I am a man of constant sorrow…

Okay, maybe not. But lately I’m a man of constant aggravation.

I pulled something in my back Monday, feels like my left shoulder blade isn’t right and it’s causing pain like a nerve pinch all through my arm. Hard to want to get anything done – that’s the shoulder whose rotator cuff wasn’t ruined. Haven’t done a lick of work since.

The Jeep needs a new brake switch – it has stuck off and on for years, but yesterday it stuck after morning chicken chores and drained the battery.

Drained the battery so far down before I noticed, in fact, that the ECU RAM lost power and the calibration tables dumped all their data. I could recharge and desulfate the battery overnight with the Battery Minder (PBUI) but – on a 17-year-old engine as neglected as this one – that didn’t mean the engine would want to run this morning. It’ll sort itself out with a few more cycles, but it was a pain.

Ironically, of course this became a sudden problem only after I looked to notice that both tail lamps were burned out. Which they probably had been for months. So – Hermit Life Hack – guess how I’m going to keep it from happening again?

Speaking of problems, guess what I saw as I nursed the barely-running Jeep through the sand this morning?

Dammit dammit dammit…I even called it. Didn’t I say that was going to happen, Landlady?

Of course I expected there’d be some contributing external factor – a flood, or perhaps a puff of wind. Yesterday it just fell over. Should have taken my own prediction more seriously.

“Easiest holes I ever dug,” I said at the time. And they were, too. Nothing but ash and silt all the way down. After digging deep and pouring enough concrete to hold any target stand solid in any decent soil, these still weren’t very stable. I said to Landlady last time I saw her that I might need to lean them backward against braces driven into the talus slope. Guess I should have taken that more seriously.

At least I have the material to do it. And if I need to do the other one, well, Landlady rather pointedly suggested I use these 20-foot lengths of iron well pipe she wants off her plaza.

And I think I’ll take a commenter’s suggestion, take that plywood off and replace it with chicken wire. I don’t happen to have any chicken wire at present, but something will turn up. Stock fencing might work, too. I’ve got lots of old stock fencing.


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to I am a man of constant sorrow…

  1. Ben says:

    Consider guy wires anchored by buried concrete blocks, or some sort of solid braces on the back side. And yes, chicken wire or fencing sounds like a great alternative to your solid billboard.

  2. Norman says:

    What’s the inside diameter of the iron pipe? If the angle iron for the target stand will fit inside it, cut some to 5 feet, dig a couple feet farther down, put caps on each end and drive the pipe to 6-8″ above grade. Lacking that, drive lengths of angle iron deep (no, deeper…., no, still deeper….) and bolt the *new* target stand frame to it.

    The plywood will still be a sail, though, so while chicken wire would work, probably so would hinging the plywood at the top and trimming it so it’ll swing either way in the breeze (for various values of “breeze”). Something like a C-clamp would anchor it for shooting. Downside to chicken wire will be needing a non-standard attachment mechanism for paper targets, although clothespins would probably work; plywood needs only a stapler, thumbtacks or tape.

  3. Joel says:

    Norman, that’s a very interesting idea! The well pipe wouldn’t work but I have some fence posts that might.

  4. Norman says:

    On a related note, I ran across a youtube video RE: installing a copper-clad grounding rod. Seems the easy way is: 1) drill a not-very-deep hole, fill with water; 2) insert ground rod; 3) engage in vertical reciprocating motion with the rod while continuing to apply water to the hole.

    Apparently, one can insert all 8 feet of said ground rod easily with this technique while attempting to drive it in forcefully with a large hammer will fail. Whether it would work with a fence post, I have no clue, and if there’s rock or hardpan a few feet down it wouldn’t work. After seeing the video, though, my next retrieval operation at Harbor Freight included a $20 3-pack of ships’ auger bits for $16 (20% off coupon), so I now have 18″ long 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ throw-away bits to play in the dirt with. And, somewhere around here there’s supposed to be a 24″ bit extension shaft, although I haven’t seen it in a while.

    RE: attachment – no idea if it’s worthwhile, but depending on how the plywood is configured, if cut into panels – an 8 ft piece equals 4 each 2 ft wide pieces, or 3 each 32 inch wide pieces – each panel could be drilled in the same place and bolted as a stack to an upright at ground level when not in use for holding targets. Less surface area, lower to the ground to reduce wind leverage, and corresponding holes and bolts in the angle iron provide for attachment during target use. Plus, depending on user need, however many panels necessary could be mounted, and over time replacing individual small panels is probably easier than replacing (and manhandling) an entire 4X8 piece.

  5. When I’m doing those concrete plug-type footings I’ll take a few sticks of rebar and drive them into the hole at opposing angles. Once I put the concrete in – the rebar is covered and it gives the plug a better grip and keeps it from twisting. Same type of approach when putting round hollow posts into concrete – run a couple rods perpendicular through the post to keep it from turning in the concrete. (unless you’re using the post as a sleeve…)

    1/2″ rebar also makes a really nice anchor pin for guy wires. Use a couple 3-4′ iron pipes to bend the rebar into a ‘V’. Then tighten the rebar to a ‘U’ and put enough baling wire around the legs to hold that shape. Drive the rebar into the ground several inches and clip the wire. The rebar will then start to spread to a ‘V’ as you continue to drive it in.

  6. Ben says:

    So obviously your Jeep back was to remove the taillight bulbs. How hard will it be to replace the switch? And does that irritating ECU data.loss happen every time you lose battery voltage even for a moment?

  7. Norman says:

    I just re-read the paragraph about the jeep brake light thing – if both brake light bulbs are burned out, they’re not placing a current load on the circuit. What else is in the circuit that would draw power but only if the brake light circuit is energized by the switch?

    And, if the brake lights have been inoperative for X period with zero negative consequences, why not continue with that plan, but deliberately? Disconnect the circuit at th eswitch.

To the stake with the heretic!