Monthly Archives: November 2014



Turkey Day weekend Saturday, I woke up late preparing to head for town in the car. Wow, Raven’s truck is out front, she’s in the vardo waking up. “Coffee?”, “Give me five minutes.” We head for town in my car, she tells me of her Mom and relatives on the way, a good holiday. She also went to see the Dicken’s Christmas at Cow Palace, interesting that.

Starbucks for coffee, we head for the last Healdsburg farmers market of the season for “Something hot” for lunch. Carrots, a parsnip, hmm some cauliflower, and a rack of lamb ribs for a stew. The guavas are done, next year. I have O onions and potatoes home. A stop at Shelton’s for curry herbs as I’m low. Garret’s hardware for Velcro, skid tape for the stairs and Christmas lights on sale. To home.

I split the lamb ribs with the cleaver freezing half and prep the parsnip separate to par boil away with a large pat of butter to take over when the water boils off. That’s how my Mom made it, sweet. Raven cooks the rest as I work on the axle.

The axle extensions are ready for assembly, painted last week. I insert the long grade 8 bolts and tap them gently into place with a hammer not to strip the threads. Nuts and lock washers into place and wrenched tight. Add the shorter bolts on the ends and wrench down, both sides. I’m using the wood backed boat mattress to keep dry as it rained last night. I attached the spring to the left side with a bolt as lunch was ready. So tasty, lamb soup with parsnip fries on the side, perfect, wow lamb.

Back to work, the other spring front one bolt, add the axle bracket loose on the center bolt. Raven helps me carry the new axle and slide it under into place loosely in the brackets. I got it, raising the spring and sliding the other bolt into place. It has ridges to secure it, I use the hammer to whack it in tight, then bolt down the nut with the ratchet wrench, springs in both sides.

The new axle needs to be welded to the brackets, I measure 5 5/16″ on each side even to center the axle. Masking tape works to mark the axle around the bracket.  Raven and I spin the axle and I scrape the paint off, again to get the undercoat, then sand it to bare metal. Removing the tape and shipping stickers, I spin it back into place with the axle arched on top for toe in. Adding the U bolts and flat plates I secure the axle to the springs wrenched tight.

Everything is in place. Raven comes out from sewing the snaps on the new egg mattress cover to check it out.


We add a tire to see the clearance the right way out, 2 inches plenty clearance. I measure the fender width, 15″, the stock from the river find is 15 3/4, perfect, enough for a fold down.

Oh shucks, I forgot to clear the paint from the main frame to weld the new extensions. I use a screw driver to scrape the thin paint then sand paper to reach metal. Removed the fender well metal to dose the wood with water for the weld.  It’s ready for welding.


I need to talk to Luis. Do we want to attach the wheels and drive it to his place or weld it here. Everything is ready, add the wheels and drop the blocks and she’ll move, though better to be welded solid. But ready. I still need to modify the front trailer hitch for the added weight as we’re 200 lbs over but I have the parts. One trip of welds or two.

So close to a stable platform. The roof isn’t this wide, barely. Fenders and she’s ready for the DMV.



It was a good day today. The forecast rain didn’t happen as I wished. I met Raven at Starbucks as usual then off to the farmers market. “What shall we have for lunch?” says I, “I pulled out some chicken.”

“I was thinking about a stew, but it’s not cold after all.” Stew sounds good. We pick up potatoes, a nice parsnip, some crimini mushrooms and a carrot that looks mandrake. I get a couple eggplant as I want to try baba ganoush dip and some pineapple guavas. “Meet you at home.”

I put the eggplants on the stove burners low turning with a fork as Raven chops the veggies. Pealed the burned skin, I look up the recipe on line, oh, I need tahini, OK. I have sesame seeds and olive oil, toast the sesame in a pan, I found my mortar and pestle in the cupboard, ground the seeds and add oil, tahini in. Parsley chopped from the garden grabbing a bouquet garni  for the stew of more parsley, thyme, oregano and tarragon. Back to the ganoush, chopped garlic and lemon juice, salt. maybe more lemon and garlic, pretty good with sesame rice crackers. I chop more onion and garlic for the stew. Olive oil and mushrooms browned to a bowl, add onions more oil clear, chopped chicken to brown, garlic now. The chicken is just browning, veggies, O chicken broth, a glug of white wine, light soy sauce and a touch of Worcestershire sauce. Covered to boil then simmered on low to cook the veggies.

I go out and re drill the half inch holes in the extensions for a clear through bolt as the soup cooks. Raven is sanding the metal plates by hand in prep for paint. Tiring of that she goes in the vardo and adds a hook behind the beam to hang the curtain up in the middle.


She pins the curtains on the bottom in prep to cut and sew, it’s looking good.


The stew is done with the addition of flour and water to thicken, let’s eat. I like the baba ganouch, Raven doesn’t like sesame, I’m eating it as I write. The stew is excellent, salty enough with all those flavors, yum.

Back to work, Raven is working on installing the fire extinguisher, it needs a 45 degree angle board, I find a scrap 2×3 with drill holes in it and cut it 45 on the table saw, sanded on the lapidary with a course belt smooth no blade marks, clean on top. She installs it as I work on power sanding the rust away using an older belt on the lapidary drum sander.


