Sunday, August 8, 2010
Welcome to Old Sailing Ships week here at OPOD. We start with this photochrom photograph of the warship HMS Victory. The Victory was Lord Nelson's flagship, and is most remembered for its role in the 1805 battle of Trafalgar, where the British Royal Navy took on the combined navies of France and Spain. This picture was taken around 1900. The ship is still part of the British Navy, and is sort of a floating museum.
At our last domestic update, I had informed you that I was pretty much stuck on getting any more of the Plexiglas covering on the greenhouse. This was because I got to the point that I could not reach the areas necessary to fasten the Plexiglas to the greenhouse. I had indicated that I would rent a sky-track this weekend, to let me get the rest of the pieces on. Well, on Friday I went to the rental place to rent the sky-track. As I am filling out the paperwork, the guy casually asked me what I was going to do with it. I told him that we would be tying a piece of plywood to the forks, and then have a guy lay on the plywood as we elevated him above a construction site so he could lean over the edge and connect Plexiglas to a greenhouse. Then the guy said he could not rent me the sky-track, as it was not intended to be used to position people.
(Note to Self: When renting construction equipment, never tell them what you are really going to use if for)
After some arguing, the guy said he would rent me a Z-boom, as it is intended for positioning people, but No Sky-Track For Me. Well, I did not have any other options, so I told him I would take the Z-boom.
Well, Friday afternoon comes around and they deliver this Bad Boy to my house.
If you have never had the chance to experience a z-boom, I would describe it this way. It is just like a roller coaster, only it has a steering wheel. Well, Larry, the rental delivery guy gets it unloaded at my house. I was sort of expecting they would make me sit through a 30 minute training video, followed by a 45 minute safety video, followed by a recap of the rules and do's and don'ts, but no, Larry just unloads it and has me sign a receipt for delivery. I was expecting him to give me all these rules, like "No Bungee Jumping form the Z-boom", or "No Racing the Z-Boom" or "No Popping Wheelies in the Z-Boom", but no, all he wanted was for me to sign for receipt of delivery. I signed the paperwork, and he did give me a 30 second overview of the 67 control levers, joysticks, switches, and toggles on the control panel. There was one knob on the control panel. On one side was a little picture of a turtle, and on the other side was a picture of a rabbit. He suggested that I leave the knob on the turtle setting.
So Larry drives off, and I can hardly wait to fire that baby up. So, I turn that little knob over to the "rabbit" setting, and start the engine. About this time my daughter comes out, and starts telling me to wait till someone who knows what they are doing comes and shows me how to run it. I told her the guy that delivered it had already trained me, and I start lifting myself up by extending the booms. In about 30 seconds I am 50 feet in the air, and I have not even fully unfolded the lower arms. I will admit that at this point I was getting a little nervous about things, because the controls were very complicated.
You can see in this picture my daughter pleading with me to come down, apparently concerned about the prospect of an early inheritance. Well, I decide to impress her with my Z-boom skill, so do a 360 degree maneuver through the sky. I took pictures all the way around.
In about 10 seconds I had myself over Chickie Town, and took this aerial photo of the area.
I continue on around and then got this picture of the front yard.
After impressing my daughter with my aerobatic skill, I then decide I should drive the Z-boom on over to the construction site. No need to bring myself down, the Z-boom lets you drive it while you are way up there in the air. So, I start driving on over to the greenhouse.
