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.

Final Touches

I’m thinking that we’ve finally finished buying flowers and plants for our respective gardens and plots around the property.  I’m thinking also that I’m about ready to situate the roto-tiller for the year into a corner of the garage, so that it will be ready for use next year.  We did errands on Wednesday, going to our usual ‘go-to’ greenhouse, who are having their ‘end-of-season’ sale before closing for the year.  Unfortunately, they had closed early for some reason, but will be open on Friday.  Not to be outdone, there’s another greenhouse on the other side of town we could check out, and they have ice cream.

While we were out, we also did some grocery shopping.  Normally I prefer to do my shopping by myself, without the wife, because she likes to wander around the store, and gets lost.  (I call it “lost”, she’s just browsing and tends to lag behind)  Me, knowing where just about everything in the store is, can get in and out in record time.  Even so, there are times when I take a little longer at the store, seeing people that I work with and engaging in conversation with them about this or that.  Generally when I shop with the wife, it’s on an off-day from work, so things might have happened in the intervening 18-20 hours that I was unaware of.  Too, there are times during my vacation where I shop at the store, so the conversation tends to be a little longer at that point, much to the wife’s consternation.  So the pendulum swings both ways.

Insofar as being done with the gardening, at least the major getting ready and planting parts are completed.  The beds have been prepped, tilled, graded, weeded (initially) and planted.  We purchased five bags of mulch from Lowes several weeks ago, and finally got them spread in the last couple of days.  Added to the bag and a half that was saved from two years ago, the ones that were stored under the stairs, we’re still probably about a bag or two short of what we really need to keep the weeds at bay.  Having looked up the ratio of thickness of mulch to weed suppression, its been suggested on more than one site that a depth of 3-4 inches is ideal, and we’re nowhere close to that.  A basic layer of about an inch in most places is about the best we could do with 6 1/2 bags.  Too, there are several areas that haven’t been mulched at all, considering it’s where the knotweed is most prevalent.  More than likely that’s going to be left to its own devices for the time being, and possibly for the remainder of the season.

My idea of getting a second wheelbarrow got shot down in the afternoon, the wife has decided that she wants to not only fix her old one, she wishes to repaint it before the summer is over as well.  My suggestion wasn’t with the idea of replacing the one we have, that she inherited from her parents (along with the roto-tiller I just finished fixing) just giving it a little respite, considering its age.  Even so, she almost had a nutty about the whole idea, so I just dropped it.  Perhaps her idea of the JB-Weld she’s getting from Amazon will work.  If not, I have a back-up plan that involves taking it to a metal fab place near here and see if they’re able to weld the handle back together.  It’s worth a shot.

I was intending to have pictures here when this posts, but I will have to add them in later.  I didn’t take any this afternoon when I got finished and it rained before I could get back out to document the ‘finished product’.  That will have to wait for the next day.

Off to bed, some of us work weekends.

 

Mulch Math

Monday was Memorial Day here in the USA.  Since it was a Federal holiday, and I’m a full-time worker, anymore I have the day off from work.  Which sort of screws up my scheduling for the remainder of the week, but what can you do.  I could have chosen Friday as my other day off, and then worked 4 days straight until my scheduled day off next week, OR I could have Wednesday off as I normally do, and then work 6 days.  Since my wife generally schedules her doctor’s appointments on Wednesdays, I figured that was the better choice to make, since I don’t mind working a six-day stretch at a time.

Since it was a day off, we’d decided that we were in need of a trip to either of the big box home improvement stores, Home Depot, or Lowes.  There are three in the vicinity, 20 and 40 miles away, depending on which direction we wished to travel.  If we decided on east (Home Depot), my theory was it would likely be more crowded, as it’s more of a ‘built-up’ area, and there would be more people shopping.  As it turned out, it didn’t make a difference.

A few miles after leaving the house, there was a distinct binging sound from the instrument panel.  We’d just taken the exit and were heading west when I discovered I’d forgotten to gas up the car the day before.  So we were approximately 20 miles from an empty gas tank, we were tooling down the road doing 65 mph and had the AC running full tilt.  The closest gas station was behind us and there wasn’t an exit to turn around at for another 10 miles.  Call it the perfect storm.  I shut down the AC to conserve gas and crossed my fingers that we weren’t going to run out before getting to our exit.  We do have AAA, so if worse came to worse, we could call and they’d bring us 5 gallons of gas, but no one wants to be in that situation, it’s kind of embarrassing, y’know?

As it turned out, we made it to the gas station with a smidge left in the tank.  With disaster averted, we were free to travel to Lowes and do a bit of shopping.  Only when we got to the store, the parking lot was jammed.  Looks like everyone else in the area was taking advantage of the warm weather and making the pilgrimage to get plants, home improvement options and all manner of stuff, taking it home to do whatever with it.   Oh well.

Once we got parked, we made out our game plan.  Roto-tiller hardware first, then mulch and potting soil second.  I’d already checked the website for the store before going, determining that they didn’t have much in the way of small engine repair options, so that was going to have to wait for another day.  Also before leaving, we’d gone out to the backyard and did some measuring, to see how much mulch we were going to be needing this year.  My wife had used the calculator on the Lowes website, plugged in the numbers and came up with about 21 bags, with a presumption of 2 inches of mulch in the beds (originally she went with 3 inches, but that raised the amount of bags to 30, so she went with less depth).  I used a different calculator but made an error, instead of using the measurements as separate pieces of the puzzle, I added them together, creating a huge square footage box, which translated to over 100 bags of mulch.  I only discovered my error later in the day.  Fortunately we didn’t buy the 100 bags!

Going to the hardware aisle, I found an associate, gave him the bolt that I had and informed him that I needed two more just like it.  It took him about five minutes to finally come up with them, though he insisted that the bolts were ¼”, when I used a 7/16ths wrench to remove them.  After getting two nuts to go with them and paying for them, we were about to go to the garden center when my wife decided to interact with the cashier.  She asked him about the mulch and potting soil, and he suggested that we pay for them right then and there, and pick them up at the garden center to save time.  I was ok with that, for the most part, but when my wife said “Five bags“, it stopped me short.  Instead of saying something, I just let the guy ring it up, thinking she’d changed her mind and decided to get fewer bags initially, to be sure they were the right color, or whatever else was on her mind about it. As it turned out, I should have said something, because later in the car she confirmed that she’d erred, she meant TEN bags, not five.

Going to the garden center with the receipt, I was able to find the potting soil easy enough, loaded the bags on a flatbed and rolled it towards the exit.  I talked to one of the cashiers, and asked her to confirm that they were paid for, but she pretty nonchalantly waved me through without even looking at my receipt.  Makes me wonder how much they lose in thievery per month if their employees are that lax.  Or maybe there was something else going on that I was unaware of.  Getting the mulch was a little more driving, as they had a space in the parking lot where the bags were on pallets.  Giving the receipt to one of the burly fellows, they took very little time to pile them in the Edge and we were pretty much done.

By that time both of us were pretty ready to come home.  I wanted to swing by Wal-Mart to check to see if they had anything in the way of small engine repair, but as it turned out they didn’t.  Piled into the car and headed home.

I went back to the Lowes website this evening and checked out their mulch calculator, plugging in the numbers as they were originally measured, and then as a combined total and discovered my error.  What I originally thought was my wife’s error turned out to be my own.  No harm done, but as the saying (sort of) goes ‘measure twice, order once‘.