25 April, 2010

The Last Great Accumulators and The Pause That Refreshes

Early on in the history of this blog I decided not to post on Sundays. I hereby change my mind. These days it seems that Sunday afternoons, while The Boy is taking his nap and nothing else is demanding my time is the ideal time to jump on the interweb and post something to my blog. So there.

Yesterday Clare went to the Everything Sale. Every year the teens go around collecting whatever garage sale/flea market type junk they can from the community, put it all together in one big room, organise it, and then hold a huge garage sale. They do it to raise money for the Ukarumpa Teen Centre, which is a cool place dedicated solely to the teens of Ukarumpa. It had an indoor basketball court, a stage, a big room for Sunday morning Soul Purpose meetings, (like church, but infinitely cooler if you are between 14 and 19). Also for most Friday nights of the school term they put on a Hamburger Night for the local community, so it's also like the only restaurant in town.

So anyway, yesterday was the Everything Sale. I suppose it would be logical to ask how in the world it is possible that a group of missionaries would have anything to sell at a garage sale, but consider these facts: 1.) Ukarumpa has been here as a translation support centre since the late 1950's. In that time, thousands of people have passed through here, each of them bringing things with them that they left behind when they went back home. 2.) missionaries are terrific accumlators. We live a lot like people in the US did who survived the Depression; that is to say, most of us never throw away anything that might possibly one day be of slight use to somebody, and generally it doesn't cost us anything to keep junk. 3.) MK's are super at finding interesting stuff and dragging it home.

At the everything sale Clare picked up some toys, books, and videos for Levi, some old Dr. Who videos for me, and three old Coke bottles. She spent a grand total of 3 Kina, I think it was, which is just over 1 US dollar. Today I was looking over these Coke bottles. I had seen them on Friday when I happened to be at the Teen Centre for another reason and had noticed that they were in a box with a handful of WWII junk, (some aircraft part data plates and US army canteen dated 1943 with a big hole in it), but didn't realise until thinking about it later that they had probably all been recovered from the same place. Most likely they were all pulled out of a WWII US military base garbage dump by some MK. WWII garbage dumps are great--I could spend all day pulling interesting bits of junk out of one, and actually have done so, in fact. My favorite things to collect are bits and pieces of fighter planes.

So anyway, I started researching these Coke bottles and found that they are all dated 1944 and were originally shipped to US servicemen serving overseas in places like here. How cool is that?

Some may wonder about my interest in WWII objects. What can I say? Finding some little bit of junk that was actually used during that conflict somehow makes history become more alive for me. Finding WWII junk to look at is one of the perks of living here.

10 April, 2010

OOPS! But good timing!

So today was Saturday. I did a bunch of work around the house in the morning because we had friends coming over for dinner and lots of dishes to wash. After that, I picked up my friend Chad and we ran out to visit some of our neighbors here in the valley who have a coffee plantation. They are building a new house after a fire they had a couple of months ago and we wanted to see how the work was coming along and also if they needed any help with getting their satellite communications set up, as Chad has some experience along those lines, plus he is blessed with an uncanny ability to accurately guess his way around a lot of that kind of stuff.

Anyway, the coffee plantation is a few miles away and we drove the Ancient Land Rover out there. We spent a few hours with our friends there and headed back home. After I dropped off Chad at his place, I drove up to our house. Just a hundred yards from home I shifted gears and suddenly lost forward pulling power! I've been through a few broken axles before, so I groaned inwardly, put the truck in 4 wheel drive and just kept going on the front wheel drive alone. As I turned the last corner near our house, I started hearing a squeak-squeak squeak sound and lost all my brakes. I also passed a couple of women who looked at me as if I were doing something really strange. I shifted the transfer case into low range, (which is geared so low that you can almost live without brakes), and limped to the front of our house. I elected not to turn into the driveway, (which slopes towards the front of the house and is not the ideal place to park a car without brakes) and instead parked by the hedge on the level road in front of the house. When I got out to take a look, I discovered this:

Yes, Virginia, that IS the left rear wheel sitting out about 2 feet from where it is supposed to be! And that is the inner wheel bearing hanging there in the breeze on the axle shaft. The squeaking I was hearing was the axle slowly sliding out of the axle housing whith each rotation of the wheel. I'm really surprised that the axle didn't break! If I had turned into our driveway, the axle would almost certainly have come all the way out.

