Fall updates on life, fleet management, and the pursuit of happiness

With Halloween now behind us…

… I wanted to take a deep breath and post a series of updates on life and so forth!

McMaster outing to Gervasi Winery in Canton OH

Yet another reason I love working at McM – they put together fun work outings for employees throughout the calendar year, and the one I attended was to the Gervasi Winery.  We got to tour the grounds and buildings (all on that precipice between classy and pretentious, I still don’t know how I feel about it) and most importantly, we got to taste all sorts of wine.  They had a really interesting series of cooking demonstrations for us (they apparently teach courses on cooking there) and then served us delicious food.  Not a bad way to spend an October Saturday.

Oak wine barrels and a pretty awesome odor, from the aging room.

Oak wine barrels and a pretty awesome odor, from the aging room.

Additionally, my thoughtful coworkers saved me from a gigantic wine barrel.  It is a long story.

McMaster silliness at the winery - my peers made a noble effort to save me from the dastardly wine barrel atop me!

McMaster silliness at the winery – my peers made a noble effort to save me from the dastardly wine barrel atop me!

Passat B4 wagon: ~~sold!!~~

It took a few months longer than I would have liked, but my Passat is finally sold… to a guy from Nevada…!?  He is a member of one of the VW forums I frequented online, and is very interested.  He also has relatives in Pittsburgh, two of whom are mechanics and met me halfway between us to check the car out.  They were suitably impressed (and given how much work I put into the damned thing, I should hope so!) and passed that on to the buyer.

He will fly one way into Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving the weekend prior, and pick the car up early that week.  In short, it is my first car, and the car I learned how to do automotive work on, and so I will miss it.  But no longer having to worry about components failing due to age is going to be a nice change.

A sorely needed wash before driving down to Warren to show the car off, and it obviously worked - the car sold!

A sorely needed wash before driving down to Warren to show the car off, and it obviously worked – the car sold!

MRBRFST – finally giving my Cruze a name

As I explained in the previous post here, “mrbrefast” is a VERY old nickname of mine, and the one I decided to go with for the purposes of referring to my new Cruze.  No vowels just gives me an extra step in the explanation, not a big deal.

The car hit 3300 miles yesterday and is still awesome.

The vanity plates in place

The vanity plates in place

Harbor Freight Carport + McMaster-Carr mods = top notch secondary garage capable of withstanding all weather conditions

After picking up this 10’x17′ carport from Harbor Freight after work a few weeks ago…

Little utility trailer shall soon have a brother (see below)

Little utility trailer shall soon have a brother (see below)

… I got the initial frame up with my dad and then ran out of time, until today.  My buddy Matt came over and we got the project back in gear.  We installed the extra steel bracing I got from work to make the structure more rigid and capable of bearing snow load.

My good friend Matt gave me a hand getting the structure together. We did have some troubles with the wind turning the tarp walls and roof into a large sail.

My good friend Matt gave me a hand getting the structure together. We did have some troubles with the wind turning the tarp walls and roof into a large sail.

The major two person part of this job was installing the roof and walls, all tarps but only three pieces (a front door, a rear wall, and then the roof + side wall gigantic piece).  Given the fall winds all around us, this was a two person job which required a pair of ladders and significant amounts of curse words.  But we got the job done.

It looks right, right?

It looks right, right?

The other major modification to the structure was to double the number of in-ground stakes and then tie down the middle 4 posts to the added 4 stakes with a taut rope, for the purposes of making sure no wind could pick up the structure and carry it away, and also to make sure that the weight on the roof (think snow for ~4 months of the year) would always be carried evenly.

The steel framing I added to the structure to give it rigidity without adding too much extra weight.

The perforated steel framing I added to the structure to give it rigidity without adding too much extra weight.  Note the rope from the top of the structural post down to the neat little ratcheting hook I got from McM (see next photo for detail)

A simple ratcheting mechanism with a hook on the middle 4 of the carport's posts - to keep the structure firmly and evenly rooted to the ground

A simple ratcheting mechanism with a hook on the middle 4 of the carport’s posts – to keep the structure firmly and evenly rooted to the ground

The steel framing is attached to pipe mounting clamps and held steadily in place with friction tape - because these are reasonable things to get from McMaster. I love my job :)

The steel framing is attached to pipe mounting clamps and held steadily in place with friction tape – because these are reasonable things to get from McMaster. I love my job 🙂

Tomorrow I will add the last finishing touch – I am going to put in several 2×4’s from the ridge pole (top edge of the roof) to the lower side of each peak of the roof, to help bear the snow load and prevent the tarp roof from sagging under weight (snow, rain, etc).  I am also toying with the idea of suspending my old Thule rooftop cargo box from the ceiling of the carport… but I have nightmares of the structure collapsing and dumping the box onto my car.  We shall see on that last point, but for less than $200 total (yay HF coupon + discount at McM!!) to get this carport operational, color me pleased 🙂

A car tow dolly, to eventually [in the spring] get into buying broken cars, fixing them, and selling them!!

Through my good friend Tom (aptly known as the Wallet Destroyer), I have found a guy with the right price on a tow dolly:

The tow dolly I shall go pick up in Warren tomorrow

The tow dolly I shall go pick up in Warren tomorrow

Used to tow one vehicle behind another (and nothing else), these usually cost $1000 new – so to get this one used for $300 is a steal.  It does have surface rust but it works just fine and doesn’t need to be pretty.  I will, frankly, scrub the rust and repaint it as part of my whole “take care of my things and make stuff last as long as possible” strategy, and likely also add some orange side marker lights to it (as I am an insufferable tinkerer) but otherwise… it is the final tool needed to step up my automotive mechanical game.  Namely, to get into the side business of buying broken cars on the cheap, fixing them, and selling them.  A tow dolly means the “REALLY bad” cars for $500 or so forth are something I can go buy and then tow home.  And, as is often the case with those so-called bad cars, the fixes are pretty easy and just require someone willing to do some research and get their hands dirty… and then sell the running car for $3000.  I am excited to soon become that research/dirty hands guy!!

Also: school and work are going well.

**END TRANSMISSION**

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