A new (to me) Craftsman riding mower

A couple days ago (Monday morning, to be precise) I was killing some time before work browsing the local buy/sell Facebook group and saw a listing for a Craftsman 42″ riding mower. The ad said “$100…need gone today!” It went on to say that it needed a starter and battery. I’m thinking that if all this mower needed were those things, it would be a good buy for us, especially since we already had two spare parts mowers, one with a engine that was very similar, meaning the starter would probably work. I showed the ad to Mary and got her OK, so I sent the seller a message asking if it was still available. He replied back that it was, so I arranged to take a look at it after work.

It turned out that the seller was actually the guy who DJ’ed for our wedding and whose house I drive by almost every day. Anyway, I stopped in after work and talked to him about it. He told me that the mower had been sitting in his garage for two years and that there was no electrical power…that is, when you turned the key, nothing happened at all.

He said he’d had someone out earlier that day who “knew about” mowers trying to troubleshoot and that he’d jumped the starter and had the engine cranking, but that there was no spark. This told me that it was just a fairly minor electrical problem, so I decided to take a chance on it. I paid him the $100 asking price and he helped me load it up. Here are a couple pics taken when I got home, as Jake and Zach came out to inspect it. (Click to enlarge.)

20150914_01 20150914_02

As you can see it’s actually in pretty good shape. I went inside and did some research on this mower and downloaded the user and shop manuals for it so I had some reference material for troubleshooting. Trevor helped me unload it in front of the garage.

Last night after I got home from work I decided to get to work on it. I needed to first inspect the wiring harness, so I got started cleaning some grass debris from behind the dash…and Zach helped out a bit too. I pulled up the shop manual on the garage computer and did some reading for a couple minutes. There was a troubleshooting guide in it for when the mower wouldn’t start. One of the first things it suggested was to check the fuse behind the dash.

20150916_01 20150916_02So I found where the fuse was located and removed it and saw it was blown….and then got a big grin on my face. I’m suddenly pretty excited, hoping like hell that this was the problem. I¬†installed a new fuse and then pulled the battery and cleaned the terminals and then got the battery charger on it. I wasn’t holding my breath that after sitting in a garage for two years the battery was any good, but it was worth a try. However, even after letting the charger run for about 30 minutes, there was not enough juice to turn the engine over, although I could now hear the starter solenoid clicking, which made my grin even bigger, since that pretty much verified what I was thinking.

I still had the two batteries from our parts mowers, but they’d also been sitting on a shelf in the garage for a year. I wasn’t sure if either of those would work, but again, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try. I grabbed one and installed it and then got the charger on it. While it was charging, I pulled the fuel tank and rinsed it out, not only to get rid of the old gas but because there was some bugs in the tank. I reinstalled the tank but didn’t add any gas yet. After about 30 minutes on the charger I tried starting it again, but no luck. By that time it was dark and time to get the kids to bed, so I quit for the night.

20150916_03This evening after work I went back at it. I dug out the second spare battery and tried to charge it, but it wouldn’t hold a charge either. (So now I have three old batteries to dispose of tomorrow, I guess.) While it was charging, I installed a cup holder for my Mountain Dew. ūüėČ After I discovered that this battery wouldn’t hold a charge either, I decided to just pull the battery out of our John Deere, since I knew it was good. And as soon as it was installed and I hit the key, the engine started cranking! WOOHOO!

I went ahead and added about a gallon of gas and then tried again…and it fired up with about 2 seconds. It smoked a little for about 30 seconds but then settled in to a nice smooth idle. I put it into gear to test the transmission and drove it around a small circle and brought it back to the garage, where I topped off the gas and oil.

I had to take a break for a little while to whip up some dinner for the kids (since Mary was still at work teaching her CNA classes) and to drive Brianna into town for her dance lessons. Once I got back, I decided to give the new mower it’s first mowing test, by mowing along the driveway. And it passed with flying colors!

It did take a little getting used to though. While it does steer with a lot less effort than the John Deere, instead of a Hydrostatic transmission like the Deere, it’s got a gear-type transmission with a clutch. But overall, I was very impressed. It ran very smoothly and a little more quiet than the Deere.

I definitely think I got the good end of the deal here. Now with two rider mowers, on mowing days Trevor can drive the Deere and I’ll drive the Craftsman.

Oh, that’s right…I forgot to post here about two weeks ago that I graduated Trev from the push mower to the Deere. He mowed for several hours then, and then again this past Saturday, so he’s up-to-speed with the whole process…and lovin’ it!

