Getting Another Break?

After doing the front brake pads, calipers and discs, I noticed a funny noise coming from the back when making a sharp left turn.

I pulled one side of the rear wheel off and although the one brake shoe is pretty worn, I see no major issue. It can wait a couple weeks although I’ll get to it sooner. I may try to pull the other side today and look, but it is difficult finding a safe, smooth place to put the jacks and stands. I wish I had a concrete pad here. The concrete company might have trouble getting to the house with their big truck. However, I might put a pad up at the top. I could use a solar panel or two there and some type of roof that could direct rainwater into one of the upper tanks.

Just a thought if I get a bit more time.

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No Lunch!

This Forbes item says “As I Predicted, Seattle’s Minimum Wage Rise Is Reducing Employment” and says that yes, Seattle businesses have not shut down BUT other effects are happening due to minimum wage increases.

It describes my feeling that many people do not look at all aspects of a problem, rather they just hear a good talking point and go with it.

In a simple example, there is an electronics equation I=E/R which means the current in a circuit equals the voltage divided by the resistance. If the current (the left side of the equation) goes up, then either the voltage increased of the resistance decreased. If you increase the resistance without a change in the voltage, the current will decrease.

What the Forbes article says is that by raising the minimum wage, yes the businesses are still viable, BUT they are not employing as many people, or they have cut back on hours. Actions have consequences (reactions).

It reminds me of people who think this is a thing called “Free Shipping”. I cannot find a single company who will carry goods across the country for free, let along across the street. There is a cost for most everything. Free Shipping is nothing more than eliminating a line item on an invoice and shifting the cost elsewhere. Those infomercials do it. They offer an item AND free shipping, but if you act now, they will include another item for pennies if you pay shipping and handling. The shipping and handling charge is the recovery of the discount on the second item. If they can ship the first item for free, why can’t the second one go in the same free box? It can’t because there is (ready for it?) NO FREE SHIPPING.

So if wages go up, hours or number of workers goes down or prices go up. Why doesn’t profit go down? Seems you don’t own a business do you? Large companies owe it to stockholders, small Mom and Pop business owe it to their families to stay in business and pay the bills.

TINSTAAFL. “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.

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More Brakes

I finished putting pads and rotors on the truck but did not replace the calipers. Today I replaced the passengers side and all went smoothly. I just have to double check the brake fluid for drips, etc.

Soon I’ll do the other side.

I will hopefully be able to wait for help before looking at the back ones. Without a concrete floor and better jack, this becomes more difficult than desired.

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Trouble Doesn’t Just Come In 3’s

I have not posted the first 3 items here, but feel I must. All within a week or so.

I took a neighbor to the airport Wednesday and on the way we noticed that there was a noise from the passenger side wheel. The brake rotor was scored, so I went to O’Reillys to get parts. They had to order them from the Hilo store and were delivered yesterday.

Also yesterday I had to disassemble that side to measure the disc brake pad, then put it all back together to drive to town to pick up the parts. On the way home it started raining so the project is scheduled for this morning. I’ll have to replace rotors on both sides and the brake pads too. The most time-consuming part is getting the jack in the right position because I don’t have a concrete area on the farm to steady things.

UPDATE: All done. the second side took all of an hour including a break.

SIGH! Now I have tractor problems. The whole front wheel base came off. It looks as though 4 bolts are gone. Two of which may not have ever been on there, but I can’t see yet.

Unlike a lawn mower, this cannot be easily raised. I used the front end loaded to lift the front up, but the wheel base is very heavy! MY neighbor has a tractor I can use to help lift, once I decide how I will tackle this.

As you can see, I’m in tall grass and that front wheel is about a yard too far to the back.

Update: I got one tire off and it is starting to rain. Tomorrow I’ll get another jack and get the second tire off. Then I should be able to list the front axle up and get it attached. There is a part I may need but won’t know until tomorrow.

Image may contain: shoes
Then I lost a filling. We are up to 3 now.
Today is Wednesday.Rather than take a chance on using another tractor to lift mine, I went into town to get a few parts.

First stop was Ace Hardware. I needed 4 bolts and washers. What I thought would be a quick trip was excruciatingly slow because some guy was standing eight where my parts were and he was opening every drawer and looking at every screw and bolt. I decided to head on over to the tool section for a screw extractor and decided that I would wait on that purchase. Then back to the bolts and the guy was gone. I found the closest ones to what I need but there were no bags handy. At Ace you put the items in a bag, mark the bag with a part number, quantity and price and head to the register.

Finally at the register we could not find my Ace Rewards card. I gad placed it on the counter barcode up and it blended into the sign taped to the counter.

