Adventures in Tractoring

I bought a Kubota B2601 compact tractor back in March. I paid the dealer to do the 50 hour service, but decided to do the subsequent ones myself. Well, I hit 100 hours last week, which was my trigger for the next service.

I over-maintain everything that I own, and the Kubota is no exception. I decided that I would do an oil and filter change, and change out the HST filter. Well, that last part turned out to be a lesson that cost me almost a hundred fifty federal reserve notes.

Kubota uses a single four-gallon reservoir for all things hydraulic. This iincludes the transmission, the PTO, and the traditional hydraulic system (hitch, loader, etc.). There are also two filters on this system. One is called an HST filter, and the other a transmission filter. The HST filter is smaller and easily changed with minimal fluid loss. The other allows 90 percent of the reservoir contents to pour out immediately upon removal.

Guess which one I pulled off. And dropped into the drain pan. Yep, the big one. For which I had no replacement, much less the four gallons of really expensive fluid that came pouring out.

I promptly brushed myself off and headed over to my local dealership. I arrived at 1209. To find out that their parts department closes promptly at noon on Saturday. I called the next two closest dealers only to learn that the practice of closing at that time is an epidemic.

That left me to finish the engine oil change and wait until the $27 filter and the $115 of hydraulic fluid could be acquired. My bad day didn’t end there.

As is my normal practice, I poured slightly less than the published quantity of oil in and started the engine briefly to circulate it through the system. After less than a minute, I shut it down, let it settle, checked and added as necessary.

Only to find out that the fill cap had vibrated down into a trough between the oil pan and the radiator. At least I assume that’s where it went. It wasn’t where I set it, and it wasn’t on the ground. Said trough is about the only place it could’ve gone. Add another line item to the list of stuff that I must have before I can put it back in service.

Glad I finished mowing before starting the service work.

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This probably falls into the TMI category, but here goes. I absolutely LOVE my new David Archy underwear. I’m fat, and given the activity level of my new job, I sweat profusely. When I sweat and my thighs rub together, moderate to severe discomfort is the result. (No, that’s not just a fat girl problem. It happens to fat dudes too.)

I switched to the old FOTL boxer briefs that I bought the last time I had this problem. They have “briefs” in the name, but there is very little package support. While they eliminated the thigh problem, the lack of support allowed things to rub together a little higher. Same result, slightly different location.

Enter David Archy boxer briefs. Yes, they cost over thirty federal reserve notes for a set of three. I’ve never paid anywhere close to that much for drawers before. But they are worth every penny. They are made of the softest material that I have ever touched. And they have a real, built-in pouch to hold things together. One word:


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I’ve been overweight most of my life. I’ve also tried most of the basic dieting ideas out there. Ultimately, body weight is the result of a simple equation: calories consumed vs. calories used. There are factors that impact how many calories your body will use for a specific activity, and how your body manages storage of any excess. But ultimately, if one uses more calories than they consume, they will lose weight. And the reverse is obviously true as well.

All “diets” have different selling points.

UPDATE: This wasn’t supposed to post yet. I was going to go into the many different things I’ve tried, what did and didn’t work for each, and generally whine about still being fat. But it’s probably just as well that the accidental upload spared you all that.

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Race Day and Liberals

I’m on the way to my first race for 2019. It’s a 5K called Run for the Roses. I haven’t ran since October of last year, mostly due to foot pain. I expect to do very poorly.

Ladyfriend’s sister and niece flew in last night from Michigan for her birthday on Wednesday. Y’all know me, guns are laying all over the place. Sister examined the visible ones from a distance, as if they were poisonous snakes that might strike without warning. At least she didn’t make any rude comments.

Then this morning after her shower Niece puts on a rainbow flag Beto for Senate t-shirt. I kept my mouth shut. A twenty-five year old sexual assault therapist from Detroit is pretty much guaranteed to be cluess.

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Car Struggles

My 2004 BMW 325xi has been sporting an intermittent Service Engine Soon light for almost two years. North Carolina law requires no active faults in order to renew one’s annual registration. Last year, the renewal was easy enough to manage, since the light would come and go seemingly at random. This year was trickier, because the light has spent more time on than off, but I was able to get lucky and catch it off long enough to get it to pass. I knew that next year was going to be a problem, so I started troubleshooting.

There were two codes, one related to temperature and the other a lean fuel condition. The temperature could have been a thermostat/housing combination, a secondary thermostat, or a temperature sensor. The lean fuel condition could be one of four oxygen sensors, the fuel filter, the fuel pump, the mass air flow meter, the injectors, or a vacuum leak.

I started with the lean fuel condition. A new fuel filter didn’t fix it. Not that I expected it to, but it was the cheapest option and past time to be replaced. Then I threw a set of oxygen sensors on it. No joy there either. Then I took it to the shop to have the professionals look at it. They claimed that one of the year old oxygen sensors had failed. I knew they were wrong, but agreed to have them replace it. Of course the light popped again. They couldn’t find anything obvious, so they started concentrating on the temperature problem.

The thermostat housing was the first attempt to fix it, but the light popped again. The shop then said that the temperature sensor was also bad. I balked at the $600 they wanted for that, but they’d been unable to find anything else wrong that was causing the lean fuel code. They said that it could be a vacuum leak that couldn’t be easily found but would be found and corrected by the removal of the intake necessary to replace the sensor. So, I approved the work.

