Yard Projects 2017

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YARD PROJECTS 2017

With Spring 2017 fast approaching, it was time to get my chainsaw, leaf blower, weed trimmer and lawn tractor serviced before the grass cutting season gets into full swing.  I do my own service work on them, unless I run into some serious trouble beyond my capability and have learned valuable lessons over the decades to know when to allow that "common sense" factor to kick in.......grin if you must!

Last year, there were two trees on our property out back that died due to low rainfall and insect infestation even though one of them was close to a small branch aka Culpepper Creek that runs through that area and was bone dry too.  A good size pine tree had died and insects were boring holes in it at a very fast pace.  An adjacent tree showed evidence of beetles boring holes in it also, but it survived the attack with pitch from the tree seeping out.

LAWN TRACTOR MAINTENANCE

My first order of business was to sharpen the lawn tractor blades, change the oil and filter, clean the air filter and battery terminals along with applying grease to all the grease fittings.  I ordered a replacement in line gas filter which is due in today being March 4, 2017.  Our local John Deere facility charges about 100 percent above retail for standard service products mentioned above and the John Deere logo will definitely cost you money.  Internet companies can beat their prices by leaps and bounds and I definitely don't mind spending less money for the identical same items.

I enjoyed seeing that the John Deere in line fuel filter was made in Israel instead of China, however America should be able to complete with foreign countries if we had our import/export tax system to where America could be competitive in the World market.  There was plenty of room on the John Deere lawn tractor model X300 to have the in line fuel filter located to the right instead of only a few inches of gas line hose on the left with barely enough room to access the clamp with a pair of regular pliers.  If product Engineers had to work on some of their designs in the field, I am sure they would manufacture products more ergonomically designed for easier accessibility.

For myself personally, company loyalty is a thing of the past, whether it is purchasing car insurance, home owners insurance, various products and services, etc., because most vendors know that Senior Citizens do not like change and they certainly do prey on that knowledge!  If you don't believe that statement, contact Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Wadesboro, NC and Jackson Oil Company aka Pee Dee Oil Company of Cheraw, SC of which I fired both of them within the past two years after using their services for many decades.  When home owners insurance increases thirty (30) percent in one year and without never filing a home owners claim, it was time to look for another insurance company, coupled with the fact of procrastination by the agent to timely follow up on what he said he would do!  Passing the buck to someone else, doesn't work for me.  Anyway, that is my story and I am sticking to it.  I don't sugar coat things; tell it like it is.

Check out my Yard Projects 2016 page where I have a pix of the lawn tractor front end hoisted off the ground using the White Oak tree nicknamed Tom Dooley that has a boat winch attached a few feet from the base and a pulley attached to one of the lower limbs.

I got a little side tracked as usual there which is par for the course as evidenced by my other short stories published on this website.  Now back to my story.

CHAINSAW USAGE

With the lawn tractor serviced, the weather was going to be about perfect to cut the two trees down.  The last time I used my vintage 1999 Husqvarna 55 Rancher model chainsaw was on 09-06-16 to remove a diseased crab apple tree and the chainsaw worked without a problem then.  Before storing the chainsaw in my basement woodworking shop, I remove the gas from the tank and then start the engine and allow what gas that is left in the line/carburetor to run out.

I placed fresh gas/oil mixture in the chainsaw and filled the chainsaw oil tank and tried to start the engine.  I could not get the chainsaw to fire and decided to take it down and see what I could find.  I also noticed when I checked the chainsaw chain tension, the chain tension adjuster was missing.  Our two local dealers did not have a replacement part and had to go to plan B and use a 10-32 TPI screw that was 2 inches in length to get me by until I could order a replacement part.  I basically did all I knew how to do to ascertain if the spark plug was getting any fire, of which I didn't see any visible spark after removing the plug and grounding it to the saw metal frame.  The air filter was extremely dirty and replaced it with a new one.  I figured it was probably a bad coil.  Upon checking the coil with my volt ohm meter, it was showing a short to ground, however after checking it again later with the ohm scale set at the 200 x ohm setting, I did see 1.1K ohms of resistance which was about normal, therefore the coil should be good.  I took the wire loose to the kill engine switch and checked the switch which was showing good.  I put the plug back and sprayed starting fluid into the carburetor, since I didn't see any gas running out with all the pulling of the starter cord, of which there should have been a heavy gas smell and gas leaking from the exhaust port. It would not start with the starting fluid and still figured it was a bad coil.  I waited until dark and removed the plug wire and grounded the spark plug to the metal saw frame and pulled the starter cord and observed a fairly good arc between the electrodes and that told me I had enough fire to probably start the engine.

