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Intelligent Despair

The latest from Zaycon Foods- 93/7 ground beef being parceled up for the Foodsaver bags.  Then into the freezer...

The latest from Zaycon Foods- 93/7 ground beef being parceled up for the Foodsaver bags. Then into the freezer…

Easter Sunday 2014 and we are in the middle of a full blown rig move.  The Eagle Ford never sleeps.  The lust for the petro-products trapped deep in this South Texas shale  trumps all else.

…………………..

Time was, up in South Dallas,  I was 10 minutes from anything I needed.  Super Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, Auto-zone. NAPA,  Ace Hardware  — you name it and I was no more than 5 stop lights away.  Even had a bonafide good guy neighborhood mechanic  a block away; the kinda guy you could take your car to and tell him the front end made a clunk-bang  noise when you turned right and a few hours later he would call and tell you what the clunk-bang was and how much dinero to fix it.  Clincher was he fixed it right the first time and you didn’t have to max out a credit card to pay for it.

Now that Miss K and I have gone and embraced the  NOMAD lifestyle adjustments gotta be made.   We frequent a most rural area these days and the closest Big Box turns into a trip lasting the best part of the day.  Any service down here in the Eagle Ford Shale comes at a premium.  Good mechanics, welders and handymen name their price – and get it most times.   Anything mechanical is going to break eventually.  The best way I see it is to get in front of what you can and hope for the best.  Such was the case recently.

I took the Big Ass Suburban in to the local Chevy House last fall for a sick transmission. It was fixed to the exhaustion of available funds and noted I had a front axle seal leaking. The estimated repair cost for the seal was $400 and it was back to the gate to build up the repair fund balance.  2 months later Miss K returned to get the repair done and I was the recipient of a later in the day phone call…….. It started out ‘I’m afraid I have some bad news.’   He wasn’t joking!  Once the front axle was torn apart on the 4×4, additional problems were most evident.  A broken axle, a cracked hub, the axle seal on the other side, bearings, bushings, gears and other various what have you.  I throwed it off on the rough lease roads and pot-holed Farm to Markets we have been running on for the last 3 years.  As bad as it hurt, we coughed up the nearly $3k for repairs.  The good news is most of the front drive train forward of the transfer case is new with a GM OEM lifetime warranty on a goodly number of the parts.  We were out a vehicle for ten days and that was an unsettling feeling.  I had worst case nightmares of legs being broke falling out of the Princess Palace,  rattlesnake bit dogs and other calamities raining down on our heads with no transportation available but the time actually passed easily.  Even though the event fell on us unannounced, we survived pretty damned good off the fat we had stored up.  Miss K  availed herself of the standing offer from the rig boys  ‘We are headed to town. You need anything?‘ that we usually defer for the few necessaries we ran out of.

When you separate the fly shit from the pepper, as a NOMAD, you gotta have the means to be mobile and that is a stone fact. You do what you gotta do.  Miss K  picked up the big ass Suburban and the mechanic told her the rear main oil seal on the engine was leaking as well and it would be around $800 to fix it.  That little task is beyond my laying-on-my-back-in-the-caliche-gravels mechanical ability. Be remembering we are dealing with an 8.1 liter 497 cubic inch big block engine.  You gotta loose the transmission from the engine to get to that seal.  But I had a good idea what was up with it leaking.  Several months back, I was the victim of an 80 percent oil change.  Went in to the place, told ’em I ran straight 30 weight and I preferred the quart bottles over the bulk oil and ‘Would that be a problem?’ Nope, no problem. So I was hangin’ out watching them go at it because that is what you do when you got folks of unknown quality messin’ with your stuff.   They started to pour the new oil back in and something didn’t look quite right with the bottle.  I crossed the red line that keeps the customers out of the work area and saw he was pouring 10W30 multi-grade oil in my truck!  I asked WTF was going on and he said they did not have straight 30 weight and this would work just as well.  80 percent at its’ best friends and neighbors. Soon after, the rear seal started leaking and to my bad, I have put 10w30 BACK in it for 2 more oil changes because I was a slacker and didn’t feel like doin’ it myself.

