Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ladies, It's Time to Winterize

I'm not talking about your house, or your wardrobe either ...it's time to winterize your vehicles.  This post is being written mostly for ladies, from a lady's perspective since that's the only perspective I have.  Some of us are blessed with men who take care of all these things for us and some are on their own in this department.  Even if your partner takes care of vehicle maintenance, I think you should be knowledgeable enough to do for yourself too.  I'm of the opinion that if you drive it, you need to take care of it ...or at least see that it's taken care of. 

Yeoldfurt and I have a geriatric fleet decorating our driveway.  The odometers on our three vehicles are all well past the 100,000 mile mark and one of them is well over 200,000.  Maintenance is important with any vehicle but with older vehicles, it's critical.  Two drivers with three vehicles might seem like overkill to some but there's a method to this madness.  The big truck, a 2001 F250, is the only one of the three that can pull the stock trailer.  When you have livestock, that kind of truck is a necessity.  But that diesel engine gets lousy mileage even on the highway, and diesel is $3.75/gallon these days.  So other than a short trip to town once a week to keep the juices flowing, we only drive the big truck when we need to pull the trailer.

Diesel powered vehicles are cold sensitive and require a little extra attention when winter rolls around.  A fuel additive such as "Amsoil" helps, but it takes a little discipline to keep the ratio right.  An optimal 8 ounces of additive for every 25 gallons of fuel is hard to regulate unless you run the tank down before you refuel each time.  If you are in the habit of topping off your tank every time it gets down to about half, the ratio gets out of whack pretty fast, potentially causing other problems.  So even if that's your normal routine in summer months so you never get caught with an empty tank, it would be better in winter to run the tank down to at least the last quarter before using more additive.

Diesels have two big batteries under the hood and painful as it is, it's probably best to replace them at the same time.  One may crap out before the other, but batteries almost never crap out overnight.  They weaken over time and as the one battery has been getting weaker and weaker, more strain has been put on the other battery so it's far from equal to the new one you just put next to it.  I'm sure I'm on the minority side of that opinion but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  A lot depends on how far you drive, how remote your route is and what your options are going to be if you get stranded away from home because the batteries are too weak to start the truck.

One thing you can do to take care of the batteries you have is to use your plug in.  Every diesel I've ever owned or known of  has had an electrical plug tucked down inside the front grill.  The cord runs to a heater on the block of the engine.  The block heater provides just enough warmth to keep the fuel from gelling which makes starting so much easier in the morning.  You can start it while it's plugged in, but as a safety measure, I always unplug before I start the engine ...cuts down on the risk of driving off while still attached to the garage by the electrical cord.  I've seen it happen, though not to me or my truck ...thank goodness.  But I decided then and there I was going to take measures to ensure it didn't happen to me. 

Check the tire pressure when the temperatures drop too.  Tires that looked okay yesterday afternoon when it was in the 70's might look a little on the under-inflated side today when the high was only in the 50's.  A vehicle with over or under-inflated tires is far from safe on slick winter roads, so check your pressures when the seasons change and adjust them according to the PSI embossed on the sidewall of the tire.  We keep a cheap manual tire gauge in every glove box of every vehicle we own.  You're not always going to be at gas station when you think you have a tire pressure problem and I've never trusted the gauges at the 25-cents-for-air stations anyway.

Check your fluids, ladies.  It's not rocket science.  The reservoirs are marked with a minimum fill line.  If they're low or the fluid looks dirty, change it or take it to someone to have it changed.  Even your windshield wiper fluid should be topped off before winter.  If it's already raining outside, you might need to wash your windows to be able to see the road.  Ever had a big 18 wheeler blow by in the lane next to you and spatter mud and sludge all over your windshield?   Your wipers won't make much difference without a little boost from washer fluid.   

We had our first real norther blow through last Sunday.  I guess that's what got me on this subject.  The skies were clear and blue but there were gusts of icy wind that felt they went right through your clothes.  The horses were all frisky and the chickens only wanted to venture from the coop for a few minutes at a time.  While I was out taking care of the animals, I decided to do a little winterizing on the two vehicles that were still in the driveway.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

So Much to Do, So Little Time

First, let me say thank you all for the nice sentiments left in the comments on YOF's post about my birthday.  And thank you, Mayberry, for the birthday wishes you left on the last post on my blog.  Yes, as KX59 pointed out on YOF's blog, 'a birthday post on HB’s blog (was) noticeably absent.'    I don't think one should announce one's own birthday.  It seems inappropriate somehow.  Maybe that's just me.  But I had a very nice birthday, even if I am 'Captain Kangaroo' old now.  It started out with YOF letting me sleep in and ended with him taking me out for a burger and back home for a movie on Netflix.  In between rolling out of bed two hours late and getting taken out for the evening meal, I had a few cards in the mail, several phone calls and a great many comments and well wishes on Facebook and the blogs.  I've always been a little uncomfortable with being the focus of attention so tend to enjoy everyone else's birthdays much more than my own.  But this birthday was just nice.  It was very quiet which was very nice, so thank you all. 

