Winter Yard Work Pays Big Dividends

I Need “Mow Time!”

We didn’t have time for a build this week. For a couple of reasons.  The main one was that “Big Yeller thang in the sky.

As much fun as it would have been to light off the outside cooking stove (one of these guys) and toss a few pounds of stew meat, veggies and a cup of red wine into a Dutch oven and sip some adult beverage while basking all day, we chose instead to work on the yard,

Our yard, if you haven’t followed our Sunday columns (ShopTalk Sunday) on, is kinda largish.  Just to mow it is a four-hour adventure (minimum).  That’s about 2-hours on a 54″ rider for the civil parts.  But the uncivil?  Another matter entirely.

To begin with there’s a 100-meter shooting range.  That one is roughed in with the 4-wheel drive Kubota 7610 and a bush hog (also called Brush hog). Though city folk don’t realize “bush hogging” is what you do out here in wild boar country. Brush Hog is a brand of equipment and they have models. Like the “Squealer” a nice 4-foot cutter that it took me the better part of 12-years to bust up into unrecognizable.  Land is tough on things out here in the Outback. Then there’s me…

With the look lawn and the range mowed, there’s the matter of trails, next.  We have joked about putting up road signs on them, though with the land cleared up a bit, it’s not as easy as it once was to get lost.  Though that can still happen if you don’t have the homing sense of a salmon, or you can’t hear the martini bell at a quarter mile….

Going In Circles?

Our writing?  Heavens no!  The riding mower, of course!

See, I just didn’t have the time, 2-cycle premix or inclination to blow the leaves from around the house this year. The easy answer, since it has been dry for a couple of days and there was no wind to speak of, was to simply make progressively smaller right turns around convenient obstacles. Like this tree which got a “free mulching.”

Of course, it had been 27F the night before and it’s not unreasonable to ask “How does your mower start on the first try for this middle of winter mowing deal?

The answer is a decent small solar panel. Plus, enough forethought to make sure your mower lives in “perfected Mower Housing.”

“What is this “perfected housing” crap?”

First, it is a back-in position.  This way, when you go out to mow, it’s already to go.  No warming up backing through a trail of exhaust fumes.

Second point is the overhang of the equipment shed has to be just so.  You want it set up so that the mower’s front tires (which would be the southmost ones) are just barely in the shade from about May 1 to late August.  This way, your tires will last longer, being out of the sun.

But in the winter, you want the mower shed to allow the whole front of the mower to be exposed to direct sunlight for one of these bad-boys:

You can pick these solar chargers up on Amazon for not very much money.  The one I’m using came with the clips for the battery and all for $23 bucks, less a $2 coupon.

Anyway, that’s all it takes to start.  The one I picked was a 20-watt version.  I seriously doubt it would do that except in a lab, though.  But you don’t want to go too high or your will drive liquid cells (and AGM) batteries into gassing which can do bad things.

As a rule of thumb, you can trickle charge a liquid cell at 1 percent of amp-hour capacity almost forever.  If you are charging in the winter? You might go 3 or even 4 percent of capacity.  Because the weather is colder, and battery charging voltages are based on temperatures.  4 percent of a full-sized (100 Amp-hour group 27) might be 4 Amps at (when cold) up to 15-volts.

Maybe a 50-watt charger but not all day, not 24-hours of course.  But for a 24 Amp-hour lawn tractor battery when in cold weather, I figure 20-watts, but you might consider 30 on larger equipment, more cloudy days, colder, lower sun angles (resulting in irradiance reductions) as you work north.

Electric Leaf Blowers

Not because of global warming (which may be real, but the rich are still not paying a sky tax on their Gulfstreams and Lear’s, so we will ignore the problem for the most part) but because there’s no old-man throwing a shoulder out trying to crank over a snarky 2-cycle.  Switch goes on, unit works, kind of thing.

Long ago – but it is still a useful tip if you have a high rafter or beam you can get to in a garage or shop, is to put in some 2-inch pulleys and get some 1/2 inch nylon line.  (Or you can spend a fortune and get triple-laid 5/8ths marine Dacron; it’s your money, Sport.)

Idea is, when there’s too many tools and incomplete projects in the shop you can “Hang Em High.”  (Go ahead, gimme the signature Eastwood movie whistle…)

There are some basic safety tenets to be followed.  No cheap cheesy cotton twine because they will be supporting whatever the weight is and you don’t want that falling on you.

The other is using a reasonable quality of pulley.  Each should have a minimum of 3-bolts into the wood you’re attaching to, and it should go without my reminding you, the wood should be strong enough for the working load.

There you have it. Something not of 3D printing, CNC, or ham radio.

But this is the first official post on Ultra-make since I decided to keep writing and I really do enjoy being a tool slut and making things (besides trouble!).

The next post this morning will go into the why’s and wherefores of this odd flurry or reorganizations.

Now, go bang on something,

2 thoughts on “Winter Yard Work Pays Big Dividends”

  1. Oh I have to make some simple syrup.. unfortunately I don’t have any glycerin to use.. so I will have to run over and pick up some on tuesday.. use simple syrup in so many things.. one cup of sugar one cup of water.. mix until clear than add two tbsp of clycerine as a stabilizer.. I could use some corn syrup.. that has glycerin in it.. but I am not sure how much would be needed..

  2. “We didn’t have time for a build this week. For a couple of reasons. ”

    Same here.. with doctors visits and all the drama there.. ( except I am curious what happened.. he was on the phone yelling about money one day to who knows who.. NOMB) and yesterday he gets a letter.. they are doing the test IN A WEEK … WOW.. is he a federal worker or did someone take out a second mortgage)

    The Wictorian lamp is on hold.. ( well the lamp is nothing it is the elf cottage that is taking time.. I am going to show him how to preserve plants and use them as forever ornaments on his lamp..
    the elf cottage.. I have been giving that some thought.. seems if an elf lives there it has to have lights.. so it doesn’t get scared of the dark either.. I am going to use one of those path lights.. and at dusk the lights will go on and show through the windows of the elf cottage..
    anyway this thing has blown up into a bigger project.. my guess is the mini me is exactly that a mini me.. why keep it simple when you can make it difficult LOL LOL..
    Then today I have great grandkids over.. made up two gallons of waffle stick dough and will have maybe a half dozen of the waffle sticks left.. you would think they have never had them before LOL LOL LOL LOL…
    then there is that magic mixture .. that no one can get right..
    3 cups of flour or waffle mix or biscuit mix.. your choice..
    1 cup of sugar or a half cup of honey ( your choice)
    2 Tbsp. of vanilla
    6 eggs
    1/4 cup of oil
    cream or milk..
    1Tbsp of powdered buttermilk mix.

    Preheat the waffle stick maker.. or waffle maker..

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