Well, things were going pretty smoothly, but then I hit a little bit of a snag. Note in the picture above the trench between me and the greenhouse. This is the trench that brings the electric line to the greenhouse. The plumbers had not covered this trench up yet. I was pretty sure that I could make it over the trench, especially if I got a good running start at it. Well, at this point my daughter is livid, and is yelling at me to come down. I tell her I can make it over the trench. Then in a move reminiscent of the famous Tiananmen Square incident where the guy stood in front of the Chinese Tank, my daughter goes out and lays down in front of the Z-boom, between me and the trench. Well, from 50 foot up there, I start trying to get her to get out of my way so I can jump the trench. This goes on for about 5 minutes, and she is not willing to budge. Seeing she sort of left me with no options, I agree to come down, and not move to the construction site until the plumbers fill the ditch in. So, I put my attention back on the control panel. I select one of the 17 down levers, and press it to bring myself down. Only problem is that when I pressed the lever, nothing happened. No problem I thought, as perhaps you need to bring the boom down in a specific order, so I choose another switch and try it. Nothing. I proceed to try every lever, knob, and joystick on the control panel, and none of them respond. So, I am sort of stuck there 50 feet in the air. I then retry all the them without luck. I then press the big red button, and the thing turns off. I am getting a little nervous at this point, as I am not sure it will keep you suspended with the motor off, and sort of had a flash back to that time I was on the see-saw and the other kid hopped off and I cam crashing to the ground. Well, it appeared to be holding me steady up there, but I decide I better turn the motor back on. I start switching switches and turning knobs, but in the excitement, I had sort of forgotten some of my training, and could not get the thing started again. My daughter is still down there, and she is really mad. I yell down at her, "Go in and google 'how to start a z-boom'". She hears me and goes in the house. About 15 minutes later she comes back with a piece of paper, and yells up to me, "Before starting, make sure propeller is fully submersed in salt water". Well, I guess she had not heard me correctly, and had come back with instructions on how to start a Sea-Boom.
So, I take a few minutes, and try to compose myself. I pull the big red button back up, I wait for the gloplug light to go off, and then I press the operator switch with my toe, and then I hit the start button. Sure enough, the thing fires right up. I then press one of the down levers, and the thing starts bringing me down. I get back on the ground, and decide I better go in and pour myself a tall glass of ice tea.
OK, I finally figured out how I got stuck up there. Before any of the controls will work, you have to put your foot in this little compartment and press a switch. However, if you leave your foot on the button for more than 30 seconds without operating a control, it assumes you have left your foot on the button by accident, or you have forgotten your foot is on it, so it deactivates the controls. To reactivate, you have to take your foot off it, and then put it back on, and then the controls will work. Information was not included in my 30 second training session.
I guess I have sort of gotten off track here, as the purpose of this domestic update was to fill you in on the greenhouse, so lets get back on topic here. So, Friday evening the plumbers come back and cover the ditch up and I am able to get the Z-boom over to the greenhouse. Then, I had made arrangements to get some help to finish the greenhouse plexiglas on Saturday. The Z-boom is pretty expensive, so I wanted to make sure I had help so I could get the job done over the weekend, and avoid another day's rental charge. I contacted the guy that built my house, but he said he was swamped for the next4 months. I told him that if he did not come help me, and I fell off a ladder, my blood would be on his hands. He has seen me on a ladder, and so he agreed he would come and help me for one day.
So when Frank and Steve get out there on Saturday, things actually go very smoothly. The plexiglas went on easily. Part of it was just having the extra sets of hands made it much easier. Also, I learned a lot on putting the earlier pieces on, and had sort of figured out what works and what does not work. Then, of course, the Z-boom made a big difference. I apologize that my underwear is is showing just a little in the picture above. To be honest with you, I have seen a lot worse on the construction site, particularly on days the plumbers are there.
Now, remember how they would not rent me the sky-track because we were going to put a person on it? Look at this picture at how we had to get the top on.
Notice with the Z-boom, Steve had to crawl out of the cage to reach the plexiglas. He would then curl his legs around the lower rail, and sort of hang upside down, like you used to do on monkey bars, in order to reach the plexiglas. Now I ask you, would it have not been simpler and safer if they would have just rented us the skytrack?
Anyway, to make a long story short, the bottom line is that we got all the plexiglas on yesterday, and it all turned out well. Steve and Frank then helped me with various other tasks. The greenhouse structure is pretty much finished, and now I need to get the finishing work done on the electrical and plumbing. Hopefully I will get things wrapped up this week.
I feel this stunning success has moved me ever closer to my goal of becoming a Gentleman Farmer.