Next was Lowes. There is a special bracket used to top off a 4×4 post so I got that and a flat top to use as the bottom. I will cap both ends uf a 4×4 and use it and a jack to list the one side of the tractor up an inch so I can free a wheel. I got those and some screws and headed to self checkout which freed up. I scanned two of the three items but the third would not scan. The assistant tried, then took it to her station, then to another station and finally scanned it and came up with a price. I had a $100 bill I wanted to cash so I slid it into the machine. I got change out but then, like a broken slot machine, popped up a message that it was out of $5 bills. Since it had already started to pay me, the cashier called a supervisor. When she checked, it was out of money and had the cashier pay be from her till.

Then off to Costco because I wanted a salad and a few things. I saw a new item. For $16 you get like a chicken and a half or maybe it was 3 smaller ones, mac salad and green beans in the cold case. It was a nice big dinner for 2 or 3 people.

Unfortunately I have no room in the fridge or that much. I grabbed M&M’s cookies, breakfast drink mix and a bottle of gin (generic by the way, for medicinal purposes only). The line for a Caesar salad was 25 people long so I headed out.

On to Safeway for tonic water and soda. I used the self-checkout and it missed one of my soda bottles (probably because I scanned too fast). The clerk had to reset it and then again come over to reset it so I could pay.

I drive towards home and decided to get a sub at Subway. As I neared the place my brakes started squealing. These are the ones I just replaced and have been working. I could not see any problem and I may have left the emergency brake slightly on. Anyway into Subway and the girl was on her first day. I didn’t say anything when I only got half the lettuce because her boss was hovering nearby and she was nervous. We have all had a first day at a job!

On the way home, the brakes didn’t act up so who knows?
I got home, put the items away and grabbed the cordless saw and drill. Pulling the trigger was met with dead silence. The battery was dead. I pulled out the charger and it is not lighting up.

It is staring to sprinkle out, so the day is done.

Thank goodness there is nothing hard about opening that bottle of gin!

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So I took an online Myers-Briggs test. It says of me:


INTP – You are eternally condemned to researching an extremely vapid topic using wildly inaccurate methods, mostly involving interviewing people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

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Can Brakes Break?

On Wednesday I was taking my neighbor Colin to the airport for a trip. On the way we noticed a noise from up front, probably the brakes. Of course, Colin is the auto guy, not that I can’t find my way around under the hood. Still, I bounce questions off him, even if I think I know the answer.

I pulled into Costco which was close to the airport and could see that the rotor on the front passenger side was damaged. On cars with disc brakes, the rotor looks like a flat smooth disc. The brake pads push against the front and back of this and create friction to slow you down and stop. This one rotor looked like Saturn with its rings. The pad on that side had worn down and scored the surface badly. The wear indicator is a piece of metal attached to the brake pad that usually hovers over the rotor. As the pad wears, that indicator moves closer to the rotor and finally starts scraping the outside on the rotor. That noise is a warning that you need to replace the pads. For some reason the wear indicator didn’t work this time.

I pulled into O’Reillys Auto and they didn’t have the rotor in stock and it would be there tomorrow, being sent over on the daily delivery truck from the store in Hilo. The clerk also mentioned that I should measure the brake pads because there are two sizes.

On the way home I tried my best not to use the brakes. I did that by downshifting into a lower gear before stepping on the brakes. The brakes were stopping the truck anyway however I was trying to mitigate damage.

By the time I got home it has started to rain so a closer investigation was out of the question.

In a perfect world I would have a concrete pad or driveway to work on the car. In my world there is a semi-flat area somewhat near the house on top of lava rock. It takes all I can to pull the jack along and get it situated under the truck. This jack has 4 wheels and works best when it can move slightly to balance itself as it raises the vehicle. I have to preposition things if it does not go up smoothly.

I just got new tires all around  and these are a bit larger than the last set. I noticed that there is a spot where the tire rubs against the wheel well and have to remember not to twist the wheel all the way when turning.

I got the brake caliper pulled away from the rotor and popped out a pad. I had forgotten to ask which measurement I needed so I took a photo of the pad along with a ruler. I probably should have had my glasses handy. Then I reassembled the brakes. Soon I got a call that my parts were in. Again playing the downshift game I headed to town. Turns out I have the larger pads in my truck. I could have paid for both types and returned the ones that were wrong, but by taking the assembly apart at home I assured myself that there was nothing else I needed, save for a C clamp. These are used for compressing the pistons so the thicker new brake pads fit. When you step on the brake pedal the fluid presses these pistons which push the pads against the rotor. Next time I’ll buy the brake clamp that works betetr than C clamp I got.

As I was leaving O’Reillys parking lot I got a call from Costco saying that I had left a set of keys there when I got new tires a while back. With trepidation (and squealing brake noise) I decided to get the keys even though it was a mile the wrong direction. I also picked up some meat and break for the Friday pot luck get-together the next night.

As I neared the house it started raining hard enough that I knew I wasn’t going to get any brake wok done.