That done she sands and spray paints the parts as I prepare to mount the frame extensions.


After bolting the spring mounts to the extensions Raven helped me hold the extensions in place to the previous bolt lines as I clamped and hammer adjusted the parts in place. I used the 1/2″ drill in the 1/2″ holes to secure the center for the drill points. Removing the extension, I tried drilling with the large 3/8 pre dril bit. This is too slow, I found a smaller bit and punched through on center, then the 3/8 went quick, finishing with the 1/2″ punched through using the 1/2 inch big drill the whole time with the side handle to prevent spinning the drill. I only large drilled the inner two holes, then cheap bolted the extension in place, finishing the final outer holes guided by the extension for a perfectly centered hole.


Repeated on the other side, the holes are in, whew. Removed, Raven and I sanded all parts, then painted black to keep the rust off, including tape where the welds will be applied.


During all of this, Raven pulls out the pirate chest CD player. I thought it was broken. She puts in a CD by our friend Haila, low and behold it works fine, really good tunes from our friend.


We got a lot done today. The frame extensions are drilled ready to install. Everything is clean painted black to prevent rust. Inside the extinguisher is secure and curtains prepared. After Raven headed home I pealed the tape to allow the welding, a clean surface.

I chopped up a 3 lb batch of Meyer lemons seeds removed for marmalade to cook down tomorrow, 2 cups water resting in the fridge overnight under plastic wrap. Another short two cups water, match weight 3 lbs sugar and cook to jell wrinkled on a cold plate tomorrow, then canned. It’ll be good.



A productive day. We met as usual at Starbuck’s. Raven has a hankering for beef tacos with beets and dried apricots as she dreamed it, OK. As I have dried apricots we hit the farmers market for beets, I want more pineapple guavas while I can get them. Some walnuts for the beet green salad. Back at Safeway we picked up O ground beef and some nice white corn tortillas.

Raven needs to get her truck checked out as it’s making noises, we drop it off at Luis’. He has welded the new frame extensions, they look good. We pay him and head home in my car.

We need to move the vardo over, I need it on solid pavement to jack it up and replace the axle with the new extensions to widen the stance. I start my truck, oh oh, it’s battery is low, but just enough to kick it over, it starts. The overhead light was on a couple days ago when I turned it off. Raven guides me back as I back and fill my truck, getting out a couple times to see until it’s perfect over the hitch. We crank the tongue jack down as it engages, perfect, clamped on. I notice the maximum truck tow load is 2,000 pounds we’re over by 200, but not going anywhere. I pull forward and back a bunch of times cranking the wheels of the truck what seems wrong but actually right to get the vardo steered to the proper place. Solid pavement back enough, perfect. Click the jack down and raise it off the hitch. I move the truck, turned around and parked. Wow, we moved it.

Raven heads in to prepare her dream meal beet green salad.

I’m sorting through the wood blocks for a stack that will hold it up and be stable. Gary’s ton floor jack raised the wheel, still need a another board, good, the wheel spins. I do the other side the same. The vardo is afloat on hard ground. I get out the lug wrench and pull the wheels back spinning to get them loose. Tires under the frame just in case.


Lunch needs the meat cooked, chopped onions and garlic in first, the beef, cumin and salt to flavor, more cumin. I don’t do hot peppers but we need salsa, I head up to the corner for a small can of Mexican tomato sauce, good stuff. I want my beets cooked, a half sliced in water, bright red, I have an idea. I find a piece of muslin in the garage, folded. As the beets get done and removed I dump in some vinegar as a mordant and soak up the beet juice. A salmon pink cloth set out to dry.  Lunch is wonderful.


Raven needs to sew the cover for the new egg crate foam with the floral rose cloth we picked up last week at Sally’s. I help get the sewing machine running.


She sews a good simple sock from the folded sheet. excellent.


Meanwhile, I’m working on the axles, I remove the spring U bolts easily. The axle won’t clear. I need to remove the spring bolts, a challenge as they’re blind, using touch to get them loose. I got it, using the taper bar to hold the bolts solid as I use the wrench to loose it. Slow going, but I’m getting it. As the back drops free the old axle tumbles out alright. I loosen the front bolts free and do the other side.

Luis shows up with the truck, he can’t find anything wrong. No trouble found, good to go. Raven gives him a ride home.

The bolts for the spring mount are bigger, 9/16, I try drilling it on the press but it rattles around too much. I get out the big half inch hand drill. I found the side handle, makes a big difference as it punches through. I enlarge all 8 holes quick enough. To attach the springs I need to remove the mounts and bolt them to the extensions, the inside bolt first using the taper bar to hold the bolt inside.


I get one attached, the swivel end with difficulty using two crescent wrenches one on top one small to turn it. It would be easier with a 7/8 socket. Luis has one I’ll borrow, but it’s getting late. We clean up carrying the axles back together, they are lighter that way. With a hug Raven heads for home.



We met as usual for Bucky’s coffee and farmers market. Deciding on chicken sate I picked up some lemon cukes, one each and a spare. More pineapple guavas, beets for Raven. She needs to drop off at Goodwill and I need a couple bolts for welding, we’ll meet at home.

