Monthly Archives: August 2013



Whew, a productive day, I’m tired. I drove my car up to the corner, dropped off the key and a bag of pears with Luis to change the front struts. Across the street to Mud’s for coffee and a walk home. Nice peach tree, nice olives, hmm, trade for pears? I’ll have to ask. What’s this, a melon on this side of the fence with a brown spot, score, trade later. About then Raven pulled up for a ride the rest of the way home.

Raven started painting more black, there’s a lot of trim work. I tightened the axle to spring bolts, rolled the one wheel around perpendicular, tied the good rope, shushed the cat away and chucked the rope under.  With Raven on the wheel, I pulled the rope and axle in to position, slick. Tried mounting the wheel, no, after. I jacked up the axle with the floor jack and mounted the aft swivel D side.  Not enough rise on the jack, I put in the jack stand and lowered it in, added a couple 2×4 pieces and raised the forward spring to bracket into place. Took a couple wacks to line it up, bolted into place. Installed the wheel mostly tight as it’s hanging, will need a cinching when it’s down. To the far side, I jacked it up, oh, we’re off an eighth inch. I released all the axle to spring mounts on both sides and nudge it into place, adding the bolts and nutting it down, then re tighten all the axle nuts. It’s in place, wow, new springs, still hanging but safe.

new springs on


Time for lunch, Raven has a recipe for pesto hamburgers, I fire up the grill as she prepares the pesto in the food processor with basil from the garden, organic beef and pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, eggplant pestoed as well on the grill. During prep I cut up a half gallon jar of vodka pears to process into liqueur. The burgers and eggplant are ready, fabulous lunch with fresh picked wax beans on the side.

As it’s still jacked up, time for running lights. I open the dusty 3 year old package. We’ll need conductive brackets to mount them, I find a piece of thick sheet copper and band saw two plates, drilled on the drill press to fit, find screws, nuts and tooth washers in the bins. They all fit with a licence plate mount on the left side. I get the P side forward running light mounted as Raven ‘s time to go home arrives.


I hitch a ride to the corner to pick up my car, drive it home, much better, no more clunk.

I add the white ground wire to the frame forward and the D side amber running light. Seven holes into the hard iron today, small ones but it’s still hard by hand. We have springs! We have running lights complete! And a lot of detailed black batons! A fine day indeed. Pesto mixed with hamburgers is excellent!


Today was mostly fun, Raven showed up 10ish early with coffee, yes, perfect. I opened the garage to get started when the phone rang, Cat, they’ll be here in 15 minutes, they’re early too. OK. Raven started painting black again, out front while it’s still shady. I dug out the drills, boat mattress, center punch, small square and hammer. I’ll need a pillow, grabbed a stack of cushions, under the frame to drill iron up.
Joe and the girls showed up about then, Mom Cat, Haven age 9 and Josie, age 5. They want to go to the river, but Haven wants a lemonade stand as Grandma Jane has a lemon tree.
I have some redwood 2x stock from Jane’s porch Joe gave me last year, I rip some 2x2s on the table saw for legs. Haven measures the plastic table at 26 1/2″, that will do. Break out the saw horses and jig saw, Joe cuts them to length as I crawl under the vardo D side, safety glasses on and drill pilot holes for the new spring brackets.
Next we need counter stock for the lemon aid stand, the plywood is too warped, let’s head out back, hammer and pry bar in hand. The land lord’s son chucked a bunch of old 1×12 shelving stock, we dig through the pile and find a decent piece, Joe pulls the big nails and we carry it home with a few apples from the tree nearby.
After he finishes pulling the nails I carry out the table saw with Joe’s help. As there is a bit of rot I cut 9 inches of the 11 1/2″ plank to clean it up, missing any nails. Haven marks her length of 4 feet by eye, she’s less then a 1/4″ off, good eye. Joe cuts 2 planks as Haven holds the stock. We’ll need some cross stock to hold the two planks together, I cut some 1 1/2″ stock from more of the same shelving stock in my scrap pile (I’ve used it often). Joe cuts it to length as I climb under and begin drilling the big holes in iron.
This is scary (the ‘not fun’ part) as the bit will jam when it clears the hole mostly through and the big 1/2″ drill will fly around. I’m holding it thumbs in, best prepared but nervous. I got it mostly through before the jam and took a break.
Joe has the parts cut, I dig out the other 2 drills for drill and screw. I drill as Haven screws them down with a bit of practice here, slow bit and push down hard, she gets it.
River time, I lead Josie and Haven to the best river swimming hole with shade, Joe and Cat along shortly. The water’s fine, I wade in to my knees fully dressed to keep me cool. Head home as they swim.
The vardo needs work, but a couple more quick cuts to provide 45 degrees triangulation for the lemonade stand. They are similar, the coffee vardo and the lemon aid stand.
I climbed under and finished punching through the hard iron with Raven’s help using a jack stand and 2×4 to lever the drill up. I finished the scary part by hand and back drilled to clear it then punched through fast.
I secured the new brackets after some adjustments with the rotary drill file, then tightened it all in place. New aft swing arms tightened, then loosened just right. It’s ready for the new springs and axle both sides.
Joe attached the legs to the stand as I grilled chicken, prepped salad and cooked corn. Dinner went well, the kids ate on the new lemon aid stand, we in our laps, plenty for all.
Another trip to the cool river, packed with families cooling, me  fishing, hooked a small bass released. Everyone went home, a great day.



