Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mr. Fixit

Buena Vista, CO

Mr. Fixit.  Don't I wish the name applied.  But Modesty forbids.

However, from time to time throughout this sybaritic summer, practical things simply have to get done.  I can do it myself or hire it done.  And if Modesty is goig to end up costing me money, then the heck with Modesty. 

Fortunately for Mr. Fixit, the Internet is full of fine folks who ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, and some of them are happy to share.  Some are happy to share even when they don't know what they are doing.  As the banjo player said, "The trick is in the pickin'."

My Honda EU1000i generator ran fine at home in the driveway.  About 500 feet above mean sea level.  I ran pretty good there too.  Both of us started having mild problems at about 7000 feet back in New Mexico, and by the time we got to Salida, CO, it was obvious something had to be done. 

The generator alway starts right up.  But then it dies.  Sometimes that takes 5 minutes, sometimes an hour or more.  The smell of the exhaust implied it was running rich.  Getting the flutters from too much of the good stuff.  I know just how it feels.  But my nefarious plan for charging up my batteries while I am elsewhere depends on the thing running dependably unattended.

Mr. Internet said I needed to install a High Altitude Jet for Colorado.  He also wanted me to switch to premium gas.  The premium helped, but then I moved from Salida to my canyon camp here at 9600 feet, and new gas wasn't going to cut it.  The jet thing had to be done.

The trouble was finding one. 

There are two Honda Equipment dealers in Salida, and neither carries any parts to speak of.  They are happy to sell you a new one.  One of them wanted to ship mine off to Laramie, Wy. for repair.  That didn't get very far.  Then I got to talking to one of the older clerks, and he suggested I talk to "an old boy that comes in here in the morning.  He used to work on them."  So bright and early I tried out my old boy entrapment skills, and durn if he didn't have one!  Just the one.  Probably the only one closer than Pueblo.  Six bucks.

There's a lot to be said for the Old Boy Network.

But it's one thing to have parts, and another to have gumption.  The only thing I ever rejetted in my life was the single barrel carb of a 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser, she of blessed memory.  So I put it off.  But time ran out on me today.

Mr. Internet said it was easy.  Mr. Internet had a 12 Step Plan.

1.  "Turn Engine Switch to off."  I'm there with ya, Doc.  Done.

2.  "Turn Fuel Cap Vent to OFF."
Okay, right in here Mr. Internet started to seem sort of slow to me, so I skipped a few steps.  Then when gas ran all over my tailgate and WOULDN'T STOP, I came back to review Step Two, after which the gusher abated. 

5.  "Drain gas from the carburetor by loosening the screw on the bottom of the carburetor bowl."  Okay, now it's coming back to me.

6. "Close Drain Screw when finished."  Is this guy beginning to sound sarcastic to you?  Is there a camera around here?

It went on like that.  Mr. Internet appears to have dealt with people like me before.  Painfully explicit.  Boringly repetitive.  But that still didn't save me from giving my tailgate an oil bath by over filling from a quart bottle without a funnel.

I was willing to give Mr. Internet a lot of slack, because the generator ran fine when I finished, and continued to so for maybe 10 minutes, when it began to surge.  That's when I went back to look at Step 9:  "Slide Carburetor out BEING CAREFUL WITH GASKETS." 

I was being careful.  I carefully put the gasket in upside down.  After I fixed that, THEN it worked fine.  And continues to do so.  But I'll tell you what.  The Toyota was easier.  And it had springs and little ball bearings to deal with.  But that was long ago.  I was smarter then.

After the successful end of the Carb Debacle, I turned to the water supply.  I was about out.  But in the back of my truck I carry a 26 gallon reserve supply, in a potable water sprayer tank I bought from Northern Tool last year.  I also have an AC high volume water pump to move water to my trailer tank.  Now that I had a working generator to plug the pump into, it was the work of minutes to complete the job. 

I wish I could claim this was my idea, and I'm not above slightly lying to make myself look better.  But you see, I'm afraid of getting caught.  A character flaw, I know.  So I got the idea from Mr. Internet.  It works swell.

Drinking water is available most everywhere.  Sometimes you have to pay for it.  Sometimes you have to work at it.  Water in Buena Vista is available to campers at McPhelemy Park, across from the City Library.  I may have mentioned giddily before now that free wi-fi from the Library is available in the park.  But it bears repeating.  I am typing at a picnic table in the park right now.  But today I learned that the Library leaves the wi-fi on even when they are closed.  Now that is downright friendly.


The water authorities, whoever they are, are not so friendly.  There is one public hydrant, at the front corner of the park.  It is a smooth hydrant.  You can't just screw a garden hose into it.  I could carry water back and forth in buckets, I guess.  Pfah.  You know, it's almost like they didn't want me taking 20 gallons at a time.  Huh.

I used a Water Thief.  This is a rubber tube that screws onto your hose on one end and presses onto the smooth hydrant on the other.  Every camper should have one.  You have to hold it on.  If you let go, and the pressure is at all high, you are going to get wet. 

Ask me how I know.

I have mentioned before how pleasant it is to sit in McPhelemy Park.  Always something going on.  Kids learning to swing, learning to kayak.  Old people walking their dogs and trolling for conversation.  There are electrical outlets available for computer charging, etc.  There's even a curious object I learned was a Poop Bag Dispenser.

One thing in particular caught  my attention today.  About a year old girl and her mom were cruising about the pond on a Paddle Boat.  This kid was just laughing out loud.  A Paddle Boat is a new thing to me, and it looks like a large thin old-style surfboard, with some kind of grippy area on top.  You normally use it standing up, with a long paddle. 

The first time I saw one was last week.  Sitting on a bluff outside Salida, nursing a therapeutic beer or two, I was watching the Arkansas River roll briskly by over some rapids below.  Suddenly around the bend appeared a teenaged girl on a paddle boat, standing straight up, unconcernedly maneuvering around and between the scary looking rocks.  She wasn't even getting damp above the ankles.  And she was clipping along at 20-25 miles an hour as she sped out of sight. 


Ah, youth.

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