Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time to Work on the Car Again
We had to retire the Old Blue Goose that my daughter drove.  She was a good old car but just had too many expensive issues to fix.  We donated her organs to the U-Pull-It junk yard and acquired a '96 Corsica with lesser issues.  When we bought the car, we knew it would need some TLC.  The front brakes were replaced and then there was a wheel issue.  Can anyone see the problem?  Anyone?  Anyone?
Yes, you are correct.  Two lug nuts are missing.  Not only are they missing but the studs are twisted off.

After two hours of repair, the problem is once again under control with all five lug nuts tight and the tire is secure.

 Unfortunately the very next night while on the way to Walmart for a poster board for her  school project my daughter had this happen.  It blew out the back window and crunched the fenders so much that the back doors couldn't be opened.  Since this was an old junker, I expect the insurance will just total the car then it becomes what is the car worth.  With 180K miles, I don't think it will be worth much.  My daughter went to the ER and she only had bruises and they gave her pain pills.  She's still stiff and sore with pains around the ribs.
 Once again we are down to one car.  Depending on reimbursement we get for the car from the insurance company will determine whether we can get a car right away or have to save awhile to purchase another.

Now the next thing is to fix the kitchen sink that started leaking.  Nice.  I better get to it so see ya next time I have a free moment to blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Joplin Missouri Tornado

Most have heard of the tornado that tore through Joplin Missouri on May 22 in late afternoon. It was a mile wide and stayed on the ground for two miles. This tornado was one of the most destructive single tornadoes on record. In its path only total destruction remains. Television reports and video snippets do not begin to give the perspective of the magnitude of destruction from this massive tornado. This picture is one snapshot of what is a mile wide and two miles long. Nothing was left undamaged in its path. It was hard to imagine how anyone lived through this destruction but story after story has been told about how lives had been spared.

In the background you can see the now famous St. John's Mercy hospital. This is a nine story building that was virtually destroyed from the power of the tornado. The windows were blown out and the tornado was able to generate enough lift on the building to twist the building four inches off the foundation. In the fore ground, you can see what happened to many cars in the parking lot of the hospital.

This is a picture of one of the service trucks of the hospital. I would say that it is a standard 26 foot straight truck. This truck I would guess was rolled up the hill from the hospital and hurled against this tree. The massive power from this tornado literally wrapped the truck frame around the tree. On the right side you can see the back tires and on the left side you can see the cab and front of the truck.

This is a picture of the backside of the tree with the bent frame. That had to be one tough tree to stand strong against a force like that.

This is a closer look at the truck frame bent around the tree.

Here is the temporary care facility that is maybe a mile from the destroyed hospital. The camera couldn't capture the entire facility and this is only about half of the unit.

The overwhelming magnitude of destruction of property and the emotional trauma to the families in this situation was personally very emotional at times. To hear the heart wrenching stories of total loss or death in the families gave me a totally different perspective on what's important in life.

More later. In the mean time be safe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alabama bound and not bound

Here are two of the vehicles in our Alabama convoy. We, 30 folks, expecting to be deployed on Monday May 2 to or near Tusculoosa, Alabama. We staged these two vehicles as well as another flat bed trailer with a ScatTrac (similar to a Bobcat) with front end attachments to move and pile trees. We had loaded up 120 gallons of drinking water, a portapotty, two generators, a small freezer, and many coolers to carry food. Our chainsaw trailer was ready to go as well as a large tent trailer with tables and chairs. We were staged and ready to go for a fully contained independent crew. The word came from above to hold fast and wait another day until details could be sorted out. Tuesday came and went as well as Wednesday. Thursday the word came that we were to stand down for now. Many factors went into the decision. It seems that because of all the TV coverage every man with a chainsaw that was any where close to the area piled into their vehicles and headed toward the area of concern. Search and rescue were still going on as they tried to find the missing people. Power had not be restored and home owners were not allowed into the areas of devastation yet. Our crew needs to have signed permission to work on tree removal before we can do the work for liability purposes.

We diverted back to a building project in Burlington Kansas that we originally had intended on doing electrical work on Monday May 9th after having to unload all the chainsaw stuff and reload these two trailers with electrical stuff. Upon arriving at Burlington Kansas to work on electrical for a new church multipurpose room, we found no roof yet. Ah, electric and rain water just don't mix. After spending a day trying to find some thing to do, I just returned home. So even though it was a disappointment, I am quite certain there will be great opportunity to serve in the coming months.

