Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow is a lot like a roto-tiller, it has a specific time and place for usefulness, and for the most part sits around unused until it’s needed.  The wife brought into the marriage the one she’s had for 40 plus years, it has a wide barrow (tray) and just one solid wheel like most traditional ones have.  Two steel bars make the handles, they wind down and around the tray underneath and are bolted to the frame that constitutes the ‘feet’ and support the wheel mechanism.  When it was new it was a cheery red, now it’s a mottled rusted color with small patches of the original red peeking out from the patina.

It also is very worn down over the years.  The wheel is somewhat cracked, there are two bolts sheared off on the underside and within the last two weeks the hollow steel bar that makes the right handle has finally rusted through and broken, just under the tailong edge of the barrow.  Part is still supported by the bolts, and the other part sort of swings free.  Getting it welded might be a bit of a chore, but the wife believed that there was a cheaper/easier way to accomplish this, with a product called ‘JB WELD‘.  Granted it’s a substance that I’ve never used before, and a friend of mine informed me that it might work, but it won’t necessarily be as good a fix as someone spot welding the two pieces of metal together, either with a mig or tig weld.  Since I know literally nothing about the ins and outs of welding, I’d have to find a place that did the work, and would be interested in fixing a 40 yr old wheelbarrow.  Not the easiest task in the world, mind you.

From what I’ve been reading, the process is pretty straightforward.  Get the pieces in line, clean up the rusty area and then mix and apply the product around and over where the break is.  Then let it sit for four to six hours to cure.  After that, it should be good to go.  Having viewed a few YouTube videos, I can see that it will probably stand up to light use, but any heavy loads would end up probably breaking it all over again.  So in the meantime, we’re shopping for a new wheelbarrow.  Which has proven not to be the easiest thing either.

When I was growing up, my Dad had a pretty sturdy model, it was green, had oak handles and the tire was pneumatic, in other words, like a bicycle tire, it had an inner tube inside.  Why I decided to part with it I have no clue, but probably because I was moving across the state and didn’t really have use for it anymore.  So it got either sold, or left behind when we moved out of the parents’ house in 1992.  I didn’t see any sign of it when I visited the property in 2017.  So either it rusted out, or someone else is using it now.

With my birthday coming up, the wife has decided this is going to be my birthday present.  But even though I’m likely to be using it mostly, it needs to be a design that she can easily use as well, and we’re not alike in terms of size, ability to lift and so on.  So a traditional one-wheel model isn’t going to be sufficient, it needs to have a sizable (preferably steel) barrow, two wheels for stability and the ability to go over a curb or impediments without tipping over at an inopportune moment.  Having looked over the wares the nearby Lowes had to offer, and searching on Amazon, its not as easy a prospect as I would have thought.  Most of the ones on Amazon are similar to one another, the vast majority have poly or plastic barrows, and the wheels are either solid pieces or they’re not well supported underneath.  There was even one that came directly from China that was going to take two MONTHS to arrive.  Yeah, no thanks on that one.

I increasingly have a difficult time believing that this has to be as hard as its turning out to be.  It’s a wheelbarrow for crying out loud.  Reading the reviews of the ones people have bought, one is good for getting over obstacles, but the tray is made of flimsy plastic and under load bends and buckles.  The next one has a steel tray, but the wheels are worthless and it doesn’t have an adequate support system to allow someone to believe it would last more than one season.  Seriously?  Our friends in North Carolina sent us a picture of the one they have, it looks quite nice and versatile, and using Google image search I was able to find the exact model….except that it’s only available in Canada.  And they won’t ship it across the border, you have to drive to one of their stores in Toronto and purchase it.

Today I took a suggestion my wife had and ran with it.  Her idea was going to the local Tractor Supply store, surely they would have several to choose from or at least look at.  After work I drove over there and….nope.  Not a one.  I asked one of the clerks about the lack of wheelbarrows and he suggested I could order one online, have it shipped to the store and pick it up when it arrived next week.  Thank goodness I don’t have a project I wanted to do today that required use of one.  Sheesh.

I went to the online TSC site and that site insists there’s the right one in store.  Unbelievable.  I was just there!  I guess I need to go back tomorrow and find someone that actually knows what they’re talking about.  Oy.

