Weekends Off

I’ve been trying to unplug on the weekends, which leaves me wanting to write up a whole essay every Monday morning about my weekend, especially when there are vehicular trials and tribulations. Well this weekend did not disappoint.

Friday I took my kids to see the ice harvest that takes place on the lake in my town. I wrote about it 2 years ago, so I won’t repeat myself. It was nice to take both kids this time, they had a blast.

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A couple pics from this year...

So then we got a big ol’ snowstorm on Saturday and after plowing my driveway with my father’s 1997 F-250, I headed over to his house so he could get his driveway cleaned up. But on my way there, I noticed that suddenly the cab was getting cold. No heat. That can really only mean one thing. Sure enough, the temp gauge starts creeping up. So I pulled into the driveway of a guy I know, he’s plowing his yard and gives me a ride home to grab a gallon of coolant.

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As is typical, another guy pulls up as we’re adding coolant to the radiator, a friend of our family, naturally. He says something like “well, great, it looks like that was the problem! It needed coolant!” To which I replied as politely as possible, “umm, well, but where did it go!? THAT’S what I want to know.” But no time now - I didn’t see any green stuff in my driveway when I was plowing, and I didn’t see any obvious leaks, though it’s hard to tell because the underside of the truck is oily and full of bits of snow and ice melting and re-freezing and melting again. I drove it to my parents’ place about 3 miles away over a hilly back road, no temp issues. I thought, well, maybe it has a very small leak? If that’s the case, I’m not going to worry.

The truck is on its last legs with us anyway, the fuel tank leaks if you put in more than 1/4 tank, the driver’s door doesn’t really shut properly, and it won’t pass inspection for a variety of reasons. So it’s already not-quite-legal to drive on the roads anyway; this is its last winter with us.

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We spent the next 30 minutes jump-starting then digging and pulling my sister’s car out of the ditch off the side of my parents’ driveway, then I took the truck back home, I still had snow to move. No further issues.

Fast forward to this morning: my father took the truck back yesterday, but as it was below zero and windy, we didn’t hang around chatting. This morning I noticed a melted spot under where the truck was parked, surrounded by a greenish tint in the snow, all of which is kind of slushy, while everything else is white and crunchy in the -5F temperature. Yup, a nice steady stream of coolant leaking from... somewhere.

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I have a friend whose vehicles are always for sale, he usually has 2 or 3 he’s currently working on or driving at all times. He’s the one I bought my ‘72 from, who then bought it back 9 years later for the same money. More to the point: He has a ~2005ish F-350 regular cab, 4x4, dually, flatbed (that dumps), a plow, and most importantly, a manual transmission. I told my father he should go look at it, and now I’m going to suggest he does that even sooner. Like, tomorrow.

*UPDATE - As I was about to hit ‘publish’ I get a text from my father after informing him of the coolant pond in my driveway: “Ok good to know — maybe just a loose hose if we’re lucky. I’ll check.” LOL there is no way it’s just a “loose hose” but I’ll let him dream.

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In other news, my kids’ snowfort/cave more than doubled in size over the weekend. I’m building it entirely from snow on our deck, and they were able to go sledding from the top of it before we got the storm on Sunday. Inside it’s only about 24 square feet, but it should be up over 50sf after the next excavation.

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The roof is actually corrugated metal with 2x4 framing underneath. That way the kids aren’t going to get trapped in there if one of them runs on top while others are inside- the roof really can’t spontaneously collapse. I need to dig out the new wing on the left where the poles are resting below:

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I leave the walls about 2' thick, cut down the sides flat for the roofing, reinforce from inside, then pile snow on top to keep the roofing in place and to insulate the whole thing. So far, so good. We’re supposed to get warm rain on Thursday - that will be the first true test of my method.

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