Thank you for your prayers. Even though it looked like they were not required, it could have been quite eventful if we had deployed and had the flood waters block our trip back home. So for now we will have to be vigilant in prayer for those that are struggling to survive through the tornado stricken areas and now the flood ravaged areas. I have received word that in the flood areas the rats and snakes are invading the living areas of the shelters to avoid the flood waters. Pray for those in these areas to be protected from all dangers known and unknown.

Thank you again for praying for our safety. I truly believe we were not in harms way because you prayed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Replacing a Fuel Injector

This little engineering marvel is what is known as a fuel injector. It's purpose when working is to spray fuel into the engine at just the right time to be ignited and produce power to wheels of the car and cause movement. At a cost of $180 it's an expense that has to be reckoned with when trouble comes from this part. I can tell you that when it sticks open a profuse amount of smoke is generated from the tail pipe and no more than 100 miles can be squeezed out of a tank of gas. After searching out other ways to replace the little jewel which included junk yards and internet sources, a new injector arrived via UPS for a cost of only $85 and installation plans began.

The internet is a wonderful thing. Research can be accomplished on just about anything possible. That goes for mechanical proceedures as well. After much time spent on how to replace the tiny little part, I was armed and ready to attack the job with confidence and vigor. As you can see this part is not exactly right on top fo the engine ready to be plucked out and replaced. After much contemplation, deviation from the recommended proceedure was decided and a saving of time perhaps as much as 4 hours was accomplished. Oh, yeah.

When working on car things, invaribly things will be dropped in the process. This project was no different. Even though care was taken twice a socket was dropped. Now when this happens one can only hope that what's been dropped doesn't come to rest on a part of the engine that is inaccessable to human hand. So as the socket bounces it's way downward my breath was held and a celebration dance in the middle of street overcame me when I heard the socket hit the ground under the car.

It was a very good day and in the span of maybe 2 hours wrench bending time the little fuel injector that couldn't was replaced by one that could. The moment of truth is always a nerve racking moment. As the key turns and the starter spins the engine the second it catches and sputters to life chugging and shaking as the gas lines pump there liquid up to the injectors, a feeling of accomplishment spreads over me as the engine smooths out and runs just like it should. Yea, another mechanical accomplishment done. Thanks Dad for all those times we worked on stuff together. I really was watching and learning even though it didn't look like it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kansas City Chapel

The chapel in Kansas City really caught me by surprise. My mind's vision of a chapel was a some what small place where folks go to pray and meditate on God's word. This however is huge compared to what I had envisioned in my mind.

Our team's task was to work on the electrical and get the heating system working as cold days were coming soon. Ron had the job of working in the boiler room which was pretty tight. Getting everything wiried up was a difficult task as all the wiring had to be inside conduit. All the curves and bends to make this happen turned out to be quite challenging.

The outside crew was given the task to run the conduit from the main breaker panel to all five of the airconditioning units. Once again bending and anchoring skills came into play. This was a two week project that I only could stay for one week.

My task was to help plumber with the insulating of the water pipes. Once again I was high up in the attic and crawl spaces known only to plumbers and electricians. I floated around and got involved with drywall, actual plumbing, and some electrical work. Our crew was 24 one of the largest in a while.

The outside distribution boxes were definitely a challenge and took most of the time for our crew during the first week. Fortunately the weather co-operated and gave the outside crew fabulously warm days to accomplish their task. By the end of the first week most of the outside conduit was complete. I have no doubt that by the end of the second week heat was available to the building.
It's really great to be able work a group of Christian guys. I've learned a lot about team work and added tremendously to my work skills. It's actually helped with many projects back on the home front.
I hope all you readers are well.

Dryer Repair

Don't you just hate it when your appliances let you down. My clothes dryer has been faithful for 15 years and never has been a problem. But on this fateful morning while drying clothes I noticed there was no heat in the drying process.

With screw drivers and multimeters I dove into the heart of the dryer. Thinking that it could be a number of things, testing began. The culprut, the heater element, finally showed itself by testing open. A run to the appliance parts place netted a new part with the departing of $50.00. Now if I had been a true pioneer I would have just reconnected this wire heating element somehow. I figured I might as well buy a new part as it probably would just break in another place soon.

By the end of the day all was once again well and clothes were drying.