The next day, I tried to crank the chainsaw again and after about 10 or 20 pulls, it fired and then closed the choke and pulled the starter cord again and finally got it to run.  In all probability, I had it flooded from the start and/or the carburetor was clogged.  I walked to the trees with the chainsaw; about 50 yards more or less with the chainsaw running, being very careful since that is definitely not the safest thing to do but wanted to keep the chainsaw running and get those two trees on the ground.  Everything went as planned and dropped the two trees exactly where they needed to be.  I only had about one-half tank of gas or less in the chainsaw and refilled it and it fired right up.

Below, a closer view of the area.

Above is the Willow Oak and it was hard as a rock being party dried out.  This tree is located where you cannot drive a four wheeler to it without removing some small trees in places and would have to manually bring out each piece of heavy log in order to utilize it for firewood.  I might do that come Spring, but it would be a dawg to manually split as well.  We do not burn wood and I hate to see good wood go to waste when someone could utilize it.  I will have to make a few calls and see what I can come up with.  I believe, I placed the wedge cut from the tree back on top of the stump for whatever reason.  My critics will notice the angle of the cut in the direction that the tree fell right off the bat and try and figure how the tree fell in the direction that it did.

The pine tree cut like butter and light enough in weight to open up the trail that the deer use to come to my feeding station.  Want to make it as easy for them as possible since I do enjoy good venison!

CHAINSAW MAINTENANCE

Upon checking the chainsaw when I had the covers removed, I noticed that the chain drive sprocket was somewhat worn and ordered an Original Equipment Manufacturer's (OEM) part manufactured by Oregon and also purchased a new spark plug. The original spark plug was made by Champion being a RCJ 7Y, of which is no longer made.  A replacement for it is a NGK BPMR7A.

On March 4, 2017 with the two replacement parts in hand, I took the saw apart to install the chain drive sprocket and below are pixs taken. I also put fresh grease on the spline of the oiler (pump) shaft and clutch sprocket needle bearings while I had the parts out.  I removed most of the accumulated oil and grease and wiped the parts clean.  I did not do any pressure washing to the saw....I will leave that to the pros, since I do not own a pressure washer.

Below are pixs taken and not in sequential order, since I had my hands pretty greasy from the cleaning and my camera is not in need of that type of lubrication.....grin if you must!

Click on thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view with narrative below:

 

After removing the top cover of the chainsaw, the spark plug was removed and a small nylon cord was placed into the plug hole (cylinder) and pulled the starter cord until the piston was top dead center (TDC) trapping the nylon cord between the piston and top of the cylinder wall.  The side cover was removed along with the chain and chain bar.  The clutch drum was removed by rotating the the piston to top dead center (TDC) as mentioned above and using a flathead screwdriver and hammer, placed the screwdriver onto one of the flat surfaces on the right side of the clutch and gave it a good blow.  The threads are left hand and you have to rotate the clutch to the right (clockwise) to loosen it off the drive shaft.  Once the clutch is screwed off, you remove the clutch drum, drive sprocket, needle bearings and flat washer.  You then remove the plate that contains the chain tension adjuster which is covering the oiler pump assembly.  Only one socket head head bolt secures the cover plate to the saw body, of which there is a hole that the shaft goes through the cover plate to keep it in alignment.  After those parts were removed, all the parts and saw metal housing assembly were cleaned of excess oil and sawdust, etc. 