The fucking light is back on, less than a hundred miles after leaving the shop. I wonder what they’ll tell me this time. Whatever it is, I probably won’t fix it. Because that won’t be the problem either, and at some point I have to draw the line. This will probably be my last year of driving this car.

While all this was going on, my 2003 F-250 decided to toast its injector control pressure sensor, making it idle erratically and cut off without provocation. Said sensor is on order, and once replaced, the car will go back in for one more round of diagnostics.

UPDATE: As of 01 December 2018, my county will no longer require the OBD test in order to renew the vehicle. If I had only known before spending all this money. It’s not like the car is suffering any performance issues.

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Adventures in Generators

I’ve wanted a better generator since I bought the one I have. It was purchased mid-Matthew in 2016, and was the only choice within a hundred miles. I’ve been seriously looking into upgrades since Florence and its failure to run my air conditioner, despite it not having a problem with either side of the heat pump during my monthly load tests. I have a replacement voltage regulator on hand, which I’m confident will cure that problem. At least until it fails like the last two. Because I insist on making it run everything. And it fries regulators before it pops the main breaker. Which it has also done. Once.

I’ve decided that I want a diesel, both for longevity and easier/safer fuel storage. The problem is balancing cost and output. I can get a 21KW Isuzu-powered unit that will run pretty much everything in the house simultaneously. It costs $8K , plus shipping, a transfer switch, and however much an electrician would charge to tie it into the existing system. And it burns the better part of a gallon an hour at near-zero load.

The other end of the spectrum is a 4.5KW model for $2K (plus shipping) that will power any one major or moderate load. It only uses four-tenths of a gallon per hour at full load. But with that one, I’d have to manually manage every circuit in the house. Want to run the air conditioning? Better make sure the refrigerator isn’t running, and might want to turn the TV off, too. Need to run the water heater? Turn everything else in the house off except maybe one light. You get the idea.

Another option is a 6KW unit of unknown provenance for just under $2K which would allow me to pretty much leave everything on like I have in the past with my current gasoline generator, and only flip breakers off if too much stuff kicks on at the same time. But I don’t trust manufacturers that I don’t know. Hell, presumably reputable brands can be an unknown quantity these days. Take for example my current Troy-Bilt/Briggs that toasted a voltage regulator straight out of the box and seems to have killed another one during Flo.

Then there is the overpriced Generac XD5000E. It’s $3500, give or take, depending on where you get it. And the price tag includes shipping. It is a 5000W continuous/5500W surge, which will handle any one major load, one moderate load, and all the miscellaneous stuff at the same time.

Unlike the aforementioned 4.5KW, I will only have to manipulate breakers if the heat pump and water heater both want to run at the same time. I can plan cooking and clothes washing in order to stagger rest of the loads and keep from overloading the genny without messing with breakers. Yes, 500 extra watts makes that much of a difference.

I’m leaning towards the Generac for one other reason. I have multiple purchasing options that offer 24-month financing deals. Any other option is a pay now proposition.

Decisions, decisions.

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I have no love for financial institutions, and I take every opportunity to use their promotions against them. If I need something that costs a somewhat substantial sum of money, and a lender is offering a zero percent interest for X months deal, I’ll apply for the credit line even if I had already planned to pay cash.

My current lawn tractor is a perfect example. I needed a new one at the beginning of last season. I happened to be at Tractor Supply one day, and I saw the promotional literature. I had the money for a new one, but if they will give me a year to pay at no additional cost, I’ll gladly use someone else’s money. Which I did. That was the only time that I used the card, and I paid the tractor off months ago.

Banks seem to be wising up, though. Last night, I was browsing for a stump grinder. I have dozens of trees that need to go away, and dozens more that are gone but whose stumps remain as hazards to the mower. DR Power Equipment (now owned by Generac) makes a couple decent ones that I’ve considered before. There was a banner at the top of the page advertising 0% financing. I clicked on it.

I found the fine print interesting. Yes, purchases over $799 are indeed financed at zero percent interest for thirty-six months. BUT, they charge a $150 “Promotion Fee” up front in lieu of interest over the life of the promotion. Effectively, it is prepaid interest, like the balance transfer fees that are so common nowadays. Since it is a fixed amount, the more you spend, the better the deal. I’m sure that is intentional.

I decided to apply, and see how much credit they would give me. I was surprised by the answer: five thousand dollars. So, I could spend eight hundred dollars, plus the one hundred fifty dollars (eighteen and three-quarters percent) or I could get the stump grinder, a wood chipper to eliminate the burn pile, a post hole digger, and replacement teeth and blades for the grinder and chipper, for a total of just under three thousand dollars. That makes the one hundred fifty dollar fee a more reasonable five percent – only slightly more than the typical balance transfer fees on most promotions.

So, I obligated myself for three thousand federal reserve notes worth of power equipment. With it, though, I may very well have most of my property cleared and fenced within a year.

Another sneaky thing that I caught a lender doing this week was the fast one that American Express tried to pull on me. I just bought my annual prepaid phone card, which cost me $530.25. AmEx offered the option of Plan It, which sets up fixed payments for a specified time period instead of letting it fall under normal revolving balance rules. For this convenience, I would have to pay a monthly fee, but no interest would be charged. The monthly fee? $5.05, for a total of $90.90 in fees over eighteen months. But zero interest. I calculated the amount of interest that I would pay at my normal Purchases rate, on that balance with the same monthly payment amount. $97.99. The option would save me $7.09, effectively lowering my interest rate from 22.24% to 20.68%. Yeah, I’ll jump right on that. Not.

Sneaky bastards!

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