Sunday, June 29, 2014

Uplifting thoughts and other Sunday photos

Here, waiting to be serviced and painted on saw horses in the dooryard, is my latest home enhancement project -- an automotive lift. 

When they see it, everyone will want one. It's the latest home decor accessory!

Our friends are all on FaceBook posting about their vacations and road trips and other expensive distractions. One friend in particular is pretty happy about her new secondhand sailboat, which I admit, is getting just a teensy weensy bit annoying. 

But I'm not jealous. No, not at all. I have my lift that I've always wanted!

(I expect I'm also considered a little weird, but never mind. You can take the man out of the servicing hangers and workshops, but you can't take the servicing hangers and workshops out of the man.)

This is the kind of lift they have in the regular workshops and dealerships. In fact it used to be in one of the "recon" bays at the main Toyota dealership in southern Maine.

We got it for me to work on vehicles more conveniently and safely.

It took a little matrimonial convincing, but Aimee went along with the notion after a while, mostly because she worries when I work on cars and trucks and farm equipment on jack stands in the yard, which is made of relatively soft gravel, and therefore not well suited to lifting equipment. I have to lay down plywood boards to make it safe, and even then it isn't great. I pay close attention to balancing the vehicles just right on the jack stands, and often add blocks or the spare wheel or leave the floor jack (AKA "trolley jack" in English-English) under the vehicle to give me some back-up or a minute of extra time while I exit the danger zone. But guys are killed or injured every year in Maine in this kind of operation. 

Aimee even came with me, seven month's pregnant, on the "Downeast Dickering"-style road trip all the way to southern Maine to pick it up. We made a day of it and had Thai food and shopped for secondhand baby stuff too. She did say that she wouldn't have come if it hadn't been for the baby stuff, but I was glad to have her there. 

A man needs his wife around when he is about to meets some huge lifetime goal, like owning his own automotive lift.

Seriously, this lift is a serious investment for us. It's also a lot easier to work on a vehicle when it's several feet up in the air. There are some jobs that can only safely be done with that kind of height and control. 

Proper rust protection is one such job. We now have four useful working vehicles that are currently not at all rusty. Three of them are even modern enough and safe enough for a kid to ride in. 

This is a Womerlippi family first, and largely due to the small inheritance I got this spring. In years gone by, we could only afford to have one really nice vehicle, which Aimee always drove, while I had a series of junkers going all the way back to my trusty 1975 VW van, the one with half a million miles on it that I drove from 1992 through about 2004 or 2005. Now we have nice vehicles, I want to protect that investment, without spending money at the dealership if I can possibly help it.

(The fourth vehicle is the Land Rover, which is in a special class of it's own, my survival truck. That vehicle will still be in functional condition when all the others are long gone to the scrapyard.)

Here are the lift arms that will extend under the vehicles.

And here, still under wraps and being kept wet so as to more properly cure the concrete, is the nineteen by twelve foot concrete pad I poured Wednesday, on which I'll place the lift later this week. Concrete takes a full week to achieve the kind of cure needed for drilling the solid anchor bolts that will secure the lift, and should be kept as wet as possible during that time. The small cement mixer standing there is a red herring. Not willing to compromise on safety, I ordered "proper" three-quarters stone, 3,500 PSI-rated concrete from a regular truck. I used five yards, which is a lot of carbon emissions, concrete being a major source of carbon, but expect to earn that back easily in lifecycle vehicle emissions through better rust protection. (The average vehicle requires twenty percent of lifecycle carbon emissions in manufacture.)

You can also see the new back door to the workshop that I put in Monday, preparatory for making a functional workspace out of the rear area. I didn't want to be always walking around the side of the shop, especially with heavy tools and parts.

The whole project, when all is said and done, will have cost about $1,500, including $500 in concrete and $750 for the lift. I think this is easily affordable compared to the cost of service at ships that have lifts and at dealerships, and also taking into account the loss of value we see in vehicles around here due to rust.

This will be an open-air workspace, at least for now. Any building large enough to cover the new lift will have to be at least eleven feet tall at the eaves, and would be pretty ugly in this spot, I think, making a crowded kind of compound. Aimee suggested we might build one one day, perhaps next summer, but I didn't much like the idea. I may change my mind one day, but I figured that three seasons of lift-use availability was fine by me, at least for now. I can plan out service schedules to avoid winter jobs. If we do get a need for an emergency repair, there's always my regular workshop, which has more space in any case now I tore out the wood furnace.

Talking of which, here is said furnace, now up for sale on Maine Craigslist and waiting in the dooryard for some lucky buyer to come get it. This is not the time of year to sell a furnace, so I expect we'll keep it there until fall. Always aware of appearances (not!), to make it prettier, I made it into Maine "yahd ahrt" by temporarily adding Aimee's house plant collection, also up for grabs since she is spring-cleaning our house, ready for house guests and the baby, and these no longer fit with her pans for decor. Call or email if you want them.

In other news, I finally found time yesterday morning to set out the tomato cages. Not a moment too soon, since some of the tomato plants are already two feet high. With so many projects ongoing, we haven't made much time for gardening, and in fact were forced to undertake a major weed eradication exercise the other day, to bring everything back under some semblance of horticultural control.

I weeded the tomato rows as I fitted the cages, listening to Weekend Edition on the radio. It went well enough, and I'm sure the plants liked listening to Scott Simon as much as I do.

Finally, Ginnie Guinea, who we now realize may be a male, is still hanging out, and still called Ginnie, despite her/his sex change.

He/she seems to be a fairly reliable soul, as birds go. He/she comes by the barn each morning to get a handout of layer pellets, then buggers off happily to peck for ticks and other bugs all around the dooryard. The dogs haven't had a tick on them since she arrived, but since they are covered in Top Spot chemical anyway, and since we no longer take them on walks in the woods because it's now too hot and buggy and because we are so busy, we really don't know if all Ginnie's work has actually made a difference.

Still it's good to know he/she is on the job. Fine by us if he/she stays, as long as she keeps pecking up ticks! Especially with a kid on the way, ticks are particularly unwelcome. Lyme disease is a killer.

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