Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bearing up

The Land Rover rebuild continues in fits and starts as parts arrive. Here's the Rover's lower middle main bearing shell, showing the pitting that was giving me low oil pressure. Definitely needed a rebuild, although it might have run trouble-free for quite a while yet.

And here's the block, upside down, showing the journals. This is after the rebore job.

In other news, the swing set arrived and was duly assembled.

Roo seems to like it.

This calls for a family selfie!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I needed to get the clutch release assembly out of my Land Rover for service, since according to Haynes, it's "false economy" to replace the engine without replacing the bearing. Ordinarily I'd beg to differ -- many's the time back in my VW van driving days that I'd pull the engine without replacing the bearing, but I do have a little less need for economy now than I did when I was a student.

In any case, Aimee stole my camera to take this picture of me wearing a Land Rover.

In other news, we have a strange new row crop in the garden: lots of containers with tomato plants underneath them. This because of a late frost warning last night, and again for tomorrow night.

I quite liked the effect.

Finally, if we now have a kid, then we need a swing set. Ours arrived by truck late Monday, but had to wait for the rain to stop before I could put it up. Quite the "assembly required"; it took about five hours to get it done, all told. She does like to swing, though.

Friday, May 15, 2015

In the clutch of desperation

Aimee went to work and left me alone with Roo yesterday, a normal occurrence. But what wasn't normal is I have a Land Rover with a bad clutch. Such things do not improve with age, so I very badly wanted to make progress on the repair, and the engine rebuild I decided must also happen -- if I'm to pull the transmission for a clutch, I might as well pull the engine for a clutch and a much needed full engine rebuild. All such things take time, and summer is short and I have a lot of other jobs to do.

Unfortunately Roo had other ideas, and woke right up from her morning nap after only half an hour, so I only made about an hour of total progress in the next seven hours until Aimee came home. I did lots of house cleaning, and all the shopping, grazed the sheep and fed the pigs and watered the plants and walked the dogs, but not the one important thing I'd planned to do. But then Aimee came home and I blitzed the rest, however yet again with my now-new-normal desperation to have something more substantial to show for a day's work.

I'm starting to really dislike this feeling.

This engine has been running fine for two years now on about a quart every thousand miles and 110 PSI compression, not to mention blue smoke each start-up from worn valve guides. As engine wear in old Land Rovers go, this is just about par for the course, and in the ordinary course, I would probably just put up with the oil usage and sluggish hill-climbing that results. But, if you're going to have to change a clutch, you may as well rebuild an engine.

I had decided to use the lift as a bridge crane to get this job done, tightly strapping blocks on each short front arm and a beam on top of the blocks, planning to roll the vehicle back once the engine was disconnected and lifted out of its engine bay. Although this worked well enough for the first part of the operation, it turned out to be a mistake for the second. Land Rover engines are deep. About thirty-eight inches deep, to be exact. I couldn't roll the vehicle back. You can see the problem in the next picture: the sump is still well below the top of the radiator housing.

In the end, I temporarily supported the engine on blocks inside the engine bay, dropped the hoist and beam, quickly turned the blocks under the beam the longer way around, replaced the beam and hoist, let some air out of the tires, and then was able to roll the Rover back with, however, not even an eighth of an inch to spare.

Even so, the operation was successful and the engine safely out. Satisfying, that. I had my supper and a beer and went to bed a happy man.

My next job will be to find some longer studs or blots to fit the motor to the engine stands. The ones that join the Rover's engine to the transmission are much too small. Then we'll blast the thing clean with degreaser and the pressure washer, then it will be time to strip down the engine and see what we've got.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The toad abolished -- for a few months

College is out for the summer -- graduation was Saturday -- and the pace of activity has shifted from frenetic to manageable. The last few days were transitional, as we finished up grading and attended meetings still, but no longer had to show up for classes. This week we have two "in-service" training days. So Friday is our first official day of summer, and my calendar is free and clear of commitments from then until late August, except for one monthly meeting. This summer I have no field research, and so my primary college remaining responsibility is scholarship, which, frankly is no hardship. I have a paper that needs to be revised for a different publisher, and a lot of fairly serious new books to read.

Work, or at least the kind that feels like work, being essentially banished from our lives until fall, what will I do with ourselves?

Well, we'll work, of course, but it will be the kind of work that doesn't feel like work. We have five new chickens, three piglets, and six lambs to raise and sell, the older sheep and chickens to tend, some of which sheep will also have to be sold, a Land Rover that may need a clutch and certainly needs an emergency brake job, three other vehicles and a tractor and several miscellaneous items of small equipment to service and maintain, a garden to plant and grow and harvest and put up, three acres of rough pasture to keep weed free, several hundred skeins of yarn to sell, two more cords of firewood to put up, three hundred bales of hay to find, buy, truck, and store in the barn...

... and last but by no means least, a very small child to help learn to walk and talk.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Not a great start to spring

The problem with trying to run a farm and raise a baby that isn't toddling or talking and so not really playing with other children yet is that there isn't much time, even with two parents. We're always watching her. As a result, I tend now to rush things a little around the farm, whenever I get the all-clear to run out and get some work done.

Case in point: She's sleeping now, which gives me chance to finish up this post which I started five days ago, but she'll wake up at any time, so we'll see if I finish it.

That was also the case last Saturday morning. Aimee took Roo to do some shopping, while I had a list of spring chores in my head. I began with putting the Nissan truck on the lift, pulling the wheels, and spraying the salt off the underside with the pressure washer. That done, I lowered it to the ground for safety, and left it to dry thoroughly. Then I went to till the garden with the Kubota tractor and tiller.

You can see next what ensued:

I tipped the tractor over on a very slight undulation in the ground with a bucket of particularly wet and heavy compost. I was reversing with the bucket too high, and turning to the left all at the same time. Had I lowered the bucket just slightly, or made a wider turn, this wouldn't have happened.

So, we had to resort to the Land Rover winch.

No worries, mate! The only damage was the loss of a couple quarts of engine oil, which I then had to scrape up off the ground with a shovel.

Here's the compost heap after I loaded out about four tons of very nice black muck. I think most of this was two-year old stuff.

I got right back to work and was able to finish up, just in time to plant peas with Aimee and Roo later that day. All's well that ends well.

In other news, we are learning to like pancakes! Yummy!

Finally, I laughed out loud when I saw what Aimee inadvertently did the other day:

Here's the FB caption I used:

"Headline News: British citizen tortured by American housewife! Is no-one safe? In a breaking story, once-famous British subject Bungo Womble may have been stripped naked and hung by the ears by an American woman. Upon arrest and interrogation by the Special Branch, the suspect is alleged to have cited racial theory. Apparently our British Wombles are "too dirty" for American children.

The shame, the pity...."