11 October 2017

mellow yellow

After 20+ years on my own,
it's been tricky adjusting to a boss/peon hierarchy.
However this job really feels like retirement,
following a "do what ya think ya need to do,
as long as the basics get done first"
type daily strategy.
At times it seems like I'm screwing off.
Thats usually when doing something on the high priority list.
A little bit of mowing,
a little bit of fixing...
I usually get in trouble for squeezing in random projects,
the type that fill up small chunks of time
before breaks and lunch.
Union rules require 10-12-2 interruptions.
These are the projects that I want to do,
so I'll rush through the "important" stuff,
instead of milking an easy job the whole day.
The funny thing is,
it feels like I'm sneaking around,
when trying to add in extra work.
Probably cause my boss doesn't approve of multi-tasking!
On my review,
I actually got dinged for having more than one project.
Still don't quite understand that.
Well if I'm going to get busted,
it may as well be for working harder,
or trying to make things look nicer,
or trying to make things work better!
These rolling gates have bugged me from day one.
The wheels barely rolled,
and the yellow had faded and chipped,
camouflaging instead of standing out.
We had boxes of yellow spray paint too.
Ya know how I love to rattlecan!
It'll take months to sneak them all in...
The back gates were ridiculous.
I'd wondered why the rubber in the wheels was diagonal.
They don't turn,
so they'd drag them around.
Not a problem with the short one,
but the 20 footers were a pain.
Little hitches were cut and welded,
and a roller was modified to allow sharper turns.
This brought them out of the caveman era,
and into at least the 19th century.
Yea the little things...
fun stuff nobody else has to think about!
TP

03 October 2017

mowin for $$

So part of this newish job is actually mowing grass.
Effin lotsa grass to mow!!
It would seem boring,
and at times it is,
mainly the wide expanses.
Fortunately there are only 3 of those parts.
Even then things happen that are like...
What the heck are those beaver bites?
They call that girdling the trees.
Or how about...
holey chit there's a bald eagle!!
Or holey chit there's 3 bald eagles
fighting over a Canadian goose body!!
Half the time mowing is basically a form 
of technical off-roading,
the Toro 580D is a 4WD crawler,
with acres of hills, berms, trees 
and other obstacles to navigate.
This part is called the east berm or bank,
a long gradual side slope,
that runs the entrance to the track.
This is where it gets tricky,
the side wing cutters act like outriggers
as well as weight distributors. 
The 3 black knobs control the hydraulics.
On a light left slope like this,
both sides are down all the way,
the lower deck pushing down as it keeps us upright,
uphill deck on reserve to go up for balance.
The knob control looks like this.
Thumb pushing down,
pointer on guard.
On a steeper right slope the position is reversed,
but the same.
Both decks down,
the 16' width really grabs the slope.
Here's the hand position,
right knob pushed down,
left on guard...
On guard for the steeper slope ahead!!
Here's where it's important to raise the uphill deck,
giving traction to the uphill wheels.
Even then there's a little bit of sliding involved.
The below pic was in the early days,
and looking back is a definite holey chit moment.
If you see the mow mark I overextended the downhill turn,
and had to raise the deck quickly
as the machine lost the traction to turn.
(Rear steer on a front heavy machine)
The Toro 580D doesn't handle well going straight downhill,
and with the guide wire in the way 
there's not much room for error.
I don't get that close anymore!!
Easier to send in guys with weedwackers...
Moving the sticks almost comes naturally,
and I'll give Chief credit,
with its 2-knob shifter system.
People always ask how hard is it to shift.
Muscle memory is powerful!
When slipping down the dirt hills,
it's surprising how automatic controlling the hydraulics becomes.
Months ago I showed how the frame actually broke,
now ya know how critical it is that it stays together!
The day before a big race,
one of the deck frames broke.
4100 hard working hours will create metal fatigue!
This is when the years of metalwork experience kicked in.
I finished an easy day job in a hard couple hours,
while race cars ran their practice laps.
Fat gussets and fish plates,
this will be stronger than new.
Since the grinder was out,
I sharpened a set of blades,
picking some donors from the junk pile.
Typically the outer blades get hammered by gravel and rocks,
so 7 out of 11 are good for a couple grinder edges.
There's a point where they all get pro sharpened,
but where's the fun in that?
The mower was all assembled 
just in time for the spectators to pile in.
The east berm grass died off in the summer!
The flatter areas kept a little green,
although it was more a mix of random weeds 
rather than blades of grass.
After racking up hours of mowing,
I still end up getting stuck.
This was my 8th time,
and first in a couple months.
The ground was so hard the mower just slid sideways like on ice,
then the skids hook into the fence.
Over the winter I'm going to round out the ends 
so they're not hooks.
Here's a huge change from San Diego.
It felt wrong hosing the machine down,
however the track has a well,
with an almost unlimited supply of water.
One of the perks of Oregon...
More soon!
TP

10 September 2017

Klipsch Chorus + JBL L200 =

Lots has happened in the past couple months.
Before the dust settled,
it felt best to kick it up and whip out a quickee project.
Car, bike, amp, speaker...
Let's pick the least important on the list!
Years ago we scored some Klipsch Chorus speakers.
I tried to like them.
They had no bass.
Specs quoted 45 hz,
and cranking to get low notes
made the mids and highs too blaring.
I studied up,
and found that the drivers needed a bigger cabinet.
The lack of space choked the big 15" woofer.
It felt meant to be to find some pirated
JBL L200 cabinets,
a volume roughly 1200 cubic inches higher.
Sadly the JBL drivers were worth more in higher end models.
Likewise,
the same Chorus drivers are used in the bigger Cornwall box,
creating a much more balanced sound.
You're not a hot rodder if ya can't tear up
a perfect stock item and make it better.
The Chorus k-48-k woofer is a monster.
A commercial grade 15" woofer with a huge magnet,
that basically needed a bigger carburetor.
We mocked up the woofer in the cab
and noticed an immediate difference.
Time to cut and paste.
The change was so easy,
it seemed the engineers planned for a future swap.
They learned from the ford and chevy guys.
Side by side there was no going back.
The wife liked the slanted front,
and they breathed bass in the room.
It was tougher to cut up the JBL's,
but not really.
The 2-way L200's have a splintered following,
and are commonly modified with a tweeter,
and a 3-way crossover.
This makes them comparable to the L300 summit,
which are triple the going price,
although they'll never be real L300's.
Measure, cut, file, clean.
My wood handiwork was rushed and sloppy,
only you readers will ever know!
The JBL recipe was exactly the opposite of Klipsch.
JBL uses veneered sawdust wood-mdf,
and really high quality drivers.
Klipsch used real birch plywood,
and borderline sufficient drivers.
There's a huge cult following for both,
it's borderline ridiculous to read forum know it alls.
Funny enough the swap is usually the exact opposite,
JBL drivers in Klipsch boxes!
I rushed the project a few hours after work for about a week,
and wow it was so worth it.
The bass goes down easily to the mid-30hz range,
necessary for the grateful dead Phil bombs.
Next will be some grills
 and maybe those trippy lens shade covers,
and a front paint would be nice.
They sound so good it will be hard to take them apart again!
TP