Decorating a-go-go

I may have mentioned this more than once, but we’ve been living here in this house for almost 20 years.  We moved in the first day of November, 2000 and were renting the house at that time.  About a year later the people that owned the house made us an offer well below what they had the place listed for.  My wife and I at that time were still both working (she retired in 2006) and getting a mortgage from a ‘brick and mortar’ bank was proving elusive.  Online banking was in its infancy, and we decided to go that route instead.  We inputted our combined earnings with one of the fledgling startup mortgage companies and wonder of wonder, we got approved.  They sent us the requisite paperwork, our percentage rate wasn’t too bad, and it was agreed to be a 30 year note.

Before we finished purchasing, we had a company called ‘Pillar to Post’ go over the house and property, so as to give us an idea of what exactly we were getting into.  Granted we knew the house was built in the 1830s, so it was bound to have certain quirks, and we already had been living here for a little over a year, so some of those quirks were already known to us (sadly, the bats were discovered about a month after the sale was finalized.  Would have been better to know about them beforehand) though the inspector gave us some other things to consider and discuss with the sellers before everything was signed and monies were paid.

One of the things we thought was a little weird was, before we were able to occupy the house, the owners decided to paint just about every room in the house white.  The only rooms they left alone were ones that either had paneling, wallpaper, or a combination of the two.  Consequently, as we were never able to decide what color to paint any room of the house, we’ve pretty much lived with mostly white walls.  Over the course of our time too, we’ve not hung too many pictures, and what ones we have, have been a bit haphazard to say the least.  In the hallway there’s a piece of signed artwork from Berkeley Breathed.  It’s a print of the comic strip Bloom County, from 2015 when he decided to start drawing the comic again after a hiatus of about 25 years.  He’s continuing to draw them, but he’s relegated his postings to Facebook, and not newspapers.  So he doesn’t have to be required to ‘toe the line’ of publishers, in essence he’s self-publishing his work.  It seems to be working out the better for him.

Getting back to the topic at hand, we really haven’t had much time or money to do anything with the interior of the house, most of our time and expense has been with the exterior.  Getting a new vehicle put a dent in our money set aside of repairs and upgrades for the house, so perhaps this year we may not get the new furnace we were thinking about, perhaps just a coat of paint for the outside parts that aren’t brick.  A lot of the fascias and soffetts could use a coat of paint, the garage needs some work inside and out, and the bathrooms could use a major upgrade.

Lots of work to be done here.  Just have to set aside the money and time to get it all done.

I wonder if Noah has an Ark I can borrow?

The weather report for the next week or so is rain.  Not just rain, but rain, rain and even more rain.  Did I mention it’s supposed to rain a lot this week?  Ok, just checking.  Rain is what makes the flowers grow, but it’s also what makes the grass get out of hand if there’s not time to cut it in between bouts of rain.  So it’s going to be interesting to see how long the lawn gets by the time I’m able to cut it next.

Fortunately, my mower is still relatively new.  When I moved to this area in 1993, I purchased a Craftsman push mower from Sears and it moved with us to every house and property where we lived.  About three years ago I gave it to one of the neighbors up the street, they didn’t have a mower of their own, and their lawn every year needed to be mowed and almost never did, unless someone nearby came along and helped them out.  Seeing as I was interested in upgrading, my wife suggested giving them my old mower and getting a new one.  So I did.  Of course a year later they lost the house due to back taxes and I think the old mower was either sold or thrown away with the remains of the house when it was torn down.  C’est la vie, right?

For the most part, I keep lawn and other equipment for a long time.  It’s a habit I picked up from my parents, specifically my father.  I still have all of his tools in storage, some of which he inherited from his father, so a lot of them are actually pretty old.  I’ve upgraded some things like drills and socket sets over the years, though they generally never stay in the containers they originally came in, that’s one of my major faults.  I have several tool boxes in the basement that are a jumble of various tools, one of these days I need to go there and sort everything out.  I keep saying that, but inevitably, never do.  Shades of procrastination.

Even so, with all the rain, if I can get a little time and no pain in my various joints, perhaps I can do some sorting in the house.  I certainly can’t mow the lawn until it dries sufficiently.  Now that I have the roto-tiller fixed, perhaps I can clean out the garage so it has a place to stay when the next seasons arrive and its no longer needed until Spring 2020.  We’ll see how all that susses out.  Stay tuned!