The oiler gear spline was cleaned and fresh bearing grease was applied and the oiler put back into place.  The needle bearings of the clutch/chain drive sprocket were cleaned and fresh grease applied and the worn chain drive sprocket was replaced.

After the parts were reassembled, the chain bar and chain were put back into position and secured the side housing with two nuts.  The chain tension was adjusted using the chain adjuster screw that was replaced earlier and final tightening of the bar nuts to secure the chain and bar.

The cord was removed from the spark plug hole, new plug was installed which had about a .020 inch gap; plug wire attached to the spark plug and top cover housing was put back in place and secured with three Phillips head screws. 

Fresh gas was placed in the gas tank; there was enough oil in the oilier tank.  Made sure the stop engine switch was in the run position.  Choke was pulled out and several short pulls on the starter cord to get gas into the carburetor and the moment of truth.  I pulled the starter cord a couple times and the engine started to fire right away.  Pushed the choke lever back into the housing and a pull or two, the engine started and ran very well. 

Drained the gasoline from the tank, fired the chainsaw back up and allowed the gas in the carburetor to be nearly used up.  The chainsaw was stored for later usage when needed.

LEAF BLOWER MAINTENANCE

With the chainsaw running like it should, I could not get my Husqvarna leaf blower to fire after checking it over.....the piston has a large build up of carbon on it and the side walls look like they are burned.  I don't think I have run it with gas without a mixture of oil, but that is entirely possible.  I used it last season and it was very hard to start then.  I might spend forty-five (45) bucks to have it looked at to ascertain if it is feasible to repair.  I will probably replace it with a smaller hand held unit since I only use one for blowing leaves and debris off the front porch, car port and deck.

  

Before I take the leaf blower to a pro-shop, I plan to give it one more once over and see if I can get it to fire.....I don't like to let a project "beat this ole boy down".......another grin if you must!  Maybe I can get it running and use one of lines from the movie, The Outlaw Josie Whales; "We whopped again Josie."

WE WHOPPED AGAIN JOSIE

A few days ago, I purchased a couple spare spark plugs; one for the leaf blower and one for the Stihl FS 70 weed trimmer.  I installed a new plug in the leaf blower and it tried to fire.  After figuring out that it didn't want to run unless the throttle was locked in the wide open position, it was no trouble to get the engine to fire and run.  The carburetor low idle adjustment was set too low preventing it from running once it fired. 

I ran half a tank of gas through the leaf blower and it worked fine.  Added fuel to it and fired it up again before storing it.  

Web page updated by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-22-2017.

LEAVING ON A POSITIVE NOTE

I checked over my Stihl FS-70 RC weed trimmer and it definitely needs a new air filter.  I blew debris off the air filter and washed it in hot soapy water; let it air dry and placed it back on the carburetor.  I blew debris off the housing and fins and cleaned the housing up pretty good.

It fired after several pulls and runs fair but it never has run as smooth as the Robin commercial weed trimmer that I used for at least twenty (20) years before it bit the dust; probably a bad diaphragm in the carburetor and no replacement parts for that model locally.....that was one sweet and easy starting and running machine.  Robin sold out and I believe Subaru owns them and they now make 4 cycle engines instead of two cycle (oil/gas mixture) models.

I got over twenty (20) plus years from a Troy Bilt lawn tractor and it is still running today being used by our eldest daughter Laura.

I have never been happy with the Stihl weed trimmer but it will get the job done.  I just don't like all the vibration that it possesses.  I will get a new spark plug, air and gas tank filter and air filter to keep it in tip top shape.

In a few weeks, I plan to aerate the front, side and back yards, broadcast grass seed and fertilizer to get the yards jump started and hope to get some much needed rain in the process.

This sounds like the making for more work, but I like what the Apostle Paul said about work in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV  "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." 

God richly bless each and every one of you!

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-04-17.

