Training Rack at Lowes or Lost in Hardware

To train a Herding dog you have to keep their minds busy.  Physical exercise and mental exercise.  You know, like a Greek Athlete.

I don’t think that my little McNab SuperDog (TM), Rack will ever throw a discus or take a philosophy course but he’s an amazing creature.

He just wants to help.  He wants to be involved.

He wants to come along.

But we have a long term project.  Low voltage lighting.

You know that weird stuff that can run off of a car battery.  Since it runs at low voltage it doesn’t need quite as much protection and anyone can do it.

We figure that we have about 40 watts of the stuff and you can read on my front porch at midnight due to them.

I have a couple of those three AAA battery lights that are basically a flashlight, and they can be converted over to this system.  I have done that already to a coach lamp that is on my fence.

The rest come piece after piece.

This weekend was a Big Project though.  Run 20 feet of conduit, sink a lamppost in the front of the house, and rehang the mailbox.

Don’t think it’s much?  Stand outside in the front yard holding a post for a solid hour when reinforcements are sent off to the store to get some quick drying concrete.

Since it is winter, do it in full sun, on a cloudless day at 80F/26C.  Give or take a C.

All this activity had Rack confused.  He wanted to come along.  Anywhere.  When he thinks he’s taking a ride in the CAR!!! he starts to burble and basically speak in tongues.  Its comical.  He starts running wind sprints back and forth from the front to the back door whining and making weird coffee-percolator sounds.

Sometimes he is right.

We stopped work so we could take him to the Vet.  That’s fine because it’s one of his favorite places to go.  We went, he got fussed over and we came home.

But there was a stop first.  We needed another piece of conduit to glue to the first pieces laid in the trench I had dug that morning with Rack sitting at the front door looking hopeful.

We took Rack.

You see, Lowes Hardware has a policy of allowing dogs into the store.  This seems to be as official as can be, and it isn’t like some idiot taking a dog into a supermarket, this is a hardware store.

Securing a cart, I picked Rack up off the ground and placed him in the blue plastic apparatus.

He didn’t like that.  Immediately tried to get out.  I did because I didn’t want to be asked to leave because my dog decided to water the plants.

We walked into the store with a 47 pound black and white dog being disrupted by the rattling of the cart across the asphalt.   Getting into the store, he wanted no more of that.

When I say SuperDog (TM) I mean it.  He is a McNab Dog.  One of the most intelligent dogs on the face of the Earth.  But he is fearful.  Fearful means to run.

Or in this case, to leap.

From a sitting position.

Inside of a cart.

Right in front of the orchids.

When he landed on the concrete floor, he was flat, legs pointing to the cardinal points on the compass.  Confused.  Looking very surprised that It Worked.

I put him back in the cart and looped a thumb under his harness and we went about our business.

He was thinking “Hmmm.  To attempt this again or not?  Not completely sure.”

But, by the time we left, he was enjoying himself.  Not acting quite so crazed.  He actually smiled at a kid walking past.

Yes, certain dogs smile.  Others grimace.  I can tell the difference.

But this was a training expedition.  Rack got about a C+ grade.  A little better than average.   Form on the High Dive was a solid 9.

Not olympic form, but a good solid performance.

That’s what training dogs is about.  Taking steps and keeping their minds engaged.

Sometimes all it takes is two sections of PVC Conduit, and a couple bell end 90 degree sections.

(You, British people!  Stop giggling, that’s what they’re called here!)

Two Cycle Engine Repair – Replacing A Primer Bulb on a Homelite Trim ‘n Edge

When I found a two cycle string trimmer, or weed whacker, on the side of the road on Bulk Trash Day here, I picked it up.  It needed some care, but the fact is that two cycle gas powered equipment is so simple, I wanted to try to repair it.  It now sits in my shed waiting for the next time I need to do some yard work and it works perfectly.

My new-to-me trimmer is a Homelite Trim ‘n Edge trimmer, model number UT20004B but the reality is that the vast majority of trimmers are repaired in exactly the same way.  The parts are mostly interchangeable and the only reason why I bothered to write about such a simple repair is that nobody definitively said “Yes You Can Do It”.  I did, it was successful, now head out to the shed and find your tools.  A Conglomerate, er, Holding Company bought them up a few years back and now they are owned by the same company that owns Ryobi and a few other well known brands.

Two Cycle motors are getting more rare since the Government mandated that they are not allowed to be produced and sold in the US.  The reason is that you have to add oil to the gasoline to lubricate the parts.  On the other hand, these motors are so tough that they’ll be around for a while and you’ll be replacing fuel lines, fuel tanks, and primer bulbs.

In this picture you see the primer bulb and the top of the carburetor.  Those two #2 Phillips Head screws hold the assembly down.  Remove them and that cracked bulb can be easily removed.  The plate that the screws hold down lifted up easily.

In this picture you see the old and new bulbs.  I picked up a “Variety Pack” at the big box hardware store, but they’re fairly common.  The rubber or vinyl does degrade when the fuel mix hits it and after a few years, it will rot away.  The trimmer I have is a 6 year old machine and it took that long.  I’ll be going through this again in 2017 if I still have it.