As you can see in the above pics, the Deere’s hood is missing. Unfortunately, it was a fiberglass hood that was cracked when we got it (we actually purchased it from Mary’s sister Lori and her husband Loren) and after some use out here, it cracked almost completely in half. I decided to just remove it completely, since it really was just a cosmetic detail that didn’t affect it’s performance. It looks funny, but still does the job just fine.

So anyway…this coming Saturday (day after tomorrow) we’ll be firing up the mowers and getting to work,¬†which we’ll be able to do¬†in half the time. Sunday is the big Last Fling ‘Til Spring car show in West Point. Mary’s uncle is planning on coming to town for the show, so I’m sure she and the kids will be hanging out with him there…I’m not sure if I’ll go or not. I’d like to, but I just have too much to do here. We’ll see…






Rebuilding the Neleigh Park horseshoe pits

Several of the guys I shoot horseshoes with went before the city council a few months ago and convinced them that we needed to rebuild the horseshoe pits down at Neleigh Park. They made arrangements to get started the rebuilding after the fair, which was about a month ago. Well, today was the starting day.

I went down over my lunch hour and pitched some shoes for a few minutes, since this would be the last opportunity I’d have to pitching here probably for the rest of the year. While there I took these ‘before’ pics:

We’d decided to meet up at the park at 5:30PM after work to get started with the teardown. I brought my trailer, since all the existing concrete pads were coming out here to use with my horseshoe pits.

After the stakes were pulled and the concrete pads loaded up, Trevor and I headed home while the others stayed and got started laying out the concrete forms.

The drive home with that much weight on the trailer was interesting.¬†We took the back roads and took our time. The tires were getting pretty flattened out under all this weight, and I was hoping like hell we wouldn’t have a blowout. But we made it home just fine.

Over the next week they hope to have the concrete forms completed, because as I understand it we’ll start next Tuesday night¬†pouring concrete.

While I was working at the park, I got a call from Marj at the realtors office. She told me that she’d just finished a showing at the house, and that there was a couple issues I should probably look at. First, she said there was some water in a puddle in the basement. I’m thinking this is the washer/drying hookup area, in which the shutoff valves tend to drip a bit, so I’m going to get some screw-on caps to cap those valves off. Also, she said they’d found a dead garter snake in the basement! I guess I’ll stop by during my lunch hour tomorrow and take care of these. I’m also going to reinstall some glass globes on the ceiling fan in the living room. I also forgot I needed to shave a little off the top of the front door so it closes smoothly, because it’s binding now. That means I’ll have to go purchase s small wood plane. The fun…it just never ends!



Men vs. Women…on colors



The house is listed…and other misc.

Well, it’s been about 9 days since my last update…and there’s been a lot going on.

20150914_01Our house in town has finally gotten listed with the realtors, after nearly a year. I called Marj Scheer, who was the realtor who helped us find our current acreage, at Don Peterson and Assoc. on Thursday and told her we were ready to get the house listed. She stopped by on Friday, took some pictures and filled out some paperwork, and it was listed by late Friday night. She encouraged us to ask a little more for the property than what we¬†were thinking, saying that for a house as clean as this one, she’d be surprised if it lasted on the market for more than 2 weeks. There was one call for a showing on Sunday, but they backed out once they found out it was only a single-car garage. Oh well… But she said she’s scheduling an open house this coming Sunday….which is also the day of the big Last Fling ‘Til Spring car show…so we might have a few folks wandering through. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

20150912_07I spent all day Saturday out at Scott’s pole barn removing tin. I actually made quite a bit of progress, and if I can keep the progress up, I should have the rest of the tin off in another 4 hours or so. Then I’ll be getting started disassembling the rafters.

You can see the ‘helper’ I built using our old wore-out wooden stepladder. Since this side of the barn feels like it’s got a steeper pitch, it’s a bit more unsettling to be up there on the cross-supports, and was causing a serious slowdown in progress. I needed something to sit on while pulling nails that I could hook onto the 2x4s and to keep me from sliding off…and while trying to come up with an idea, the idea of using this stepladder popped into my mind. I removed the rear legs and then installed some homemade hooks on the top to hook onto the 2x4s…and progress picked up significantly. I worked from about 10AM until about 6PM and got most of the tin off the other side. The only downside is that it’s VERY hard on my butt! It digs into my butt cheeks something terrible, so before I head back to finish the tin, I’m going to wrap the ladder steps with chunks of carpet for padding. (Jake gave me that idea…which I think was a great one!)

