CAN YOU FIX THAT???????

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Seajay

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YOU WANT A JOB?

Some years later we went back out to Colorado to go elk hunting.  There was me and Jim and Roger and we went out for a ten day stay at the ''Terra Alta'' ranch north of Gunnison as I remember. 

We took Roger's station wagon because we figured we needed a place to haul all the ''trophy'' elk racks we were sure to get.  W R O N G ?...

The ''Terra Alta''  was one of those large ranches out in the Rockies.  As I understand it, the ranch was bigger than a one day horse ride in about any direction.  The land down along the road had been given away to sons and hired hands but the bulk of the ranch went from about a quarter mile off the road to the mountain tops to the west.  It was a BIG PLACE. 

We went out and got our license and our red vests and prepared for the big hunt the next day.  The main problem was weather or lack of same.  For a good elk hunt you need snow in the high country.  This drives the elk down the mountain and makes hunting possible without ''packin' in'' and going to the elk.  Anyhow, no snow, no elk to hunt.  We tried everything.............. Nothing.......

The main house there was a large brick structure with several bed rooms and a large dining area.  After we had been there a few days Paul came to us and asked if we would mind going to the bunk house because he had several ''paying guests'' coming in and he would like to put them in the main house.  We said ok with us and we moved to the bunkhouse.  Four more guys came in and we would all eat together and then have a poker game on the dining room table.  There was an Army Major, a chef from California, a rodeo person, and a guy that was a millionair that owned a chain of stores out in California.  All were good guys and easy to get along with.  They were paying Paul for the elk hunt which included ''feed and found''...... (food and a place to stay)

Paul told us that we would have to come back to the main house for showers because the water heater had crapped out in the bunk house.  I looked it over and found that the burner was full of rust and the igniter was inproperly adjusted.  I got some tools from the tool shed, took out the burner, cleaned and adjusted everything, put it back together and in thirty minutes we had hot water.  Paul came over to check on us and was amazed.....
''How the heck did you fix that water heater?  It has not worked in years....''
I told him that I was a ''master mechanic'' back in NC and I had tended a boiler bigger than this cabin and the principal of ''firing'' is the same........just smaller......
The next day dawned sunny and warm so no hunting that day.  One of the hired hands was grumbling about a hay bailer that would run for about three minutes and then stop and he had hay to ''get up'' before bad weather set in.  I asked him to show me the ''bailer''.   
I grabbed a tool box and we headed for the machine which was setting in the middle of a hay  field.  It was a large machine with a gas engine.  I looked everything over while Sweet (the hired hand) watched over my shoulder.  He said that it would go for about a minute and then stop for no reason.  You could let it ''set'' for about thirty minutes then it would go for a few minutes and stop again.  I took a screwdriver and removed the fuel filter.  It was so plugged up that I could hardly get air thru it.  I took a punch and literally punched a hole thru the filter and put it back in the line.  I told Sweet to give it a try and the machine fired up and he made three circles around the field without a problem.  I told him that they must replace that filter ASAP and we headed back to the ''big house''.

It seems that these people know a lot about horses and cattle and very little about machinery.  While I was there I fixed the starter on a jeep, the belts on two snow mobiles and several other pieces of equipment that had ''died'' on them and no one could fix. 

Paul came to me and asked if I would like a job here at Terra Alta.  You will be our ''fixit man''.    He offered me ''feed and found''  (basic food and a small house), a truck to drive with free gas for same and 1200 dollars a month.  Mind you this was back in the late sixties and twelve hundred a month was goooooood  money...
He told me that one of the main problems out there was finding someone that could ''fix things'' that busted.  I thought about it for a while and the next day I told him no because my wife Linda probably would not move to Colorado.  He told me that the offer would stand and if I changed my mind or got another wife, I would have a job just for the asking. 
We never did kill an elk on that trip but we met some wonderful people and made memories that can not be bought.  Sometimes I think of the Terra Alta and wonder how my life would have turned out if Linda and I had moved to Colorado and made our living on one of the larger ranches in that area.
Such is life and memories of an old man reliving his youth.......nuff said ?..cj
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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Location
Davison Michigan
SeeJay.. I guessed the problem with the bailer even before you posted it :).

I grew up on a dairy farm.. When you are on the bask 40 and the tractor won't tract... You gotta know how to fix it or it's a long walk to the house phone to call for fix it man.

You should have also told them "Buy clean fuel, Keep it clean" But of course if they had an International Harvester they already had been given that advice (It is printed on the fuel cap for every Farmhaul tractor).
 

Seajay

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Nov 7, 2011
Posts
448
John, it amazed me how little they knew about machinery.  It seemed that sometime in the past they had a person that kept up all the machinery because they had a nice building with lots of tools and stowage for at least three cars or tractors in one building but no one seemed to know how to keep things running.  The jeep that I fixed was to put a new bendix on the starter.    Simple.......  All they could tell me was that ''it makes a funny noise when you try to start it''..................  They were very smart when it came to horses and cows.  they could look at a  pile of horse poop and tell you how old the horse was, what he or she had for lunch for the last couple of days, how his general health was and the direction of his travel when he ''pooped''....(i am teasing about some of this of course).... Amazing.   
Seemingly they had been calling down to Gunnison and getting a mechanic to come to the ranch when they had a problem.  The great problem was that often times the mechanic would not get up there for a week or so.  They were always so amazed when I could fix something so easily. 
I realize now that a man could have made a very good living out there just ''fixing vehicles'' .........cj.....

