Friday, March 21, 2008

Digging the trench, Part 1

I started the backhoe work today. I only have a three hour window to do it in, so my day went something like this: get up at 7:30 AM for a conference call with a protocol development team. Read mail, hack, drink coffee. Go get backhoe. Dig trench for two and a half hours.

Get suspicious about how recently the Kubota was lubed, and drive it down to the temple where the tools and grease gun are. Realize the grease in the grease gun isn't the kind the service manual calls for. Go looking for Bert. Find him at the top of the highest mountain at Diamond Mountain, where they are building a retreat house for the Lamas. Wave to the Lama dome building team. Chat with Bert about what kind of lubricant to use.

Go back down the hill. Discover that the grease gun is empty. Learn how to load the grease gun without any guidance, because I don't want to have to climb back up the mountain (forgot to ask Keith about that when he showed me how to use the grease gun).

After much tweaking, finally get the grease gun working (no idea what I did, probably will have to re-learn next time). Lube all the lube-able joints on the Kubota (there are quite a few of them). Test to see if the squeaking has gone away. It hasn't. Take off the cover on the boom control unit and lube all the bearings inside. Close cover. Re-test. Squeak gone. Success!

So the results for the day are that I dug about 30 feet of trench. The first fifteen feet took most of the time, because I was still learning to operate the boom; by now I'm pretty smooth with it, so I figure I can do at least 50 feet a day. The trench is 500 feet long, so that's ten days at three hours a day. Probably less, I hope.

David thought I ought to hire it done, but it would be quite expensive; this is a lot cheaper, and it's a chance to get good with the Kubota so that when I dig the foundation I won't make any expensive mistakes. Plus, it's really fun. Kind of like Wii golf, only I'm actually accomplishing something as I do it.

So this is the first really constructive thing I've done on the house, and it's going pretty well so far. Of course, digging ditches is a lot less complicated than putting in foundations and plumbing, so I guess we'll see how it goes when I get to that part.

Andrea's been really nice about letting me do all the digging - she lopped underbrush to clear space for the Kubota to dig, and helped me to figure out how deep to dig, and got fuel. At some point she may want to do some digging, I don't know. I guess I will have to relinquish the toy and let her have some fun.


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