Saturday, January 27, 2007

My Beloved

[For those of you who are looking for real information about a Berco snow thrower, you're probably better off with my serious post on the subject.]

"I wonder what it could be?" you say to yourself. "If CherkyB is titling a post, 'My Beloved,' it must be some kind of misdirection. He would never refer to The Mrs. by that title. Nor to the darling HannahC. And probably not even MaxieC, despite that fact that he looks so remarkably like CherkyB did at that age that he would practically be referring to himself as his beloved. Hmmm..."

You ponders.

" must be about whiskey!"

Close, but I am not writing about my beloved whiskey today.

"Your bar, then?"

No. Though I am truly fond of my beloved bar.

"Oh! Oh! Oh! I've got it now. It's another post about your damned lawn tractor, isn't it?"

Close enough.

I got the most wonderful phone call on Friday morning. I was in the shower, so it went to voicemail, but when I got dressed and picked up my phone, there it was.
"Hi. This is Ray from Mac Equipment. You ordered a Berco blower for your tractor, and it's here."
Oh, joy of joys. As I like to say (purely for its humor value and not because it is certified true), it's like my honeymoon all over. Only happy.

Only one problem. My parents are visiting, and we had a full day planned of not-particularly-stressful childrens/grandparents stuff. I had even taken the day off from work. It all started out with a trip to the aquatic center, where MaxieC and HannahC were having their first private swimming lessons. They had both taken group classes back in San Schmose, but here for some reason the group classes were not working out schedule-wise. Being a much less densely populated area, you can't get classes for two different kids in two different age brackets at the same time here like you could back in the Schmose. Being good fathers/grandparents, we sat in the gallery and watched as The Mrs. entertained one child in the pool whilst the other was lessoned.

Excepting, of course, MaxieC refused to be lessoned. So HannahC got an especially long lesson.

Then, well, it was lunch time. So we hit Red Robin, and my mother had declared out of the blue the day before that this was one of her favorite places to eat as they had a great turkey burger.


I the the "5 Alarm Burger," which I suppose would be considered spicy if I were from some place whose culture is steeped in bland cuisine, like Canada, or it's neighbor to the south, Wisconsin. But I'm not.

Then, we were off to see "Charlotte's Web". It was pretty good. I cried my stupid eyes out when Charlotte died. Having childrens really makes you a lot more emotional.

All of this was done without ever leaving the confines of Loverlyland, which also happened to be the city in which my snow blower was anxiously awaiting my pickup. I was so close, I could smell it. Or maybe that was just Greeley.

By the time we got out of the moovie, it was too late to go pick up My Beloved. So I hit the sack for a fitful night's sleep all the while planning the pickup the next morning. I probably should have drunk myself to sleep, but I was drinking Crown Royal, and it's too expensive for that kind of excess. So I had to go to sleep the old fashioned way, by tossing and turning.

Saturday morning rolled around presently, and I played it cool. I didn't rush out of bed. I didn't head to the store before breakfast. In fact, both PopsC and The Mrs. seemed more excited about the trip than I. But, eventually, I packed up PopsC into the pickup, and away we went.

At the store, the shipment had come on a palette with numerous boxes Saran-wrapped together. They broke out a forklift to load it in the back, but it was a bit too high cuz I still have the camper shell on there for the winter. So we had to remove the top few boxes.

I saw one of the boxes was labeled "Counterweight Kit", and I pointed to that box and said to the dude, "That box weight 125lbs." He said, "Ha!" Then he picked it up. It was up about shoulder-height, as he had the forklift lined up for the pickup bed. After about 5 seconds he goes, "Argh! Help me!" So I help him set it in the back of the truck.

"I told you that thing weight 125 lbs." I had to rub it in. I'm like that. Oddly enough, when I got home and noticed there were 6 weights in stead of five, I wondered how it would be 125 lbs. checked the web. It's 150 lbs.

PopsC and I spent the rest of the day putting the thing together. Mostly, this was a one person job, so PopsC spent his time first assembling the pickup ramps I had bought at Lowe's to get this thing out (which were really ramp ends plus a couple 2x12's), and then breaking down the cardboard boxes and shipping palette as they got emptied.

The first step was to assemble something they call the subframe. This is a couple of think hunks of metal that sister to the frame rails to add additional strength. Very cool. The directions were pretty good, but the diagrams were too small to really read, so I spent a bunch of time figuring out exactly what I was supposed to do.

Here's a picture of the left subframe rail, which I did second, and thus was easier to do. It's that shiny black thing in the front, as opposed to the dusty black frame rail behind it.

The other side also has the lifting mechanism, of which that big arched piece of black metal is part. It transfers the motion from the level arm to the front lift bracket.

Underneath, you have to remove the mowing deck and then attach this blower power takeoff. This is held in with a couple big posts and two cotter pins, so it drops right out in the spring when it is time to put the mower back on.

Now we're all hooked up except for the rear counterweights and the tire chains. This is about 5 hours into the install. It doesn't seem like it should have taken that long, but it did. The parts packages contained all the parts for many different tractor models, so you always had boatloads more parts than you used for each step. This causes me to have to go back and recheck the directions every 30 seconds, cuz I really don't like finishing something and having about 50% of the parts still sitting there, unused. If I were to do it again on the same tractor, I could probably get to this point in 2 hours instead of five.

Now we're all done. The rear counterweight frame is attached and the weights are on. This was one of the hardest steps, as it turns out, as my tractor did not have all the holes needed in the rear frame to mount this. So I had to drill a couple of them, which meant I had to take off the rear wheels to get the drill in. Then, the stupid weight lockdown bar was a little teeny bit too short, and we screwed around with this for like a half-hour before deciding to just drill out the cotter pin holes a little bigger so that they'd clear the mounting brackets. That took all of 30 seconds and solved the problem. Wish we'd thought of that first.

In theory, the nice thing about these rear counterweights is that having them hang off the back like that gives you an effective 25% more weight than if you used wheel weights.

I took it for a spin, where I attacked a couple of the snow drifts next to the driveway. It did pretty well, though I managed to break one of the tire chains. I felt some resistance while I was just driving (dry pavement, blower not engaged), so I gave it a big load of gas. Hee hee. Took a few minutes to put the chain back together. I think it had stretched and got caught up on something. The chains are supposed to stretch a whole bunches when they are new. Tomorrow, I'll take some action shots. I didn't today cuz it was well after dark before the test drive. What I can say is that this thing really throws the snow far. I had to aim it downward to keep it under 20'.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new fambly member. I know you waited very impatiently for its arrival. What did you name it? It looks very manly. Will you name it Clarence, or Percy or Poindexter? Maybe even Sue?

Rhonda said...

he normally doesn't name things.
I knows this cuz he once told me.

Rhonda said...

your beloved?
were you talkin 'bout Ray or Berco?

JohnnyB said...

Now that's a reason to move to Ft. Tom Collins.

Very cool.