I stop at the corner Bosworth’s Mercantile to pick up a couple cheap 1/2″-13 x 4 1/2″ bolts to tie the axle extensions together for welding. Turning the corner home a motorcycle driver with gray mustache looks familiar. As I’m home unloading in pulls my good friend Chan (Chauncey, changing his nick name to Sean as he’s not Chinese) on his BMW super motorcycle, excellent. I’ve known him for more than 30 years. I show him what we’re working on, extending the wheel base with a new axle, adding a new ball hitch tongue. This is perfect timing as he knows a lot about trailers, metal and such. Yesterday after work I bought some fine pitch 1/2- 20 tpi grade 8 bolts at the salvage yard just before closing. The nuts aren’t as good, 20 threads and nylock but not hard. I’ll try the other place in Santa Rosa for grade 8.

Raven is concerned as her car is making noises, she and Sean take a spin for diagnostics.

I cooked a lunch of broiled O chicken breast tenders marinated in oyster sauce, a dash of horse radish, curry powder, garlic and cardamom. A batch of rice on and those lemon cucumbers peeled and sliced fat with soy sauce. Raven brought a very ripe mango, I cut it up according to the recent youtube vid, slicing it each side off the seed, then scoring it square and flipping it to cut off the skin, it works well. Trim what you can get off the seed edges. Sate peanut sauce on the side. We ate out back with a view of the mountain past the river. It’s good, and conversations abound. No wasps interrupted, flies I can deal with.

Sean needs to drive home as I see him off, such a good friend, just in time for lunch and plenty.

I start sanding the metal corners of the 2″ square stock in preparation for welding as they need to be clean. There are a lot of burrs from the drill, I use a larger bit to remove the big stuff then file it smooth, inside too.

Meanwhile, Raven is working on her shelf, it needs triangulation to stiffen it. The thin birch plywood is near perfect width, she cuts it to length using the saber saw. Sand paper, polyurethane varnish and installed with finishing nails. An excellent contrast of color.


I’m still prepping the metal for welding, Using a hack saw to preserve the metal ends length I cut the remaining pieces and grind them smooth on the lapidary, small squares to strengthen the ends.

I load the trunk and we head to Luis’. He’s in his truck as we pull in to the corner store lot, but get’s out to see what needs doing. The welds will need to be stitched not continuous, I agree. We put the parts in the garage to be done on his own time. Raven makes an appointment to fix her truck, Luis is an amazing man.

Hmm, I don’t have a picture as Luis has the metal parts to extend the axle.

4:00, “Raven, we have time to check Sally’s for sheet covers for the new mattress, you game?”, “Sure.” We drive straight up to the bargain barn were I know the clothes and sheets are in the back corner. We pick out a nice floral double sheet should be enough to cover the new mattress. “I need some jeans” says Raven, picks out a pair and tries them on, a perfect fit first time, wow. Paid and head for home as we have it. Here is the new sheet to cover the egg crate mattress.


The floral design matches the colors, but also the cabinets are painted in flowers, this shall do nicely. We’ll boot up the sewing machine and fit it proper for a comfort sleep.

We got a lot done today, friends, metal, shelves, new cloth and jeans. Diagnostics and an appointment to fix it. All that and an excellent tasty lunch. But mostly good friends.



A mellow Saturday All Saints Day as yesterday was Halloween. Raven stayed up the hill for a face painting party gig. I did some shopping, the farmers market is still on until Thanksgiving. I picked up some more pineapple guavas, apples and a butternut squash. A stop at the hardware store for flashlight bulbs and canning lids.

I cooked myself a grass fed hamburger steak with pork and beans on the side. Simple but tasty

With nothing better to do I went to work drilling the spring extensions. It’s really slow going on the drill press through iron. I had to finish a few more 3/8 pilot holes in the outer short stock, sharpening the bit every few holes. I made some adjustments with the rotary file in the flex shaft drill, then hogged it out using the 1/2 inch bit. I had to sharpen that every few holes as well, using my lapidary rock grinder and eyeballing the grinds worked OK. It’s a good grinder and I have practiced sharpening drill bits. Drilling all those 20 holes took the whole day. There’s a pun as it’s All Saints Day. I put some 1/2″ fence bolts through to see how they line up, lucked out as they all fit well enough. They still have burrs to file, careful they’re sharp yet, but it fits.


I went up to Bosworth’s to see if Harry has grade 5-1/2″ bolts, no luck, but we looked it up in Grainger’s, they have lots of 25, I only need four of each 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″. I know of a place in Santa Rosa will have them, where I got the U bolts for the springs. They have to be grade 5 minimum for that much weight. I’ll pick them up this week after work. The corners of the square tubes will need to be sanded in prep for welding, then bolted together to weld with Luis’ help. The 8 holes in the vardo frame will be more difficult as they need the 1/2″ hand drill, good thing I found the extra handle, but still a chore. Clamped in place and guided may help, but the pilot holes need to be right first and the spring punch won’t fit, just checked, maybe lathe turn one down at work. I’ll get it right.

Another holy day.