Archive for the ‘snowplowing’ Category

The set up for this is that a couple of days ago, while plowing pushing snowbanks back along the driveway (I’d run out of room to push snow), it was obvious that the plow blade was swinging to the right every time a little pressure was put on that side of the blade. The plow has a relief valve that allows it to swing to prevent damage when LOTS of pressure is put on one side or the other, as in hitting a curb. I didn’t think I was pushing hard enough to trip that safety valve, but it had to be, right?

I pushed pretty hard on a bank out by the road, the blade again swung hard right, and when I backed up, it disappeared from view with a “clunk”. That couldn’t be good…

I got of the truck and the problem was obvious. The plow blade pivots at the bottom had rusted out, and the blade had fallen off the A-frame. It had been swinging right because the left hand bracket had broken first, and had been bending the pivot pin on the right hand side.


So today, instead of going the Kalamazoo swap meet, I went to ALRO steel for supplies, and spent the afternoon fixing the plow. Got it all done in time to sweep the new 6″ of snow from the drive, and we’re ready for more!

Rusted plow.

Wait, this is supposed to be on the front of the truck!

Wait, this is supposed to be on the front of the truck!


New bracket and pivot pin.

Cool McCool himself, almost ready to plow.

The plow is back together, the drive is plowed, and it’s still snowing. We’re ready now, and didn’t’ need any old car parts anyway!

Ready for the next storm.

Ready for the next storm.

Got that tightened up and resumed the action, so we’re ready for the next blizzard.

Actually, I’m ready for winter to go away, but I have to admit it was kind of fun to go out in the cold and do something!

We’ll have big snowbanks until the middle of April, but for now, it’s pretty, and we can get in and out with no trouble. Last week I had gone and gotten a ton of wood pellets at Tractor Supply, so we’re keeping the GMC busy and putting it to good use. It’s not just another pretty face!

It's so cold the snow looks blue.

It’s so cold the snow looks blue.

I haven't backed into the garage once this year!

I haven’t backed into the garage once this year!

Big banks at the end of the drive.

Big banks at the end of the drive.

It's a LONG WAY back to the Tini-Home's garage!

It’s a LONG WAY back to the Tini-Home’s garage!

Gotta keep this open so we can get the Tini-Home to Auto-Rama in March!

Gotta keep this open so we can get the Tini-Home to Auto-Rama in March!

Oh, the humanity. New Years eve, or rather, early New Years morning we were stricken with the dreaded Noro-virus, the 24 hour bug, or in the common vernacular, the pukes. We’ll spare you the details, but the acute misery lasted from about 3 am until 3 in the afternoon. After that, some clear liquids finally stayed put, and late in the evening, a cup of soup tasted pretty good.

Called in to work the next day as well and kept a pretty low profile, and even today, we are not completely “normal”, whatever that is. Once the outside temp got above zero though, a fire was stoked up in the Cool McCool’s Garage shop, and the T’bird got some love. The front bumper is now delightfully devoid of any turn signal/park light holes, and looks great.

Look Ma! No holes!

Look Ma! No holes!

Smooth as a baby's bottom now.

Smooth as a baby’s bottom now.

While the shop was warming up, the old GMC started right up and we got the driveway plowed out. By the time that was finished, it was a balmy 50 degrees inside, MUCH better than the outside temp of 13. Brrrr.

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Cool McCool's World Headquarters.

Cool McCool’s World Headquarters.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

The might '76 GMC.  Just rolled over 20K miles.  Nicely broken in.  2wd with chains.  Who needs 4wd?

The might ’76 GMC. Just rolled over 20K miles. Nicely broken in. 2wd with chains. Who needs 4wd?

Tomorrow we’re supposed to get a little break in the weather with a high near 30, then back into the deep freeze next week with single digit temps for highs. We may have to open a southern branch office…

DSC04243 (1024x768)Welcome to the first in a new series of instructional,  and we hope, inspirational “How To” articles here at Cool McCool’s Garage.  Todays lesson is “How to install tire chains on your dually”, or, “Miserable Jobs, 101”.   Note that we’re talking here about triple row chains, not those wimpy, girly man single chain sets you could throw on in the dark, in a blizzard, in a foot of snow.  No sir, these are a MANS tire chains!  Please forgive the lack of pictures of the first few steps, they’re really self explanatory.

First, gather your supplies.  You’ll need the tire chains, a jack, a screwdriver, a large prybar, some tarp straps, a come-a-long, some chain binders, extra chain, a hoist, a floor jack, and a colorful vocabulary of  “repair words.”  Also, it’s important to pick a day when the weather is bad, so as to prepare you for what you’ll be in for when you REALLY need to put them on.  Ready?  Lets get started!

DSC04245 (1024x768)Step 1:  Get your tire chains out of the box they were shipped in.  They will be in separate bags, so as to prevent them from getting tangled during shipping.  Don’t worry, they’ll still be tangled inside their respective bags, so you’ll still get to unsnarl and untangle the heavy chains.  It’s like a Rubik’s cube that weighs 50 lbs.

Step 2.  Throw the chains over the tire(s) with the hooks on the cross links pointing up.  This is important to keep the hooks from tearing the hell out of the side walls of your tires as you clank and vibrate down the road.

Step 3.  Repeat step 2 about a dozen times, because the inside dual chain will, I guarantee, fall in between the duals, wedging itself in so hard, by gravity alone, that you’ll be nearly unable to get it out.

Step 4.  Drag a heavy floor jack from your shop, out to the driveway (the truck won’t fit in your garage doors being too wide) and jack up one side.  Then, with the transmission in “Neutral”, and the front tires blocked so it doesn’t roll down the driveway, and over you, drag a chain in front of the lifted tire(s) and using the tire as a lever, roll the chain over the tire so that the latches are hanging loosely on the back (or front, depending which way you started) of the tire(s).  Now comes the fun part!