Another trip to the farmers market today for one more batch of bread and butter pickles (plus corn for lunch), cut up this evening and salted in the fridge. Last weeks pickles made 17 pint jars of cornichons and dills.

As I got home, Raven was already here heating her coffee. She started painting the window inner frames in black. I opened the garage, pulled out the cats paw and wrench. As the bolts are already loose I removed the crown nuts with wrench for the old springs. Using the cats paw, a piece of wood and a hammer to pry the bolts loose, the axle came off easy enough. I removed the loose lug  nuts from the D wheel, put the wheel under the frame just in case, and with Raven’s help removed the axle spring assembly from beneath the vardo. As Luis had welded the U bolt nuts I used the grinder to free them, sparks flying (safety glasses). A breaker bar and socket freed the old model ‘T’ springs.


I brought out the new 3,500 lb springs, they’re shorter, less plies but thicker plies. I mounted them to the axle the proper way with the axle on top, less clearance but proper, hope the grey water tank clears. I sorted out the hangar set, uh oh, we’ll need 9/16 x 1 1/4″ bolts, qty 8 and they have to be grade 8 hard. The drill I have is 5/8, a little too big. I head for town, Harry is out for lunch, Healdsburg Ace then, expensive as grade 8s add up and the new drill is way spendy but we need it and it’s a tool (they pay for themselves).

Getting home it’s lunch time, broiled chicken marinated in oyster sauce, garlic and curry powder, corn in the oven in husk, steamed garden wax beans.  Served out back at the bench with a good view of the mountain past the river.

As a friend of mine David Lynch passed, I went to the memorial at the airport experimental hangar. He built his own plane from a kit, one rivet at a time. They flew the one man missing formation with his plane, very cool.

As I got home, Raven had a lot done in black, including a corner detail of gold paint, wow!


I crawled under with the boat mattress, a couple pillows and the big 1/2 inch drill. I started with a pilot bit, too big, get another smaller as you need to clear the point of the bigger bit. That went OK. Using the bigger 9/16 bit was not so easy. It drilled OK, but when it cleared the metal it bound, throwing the drill around hard, very scary. I got all of the P side done, with sun hot tools, mounted the  spring brackets loosely. Enough as it’s late and I’m tuckered.


I’ll need to get the right size socket and wrench to secure them, They have lock washers so welding won’t be necessary. The back bracket is narrower with outer follower plates while the front is wide. Interesting, the old bolts have zirc fittings and crown nuts, same size, be better to use them. We should have it all hooked in next week.

8/3/2013 Jacked pickles


Vardo day after a week off in Michigan reunions. I got up a little early and headed for the farmers market looking for pickle stock. Wow, a whole box of mixed small cucumbers at $2 a pound and many gherkin sized. I like the gherkins for cornichons, tart french pickles, garlic, thyme, bay and better with tarragon, canned short so they stay crispy, so much vinegar keeps well. I started picking out the little ones and the guy (Lou) came over, “Make you a deal for quantity”, “Ok, what kind of deal?”, “$15 for all of them.” I pulled out my cash and picked $15, “deal.” Bagged in my nylon pocket pouch bag.  They weighed in at 14 lbs when I got home. A melon for a buck, $2 left, “How many onions can I get for two dollars?”, scored five.  A stop at the store for seasonings and the hardware store, jars on sale, perfect, 24 pint jars. Headed home.

Raven showed shortly after, she wants to try a Parmesan chicken recipe, prepped that, then started painting. Meanwhile, I jacked up the vardo, one wheel at a time with Gary’s old floor jack, blocking it with the old steps blocks sideways and some 2x and 3/4 plywood.  After a few tries the wheels were off the ground. Checking forward, uh oh, the blocks are leaning forward barely holding and the swing jack is off its 2×4 footing. I pulled the floor jack, not high enough, added a large 4×6 block on end above the jack. Uh oh, it started moving sideways, oh no, pulled hard and let it down. Re positioned it the other way and raised it, still wanted to move but got the swing jack to hold and released the leaning blocks. I set them all flat stacked and solid under the Y of the tang, using the car scissor jack, secure.

The two back braces aren’t secure enough for my comfort. I pulled an old 2×6 from out back and cut it to 5 feet. That and the 2×12 porch stock nailed front and back to the old step blocks secured it better. A couple shoves on the vardo, it’s holding.

Lunch time, chicken Parmesan, ratatouille, cheese rolls, perfect, thanks Raven.

After lunch I proceeded to loosen the old springs, crown nuts, I straightened the cotter pins with difficulty as they are inside blind. The nuts moved loose OK but the bolts are rusted tight, pulled out the BFH (brute force hammer) and whacked it hard with the nuts still on to take the blow and a piece of wood to prevent deforming the metal. The front came loose OK, but the back swing arm wouldn’t let loose, had to remove both cotter pins and move the swing plate. Finally got it all loose. I’ll leave it in place for now, wheels in the air in case.






I loosened the nuts on the driver side tire so it can come off fast to get the axle out. I’m beat, tired muscles, it’ll wait until next week for the change. I did get the measurements for the drill holes for the new 3.5 Klb springs.

Raven finished painting the side window frames and the door frame black (a lot) after sanding prep.



It looks so good finished.

I washed and scrubbed all the pickles with a soft veggie brush, that took some time, 5 1/2 pounds of gerkins, the rest for dills, salted, to be canned tomorrow.

A fine day indeed.