AERATED THE YARD

The weather prophets forecast rain and/or snow for March 12, 2017, therefore got busy removing plugs from the soil with the aerator several days earlier in order to get fertilizer broadcast along with Fescue 31 and Bermuda grass seeds.

Well, it was perfect timing since we got about three (3) inches of snow on the morning of March 12, 2017 and there is more rain in the forecast for late this afternoon, being the 13th.

Hopefully, all the fertilizer will get melted and absorbed into the hard packed red clay soil and the grass seeds will later germinate, but it is a little cold this week for the seeds to spring forth any time soon.

TROYBILT PONY TILLER

One of my friends here in Wadesboro, NC Calvin Jones who has his home up for sale (pending sale) and I asked him if he decided to sell his Troybilt Pony tiller to give me first dibs at it and he agreed.  A couple days ago, he advised me the realtor had a buyer for his home and asked if I still wanted the tiller.  I advised him that I did and he gave me a most generous offer for it and I accepted.

Calvin, brought the tiller over on 03-22-2017 and we unloaded it and he gave me a quick operating course.  The tiller is a small Troybilt Pony model, 5 HP with an electric start and it started and ran very well.  This tiller will definitely get some usage around our home.

Below is a pix of Calvin Jones; I caught him off guard checking his new Nikon D5600 DSLR 24 mega pixel camera out.

Mr. C. busted me taking the pix and cracked a big grin on the next pix taken:

We went over a few things about his new camera and we figured out three (3) operating things and I jokingly told him, "he had accomplished about 3 out of 1000 options for that camera"....we both grinned too!  He is going to download the operating manual for the camera.  Calvin takes some excellent photos BTW.

TEST TILLING ON 03-23-2017

I did a test run till on a bare spot in the back of our home next to a large White Oak tree I nicknamed "Tom Dooley" which is where I hang my deer when I skin and quarter them up.  There is a boat winch attached to the tree and a pulley system allowing myself to hoist up deer....work smarter not harder!

I plan to sew some Bermuda and Fescue 31 grass seeds in a few days, rake it in with a stiff tined garden rake, cover the area with wheat straw and saturating with copious amounts of water. 

The little Pony tiller chewed up the hard packed red clay and gravel dirk pretty good.  I started out with the tines going too deep into the ground which the governor would kick in added more power and the tines would come out of the ground and the tiller started forward like a high dollar thoroughbred race horse coming out of the gate at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.  I raised the tines up, of which I should have done at the beginning and it worked great.  This little Pony is all I need for a small vegetable patch and to till up the yard for planting grass seeds.  Back in the middle 1980s, I owned the much larger Troybilt Horse model and it was a "hoss" for sure!  I sold it to Blakney Steele of Casons Old Field, NC of which it was too much machine for him as his health was beginning to decline and he in turn later resold it as well.

Blakney Steele was my mentor at the Anson Correctional Center when I worked first shift with him.  He was one very tough and firm Correctional Officer, of which I quickly learned a lot about dealing with inmates which helped me the rest of my Correctional Career of 33 years.  I miss him and his wife Melba.  Melba prepared some wonderful breakfast meals consisting of home made biscuits, home grown country ham along with grits that he grew the corn himself and of course eggs and coffee.  We transported the Haney white corn kernels to Horton's Grist Mill near McBee, SC where it was ground into cornmeal and grits.  I have references to that at this link

Time waits for no one and thankful for each and every day our Lord Jesus Christ allows.

Our weather doesn't accept the fact that Spring is officially here.  It has been super cold the past two to three weeks with the morning lows in the 20s to the low 30s.  This morning it was 32 degrees around 0730 according to the car temperature gauge and around 56 degrees for a high, which is about normal for the month of February. 

I should not complain at all, because February was super mild with temps in the mid 70s and higher and lows in the 50s for many mornings.  In all probably, much of our peach crop has been damaged by the freezing temperatures this month since the trees put out buds very early last month and they can't take but so much freezing weather.

BERMUDA GRASS SEEDS IN THE GROUND

On March 27, 2017, I broadcast Bermuda grass seeds, raked them into the tilled soil, covered with wheat straw and saturating with water as I type. 

