Friday, February 22, 2008

The last few days...

...have made me wonder why I live in Iowa and not in somewhere it doesn't freeze.

Yes, this is the obligatory February complaint post.

Wednesday I tried to get the feed truck to start. Sure, it would turn over, but no firing. The fuel had gelled up. So, I try it again yesterday. Still no luck. I had poured some fuel supplement into the tank, left the truck plugged in so the block was nice and toasty, and used copious amounts of starter fluid to try and get it to fire. Nothing. Took the fuel filter off, poured a little supplement in it, and finally got it to run. Awesome.

Next step was to load some DDGS from the bulk tank via the belt conveyor into the truck. Except the rain we had on Monday had frozen the belt in place. Went to the house and got 3 gallons of hot water to pour on the butt end of the conveyor to thaw it out. Even got the cutting torch out to heat the water. I finally got up on top of the truck, where the head of the conveyor was, and attempted to move the belt backwards. In doing so, it gave the belt a "running chance" to get over it's problem. After a couple times of this, it finally took off. Super, now I can load the truck. Only an hour and a half behind schedule.

Loaded the feed, went to town and weighed, and then off to my first customer an hour away. When I started to unload, I noticed that the auger system did not work very quickly. Unfortunately, my hydraulic system on the feed truck leaks, and it must have lost enough fluid to make things slow. So, after unloading what I could, I headed back to town, got some more hydraulic fluid from the oil plant, poured it in to the tank, and off I went to my next customers. The new oil did the trick.

So, because I delivered all of my DDGS, I needed more. Today I decided to take the semi truck north to Lincolnway Energy to take corn up and DDGS back. The semi truck also had not moved since last Saturday. It probably would have been wise to have moved it, even an inch, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead.

I spent about an hour and a half trying to get the rear axles of the trailer to come loose. It took 4 gallons of hot water this time, and even then I had to use the tractor and chain to move it. The brakes may have been frozen as well. Semi trucks and ice/snow do not mix well. I got over to my Dad's where I was to get the corn. Fortunately, he had sanded down the approach to the bin, so I was able to get up to it very easily.

However, we had gotten snow and ice inside the bin, and as the corn moved down to the unloading auger, so did the ice chunks, blocking the corn. Dad had a length of PVC pipe, so I used it to poke at the corn to break up the ice. However, twice I got the pipe down into the auger below and stopped the entire unloading process. This meant stopping the motor before the belts burned up, opening up the bottom clean out door, removing the corn from the clean out area with a scoop, and then running the auger system again to make sure it didn't plug up.

By the time we dealt with that and the ice, I had to leave for Lincolnway before it closed for the day (a 2 hour drive), and I only had about 1/3 of a truckload on. I had to get the DDGS, no matter what, so I headed up with what I had.

The trip up and back was uneventful, other than trying to maneuver a 40 ton truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Altoona.

So, do NORMAL people have to deal with stuff like this on a daily basis, too?

This winter has just plain sucked. I won't recall the number of times I've gotten stuck, nearly gotten stuck, had to get the cutting torch out to heat things up, use hot water in other situations, tromp through knee high snow drifts, etc.

Sorry to complain - I guess I should be happy to have the opportunity to do all of these things, and I am. I probably come off like some Mr. Howell Blue-Blood complaining that his Rolls Royce's rear seat has a smudge on it.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to spring/summer. Not for the thawing, as this will make things quite wet for a while. But, when the warm breezes come up from the south, the grass greens, the trees start to bud, and the baby calves romp in the fresh pasture, I'll know why I endured this place called Iowa.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can sympathize. Last week I spent an hour trying to unstick my small trailer from the ice. The tongue and coupler were on the ground of course and no amount of force short of the metal ripping level would budge it. So with my fingers and hands freezing I set about chipping the thing out with a sledgehammer and wrecking bar.

I finally got the tongue loose possibly bending the thing and giving my frozen fingers a good whack with the sledgehammer in the process. Elapsed time around 45 minutes and by now there is a slight freezing drizzle starting.


I tried to pivot the thing a few inches to meet the hitch and what do you know, the wheels are stuck to the ground. Thoroughly and truly stuck. Another 10 or 15 minutes or so of cursing and maneuvering back and forth to get the hitch lined up. Finally get it lined up and of course I drop the clevis pin multiple times due to frozen fingers. Simply getting the pin into the little hole requires waaaayyyy too much dexterity than my fingers are capable by now.

When I do get it hooked up the wind is really kicking up, the freezing drizzle is coming down and I have yet to move the thing. Takes some real force to dislodge the tires. Enough that I was worried I was going to rip the things off.

It was an hour or more and by the time I got the thing dragged back to where I needed it the weather was really bad and to make matters worse my chainsaw decided to quit and I couldn't get anything done after all that effort.

Oh and for good measure I had a rope fall off the side of the thing and get itself wound all around the axle on the way home. I was so tired, sore, cold and frustrated by that point I dragged it back to the house with one wheel out of commission.

9:32 PM, February 23, 2008  

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