Now, today ...life goes back to normal.  Along with the usual laundry and housework that I do on Sundays, I need to devote some serious effort to organizing my office because it will be the center of our little Christmas celebration this year.  We found out yesterday that our grandsons that just moved back to Houston will get to spend a few days with us this Christmas.  My daughter and her family are driving over Christmas Day also and it will be the first time the grandsons get to meet their cousin, Isabelle.  I will have a house full of grandkids at Christmas and I can't think of a better way to spend the holiday.  It's been a long time since we had overnight guests and we've never had quite this many at one time.  So much to do, so little time.  But having all my grands here for the holidays will make it the best Christmas ever for me.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a joyous Christmas with your family and loved ones. 

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Technical Difficulties ...ugh!

They say trouble comes in threes.   Two weeks ago, the little truck had to have two new tires.  The old ones were literally down to the wire.  Last week, the transmission went bad in the same truck.  Well, technically just two of the five gears went bad ...but it still means a complete rebuild.   Since the second problem was astronomically more expensive than the first one, I was dreading the third thing.  That proverbial other shoe felt like it was hanging right over my head. 

Well, I didn't have to fret about it for long.  As soon as I walked in the door from my two days of visiting the granddaughter, I heard this loud annoying hum emanating from my computer.  Looks like one of the fans in the CPU is about to crap out on me.   It seems to be the one that cools the tower itself and not the CPU fan.  But if I ignore it long enough, I'll only end up with a bigger problem.  In light of the tire and transmission expenses we've already incurred this month, hauling the computer down to the shop for someone else to fix is out of the question.  I'll just have to dust off my 'geek hat' and do it myself. 

The inside of a computer is not terribly complicated these days.  Plug-n-play is more than just a catchy phrase.  Most of the internal components 'plug in' on the inside of your box just like a printer or other external peripheral would plug in on the outside of your box.  Usually the hardest part of the operation is figuring out how to open the case.  Since my tower has been with me about 10 years, I'm already familiar with how to  open it up. 

The fans themselves are not expensive so after I get the model number for both fans, I'll probably pick up two of the one that's currently on it's last legs and one of the CPU fans.  For all I know they're the same model, but that would be ultra convenient so I'm not counting on it.  Whatever the case is, I'll have to replace the bad fan and want to end up with a spare for both of them.  About $30 ought to do it if I pick them up in town somewhere and don't have to add shipping to the equation. 

Normally, my computer is up and running 24/7 because I'm lazy and impatient.  I don't want to have to turn it on and wait the two or three minutes for it to boot up and load everything.  Lazy and impatient, I know.  But in deference to the loud complaints from the bad fan, I'm going to modify my behavior at least until I get it fixed.  The computer will be shut down as soon as I finish this post and will remain shut down for most of the week.  Actually changing out the fan is about a 30 minute job and that includes opening the case and chasing out the dust bunnies that are sure to be there.  But I'm pretty sure it will be at least Friday before I can pick up the parts and probably next Saturday before I have time to install it.  

I'm just grateful that this time it's something I can fix myself and for not too much money. I'll have to limit my email and surfing to the allotted break times at my office.  I never take my 15 minute morning and afternoon breaks but I betcha I do this week ...just to get my 'web fix' ...ha!   But I only get those two 15 minute breaks and one half-hour lunch break at work, so I probably won't have time to post any comments.  I'm a confirmed net-ahlolic so being 'unplugged' at home won't be fun.  But who knows what productive things I might accomplish around the house without the Internet to distract me every evening!  

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Boys are Back!

Our grandsons have moved back to Texas from Arizona ...yeah!!  

I think just the boys are here right now, 
their momma will be here by next week.  
Though they will still be a couple of hours away by car, 
we're so thrilled to have them back in Texas.  
A couple of hours away is a whole lot better 
than a couple of STATES away! 

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