20150914_02On Sunday night I ran across an ad on a¬†local buy/sell Facebook group with someone offering a riding mower for sale. (The seller actually turned out to be the guy who DJ’ed our wedding!) The ad said the mower needed a battery and starter for the Briggs & Stratton engine, and since we had a bad mower with those good parts out in our storage barn, I decided that the $100 he was asking for it was probably worth it, and Mary gave me her OK. So last night after work I went and looked at it, and after talking with the seller for a few minutes, with him telling me what troubleshooting he’d done without finding the culprit that was keeping it from running, (which wasn’t the starter, since he reported someone had stopped by and using jumper cables, had the engine turning over. It’s got compression. I decided to take a chance on this one and paid him the $100.

Zachary is striking a pose on the mower, which¬†is a Craftsman LT1000 with a 16.5HP Briggs & Stratton engine and a 42-inch cut. I spent some time downloading the manuals for it last night, but other than unloading the mower from the truck, didn’t get a chance to get anything else done with it. I’m reasonably convinced it’s a minor electrical problem, and I’m thinking it’ll be a fairly easy fix….knock on wood. I might look at it this weekend, but I’m not holding my breath, since it’s looking to be a fairly busy weekend.





A Good Day Playing Horseshoes

horseshoe01At our regular Tuesday-evening horseshoe pitching session, an article on the front page of the Hooper Scribner newspaper was brought to our attention, which described some fun Labor Day activities in Uehling, which included a horseshoe tournament. I don’t know how I got it confused, but for some reason I was thinking the tournament was in Scribner at 10AM. Well, turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. I did get the day correct, but I was mistaken on the town AND the time! Typically we try to show up 30 minutes before the tournament is due to begin, so I timed it to be in Scribner at 9:30AM this morning.

I was a couple minutes late, but when I got to the park, I was completely confused…there was nobody there! So I drove up to the local MiniMart and looked at a copy of their Scribner paper, and that’s when I noticed the article was discussing Uehling. Oh crap…Uehling was 13 miles away, and the tournament was due to start in about 15 minutes! So I hit the highway, and was speeding a wee bit….would’ve gotten in trouble too, if it wasn’t for a good Samaritan who flashed his headlights at me as I was cresting a hill, alerting me to law enforcement ahead. I hit the brakes and slowed down to the speed limit, and a quarter-mile later passed a county sheriff’s cruiser parked along the road. (Thanks random road warrior!)

Anyway, we trucked down to the Uehling city park and drove to¬†the horseshoe pits….only to find that (once again!) there was nobody there! There were plenty of people in the park involved with the village’s Labor Day festivities, but there wasn’t a single person around the pits. WTH!!! So…I drove up to the local MiniMart and saw a printout pasted to their front door showing the day’s activities and their times, where it stated the horseshoe competition didn’t start until 1PM.


<heavy sigh>

So…I headed home again to wait it out there. Got the topper pulled off my ’75 F250, for the first time in several years. I was thinking about taking it to the tournament, but it really needed a bath, and the gas gauge was on empty, so she got left home this time. (At bottom¬†is a cell-phone shot taken just before it got dark tonight.)

Anyway, finally made it back to the pits in Uehling, arriving right at 1PM. However, I was only the fourth person to show up…and two of the other three (Gus and Ray) were from my Tuesday night sessions in West Point. We held off for almost half an hour, waiting for others to show up who had apparently said they’d be there…but nobody else arrived. So with four people, we decided to just do a best two-out-of-three Doubles match. My partner was Randy, the only Uehling-area resident to participate. He and I¬†shot against Gus and Ray.

Randy showed me his shoes and asked me if I could shoot his (since both members of a team have to use the same shoes). I told him I’d need to throw a few practice shots to see…and the first two shoes I threw were dead-on ringers! A double, right off the bat! I grinned and told him “Yeah, I think I can shoot with these!”

horseshoe02Well, I was wrong. We ended up losing the first two matches of Doubles…which essentially ended the Doubles portion of the tournament. I was having a hell of a time trying to get the¬†shoes on the stake, and I couldn’t figure out why. Something was different about these pits that I couldn’t put my finger on, and it was really messing up my throwing. It felt like the stakes were closer together than the regulation 40 feet, but that wasn’t it. So WTH was it???

