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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 25-----------JULY 2004

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

Howdy, again from the Ranch!  First day of July, so better get on the stick and get a new newsletter posted.  Got a couple things to report on this month, including (finally) a 500 mile run pulling about 10,000 pounds of  Nomad travel trailer with the "power upgraded" 1999 Ford Diesel.  Also, we have had some serious hunting activity here at the Ranch.

As I write this, Ann, Jennifer, and I are recuperating from a quick trip back to Missouri to visit relatives.  We left Spokane via Southwest Airlines at 7:00AM Friday, June 25th and landed from the return trip at 8:10PM Tuesday, June 29th.  Southwest was pretty much on schedule for the entire trip.  We flew into Kansas City, rented a Ford Explorer, and spent our nights at the Best Western in Bethany, MO.

When I phoned for hotel reservations, I requested two adjoining rooms for two adults and an 8 year old.  The clerk said, "We could put y'all up in a room with two queen beds, it would be cheaper."

I replied, "I'm the only boy in this threesome, and if you think I'm sharin' one TV and one bathroom with them two women, you need to think again!"

She responded, "Hee Hee, you just want a place to hide!"

We got our two rooms!

Jennifer had not seen the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and one of the Great Grandmothers since 1999, at age 3.  Everyone was able to get reacquainted and we all had a good visit.

As you may recall, I reported in both the March and April newsletters, about the power upgrade process I was performing on the Powerstroke Diesel.  This included installing an oversized exhaust system, purchasing a programmer for the Ford's stock computer, and installing gauges to monitor all that interesting stuff that makes for more power.

The programmer I bought has provisions for 3 power levels above "stock".  I have tried all 3 levels under "no load" conditions around home, and for now, have settled on using level 2 for towing the trailer.  I may change my mind later, but level 3 just seems to make potential overload of drive train components too easy.

The 500 mile run mentioned above was to Yakima, WA on Friday, June 4th with the return trip on June 6th.  The purpose of the trip was for me to attend training sessions Friday night and Saturday in order to fulfill another of the requirements for becoming a certified hunter education instructor.  Completion of that step was followed by a 100 question "take home" test that I completed and mailed in about June 10th.  Awaiting word on whether or not I passed.

Now back to the performance of the upgraded Ford.  The one word description of the performance is "Great!"  (You really don't believe you're just gonna get a one word evaluation do you?)  Of course not!  Here's the rest of the story!

Conditions on the Spokane/Yakima run on June 4th included unseasonably warm weather, (low 90's) quartering into an estimated 10 to 15 mph headwind for the last 150 miles.  With a heavy load, there are 4 tough pulls between Spokane and Yakima.  The first is a steep climb of 11 miles out of the Columbia River Gorge.  The other three are between Ellensburg and Yakima, each a little steeper than the Gorge, but not nearly as long.

For each of the harder pulls, I just kicked the automatic transmission out of overdrive with the cutout button and was able to easily travel in third gear.  Running at speeds of 50 to 60 mph, there was no point at which I could not accelerate on any of the grades.

Of course, the 3 major enemies of a turbocharged diesel engine and automatic transmission, pulling heavy loads, are heat, heat, and heat.  Engine coolant, transmission fluid, and exhaust gasses must be kept below certain thresholds to avoid damage.  Excess turbo boost can also be harmful because that too, generates excess engine heat.

The default alarm settings as recommended by BD Power, makers of the installed  gauges, are: 200 F for transmission fluid, 900 F for exhaust temp (post turbo), and 30 psi for turbo boost.  Sustained readings above these thresholds may cause damage, and possibly complete failure!

On the 90+ day in question, transmission fluid temp hovered around 165 to 175 and maxed out at just over 190 on the long pull out of the Gorge.  The pyrometer showed exhaust temp running a nominal 650 to 725 with a high of just over 800, also occurring on the Gorge pull.  Turbo boost never exceeded the low 20's psi.  The stock engine coolant temp gauge ran very little higher than it does when running empty, although the cooling fan clutch kicked the fan into high gear a few times.

For the return to Spokane the weather was much cooler (mid 70's), and we had a slight tailwind, so that was a piece of cake!

Fuel mileage for the outbound run was 9 mpg.  I have not filled the fuel tank and done the math since the return trip, but expect it to be a bit better for not fighting that headwind.

If our plans come to fruition, and the money holds out, a trip to Rapid City, SD is in the works for later this summer, so we'll see if the performance continues to be satisfactory.

We have some hole diggin', dirt moundin', furry little nuisance creatures in our part of the world that can be a serious pain in the kiester.  Usually they stay out in the woods so we don't pay much attention to them.  Over the years, Little Heifer's cat, Pearl, has kept them at bay around the house.  An occasional half eaten trophy on the doorstep attests to that fact.