Faced with an $800 repair bill, it is high time for me to tighten up.  I am postulating the lower viscosity multi-grade was leaking past the seal and going back to the straight 30 might fix it up.  Doing it yourself is also doing it right.  With that in mind,  I ordered a Lisle Oil Drain Pan, some Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Stabilizer and started hunting for some Pennzoil 30w oil.  That was easier said than done.  Believe it or not, I found the oil online at Ace Hardware on sale at $4 a quart and free shipping to my Ace Hardware which is conveniently located directly across from the Post Office in Cotulla.  I ordered 2 cases and they called me when it came in AND said they appreciated my business.  I expected as much as they are old school like that.   Before I turned into a lazy ass slacker, the recipe was 5.5 quarts Pennzoil, a quart of Lucas and a good AC-Delco filter.  We are back to that now and I will let you know if it stops the hemorrhage.

 

Lug wrench and bottle jack

Lug wrench and bottle jack

Many days I feel like I have neither the time nor the money to get where I need to be at and who is to say how much is enough anyway?  Just a reflection on the times we live in and an unsettled future at best.  I can’t say we will be better off next year, can you? Best thing I know to do is get after it — now.  Perfect example………..  I was piddling outside the other and noticed one of the tires on the Princess Palace was low; looks to be a slow leaker.  I got to thinking about that and realized I had no way of jacking that axle up OR removing the lug nuts reliably. Amazon fixed that.  I picked up a Ken-Tool Lug Wrench and a Torin 8 Ton Hydraulic Bottle Jack which oughta solve my problem.  Sure, I have TWO other lug wrenches and both of them are made from that soft Chinese steel.  Both of them have one or more of the sockets rounded off because the sumbitches just suck.  The Ken Tool lug wrench is Made in the U.S.A. out of real steel and I am betting it will still be going strong when I am long gone.  Seems like that is the way it goes these days.  About the time I think I have one dilemma reasonably worked out, somethin’ else pops up.

I know we are tired and stressed out and some time off is warranted.  Put in the request just this week for 7-10 days off starting May 1.  Got some family to check in with and some piddlin’ to do that cannot be accomplished when you are pulling 12 hour shifts seven days a week for months on end.

 

End Note: Dreadful Selfish Crime by Robert Earl Keen from the Undone cd   It is always a good time to listen to the Poet of Texas.  9.5 minutes of Keen goodness

“It all comes down to livin’ fast or dyin’ slow.”

Amen Brother Keen!

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8 comments to Intelligent Despair

  • Rob

    A breaker bar & a 6 point socket to fit the lug nuts is the thing to have.
    You put it on so you can gently bounce in the lefty-loosee direction and that tight SOB that won’t come loose with the “tee” wrench cause all you can do is use your arms when you are by the side of the road in the wet-cold-nasty place will come off.

    Actually a ‘tee’ wrench can work, I used a jackstand to support the outboard end so I could bounce on it once.

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  • Ken

    Yep, them mechanics that really know how and what to fix are a thing of the past. Finding one is hard to say the least. Used to have a couple in West Texas, twins they were. Wife could take in the car and say it don’t drive right. Go back in the afternoon and they would say, ashould be OK now. Sure ’nuff, ti was, and you never saw a bill that said it was a bad muffler bearing. Honest prices, honest work, honest men. sigh. Found some in Lubbock I think might be close.
    Good luck on the surburban leak. The lucas ought to help a lot. Enjoy your time off.

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  • Don

    Had a trailer with a very slow leak in one of the tires. Took it to Discount Tire (I know not an option for you) they couldn’t find a puncture but cleaned the rim and remounted. No more problems.

    Don

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    • Andrew

      Could be Don.

      I am thinking more along the lines of a mesquite thorn.

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  • Moral of that story seems to be: Thank goodness for the Internet. If you know what you want, is there anything you can’t find on it, as long as you can get it delivered?

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    • Andrew

      Took us awhile to get UPS and FedEx trained to come out here.

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  • Coal

    Just went thru a bunch of vehicle crap myself, sold everything I had and bought one good used truck, which two weeks later I sent in for transmission rebuild. One truck and one atv thats enough for me. Less is more lol

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    • Andrew

      Glad to see you survived another winter.

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