GRAPH BELOW OF THE HIGHS AND LOWS FOR FEBRUARY

TILLER STARTER CLUTCH MAINTENANCE

I noticed that the starter clutch was not dis-engaging properly (overrunning) and did several YouTube views of folks that had cleaned and/or replaced the starter clutch on the Briggs and Stratton 5HP engine.  It looked fairly simple and decided I would pull the starter clutch off the tiller.

This particular older model has three 7/16 inch hex head bolts that hold the cowling to the engine which contains the pull cord, pulley and spring which the pulley fits onto the ratchet shaft of the starter clutch assembly. 

After removing the three 7/16 inch hex head bolts, one on the top and two on each side of the cowling, the cowling pulls straight forward away from the engine.  I did notice that the right 7/16 inch hex head bolt was not pulled down tight because someone had cross threaded the bolt.  I later cut fresh threads with a standard 1/4 x 20 tpi tap using some light lubricating oil.

In the above pix, the only thing that holds the metal/plastic gasket in place is two small screws with the screen also catching the edge of the gasket.  If you desire to remove the entire clutch assembly, you have to wedge a large screwdriver or flat pry bar between the fins of the flywheel but you can risk breaking one of the fins if you are too aggressive, since you have to try and spin the clutch assembly housing counter clockwise since the horizontal engine shaft is spinning clockwise.

Pix below of the screen removed from the flywheel:

I started to remove the entire starter clutch assembly but the gasket detached from the clutch housing and a few of the ball bearings rolled onto the ground, therefore I proceeded to clean the clutch housing, ratchet assembly and ball bearings without removing the clutch assembly housing.

The below pix shows the clutch assembly with the six ball bearings removed.

 

Pix of the ratchet and ball bearings ready for cleaning.  I used a paper towel and Remington Teflon gun oil to remove and grease and/or gunk.

The above pix shows the engine horizontal shaft with the ratchet and ball bearings removed.  I sprayed the clutch housing down very good with the Remington Teflon oil and cleaned it with a paper towel.  The shaft has a little scaring and rust on it and polished it up with 600 grit automotive wet/dry paper and it was "slick as an eel."

I also polished the inside of the ratchet that fits onto the horizontal engine shaft with the 600 grit paper and a 3/8 inch wooden dowel with the paper wrapped around it.  I used the air hose to blow everything clean and lightly lubed the clutch shaft where the ratchet rides on.  The ball bearings were put back into place, the outside cover aka metal/rubber gasket was placed onto the clutch housing, attached the screen in place with the two Phillip head screws and replaced the cowling assembly onto the engine.  Below pix with the cowling ready to be installed.

The starter clutch works because of centrifugal force.  When you pull the engine starter pull cord, one or more of the ball bearings will engine the ratchet, whereby securing the ratchet to the clutch housing which in turn is secured to the flywheel and engine shaft causing the flywheel to turn.  Once the engine starts, centrifugal force causes the six ball bearings to go to the outside of the clutch housing, whereby they will not engage the notches on the ratchet assembly which is connected to the pull cord pulley and the engine shaft will spin freely inside the ratchet assembly. 

I should have included a pix of the starter pull cord assembly which has a plastic bushing that matches the four protrusions on the outside of the metal ratchet shaft assembly of the starter clutch.

When dust and/or dirt or grease gets inside the starter clutch housing or the engine shaft of the clutch assembly gets rusty or dirty, it cause the ratchet to not spin freely and one or more of the ball bearings will engine the ratchet and if the engine is running fast, it was cause a high pitched squeal turning the engine start pull cord pulley which can damage the pull cord assembly.

I fired the tiller up a few times and the clutch did not squeal!

Next on the to do list, get some tomato plants in the ground!

A FEW TOMATO PLANTS IN THE GROUND

I worked up the dirt between bushes on the side of the carport for some tomato plants.  I raked the weeds, broke the ground up with a round point shovel, added 10-10-10 fertilizer and Epson salt.  After mixing it up well, I soaked the ground with regular tap water and let it set a few hours.