Then we decided to each pitch in $5 again and play double-elimination Singles. The first game was Randy versus myself…and about the second time I threw my shoe, it suddenly dawned on me that the concrete pads were 8″-10″ shorter than the pads I was used to playing on! This resulted in me not getting a full ‘wind-up’ before releasing my shoe! As soon as I stood back just behind the pads and lengthened my approach, there was an immediate and substantial improvement in my gameplay…my shoes started dropping right on the stake. I ended up wining that match…AND the next two¬†against Gus (one of them 21-7). In fact, I won every Singles match I played from that point on…and ended up taking first place in the Singles portion.

Scan000617Winning first place when there are only three other competitors normally wouldn’t be something to get overly-excited¬†about, but I was playing against Gus. He’s one of the better shooters in the area and regularly attends most of the area competitions, and in fact usually wins them. But I’ve been gradually¬†improving my game to¬†the point that other members of our Tuesday night club have noticed and commented¬†that they feel¬†I’m nearly as good as Gus and getting better every time we get together. And in fact I believe that this is the first tournament that Gus has entered this season in which he hasn’t won first place in singles. So this was a good day for me…not so much for him.

You see…there’s a little more to this story. Gus is actually my supervisor at work…and it’s really no secret that we don’t really get along too well. We tolerate each other on a daily basis…we put up with each other, but that’s about it. We don’t really like each other. And while he doesn’t like getting beaten at a game of¬†horseshoes, getting beat by ME willhorseshoe03 seriously get his blood pressure up. At the tournament in Beemer earlier this summer I smoked him in our first game 22-12, and his whole demeanor that day changed…even my kids, who went with me to the tournament, noticed it and commented to me about it, especially how he was pretty vocal during subsequent matches that day, rooting for whoever¬†was playing against me.

Today, after I’d pocketed the prize money, Gus announced to everyone there that after I’d bested¬†him two games in a row, he’d finally figured out what he was doing wrong…and wanted to take me on again. However, it was getting late in the afternoon, and I had two of my kids with me who were getting bored, so I told him I needed to get them home. Gus replied “Aw, you’re just scared, ’cause you saw how hot I was getting!” I laughed and said “Yeah Gus…that’s it.”

But I finally relented to a game of cuthroat with Gus and Randy.

…which I proceeded to win too.

By that time, I decided I really needed to get going. Mary had to work tonight, and I did have some mowing I needed to get started on. So we loaded up and headed home.

On the way, Brianna (9) was illustrating the artwork you see here on this page. I told her I’d scan and post them with this blog entry, which made her day.

Once I got home, I got started mowing. Even though I’d just mowed the property a week ago, we’ve had some moisture over the past week, so there’s been a lot of growth. So much, in fact, that I’m going to have to mow it twice…once with the mower down on the first notch, to take the grass down about 1/2 way, and then again on the third notch, where I generally set it. I got the area around the house mowed and Trevor will re-mow it tomorrow while I get to work on the rest of the property. Labor Day, in this case, is going to be filled with labor.

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!






Moving day

20150905_111034rNot much happening over the past few days. It’s the end of Day 1 of our three-day Labor Day weekend, and Trevor and I got to spend a good portion of it helping Clarissa move from her apartment in Omaha to her new apartment in Lincoln. She’s been working a new job for the past few weeks in Lincoln and commuting from Omaha, but as of today her commute will be a lot shorter. Trevor and I hit the road at 6AM this morning and arrived at her apartment in Omaha at about 7:15 AM. We met up with Clarissa, her boyfriend Jeremy and her mom RaeLynn and half-brother Chance and spent the next few hours getting our truck and trailer loaded up, as well as a pickup that Jeremy borrowed AND the back of RaeLynn’s car. We were able to get 99% of her belongings loaded up by 11ish, and then hit the road to Lincoln. Once there, they went and signed the paperwork and got the keys, and then we spent the next few hours bringing everything up to her 2nd-story apartment. Considering it was in the low-90s, we definitely got a workout. However, we finally got everything inside by 1:30ish¬†and headed back…but not before taking a detour back through Omaha specifically to eat lunch at Lums in Bellevue. Trevor ended up getting an exact copy of my lunch, which I always get when I go there: chicken-fried steak and fries, all smothered in white gravy, and a large glass of white milk.

I do want to ¬†mention that Trevor really proved himself as a valuable asset today. Not only was he good company on the drive, but he was an excellent worker. He never complained, helped out wherever he could and was generally a pleasure to be around. Both Clarissa and Jeremy told him that they were very impressed with him and his work ethic, and Jeremy later told me that he thought Mary and I had done a good job raising him. Now that’s gotta make a father feel good, right?