Well, Pearl's gettin' older and slower, so the creatures are takin' up residence closer and closer to the house where I mow the grass.  One particularly obnoxious critter took up residence in the middle of the circle drive in front of the house, dug more holes than a backhoe, and I declared war!

For years I was ambivalent and assumed the varmints were moles, but examination of the last specimen captured by Pearl and some internet research revealed that they are actually pocket gophers.  So, how does one wage war against a pocket gopher?

Well, I learned their only real vulnerability is that they will re-plug an entrance hole with dirt when it's opened up, so will at least visit that location fairly soon if the burrow is still active.

With that in mind, stage one consisted of digging out the openings of a couple holes, and carefully following the "Government Approved Directions", placing a teaspoon full of poison bait a few inches inside the tunnel.  Well, each time Mr. Gopher just pushed that bait right back out of the hole and plugged it up again!  On two occasions I was awakened from a sound sleep by his loud snickering as he avoided that hazard!  So much for the glowing testimonials on the bait package!

Stage two involved toxic (to gophers) sulfur smoke bombs.  The idea here is to dig out a burrow, light the fuse on the bomb, poke it in the hole and cover with dirt.  Again, according to the package label, a surefire cure for any gopher problem.  Well, after this treatment, I carefully raked the dirt mounds smooth, and retired for the night.  Next morning I found two new huge dirt mounds, each topped with a tiny cardboard sign on a stick saying, "Ha Ha, missed again!"  Now I'm startin' to get mad!

Stage three required a trip to the local farm supply store for a Victor trap that is absolutely, positively guaranteed to rid one of any gopher problem.  This one pokes little spring loaded daggers through any varmint that dares pass over the trigger pan!  When I got home with the new trap, it was promptly tested for functionality.  Repeated setting and tripping with a stick revealed that it would require driving the Big Red Ford over the trigger pan to release the daggers!  Now, this gopher is big, but no way is he heavy enough to make this thing work!  Back in the box and returned to the store.

Stage four was purchased in exchange for the returned trap.  This is a rubber boot with a garden hose attachment that clamps to a vehicle tail pipe.  Instructions say to attach the boot, poke the garden hose in the hole, pack dirt tight around the hose, and run the vehicle for 20 to 30 minutes.  Now this is absolutely, positively, without doubt, gonna kill any gopher on the planet.  Just to be sure, I ran the old diesel truck for an hour with that contraption hooked up.  Next mornin': Two more of them danged little signs on a stick!

Stage five:  Time to get serious!  My ammo supply contains some .38 special shot shells.  These were gathered and loaded into my Colt Trooper revolver.  I opened the hole under the largest dirt pile, plopped into a lawn chair, and waited for Mr. Gopher to come plug his hole.  Three times in the next hour, Mr. Gopher poked his nose out for one millisecond, and darted back to begin pushing dirt up into the opening.  Three times I fired into the moving dirt as it was being bulldozed.  Three times the tiny shot in the .38's would not penetrate the dirt enough to touch the gopher.  Three times I have been awakened by the recurring nightmare of the tiny voice shouting, as Mr. Gopher scurried back into his inner sanctum, "Ha Ha, missed again!"

Stage six:  Call in the heavy artillery!  In this case the heavy artillery consisted of Rick's old youth model .410 single shot with 2 1/2 inch field loads containing #6 shot.  Next morning the hole was again unplugged, and the lawn chair wait began.

Gopher Hunter

Didn't take long.  In about 5 minutes Mr. Gopher again started pushing fresh dirt up into the hole.  Guess what folks?  Number 6 shot from a .410 does penetrate that little dab of dirt he was pushing!

Here's Little Heifer's version of the results of the hunt:

Here's the way it actually happened:

Over the next few days, three more of these dangerous carnivores were eliminated from the area using the .410 method.  As my aim improved, finding intact gophers became more difficult.  Jennifer accompanied me on one hunt on Father's Day afternoon.

Jennifer and Pa Pa on Safari

After the shot, she insisted upon using my digger to probe for the dead gopher.  As the first piece came out of the hole, she exclaimed, "Eewww, Pa Pa, this is grossing me out!"  Of course, she didn't stop digging until body parts stopped appearing on the end of her stick!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from Steve, the farmer who rents my Mother-in-law's farm in Northwest Missouri:

"When you have a foggy mornin', you'll have rain or snow 100 days later."  "I've kept track of that over the last couple of years, and it happens more often than not."

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
Copyright 2002 / 2003 / 2004 - All Rights Reserved

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