And finally to replace the bulb you put it back in the original position and tighten down the screws.  The entire job took me about 5 minutes to complete.   Seeing that it took me more than that to get to the Lowes on Oakland Park Boulevard in Oakland Park, it really was a non event.

Is your Weedeater Improved with Internet Access?

These days you can get the internet on all sorts of things.  10 years ago we began thinking of new ways to apply this technology and laughed at some of the false starts that hit the market.

There were boxes you could hang on the wall in the kitchen to get your email and your recipes online.  That was not quite good enough so they mounted the things in the refrigerator so you could order milk when you ran out.

I wonder what happens if your computer on the refrigerator gets a virus, will it make the science experiment you have in the back turn blue instead of green? 

Come on, you know you have some past date food in the refrigerator, don’t even try to say you don’t!

Actually what happened with me was that I was busily using the weedeater a week back.  After covering myself in tiny little bits of bougainvillea, and breathing in brush I had to stop my work.  I had run out of “string”.  I had only enough string to wind one more reel on the thing so I thought it was a good time to accidentally fall into the pool.

Yes, I checked my pockets, the cell phone stayed on shore – or rather on the Tiki Bar in the Lanai.

Yes, Lanai, it is Florida after all.  The house may only be 1200 square feet but the back yard has a lap pool.

After throwing my “accidentally” soaked clothes out on the deck and cooling down, I went in and showered.

I do most of my best thinking in the shower and came up with this bright idea.  This is how I got the topic after all. 

Weedeaters, Strimmers, and what ever you would like to call them have a fair amount of different styles and uses.  I have a laughably light electric one that uses blue plastic line that I could use to catch a crab off a bridge on the Jersey Shore.  I don’t like that because light string breaks easier.

I also have a gas powered strimmer.  I like that term better than the “Weedeater” thing since it rolls off the tongue better.  After all it puts weeds on the tongue when you use it since it is so much more powerful.   We got it from a neighbor when they decided they didn’t like pulling a rope 50 times because it wouldn’t start.

Here’s a Helpful Hint.  If you have a gas powered piece of yard equiment, Petrol to my UK Readers, let the thing run dry when through.  It is always best to underfill the equipment than over fill it especially if it is a 2-cycle motor.  Mine is 2-cycle and that oil remains in the little fuel tank and makes things very difficult for me when I go to start the machine.  Run it dry, and fill with fresh.

The thing is that there are various gauges of line and various constructions of line that you can use in a given Strimmer.   You can always go smaller, and sometimes you can even go larger.   I stopped using that thin poly plastic crap almost immediately and went to this stuff sold by Husqvarna with Titanium in the center.  Tough stuff.

That got me thinking.  Since I didn’t have the instruction manuals I didn’t know whether I was doing things right.  It was a bear to start and I was constantly stopping the thing to draw out more line.  The “bump feed” was pretty useless since it almost never worked right so I’d stop the motor and do it by hand.

So what would the manual say?  Being a Project Manager, searching for things online is simply second nature.  I have found all sorts of documentation for pieces of computer hardware that were long since discontinued.  I’ve found ways to rebuild electronics, and one of these days I’ll even finish that “performance” crystal radio that I want to build.

Why not search for the manual for the Strimmer?

Right in One!  I found the manual almost immediately as well as a forum dedicated to String Trimmers.  Yes, people actually discuss these things, I mean you’re reading this, right?  Gotcha!  I’ll shut up and continue about my toy…

Turns out that I was using the “middle grade” string on my strimmer.  So when I went out to get supplies I was going to get the “super duper extra beefy Titanium line” at .095 inches instead of .080 and weed eat the world!   Just don’t go too thick or you will overheat the motor.

I tend to have a lot of problems with the Home Depot on Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale but since it was threatening weather I tried that one first.  This was the one that the overzealous security “guards” would follow you around the store.  I stopped going there because it was unnerving being treated like someone getting ready to board a flight.  All of the Home Depot stores in Broward County were like that for a while and while they did relax, I prefer Lowes.

This time was no different.  After having the security guard walk in front of me to confront someone else, and my scaring her out of her wits by my using The Voice to say “Excuse Me!” so she wouldn’t step on my foot, I knew this would be a useless trip.  I could not find the right part, and decided that Home Depot would lose this sale.

We packed up and went to Lowes where we were treated well, as usual.  We also found everything we were looking for as well as being asked by two different employees if we needed help.  I highly recommend the Lowes on Oakland Park Blvd and Powerline in Oakland Park by the way.

I also found my .095 string as well as a Brush Cutter Blade that I am afraid may have to go back.  I couldn’t figure out how to get that blasted thing on and since it was basically an 8 inch square of steel bolted to the motor and designed to rotate at something like 1200 RPM I was afraid – afraid the thing may fly off and injure someone.

This week was the week of strimming.  After putting the .095 inch string on the machine and pulling to start, I went into a frenzy of green destruction.  You see, the .080 would break where the extra .015 inch of thickness gave it just enough heft to chew through roots and my boots.

That’s why you wear old shoes when you go to do your yardwork.

So yes, your Weedeater is improved with Internet Access, just not how you may have thought.  It pays to read the friendly manual.  RTFM folks, it’s worth the research!