Once we finally arrived at home around 4, I decided to take a nap.


20150905_193009rMy tractor parts arrived yesterday. When troubleshooting the fuel system, the gasket under the fuel pump’s sediment bowl got damaged, so that has to be replaced, as well as the screen. The screen it’s replacing was fairly crusted over and while it could’ve been cleaned, it was decided to just replace it. Not sure when I’ll do that. Tomorrow I’m headed to the horseshoe tournament in Scribner and taking Trevor…he said he’d like to go. I think it’s mainly just for something to do, and it’s better than the mowing I’d probably have him do if he stayed home. Mary spend the day cleaning Zach and Wes’ bedroom and Zach was supposed to help out if he wanted to go to a friend’s house tomorrow for a playdate. However, he wasn’t helping her very much, and Mary told him that because of that he didn’t earn the privilege of the playdate. However, she told him that if he helped her finish it up after supper tonight that she’d allow him to come with Trevor and I to the horseshoe tournament. Mary just called me for supper….so we’ll see how it goes afterwards.

I got some chicken wire spread over the upper windows of the corn crib yesterday afternoon in an attempt to start the bird relocation. The corn crib has turned into a large aviary…which wouldn’t be quite so bad if it was just smaller birds, but there are quite a few pigeons that have really turned it into a shithole…literally! Since the main entryways into the crib are now covered, the larger pigeons are finding it much harder to gain access, but still achieveable with effort through some of the other larger holes in the roof. Covering those holes is next on the list, which will be a temporary Band-Aid on the problem until I can get the missing tin replaced.








Pitching horseshoes

When I was in my 20s living in Chadron, I used to pitch a lot of horseshoes with my friends. We’d often load up some beer and head out to one of the local camping spots where we’d just kick back, listen to music and enjoy some suds while pitching shoes. It was a lot of fun…and I was actually pretty good at it. But once I left and moved to the eastern part of the state, I never got back into the activity…until last year.

Challenger horseshoes

There is a group of 6-8 guys who throw shoes down at the local city park every Tuesday evening and last summer I was invited to join in. Of course, since I was shooting with some of the more-experienced players in the area, the dime-store shoes that I’d always used would no longer do. I had to invest in a pair of professional shoes to be taken seriously. So I invested the $50 on a pair of Challengers (shown at left), one of several dozen varieties of professional horseshoes, based on my experience with one of the other player’s equipment.

It took a little while to get back into the swing of things, but I picked it up again pretty quickly. I won’t say I was the best player in the group, but I wasn’t the worst either. I was holding my own and not doing too badly.

DSC_0024rA lot of the small local towns have annual celebrations of one kind or another, and almost always include a horseshoe-pitching tournament, usually held on a Saturday or Sunday. However, because of Mary’s work schedule and our five kids, being able to get away to one of the tournaments is usually not in the cards. However, last summer I did enter a tournament at Scribner and ended up with third overall, out of 17(ish) players.

This year, while some of our group have been able to make some of the local tournaments, I’ve only been able to make two¬†so far…the tournament held at the Beemer Play Daze about a month ago (in which I got third overall) and one at the Cuming County Fair a couple weeks ago. At the latter, there were three classes: A (expert), B (intermediate) and C (novice). I signed up for the B class, but ended up getting bumped up into the A class. At first I was disappointed, since I was really hoping to come home with a trophy…and I figured the A-class pitchers were out of my league. However, I was pleasantly surprised by a third-place standing at the end of the tournament. The photo here was taken at this tournament…that’s me pitching the shoe, obviously. The other two guys (Dean and Joe) are also members of our Tuesday night sessions. (Joe ended up with second in the A class.)

I really enjoy pitching shoes, and this summer I’ve spent my lunch breaks down at the city park getting in 30-40 minutes worth of practice every weekday. I’m also in the process of putting in some horseshoe pits on our acreage. I got started digging them out¬†in early July¬†but haven’t had a chance to get back to it recently…too much other stuff going on. The piece of land the pits will be located is just a little unlevel…not much, but enough that I’d have to move some dirt to even it out a bit more. The tractor I was going to use to do this has been out of commission for the past couple months, but a couple nights ago I pulled it out of the barn and did some troubleshooting to find the problem, which turned out to be a $5 worth of carburetor gaskets. I ordered them online and they should be arriving in a couple days. Once I get the tractor running again, I can start leveling out the land.