So this morning I put the truck in position, lugged the jack over and again disassembled the passenger side wheel. The caliper came off easily but I had to hand the assembly out of the way because I didn’t want to have to remove any hoses.The pads came out and I set them aside. The rotor did not want to come off. I headed inside to look up a video on Youtube. Because my truck has 4-wheel drive, there may be a different procedure I need to follow. It turns out that the non 4-wheel drive rotor has a nut you need to remove but with my vehicle one just needs to bang the back of the rotor to loosen any rust that may be holding it. Since I was not planning upon reusing the rotors, I could bang. It came off in just a minute or two.

The new rotor slips back on the lugs and I used a lug nut to hold it in place. After a bit of finagling I compressed the pistons, got the new pads in and got the caliper assembly back on. It took almost as long to find one clip that I misplaced to finish that side.

Getting all the equipment and tools together and tackling that one side took a couple hours. I started the engine and tested the brakes. All seemed fine. Because of a pain in my hip, I opted to go inside and watch a bit of TV.

I headed back out and jacked the drivers side up. It is a mirror image of the other side as you might have guessed. It went a lot faster and I was done on that side in less than an hour.

A bit more TV and then I made sandwiches for the pot luck. I headed down to the park but with a couple of the neighbors on trips, I was the only one there and left just before sunset. Now I have a plate full of sandwiches to eat. Some will go to the trash as I can only eat so much.

So how much did the brake job cost me?

I got the pair of heavy duty rotors for $170. The brake pads cost $44 but I got $20 off because I turned in 2 car batteries I found for a gift card. So out of pocket was less than $200 for parts and if I had to do the job again today would have taken just a couple hours of work. Once you do a brake job like this you find that it can be pretty easy. Granted there can always be unexpected issues that crop up and hidden problems not anticipated, but someone handy with tools  and a view of the proper Youtube video could have done this.

Online forums suggest $350 to $400 or more for replacing the front pads and not including new rotors. I think this would have been a $600 job with the better rotors at a dealer.

A video showing how easy it is:

That clip he removes at 4 minutes in is the one I misplaced but finally found.

The video makes it look pretty easy doesn’t it? It really can be that easy! I am not a mechanic but have worked on various vehicles over the years. I guess my first time was changing spark plugs in 1969 or so. I also worked at a service station and did repairs. The gasoline was about 29 cents a gallon at the time! I did oil changes, tire repairs, replaced a radiator and so on back then. Over the years I have replaced brakes, belts, alternators, radiators, hoses and sensors for speed, oil pressure and so on.

I once had a disagreement with a dealership. My Honda Passport would not stay in cruise when the cruise control was on and the speedometer was erratic. The shop mechanic at the dealer said I needed to have the dashboard replaced because the speedometer was an integral part of the system. I told him bull, it sounds like the speed sensor to me. I could not get him to relent, so I went to the parts department and had them order me a speed sensor. In this vehicle, there is a sensor that it attached to the transmission. As the vehicle moves, it sends pulses to the computer. The computer changes that pulse to a voltage which moves the meter on the dashboard. In older cars they had a cable that as the vehicle moved, the cable twisted and moved the needle on the dash. Now the computer doe that electronically.

Had I not had the cruise control and the computer, I probably would have gone with the suggestion to replace the dashboard speedometer. However, in this vehicle the computer looks at the pulses coming from the sensor and notes the voltage it produces. Then as the vehicle moves, it adjusts the amount of fuel going to the engine to keep that voltage at the same level, thus essentially making the vehicle move at the same speed.

Having a bit of electronics background can help you quite a bit these days with vehicles. I never thought that I would ever get in a disagreement with an expert in cars and be right. Stranger things have happened!

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You Deserve A Good Paddling

I don’t do standup paddling. I have nothing against it, but I have no time.

A while back I tried to help a local company by purchasing a domain name for their existing website. For whatever reason they did not take advantage of it and I decided to sell the domain name to someone else.

We have a local Facebook group which allows you to buy and sell items and seems to be run by a website design company. They offer websites for what I consider a very expensive price. I tried to post the domain name sale there but the posting never showed up. Also, since that company also charges $200 a month for services I offer at less than $100 a year, I was concerned that this guy would grab the name and resell it himself for gross profit.

I decided to offer the domain name at a reasonable $40 (the cost to purchase an unused name is about $12), so I though that was reasonable.

I contacted a couple local paddle board and surf shops but they did not jump at the chance for a simple domain name. A quick Google search turned up the perfect spot for this name.

The domain name is KonaPaddle.Com and was just purchased by KonaOne, a Swedish company. The whole transaction took only a couple of house from the time I contacted them to the time I pointed the domain to their existing site and gave them info on how to complete the porting to their own hosting company.

I feel I did the right thing in keeping the cost reasonable and finding the right owner.