Earlier in the day, I purchased eight tomato plants, of which three were Cherokee Purple Heirlooms, Cherry Tomatoes and don't remember what the third variety was. 

I got them planted, but need to relocate two or three of them to another bed since they are too close together.  I got the ole Troybilt Pony tiller fired up and tilled a small bed at the rear of the open carport adding potting soil and 10-10-10 fertilizer.  It was getting late and will water the area tomorrow and relocate a few of the tomato plants in that bed on Monday and have room for a few more tomato plants.  

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-01-17.

COLD SNAP FORECAST FOR 04-08-17 MORNING

Our weather prognosticators, forecast low temperatures near freezing for the morning of April 8, 2017, therefore I got out some buckets, old plant containers, etc., to shield them overnight just in case the temperature did get down around freezing.  Below a pix or two of the tomato plants in their cocoons!

MORE BERMUDA GRASS SEEDS INTO THE GROUND

Today being April 3, 2017 was overcast and fairly cool, therefore I got the Troybilt Pony tiller going and tilled up a few spare grass spots in the front yard for sowing some Bermuda grass seeds. 

It didn't take very long for the Troybilt Pony to chew up the hard packed red clay like he was eating hay while in his barn stall.......grin if you must!  The soil in our yard would probably be better used for making pottery than growing grass and/or weeds.  The grass is just beginning to green up some and very sparse green color as of yet. 

I got the Bermuda grass seeds broadcast using a Scott seed spreader and had the setting on the number 2 if memory is correct.  I then raked the seeds into the dirt and covered the three areas with wheat straw.  I got another water sprinkler set up and saturated the areas real well with water.  We have rain in the forecast this afternoon so that will be an added bonus with God sent rain. 

JUST A SWINGIN

While getting the lawn ready, I brought out our yard aka hanging porch swing that I had applied a fresh coat of Marine Spar Varnish and it has been curing out in my basement woodworking shop for a few weeks.  I usually bring the swing in each year around November when it gets too cold to sit out side and enjoy swinging aka swingin as the singer John Anderson had a good country hit song way back when. 

My bride and myself have really enjoyed that swing very much when the weather is conducive to sit and swing, whereby enjoying the beauty all around us; watching, listening and observing nature and being appreciative of what God our Creator has done for all of us.

I believe I need to put my level on the swing seat, since the left side appears to be higher than the right side and readjust the main chain length to level it up.  I know, I get the same way when I see a picture frame that is tilted too......grin if you must!

A FEW BLOSSOM IN THE YARD

Since, my camera was close at hand, I took a few pixs of Dogwood and three different types of Azalea blossoms doing their thing.  I used my standard 18-55MM zoom Canon lens, however the 60MM Macro lens would have been better, but the pixs are still ok, in my humble opinion.

Pink Dogwood blossoms above.  The reddish color reminds me of the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary, where he gave his Life, that we could all be saved by his shed blood.  Throughout the Old Testament in the Bible, all the blood sacrifices performed were a type of the coming Christ of which those animal sacrifices could only cover the sins of mankind, but only the shed blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse us from our sins.

Open this link to read Bible verses related to the Blood of Jesus.

Open this link to read Bible verses about sacrifice.

Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 04-03-17.

Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 03-13-17, 03-22-17, 03-23-17, 03-25-17, 03-27-17, 04-01-17, 04-03-17 and 04-08-17.

LEAVING ON A SPIRITUAL NOTE

Open this link to read Bible verses about rain (spiritual and physical rain) on the earth. King James Version Bible (KJV)

Matthew 5:45 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 13:23 “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Jesus used clear instruction to teach His followers how to live and about the Kingdom of God, and He'd exhibited the Kingdom in a tangible way through His miracles.

The Bible is our roadmap to heaven! 

John 14:1-4  "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.   And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." KJV Bible

Psalms 23:1-6

1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

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