This weather has definitely been hard on my various internal combustion engines here in the bush. The generators are virtually unstartable at twenty below, and difficult at ten below. The tractor is a total no go below ten below as well, but if I can get a generator going somehow first, I can plug in the tractor's heater and then get a bit further.
The car has been much better since I swapped out its original battery for one I purchased new last spring. The truck, not so much. But now that it has warmed up to ten below some days, I have been able to get the truck to turn over and start again. Of course, the first time I returned from Howie's Saw with the truck, it got stuck at the turnaround. Grandpa threw two more cinder blocks in the back for traction, but I had already given up and luckily it was pointed down the driveway, so I just left it blocking everything until I next had to go to work, and drove it out from there.
On the plus side, when I returned last night, I was able to park sweet as anything, so perhaps the extra weight has helped?
Wednesday morning, Grandpa popped by to see how we were making out. He had a specific tree in mind that he thought we should cut down and check for soundness. It could be either firewood, or perhaps lumber. I managed to get the tractor started without preheating, which was surprising, but didn't want to look that particular gift-horse in the mouth!
The hydraulics were extra slow to come online though. I think the rear piston for the three point hitch is definitely on its last legs, so I really need to get online and order a replacement O ring kit for it, and make that my next project. I've also noticed that it's leaking hydraulic fluid around the dipstick, which seems to be all cracked, so I need to replace that too.
I started up our large generator (the small one was still out of commission) and pumped a little bit of water for Donna to do laundry. Unfortunately we only got two buckets from the well before it ran dry. I'm not super concerned about that fact - this is suppose to be the toughest month for water levels. Hopefully next year if we have our tank installed and filled, that will be enough of a buffer to get us through any tight squeezes.
The other issue of late with the water has been that it has been a bit (I'm sure Donna would say very) murky. So of course, we're trying to only wash dark clothes. I suspect that I stirred up something when I went down to thaw the pipe, but we'll have to see how long this issue persists.
Once that was dealt with, Grandpa and I headed to the bush to fell this tree. You can imagine how impressed I was when my chainsaw wouldn't start. After pulling an inordinate number of times, it was a real treat to have the pull-cord break off.
Grandpa took it in stride, and returned to his place to retrieve his Husky. He also gave me another life-lesson. Always start up your saw at home before you take it to the bush. That makes loads of sense.
We used the Husky to cut down the tree, which was really, really straight - and only a few feet of insect damage at the base. It didn't take much to cut it up, and then we chained it to the tractor and with lots of cajoling, managed to skid it to the sawmill, where we further cut it into a few twelve foot lengths.
Grandpa returned home for his lunch and I did the same. After lunch I headed back to the dojo tent to check on my chainsaw. A few Torx screws removed the recoil starter, which I replaced with some cord I had kicking around. Grandpa had recommended heavy duty shoelace, so I'll keep that in mind for next time. I took the time to clean the spark-plug as well, and that's when I discovered my main (should have been obvious) problem with starting this saw lately - the air filter was completely clogged up. It looked more like it was MADE from wood, rather than just saturated with it. I soaked it in a bit of petrol for a few hours, with no visible effect, so I'm going to just purchase a few new ones next time we get to town.
As I finished with the saw, Grandpa returned with a package - my third recoil kit for my small generator! I thanked him profusely, and proceeded to reinstall that (after carefully ensuring that the generator was NOT seized up). Gingerly I pulled once, twice, thrice, etc. On about the fifteenth pull, she roared to life! I shut off the choke and after a few more cycles, she eventually stalled out. I was satisfied though. Now we're getting back in business!
Feeling full of myself, I headed over to my LT10 sawmill and took the time to shovel it off. We had had a fair bit of snow of late that certainly accumulated when the sawmill wasn't in use.
I managed to get that engine started too - I was on such a roll! It took me forever to make a few cuts though, and then I discovered that I had created a real diamond shaped log - grrrr, that log clamp will drive me up the bend yet. Wayne at Wood-Mizer tells me now that I am working with him, I can complain directly to the people at Wood-Mizer and ask them to come up with a better and better design. First I'll try their version two design and see if it is any improvement. I have to drill out one of the rails to mount it though, so until I do that, I'll just suffer.
Worse than the clamp was the blade binding in the log. I asked Wayne about that too, and he started down the logical chain of inquiry - Was the blade dirty? No. Was my blade tension correct? Yes. Was my belt tension correct? - Belt tension? You can adjust that? Wayne just smiled, and pointed me in the direction of the Wood-Mizer website to find their manuals online. He also pointed out that the same information would be available in my own manual. I assured him I had the manual in a safe place, and had read it once when I first got the mill. I guess it could even bear with a second reading...
That was enough for one day though. I returned to the yurts, only to find them empty. Donna and Kenny had gone over to Mummu's house to enjoy her running, drinkable water. Small luxuries.
I stoked up the fire, and tried to squeeze in a few moments of reading before they returned and we could get supper started.
Before signing off this entry though, I wanted to give a quick message of thanks to our friends and family who are still reading this blog, and occasionally commenting either on the blog itself, or through email. It is really nice to stay in touch with everyone - being out in the bush here, the people farthest away from us physically can still be among the people closest to our hearts. An extra special note to the members of our church family - we miss you all very much, and it helps greatly to still consider ourselves part of that community of friends. You are all still in our thoughts and prayers.