Coping: With “Spring ‘Ranch-keeping’

Or, we could call this morning’s Coping articling “Shop Time for Bozo.”

A more (or less) practical report this morning on progress being made on spring cleaning of Ure’s all-purpose Old Man Labs support shop.

The organizational plan is blocked out as Excel gobs but you can get the general idea: Red for saws, gray for bench, black a lathe, green is the power center for the solar, yada, yada…


Across the top, the first red square is the vertical milling machine, the black one is the 9×20 metal lathe and then the power center. In real life (IRL) it looks like this:


Best thing I ever did was cover the shop walls with polycarbonat5e panels instead of plywood.  See all that natural lighting?

Moving south, (or next row down) you’ll find the rest of the metal working gear including the box & pan brake, buffer wheels with rouge, TIG welder, gas welder, and in the red cart below is all the tooling for the lathe (not visible behind the brake).


The shelving to the right of this view (east on the map) is where paints and adhesives are stored. If we turn to the right, we get to the metal chop saw and the main compressor:


I could go on boring you to tears with this, but being the shop docent the main thing to note is that I’m getting it all squared away (again) and this time more emphasis on putting tools within easy reach.

A few weeks back I mentioned the joys of having a utility cart to stack stuff on – or to use as a parts-picker/tool collector when you need tools at a different bench.

Or when you need to wheel a bunch of boxes out to the burn barrel…


Turns out the bottom shelf is a marvelous place to store the portable compressor, too.

Next up in the battle for order is taking on the woodpiles. There are a couple of them in the shop. Seems like the simplest way to make them (mostly) disappear is to get outside and build another deck and such, so that’s on the agenda for this spring.

You would be surprised how many hours can be spent looking at woodpile solutions.  Worst decision process in the world.  Seems you just pick an arbitrary size (one board foot) and go with that.

Elaine’s not too keen on adding more “area” to  the house. But I have this dream of a kind of  “lean-to” kind of affair off the recording studio which will be perfect place to grow lettuce and other plants year-round.  It would be closer than the greenhouse and garden and seems to me a swamp cooler might just be the ticket to keep things moist and not wilted.

Lettuce is problematic this way and that’s what drives here.  Using more of that polycarbonate paneling would make it a two or three day project.  A month is I measure things.

A figure to build the lean-to out of ten foot 2-by-4’s and toss the cheapo swamp cooler.  Maybe a cold tub for soaking.  If THAT doesn’t work out, then maybe I could raise Tilapia or fresh water shrimp there…

Speaking of which, (building things, not Tilapia) latest issue of Family Handyman has a good article on using expanding foam for setting ground posts in lieu of schlepping and mixing those 80-LB sacks of Qwik-Crete. Good stuff, but my back kills me just looking at ‘em.

There are 140 bags of Qwik-crete holding the base of the big ham radio tower.  I think most of the worker lawsuits for concrete abuse have been dropped now.  Someone will need a D-9 with a rock claw to get it out.

These projects will run about the speed of maple syrup at mid-winter (the shop org stuff) because there is a new deck to be tossed in front of the 180 Room (so named because we have a 180-degree view of the property from it) and then there’s tilling, garden setting, getting the mower running again…so there goes one day a week by the time I get writing and research chores done.  I told myself when I get to be 68, I’m going to cut back to 12 hours a day no matter what.  Some delusion, huh?

But let’s see how much of this is actually done before the doors to Hell open up.  That happens around May 15th in these parts. We won’t touch 60 again until October…

The only problem I haven’t worked through is where to put the built-in shop vacuum system. Picked one up for a song about 10-years ago as one of those super-deals from Harbor Freight and never did get around to putting it in. Been spending our time on everything BUT the shop. So it sat in the Tool Loft. 

The price I paid, by the way, was so cheap it was ridiculous.  As we advised our readers back when (when the Chinese tools were dirt cheap)  “Buy all you can – they will go up in price.”

No kidding – they have!  The unit I paid around $69 on super sale for is now $149.  Heck, I even picked up the accessory kit, although those are about the same price as before.

Still, tools – the kind a nation needs to have in order to remanufacture itself – still seems to be like a reasonable investment along with av-gas (that won’t degrade like this methanol-laced varnish waiting to f/over your carburetor on any small engine you own that we’re force-fed by thems that’s gonna save us but haven’t worked a day of real work in their lives.

Near as I can figure, the only other angle is methanol-based gas is a full-employment for carburetor companies make-work program.  Is that you, Rochester?  (You’d only get that double entendre if you’re over 50, lol. One of the ‘bennies’ of aging, I suppose…hardly a fair trade but anything’s an improvement.) 

About the time I get the shop done we’ll be ready to be put out to pasture. I’m reminded of the old saying though which goes “He who dies with the most toys, wins!

(What I’m not sure, but I’ll be too busy for the next few months to worry about it.

Blissfully shorter columns are on the way and more on the homesteading and urban prepping stuff. Markets don’t go up forever so it’s time to be getting ready for when they don’t.

I’ll post more pictures along the way, too, since many of my projects would fit in a “Handyman’s Book of How NOT To Do Things.”

Suggestions and comments welcome…Even ideas what to put in the shop first aid kit.  I’m thinking a phone with 9-1-1 preprogrammed would be the right answer…

Write when you get rich,

9 thoughts on “Coping: With “Spring ‘Ranch-keeping’”

    • Yeah, really! You’ve repeatedly said that rapid response is an issue with you as you age. If heart issues are important to you, get an A.E.D. (Automatic External Defibrilator) Put it somewhere accessible to home, shop, or outdoor work… like on the porch. You have a fire extinguisher, don’t you?

  1. A little OT for the coping section:Evidently,intense snowstorms are great for daytime DX’ing.

    For the second time this winter,I was able to pick up a station in Cleveland 440 miles away during the mid-morning hours.

  2. “About the time I get the shop done we’ll be ready to be put out to pasture” I’d find it painful to separate myself from all these tools; And you thought about moving, perplexed?

  3. Hello, George,
    All that space and equipment, plus the skills to use it all, THAT’S what I call WEALTH! You can make damn near anything you want or need! BTW, someone commented about an AED. What about a properly crafted ‘stun gun’? In case of need, just apply the two properly spaced points to the proper area of the chest and push the button. probably less painful than using jumper cables and an ignition coil.


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