Tom Dually 1.5
The longest distance between two points.
I can’t blame this one on anybody else. And, of course it seemed like a reasonable shortcut, at the time. Here’s the deal. The whole reason that I’m changing out trailers for Miss Kathleen, at all, is because I think the boat is just too heavy for the one that she has resided upon from Day One. At best, this is the stuff of hunches. Little science. Very little. And, because she’s a bit on the chunky side, I’ve been resisting the normal method of swapping trailers here at Frankenwerke.
Normally, I just pick a boat up in slings and pull the trailers out and in. Been doing it for years.
But, my first half-dozen Frankenbots were a lot smaller. I could put them on and off the birthing cart inside the building.
And, away we went.
Then, we started including standing headroom in our opus’.
So, it took a whole new method of re-horsing the girls. The first few loadings were a bit shaky. There were tipped over shop cranes, inchworm evolutions with multiple floor jacks, jack stands, and other approaches. Usually it worked, but I normally needed help. And, often that is the one commodity in short supply around here.
I even tried skidding one on the snow. There are some seasonal limitations to this method. But, it worked OK.
But, that winch strap was singing a dirge before it was over.
Sooooooooo, I got the engineering types and the assorted hangers on from around this far-flung operation together and we brainstormed. Some wiseguy said that I had it all backwards. That, the best way to slip a trailer under a boat is as if you are launching it. Only, the boat stays put, and the trailer moves.
And, we’ve done it that way a few times now. So, what’s the problem? I decided to take a shortcut. The simplify things. Save some steps. In the process, we wasted the work of an entire night shift, by starting all over again, with the day shift. For some hairball reason, it made sense to launch MK and leave her in the water while we worked on the new and old trailers side by each.
But, now the boat’s in the water in a borrowed slip.
The old trailer has been rendered unserviceable. The new trailer is a huge question mark as far as being ready to haul a boat out of the water, and come home with it. If I had simply lifted the boat up and slipped the new trailer under for as many test fittings as I may have wanted, things would have gone much more smoothly. But, here we are.
MK is spending the night afloat without me. Tom is sorta put together and will need to test fit by parking truck and trailer at the ramp, and walking a mile or so to get MK. Then, I have to run the boat over to the ramp, and test. If good, then, good. But, if it’s the normal thing, we’ll be playing this game for a few days yet.
And, to really pile salt on the wound, as I as starting into this game of musical chairs, I did witness how the one-percenters of our little fraternity travel.
I have a hunch, that guy doesn’t have to do his own work. And, speaking of, I’d better get back to it. Miss Kathleen is counting on me. Winter’s coming. She can’t stay where she is.
Tom Dually 1.6
Fish, or cut bait.
Well, I think the entire Frankenwerke crew called in sick today. Not even Jamie-the-Sea-Dog showed up for the morning staff meeting. Just me, ‘n Tom. And, neither one of us were all that enthusiastic, either.
Dithering, is what they call it. I keep thinking about the current political aphorism gaining currency in some of the more-pointy-headed circles that I traverse. “When you realize that you’re in a hole; stop digging!”
Then, I start thinking about Chesty Puller. You know. When he got his arse surrounded at Chosin Reservoir. His idea was, it was a good thing. Because he could now attack in all directions. But, then he had all them jarheads. I was all by myself today. And, my command presence needed a bit of a spiffing up, too. Dithering, I tell ya’. And, feeling surrounded.
The problem centered on which path to take. Much like with Yogi Berra’s famous quip, “When you come to a fork in the road, definitely take one.” My problem was that the “new” trailer wasn’t really ready to recover a boat from the water. I wasn’t really sure that if I managed to get MK back through the not-yet-shaped supports, she could conceivably tip over while negotiating that damn hill at the ramp. And, the “old” trailer didn’t have the winch stand, bow chock, or keel guides. Either way, I figured it was time to bring the boat home and continue with this game of thrones. Still, I dithered. Finally, I decided that I would have the best shot with the “old” trailer. If nothing else, I figured that I could just put the winch stand, keel guides and a few rollers back on and be serviceable for the remainder of the good weather. So, I figured. So, we hooked up, and went down that hill.