Another thing which might help me along on this project is the fact that our group will be getting started in two weeks tearing up the current horseshoe pits at the park and completely rebuilding them, including all new concrete pads and steel stakes. We are tentatively planning on loading the current pads onto my trailer and bringing them out here to use on my pits. If I can get all the pads, I might have enough to incorporate a paved walkway between pits, but a few other people have expressed an interest in some of the pads, so I might have to settle for four pads, enough to do two pits. I’d like to get eight though…so I’d have enough build two pits here, and maybe occasionally get our group to come out to my place to shoot shoes. ¬†Here are a few pics of the layout and initial digging. When I did the first layout, I accidentally had it measured out at 30 feet between stakes instead of the regulation 40 feet…fortunately I noticed before I started digging the other end!

I might be able to get some work done on leveling the ground a bit this weekend, with it being the 3-day Labor Day weekend. However, I have to help Clarissa move from Omaha to Lincoln on Saturday, and there’s another horseshoe tournament in Scribner on Sunday (that I’d like to attend, but I haven’t brought it up with Mary yet to see what her work schedule is like this weekend)…so maybe I can get something done on Monday. We’ll see.






Scott’s Pole Barn

Yesterday I described how I was deconstructing Dan’s barn for wood and tin to use in my own barn.¬†Since I figured Dan’s barn wasn’t doing to supply enough material for my own barn project, I try to keep my eyes open for similar structures that could also be salvaged. Last fall, not long after we moved in at our new farm, I drove by an old pole shelter a few miles from me that was starting to collapse and thought that the corrugated tin on this one was perfect for what I had in mind for my rustic shop. The tin was aged and slightly rusted just enough to really give it some real character. So I made a mental note of its location and decided I’d see if I could track down the owner and discuss it with him.

As luck would have it, about a week or so later I was out for a drive on the gravel roads with the kids and decided to swing by this place and show them what I was looking for when I when out on barn-scouting trips….and the owner was there. So I pulled in and talked for a few minutes with Scott. After I asked him if he’d be interested in allowing me to remove this ‘eyesore’ from his property, he said he’d give it some thought and get back to me. We exchanged phone numbers and I left, after taking these two pictures for reference.

20150731_01 20150731_02

Then just a few weeks ago (on Friday July 31st) I decided to call¬†him and see if he’d made up his mind yet, since Dan’s barn was almost complete and I was still in need of more material, and hopefully BEFORE winter. After some discussion, he agreed it was time and that I could take everything.

This pole barn was constructed by a previous owner as a place to store ¬†hay. However, a tree fell over onto it and it partially collapsed along one side, and Scott thought that someday he’d like to replace it with a decent storage building.

So the following day (August 1) I got started. Scott helped me by taking the tin from me up on the roof and stacking it on the ground, which was a big help, since I didn’t have to constantly climb up/down the ladder. By the end of the day I’d gotten the tin off the collapsed section:


I wasn’t able to return for a while since I was still also working on Dan’s barn (along with other obligations), but was finally able to return on Saturday August 22 to get back to work on it. There was a strong storm forecast for later on Saturday morning, so I told Scott that I’d work until the storm arrived, and then return on Sunday. I showed up at 9AM and got to work, and here’s a shot of what I was able to accomplish on Saturday:
20150822_01 20150822_02

The storm started to roll in by mid-afternoon, before I’d accomplished much more, so I had to call it a day. However, we were back by 10AM¬†the next day and was able to get all the tin off this side and start on the opposite side.


The tin on this structure was attached using nails with a ‘thread’ that screwed into the wood as it was hammered in, which made them much more secure and less likely to work loose over the years. However, this kind of nail makes removal much more difficult, as it can’t be just pulled out with a claw hammer…especially since the nail heads kept distorting to the point where it was nearly impossible to get the hammer onto them. I really didn’t have too much trouble on this side of the shelter though. For the most part, the nails were fairly easy to remove, though occasionally I’d find that one 2×4 that the tin was attached to was harder than the others and wouldn’t release the nails. I found that driving the claw up under the head of the nail and then rocking the hammer back and forth allowed to to snap the head off the nail without too much damage to the tin…well, at least less damage than trying to pry it out. So this side actually went fairly smoothly and quickly.

