Minor Update

I built and installed the shelf for the chicken coop ventilation fan this week. I still need to cut the hole in the gable and fabricate a flap for said hole, but the hard part is done. The chickens weren’t happy with an extended human presence in their home, and absolutely despised the associated power tools. Hopefully it will aid in keeping them and their younger soon-to-be co-residents alive in next summer’s heat and thus be worth the annoyance that they suffered.

Speaking of which, the Aquila juveniles are supposed to come home next week. Chicken Lady said something about them maybe needing a heat lamp when it drops below freezing. I thought our arrangement was such that she’d keep them until they were old enough for such to be unnecessary, but I’ll manage. I do have such a lamp, but it resides with the water treatment system, and I dare not risk it to protect a few birds. Guess I get to spend fifteen bucks on another one. Or thirty bucks on a heating mat that they can huddle up on. I’ll decide and order whichever within the next few days.

I got both good news and a not-so-cheap learning experience with the truck this week. It has piddled hydraulic oil since I got it, from the vicinity of the pump. I figured it was a from a seal or seals in the pump. The rebuild process isn’t the easiest task even if one can find a seal kit. Even though the pump itself works fine and the cylinders lift a full bed easily, I expected to have to replace the pump to fix the leak, due either to availability or convenience. That was the good news part.

The leak was a bent and loose section of standard schedule 80 black iron pipe coming out of the pump and going into a tee. It was a bitch to replace since I didn’t want to disconnect more than absolutely necessary and it was a solid piece with no union. I ended up cutting it in half very slowly so as to not catch the oil on fire. That done, I went looking for replacement parts. Nobody locally stocks schedule 80 nipples, and I wasn’t going to steal from work. I decided to buy two shorter nipples and a union to achieve the original length in schedule 40 from the local big box home improvement store. Technically, it can handle the pressure, so I should be fine. Much cleaning, contorting and most of the remainder of my very expensive Loctite 545 later and I had it back together. The next morning I tested it. A touch more torque on the union healed the drips there, and the system cycled a dozen times with only minor seepage around the cylinders and the actuator valve. I can live with that.

The reservoir was almost empty with the cylinders extended (the only way one can access the reservoir) after the repairs and previous leaks. Tractor Supply was out of five gallon buckets of hydraulic oil, so I bought two two-gallon jugs. The entirety of the first one didn’t bring it up to even half, so I added from the second one. It ended up taking all of it to bring it up to almost three-quarters full. I figured that should be about right to allow the cylinders to compress and expel their contents into the reservoir. Yes, I’m an idiot. I lowered the bed, compressing the cylinders. About one third of the way down, the area erupted in a shower of hydraulic oil. It seems that full when compressed equals about three-fifths full when fully extended. Over half the contents of that second thirty-dollar jug of oil wound up all over the truck and eventually on the ground. The exhaust pipe is going to smoke for a week to burn that off.

But at least I didn’t need a seven hundred plus dollar pump.

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