Don't let those appliances get to down.

Building a door

My friend Al gave me a call and asked if I could help with closing in a archway and installing a doorway. Of course I was excited about the challenge of it all. The frame work was first on the list. We were well on our way to accomplishing this three day task by the first day's end. For an experienced carpenter it would have been probably a one day thing but for amateurs it takes a little longer.

Always with Al and I there have to be runs to Home Depot. Maybe that's why it takes three days instead of only one. We have a wonderful time with the building projects that we get involved with. With only a few modifications we are able to install the prehung door. Nothing to this stuff. Right?

By the end of the second day things were starting to shape up. With the door installed and the drywall in place, we could concintrate on the mudding and taping during the finishing process. This is my least favorite thing of any project and Al did most of this part.
By the end of the third day the door was all in place including the trim. A good coat of primer had been painted on and the door was ready for a final coat of paint. With only just a few things left to do I had to leave and get ready for a trip to Kansas City to help with the building of a college chapel.

Challenge yourself with projects.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vern's Tree

My ex co-worker and good friend Vern had a tree issue. He lives by the Elkhorn river in a wonderful development. During the spring it's not uncommon for the river to rise up above normal. This year the river was higher than usual. With the sandy soil and the water level several feet above ground level it caused the large cottonwood trees to basically just lay down.

It's always a challange to know exactly what a tree under tension will do when cut. It could roll one way or another and I've seen where the stump will pop upright when the trunk is cut away. Extreme caution is required when working on a tree of this size as one small mistake can be hugely disasterous.

I really thought that this was going to be one of those times when the stump would pop upright as the crack opened up wider and wider as the mighty Stihl saw that I have affectionately named "Big Bertha" continued to chew it's way through the water logged trunk. I must say that it was exhilarating to be a part of this project.

During the course of cutting up the tree trunk, there's a fine line between knowing when to saw up and when to saw down. For me it's always a given that the saw will get pinched and need to be removed with wedges. I haven't completely learned how to cut through a log without getting wedged a time or two but I'm working on it. With a little help from my friends I made it through the day.

Victory finally comes to those that are persistant. By the day's end we loggers were sasified that we had accomplished what we set out to do. Cut the tree and saw it up in chunks. It was a great day of hard work and success.
Once again the mighty Bertha showed she reigned in tree sawing. She's been a great asset to my tool set. Many times I have been able to help with trees because of her ability to make short work of big jobs.

Have a great day and be safe.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Syracuse Kansas
Syacuse Kansas is a town that's about as far south and west in Kansas as you can go. It has a population of 1824 with 2594 in the entire county which is 998 square miles of land. Yeah, Syracuse is about it for miles and miles. The closest town with civilization (meaning a Lowes or Home Depot) was 52 miles away. What does one do with a weekend to while away in Syracuse Kansas. The one and only theatre had one screen with one showing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I believe it employed maybe three people, one for the ticket booth, one for the snack bar, and one for the projector. When entering the seating area, a sign was found that said, "Please let us know if we need to adjust the sound level." I wanted to bring that sign back to Omaha and post it in some of the theatres here as the sound level can be just a little high at times. When the time arrived for the movie to start, there were no trailers of movies to come, there were no advertisements for the snack bar, the lights just dimmed and the movie started.

This is the building we were working on. In about six weeks the construction went from a concrete slab to the building up, the inside walls built, the electrical wiring done, and the drywal mostly completed. All the inside work was completed with volunteers at only a cost of a few meals and a place to sleep for our crews and a place to park their motor homes for the framers and drywallers.
Here was home away from home. Not bad actually. I've had much worse places to sleep than this when on mission trips. It was airconditioned, a deceit bathroom and those with computers could pick up the free WiFi from the bowling alley across the street.

Here's how I spent the week. This is a picture of me in the attic of the church running in MC (Metal Clad wires). I'm actually laying on my side while doing the work. I sure got ribbed about being up in the attic laying down on the job.

This would be the sound booth switches which is where the other end of the wires that I was working on in the the attic go. This is just the power wires there still have to be the load wires, as it's called, which would go to different sets of lights, the baptistry, and anything else electrical in the sanctuary. The sound booth is the hub of everything in the sanctuary. So the next time to pass by a church sound booth this is was is behind the drywall surrounding the booth.
We had a great time even though the group was a small 7 people this time.