However, on Sunday afternoon as I got started pulling the tin on the far side, it sure seemed to me that the heads on the nails were much thinner, they tended to distort MUCH easier, making their removal a major PIA! The rocking-back-and-forth approach that worked well on the other side didn’t work so well on this side, as I found that as soon as I tried rocking it, the head would distort enough that the hammer would come off and there wasn’t much left to try to grab. After much trial and error, I found that if I hammered the claw part of the hammer under the nail head, so it was wedged hard on the nail, that I could then grab the head of the hammer and twist, and most of the time the nail head would twist off. That of course left a short piece of nail in the wood, which I’d have to hammer down flush with the tin so I could pop the tin off.

This method, while semi-effective, is much more time-consuming. The good progress I’d made on the first side was nowhere to be found on the other side. By the time I headed home, I’d only removed 8-10 sheets in several hours. Part of what was slowing me down was just the nature of the roof…the pitch seemed steeper, and I wasn’t nearly as confident being up on that side. After giving it some thought, I decided that before I showed up next time, I needed something to sit on that would span the trusses and give me a more secure place to sit. It just so happened that I had an old rickety wooden step ladder, and I decided to just remove the rear legs of this ladder and construct some large S-hooks out of scrap metal that I could attach to the ladder and hook it on the roof to keep it (and me) from sliding off. So that’s on today’s agenda….and then I’ve arranged with Scott to return tomorrow to get back to work.







Dan’s barn

I’ve spent the summer tearing down a friend’s barn to salvage the materials for use in my barn. I want to turn our big 60′ x 75′ barn into a workshop for me, and I want the inside to look rustic. Therefore, I decided I needed old barn siding and aged roofing tin to give it that vintage look. I spent last fall pulling some tin and siding off an abandoned farmstead near here, but the owner wanted to keep all the 2x lumber, so I started looking around for another project…one in which I could actually salvage some structural lumber like 2×4’s and 2×6’s.

This page will get you up-to-date with the barn deconstruction. As I write this post, the barn is 99% down and done. Another afternoon’s worth of work to harvest some 2x lumber is about all that remains.

So anyway, in January 2015, a former co-worker told me they knew I was looking for old barns to tear down to salvage the lumber and tin, and that they had one I might be interested in. So on January 30th, I drove out to their place and took these pics.

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I told them I was definitely interested. This barn would supply a lot of old faded tongue-and-groove siding, some good tin, and a bunch of good 2x lumber, mostly 2×6’s, but also some 4×6’s.

I purchased a 14V rechargeable Dewalt reciprocating saw for removing the siding. By tapping the siding out away from the wall studs about 1/16″ from the inside, I could then insert the saw blade between the stud and siding and then just run it down the stud, cutting through all the nails, resulting in the siding just dropping off.

The deconstruction began on March 20th. I spent the whole day at Dan’s place and got the siding removed from the west wall.


…and then went back the following day and got all the siding off the north wall:

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I returned on April 4th and got the south wall done and most of the east wall.

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At this point, we decided that our best option would be to just try pulling the barn over, which would enable me to dismantle the roof. The barn was pretty rickety at this point, and would sway quite a bit in the wind. So not only was it too dangerous to climb up on the roof because of the height and extreme pitch, it just wasn’t stable enough.

In between the end of winter weather and our busy schedules, we weren’t able to get back at it for a while. Then¬†about 2 months later, in the middle of June, Mother Nature helped us out by blowing the barn over. Here’s a couple pictures taken when I went out to inspect on June 15th:

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The north side was still up in the air, but the south side was completely on the ground. However, it was now low enough for me to get to the tin without too much effort. So a couple days later, on my 51st birthday (June 17th), I got started removing the tin. You can see the original wood shake shingles under the tin, which was added to this barn at a later date.

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I got half of the north side done that day. It doesn’t look like much got accomplished, but it was a LOT of work….and EXTREMELY hot outside! I went back out three days later and finished up on this side.

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We then hooked Dan’s tractor up to the corner post holding that corner of the roof up and pulled it the rest of the way down. Click here to view the video on YouTube:


…and here’s how it ended up:


Here’s a view of the loaded trailer, with all the tin from this side, as well as most of the wall studs and other misc. lumber:


Then I went out again a week later (on June 27th) and got the tin removed from the south side. Again, this was HOT, nasty work! It was in the mid-90s outside, so there was frequent hydration breaks. While doing this in the heat of the summer, I’d return home completely drenched in sweat.

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The fourth picture above shows how the roof got itself wedged on a tree stump, so I was unable to retrieve that last piece of tin. This stump would also cause problems in the future, as we attempted to desconstruct further (more on that later).

