Wastelands of Suburbia

A place where the cast-off ephemera of the last four generations comes to rest, and is discussed fondly....Like junk, or the injection-molded minutiae of history? Welcome home...Junkyards, yard sales, roadside oddities, thrift stores and more-your memories are deep inside the box, so keep shaking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the Road To Coatesville.

(A pretty rare variant of the Deuce and a Half with a bucket-most likely for commo work?)

On the way down to pick up the welder (about a 2 hr drive) I spotted these two army trucks. There has been more than one time In my life when I wanted one of these go anywhere, heavy as all Hell trucks to do some nasty job only a truck of this caliber could do. I dreamed of having one with a wrecker, pulling snotty rich kids out of ditches in their Mom's Range Rovers deep in the woods for cash.

(That's more like it. With this, all things are possible. You can barely see the commercial Holmes wheel lift attached to the back. Actually I think this one is a 5-ton and not a Deuce and a Half.)

I'm kind of a big deal now.

So I posted my first instructable on how to make a gun case from an old army duffel bag:

How To Make A Pretty Nice lined Gun Case From An Old Army Dufflebag and Blanket! - More DIY How To Projects

If you have never been to instructables, and you have even an inkling of creative, independent spirit, I strongly recommend it-there are hundreds of step-by-step sets of directions with photos on how to do everything from recipes to welding up a recumbent bike for yourself. I felt my instructable represented a demographic that was lacking-home-made tactical gear. I'm sure it pissed the vegan souffle' crowd off, but it was necessary to wrest the DIY movement away from the hippies and back to it's Hamm's swilling, garage-dwelling, black and white TV on in the background roots-if only for a moment.

More Horse Trading.

(Before. The new welder before I cleaned off the barn gook. I'll probably end up waxing it too-it's just how I am.)

My trading continues-I scored this sweet, nearly new Lincoln arc welder with 50 foot extension cord I can plug in my dryer outlet for power, two boxes of rods, a new mask, and hunting rights on a 75 acre apple farm. All for some, ahem, hunting gear that may or may not have included an ancient shotgun. I'd like to get this fired up and make a wheeled cart to lug it around-it's kind of a pain to carry it where you need it. Actually, that gives me an idea-more later.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Frustration, Exuberance, Frustration....

(What looks like a sad little droid from the Sand Crawler scene in Star Wars is actually the latest acquisition, not to mention a straight up trade for my old truck, Warhorse.)

All good things must come to an end, but not as quickly as bad things should. After months of begging, pleading, cajoling and dropping my pants on the price, I decided to offer the War Horse up for trade on Craigslist. Amid offers of welders, mechanics tool chests, guns, pot, and one white Russian baby with blue eyes, I settled on the above dealie-a 1962 Economy "Jim Dandy" tractor. While this may seem like absolute craziness, hear me out.

First off, I needed a tractor with a plow to loan to Dad. Seems that his plow guy, a former classmate of mine and still referred to as "That Kid" by Dad (the "Kid" is 37 or so),is not able to reach the nooks and crannies of Dad's driveway to Dad's satisfaction. Mind you, Dad would never mention it to the Plow Guy-no. He, like all people who retire and take up complaining full time, chooses not to address a problem with the idea of solving it, but instead chooses to subject his progeny with tales of woe and nostalgic yarns of "the way it used to be". Apparently, it used to be that a fellow could hire a guy for like a quarter or something, and have him plow 50 acres of snow in ten minutes and not push your driveway gravel up into the grass while doing it. Also apparent is that those days are gone. I'm sure the Plow Guy (as we have not spoken or seen each other in some time), like most around here, has a monstrous diesel 3/4 ton crew-cab plow truck that can probably push a mountain but takes as much space as the USS Intrepid to turn around in. If it can't be done in three straight swipes, it can't be done. I'm sure this is the root of Dad's trouble. Hence the tractor trade.

Economy Tractors are tough little buggers-the Jim Dandy, along with its slightly bigger brother the Power King, are all gear driven-where most yard or garden tractors have a series of belts driving gearboxes or hydraulic motors, the Economy designers set it up so that their tractor had one belt driving the rear wheels off the engine. Some are also equipped with dual transmissions, a feature allowing one to gear down to a crawl, go take a whiz, come back and never have quit plowing or mowing.

The guy that had this before me had supposedly rebuilt most of the gearing and internals-unfortunately, the starter/generator was apparently not among the items reconditioned-after a few successful starts, the starter began to do little more than a faint rustling along with a rancid electrical smell. A rebuild is around $125, but the Yahoo! Power King group had more than adequate advice on how to get the old girl running. Turns out I can rope start, push start in third gear, and rig an old electric motor to start it up until I can complete the rebuild, and will simply have to deal with not being able to use my lights if the battery is not charging.

A happy little Jim Dandy similar to mine keeps an old Mustang company. I hope to get a hood for mine as well. Note large tractor features in such a small package.

As time goes by I'll chronicle the restoration of this little wonder.