DSC04234 (1024x768)Step 5.   Hook the inside latch, as tightly as you can, and tighten it.  Now, go to the outside latch, and hook it, but don’t tighten it.  Next, catch the center chain hook on a link, as far up as you can, so that all three chains are hooked.  This will be impossible at first, because the center link will lack at least 2 inches from catching even the first link on the other end.  Now, spend several minutes, lying on your back on the wet concrete,  pulling violently on the upper part of the center chain.  This will cause the tire to roll down, and the chain to get even further from being able to reach.  Don’t give up!  Keep pulling, using a screwdriver, prybar, or other sharp ended implement to use as a lever to pull the chains together.  Colorful adjectives, or “repair words”, are handy to have available at this step…

DSC04235Step 6.  Now that you’ve gotten the center chain tantalizingly close reaching the first link, verbal encouragement and more tugging (with the trans now in “Park”), will let you hook the first link.  Don’t worry, this won’t be NEARLY tight enough, but keep going!  You’ll need to keep at this untill you can hook the chain on the second, or preferably, the third link.  You may find it necessary to unlatch the inside chain to gain som slack, which some more violent tugging and pulling will gain you, but will also result in the tire rolling forward and unrolling the chains from the tires.  Again, colorful expletives will be an invaluable aid at this pointDSC04239 (1024x768)!

DSC04237 (1024x768)Step 7.  Now that you’ve gotten the center chain hooked tightly, you can re-tighten the inside and outside latches.  The chain will appear to be “loose”, but don’t worry, it IS TOO LOOSE!  This is normal.   Now, unlatch both inner and outer chains, unhook the center link, and attempt to get one more link.  By having the chains latched and tightened, you (would think) you’ll now be able to get that extra link hooked in the center.  Simply repeat step 6, having the chain again roll off the tire so that you have to start completely over.   This builds character and appreciation for a good job well done!  After several attempts, you’ll have the chain back where it was, too loose but at least on the tires.  Good job!

DSC04240 (1024x768)Step 8.  This is where those tarp straps come in.  Of course, to do the job right, you need to make a trip to the hardware store to buy them, but we’ll skip that step.  The tarp straps you have will be too long (of course), but don’t worry, a knot in the center will make them the perfect length to stretch across the center of the rim, thus tightening the OUTSIDE chain only.  Of course, the inside is complicated by the brake backing plate and axle housing, so simply double the strap back on itself, don’t go completely across the backing plate.  Two should be sufficient.  Remember to catch excess chain dangling from the latches!The tarp straps give a nice “I don’t really know what I’m doing” appearance to the job, important for that “hillbilly” look.  Plus, when it’s really cold, they loose all compliance and will soon rot and break.

There, we’re done, and it only took two hours!   A quick trip up and down the drive, or down to the corner on the tarmac if you’re brave, will reveal the interesting additional “square wheel” type ride quality your formerly almost unbearably rough  riding one-ton pickup has.  Twenty miles an hour should be fast enough to get anywhere, because the noise of the chains will convince you that they may actually tear the fenders from the box.  They will flip the  mudflaps up onto the tires, but a couple more tarp straps should fix that.

DSC04242 (1024x768)Now, let the lake effect snows begin!  We’ll cover lifting a cement filled tire into the bed for weight on another installment of “Miserable Jobs 101”, some other day…

DSC04209 (1024x768)

The warm weather (almost 50 today) is supposed to come to a screeching, grinding halt late tonight, as temps tumble into the low teens behind a strong wind, but I’ve been busy while the warm weather held.  Actually, it’s been mild all winter, we’ve only had about an inch of  snow on the ground at any time, so I’ve had lot’s of good weather to work in the shop without building a roaring fire in the wood stove.

While under the T’Bird a week ago, I decided it didn’t need the air-shocks I’d put on when I built it originally.  We occasionally towed the Chris Craft, so they were needed then, but the hitch isn’t going back on, and the shocks came out.  They found a new home under the rear of the Diamond T, after I made a cross-member and brackets on the spring pads to mount them.   The valve stem is below the gas cap on the left rear, easy to get to but unnoticeable otherwise.  I put 60 lbs of air in them, which raised the truck about an inch, then let them down to 30 bs, which should be good.

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Once that was done, the bed floor, a sheet of 3/4″ Cepele ribbon grain marine plywood, was laid back down, screwed down to the bed frame, and the trim replaced.  I have a little work to do to the final fitting of the aluminum trim panels, and some work to drill and tap all the mounting holes for the stainless 1/4 20 machine screws, but it looks good in pictures!

DSC04207 (1024x768)DSC04205 (1024x768)








While it was warm, I figured it’d be smart to put the chains on the GMC, in case we get any snow and I want to plow the driveway.  I figured it’d be much better to do it now, rather than in the cold in a foot of snow, especially the first time.  I was right.  It wasn’t easy, the inside chain kept dropping down between the duals and getting stuck.  Aggravating.   I finally figured out how to roll the chain up onto the tire, and got the latches hooked.  Some tarp straps to snug them up, and I think I’m ready to plow.  It should be unstoppable now.   Of course, I didn’t think to check the gas before I put them on, and it’s below 1/4 tank, so I’ll need to pour it in from cans.

DSC04201 (1024x768)DSC04203 (1024x768)








Pretty gnarly looking, huh?  They’ll need to come off in a couple of weeks, as we’ll need to get another load of pellets for the stove, but I’m ready.  I could have saved a bunch of money, and installation would be easier had I bought single chains, and just pulled one wheel off each side, and run the outside wheel/tire only, but that didn’t occur to me untill I was struggling to get the chains up and over the tires. 

Let it snow!