So it turns out that the big nut(s?) that hold the wheel hub on to the stub axle must have come loose--I jacked up the car and pushed the wheel back in as far as I could--I didn't have time today to get into the wheel hub--tomorrow afternoon I should have the time to open it up and find out why it came loose. I was not the last one to tighten this nut, so it's possible that it was just assembled wrong. Thankfully there doesn't seem to be any damage, and even if I find that there is, I have a good collection of parts for these trucks, so it probably won't cost me anything to fix it.

So this happened just minutes after a several mile drive on a very rough dirt road! Thank the Lord it didn't happen halfway between here and the coffee plantation. If nothing else it would have been a hassle to fix on the side of the road.

05 April, 2010

Happy Easter! And Sanity Maintenance

Happy Easter to one and all! We had a 4 day weekend here, which was nice. Funny thing though, today I went down to the shop to work on one of my own projects and found all of the volunteer guys I work with all down there working on various projects of their own, except John, who is a welder and who is here for only a few weeks. He was bored and so came into the shop to work on stuff he would normally work on during normal work hours.

Anyway. I've been working on an electric fence to keep the dog from escaping. We picked up a really old Guardian electric fencer a while back that I had intended to hook up to our window bars as an added deterrent to anyone who might try to pry the bars apart to get into the house, but now we've decided that we really need to contain the dog more than we need to electrify the security bars. Right now I'm thinking that there's really no reason why one fencer unit couldn't do both the dog fence and the window bars, but for now I'll jut concentrate on the dog fence.

But that's NOT what I worked on this weekend. Well, okay, I did a little bit of work on it, making up some brackets to weld to our steel fenceposts to mount the insulators on, but that was all I did on it. I spent a little time on Friday and a little on Saturday and a little today, (Monday) working on building a motorcycle frame for my latest sanity-maintenance project.

"Sanity maintenance?" you ask. Yes, even I sometimes feel the stress of working on the same kinds of things all the time. I love my job, and there really is LOTS of variety in it, but sometimes I just get the urge to do something really different. Something that is probably really impractical for use here, but nevertheless is fun to build and causes me to have to use my mind to solve unusual problems. This time I am building a motorcycle frame from scratch around a 1978 Kawasaki KZ750 twin engine. For those who understand the lingo, it's a hardtailed bobber frame made out of i-beams that I am building up myself. This is a great chance for me to continue to improve my welding and fabrication skills, which is sort of what this kind of project is all about. Just sharpening skills that I don't have to use that often.

So yeah, it's completely impractical for use here in PNG, but that doesn't mean that I won't use it, oh no, I plan to ride the wheels off of it, learning how my design holds up, what should have been done differently, what works well, etc. It's all part of my professional development, further developing my skills and adding to my abilities and experience.

Here's what it looks like so far, and I warn you that it doesn't look like much yet:

Don't be fooled by those short exhaust pipes--I only put those on there so that I could see if the engine would run (it does).

Most of this bike is going to be made up of used parts that I have accumulated over the years, parts that are currently laying around the shop looking for homes. Parts that are no longer useful for most of the stuff I normally work on. Take the wheels for instance--I'm going with 23" rims front and back just because I have a couple of 23" front rims off of early '80's Hondas that I converted to 21" rims because the 21's are so much easier to get tires for. I also just happen to have a couple of old stock 23" tires that I got for free from somebody who was cleaning out his shed. They should be just fine on this bike, although they would be virtually useless on a bike that got used on trails or in mud, (like most of the stuff I work on).

So! Sanity Maintenance. I do it by stretching my mind.