so I figured, hell, I don't think I'll even bother hooking the big snow-blower up to the old Ford tractor this winter. That's always a exercise in overkill anyway.

In the first place, it's a diesel, so you gotta plug it in four or five hours before you plan to blow snow. In these parts you can go from clear blue skies to full-on blizzard in half an hour, so knowing when to plug her in is always more of an art than a science.

You plug it in, wait four or five hours, and you've got the job done in five minutes! See what I mean about overkill!

Unless of course something goes awry with the blower itself. Usually this comes about when I run over some miscellaneous detritus buried in the snow I'm trying to clear. You gotta bear in mind that I got this rig as a hand-me down from my dear Daddy, who replaced all the shear pins with Grade 8 hardened steel bolts just to make sure they didn't break!

Long story short, you find yourself fucking around for hours in the middle of a blizzard, 25 degrees below zero, 125 with the wind chill factored in, trying to replace a master link in the drive chain when your fingers are long past having any feeling.

Anyway, I got that 12 and a half horse 32" Craftsman now, and all wheel drive on the main ride, and I'm thinking, winter?... BRING IT ON!

So we get that blizzard right around new year's eve, dumps two feet of snow, and wouldn't you know it, the electric start on that new 10 year-old-old Craftsman don't work! After a couple of hundred pulls on the rope, I come to the conclusion that ain't gonna work either!

But, have no fear, that all-wheel-drive Torrent gets me out the drive like it's July!

I have been vindicated!

Unfortunately, that little vibration at 25 mph is now a bigger vibration. In fact, it's becoming a scary big vibration. There was a time I succeeded in convincing myself that maybe it was just an out-of-balance tire... that's long over.

I gradually come to the conclusion that this ain't gonna fix itself.

There was a time I used to attempt auto repairs on my own, but truth be told, I always found those three or four bolts and nuts left over after doing a brake job to be a little disconcerting.

Took the Torrent in to the professionals.

The professionals fixed 'er right up for just a tad under a thousand bucks!

Well fuck me!

That's the kinda thing that can just put me in a grumpy mood, if you know what I mean... hell, that's what, 30 or 35 cases of beer?

For fucks sakes!

So next day, I'm a little bummed out, reading my Globe cover to cover and hoping world events will take my mind off my driveway problems. The Farm Manager is doing a load of laundry, and at the outer reaches of my conciousness I hear something that doesn't sound right.

I try to block it out... but it still doesn't sound right.

In fact, it sounds like the washer is trying to give birth.

If a dog or a cat or a cow sounded like that while giving birth, you'd just shoot it and put it out of it's misery.

Then I hear, "the washer doesn't sound right."

No shit!

That Kenmore washer dryer combo is one of those stacking units, with the dryer on top. I must have been a younger man when I stacked them, because, by Jeezus, everything's a lot more unwieldy now. Let me tell you, having to do this for stuff that can't be more than three or four years old just burns my ass!

You buy Kenmore because it's going to last... ya right!

First job is pulling the combo out of the little alcove where this old farmhouse used to have a utility sink when it was built a hundred years ago. That's where I got my first surprise.

We feed a couple of lazy ass cats around here because we figure they keep the mice away. What's behind the washer-dryer combo?

Mouse shit and peanut shells!

The only place they coulda found fuckin' peanuts is ON THE FUCKING KITCHEN TABLE around Christmas time!

For fucks sakes!

We feed these fucking cats and they're snoozing it up while the mouse family marches over their noses and up the table legs and carries off a bunch of peanuts?

And we shower those cats with kitty treats and accolades because they drop half a mouse carcass in front of us once a month?



But that's not the worst of it.

I distinctly remember, not more than a couple of years ago, I could slide in and out of that alcove like nothing. Now I can hardly get my corpulent belly back there...


Anyway, looks like the bearing in that main tub is gone. Gotta find a hub puller to get the drive wheel off. I know I've got three or four hub pullers here and there, but for fucks sakes, I think I'll just buy one instead of spending 12 hours searching the shop.

I really really AM going to organize the shop next summer.

Ya, shit falls apart...

Luckily, Orville one farm over has been blowing out the driveway... which reminds me, he's probably due for another bottle of brandy soon...

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