So in a small way, I guess I am part of the paddle board community now.

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A Warm Wind Is Blowing

I installed the weather station in a temporary location on the farm. You can view it at: Weather .

I will have to place it up higher because I have some trees a bit too close which can affect the wind speed and direction readings. One better place to put it is above he roof, however it is a metal roof and that can add heat to the temperature readings.

I also am limited as to how far from  the house I can place the unit. The sending unit communicated via 900 mhz radio link to a unit inside, which then uses wifi to connect to my router and send data out to the internet. The unit in the house requires 120 volts and although I could place it some where else on the property, it makes sense to leave that receiver in the house.

The sending unit also has to be somewhat accessible as the rain gauge part needs to be cleaned out periodically.

There is a link on the weather page to have a webcam, but sinc it took me 15 years to get around to putting up a weather station, I wouldn’t hold your breath on a webcam!

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Recent Events

After many years I decided to buy a used weather station. I am in process of putting it in its permanent location but first have to replace a broken wing vane.

I am still waiting on my solar panels to arrive. A recent emails says it is still being held for shipment. I decided to try using low-cost UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) as my battery backup to see if that will work.

I bought saw blades to better cut weeds at both farms. The Ebay seller requires a physical address, but the blades came in a USPS Flat Rate envelope that would have been appropriate being shipped to my PO box than my farm. My farm mailbox is rarely used as it is not convenient and far from the house.

The bathroom at the other farm is finished and the stove installed. I have to post a giveaway entry on Craigslist to get rid of the old stove.

I will try to get the tractor over there soon as I want to mow part of the farm. The problem is the area I need to get to has a wall and drop off and I have not found the perfect way to get the tractor to it. I have to be careful on any kind of slope or drop that I don’t tip over. I am considering building a short ramp with rocks and sand, both of which are in abundance over there. The police issued a notice that tractors should not be driven on the highway, but some of us do it anyway. The stretch I travel is about 1/4 mile or so with a shoulder in many places to pull over. There is a 35 MPH speed limit where I need to drive and I can get my speed up to about 18 MPH. I get someone to drive behind me with flashers on and pull over if there are vehicles starting to back up. I cross my fingers I won’t get a ticket. A trailer capable of hauling the tractor and mower is many thousands of dollars and I would not be using it often. There is no one nearby with one I can borrow.

I am preparing to have my outside steps replaced, the bathroom downstairs fixed, the old garage torn down and some other things. Soon I’ll tackle the kitchen and upstairs bathrooms. When the garage is removed I’ll replace it with a simple building to be used as a nursery and processing area. I’m not quite sure exactly how I’ll use the building which is why I have not yet started that project.

I have not yet decided if I will attend my High School reunion this year. I am waiting to see where my Mom will be at the end of this month. Traveling to either place is going 1/4 way around the world.

Remember that cellphone that got drenched in the ocean? I was unable to get it working again. I was going to try replacing the battery but after taking it apart last time and putting it back together, some of the screws got damaged or corroded. In any event, they don’t want to come back out. It was a $200 phone so I guess it could have been worse.

There was plant sale this past weekend but I decided not t ogo. It would have been a 60 mile trip each way and I’m not ready to plant anything else right now. In fact I am trying to grow some replacement coffee trees for my farm.

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Coffee Farm Weather Station

About 15 years ago I moved to my coffee farm in Hawaii. One of the first things I wanted to do was to was put up a weather station. Here on the Big Island we have very diverse weather and even have micro-climates where the weather can vary considerably just a few miles away. For example, we have a desert region close to a rain forest.

I never got a weather station and have regretted it since. That all changed recently. I went to Ebay and bought a used system and it appeared here this week. It arrived in decent shape with only one part damaged., the wind direction vane which had 1/2 of the post broken. I tried super glue but when I went to install the unit in the test location I found that piece had fallen off and I can’t find it.

I went to the Abient Weather website and found one for $9 but the cost to ship was $45. Seems they don’t normally use USPS. I sent Customer Service a message and they agreed to ship the small part by USPS and would refund the difference in shipping cost to me. I appreciate their customer service!

I reset the unit and configured it. Testing showed all seems to be fine.

I created a Wunderground account and the station will be available online for those who want to see weather data from my farm. It will take a few more days for me to get a permanent pole installed in a place away from tall trees which affect the wind speed and direction readings. The unit I chose communicates with the console base station via 915 mhz, then the console communicates via wifi to my internet connection. If I want to put the sending unit far from the house, then the console has to be near it and then a wifi router nearby. That means that I can’t just run a LAN cable to the unit wherever it is. If I put the console outside somewhere then I can solve the problem with some extra equipment. I may do that later. For now I’ll make do.

I assume this all may take a week or two to work out how best to mount this and where. Then the reading should show up at the following:

I think that once the system comes online, the location on the map will be correct also.

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