It woulda’ been a nice day for a boat ride. But, we had work to do.
Without the guides and stops and such, we kind of landed crooked. Not too bad. And, then things started to unravel. Like, negative tongue weight. As I crept up that damn hill, I could hear the hitch trying to lift off the ball. What a creepy feeling that brings. I figured it was better to keep going, ever soooooo slowly; but keep going.
Then, it was downhill. I watched the mooring lines that held her on the rollers in the mirrors. So far, so good.
But, what in the heck was that “klunk…klunk…klunk…?” The hitch, maybe? As I backed in, one of the trailer tires just didn’t look right. Hmnnn…
First glance, I wondered how and why the little hub cap had gone AWOL. Second glance, the spindle nut wasn’t in the middle of the hole. Third, well, “Where the hell is the outside bearing race?” After over 20,000 miles of travelling all over the damn place, the wheel bearing chose to depart the ship within a half-mile of home. Thank you God!
The starboard side is the one that always seemed a bit warmer to the touch when I would check. Never hot. Never squeaking. Always full of grease. Just a bit warmer. But, the fun was only beginning. That negative tongue pressure is a fancy way of saying that the boat would tip over backward once released from the hitch ball. Not a good thing for the rudder and the motor and my sense of equanimity. So, I hooked up a chain fall to the safety chain shackle that has also stood guard for those same 20K miles and started taking a load against the towing eye to slide the hull a foot or two forward. Ka-thwack!
That shackle failed, and sent the tackle flying. Things were getting a bit annoying, to say the least. Now that I look at the results, I am ashamed to admit that I thought this piece of hardware store fluff had any chance of holding anything on behind, had the hitch disconnected (like it could have with that negative tongue pressure, for instance.)
Anyhow, I had to get things balanced to be able to get on with it. At that point, I didn’t know (still don’t) if the spindle would be serviceable on this, the “old” trailer. It seemed time for a bit of decisiveness on my part. I decided to swap trailers right there in the driveway. Devil take the hindmost!
Did I tell you that the keel wasn’t sitting properly for any rolling around. Probably partly why the chain parted under moderate pull. So, the rig had to be backed in and chain falls, slings, crane, jacks, dunnage, wheel chocks, prybars, and such had to be mobilized. The keel was being mangled on the roller rails.
This piece of the catacombs shows how the bottom has never really gotten painted, or faired, or even inspected regularly. It’s really noplace anybody old enough to know better should be crawling with a paint brush. After an hour or so to get rigged, it took about three minutes to shove the boat over 3 inches. Then it was time to do the end-for-end. The whole time that starboard wheel was threatening to simply lay over and add to the chaos. Then, it got scary.
That boat weighs over 3,000 pounds. The only way I can get one trailer out from under, is to nose-in to the garage door frame where I have a couple steel gussets that can carry chain falls. Robust enough, but never actually intended for this sort of loading. Probably OK. Hope.
I figured I could maybe get Alice in there for part of the pulling and shoving. But not all. (I came real close to upending a ceiling-high paint shelf unit with the tractor wheel. Not more than an extra half inch of maneuvering space, once in there.) So, another hour to rig and cross fingers and pray.
And, then suddenly, it was game time.
Maneuvering those trailers in and out by hand required periodic assists from the floor jack to work as a sort of “bow thruster” to get those tires to slide sideways—along with 12- to maybe 18-hundred pounds of trailer. The whole time I was thinking nice thoughts about the Chinese political prisoners who made those Harbor Freight chain falls, and tow straps being pressed into service as a travel-lift.
Alice did her part. But hydraulic fluid was running past the seals on that little ram whose day job is to lift the snow blade. Not this un-balanced behemoth. But, like with Chesty at the Chosin, this was no time for cowardice in the face of the enemy. Press on, regardless.
After more ooching and mooching, Tom finally crawled under Miss Kathleen. Neither one looked all so very comfortable with the arrangement. Nothing fits yet. Not at all.
At least, I could finally slow to a more normal heart rate. And sort of begin to figure out what’s next.
I really coulda’ used some of them jarheads. I’m kinda’ worried about what is gonna’ break tomorrow. “Tennnnn-hutt! For’d harch!”