Lets all pray for the safety of our troops.  All of the ''sand box'' is not worth one more of our youngest and finest..................... BRING 'UM HOME NOW.....................nuff said .....cj..
 

John From Detroit

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Location
Davison Michigan
Starter Bendix on an IN-Line six or 4 cyliner engine, 15 minutes tops.  (I used to have an AMC back when such existed that ate those things for lunch, Got to be real good at fixing them).

Some people are like that.. Another thing.. Something goes wrong they freeze, I mean "Deer in the headlights" time.. What's the worst thing you can do when "Stuff" happens.. Yup, that is kind of high on the list.

These same folks won't freeze if a tire blows at 60 MPH, No, they will stand on the brakes with both feet. (And that is #1 on the list of bad ideas).

I suspect the non-describable truck driver in your other thread did just that when that tire blew too.
 

Redman

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Aug 14, 2010
Posts
60
I just discovered your stories Seajay, and I want to tell you that I will read everyone you write from now on. Growing up back in 40's and 50's on a farm (not a ranch) right next to REAL ranching country, I can relate to your tales.

Now, farmers and ranchers are different people-must go all the way back to Cain and Abel. Farm kids learned to drive by the time they went to school,got an old truck or car (most likely a model A) to fix as soon as they became a teenager, could rebuild a carburator, rewind a starter or a generator, scrape a re-babbited bearing and patch an old bald tire "quick as you could wink your eye' at that cute girl that could cook an apple pie.

Now ranch kids got a pony as soon as they could walk, a lariat a couple of years later and had trained a roping horse by the time they were twelve. Learned to ride broncs and steers, calf roping and team roping and that cute girl over on the next creek was training her pole bending horse.

Both worked with their families as soon as they were big enough to ride in the old pickup or walk out to the corral.Fixing a farm machine was a farm kids job, most ranches still relied on horses or manual labor. It was a horse with a sore foot that needed to be fixed, or a cow that needed a calf pulled -they learned it all, the reason most coming of age stories happen on a ranch with horses and a hired hand that instructed the young'un in becoming a man. A job that the school or church did in farm country.

So yes, mechanics were a black art on many a ranch until mid 60's. but they knew more about the life of man or beast than the rest of us can ever hope to learn. Miss those days but at least at coffee I can relive it with old friends.
 

Seajay

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Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Posts
448
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN......  It seems that there is  a ''following'' created from my writings and, for what it is worth,  I have a blog with tons of Sea Stories, Rememberances from when I was a kid back in the forties and fifties and just general stuff that I have managed to write down over the past few years.  For those of you who have nothing better to do, I invite you to go give it a ''look see'' like several others have done. 
http://seajaythesailorman.blogspot.com/
There is the address if you are interested.  Feel free to share it with friends, enemies, mother in laws, wives, all your kin and everyone you know that can read......
Sure hope I aint breakin' some rule by showing you this.........c.j....

Hug a vet and tell them ''THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE''  (they like that)......cj
 

John From Detroit

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Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,969
Location
Davison Michigan
Interesting Redman.. I grew up on a dairy farm (Well half dairy half swine) Which came in kind of handy in college when we had to determine the sex of a near-term featal pig (took me about 2 seconds, actually less, many of my classmates took much much longer and got the wrong answer,, Average in the room 20 +/-1, and they could not tell the boys from the girls). 

I am not much good with a lariat.... But I can pull a calf, Saddle a horse, or dig a rock out of it's hoof.  And more.  And have done all of that.  I can drive a tractor as well  Load a hay wagon or stack it in the loft (Done that many times) Heck, I even know how to start a Ferguson TO series tractor (not everyone can do that the starter switch is kind of hard to find).

OH, and when I grew up and went to college I took electronics courses.

SO I'm very much cross trained in several areas.

Most recently,, Machinist work.. I had to rebuild one of the compartment locks on this house..  Seems Tri-Mark is enamored of base metal (Low cost white metal) and on the striker bolts the weakest point on the bolt, ,,, Is also the high stress point.

When it breaks you machine a slot into the back side, lay a STEEL mending bar in there, Drill a couple holes, add screws and epoxy, (Make sure it all lines up) let sit overnight,  Smooth with the angle grinder a bit and put it all back together.

That steal plate likely won't ever break.
 

BruceinFL

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Mar 12, 2005
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3,205
I would have got me a new wife.  ;D ;D ;D (But don't tell herself I said that.)
 

jmugs

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Nov 4, 2012
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On the road
Bruce, I'm with ya on that  ;D

I grew up on a 19,000 acre ranch. Many has been the time I wish I had gone back to stay after the service.
 

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