Random Headers

The change to a new theme meant the loss of my random header images. I like them, so here they are for posterity.

Above and below, closeups from an old Mack fire engine found in Maine.

Motorcars along the Western NY and PA Railroad, 2016
Engine 4 (soon to be retired)
Ambulance Bay
Berk and I atop Mount Washington, 2016
Pawtuckaway Fire Tower

YouTube University

I have had a small success this evening, so I will crow about it.

The Volvo needs brakes. Disc brakes are easy, so I ordered the parts. Jack up car, take wheel off. Unbolt caliper. Unbolt caliper carrier.

Uh-oh. Stuck. Apply penetrating oil liberally. Wait, unbolt caliper carrier.

Still stuck.

Find a pipe to extend the ratchet. Unbolt caliper carrier.

(Notice ripped CV joint boot. File away for future repair.)

Remove rotor. It’s just pressed on. . . and held with 20+ years of rust.

Bang on rotor. Apply penetrating oil. Bang on rotor. Get a bigger hammer. Bang more.

Head to YouTube for ideas.

This guy seems promising. Bang on rotor, check. Bigger hammer, check. AIR HAMMER – don’t have one. What else has he got? HYDRAULIC GEAR PULLER!

I don’t have one. Wouldn’t mind getting one though.

Other options? This guy looks good:


Bang on rotor. (Yeah got that part.)

Bigger hammer. (Get on with it.)

Heat. (Thought of that. Don’t want to use torch on oil coated rotor inside my garage, though.)

BOLTS!!! OMG, why didn’t I think of that?!

$1.75 at the hardware store. Three minutes with a wrench. Rotor removed. Ten more minutes and the job was done. Thank you, YouTube University.

Reframing

I started this post earlier, but it was needlessly angry. I like this draft better.

——

Mrs. Mack505 and I are just back from a relaxing weekend away in the mountains. We came home to find that Kiddo had cleaned the house in our absence. All the animals remain healthy, and all was generally well.

Then I attempted one simple chore, and it all fell apart.

The riding lawnmower found a trash bag (?!) under some leaves, and it jammed. My utility knife went missing. I don’t have the one socket I need to remove the blades. . .

Just like that, the evening was ruined. I was ANGRY. The old shell game had returned. Can’t do one simple chore without sixteen other things getting in the way.

So. . .

I took the Ural to the store. It ran great. They had the tool I needed. Dusk fell rapidly, but now I have an excuse to take the bike to the shop tomorrow for new lawnmower blades.

I cracked a beer and fired up YouTube. Sammie joined me in the chair. A few quick shots of the Hydraulic Press Channel (Vat de fook?!) and On Yer Bike! (You’ve been told. . .) cured the evening.

The yard will be waiting in the morning.

The new steed

Here’s the big surprise. If you follow my other social media, it won’t be much of a surprise.

A month ago I traded both of my motorcycles for a 2019 Ural GearUp. I felt that I had outgrown my Honda Cub, and I believed the Suzuki would gather dust in the garage while I rode the new rig.

The Ural is a Russian built derivative of a 1930’s BMW. It has evolved with modern metallurgy, brakes, and electronics, but the core bike has been in production since 1941.

I’m having a ball with it. In the last month I’ve only been on 4 wheels twice when I had to make long trips.

I will be running the DGR with it in September. Look for more photos soon, and please consider pledging here.

Echoes

All is peaceful. The only sound is the whir of the Coke machine. A window pane rattles as the wind buffets one of the six garage doors. Suddenly, a klaxon blares out. There is a loud CLANG-CLANG-CLANG as the alarm sounds. All across town, men are awakened to the insistent BEEP BEEP of pagers.

All is again quiet in the building. After a few moments, there comes the thud and scrape of the first sleepy man trying to unlock the door. The building is filled with the sound of recently-awakened men stumbling inside. The air is filled with an urgent purpose, accompanied by the clomp of ill-fitting boots and the swish of fire-resistant coats.

There is the click of a switch, and the interior of the building is illuminated by flashing red and white lights. If anyone were listening, he would hear the soft whir of rotating beacons and the protesting ‘pwee-pwee’ of strobe lights, cold from days of non-use. No one is listening.

The walls of the building shake as the great, twelve-foot wide doors rumble up out of the way, and the air is filled with the clamor of “Low Oil” warning bells. With a ferocious roar, the Diesels come alive. The hiss of air brakes is the last sound to be heard before the scream of the siren drowns out all else. The deep bass of the air horn is added to the cacophony, as the trucks disappear down the street in a cloud of black smoke.

Eventually the sirens and horns fade away, and all is peaceful again. The building is left to itself, with only the few leaves blown through the open doors and a lingering smell of Diesel fuel to indicate that anyone has passed this way.

–1989


The engines left for the final time last Monday. For 83 years, this converted pool hall and bootstrapped garage served as the one and only firehouse in my hometown. I grew up in and around it. I served as a firefighter in it for thirty years.

It echoes inside now.

Leaves and Diesel fumes, and a piece of my heart.