On July 1st I got started removing the shake shingles on the north side with a potato fork so that the 1x lumber underneath could be salvaged:

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I then took a couple weeks off due to other obligations, and returned on July 29th to remove the 1x lumber from the roof:


On August 12th Dan and I finally decided to try hooking onto the roof from the north side and pulling it, in an attempt to get the two sides to drop down flat. We hooked his tractor and my pickup up to the lower part of the roof and started pulling…and instead of it flattening out, the rafters pulled away completely from the south side! The south roof had wedged itself between the stump and the floor (which was now setting down on some large round bales of hay)….and it wasn’t going to come down much more.

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The fourth picture above shows the south side roof laying as flat as it was ever going to get, and ready for me to start removing the shake shingles.

Two days later, on August 14th, I returned to do the south side roof. I got half of the shingles removed before having to call it a day due to the heat. There were a few times I was actually starting to get light-headed, so I figured since it was starting to sink in that I wasn’t 22 anymore, I’d better not push myself any more.

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Dan called me at work at about 3PM a week later (August 21st Рone week ago) and told me that today would be a good day to work, since it was pretty cool outside with a good breeze. I agreed, and since I was caught up at work anyway, I headed out and worked until about 7PM. Not only was I able to finish de-shingling the south roof, but I was also able to get all the 1x lumber off.

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The pictures above were taken about halfway through the removal process. I neglected to get anything after I was finished.

And finally…to get this up to date…I went out tonight and loaded up all the 1x lumber from the south side roof on the trailer and brought it home. Here’s a quick shot of the trailer in our driveway tonight, in front of the barn that all this work has been for, and in which all this tin and lumber will eventually be used.







Back at it…

Sheesh…I can’t believe that (once again!) I’ve let this blog go for far too long without an update. Since we purchased our new acreage, I’d always intended to use this blog as a way of documenting the progress made on building a shop, updating the house, etc. However, I just haven’t used to the whole ‘regular updates’ thing…something I’m going to try (once again!) at becoming more vigilant about.

Actually, this domain was offline for a few days this past week, as I neglected to even renew the domain name registration and my registration expired. However, I decided to renew it for another year and try to keep at it this time.

There’s obviously going to be a lot of catching up to do, and I certainly don’t intend to attempt doing so in a single post. I’ll be updating on various topics as they arise. However, just as a quick catch-up:

  • Once we moved out to the farm, it was planned that we’d spend the winter getting the house in town cleaned up, repaired and painted by springtime so it could get listed with the realtor. However, since life is so darned busy, that really didn’t happen as planned. About 2 months ago I finally took a week of vacation from work and spent it getting the rest of our belongings moved out to the farm. I’d hoped that I’d be able to also get started with clean-up and repair, but that didn’t happen. Then a couple weeks ago I took another week’s vacation specifically to get started painting. I got the living room, hallway, and all bedrooms painted by the end of the week. Mary then spent a week or so on evenings/weekends getting the bathroom and kitchen cleaned up and painted and I did some more painting on the stairway to the basement and to some cabinets downstairs. We believe the house itself is finally ready, but I now need to get the kids’ swingset and our little storage shed moved out of the backyard and out here at the farm. I kinda tentatively planning on starting on that this weekend.
  • I’ve been spending most of my available¬†weekends (and occasional weekdays) tearing down an old barn at Dan Nesladek’s place. It’s about 90% down now…I should be able to finish up taking the lumber that I’m going to be taking with one more days’ work. I’m also spending some time tearing down a pole hay shelter at a small acreage near ours. Both of these structures are being dismantled to allow me to salvage the lumber and tin to be used in building the inside of the barn out here at the farm that I intend to convert into a workshop for me. There will definitely be a LOT more details on these projects in the very near future.
  • After working for MANY years as a night-shift floor nurse at the hospital, Mary has accepted a position in the home health care division of the hospital. It’s a slight pay cut, but will allow her to have a more conventional work schedule (8-5 Monday-Friday…ish). This will allow her to spend more time with the kids in the evenings and on weekends.

20150826_200532rI’m going to try to start including at least one picture per post…just something for the visual. Here’s the first of what will become MANY pictures. This is a cell-phone shot of the sunset this evening from the gravel road between our house and the highway. This picture doesn’t do the sunset justice…the sun was big and orange and really did look cool.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. There WILL be a lot more posting done here in the future, so definitely check back from time to time to see the updates.

One more thing I think I’m going to do, just to make things more personal and interesting. I’m going to include a meme at the end of every post from now on (if I can remember).

So…here’s today’s Meme of the Day, one which I think applies to me very well: